I bristle these days when Conservatives rewrite history and adopt a revisionist view of the way things were and the American ideal. The truth is for much of the early history of our nation, as Revolution swept Europe in 1848 the US was too busy on an expansionist course to even pay as much as lip service to the cause of Liberty and Democracy. For years European revolutionaries looked to France, and even to the forgone Napoleonic era for inspiration, not to the United States. In the late Nineteenth Century as the age old Austrian, Russian and Ottoman (Turkish) Empires were experiencing nationalist upheavals much of the inspiration for these movements came again from Western Europe especially France and the U.S. played no role whatsoever in promoting, freedom, nationalism or self determination as a desirable goal.
A myth has been developed that we "saved" France in World War I. This may be true to a certain extent, but when a nation has lost 1/3rd of its adult male population in a war, something few Western nations have ever experienced, (the states in Germany that made up the Holy Roman Empire lost about half its adult male population in the Thirty Years War in the 17th Century, but otherwise I cannot think of an example.) I think disparaging their willingness to fight in armed conflict is very disingenuous. For today's patriot police to claim that the U.S. has always been the guiding light for worldwide freedom and democracy is a canard which has no backing in pre World War II history.
The reality is that World War I was as much if not more of a worldwide event than World War II, and the U.S.A. played little role except on the Western European front. Fighting was intense in Italy where the Italians fought the Austrians, on the Eastern Front where the Germans fought the Russians, in Africa where the Germans fought the British and the French, in the Middle East where the British fought the Turks and in the Pacific where the Japanese fought the Germans. It was the US' selfish isolationism after the end of this conflict that helped to leave new democracies vulnerable to collapse and ascended the inauguration of a second worldwide conflict in less than 30 years. The selfishness of the United States was best exhibited by the lifestyle of many of its citizens during the "Roaring 20s" when Americans cared little if anything about the rest of the planet.
The first time the US truly fought in major combat in all theaters in a fight to save American ideals of liberty and freedom was in World War II. Unlike future conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq where the US was fighting on the side of freedom against despotic figures the United States public was actively engaged in the conflict and working hard on the home front to support the troops. The meaning and value of freedom was cherished by the American public for truly the first time and without a doubt the United States as Franklin Roosevelt had put it was the "Arsenal of Democracy."
World War II changed the United States for the better and turned us into the nation we are today, protecting the ideals of liberty and freedom and shining a guiding light for the rest of world and those who strive to be free.
Providing Unique Commentary and Insight into Politics, History and Society since 2005
- I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.