The Postwar Renaissance II: Politics and Foreign Policy Chapter 8 of The Betrayal of the American Right

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In
the realm of direct politics, it seemed clear that there was only
one place for those of us not totally disillusioned with political
action: the "extreme right wing" of the Republican Party.
It was the extreme right, particularly well represented in the House,
and including such men as Rep. Howard H. Buffett of Omaha, Rep.
Ralph W. Gwinn of New York, Frederick C. Smith of Ohio, and H.R.
Gross of Iowa (virtually the only one of the group now remaining),
who were solidly isolationist and opposed to foreign wars and interventions,
and roughly free-market and libertarian in domestic affairs. They
were, for example, staunchly opposed to conscription, which was
put through by a coalition of liberals and what used to be called
"enlightened" conservatives and internationalists. The
extreme right also included Colonel McCormick's Chicago Tribune,
to which I delightedly subscribed for a while, and which continued
excellent anti-Wall Street and anti-interventionist muckraking,
as well as continuing articles in behalf of national liberation
of the Welsh and the Scots from McCormick's hated England. Senator
Taft was the major political figure of that wing of the party, but
the confusion – then and since – came from Taft's philosophical
devotion to compromise as a good in itself. As a result, Taft was
always compromising and "selling out" the individualist
cause: the free market at home and nonintervention abroad. In the
parlance of that time, then, Taft was really on the "extreme
left" of the extreme right wing of the Republicans, and his
surrenders of principle were constantly thrown at us by the liberals:
"Why, even Senator Taft favors" federal aid to education,
or defense of Chiang, or whatever.

At any rate,
I quickly identified myself with the right-wing Republicans as soon
as I became politically active at the end of World War II. I joined
the Young Republican Club of New York, where I wrote a campaign
report in 1946 attacking the Office of Price Administration (OPA)
and price controls, and took the laissez-faire side in a
series of internal debates on the future of the Republican Party.
It was a lone minority position, especially among the YR's, who
were largely opportunistic lawyers looking for place and patronage
within the Dewey machine. (Bill Rusher, who later became publisher
of National Review, was in those days a regular Dewey Republican
with the YR's.) However, my enthusiasm was unbounded when the Republicans,
largely conservative, swept Congress in 1946. At last, socialism
and internationalism would be rolled back. One of my first published
writings was a "Hallelujah" letter that I sent to the
New York World-Telegram celebrating the glorious victory.
However, an evil worm soon appeared in the apple; true to his compromising
nature, Bob Taft turned over the leadership of foreign policy in
the Senate to the renegade isolationist Arthur Vandenberg, now a
hero of the New York Times-Eastern Establishment circuit.
(The bitter rumor on the Right was that Vandenberg had literally
been seduced into changing his foreign policy stance by an English
mistress.) It was Vandenberg, overriding the fervent opposition
of the isolationist right wing of the party, who mobilized support
for the launching of the Cold War, the loan to Britain, the Marshall
Plan, and aid to Greece and Turkey, to take over the old British
imperial role and crush the Greek revolution.

Another severe
blow to the Old Right cause in the Republican Party was the nomination
of Tom Dewey for the presidency in 1948, Dewey now being a representative
of the Eastern Wall Street internationalist, statist, "leftish"
Establishment. Dewey refused to defend the conservative record of
the 80th Congress against Harry Truman's sneers at being "do-nothings"
(actually, they had done far too much). I could not support Dewey
for President, and was the only Northerner at Columbia to join the
short-lived Students for Thurmond Club, basing my support on Strom
Thurmond's decentralist, states' rights program. Taft and the Taftites
were isolationist, and therefore far more anti-interventionist and
hence anti-imperialist than Henry Wallace in the 1948 campaign.
The proof of this pudding is that Wallace himself and the bulk of
his Progressive Party supported our Korean imperial adventure in
the name of "collective security" two years later, while
the isolationist extreme-right Republicans constituted the only
political opposition to the war.1

The most important
fact to realize about the Old Right in the postwar era is that it
staunchly and steadfastly opposed both American imperialism and
interventionism abroad and its corollary in militarism at home.
Conscription was vigorously opposed as far worse than other forms
of statist regulation; for the draft, like slavery, conscripted
the draftee's most precious "property" – his own
person and being. Day in and day out, for example, the veteran publicist
John T. Flynn, now a speaker and writer for the conservative America's
Future, Inc. – a spinoff of the Committee for Constitutional
Government – inveighed against militarism and the draft. And
this despite his increasing support for the Cold War abroad. Even
the Wall Street weekly, the Commercial and Financial Chronicle,
published a lengthy attack on conscription. And Frank Chodorov,
praising in his analysis a pamphlet issued by the National
Council Against Conscription, wrote that "the State cannot
intervene in the economic affairs of society without building up
its coercive machinery, and that, after all, is militarism. Power
is the correlative of politics."

In foreign
policy, it was the extreme right-wing Republicans, who were particularly
strong in the House of Representatives, who staunchly battled conscription,
NATO, and the Truman Doctrine.

Consider, for
example, Omaha's Representative Howard Buffett, Senator Taft's midwestern
campaign manager in 1952, one of the most "extreme" of
the extremists, a man who consistently received a zero rating from
such liberal raters of Congressmen as ADA and the New Republic,
and whom the Nation characterized in that era as "an
able young man whose ideas have tragically fossilized." I came
to know Howard as a genuine, consistent, and thoughtful libertarian.
Attacking the Truman Doctrine on the floor of Congress, Buffett
declared:

Even if it
were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world
by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty
will be replaced by coercion and tyranny at home. Our Christian
ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns.
. . . We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom
at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.2

Also in 1947,
Representative George Bender of Ohio, who was to be Taft's floor
manager in 1952 and later Taft's successor in the Senate, kept up
a drumfire of criticism of the Truman Doctrine. Attacking the corrupt
Greek government and the fraudulent elections that had maintained
it in power, Bender declared:

I believe
that the White House program is a reaffirmation of the nineteenth-century
belief in power politics. It is a refinement of the policy first
adopted after the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 designed to encircle
Russia and establish a "Cordon Sanitaire" around the
Soviet Union. It is a program which points to a new policy of
interventionism in Europe as a corollary to our Monroe Doctrine
in Southern America. Let there be no mistake about the far-reaching
implications of this plan. Once we have taken the historic step
of sending financial aid, military experts and loans to Greece
and Turkey, we shall be irrevocably committed to a course of action
from which it will be impossible to withdraw. More and larger
demands will follow. Greater needs will arise throughout the many
areas of friction in the world.3

Bender, moreover,
was one of the few Congressional defenders of Henry Wallace when
Wallace spoke abroad in opposition to the Truman Doctrine. In answer
to such attacks as Deweyite Representative Kenneth Keating's denunciation
of Wallace for "treason," and to Winston Churchill's attacks
on Wallace for voicing his opposition abroad, Bender replied that
if Churchill could attempt to launch the Cold War by speaking in
the United States, Wallace could certainly seek to prevent that
war by speaking in Europe.

Launching an
overall criticism of Truman's foreign policy in June, 1947, Bender
charged:

Mr. Truman
urged the Congress to authorize a program of military collaboration
with all the petty and not so petty dictators of South America.
Mr. Truman submitted a draft bill which would authorize the United
States to take over the arming of South America on a scale far
beyond that involved in the $400,000,000 handout to Greece and
Turkey.

Mr. Truman
continued his campaign for universal peacetime military training
in the United States.

But military
control at home is a part of the emerging Truman program. The
Truman administration is using all its propaganda resources in
an attempt to soften up the American people to accept this idea.

Yes; the
Truman administration is busy in its attempt to sell the idea
of military control to the people of America. And hand in hand
with the propaganda campaign go secret meetings for industrial
mobilization.

This is the
kind of thing which is taking place behind barred doors in the
Pentagon Building, about which the people of the United states
[sic] learn only by accident. This is a part of the emerging Truman
program . . . a part of the whole Truman doctrine of drawing off
the resources of the United States in support of every reactionary
government in the world.4

While Senator
Taft himself waffled and compromised on foreign affairs, especially
in regard to China and the support of Chiang, Representative Bender
did not waver. Warning Congress of the "intense pressure"
of the China Lobby in May 1947, Bender charged

that the
Chinese Embassy here has had the arrogance to invade our State
Department and attempt to tell our State Department that the Truman
Doctrine has committed our Government and this Congress to all-out
support of the present Fascist Chinese Government.5

Even Taft himself
took a generally isolationist and anti-interventionist stance. Thus,
the Senator opposed the Marshall Plan, for one reason because "granting
aid to Europe would only furnish the Communists with further arguments
against the u2018imperialist' policy of the United States." Furthermore,
Taft declared that if the countries of Western Europe should decide
to include Communists in their governments, this would be proof
that competitive capitalism had not been approved in Europe, which
instead was ridden with cartels and privileges. Particularly commendable
was Taft's courage in refusing to be stamped by the Trumanite liberals
and Republican interventionists into favoring Cold War measures
in response to the Communist "takeover" in Czechoslovakia
in 1948 – a "coup" which actually consisted of the
resignation of rightist members of the Czech cabinet, leaving a
leftist government in power. Taft stoutly denied that Russia had
any plans for initiating aggression or conquering additional territory:
the Russian influence, Taft pointed out, "has been predominant
in Czechoslovakia since the end of the war. The Communists are merely
consolidating their position in Czechoslovakia but there has been
no military aggression."

Senator Taft
also opposed the Cold War creation of NATO in 1949. He warned that

the building
up of a great army surrounding Russia from Norway to Turkey and
Iran might produce a fear of the invasion of Russia or some of
the satellite countries regarded by Russia as essential to the
defense of Moscow.

NATO, Taft
warned, violated the entire spirit of the UN Charter:

An undertaking
by the most powerful nation in the world to arm half the world
against the other half goes far beyond any "right of collective
defense if an armed attacked occurs." It violates the whole
spirit of the United Nations Charter. . . . The Atlantic Pact
moves in exactly the opposite direction from the purposes of the
charter and makes a farce of further efforts to secure international
justice through law and justice. It necessarily divides the world
into two armed camps. . . . This treaty, therefore, means inevitably
an armament race, and armament races in the past have led to war.6

In a debate
with Senator John Foster Dulles, scion of Wall Street and the Rockefeller
interests, in July 1949, Taft affirmed that "I cannot vote
for a treaty which, in my opinion, will do far more to bring about
a third world war than it ever will to maintain the peace of the
world."

Even on Asia,
Taft, in January 1950, opposed the Truman policy of supplying aid
to the French army in suppressing the Indo-Chinese national revolution;
he also warned that he would not support any commitment to back
Chiang in a war against China, and he called for the removal of
Chiang, his bureaucrats, and his

army of occupation
on Formosa in order to permit the Formosan people a free vote on
their own self-determination:

[A]s I understand
it, the people of Formosa, if permitted to vote, would probably
vote to set up an independent republic of Formosa. . . . If, at
the peace conference, it is decided that Formosa be set up as
an independent republic, we certainly have the means to force
the Nationalists' surrender of Formosa.7

Furthermore,
in early 1950 many internationalist Republicans joined with the
isolationists to deal a severe blow to our mounting intervention
in Asia – a defeat of the Truman administration's $60 million
aid bill for South Korea by one vote. It was generally agreed by
the opponents that aid to the Rhee regime was a complete waste and
that Korea was beyond the American defense interest. The historian
Tang Tsou noted that "this was the first major setback in Congress
for the administration in the field of foreign policy since the
end of the war."8

It was only
the efforts of Representative Walter Judd (R., Minn.), veteran internationalist,
former missionary in China, and leader of the China lobby in Congress,
that induced the House, in a fateful shift, to reverse its decision.

The Korean
War was the last great stand of the antiwar isolationism of the
Old Right. This was a time when virtually the entire Old Left, with
the exception of the Communist Party and of I.F. Stone, surrendered
to the global mystique of the United Nations and its "collective
security against aggression," and backed Truman's imperialist
aggression in that war. The fact that the UN was and has continued
to be a tool of the United States was scarcely considered. Even
Corliss Lamont supported the American stand in Korea, along with
virtually the entire leadership of the Progressive Party. Only the
extreme right-wing Republicans valiantly opposed the war.

Howard Buffett,
for example, was convinced that the United States was largely responsible
for the eruption of conflict in Korea, for he had been told by Senator
Stiles Bridges (R., N.H.) that Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter, head
of the CIA, had so testified in secret before the Senate Armed Services
Committee at the outbreak of the war. For his indiscretion in testifying,
Admiral Hillenkoeter was soon fired by President Truman and was
little heard from again in Washington. For the rest of his life,
Buffett carried on a crusade to have Congress declassify the Hillenkoeter
testimony, but without success. Buffett recalled to me with pleasure
in later years that I.F. Stone had sent him a warm note, commending
him for his leadership in Congress in opposing the Korean conflict.
In retrospect, it is unfortunate that Howard did not follow up the
Stone feeler and move to establish a Left-Right alliance against
the war – although, as I have said, there was precious little
Left sentiment in opposition.

Senator Taft
attacked the Truman intervention in Korea; he insisted that Korea
was not vital to the Untied States, that the intervention could
be construed as a threat to the security of the Soviet bloc, and
that the "police action" violated the UN Charter and was
an unconstitutional aggrandizement of the war powers of the President.
"If the President can intervene in Korea without congressional
approval," Taft charged, "he can go to war in Malaya or
Indonesia or Iran or South America." In contrast, the Nation
and the New Republic, which had previously been critical
of the Truman Doctrine and the Cold War, now joined up with enthusiasm.
These two liberal journals denounced Taft and Colonel McCormick's
Chicago Tribune for joining the Communists in their "defeatism,"
in opposing the war. The savage campaign against Taft's re-election
in 1950 was the occasion of a massive assault on Taft by organized
liberalism, with the Truman administration attacking Taft's isolationism
and alleged softness toward the Soviet Union. The New Republic,
in its September 4 analysis of congressional voting, hailed the
Democrats for their staunchly "anti-Communist" voting
record in foreign affairs (87 percent); Senator Taft, on the other
hand, had only a 53 percent score for the New Republic, while
such more consistent isolationists as Senator Kenneth Wherry (R.,
Neb.) had only a 23 percent "anti-Communist" mark. And
the New Republic sourly noted the consistency of Taft's isolationism
and "legalistic" devotion to nonaggression and international
law:

There has
historically been a working affinity between isolationists and
legalists – the former attacked Roosevelt's 1941 destroyer
deal as warmongering, the latter as dictatorship. There are signs
that this coalition is again tightening.9

At the opening
of the new Congress in early 1951, the isolationist forces, led
by Senators Wherry and Taft, launched an attack on the war by submitting
a resolution prohibiting the President from sending any troops abroad
without prior approval of Congress. They attacked Truman's refusal
to accept a ceasefire or to agree to peace in Korea, and warned
that the United Sates did not have enough troops for a stalemated
land war on the Asian continent. Taft also attacked the President's
assertion of the right to use atomic weapons and to send troops
out of the country on his own authority.

An intriguing
attack on Senator Taft's foreign policy was launched by the highly
influential war-liberal McGeorge Bundy. Bundy expressed worry that
Taft's solid re-election victory indicated popular support for limiting
the executive's power to lead the United States into conflict without
congressional sanction. As Leonard Liggio puts it,

Taft's preference
for negotiations rather than wastage of blood in military interventions
appeared to Bundy as a failure to assert America's global leadership
against Communism and as a defective attitude of doubt, mistrust
and fear towards America's national purpose in the world.10

Bundy declared
that the normal statesman's pursuit of peace must be discarded and
replaced by the power-wielder who applies diplomacy and military
might in a permanent struggle against world communism in limited
wars alternating with limited periods of peace. Hence Bundy criticized
Taft for "appeasement" in opposing the encircling of the
Soviet Union by military alliances, and the intervention in Korea,
and finally for Taft's willingness to compromise with Communist
China in order to extricate ourselves from the Korean debacle.

Bundy also
differed strongly with Taft over the latter's launching of an open
debate on the Korean War. For Taft had denounced the idea of unquestioning
support for the President in military adventures:

Anyone [who]
dared to suggest criticism or even a thorough debate . . . was
at once branded as an isolationist and a saboteur of unity and
the bipartisan foreign policy.11

Bundy, in contrast,
denounced the idea of any recriminations or even public questioning
of the decisions of the executive policy-makers, for the public
merely reacted ad hoc to given situations without being committed
to the policymakers' rigid conception of the national purpose.12

The last famous
isolationist Old Right political thrust came in a Great Debate that
ensued upon the heels of our crushing defeat at the hands of the
Chinese in late 1950, a defeat in which the Chinese had driven the
American forces out of North Korea. The Truman administration stubbornly
refused to acknowledge the new realities and to make peace in Korea
on the basis of the 38th parallel, thereby condemning American troops
to years of heavy casualties. In response, two well-known isolationist
elder statesmen, Herbert Hoover and Joseph P. Kennedy, delivered
ringing and obviously coordinated back-to-back speeches in December
1950 calling for American evacuation of Korea and an end to the
war in Asia.

On December
12, former Ambassador Kennedy noted the decades-long continuity
of his own isolationist antiwar stand, and declared:

From the
start I had no patience with a policy that without due regard
to our resources – human and material – would make commitments
abroad that we could not fulfill. As Ambassador to London in 1939
I had seen the folly of this when the British made their commitment
to Poland that they could not fulfill and have not yet fulfilled
– a commitment that brought them into war.

I naturally
opposed Communism, but said if portions of Europe or Asia were
to go Communistic or even had Communism thrust upon them, we cannot
stop it. Instead we must make sure of our strength and be certain
not to fritter it away in battles that could not be won.

But where
are we now? Beginning with intervention in the Italian elections
and financial and political aid to Greece and Turkey, we have
expanded our political and financial programs on an almost unbelievably
wide scale. Billions have been spent in the Marshall plan, further
billions in the occupation of Berlin, Western Germany and Japan.
Military aid has been poured into Greece, Turkey, Iran, the nations
of the North Atlantic Pact, French Indo-China, and now in Korea
we are fighting the fourth-greatest war in our history.

What have
we in return for this effort? Friends? We have far fewer friends
than we had in 1945. . . .

To engage
those vast armies [of the Communist countries] on the European
or Asian continent is foolhardy, but that is the direction towards
which our policy has been tending.

That policy
is suicidal. It has made us no foul weather friends. It has kept
our armament scattered over the globe. It has picked one battlefield
and threatens to pick others impossibly removed from our sources
of supply. It has not contained Communism. By our methods of opposition
it has solidified Communism, where otherwise Communism might have
bred within itself internal dissensions. Our policy today is politically
and morally a bankrupt policy.

Kennedy concluded
that the only alternative was for America to abandon the entire
policy of global intervention and adopt isolationism once more:

I can see
no alternative other than having the courage to wash up this policy
and start with the fundamentals I urged more than five years ago.
. . .

A first step
in the pursuit of this policy is to get out of Korea – indeed,
to get out of every point in Asia which we do not plan to hold
in our own defense. Such a policy means that in the Pacific we
will pick our own battlegrounds if we are forced to fight and
not have them determined by political and ideological considerations
that have no relationship to our own defense.

The next
step in pursuit of this policy is to apply the same principle
to Europe. Today it is idle to talk of being able to hold the
line of the Elbe or the line of the Rhine. Why should we waste
valuable resources in making such an attempt? . . . To pour arms
and men into a Quixotic military adventure makes no sense whatever.
What have we gained by staying in Berlin? Everyone knows we can
be pushed out the moment the Russians choose to push us out. .
. .

The billions
that we have squandered on these enterprises could have been far
more effectively used in this hemisphere and on the seas that
surround it. . . .

People will
say, however, that this policy will not contain Communism. Will
our present policy do so? Can we possibly contain Communist Russia,
if she chooses to march, by a far-flung battle line in the middle
of Europe? The truth is that our only real hope is to keep Russia,
if she chooses to march, on the other side of the Atlantic and
make Communism much too costly for her to try to cross the seas.
It may be that Europe for a decade or a generation or more will
turn Communistic. But in doing so, it may break of itself as a
unified force. Communism still has to prove itself to its peoples
as a government that will achieve for them a better way of living.
The more people that it will have to govern, the more necessary
it becomes for those who govern to justify themselves to those
being governed. The more peoples that are under its yoke, the
greater are the possibilities of revolt. Moreover, it seems certain
that Communism spread over Europe will not rest content with being
governed by a handful of men in the Kremlin. Tito in Jugoslavia
is already demonstrating this fact. Mao in China is not likely
to take his orders from Stalin. . . .

After this
highly prophetic forecast – greatly derided at the time –
of the inevitable breaking up of the international Communist monolith,
Kennedy courageously added:

This policy
will, of course, be criticized as appeasement. No word is more
mistakenly used. Is it appeasement to withdraw from unwise commitments
. . . and to make clear just exactly how and for what you will
fight? If it is wise in our interest not to make commitments that
endanger our security, and this is appeasement, then I am for
appeasement. I can recall only too well the precious time bought
by Chamberlain at Munich. I applauded that purchase then; I would
applaud it today. Today, however, while we have avoided a Munich,
we are coming perilously close to another Dunkirk. Personally,
I should choose to escape the latter.

And Kennedy
concluded, on the current mess in Asia and foreign affairs generally:

Half of this
world will never submit to dictation by the other half. The two
can only agree to live next to each other because for one to absorb
the other becomes too costly.

An attitude
of realism such as this is, I submit, in accord with our historic
traditions. We have never wanted a part of other peoples' scrapes.
Today we have them and just why, nobody quite seems to know. What
business is it of ours to support French colonial policy in Indo-China
or to achieve Mr. Syngman Rhee's concepts of democracy in Korea?
Shall we now send the Marines into the mountains of Tibet to keep
the Dalai Lama on his throne? We can do well to mind our business
and interfere only where somebody threatens our business and our
homes.

The policy
I suggest, moreover, gives us a chance economically to keep our
heads above water. For years, I have argued the necessity for
not burdening ourselves with unnecessary debts. There is no surer
way to destroy the basis of American enterprise than to destroy
the initiative of the men who make it. . . . Those who recall
1932 know too easily the dangers that can arise from within when
our own economic system fails to function. If we weaken it with
lavish spending either on foreign nations or in foreign wars,
we run the danger of precipitating another 1932 and of destroying
the very system which we are trying to save.

An Atlas,
whose back is bowed and whose hands are busy holding up the world,
has no arms to lift to deal with his own defense. Increase his
burdens and you will crush him. . . . This is our present posture.
. . . The suggestions I make . . . would . . . conserve American
lives for American ends, not waste them in the freezing hills
of Korea or on the battle-scarred plains of Western Germany.13

Eight days
later, Herbert Hoover backed up the Kennedy speech with one of his
own on nationwide network radio. While refusing to go as far as
Kennedy, and indeed attacking "appeasement" and "isolationism"
and scorning fears of "Dunkirks," Hoover insisted:

We must face
the fact that to commit the sparse ground forces of the non-Communist
nations into a land war against this Communist land mass would
be a war without victory, a war without a successful terminal.
Any attempt to make war on the Communist mass by land invasion,
through the quicksands of China, India or Western Europe, is sheer
folly. That would be the graveyard of millions of American boys
and would end in the exhaustion of this Gibraltar of Western Civilization.14

It is instructive
to note the reactions of organized Liberalism to the Kennedy-Hoover
thesis, a position supported by Senator Taft. Along with the Truman
administration and such Wall Street-oriented Republicans as Governor
Dewey and John Foster Dulles, the Nation and the New Republic
proceeded to red-bait these distinguished right-wing leaders.
The Nation charged:

The line
they are laying down for their country should set the bells ringing
in the Kremlin as nothing has since the triumph of Stalingrad.
Actually the line taken by Pravda is that the former President
did not carry isolationism far enough.

And the New
Republic summarized the isolationist position as holding that
the Korean War "was the creation not of Stalin, but of Truman,
just as Roosevelt, not Hitler, caused the Second World War."
And in the desire of Taft, Hoover, and Kennedy to accept Soviet
offers of negotiating peace, the New Republic saw an

opposition
who saw nothing alarming in Hitler's conquest of Europe (and who
would clearly grab at the bait). Stalin, after raising the ante,
as he did with Hitler, and sweeping over Asia, would move on until
the Stalinist caucus in the Tribune tower would bring out
in triumph the first Communist edition of the Chicago Tribune.

The New
Republic was particularly exercised over the fact that the isolationists

condemned
U.S. participation in Korea as unconstitutional and provided that
the only funds available for overseas troops shipment should be
funds necessary to facilitate the extrication of U.S. forces now
in Korea.15

One of the
people whom the New Republic was undoubtedly referring to
as part of the "Stalinist caucus" at Colonel McCormick's
valiantly isolationist Chicago Tribune was George Morgenstern,
editorial writer for the Tribune and author of the first
great, and still the basic, revisionist work on Pearl Harbor, Pearl
Harbor: Story of a Secret War.16 During the Korean
War, Morgenstern published a blistering article, summing up the
century of American imperialism, in the right-wing Washington weekly
Human Events, then open to isolationist material but having
become, since the resignation of Felix Morley, a hack tabloid for
the warmongering New Right. Morgenstern wrote:

At the end
of the 19th century the United States began to stir with those
promptings of imperialism and altruism which have worked to the
mischief of so many puissant states. The sinister Spaniard provided
a suitable punching bag. Two days before McKinley went to Congress
with a highly misleading message which was an open invitation
to war, the Spanish government had agreed to the demands for an
armistice in Cuba and American mediation. There was no good reason,
but there was war anyway. We wound up the war with a couple of
costly dependencies, but this was enough to intoxicate the precursors
of those who now swoon on very sight of the phrase "world
leadership."

McKinley
testified that in lonely sessions on his knees at night he had
been guided to the realization that we must "uplift and civilize
and Christianize" the Filipinos. He asserted that the war
had brought new duties and responsibilities "which we must
meet and discharge as becomes a great nation on whose growth and
career from the beginning the Ruler of Nations has plainly written
the high command and pledge of civilization." This sort of
exalted nonsense is familiar to anyone who later attended the
evangelical rationalizations of Wilson for intervening in the
European war, of Roosevelt promising the millennium . . . of Eisenhower
treasuring the "crusade in Europe" that somehow went
sour, or of Truman, Stevenson, Paul Douglas, or the New York Times
preaching the holy war in Korea. . . .

An all-pervasive
propaganda has established a myth of inevitability in American
action: all wars were necessary, all wars were good. The burden
of proof rests with those who contend that America is better off,
that American security has been enhanced, and that prospects of
world peace have been improved by American intervention in four
wars in half a century. Intervention began with deceit by McKinley;
it ends with deceit by Roosevelt and Truman.

Perhaps we
would have a rational foreign policy . . . if Americans could
be brought to realize that the first necessity is the renunciation
of the lie as an instrument of foreign policy.17

  1. For a revisionist
    interpretation of Henry Wallace as internationalist, see Leonard
    Liggio and Ronald Radosh, "Henry A. Wallace and the Open
    Door," in Cold War Critics, Thomas Paterson, ed. (Chicago:
    Quadrangle, 1971), pp. 76–113.
  2. Congressional
    Record, 80th Congress, First Session, March 18, 1947, p. 2217.
  3. Congressional
    Record, 80th Congress, First Session March 28, 1947, pp. 2831–32.
    See in particular Leonard P. Liggio, "Why the Futile Crusade?"
    Left and Right 1, no. 1 (Spring, 1965): 43–44.
  4. Congressional
    Record, 80th Congress, First Session, June 6, 1947, pp. 6562-63.
    Quoted in Liggio, "Why the Futile Crusade?" pp. 45–46.
  5. Ibid., pp.
    46–47.
  6. Robert A.
    Taft, A Foreign Policy for Americans (New York: Doubleday
    & Co., 1951), pp. 89–90, 113. Quoted in Liggio, "Why
    the Futile Crusade?" pp. 49–50.
  7. Robert A.
    Taft, "u2018Hang On' To Formosa: Hold Until Peace Treaty with
    Japan Is Signed," Vital Speeches 16, no. 8 (February
    1, 1950): 236–37. Quoted in Liggio, "Why the Futile Crusade?"
    p. 52.
  8. Tang Tsou,
    America's Failure in China, 1941–50 (Chicago: University
    of Chicago Press, 1963), pp. 537–38. Quoted in Liggio, "Why
    the Futile Crusade?" p. 53.
  9. "The
    Hoover Line Grows," New Republic 124 (January 15,
    1951): 7. Quoted in Liggio, "Why the Futile Crusade?"
    p. 57.
  10. Liggio,
    "Why the Futile Crusade?" p. 57.
  11. Congressional
    Record, 82nd Congress, 1st Session, January 5, 1951, p.55.
  12. McGeorge
    Bundy, "The Private World of Robert Taft," The Reporter,
    December 11, 1951; Bundy, "Appeasement, Provocation, and
    Policy," The Reporter, January 9, 1951. See Liggio,
    "Why the Futile Crusade?" pp. 57–60.
  13. Joseph P.
    Kennedy, "Present Policy is Politically and Morally Bankrupt,"
    Vital Speeches 17, no. 6 (January 1, 1951): 170–73.
  14. Herbert
    Hoover, "Our National Policies in This Crisis," in ibid.,
    pp. 165–67.
  15. "Hoover's
    Folly," Nation 171, no. 27 (December 30, 1950): 688;
    "Korea: Will China Fight the UN?" New Republic 123
    (November 20, 1950): 5–6; "Can We Save World Peace?"
    New Republic 124 (January 1, 1951): 5 and January 15, 1951,
    p. 7. Cited in Liggio, "Why the Futile Crusade?" p.
    56.
  16. (New York:
    Devin-Adair, 1947).
  17. George Morgenstern,
    "The Past Marches On," Human Events (April 22,
    1953).

Table
of Contents: The Betrayal of the American Right

Murray
Rothbard Archives

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