I don’t watch bloggingheads.tv as much as I used to because I don’t have the time. I had to watch a bit when I saw the title “You’re either with us or you’re … Charles Lindbergh?”. It discusses a recent bloggingheads segment where David Frum wailed about Mark Schmitt being too turned off by the administration’s hijacking of 9/11 to commemorate its memorial. Good liberals Henry Farrell and Paul Glastris both agree that the neoconservative went way overboard, and is perhaps too emotional because of the failure of his vision with regard to Iraq. I hold no high regard for Frum, whose Unpatriotic Conservatives tried kick opponents of this misadventure off the bus
. However, I also don’t see what is so horrible about Lindbergh. If opposing war makes you a traitor then Henry David Thorough, William Graham Sumner, Mark Twain, Albert Jay Nock, H. L. Mencken, Smedley Butler, Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, Robert Nisbet, Ayn Rand, William F. Buckley and I are all traitors. Oh, but WW2 was a “good” war, a “noble” one. Why? Because Hitler was so bad. Because he opposed war, Lindbergh must be some kind of crypto-nazi. What nonsense. Does opposing either Iraq war make one a Ba’athist, military action against Iran a Khomeinist, intervention in the Balkans a Serbian nationalist, Vietnam & Korea a communist, World War 1 and the Spanish American war a German/Spanish imperialist or the Mexican-American war a supporter of Aztlan? I have thrown out some less than popular wars there, but I will go further and say that opposing the War Between the States (civil wars are fights for political power within one political unit, like the Spanish or Russian civil wars, and do not include wars of secessions) does not make one pro-slavery.
Most people will interject here and say that Lindbergh was anti-semitic. The primary reason for this is his Des Moines speech. Here is the first quote where he mentions jews:
The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.
I guess like Mel Gibson he hates the Brits as well. Here he elaborates:
The second major group I mentioned is the Jewish.
It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany. The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race.
No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany. But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences.
Here he explicitly denies animosity toward them:
I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.
We cannot blame them for looking out for what they believe to be their own interests, but we also must look out for ours. We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples to lead our country to destruction.
Change around a few words here and there and I bet Farrell and Glastris would applaud this:
Our theaters soon became filled with plays portraying the glory of war. Newsreels lost all semblance of objectivity. Newspapers and magazines began to lose advertising if they carried anti-war articles. A smear campaign was instituted against individuals who opposed intervention. The terms “fifth columnist,” “traitor,” “Nazi,” “anti-Semitic” were thrown ceaselessly at any one who dared to suggest that it was not to the best interests of the United States to enter the war. Men lost their jobs if they were frankly anti-war. Many others dared no longer speak.
I have passed over a quote that some consider especially objectionable, because it sounds like the sort of thing anti-semites often say.
Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.
William Cash was similarly attacked for talking about how many movers and shakers in the media are jewish in his article Kings of the Deal. Few people honestly believe it is not the case that the media is disproportionately jewish. Some, like comedian Judy Gold, have noted that this does not represent some sort of sinister conspiracy but merely the result of a higher than average intelligence especially in its verbal as opposed to visuospatial dimension (though she used the more palatable term “creativity”). It is not anti-semitism to notice that, or that neo-conservatives tend to be jewish and take a strong interest in Israel, or to note like Solzhenitsyn & Lenin the significant jewish (even if they did not strongly identify as such) contribution to the Bolshevik cause. There are enough jewish detractors of neoconservatism who have noted as such to make accusations of anti-semitism in that case seem laughable. A genuinely anti-semitic approach was that of the Nazis who denied a German jew could be loyal and patriotic by virtue of their judaism. In the speech Lindbergh states that there are jews who speak out against intervention, and he does not fling any insults their way. This is because he has a problem with intervention, not jews.
Some people may object that “We’d all be speaking German right now” if we listened to Lindbergh. I don’t believe this, in part because of where Lindbergh was wrong. Lindbergh was sent on behalf of the United States to Russia and Germany. Being a pilot and an inventor of mechanics, he took much notice of the air-power of those countries. Few now would disagree with his analysis that the Soviet’s had very shoddy aircraft and that Germany had quite good ones (in the coming war they were the first to use jet engines on planes, though not all that successfully). It was during this time that he received a German Eagle medal from the Nazis. As he was working on behalf of America nobody objected when this first occurred. It was only his later refusal to return it that caused a big stink. Lindbergh believed that Britain was already defeated or damn near because of the might German Luftwaffe. Germany’s advantage in pilots proved insufficient to defeat the RAF because their planes were generally low on fuel by the time they reached their targets, and they still had quite a ways to go on the return. Assuming that Germany elected to attack the United States (which it did not and was not likely to, as I intend to explain) the Atlantic ocean would serve the same purpose as England’s channel, and would be even more insurmountable an obstacle. Germany was known for its U-Boats (which were outclassed by the convoy system that turned them into death-traps later in the war), but not its carriers. The British Navy always outclassed theirs, which is why the participants in the Battle of Britain were all land-based aircraft.
Most Americans grow up believing that our country is responsible for defeating Hitler. In that patriotic Americans are wrong and Marxists are right. It was Stalin that defeated Hitler. The Western Front was a sideshow to the Eastern one. It was there that Germany hemorrhaged its men and materiel. It was the Soviets that occupied eastern Germany, where the government was seated. Although Stalin liked what assistance we provided, he could have done without it. Stalin also would have liked peace with Germany, but Hitler would have never held by it. In Mein Kampf (which I admit I haven’t actually read, but I’ll trust Wikipedia here) Hitler details his predictions for the future of Germany: it will re-arm in defiance of the Versaille treaty, ally with Britain and Italy against France and Russia. War between Greater Germany and the United States will occur around 1980, by which time if Hitler was alive he would be almost a century old. There also can be no doubt of the anti-semitism in Mein Kampf, which identifies jews (along with bolshevism) as the greatest threat to Germany. If world leaders had taken it seriously, they would not have been surprised by what Hitler later did.
Hitler’s predictions first went wrong in that Germany did ally with the Soviet Union and did not with Britain. Hitler had always planned to “Drang nach Osten” and defeat the “Judeo-Bolsheviks”. Even the generals that plotted to overthrow Hitler planned on continuing the war against Russia and making peace with the other Allies. Stalin’s trust in Hitler despite numerous warnings he received were completely misplaced. France was also stuck in the position of having to face Germany. The rivalry between the two nations went back a long way (perhaps to Napoleon & the French Revolution, though one could make the point that Richeliu’s fanning the flames of the 30 Years War was intended to keep Germany weak). Bismarck had attempted to make peace with France after the Franco-Prussian War, as he had after the Austro-Prussian War, but his advice was ignored and the two nations were to be bitter enemies. France seized back Alsace-Lorraine at the conclusion of the First World War (which mostly consisted of the German army against others on French territory), and the Versailles was no more conducive to peace than the end of the Franco-Prussian War. France and Russia had no choice in the matter, but Britain did. Hitler made overtures to England, but they were rebuffed. It was not Hitler that declared war on Britain, but the latter who declared war on Germany on the invasion of Poland (it is a great irony of the war that Poland would not be free for over four decades after its conclusion). Britain also seized German ships and blockaded Germany (this method was effective enough that Germany’s defeat in the previous war could perhaps be attributed to it). Along with the other allies it sought to use Norway as a platform against the Axis, which resulted in its invasion by Germany, after which the British Expeditionary Force fought alongside the pre-Vichy French government until Dunkirk. There is little reason to believe that Britain could not have followed a policy of armed neutrality, like Sweden, and stayed out of the war. Other Anglophone countries like the United States, Canada and Australia had even less to fear as they were a long ways from Europe.
After that digression, I’d like to get back to Lindbergh. He was no “Lord Hee-Haw” who supported the enemy during a war. It was his desire to serve his country and after the attack on Pearl Harbor he attempted to return to the Army Air Corps (which he had resigned as Captain from when F.D.R questioned his loyalty) but was rejected by several members of the administration. He acted as a consultant to the manufacturers of American aircraft and despite his status as a civilian flew about 50 combat missions in the Pacific. Even here, despite his fear of the “Asiatic races” he was averse to the racial hatred many of his comrades displayed toward the enemy, even as he recognized it was right to kill them in war.
This brings me to one of the sins of Lindbergh that has been pointed out accurately: race was an important part of his world-view. He thought the European races should not war with each other in part because they needed to stand together against the Asiatics. When he discusses the machinations of the British to bring America to war he does not refer to the “government” or even “country” as doing this but the “British race”. Such a world-view was no rare thing at the time, including among supporters of war against Germany. It is a separate thing from racial hatred though. Even while he likely viewed the Nordic race as intellectually superior to others, he denounced the hypocrisy of America or Britain claiming to represent freedom and democracy while blacks were oppressed in the south or the natives of India were subject to English imperialism. It is because of this that he was able to deplore what happened to the Japanese in the Pacific as being similar to what the jews were suffering in Europe (I would consider that comparison overblown as total Japanese casualties were about 2,621,000 many of whom were in the military while 5,754,400 jews were killed in the Holocaust, but the nuking of two cities and the fire-bombing of Tokyo along with the to-the-death nature of the Pacific fight were disturbing things) even if he considered their race to be a rival to his own.
So why have I decided to defend the reputation of this failed opponent of our entering into a now-popular war? Because as long as we glorify those unnecessary wars and the leaders who got us into them, we are sure to do it again. I want American opponents of war to be able to say “Yes, I am a patriot, and yes, I would have left Hitler to his devices”. Vietnam did much to make opposition to war more acceptable and the current mess will do likewise, but they have not done enough. Still a large number of people have a Dochtoss theory of Vietnam in which our noble effort would have won but was sabotaged, and another war is necessary to regain our honor. Many neoconservatives still believe the invasion of Iraq was a great idea but Bush fouled it up. If they could all be replaced with Bush Sr. style “realists”, that would be preferable. Unfortunately the war they are associated with, which drove Iraq out of Kuwait, made opposition to war seem politically risky to many Democrats and played a large part in our later troubles (we were supposed to be enforcing U.N sanctions on Iraq which it was attempting to avoid and two of Osama’s grievances against us stem from that war). Until that is recognized we will keep making similar mistakes.
UPDATE: Justin Raimondo at Taki’s Top Drawer has gone further than me and written a defense of Lawrence Dennis, the author of “The Coming American Fascism” who “passed” as white though he had black ancestry.