Wilson’s “Gift” That Keeps on Giving
A nation can survive its fools, it has been said — but not its traitors. Yet we begin to suspect the opposite is true. That is, a nation can survive its traitors — but not its fools. That is because a nation’s fools nearly infinitely outnumber a nation’s traitors.
Please answer this question: How many traitors roam within your range of acquaintances? Now please answer this question: How many fools roam within your range of acquaintances?
If the fools do not exceed the traitors by a count of 1,000-1 we would collapse immediately upon the floor.
All evidence we have compiled indicates the ratio of fools to traitors very far exceeds even the 1,000-1 figure we cited. It may indeed approach 1,000,000-1.
Being a fool is no crime, of course. We would be rotting behind the bars if it were. Much of the population would be with us — as would our very jailors.
Fools nonetheless present dangers. And the damages they work often defy calculation. A fool is a fool, it is true. Yet a fool with a bad idea in his head is a child with a loaded pistol in his hand…
Woodrow Wilson, Fool
In 1917, after three years of relative neutrality, Woodrow Wilson ordered the doughboys into the trenches. Was Woodrow Wilson a traitor for meddling in Europe’s civil war? We would never suggest it.
He may have meant the best in the world. He may have authentically wished to make the world safe for democracy — and by extension safe for America (as well as the large American banks, who had extended the Allies substantial loans).
That is, he may have believed the angels were with him.
But was he a fool for hurling the nation into a European civil war? Almost certainly. The warring parties had nearly bled themselves white by 1917. Neither side could shatter the other.
They would have likely exhausted themselves. They would have likely come to terms and walked away, honors even. “Never again!” they would have cried.
But Mr. Wilson dispatched the boys “over there” in 1917. This dispatching shifted the battle tide against the kaiser. And the allies “won” the war.
Yet the Versailles Treaty that closed the war to end all wars… spawned the peace to end all peace.
The German nation did not consider itself defeated on the field of battle. And why would it?
Where were the Allied breakthroughs across the Rhine? Where were the German towns falling one by one to Allied onslaughts?
There were none.
Reality was this: Germany believed it was signing up for “peace without victory” when it signed at Versailles in November, 1919. It did not believe it was signing for defeat.
The European Allies who signed the same document entertained ideas altogether different. They embraced the theory of German defeat. What is more, they embraced the theory that Germany was uniquely responsible for the civilization-wrecking warfare.
Thus they yelled for harshest punishments against Germany.
These punishments and the German resentments trailing behind them paved the way for Herr Hitler — with all that followed.
In brief: Mr. Wilson’s fool crusade failed to make the world safe for democracy. It rather made the world unsafe for democracy by making the world safe for fascism… and communism.
Mr. Wilson’s shade remains in favor among today’s overseas interventionists. His ghost has been observed recently in Ukraine, wagging an index finger against isolationism.
American anti-interventionists are aware of his ethereal presence. They have countered with a wagging finger of their own, directed towards Mr. Wilson.
It is not an index finger — but the middle digit. But to proceed…
WWI was coined “The Great War” until an even greater war broke loose 20 years later. This greater war you know as WWII.
We must return then to Versailles. Was Woodrow Wilson and his famous 14 Points responsible for the Second World War?
All Roads Lead Back to Wilson
Here our former colleague David Stockman hauls Wilson into history’s dock. Does David exhibit clemency? No. David instead indicts Wilson for every crime on the calendar:
Had Woodrow Wilson not misled America on a messianic crusade, the Great War would have ended in mutual exhaustion in 1917 and both sides would have gone home battered and bankrupt but no danger to the rest of mankind.
Indeed, absent Wilson’s crusade there would have been no allied victory, no punitive peace and no war reparations; nor would there have been a Leninist coup in Petrograd or Stalin’s barbaric regime.
Likewise, there would have been no Hitler, no Nazis, no Holocaust, no global war against Germany and Japan and no incineration of 200,000 civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Nor would there have followed a Cold War with the Soviets or CIA-sponsored coups and assassinations in Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Brazil and Chile to name a few. Surely there would have been no CIA plot to assassinate Castro, or Russian missiles in Cuba or a crisis that took the world to the brink of annihilation.
There would have been no domino theory and no Vietnam slaughter, either.
Nor would we have had to come to the aid of the mujahedeen and train the future al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Likewise, there would have been no Khomeini-led Islamic revolution and no U.S. aid to enable Saddam’s gas attacks on Iranian boy soldiers in the 1980s.
Nor would there have been an American invasion of Arabia in 1991 to stop our former ally Saddam Hussein from looting the equally contemptible emir of Kuwait’s ill-gotten oil plunder — or, alas, the horrific 9/11 blowback a decade later.
Nor would we have been stuck with a $1 trillion Warfare State budget today.
Does David simplify events? Do we simplify events? Perhaps so.
A Fool, Not a Traitor
We do not propose the 20th century would have remained dull absent Mr. Wilson’s botchwork. The world was — as it always is — to its neck with fools. And these fools would have certainly gotten themselves up to mischief somehow or other.
Yet we believe the hottest hells of the 20th century may have been averted had Mr. Wilson simply sat upon his hands in April 1917 — and kept the boys home.
But it was not treason that sent Mr. Wilson stumbling into Europe’s war… and the world subsequently into the 20th century’s hells.
It was foolishness.
“God has a special providence for fools, [drunks] and the United States of America,” said Germany’s Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck.
But we suspect even God’s providence has its limits…