This year is the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s pulling America into World War I. Many people celebrate this centenary of America’s emergence as a world power. But at a time when the Trump administration is bombing or rattling sabers at half a dozen nations and many Democrats are clamoring to bloody Russia, it is worth reviewing how World War I turned out so much worse than the experts and politicians promised.
Wilson was narrowly reelected in 1916 on the basis of a campaign slogan, “He kept us out of war.” But Wilson had massively violated neutrality by providing armaments and money to the Allied powers that had been fighting Germany since 1914. At the same time, he had no quarrel with the British blockade that was slowly starving the German people. In his April 1917 speech to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany, he hailed the U.S. government as “one of the champions of the rights of mankind” and proclaimed that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”
American soldiers helped turn the tide on the Western Front in late 1918. But the cost was far higher than Americans anticipated. More than 100,000 American soldiers died in the third-bloodiest war in U.S. history. Another half- million Americans perished from the Spanish Flu epidemic spurred and spread by the war. But the political damage lasted far longer.
In his speech to Congress, Wilson declared, “We have no quarrel with the German people” and feel “sympathy and friendship” towards them. But his administration speedily commenced demonizing the “Huns.” One Army recruiting poster portrayed German troops as an ape ravaging a half-naked damsel beneath an appeal to “Destroy this Mad Brute.” Wilson’s evocations of fighting for universal freedom were quickly followed by bans on sauerkraut, beer, and teaching German in public schools. Tolerance quickly became unpatriotic.
In his maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump invoked the terms “sovereign” and “sovereignty” 21 times. In a manner unimaginable coming from any other recent occupant of the White House, the President committed the United States to the principle of national sovereignty and to the truth that “the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.” More, Trump rightly pointed out that these pertain not just to the US and the safeguarding of American sovereignty but to all countries:
In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens -- to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.Then he took it all back.
As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.”
Libya Report: Gaddafi for President?
In a one-on-one interview on Saturday with France 24, Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame said Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi can of course be part of the forthcoming political process under the auspices of the United Nations along with other qualified candidates.
Five Minutes Five Issues: Secession, Surveilling Manafort, Catalonia Crackdown, Hemp Farms, Marijuana Use
This week's episode of Five Minutes Five Issues is out. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
Russell Brand on Drug Legalization Benefits
British commentator, comedian, and author Russell Brand has presented a short summation of some benefits from legalizing currently illegal drugs. Brand, in a new video commentary, presents the summation in response to Stephen Glover’s Wednesday editorial in the Daily Mail that criticizes Britain’s Prince William for questioning publicly if drugs should be legalized while visiting with illegal drug users.
Libya Update: A Clash of Egos
Libya has two rival governments and parliaments, as well as several militia groups aligned to both sides, and some "independent" ones, battling to control its oil wealth.
How The Military Defeated Trump's Insurgency
Trump was seen as a presidential candidate who would possibly move towards a less interventionist foreign policy. That hope is gone. The insurgency that brought Trump to the top was defeated by a counter-insurgency campaign waged by the U.S. military. (Historically its first successful one). The military has taken control of the White House process and it is now taking control of its policies.