15 April 2008
Charles Lindbergh and America First
When Ron Paul was an active contender for the presidential nomination, one criticism leveled against his anti-war stance was that it was reminiscent of the position of the "America First Committee" prior to our entry into the Second World War. This was new to me (my education having focused more on science than on history), so I recently searched for more information. As usual, the Wikipedia article on the America First Committee is the easiest place to start. They describe the AFC as the foremost pressure group against American entry into WWII. The most prominent spokesman for the AFC was Charles Lindbergh, whose September 1941 speech to a hostile crowd is embedded above. The basic, oversimplified, position was that America should defend itself within its own hemisphere, and not venture into a European conflict.
Although the AFC position represented that of the majority of Americans, public sentiment changed after the Pearl Harbor attack, and the AFC therefore disbanded. One viewpoint of the AFC's role in history is that expressed by conservative commentator Pat Buchanan: "By keeping America out of World War II until Hitler attacked Stalin in June of 1941, Soviet Russia, not America, bore the brunt of the fighting, bleeding and dying to defeat Nazi Germany." The opposite viewpoint, of course, is that offense is the best defense and that nonintervention in foreign wars is detrimental to American security.
The degree to which Lindbergh's comments in the 1941 video above are applicable to the current state of the world are debatable, but it's too late at night for me to start that debate now.