It’s time for America to stop living by the Wilson Doctrine

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Woodrow Wilson Doctrine

As part of his admirable repudiation of the Wilson Doctrine, Trump absolutely should bring some U.S. troops home and station them on our besieged border.

I caught Tucker Carlson’s show tonight and really liked his opening monologue. It ostensibly went after #NeverTrumper Max Boot, but it really was about something larger, which is the foreign policy establishment’s abiding commitment to using American troops everywhere in the world except where they might actually protect America and Americans — namely, our southern border. Here’s the monologue, if you’re interested:

After the monologue, Trump Tucker spoke with a retired colonel about the D.C. establishment’s absolute unwillingness to use the American military directly for America’s benefit. The colonel believes that special interests are driving this foreign policy. I think it goes deeper than that. The elite (whether in the military or out of it) all went to the same colleges and they were all weened on the same doctrine — that doctrine being the Wilson doctrine. I wrote about the Wilson Doctrine exactly two years ago. I still like the points I made, so I’m reiterating them here, although I’m refining them and adding new material (I say this lest you think it would be too mind-numbering to re-read an entirely recycled post):

When World War I broke out in 1914, dragging Europe from the pinnacle of civilization into an abyss of mindless killing, President Woodrow Wilson, America’s first Progressive Democrat, was resolute: America would not enter into this foreign war.

Americans also had no desire to be drawn into the war, although the country quickly divided into camps supporting the two sides in the battle. Those supporting England, France, Belgium, and Russia (the Allies) only slightly outnumbered the huge German-American population that put its moral weight behind Germany, Austro-Hungary, and a few other central European nations (the Central Powers).

The socialists, led by Eugene Victor Debs and Jane Addams (of Hull House fame), felt it was an obscene inversion of the arc of history for workers of the world to fight along nationalistic lines, rather than to band together against the worldwide evil of capitalism. Many who were not socialists, but saw no good in spilling American blood on foreign soil, joined their peace movement.

Although the population was divided and Wilson clung to neutrality, as the years passed that neutrality had a remarkably Anglophile feel to it. The moment the war started, the British had cut the transatlantic cable tying America to the continent. This meant that Americans received only British war reports, not German ones. That’s not to say the Germans didn’t deserve their bad press. They inflicted horrific carnage in both Belgium and France on their abortive push to Paris. Once news of that got out, many of those Americans who weren’t already actively pro-German would have been loath to side with Germany.

Something else that made neutrality more honored in the breach than in practice was the fact that American ships could reach Britain, even as Britain blocked them from reaching Germany. This created an economic boom for the Americans selling weapons and food to England — and, of course, it was a lifeline for Britain, which could never have lasted as long as it did without American supplies.

As the war progressed, and the money the British owed American manufacturers increased, America increasingly had a vested financial interest in a European victory. There would have been a serious depression in America had Britain lost the war.

The Germans were understandably concerned about the of weapons and supplies heading from America to England. In 1915, a German submarine torpedoed the HMS Lusitania, killing over a thousand passengers, including 128 Americans. Americans were outraged that the Germans had attacked a passenger ship and were disinterested in the fact that the ship was almost certainly carrying weapons to the British. To Americans, it was bad enough that the German’s were attacking American merchant marines with their newfangled submarines, without having them attack civilian vessels. The Germans, worried that the ship’s sinking would bring America into the war, promised to stop attacking American ships.

By 1916, though, the Germans concluded that the Americans, because they were arming England, were a de facto combatant in WWI. The Germans therefore announced that they were reversing course on their submarine moratorium and, henceforth, that all American ships approaching Britain were fair game.

Worse, in 1917, the British revealed the infamous Zimmermann Telegram, an internal German communication. Through it, the Americans learned that the Germans were proposing a military alliance with Mexico if the Americans entered the war. Even Wilson could no longer turn a blind eye to these provocations. He therefore went to Congress in April 1917 to make the case for war. This speech was to set the tone for American foreign policy for almost 100 years.

What Wilson realized as he wrote his speech was that, despite German attacks on American ships, America did not actually have any good reason to enter the war. Germany was an ocean away and, provided that the U.S. stayed out of the war, keeping Mexico neutral, Germany did not threaten America’s security or sovereignty. Moreover, if American retreated to true neutrality — that is, if she stopped trading with Britain — Germany would instantly leave her alone.

The one thing that Wilson could not admit was that, thanks to his turning a blind eye for three years to America’s ongoing trade with Britain, a British victory was the only way in which the U.S. could recoup the credit it had extended to Britain for the preceding three years. But again, there was no way that Wilson would ever say that he was sending American boys to a charnel house for crass commercial reasons.

Faced with an unspeakable reason for entering the war, Wilson instead came up with a high-flown moral doctrine justifying America’s entry into the war. And so the Wilson doctrine was born (emphasis mine):

We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

Although the Wilson doctrine was essentially a cover for an economic war, Wilson almost certainly believed his own rhetoric. That’s why, after the war, he unavailingly tried to get the victorious allied nations to welcome Germany back into the fold. The allies, of course, having spilled unimaginable amounts of blood and treasure, thought the American president was a ridiculous little man. They were going to wring every penny possible out of Germany. If only they could have foreseen how a bankrupt, unstable Germany would ultimately decide to recover….

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While the Europeans sneered at the idealistic hick from America, the American intelligentsia, already in love with a Democrat Progressive president who promised that rational expertise would lead them to a new paradise, agreed with Wilson that America was the engine of a higher calling. It was only right and just that this superior nation would fight to better the entire world, spreading far and wide the blessings of their own freedom. It did not occur to them then, as it did not occur to Iraq supporters almost 90 years later, that America’s freedoms might in fact be uniquely .  . . American.

These same “freedom-loving” Americans were unfazed by the contradiction inherent in the fact that Wilson, a KKK-loving racist, had closed civil service jobs to African-Americans the moment he entered the White House, and then encouraged segregation in every area of Washington life — and in the military. Nor did they quibble when, at the start of WWI, Wilson pursued his program of bringing democracy overseas by imposing fascist policies at home that silenced all dissent and used heavy-handed government propaganda, along with an army of experts, to control every aspect of American life. (As always, if you’re interested in how Wilson planted the seeds for much of today’s Progressivism, you can’t do better than to read Jonah Goldberg’s invaluable Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change.)

Beginning in 1917, and for the next 90 years, official American foreign policy hewed tightly to the Wilson Doctrine. The word from Washington was America would not fight for water rights, or to control people, or for empire, or for power, or for wealth, or for oil: She would fight altruistically to free people. That’s what America did in WWI, in WWII, in Korea, in Vietnam, in Iraq (twice), and in Afghanistan. No matter the special interests behind the scenes tugging policy one way or another, in the grand panoply of American foreign policy, America fought on the principle that her blood and wealth, when spilled on foreign shores, would free the world from tyrants, to the benefit of all, America included.

Things changed in 2008, with Barack Obama’s ascension, but they didn’t change as much as some people think. Obama, like Wilson, was a Progressive Democrat who believed in his own hype. Some, when looking at Obama’s manifest disdain for America and her values, believed him to be the antithesis of Wilson. Thus, Wilson believed America was a special nation uniquely suited to freeing the world, while Obama believed America was a deeply flawed nation uniquely suited to destroying the world.

Ironically enough, however, Obama’s dark vision led him into a Wilsonian doctrine, although one seen through a dark, fun house mirror. Because Obama viewed America as a Typhoid Mary nation, one that destroyed everything it touched, his idea of making the world safe wasn’t necessarily to make it safe for democracy. It was, instead, to make the world safe from America.

To that end, Obama pulled America out of nations in which it was actually doing good, both for the nations and for America. Thus, no matter how foolish it was for America to go to Iraq in the first place, once she achieved victory there following the Surge, remaining there did provided stability in the Middle East, did bring some measure of freedom to the Iraqis, and did keep Iraq from becoming a terrorist breeding ground. Obama, therefore, promptly pulled American troops out of Iraq, creating a power vacuum that ISIS and Iran happily filled. He also put his weight behind America’s former enemies, certain that all problems lay with America, and that it would take just a little charm offensive to bring around the Mullahs in Iran, the Erdogan Islamists in Turkey, Putin and his Russian oligarchs, and a host of bad other actors around the world.

With Obama’s ascendancy came the birth of a subset of the Wilson doctrine: America would make this world safe by leading from behind. Her absence would allow native cultures to flourish in all their morally relativistic beauty. Moreover, as a form of self-abnegation, America would send her troops — that is, her Heartland’s children — and her money only into those battles that offered no benefit whatsoever to America itself. That altruism would cleanse America of every stain Obama believed besmirched America’s soul.

It didn’t mattered to Obama that democracy died in Iran, Libya turned into a terror haven, ISIS took over vast swaths of the Middle East, the Taliban returned to Afghanistan, the UN denied Israel’s ancient ties to the land, five-hundred-thousand people died in Syria, millions of people became refugees, and Europe came to the brink of culturally assisted suicide. It was enough for Obama that, just as Wilson and his successors did, he used America to make the world safe. The only difference was that, unlike his predecessor’s, he used the American military to make the world safe from . . . America.

As the Max Boot segment on Tucker Carlson shows, the Progressive and #NeverTrump American establishment — all those university-educated types who opine about good wars and bad, while your children die — continues to hew to Obama’s Bizarro World repackaging of the Wilson doctrine: America must fight wars that do not benefit her in order to serve as a shining example. Once upon a time, under Wilson, we were a shining example of democracy (Wilsonian democracy, of course, which always had a strong whiff of fascism about it). Now, with Obama, we became a shining example of doing penance for our racist, colonialist past by shedding blood only where it didn’t help America.

Trump’s foreign policy, for the first time in over 100 years, is an America first policy. And lest anyone suddenly spring up and say, “I told you Trump was a nationalist in the Hitlerian mode,” and start singing “America uber alles,” cool your jets.

Trump’s is not a policy of conquest, a la Hitler. Instead, he simply rejects the long-held notion that America has a duty to make the world safe for democracy or that America has a duty to cleanse her soul by sacrificing the children of her heartland to virtue signal to the rest of the world. Trump simply wants America and Americans to be both safe and prosperous. He’ll do whatever it takes, at home and abroad, to make those twin goals happen.

To this end, Trump has no interest in spilling American blood and spending American dollars to make Syria, North Korea, or Afghanistan safe for democracy. He simply wants the bad actors in those nations to know that, if they engage in acts that threaten America or her reliable allies, he will stomp them like bugs, quickly and efficiently. We’ve now seen that play out in both Syria (something that also sent a message to North Korea, China, and Russia), and in Afghanistan, where an efficient use of American military might triggered this moving series of tweets.

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It doesn’t matter to Trump whether America’s enemy is ISIS in Afghanistan or Iraq; Assad and his chemical weapons in Syria; or Kim Jong-un and his nuclear cuddlies in North Korea. To Trump, all of them need to be taught quickly and firmly that, as long as they leave him and his friends alone, he’ll leave them alone; and if they forget that lesson . . . well, they’d better tuck their heads between their knees and kiss their sadistic, tyrannical asses good-bye.

When it comes to America’s traditional allies, Trump will work with them provided he feels they’re not taking advantage of America’s good will and that the partnership operates, not just to their benefit, but to America’s. In that context, “to America’s benefit” doesn’t mean the good feelings that accompany the pure Wilsonian altruism of making the world safe for democracy or the Obama altruism of making the world safe from America. Instead, it means a tangible benefit to America in the form of good trading relations and fair financial dealing America partners with another nation against a common foe.

Although Trump has not articulated this doctrine, his actions to date are consistent: Leave America alone and she will leave you alone. Be a good friend to America and she will be a good friend to you . . . up to a point. She will not fight your wars for you unless it’s in her interest to do so.

So what is in America’s interest? I would argue that protect America from a unconstrained migrant invasion from the South is in her interest and that Trump has the power to act on that interest.

Thus, President Donald John Trump, notwithstanding the Democrats in Congress and in the media, and especially notwithstanding the judges in the Ninth Circuit, is Commander in Chief of the American military. Faced with a declared emergency (and yes, he has the power to make that declaration), he can send America’s military to guard our southern borders against an invasion that currently totals about 100,000 or more people per month.

The wall is a permanent, long-term solution, but we need a short term fix. Trump should act immediately to draw our troops out of at least some of the 177 or so countries in which they are now stationed, and should instead place them on our own border.

Trump needs to do this as a matter of principle to establish that we do have a border and to prevent us from becoming Rome falling underneath the barbarian hordes.

He needs to do this as a matter of national security to keep terrorists from embedding themselves in this migrant population.

He needs to do this as a matter of economic security to keep our economy from being drained by people taking jobs away from America’s working class and remitting American dollars to Latin America.

He needs to to this as a matter of health security, as these migrants are harboring a medieval melange of diseases. (It’s bad enough that the homeless policies in our West Coast Progressive cities are incubating medieval diseases too.) It’s also a matter of health security because heroin and other drugs are flowing across the borders into America’s heartlands, wiping out populations.

And lastly, he needs to do this as a humane policy for Latin Americans. First, it will stop human trafficking across our borders, with children traded like cattle to facilitate coyotes who push “families” over the border and with women (and children) subject to terrible sex abuse, both on the road to America and once in America. Second, it will force Latin American countries, both at the government and the citizen level, to address their own problems. As long as we provide a safety valve, they have no incentive to do so.

At 102 years old, it’s time for the Wilson Doctrine to be given a gold watch and a nice speech, and then to be sent into decorous retirement. It has no place in the modern world. The continued reverence for the doctrine that infects the Democrat Party and the foreign policy establishment (but I repeat myself) needs to end if America is going to survive as a sovereign country whose leaders works to benefit American lives.

I’ll end this post by stealing a shtick from another post I wrote, this one after hearing Trump’s inaugural speech:

My recent trip to Southeast Asia occasioned a whole lot of flights — nine to be precise. We made long-hauls to get halfway across the world and short-hauls to allow us to fit four countries into a short time-frame. Nine flights means watching nine in-flight safety videos. My current favorite is United’s, because I like Gershwin and I appreciate the effort to make the video entertaining:

If you don’t want to watch the entire video, just go to the 1:50 mark in the video in the video. That’s the point at which United does the “oxygen mask” portion of the video:

If necessary, an oxygen mask will drop from above your seat. If a strap appears, pull down on the strap to access your mask. Firmly pull the mask to extend the tubing. Place the mask over your nose and mouth, and slip the band over your head. The band does not require adjustment. To start the flow of oxygen, breathe normally. Make sure your mask is secure before helping others. (Emphasis mine.)

For those wondering why the safety instruction insists upon the seemingly counter intuitive advice for a parent to put a child’s safety needs second, rather than first, the answer is that, if the parent becomes debilitated from lack of oxygen, he can help neither himself nor someone else . . . and debility happens very quickly indeed. This following video explains exactly what happens in a low oxygen environment. It’s impressive to see how quickly a person goes from feeling fine to being incompetent, with death following swiftly:

You’ve probably already figured out my analogy by this point. Trump’s speech is the equivalent of an in-flight safety video regarding oxygen masks. For the past 16 years, America has been pouring her resources outwards, away from her own needs, and she’s near death now.

America, as the world’s preeminent country does have a role in helping maintain some sort of balance in the rest of the world. However, that responsibility does not mean we must carry the entire burden of protecting other countries from themselves or turning them all into little Americas. That’s not going to work. It’s never going to work. But we can still use our might to tilt the balance here and there in responsible ways.

Importantly, though, America cannot provide that stabilizing service if she does not take care of herself first. And if mewling #NeverTrumpers and their Progressive fellow travelers think things are bad if America doesn’t act around the world now, they have no idea how bad it will be if there is no America at all

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About Bookworm 1051 Articles
Bookworm came late to conservativism but embraced it with passion. She's been blogging since 2004 at Bookworm Room about anything that captures her fancy -- and that's usually politics. Her blog's motto is "Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts."