The Isolation Myth
emery at MARION.ULTRANET.COM
Tue Feb 6 15:37:51 MST 1996
The Isolationist Myth
by Patrick J. Buchanan
December 3, 1994
"High among the falsehoods is that 'free trade' made America
prosperous and protectionism always made her poor......" - Pat
Poor Smoot and Hawley. They get it every time. During the closing
hours of GATT debate, their names were everywhere: Reed Smoot and
Willis Hawley, architects of that dreadful, ruinous tariff bill of
Smoot-Hawley, it was said, deepened -- if it did not cause -- the
depression. Smoot-Hawley proved the folly of using tariffs to
protect America. Smoot-Hawley made the case, forever, for free
trade. GATT opponents were isolationists and protectionists in the
Smoot-Hawley tradition. It was their forebears who made the world
safe for fascism and laid the groundwork for WWII.
This is part and parcel of The Great Myth of the 20th century: That
withdrawal of America's armies from Europe after World War I, our
refusal to ratify the Versailles peace treaty and our isolationism
and protectionism in the '20s and '30s, made the world safe for
fascism, Hitler and World War II. We Americans bear responsibility
for those horrors. We are guilty! Therefore, we owe mankind
reparations and must never again shirk our duties to the world.
This myth is the greatest of the "Blame America First" slanders. It
is endlessly exploited, here and abroad, by men whose dreams have
always been to leech out America's reservoirs of blood and treasure
for their own global ambitions.
But The Great Myth is a great lie
Fascism and Bolshevism -- Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler -- did
not result from American isolationism. They were the results of
European stupidity and bloody-minded idiot-interventionism. World
War I, the monstrous bloodbath which destroyed four empires --
Russian, German, Austrian, and Ottoman -- and brought Lenin to power
in 1917, was Europe's doing, not America's.
As for the Versailles treaty, which split a defeated Germany in Two
and left millions of German-speaking peoples cut off from their
homelands, isolated in France, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, that
was the doing of British and French "statesmen." Woodrow Wilson may
have gone along, but it was not he who scheduled WWII -- with the
vindictive, wicked peace of WWI.
That the U.S. should have joined the League of Nations and used its
power to police this squalid treaty is absurd. For Versailles did
not rest on Wilson's "Fourteen Points," the principles of peace that
had won Berlin's agreement to an armistice.
Versailles trampled all over them. It denied German-speaking
peoples all over Europe the right of self-determination they had been
promised if Germany and Austria laid down their arms. The only way
the Western allies won German acceptance of their dictatorial,
Carthaginian peace, was with a British-led Starvation Blockade of
1919, itself a moral atrocity and violation of Wilson's Fourteen
Mussolini, the first of the fascists, came to power in 1922.
(Perhaps Il Duce marched on Rome to protest the Fordney-McCumber
tariff.) And perhaps Hitler's Munich Beer Hall putsch in 1923, where
he tried to seize power in Bavaria, was pulled off in anticipation of
Dismemberment of Germany at Versailles, the imposition of impossible
reparation demands, which post-Kaiser Germany was forced to accept,
discredited Weimar democracy and created the misery and thirst for
revenge -- not some U.S. tariff.
But didn't Smoot-Hawley cause the Depression? Again, myth. The
1929 collapse on Wall Street triggered the Great Depression. The
failure of thousands of banks, wiping out a third of America's
savings, caused the Depression to last until WWII, long after the
Smoot-Hawley tariffs had been rolled back.
Americans today are being indoctrinated in false history. And high
among the falsehoods is that "free trade" with foreign nations made
America prosperous, and protectionism always made her poor. This is
the catechism of the One Worlders, but it is politically correct
history -- not truth.
All four presidents on Mt. Rushmore were protectionists. The
greatest era of industrial expansion in America, where our workers
saw the greatest rise in their standard of living was from 1860-1914,
when America protected her industries and jobs behind a tariff wall.
During that half century, U.S. exports rose 700 percent, while
imports rose only 500 percent! By 1914, U.S. workers were earning 50
percent more that Brits, and more than twice what Germans and
No nation has ever risen to pre-eminence through free trade.
Britain before 1848, America and Germany from 1865 to 1914, Japan
from 1950 on, all practiced protectionism.
Now, the indices of national decline are all around us: endless huge
trade deficits, falling wages, urban and social decay. But that
decline will not be reversed until Americans cease to think of
themselves as global citizens, with global duties, and start thinking
again of their own country.
Smoot and Hawley aren't responsible for America's decline. Rather,
it is those who make constant sport of them, and who need to be
driven from power, if America is to reclaim the lost dream.
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