Whenever I debate the original American foreign policy of non-interventionism with an advocate of America’s 20th Century foreign policy of interventionism I am confronted with the statement that World War II occurred because America returned to its policy of "isolationism" after World War I. They argue that our failure to adopt the Versailles Treaty and to join the League of Nations allowed Hitler to come to power and eventually conquer Europe after the appeasement of Great Britain and France.
The best response to this argument is that if America had been true to its Founders’ non-interventionist foreign policy and had refused to enter World War I there would have been a negotiated treaty in 1917 and no harsh Versailles Treaty forced on Germany. Without the harsh Versailles Treaty, Hitler and Nazism would not have come to power. If the war had ended in the early part of 1917, there would have been no successful Russian Revolution and no successful birth of Communism. In short, there would have been no World War II. Admittedly, both of these arguments by the interventionists and the non-interventionists are counter-factual arguments. However, you can call as your primary expert witness in support of American non-interventionism none other that Winston Churchill. He made a statement to William Griffen, editor of the New York Enquirer in August of 1936 and it was reported by Mr. Griffen as follows:
America should have minded her own business and stayed out of the World War. If you hadn’t entered the war the Allies would have made peace with Germany in the Spring of 1917. Had we made peace then there would have been no collapse in Russia followed by Communism, no breakdown in Italy followed by Fascism, and Germany would not have signed the Versailles Treaty, which has enthroned Nazism in Germany. If America had stayed out of the war, all these u2018isms’ wouldn’t to-day be sweeping the continent of Europe and breaking down parliamentary government, and if England had made peace early in 1917, it would have saved over one million British, French, American, and other lives.
(See Military History of the Western World by J.F.C. Fuller, vol. III, p. 271, paperback edition published by Da Capo Press. Fuller is one of the world’s foremost military historians.)
The above quotation has been hidden from the general public, as you might expect, because a few years later Winston Churchill was conspiring with Franklin Roosevelt secretly to get America back into the European War which began in 1939. This 1936 statement by Churchill would have been very damaging to their plans. It should also be remembered that Churchill was one of the persons who acted secretly to get America into World War I with the sinking of the Lusitania.
For centuries European politicians had been concerned with the "balance of power" to keep one country from becoming a hegemonic power. The stalemate reached during World War I in early 1917 showed that this "balance of power" had kept the competing nations from having a victor in the war which would have resulted in a negotiated peace treaty if America had not entered the war. Instead, America’s entry into the war destroyed this "balance of power" completely and allowed America and its allies to force a very unfair and harsh Versailles Treaty on Germany. I believe that World War I and World War II were really one war with a twenty year recess and it was the harsh and unfair Versailles Treaty which allowed Hitler to come to power which then led directly to renewal of the war in 1939 in Poland when the League of Nations failed to revise the treaty, which it had the specific authority to do. Many people rightly condemned the League of Nations for its failure to revise the treaty. This failure of peaceful revision led directly to Hitler’s revision by force and to World War II.