World War II and the Triumph of Non-Interventionism

On December 24, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broadcast a Christmas message to Americans. Remarking on his recent conference with British prime minister Winston Churchill and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin, Roosevelt announced that the Big Three “had devoted ourselves…to consideration of the future – to plans for the kind of world which alone can justify all…

The Necessity and Morality of the Atomic Bombs Reconsidered

On June 10th, 1942, the Ordnungspolizei, the Nazi Order Police, rolled into the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice. Two weeks earlier, the Nazi governor of the region, Reinhard Heydrich, had been attacked when resistance fighters threw a grenade into his car. Heydrich died a week later after refusing medical treatment from non-Germans. The Nazi high command…

How FDR Appeased Stalin and Sowed the Seeds of the Cold War

On the evening of November 29, 1943, American president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin dined together in Tehran, Iran to celebrate the first wartime meeting between the three leaders. The festive atmosphere turned suddenly grim when Stalin happily suggested that the Allies agree to execute 50,000 German…

The Failure and Consequences of FDR’s Unconditional Surrender Policy

On the afternoon of January 24, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a group of reporters on the progress of World War II. The setting was Casablanca, French Morocco, and at Roosevelt’s side was British prime minister, Winston Churchill, with whom the president had just completed an 11-day conference. After briefing the reporters on topics…

Rationing, Taxes and Concentration Camps: America’s World War II Homefront

In the debates over America’s role in World War II, non-interventionists warned that with war would come increases in the size of the government and the powers of the presidency. Such growth, they said, would result in more social regimentation and experimentation at the hands of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Dealers. In this…

Was America’s War with Japan Avoidable?

Around 12:30 p.m. on December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt rose before a joint session of Congress. Beginning the most famous speech in a lifetime of famous speeches, a somber Roosevelt said, “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval…

American Foreign Policy and the Coming of World War II

In their arguments for staying out of World War II, non-interventionists claimed that their position was the traditional American stance on foreign policy. The founders’ advice to steer clear of other nations’ conflicts, they said, had for a century served America well, and that same advice should guide American policy again. On the other side…

Why Non-Interventionists Opposed American Entry into World War II

It is doubtful that any anti-war movement in American history has been as vilified as those lonely souls who opposed American entry into World War II. Activists like the anti-imperialists at the turn of the 20th century have simply been forgotten, left to be neither condemned nor lauded by posterity. Others, like the opponents to…

A Non-Interventionist Appraisal of World War II: Introduction

In the spring of 2001, syndicated columnist Maureen Dowd expressed her frustration with the World War II generation. That year not only witnessed the beginning of construction on the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C., it also brought World War II drama to the Silver Screen with the release of Pearl Harbor, and…

The Illusion of Victory | Thomas Fleming

The Illusion of Victory by Thomas Fleming Quick Review In April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany, officially entering World War I. By the end of the following year, American doughboys had aided in the defeat of Germany and it allies. But this apparent victory, writes Thomas Fleming, was illusory. The lofty ideals…

America First | Wayne Cole

America First by Wayne Cole Quick Review The America First Committee, which from 1940 to 1941 opposed American entry into World War II, was easily one of the most demonized organizations in American history. The committee, its principles and its motivations have been scrutinized, often unfairly, for decades. In the appropriately titled America First, historian Wayne…

The New Dealers’ War | Thomas Fleming

The New Dealers’ War by Thomas Fleming Quick Review In The New Dealers’ War, acclaimed historian Thomas Fleming takes an iconoclastic look at Franklin D. Roosevelt, his administration and American policy – foreign and domestic – during World War II. The result is a severe battering of World War II mythology. In particular, Fleming explodes the…

The Axis Alliance and Japanese-American Relations | Paul Schroeder

The Axis Alliance and Japanese-American Relations by Paul Schroeder Quick Review The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 is remembered by Americans as something like a bolt out of the blue, a sneak attack from an irrational enemy. The truth, however, is that the Japanese attack was preceded by six months of…

Some Remedial History on “America First”

Leftists and neocons (but I repeat myself) are apoplectic over Donald Trump’s “America First” comment in his Inaugural Address. MSNBC commentators labeled it Hitler-esque, while Bill Kristol labeled himself “old fashioned” in decrying the terminology. These groups, as usual, have gotten their history wrong. So here’s a remedial crash course on the history of “America…

The Manning Commutation: Three Thoughts

Yesterday, President Obama commuted the sentence of Bradley/Chelsea Manning, the whistle blower who leaked information, including documentation and videos of Americans killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, to Wikileaks in 2010. Manning was arrested that same year and was convicted of 17 charges in 2013, later being sentenced to 35 years in prison. The story of…

Why I’m Excited for the Trump Presidency

During an acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep took the opportunity to criticize President-Elect Donald Trump. A lot of people, unsurprisingly including Trump himself, have in turn criticized Streep for spouting off her political opinions at a (theoretically) non-political event. But I, for one, found it refreshing. You see, I had begun to…

Unconditional Surrender | Anne Armstrong

Unconditional Surrender by Anne Armstrong Quick Review On January 24, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed a meeting of Allied leaders by stating that their collective aim was the unconditional surrender of the Axis nations. History records this as the mantra that won the war. But in Unconditional Surrender, Anne Armstrong examines the true impact of…

Honor in the Dust | Gregg Jones

Honor in the Dust by Gregg Jones Quick Review The 1898 Spanish-American War is a largely forgotten conflict, overshadowed in history by the two World Wars that followed it. Neglected further still is America’s resulting war against the independence movement in the Philippines, which was acquired by the United States as part of the peace…

Prompt and Utter Destruction | J. Samuel Walker

Prompt and Utter Destruction by J. Samuel Walker Quick Review There are few topics in American history that are more controversial than the atomic bombings of Japan at the end of World War II. Questions about the morality and military necessity of using the bombs arose immediately after they were dropped and have been debated…