Saving “America First”

What Responsible Nationalism Looks Like

Isolated: Lindbergh arriving at the White House to meet Roosevelt, 1939. HARRIS & EWING / LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

One of the privileges of power that Americans routinely abuse is to remember selectively. It was not surprising, then, that this year’s centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I attracted barely any official attention. A House resolution commending “the brave members of the United States Armed Forces for their efforts in ‘making the world safe for democracy’” never made it out of committee. And although the Senate did endorse a fatuous decree “expressing gratitude and appreciation” for the declaration of war passed back in April 1917, the White House ignored the anniversary altogether. As far as Washington is concerned, that conflict retains little or no political salience. 

It was not always so, of course. For those who lived through it, the “war to end all wars” was a searing experience. In its wake came acute disillusionment, compounded by a sense of having been deceived about its origins

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