Confessing that after several books he still has no idea how World War I started, he eventually pivots to a diatribe against isolationism. Where to start? Leftists, of which columnist Richard Cohen is the bluest of the blue, have reduced history to a polemic of race, class and gender. Only Marxists and neo-marxist historians are considered and when their predictably two-dimensional explanations fall short, leftist catechism is the only filler left.
So let's begin at the beginning. Europe had enjoyed a century of uninterrupted prosperity, propelled by the Industrial Revolution and peace (with the exception of Bismark's short conflicts of German unification). Europeans had simply forgotten the horror of war and were lulled into a false sense of security behind multimillion man armies and huge stockpiles of war material. All but Britain, whose promise to protect Belgian neutrality with nothing more than a 200,000-man army emboldened the Germans to attack through, surprise, Belgium. Lesson? Reaganesque, peace through strength.
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Fast forward 16 million casualties later. Without American intervention, nobody wins. Europeans find a way to peace, no victors, no humiliating reparations against Germany. No reparations, no hyperinflation, no Nazis and no Hitler.
Bottom line? Isolationism was exactly how we should have responded. What will be our epitaph? The same as Rome. Moral relativity, fiscal irresponsibility, narcissism and ceaseless, unending meddling in other people's affairs. And two dimensional history!