by John Hawkins | May 14, 2004 11:59 pm
One thing a lot of people are unaware of is how strongly opposed the American people were to getting involved in WW2 before Pearl Harbor. But in reality, as much as 80% of American public, pre-Pearl Harbor, opposed military intervention in the second world war.
That was because of a number of factors.
Americans felt they were dragged into a “European war” in WW1 and were particularly reluctant to repeat the experience given that less than 25 years after the conflict billed as “the war to end all wars,” they were again facing the prospect of being dragged into another European conflict that looked to be even more daunting than the “Great War”.
Moreover, quite typically as we’ve found out since then, Europe’s gratitude to the United States for saving their bacon didn’t last very long. Despite the fact that we turned the tide in WW1 at great cost in American lives, it wasn’t very long before Europeans were referring to America as “Uncle Shylock” because we expected the loans we gave out it WW1 to be repaid.
Furthermore, you must keep in mind today we think of the Nazis as genocidal, anti-semitic, monsters bent on world conquest, the very essence of evil. But back then? Many Americans looked at them as just another warlike European nation.
So when another huge war broke out in Europe, Americans wanted to sit it out.
Which brings me to Charles Lindbergh’s speech from April 23, 1941. Lindbergh, who was considered to be an American hero back then, warned Americans not to fight in WW2.
Interestingly enough, many of his arguments parallel ones made by liberals like Ted Kennedy, Dennis Kucinich, and John Kerry as well as those of Paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan, who are largely opposed to fighting the war on terrorism. Lindbergh argued that we should just hunker down and defend America because we could not win in WW2. He complained the “interventionists” were sending people to their deaths needlessly & that war wasn’t inevitable for America. Pearl Harbor was less than 8 months away.
After the “date which will live in infamy” Americans united and fought as one against our enemies. Charles Lindbergh? The man who was staunchly opposed to war? Unlike the overwhelming majority of people on the left today, who after 9/11 have actually been a hindrance to America in the war on terrorism, Lindbergh did everything he could to help America win the war after Pearl Harbor including eventually flying combat missions.
So I’d encourage you to read Lindbergh’s speech, take note of how much he sounds like the naysayers of today in some portions, and remember not only how slight our difficulties have been in the war on terror compared to WW2, but how wrong Lindbergh turned out to be about much of what he said.
Read the speech here.
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