Category Archives: WOODROW WILSON

This year’s race for president is an eerie repeat of the early days of the 1920 election season

A corrupt politician, a communist, a “government by expert” guy, and a pro-American iconoclast are running for president. This is 1920 all over again.

The presidential election in 1920 was a very interesting one. At the end of the day, the race boiled down to a contest between the Republican Warren G. Harding and the Democrat James M. Cox. However, in the lead-up to the election, a more interesting field was in play. Here were four of the candidates:

Woodrow Wilson, the current president, wanted to run again despite the fact that he had been felled by a stroke. For obvious reasons, the Democrat party didn’t want an ailing man who was, by then, quite unpopular.

Eugene V. Debs, a hardcore socialist, made his fourth run for president, something he did from inside a prison cell.

Warren G. Harding, a former U.S. Senator, was the quintessential “smoke-filled room” candidate.

Teddy Roosevelt, a colorful character who had been president from 1901 through 1909, also wanted to run again.

That’s the short version about those men. Here’s the longer version, along with a little bit about their modern political cognates in the presidential race.

Woodrow Wilson was America’s first progressive president. He represented the culmination of an upper-middle-class movement that believed in better living through expertise. Not just any expertise, though, but government expertise. An academic who was certain that he knew best, he believed that the Constitution was a limiting document that prevented him from micromanaging the American people for their own benefit.

Randolph J. May sums up nicely Wilson’s approach to government:

Wilson was convinced, in no small measure by his admiration for prominent late 19th century German social scientists, that “modern government” should be guided by administrative agency “experts” with specialized knowledge beyond the ken of ordinary Americans — and that these experts shouldn’t be unduly constrained by ordinary notions of democratic rule or constitutional constraints.

So, in his seminal 1887 article, “The Study of Administration,” published in the same year that the first modern regulatory commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission, was created, Wilson explained that he wanted to counter “the error of trying to do too much by vote.” Hence, he admonished that “self-government does not consist in having a hand in everything,” while pleading for “administrative elasticity and discretion” free from checks and balances.

[snip]

Wilson well understood that his notion of Progressive governance by “fourth branch” administrative experts was constitutionally problematic. In 1891, he wrote that “the functions of government are in a very real sense independent of legislation, and even constitutions.” Regarding this view that the Constitution was an obstacle to be overcome, not a legitimate charter establishing a system of checks on government power, Wilson never wavered. He complained in 1913 as president: “The Constitution was founded on the law of gravitation. The government was to exist and move by virtue of the efficacy of ‘checks and balances.’ The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live.”

Once Wilson decided that America needed to be the world’s policeman (because, again, Wilson knew best), he created the Wilson doctrine that has dominated American politics right up until the Trump presidency (even, in a screwy way, the Obama presidency. I’ve written about it here and won’t repeat myself. It’s enough to say that Wilson used the excuse of war to expand government power beyond anything seen before in America, reaching a point almost equal to martial law.

Wilson’s heir in the 2020 election is Mike Bloomberg. Like Wilson, Bloomberg believes in better living through government micromanagement. He trusts his own judgment about all things is better than the judgment of the American people. He believes that his expertise will make Americans so happy that they won’t notice the loss of their freedoms (especially the Second Amendment). Unlike Wilson, Bloomberg comes out of the business world, not academia, but his approach is the same. Incidentally, despite Bernie’s win in Nevada, creating momentum, don’t count Bloomberg out. Bloomberg believes (probably correctly) that Bernie can’t win. Moreover, he loathes Trump so much that he’ll throw any amount of money at defeating Bernie either before or at the Democrat convention.

As an aside, Adolf Hitler greatly admired Wilson’s approach to governance, including his racial and eugenic policies. After all, once you’ve set yourself up as a bureaucratic, administrative god, you start to see yourself as unconstrained by mere conventional morality.

Eugene V. Debs was a deeply committed socialist and, indeed, was one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World, an international labor union you may remember from your high school history class known as the “Wobblies.” It pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Debs that Howard Zinn greatly admired him: “Debs was what every socialist or anarchist or radical should be: fierce in his convictions, kind and compassionate in his personal relations.”

Bernie Sanders is Debs’ heir in this election. Indeed, Sanders has always been a Debs’ acolyte. In 1979, he made a documentary dedicated to Debs. (The Stanley Kurtz article from which I’m quoting, by the way, is from 2015.)

It’s true that this is a documentary about Debs’s socialism, not Sanders’s. Yet in his 1997 memoirOutsider in the House, Sanders proudly invokes his Debs documentary and declares that Debs “remains a hero of mine.” Sanders himself plays the voice of Debs in the film. Sanders’ documentary lacks any hint that Debs might have either made mistakes or taken positions that may seem troubling in retrospect. Debs is Bernie’s hero and Bernie clearly wants Debs to be your hero too.

Nowadays, Sanders points to Scandinavian welfare states as the embodiment of his democratic socialism. I don’t doubt that Sanders would like to see America move in that direction, and that is troubling enough. Yet the Debs documentary suggests that Sanders’s ultimate goal lies beyond even European social democracy. The man who made this documentary was pretty clearly a classic socialist: committed to relentless class struggle, complete overthrow of the capitalist system — preferably by the vote, but by violence if necessary — and full worker control of the means of production via the government.

There’s plenty of continuity with Sanders’s current rhetoric here, like his controversial remarks decrying the number of deodorants consumers get to choose from in capitalist society. These days, Sanders calls for a “political revolution,” and the Debs documentary clearly admires labor unions and politicians who seek to bring about revolution by peaceful democratic means. Yet just as clearly, Sanders admires Debs for saying that, in the last resort, violent revolution remains an option.

Sanders’ treatment of Debs’ support for Russia’s communist revolution of 1917 is particularly striking. Here, at least, you might expect a bit of distancing or criticism from a truly “democratic” socialist. Yet Sanders obviously admires Debs’ decision to give “unqualified support to the Russian Revolution which had just taken place under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky.” When Sanders turns to explaining the decline of Debs’ Socialist Party after 1917, he attributes it to the party’s opposition to World War I and to fear of persecution. Nowhere does Sanders suggest that the Russian Revolution and its aftermath may have raised legitimate concerns about socialism. Sanders’s honeymoon in the Soviet Union and his trips to Cuba and Nicaragua make a lot of sense in light of his documentary on Debs.

I recommend reading Kurtz’s entire article. It explains a lot about what Sanders is hiding in this election cycle, especially with his pretense that Denmark, a capitalist state with a strong welfare sector, is what socialism looks like.

Incidentally, I believe that both Buttigieg, the son of an open Marxist college professor, and Amy Klobuchar, a true daughter of leftist Minnesota, hope ultimately to achieve Debs’ goals from 1920. They’re Fabians, though, believing that slo-mo socialism is more palatable than a rush into total socialism.

Warren G. Harding was the establishment favorite. An amiable, corrupt dunce, the Republican party put him in place because they knew they could control him and because his fuzzy politics and his willingness to say whatever it took to win aligned generally with Republican party goals in 1920. Eventually, his corruption caught up with him, ending in the famous (or infamous) Teapot Dome Scandal.

One hundred years later, and the amiable, corrupt dunce is Joe Biden, who entered the primary season as the Democrat establishment’s favorite. Nobody expects much from Joe Biden, other than to just do whatever leftist initiative the backroom boys and girls tell him to do. In the unlikely event he becomes president, his inevitable corruption scandal will easily eclipse anything attached to Harding. Moreover, while Harding may have been a pawn, the Hunter Biden story says that Joe Biden is an actor, not a pawn.

And finally, there’s Teddy Roosevelt. From the first day he hit the American political scene, Teddy Roosevelt was a happy warrior — a truly larger-than-life character. He had a ferocious love for America, was brash and blustery, came up with innovative ideas, and was a fierce warrior against corruption and monopolies. He also had a big, colorful, successful brood, including (by his beautiful first wife) his brilliant, charismatic daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth. He was an American original in every way.

We currently have such an American original in the White House in the person of Donald Trump. He too is a happy warrior — a brash, blustery, larger-than-life character who loves America ferociously and has a big, colorful, successful brood, including (by his beautiful first wife) his brilliant, charismatic daughter, Ivanka Kushner. And Trump, of course, is nothing if not an American original.

Like Trump, who is the most pro-Israel president since 1948, Teddy Roosevelt was deeply philo-Semitic and pro-Zionist:

[T]he president was a profound supporter of Jews and their needs and interests, both at home and overseas, and he was much beloved by the Jewish people. Roosevelt had visited Eretz Yisrael, then under Ottoman rule, in 1873 as a teenager and written about the trip in his diary, including a description of Jews at prayer at the Kotel.

As regimental commander of the famed Rough Riders leading the charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War, he developed great admiration for the bravery of the 17 Jews under his command. Praising them, he said, “One of the best colonels among the regulars who fought beside me was a Jew. One of the commanders of the ship which blockaded the coast so well was a Jew. In my own regiment, I promoted five men from the ranks for valor… and these included one Jew.” The first of the Rough Riders to be killed in action was a Jew, 16-year-old Jacob Wilbusky of Texas (and the first to fall in the American attack on Manila was also a Jew, Sergeant Maurice Joost of California).

As police commissioner, Roosevelt developed a special relationship with Jews, praising them for their dedicated service to New York City. In one celebrated incident, the bravery of a Jewish policeman racing fearlessly into a burning house convinced Roosevelt that Jews could make outstanding contributions to America and that discrimination against them could not be tolerated.

In his autobiography, he tells the amusing tale of a Pastor Hermann Ahlwardt, a German preacher who had embarked on an anti-Semitic crusade against the Jews of New York; Roosevelt specifically assigned 40 Jewish police officers to protect him, writing that the “proper thing to do was to make [Ahlwardt] ridiculous.”

(Do read the whole article from which I quoted because it’s a fascinating look at the last president before Trump who supported Jews and the State of Israel — although Israel was only an idea, not a state, at the time.)

Roosevelt famously believed in speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Trump has changed that a bit. In dealing with America’s enemies, he speaks jovially, even in a very friendly fashion, but he makes clear that he has a big stick. Remember how, while dining with Chinese President Xi, Trump excused himself to order a missile strike on Syria. Trump has also rebuilt the American military, decimated by eight years of Obama policies. Trump makes it clear that he prefers peace but is ready for war.

Naturally, there are differences between Roosevelt and Trump. The most substantive is that Teddy’s crusade against corruption was against corruption in the private sector. Trump, of course, is waging an equally fierce war against corruption within the government itself.

But back to the 1920 campaign season. In 1919, Roosevelt died right as the campaign season began and Wilson was rejected by his own party. In 1920 itself, Debs got less than 4% of the vote, and Harding won.

This time around, things are different: Trump, the Roosevelt cognate, is thankfully not dead but is thriving in the White House. Bloomberg, the Warren cognate, is falling in the polls. Biden, the Harding cognate, almost certainly won’t win the election because he’s cratering in polls and primaries. And Sanders — the Eugene V. Debs of 2020 — is soaring to wild success in the Democrat primary.

In 1920, American voters did not choose wisely. Harding went on to become one of the least successful, most denigrated presidents in American history. Had he not died in office, leading to Coolidge’s hands-off, constitutional presidency, there’s no telling how far off the rails America might have gone.

Now, in 2020, Americans have another chance to choose wisely. As matters are shaping up, they can hand the presidency to our 21st century Teddy Roosevelt or they can give it to the 21st century Eugene V. Debs. We are being reminded that, while history may line up the same playing pieces, voters do not have to make the same moves.

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Andrew Johnson, Democrat, set the stage for today’s racial strife

Democrat Andrew Johnson was one of America’s worst presidents, for he set the stage for the racial strife that today’s Democrats encourage and exploit.

Yesterday afternoon, I joined a friend for a dog walking expedition. As we were walking along, we talked about the racial divisions the Left has stoked in America.

“This is all Andrew Johnson’s fault,” I said.

“Wah?” asked my companion.

“Yeah, Andrew Johnson. The moment that Johnson, a Democrat, was sworn in as president after Lincoln’s assassination, he set about undoing the racial component of Reconstruction. The military hung onto its strength in the South, which is why there are so many military bases still operating there. Politically, though, Johnson and his administration backed away from every effort to reform Southern culture. This meant that the losers in the war got to continue their previous behavior of denying blacks all civil rights. In other words, Johnson enabled the defeated Southerners to reduce blacks to a perfect simulacrum of slavery, only this was arguably even worse than actual slavery, for it denied blacks the food and shelter (no matter how meager) that slave owners once provided, while adding in chronic racial terrorism.

“When it came to Germany and Japan after WWII, we did something completely different: We defeated them utterly and completely, and then spent 70 years making sure they renounced the racist, totalitarian cultures that led them to unspeakable brutality in their insane drives for world domination. Had he lived, Lincoln, a Republican, would almost certainly have understood that the Union had to control the south for decades to rework its racist slave culture. I bet that the Democrat Andrew Johnson understood the same, which is why he pulled the feds out of the South as fast as he possibly good.

“Today, the South is probably the best integrated part of the whole United States –”

“– maybe because of the strong military presence,” quickly interjected my friend when I paused for a breath.

“That sounds reasonable,” I said, snatching back the conversational baton. “But it’s also because the South is no longer a Democrat bastion. It’s Republican now.”

“I bet that’s because of all the military bases, too,” my friend mumbled under his breath. I silently agreed, but I really had to take control of my monologue again.

“Whatever. The important point I’m making is that, even though today’s Republican South is way better integrated, sane, and decent than Democrat-controlled Blue bastions across America, the fact that Andrew Johnson’s Democrat policies enabled 100 years of Jim Crow after the Civil War meant that America took way too long to recover from and refute entirely the stain of slavery on a nation that was ‘conceived in liberty.’ And of course, it means today’s Lefties can ignore the fact that America wa the only country in the world that spilled blood to fight slavery.”

And yes, that is the kind of thing my friends and I talk about when we’re not talking dogs and chocolate (my other favorite subjects).

Anyway, I thought it was an excellent conversation (as is my wont when I hold forth). Certainly, the Fates seemed to agree, for this morning I opened my email and found a Prager U video about . . . Reconstruction! It says with incredible elegance the point I was trying to make — that Andrew Johnson (Democrat) allowed the South to win the peace.

If I had to list this nation’s worst presidents, Andrew Johnson would readily have a place in the top five, right up there with Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, James Buchanan, and Woodrow Wilson. It’s no coincidence, either that all five of the worst presidents in America — the most racist, least effective, or most damaging to constitutional governance, were Democrats.

If I were to expand the list to number six, there’s room for another racist, nation-damaging Democrat: Franklin Roosevelt. Scratch a scar on the American body politic and watch Democrat pus ooze out….

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Elizabeth Warren as imagined by Monty Python

Watching Elizabeth Warren boast about her “plan” for Mitch McConnell shows she has a doppelgänger in the Monty Python universe — John Cleese’s Anne Elk.

Do you remember how, during last week’s debate, Elizabeth Warren stated that she had a plan for dealing with Mitch McConnell and then promptly followed that statement with meaningless blather? Even TIME Magazine figured out that, her statement about a plan notwithstanding, Warren had nothing of value to say:

The same was true when it came to Warren’s plans about gun violence. Instead of having a plan, she wants to conduct a study. She can conduct studies until the cows come home, but that’s not a plan; that’s a process.

Watching Warren debate tickled a memory and today I finally realized what memory it tickled. A famous Monty Python sketch had John Cleese playing Anne Elk, a woman who had a new theory about dinosaurs. Like Warren who, no matter the question, repeatedly falls back on her statement that she has a plan, Elk, no matter the question, insists that she has a theory.

Sadly, the original sketch is no longer available for computer viewing, but this recent John Cleese updates works reasonably well, especially because, now that he’s older, Anne Elk looks surprisingly like Warren herself:

I know who and what Warren is, not just because she was a teacher I disliked and disrespected a long time ago, before she became a Native American and moved to Harvard. I also know what she is because I know America history: She’s Woodrow Wilson — an arrogant academic with lots of theories and prejudices, all of which function horribly in the real world. Wilson was an awful president and Warren would be an awful president were she to get the nomination.

(By the way, speaking of theories, this is my theory: Kamala Harris will get the Democrat Party nomination. In that case, she may well choose Warren to be her Veep. Should that happen, expect instant stories how about how the two women bonded immediately and are besties who will go on to become the most dynamic POTUS/VEEP team in history.

I base this theory on the news reports that instantly emerged when Clinton chose Gore as his Veep. The media was saturated with loving encomiums about the friendship between the two men and the happy date night foursomes with Bill and Hillary on one side of the table at the soda fountain and Al and Tipper on the other side of the table.)

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It’s time for America to stop living by the 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 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….

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.

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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