I participated in the May 24, 2016 “Libertarian Angle,” webinar sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation, with the Foundation’s president, Jacob G. Hornberger, on the topic: “The Interventionism of the Two World Wars, Part III.”
In part 3 of this series, we look at the post-World War I disillusionment with the promises made during and immediately after the Great War. Woodrow Wilson may have talked about a “war to end all wars,” or “making the world safe for democracy.” But, in fact, it became clear in the peace treaties imposed on the defeated Central Powers, especially Germany, that this was to a victors’ vengeful peace. And in spite of Wilson’s call for “national self-determination” in place of imperial empires, the British and French were determined to grab German colonies for themselves, and carve up the Turkish Empire as additions to their own empires in the Middle East.
And out of the ashes of the war, instead of freedom and democratic government came Lenin’s communist dictatorship in the former Russian Empire and the emergence of fascism in Italy under Mussolini in 1922, who coined the term “totalitarianism” to express the essence of his political and economic collectivist system. This was followed by the achievement to power by Hitler and his Nazi movement in Germany in 1933, determined to follow a path of racial totalitarianism and central planning.
When new war clouds began to emerge over Europe as the 1930s progressed and finally became armed conflict with Germany’s invasion of Poland followed by declares of war by Britain and France in September 1939, public opinion polls in the United States showed clearly that up until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the vast majority of Americans did not want America to be drawn into another European conflict. Hence, the “America First Movement” made up, mostly, of critics concerned about a renewed loss of American lives and fortunes from another war abroad, and a fear that with another war would come even more losses of liberty at home after eight years of the collectivist of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.
But FDR was determined to draw America into the war in Europe and the conflict between Japan and China in Asia. How and why Roosevelt inched America closer and closer to war between 1939 and December 1941 will be analyzed in part 4 of this series.
Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.