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Trump and America First

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Whatever else might be said of Donald Trump, no one can deny that he has the most remarkable ability to make the GOP and mainstream establishment go ballistic. The most recent example is his use of the term “America First” in a foreign policy speech that he delivered right in the center of U.S. Empire, Washington, D.C.

Once again, he has caused the Washington establishment and mainstream pundits and commentaries to scream like banshees.

Why?

Because Trump’s use of “America First” focuses people’s attention on what known as the America First Committee, a nationwide organization that opposed U.S. intervention into World War II.

Given the horrific consequences of U.S. interventionism, it’s not surprising that the interventionists would get upset if any indirectly questions their interventionist shibboleth, World War II. It’s that war that interventionists inevitably revert to when anyone points out the massive death and destruction that the U.S. interventionist death machine has produced in the Middle East and Afghanistan, including the rise of ISIS, partnerships with crooked, corrupt dictatorial regimes, torture, crooked and corrupt regimes, and the enormous refugee crisis.

It’s also the war they raise whenever someone points to the horrific consequences of other interventions, such as the one in Iran that destroyed the country’s experiment in democracy. Or Chile, where U.S. interventionism did the same thing in that country. Or Guatemala, where it did the same thing there. Or Korea, where tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers were forced to die in an unconstitutional intervention into another country’s civil war. Or Vietnam, where tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers died for nothing.

But the idea is that Americans are supposed to ignore all the horrific consequences of interventionism because of World War II, which, they say, proved the success of interventionism. And anyone who questions that notion is considered a heretic within the religion of interventionism, one who must be shut down immediately, even if that includes charges of anti-Semitism or other such smears.

In practically every mainstream piece criticizing the America First Committee, the author will inevitably suggest that the America First Committee was composed of anti-Semites. The implication is that anyone who was a member hated Jews and loved the Nazis.

Really?

There were 800,000 Americans, many of them extremely prominent, in the America First Committee. Members or supporters included future President Gerald Ford, future Peace Corps Director Sergeant Shriver, future Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, future President John F. Kennedy, H. Smith Richardson of the Vick Chemical Corporation, Gen. Robert E. Wood of Sears-Roebuck, and Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune.

Gee, I didn’t know all those people hated Jews and loved Nazi Germany. Did you?

The truth is that the America First Committee was organized to oppose entry into another European war. The operative word is “another.” You see, this is that interventionists never mention when they smear the America First Committee — that it was formed as a direct result of the horrific consequences of the previous big intervention known as World War I and to make sure that that never happened again.

In other words, America First wasn’t formed to criticize Jews or extol Nazi Germany. It was formed to prevent a repeat of World War I, a war that Americans realized had sacrificed American lives and American values for nothing.

Don’t forget: Prior to World War I, Germany had never attacked or invaded the United States. It was the U.S. government, under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, who had decided to reject America’s heritage of non-involvement in foreign wars by intervening in a conflict that was no business of the U.S. government.

His goal? To make this the final war—the war that would bring an end to all future wars. The interventionists were going to show how their philosophy of violent intervention could remake the world — could make the world “safe for democracy.”

In the process, they conscripted American men to serve in their grand crusade, many of whom were killed and maimed.They also destroyed civil liberties by jailing Americans who dared question the war or the  draft.

And at the end of it all? Nothing but death, destruction, and ruination, along with a peace treaty whose terms would soon give rise to Hitler and the Nazis.

That’s why the America First Committee was formed — to make sure that the interventionists would never again foist their philosophy of interventionism onto America.

And there is something important to note here: The America First Committee represented the views of the overwhelming majority of the American people.

Were there members of the America First Committee who were anti-Semitic? Were there members who liked Nazi Germany?

Well, duh! In an organization that opposed another disastrous foreign intervention against Germany, of course there would be some people of that mindset. But to suggest that the organization was formed to be a gigantic enterprise against Jews and in favor of Nazi Germany is ridiculous.

And let’s not forget something else of import here: Anti-Semitism was a prevalent mindset, not only in Nazi Germany but also right here in the good old USA, and one need look any further than interventionist icon President Franklin Roosevelt and his State Department for confirmation.

After all, who was it that turned down Hitler’s offer to let Germany’s Jews exit the country? It was FDR himself, using the excuse of immigration quotas. If he had instead said yes, countless Jews would have been free to come to America, thereby sparing them from the Holocaust.

Who was it who turned away a German ship containing Jewish refugees, knowing full well that they would almost certainly have to be returned to Nazi Germany? You guessed it: U.S. officials themselves. Just Google “Voyage of the Damned.”

And hey, some of the members of the America First Committee weren’t the only ones who thought Hitler was great. So did Winston Churchill. Prior to World War II, he declare that if England ever found herself in desperate straits, he hoped that the country would find its own Adolf Hitler.

And why not — after all, Hitler was employing the same statist economic policies that Roosevelt was employing in America as part of his New Deal socialist-fascist  program to  get the country out of the Great Depression. In fact, that’s what caused Hitler to praise Roosevelt!

And while we are on the subject of FDR, let’s also not forget how he deceived the American people into making them believe that he was a non-interventionist too. That was during his 1940 presidential campaign for a third term in office, when he told Americans that he would never send their boys to die in another foreign war.

But as everyone now acknowledges, he was lying. In fact, he was determined to manipulate things to circumvent the overwhelming will of the American people.

Under the Constitution, FDR was required to seek a congressional declaration of war before he could intervene into World War II. That was the law. That’s the way things work in a representative democracy.

Not for Roosevelt, who had already shown dangerous signs of dictatorial tendency in his first two terms. (Google “FDR” and “court-packing scheme.”). He knew that given the overwhelming sentiment against another intervention, Congress would never vote for a declaration of war.

So, Roosevelt decided that his only hope was to provoke Germany or Japan into “firing the first shot” so  that he could say, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked! We have no choice now but to go to war.”

It was the oldest political trick in the book. It didn’t work with Germany —  it refused to take Roosevelt’s bait. But it worked with the Japanese, especially when they began feeling the effects of FDR’s embargo on oil, which their military machine desperately needed.

Interventionists now admit that Roosevelt lied and deceived the American people into the war. What’s fascinating is that they don’t see anything wrong with what he did. And while mourning the loss of soldiers at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines, they have nothing but praise for the man who intentionally sacrificed those men so that he could circumvent the will of the American people against getting involved in another world war.

When the America First Committee dissolved a few days after the Pearl Harbor attack, FDR must have been so pleased over how he had outsmarted his non-interventionists opponents. You can just imagine the smile on his face.

England had declared war on Germany with the aim of freeing Poland and Eastern Europe from dictatorship. At the end of the war, Nazi Germany lay defeated, but England and the U.S. surrendered Poland and Eastern Europe to the control of their wartime partner and ally, the Soviet Union, which was headed by a brutal communist regime.

Meanwhile, China, which FDR wanted to free from Japanese tyranny, ended up with a brutal communist regime, which still holds power today.

And Americans, for their part, ended up with the Cold War against their old WWII partner, along with a totalitarian-like structure known as the national security establishment or military-industrial complex, which, as president Eisenhower would later point out, posed a grave risk to the freedom of the American people and their democratic processes. That’s the part of the government, of course, that now runs the U.S. death machine, which has brought untold death and destruction to people in the Middle East and Afghanistan as well as other parts of the world.

With victories like that in World War II, who needs defeats?

Donald Trump, needless to say is an interventionist himself, but he is providing a valuable service in causing people to focus on the final  redoubt of interventionists — World War II, the war that interventionists actually call “the good war.”

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.