Since the early 20th century, populists and progressives have always had very different views about American foreign policy. Progressives like Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson wanted to break with our traditions and follow in the footsteps of the European empires of their age and embark on the course of imperialism in Europe and Latin America to remake the world in America’s image.
Populists like William Jennings Bryan were deeply skeptical of this project. Bryan resigned as Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of State over the sinking of the Lusitania and his concern that Wilson was leading America into a devastating war with Imperial Germany. The populist view has always been that we should mind our own business and at least stay put in our own hemisphere and that imperialism would bring about undesirable racial and cultural changes to our population and corrupt our politics and that standing armies and a huge military establishment would become a threat to American liberty.
Populism isn’t “fascism.” The populist ideal is self-government and getting rid of the American Empire and minding our own business and investing in this country for once and dismantling the military-industrial complex. Whereas the populist believes in downsizing America’s “global role” and letting the world govern itself, progressives and liberals are expansionists and imperialists and support militarism.
“For most of the past century, human dignity had a friend — the United States of America. We are a deeply flawed and error-prone nation, like any other, but America helped defeat fascism and communism and helped set the context for European peace, Asian prosperity and the spread of democracy.
Then came Iraq and Afghanistan, and America lost faith in itself and its global role — like a pitcher who has been shelled and no longer has confidence in his own stuff. On the left, many now reject the idea that America can be or is a global champion of democracy, and they find phrases like “the indispensable nation” or the “last best hope of the earth” ridiculous. On the right the wall-building caucus has given up on the idea that the rest of the world is even worth engaging. …
I guess what befuddles me most is the behavior of the American left. I get why Donald Trump and other American authoritarians would be ambivalent about America’s role in the world. They were always suspicious of the progressive package that America has helped to promote.But every day I see progressives defending women’s rights, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and racial justice at home and yet championing a foreign policy that cedes power to the Taliban, Hamas and other reactionary forces abroad.
If we’re going to fight Trumpian authoritarianism at home, we have to fight the more venomous brands of authoritarianism that thrive around the world. That means staying on the field. …”
By most of the past century, David Brooks means since Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive era. Since then, we have become a global empire with military outposts all over the world. The entire world has become our responsibility since we took over from the British. Every conflict in the world is our business. It is our duty to stay in Afghanistan forever and keep the Taliban at bay to protect women’s rights like General Gordon subduing the Mahdi in Sudan in the Victorian era.
Note: I could easily transform this site into writing about nothing but remedial education in American history because of the garbage taught in the public schools.