April 9, 2009


Ninety-Two Years and Counting (Geoffrey Norman, 4.8.09, American Spectator)

Still, the United States joined in; at a cost of more than 250,000 killed and wounded. Europeans tended to downplay the military contribution of the United States while a number of Americans believed that without their country's help, the Allies wouldn't have won the war. Winston Churchill agreed, though that did not mean he considered this a good and desirable outcome.

"America should have minded her own business and stayed out of the World War," he told an American newspaper editor. "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…enthroned Nazism in Germany."

We got the Treaty wrong, too. At least according to John Maynard Keynes who wrote to a friend that America "had a chance of taking a large, or at least humane view of the world, but unhesitatingly refused it." [...]

"Some damned fool thing in the Balkans," Bismarck had said when asked what would bring war to Europe. He was right. August, 1914 turned Europeans into cynics and fatalists and maybe with reason. They didn't have an especially good century and they became bitter, cautious, and touchy. If a nation's birthrate is a measure of civic optimism, then Europe is populated by pessimists.

Americans don't see the world that way and don't really need to apologize for being arrogant, derisive, and dismissive. We've groveled enough before the airy sophisticates. Let them keep the headquarters in Brussels for meetings. They can assemble all their combined military might on the parade ground (since the troops certainly won't be in Afghanistan or anywhere that actual fighting is being done) for a full-dress review after which the ministers and their aides can adjourn for a good luncheon. That's the sort of thing they are good at.

We, meanwhile, can look north, south, and west where the next opportunities and threats will come from.

And write the last 92 years off as an honest, well-intentioned mistake.

John Mosier's Myth of the Great War leaves no question about how decisive our entry into the war was. Though all it won was a Pyrrhic peace when Wilson forsook the quintessentially Anglo-American value of self-determination for the intellectuals' pipe dream of transnationalism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 9, 2009 8:20 AM
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