Opinion

Non-interventionism wouldn’t have led to a ‘Nazi century’

Photo of John Glaser
John Glaser
Contributor, Antiwar.com

The Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein speaks for a lot of Republican voters when he says Ron Paul’s foreign policy is a non-starter. But Weinstein’s claim that non-interventionism would have led to “the Nazi Century” is simply a misreading of history.

I’m typically more modest than to engage in a series of historical counterfactuals, but two can play this game.

To conservative hawks, every international affair is akin to appeasing the Nazis in World War II. But what Weinstein forgets here is that the rise of the Nazis itself is widely acknowledged to be the product of interventionism. Woodrow Wilson’s crusade to make the world “safe for democracy” ended up heaping the punitive Versailles Treaty on Germany, which laid the groundwork for the grievances that would create the Third Reich.

In fact, if America had pursued a non-interventionist foreign policy during the last century or so, not only would we have not lived through a Nazi century, but plenty of people would have been much better off.

Take, say, President William McKinley’s 1899 war of conquest in the Philippines, which was supposed to “liberate” and “Christianize” Filipinos. To do this, McKinley invaded the country and then authorized American troops to kill any Filipino male 10 years old or older and massacre other civilians. Well over 100,000 Filipinos died — as well as 4,000 U.S. soldiers. Might they have been better off with a non-interventionist foreign policy?

Or we could start where Weinstein leaves off, after WWII. In 1953, the Eisenhower administration secretly orchestrated a military coup to overthrow Iran’s democratically elected government, which was a relatively mainstream, Western-style parliamentary system.

We replaced that with the Shah, a ruthless dictator who spent the next 30 years tormenting and repressing his people. In a classic example of blowback, the 1979 revolution in Iran produced the current Iranian regime, an entity Weinstein surely views as the greatest existential threat we now face.

Following the mission to tyrannize millions of innocents in Iran, Eisenhower ordered the CIA to aid another military coup in Guatemala, stripping its people of their first constitutional government. Guatemala subsequently descended into one of the most brutal civil wars of the century, which included horrible massacres of Mayan Indians, since characterized as genocide.

John F. Kennedy attacked South Vietnam in 1963. Up to 3 million Vietnamese died in that war of choice, not to mention almost 60,000 Americans. Nobody was made safer, and the Evil Empire was not harmed.

On to South America, said the American imperialists! In 1973, the United States participated in yet another episode of international terrorism when it overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. This brought over 15 years of repression by Augusto Pinochet, our favored dictator.

The Carter administration had supported the U.S. puppet dictator in Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza, against the Sandinista uprising. Somoza’s security forces carried out massive atrocities, bombing residential areas and killing tens of thousands of people, with the help of American tax dollars.