[This is Chap. 15 of Murphey’s book Liberalism in Contemporary America.] 


Liberalism and International Affairs

In this discussion of liberalism's thinking about international affairs, we will again need to differentiate between the thinking of the liberal intellectual culture and the positions taken by liberal presidents.  Here, as elsewhere, liberal politicians have stayed much closer to majority opinion.  Liberal thought, as such, has been much further to the left.

So far as the intellectual culture is concerned, it would be surprising if its outlook on world affairs had not been formed from the same elements as its ideology in general.  The liberal intellectual culture has been as far to the left in its attitudes toward foreign policy as it has toward other things.

True, there has been an anti-Communist wing within liberalism.  In the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs, George F. Kennan enunciated the containment doctrine, which was behind the policy of most liberal presidents and politicians during the Cold War.  American organized labor, one of the elements in the liberal coalition, has for the most part been adamantly anti-Communist.  Senator Henry Jackson, who had strong ties to organized labor, is often cited as one of a number of liberal leaders who have been strongly anti-Communist.  It is especially worth noting that the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) was established right after World War II precisely as a vehicle for liberals who did not want to collaborate with Communists.

The main thrust of the liberal intellectual culture, however, has been much further to the left.  This main thrust of "liberal thought" is what I will examine in this chapter.  It would be a serious mistake to think that such a focus will center on something that has been irrelevant to practical policy.  The international outlook injected by left-liberal thought had telling effects.  Since well before the end of World War II, it introduced a paralyzing intellectual and moral ambivalence into American thinking and policy.  During all of that time, historic circumstances called upon the United States to be the world leader against the spread of Communism.

The extreme leftward orientation of liberal thought on international affairs has a chilling effect on dispassionate discussion.  A direct statement, all in one place, of the liberal intellectual culture's positions will almost certainly shock most Americans.  It will even shock liberals themselves; consistently with the dissimulation that is so basic to their posture, liberals instinctively prefer (and have come to expect) that such views will be expressed so transparently only in liberalism's "in-house" literature.  To defer to that preference, however, would keep us from completing our study of liberal thought.  As I discuss the liberal attitudes, I will follow my usual practice of illustrating each of them amply from the writings of prominent liberal authors.  I want the reader to be able to form a judgment from those sources rather than to have to take my word for what liberals have been saying.

Because the formative influences of domestic and world attitudes have been the same, we can expect the main contours to be:

. That liberal thought has held to a fundamentally Left-oriented point of view toward the world at large, but without continuing after World War II to see the Soviet Union as a champion.  This included an ever-recurring tolerance toward Communist regimes (including even the Soviet Union).  Exceptions occurred if in a given case a regime did something quite recent to outrage liberals or to make that tolerance more than ordinarily impolitic.

. That the outlook has reflected the divisions that have plagued the Left.  In foreign affairs this has appeared mainly in the tension between the traditions of pacifism-neutrality and of Progressive-style, idealistic internationalism.

. That liberal thought has been ready, so far as Europe and the Third World are concerned, to see value in democratic socialism, in "non-alignment" and "neutralism," and even in Communist regimes when they fit into the pattern of "pluralistic Communism."  (The latter refers to the pattern that emerged with Tito in Yugoslavia and with the Chinese after their split with Moscow.)

. That the thinking has included a variety of alienations: against the residuals of Western influence as they have appeared in the form of the last vestiges of nineteenth century colonialism; against non-Communist and non-socialist regimes whenever they have seemed especially vulnerable to criticism; and, perhaps most important of all, against American policy whenever that policy reflected, as it so often did, an anti-Communist purpose.

Several conceptual elements

1. Probably the most important conceptual element in the main line of liberal thought about international affairs after World War II was its conviction that for one reason or another Communism was not a significant problem.   Although "Russian nationalism," seen as acting under the rubric of Communism, was seen as bothersome and as something that should be countered, Communism as an expansionist totalitarian ideology was considered more of a phantom of conservatives' imaginations.

This premise lay behind many of the statements about Vietnam.  In 1971, Senator Frank Church said that "the threat of Communism in the third world is exaggerated . . . for many countries radical revolution is the only real hope . . . ."   Two years earlier, The New Republic had quoted Walter Lippmann as saying that a Communist South Vietnam "won't make very much of a difference."  In 1972, the editors wrote that "no considerations of national interest or moral imperative required the United States to designate the Vietcong and Hanoi as an enemy and to move militarily against them."   A short time before the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975, TRB was able to write that "if Congress cuts off aid hostilities probably will stop.  Communists will win.  How bad is that?"1

We know, of course, the overwhelmingly favorable liberal perception of the Soviet Union during the three decades after the Bolshevik Revolution.  This perception suffered some very real shocks in the late 1930s, but it was substantially rehabilitated during World War II.  The Cold War that followed put a damper on that enthusiasm, and an anti-Communist side to liberal thought was manifested in the Americans for Democratic Action.  But the enthusiasm continued, for those further left, under Henry Wallace's leadership.  In December 1946 - at the highest point of Stalin's Gulags - the extent of Wallace's self-deception was revealed by his statement that "today democracy is a universal ambition.  The Soviet government no longer prides itself on the Dictatorship of the Proletariat."  In March 1947, he argued that "the Soviet Union has made no warlike moves.  The real world crisis is the crisis of millions of people left homeless, hungry...."2

The persistence of this illusion among a great many liberals, based on one pretext or another, is shown by Louis J. Halle's observation in 1960 that "the simple geographic image of the expanding Communist 'empire' . . . is too simple.   (Is it one 'empire'?  Does it include Yugoslavia? . . . China?)."   In 1973, Stanley Karnow said about the 1950s and early 1960s that "Eisenhower and Kennedy were battling against monolithic communism long after the Sino-Soviet dispute proved that the international Red menace was a myth” (emphasis added).   In May 1977, President Jimmy Carter declared that "we are now free of that inordinate fear of Communism which once led us to embrace any dictator" (emphasis added).3

2. One consequence of this illusion has been the double standard that has existed in liberal attitudes toward Nazism and fascism, which were correctly perceived as despicable and expansionist, and Communism.

To refresh ourselves about the early background, we should compare the attitudes toward the two systems in such a year as 1933.  The reader will recall that this was the year in which in Soviet Russia variously estimated millions of peasants were deliberately starved to death to overcome the opposition to the collectivization of agriculture.  The New Republic ignored the slaughter.  Within a few months after that dreadful winter of 1932-33, however, it was moved to condemn "Hitler's anti-Jewish campaign, which is on the whole the most uncivilized episode in modern history."   The condemnation of Hitler was, of course, justified even though Hitler's anti-Jewish efforts were just in their beginning phase; but the selective perception, which has shielded Communism from being similarly condemned, must be understood as a central fact about the liberal intellectual culture's view of the world.   (Photographs of the starving peasants, if the Western media had shown them, would no doubt have created just as stark as image as the later photographs showing emaciated inmates at Dachau.)4

I have commented previously that the 1930s "provides us a 'window' into liberal thinking."  This continues to be true here.  A candid explanation of the double standard, which will be helpful in understanding attitudes expressed throughout the fifty years that followed, was provided in a New Republic editorial in 1935.  The editors said that "those who are more tolerant of the Soviet Union than of Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy are so because they sympathize with the main objectives and the chief policies of the workers' republic . . . To attempt to establish a classless society . . .is quite a different thing from enforcing industrial autocracy based on private ownership of the means of production."   This explanation was given in response to a letter from William Henry Chamberlin in which he had demanded to know: "What is the background for the double standard of morals that not a few American and British radicals have consciously or unconsciously set up, one for Russia, one for the rest of the world?"5

The editors had more to say about this in late 1936: "Those individuals go seriously astray who announce that they are opposed to the dictatorships both of fascism and communism.  The fascist dictatorship is an end in itself; the dictatorship of the proletariat is a means to a very different end."  They spoke of Communism's being only in its "transition stage."  A year later, Matthew Josephson added that "to liken the labor dictatorship of Stalin to the more opportunistic dictatorships of Mussolini or Hitler reveals a crudeness of judgment...."6

In 1943, a New Republic editorial praised the editors of Time magazine for an article about the Soviet Union.  "The editors do not let what happened to the kulaks [peasants] overbalance the fact that Russia solved one of her gravest problems by collectivizing agriculture."   Again we see the counterpoise of an extreme insensitivity toward Stalin's crimes and condemnation of Hitler's; a few months later, an editorial said that "the greatest tragedy of modern times is the murder of Jews and other victims by Hitler."7

In 1946, as we emerged into the postwar era, Joseph and Stewart Alsop wrote that "only a fool could fail to recognize the difference between the fascist system and the Soviet system, which though brutal in method, is entirely civilized in its basic concepts."8

In 1949, E. H. Carr wrote in The New Republic that Stalin's "own contribution to collectivization was the courage, determination and ruthlessness with which the policy was carried out and without which it could not have succeeded."   It is hard to imagine similar virtues - about policies that killed millions of people - being attributed to Adolf Hitler.9

In 1956, Eric Bentley wrote that "Bertolt Brecht . . . was a Communist, and I am anti-Communist . . . yet I had the experience of being his political enemy and his personal friend . . . ."   We should ask ourselves whether a similar relationship would have been tolerable for Bentley if Brecht had been a Nazi.   Again, it reflects the double standard.10

In 1961, after Patrice Lumumba's assassination, a New Republic editorial said that "Lumumba . . . was a very human African national whose association with the Soviet Union was pragmatic rather than ideological."   We can recall no similar rationalization justifying Vidkun Quisling's collaboration with Nazism in Norway.11

In 1963, Graham Greene reported that "the huge crowd that gathered before the monument to Marti to hear Castro's three-hour speech on July 26 was not the regimented or hypnotized crowd that used to greet Hitler."12

This attitude certainly lay behind The New Republic’s 1967 editorial that argued that "fortunately, Mr. [Lyndon] Johnson is willing not to let his Vietnam obsession get in the way of better relations and increased trade with Russia, even though Russia is helping arm people we're fighting."13

3. The result of this abstracting-away of the problem of Communism was that liberal thought tended to interpret the world in pre-World War I terms.  Instead of a world beset by an expansionist totalitarian ideology, the world was seen as one of contending nation-states, of national suspicions and jealousies, of arms races arising out of nothing more substantial than provincialism and jingoistic posturing.  The solutions that seemed applicable to such a world were obvious: more cultural exchanges, more mechanisms for "improving understanding," the expectation that an international organization such as the United Nations should have been able to serve as a truly meaningful instrument for peace, the pursuit of arms limitation treaties, and the like.

These would have made real sense if the pre-World War I syndrome had indeed been the central problem.  If, however, expansionist totalitarianism was the overriding source of difficulty, creating a "protracted conflict" that was fought, in effect, on a worldwide scale at a number of different levels, these things trivialized and misdirected the response to it.   Constantly to urge "detente" and "improved understanding" with regard to a system that all the while was subverting every vulnerable society that was not already within the circle of its totalitarian ideology was to act on illusion, not reality.

4. As we saw in our discussion of the origins of the New Left, a radical peace movement has long been in existence, fed partly by the Left and partly by the "peace churches."   This has stressed pacifism and neutrality.   It is worth noting that this peace movement is at its core something very different from the messianic "Progressive-style" liberalism that favors foreign intervention if it approves the particular cause.

For most purposes, these positions overlapped during the Cold War, since neither wanted America to be the leader of an adamant anti-Communism.   Both pacifists and the liberals who simply held the illusions that I just recounted have shared a deep antipathy against the United States' supporting the forces opposed to Communism in such places as, for example, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Grenada.

The distinction between the two lines of thinking was tellingly apparent, however, with regard to the response to the Nazi threat in the late 1930s.   This has been the subject of James J. Martin's two-volume American Liberalism and World Politics, 1931-1941.   I will illustrate it simply by taking the example of The New Republic’s stance toward Brazil in 1938 and 1939 when Brazil was threatened with a Nazi take-over.   American policymakers were considering an intervention to prevent that from happening.

The Left was acutely aware of the despicable nature of Nazism and of its dangers to other peoples.   It harbored no illusion about it comparable to that which it has held about Communism.   If we were to go on the hypothesis that illusion has been the main obstacle to a willingness to support anti-totalitarian action, we might expect that the liberal intellectual culture would have supported an anti-Nazi intervention in Brazil.   An intervention would have been consistent with the views of non-pacifist liberals, as we see from the fact that in 1915, before it became pacifist, The New Republic called for American intervention in Mexico because of internal conditions there.14

By 1938, however, The New Republic had for several years adhered to a pacifist-neutralist position.  The point worth noting here is that The New Republic remained consistent with that stance even in the face of Nazi expansion.   The editors opposed an anti-Nazi intervention in Brazil.   Their argument included some of the same points that have since been used against anti-Communist interventions: that a large power such as the United States should not "dictate to" a less powerful nation, whose independence would thereby be compromised; and even that no aid should be extended, in this case even to an anti-Nazi government, until "they have shown that the aid will actually benefit the people."15

We know from this episode and from substantial other evidence that the pacifist-neutralist tradition has been powerful within liberal thought.   It would accordingly be a mistake to think that the illusion about Communism has been the only source of liberal thought's apparent weakness in the face of Communism.   The ideological sources are more complex than that.

5. This mix of ingredients has led liberal thought to welcome the prospect of a world in which most of the nations would be either democratic socialist (and neutral toward what liberal thinkers see as primarily a struggle between two contending superpowers) or "independently Communist."   Conservatives would consider such a world a disaster both in a military and a value-oriented sense.   But what to conservatives is unthinkable was to liberal thought a fully acceptable solution to the world's post-World War II plight.

It became clear quite early that liberal thought would welcome the spread of democratic socialism.   In September 1945, a New Republic editorial said that "the scene is being set for a great experiment in democratic socialism, perhaps covering all of Europe, alongside the differently oriented Soviet experiment."   In 1947, Michael Straight wrote that "a great democratic, socialist force in the world today could isolate Soviet nationalism and American reaction.   It could expand into a world society, bringing peace."   In 1957, an editorial criticized the anti-socialist policy that underlay American aid to India.  In 1961, TRB wrote that "we bow down to the sacredness of private property and yet almost certainly an adequate revolution in Latin America must stand private property on its head."16

At the same time, liberal thought saw great value in the "pluralization" of Communism through movements and regimes that were not strictly subject to Moscow's direction.   It was even argued that the creation of a Communist regime, such as in Angola, could be a good thing, provided it was "independent."   In January 1950, the editors of The New Republic urged the American people to "distinguish between Communist-type revolutions and Kremlin-directed revolutions."17

In 1968, TRB wrote that "the theory was that there was a global communist conspiracy - but this evaporated when Moscow and Peking split."   In 1977, Hans J. Morgenthau referred to "the polycentric character of Communism" and said that "the real issue . . . is not whether a certain government professes and practices Communism, but to what extent a government's foreign policy supports the foreign policies of the Soviet Union or of other governments hostile to the United States."18

This thinking was pursued by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the principal architect of President Jimmy Carter's foreign policy.   In 1962, Brzezinski argued that containment and liberation "have ceased to be relevant.   Both were based on the premise that there is a united Soviet bloc."   He called for a policy of "differentiated amity and hostility [to] consolidate differences within the Communist world."   During the Carter presidency, Stanley Hoffmann wrote that "Brzezinski saw the world as far too diverse and complex to be managed by a Kissingerian balance-of-power system."   This worldview explains Andrew Young's actions as ambassador to the United Nations during the Carter administration.19

The third aspect was liberalism's readiness to see vast portions of the globe declare their "neutrality."   So much of the world was included in this that, if the liberal intellectual culture's wishes had been fulfilled, the United States would very largely have come to stand alone, stripped of allies.   (To a disconcerting degree, that is where the United States did find itself in the mid-1980s.)

In 1950, Michael Straight argued that "if Nehru could help to bring China out of the Soviet orbit and into an Asiatic bloc, the neutrality of Asia might not be too high a price to pay . . . ."   In 1957, the editors wrote that "what is needed, basically, is...a new Asian policy, one that does not assume that 'neutralism' helps Communism."   In 1958, they said that "the main reason for our loss of influence in the Middle East and Asia was the attempt to extend the alliance system to areas whose peoples did not feel threatened by Russia - the Baghdad pact and SEATO, followed by an interpretation of the Eisenhower Doctrine as something on which the Middle Eastern states had to declare 'for' or 'against.'"20

In 1958, George F. Kennan's "disengagement" proposal was discussed.   It involved having the Soviet Union withdraw from Eastern Europe and the United States from Western Europe.   The New Republic supported the proposal, calling for a Europe that would be both neutral and free of nuclear arms.  Consistently with its policy of serving as an intellectual clearing house for liberalism, which means that some articles were run that were at odds with the journal's editorial positions, The New Republic included an article by Eugene V. Rostov in March 1959 that pointed out that "such a policy would shift the balance of power against us appallingly." 21

In his book on Walter Lippmann, Hari N. Dam says that "in June 1960, Lippmann wrote an article urging a reappraisal of the policy of containment initiated under the Truman Doctrine . . . In view of the nuclear parity between the two [super]powers, the most prudent policy would be to promote neutrality among the peripheral states."22

Shortly after John F. Kennedy's inauguration, a 1961 editorial said that "Mr. Kennedy is espousing a new U.S. doctrine around which a new non-Communist coalition can be formed - the integrity of neutralism."   Later that year, Denis Warner wrote that "there is nothing wrong with neutrality; it is no longer considered 'immoral.'" 23

Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had sought to advance the movement toward "non-alignment."   In 1967, Ernst Halperin wrote that "in 1956 Khrushchev sought to legitimize his new policy of encouraging 'non-alignment.'"   He even went so far as to say that Khrushchev had considered Castro's victory in Cuba a "bitter setback" to Khrushchev's larger strategy of seeking the neutralization of all of South America.24

In 1962, The New Republic called for settling the Vietnam War by neutralizing South Vietnam.   Incredibly, this took the form in September 1963 of a call for "uniting the country" under Ho Chi Minh’s rule, at which time "he could become another Tito" [i.e., independent Communist].25

They advocated all of this despite the fact that "non-alignment" soon came to bear the same relationship to Soviet Communism as "fellow-traveling" did during the 1930s.   In 1961, Walter Z. Laqueur and Alfred Sherman described a meeting of the "non-aligned" countries held in the (Communist) city of Belgrade: "For many American well-wishers of the newly independent countries of Africa and Asia, the meeting of the 'non-aligned' in Belgrade came as a shock . . . Tito's stand at the conference, which was the most obdurately anti-Western on all questions, should serve as a reminder that Yugoslavia is a Communist state . . . The Cuban performance lent further weight to the belief that for all practical purposes the country's leaders at present are wholly identified with the Communist bloc and that their adherence to the flexible principle of non-alignment is a matter of temporary expedience."26

A 1958 New Republic editorial described Nasser's ostensible "neutrality" in Egypt: "We are neutralist but we fervently hope that the Soviet bloc will defeat the imperialist West . . . We are not Communists; we only want to establish a popular democratic society on the pattern of Mao's China."   Another editorial, this time in 1971, described the scene as "cheers and dancing in the aisles of the General Assembly" when finally Communist China was given a seat and the Republic of China was ousted.27

All the while, Moscow and Peking were each taking advantage of this moral and intellectual weakness by treating Asia, Africa and Latin America as a "soft underbelly" for Communist subversion.  Moscow worked to build up its traditional bases for revolution among the workers, seeking to tie its worldwide network to Soviet foreign policy; Peking nurtured those who sought "revolution now."  In 1962, the New Republic reported that "in the last few years the Chinese have trained thousands of Spanish and Portuguese agents who have traveled all over Latin America." In 1967, Bjorn Kumm spoke of "North Vietnam, where the hard core Bolivian guerrillas were sent for training . . . ."   Kumm said that "it is known that [Che] Guevara appeared at a secret meeting in Prague in early May 1965 . . . [with] a group of Bolivians who were later to become the nucleus of the guerrilla force."   We know, of course, that Guevara was later killed fighting as a guerrilla leader in Bolivia.28

6. An important part of all this received growing attention in conservative circles starting in the mid-1980s.   It is that one of the premises of the worldview that I have been discussing has been that there was a moral equivalency between the Soviet Union and the United States.

In light of all that I have covered, it should probably be considered an improvement, from the United States' point of view, even to be considered morally equivalent to the Soviet Union.   There were many years during which the world intellectual culture gave the Soviet Union the better of it.

Nevertheless, the fact that "moral equivalency" could even be entertained as a notion after the world had seen the depths of the Soviet dream demonstrates how skewed such a perception is.   That after the purges, the Gulags, the crushing of Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, and after the many additional "shocks" that have rocked world opinion about Communism it was still possible for the Soviet Union to have any moral stature at all is perhaps the best example I know of of what Ayn Rand called "moral counterfeiting."   It is just another manifestation of the attitudes that I have been tracing in this chapter.  At the same time, to place the United States on a moral par with the Soviet Union, even at what is for the Soviet Union an inflated level, is a function of the abiding hatred that lies at the heart of the world Left.

The concept of "moral equivalency" was used to disarm any anti-Communist action or attitude.  In 1960, TRB wrote that "we can't abide the thought of Cuba going Communist; doesn't that help give us an idea of the way Red China feels about Capitalist Quemoy and Matsu and Formosa?"   Then in 1961 TRB wrote that "the U.S. has been complaining of the Soviets' recent airlift into Laos, a country into which we ourselves dumped a third of a million dollars, nearly all military."  The editors added to the theme a couple of months later: "The President is correct when he says that the Communists 'send arms . . . to every troubled area.'   But it is only part of the truth.   For this is what the United States has been doing since the start of the Cold War . . .." In 1970, the editors argued that "as long as this country keeps 400,000 or even 200,000 troops in South Vietnam...it cannot convincingly claim that the Russians have no right to put 8,000 or even 12,000 troops in Egypt."29

7. These attitudes led to bitter criticism of all anti-Communist efforts.  It is a mistake to think that the criticism arose mainly out of the circumstances of a given case.   Jean Kirkpatrick was electrifying with her speech to the 1984 Republican National Convention in which she denounced those "who always blame America first."   She put her finger on one of the many aspects of the ideological syndrome I am describing.   I hardly need to illustrate the liberal condemnation of anti-Communist and American actions, since virtually everything that I have quoted has such criticism implicit within it.

8. An extremely important part of all this was the way liberal thought reacted to revolutionary situations throughout the world.   Because of its importance, this will be the subject of the next chapter.

9. There are a number of corollary issues, each significant in itself.  One of these had to do with the often-mentioned "principle of non-intervention."  Another had to do with what the American attitude should be toward non-Communist governments that were for one reason or another undesirable.   (The questions of democracy and of "respect for 'human rights'" were rarely raised about Communist governments, so it has been non-Communist governments that, interestingly enough, have constituted the "universe of discourse" here.)   A third pertains to what is derisively called "the domino theory."

Most liberal thought gravitated in the late 1930s to a position favoring the Allies' eventual war against Hitler; and we have seen that The New Republic favored intervention in other countries on moral or humanitarian grounds prior to 1920.   But, with these as the main exceptions, the overwhelming refrain within liberal thought has been that there is no right to intervene in another country for any reason internal to that country.   The international nature of the Communist problem has not been thought to make an otherwise "internal" issue an "external" one.

A few examples of how the "principle of non-intervention" was applied will be sufficient: A New Republic editorial in 1927 criticized American domination of Nicaragua and the Philippines, speaking of "American imperialism." In 1929, the editors were displeased that "the Monroe Doctrine has come to mean the 'right' of the United States to police the western hemisphere." Many years later, in 1961, TRB wrote that "the State Department ejaculated--'Communism in this hemisphere is not negotiable.' What virtue! What stupidity! It means that we deny the sovereignty of Latin nations to choose their government." In 1965, the editors argued that "sending 25,000 American servicemen to the Dominican Republic violated the O.A.S. charter." In 1978, TRB called the DeConcini reservation to the Panama Canal treaty "arrogant" for "asserting the U.S. right to intervene after the year 2,000 to keep the canal open." In 1980, an editorial said that Americans should apologize to the Iranians for having interfered in Iran's affairs "to shore up a despotic regime." Liberals have roundly condemned the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency in the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile to prevent the Communization that he was openly carrying out. The Reagan administration's invasion of Grenada after the Communist take-over there has been condemned. These examples are merely a few of many that could be cited.30

It would be misleading, though, to conclude that this represents a genuinely held principle of "non-intervention," except for liberals who are actually a part of the pacifist-neutralist tradition.   We have already seen how in 1915 The New Republic criticized Woodrow Wilson's "hands-off" policy toward Mexico's turbulent internal situation.   At that time, the editors argued that "an unalterable rule of non-intervention ignores the truth . . . that no country can in the long run be allowed to behave as it pleases without regard to the interests and standards of other nations."   Later that same year, in connection with the Turks' massacre of the Armenians, they held that "the dogma that all governments are sovereign and that intervention is never justified . . . is of course an impossible doctrine . . . ."31

It has mainly been hypocrisy, rather than a well-reasoned return to the principles that The New Republic stated in what I have just quoted, that has underlain liberalism's long-standing attack upon Apartheid in South Africa and the attack by the Carter Administration on "human rights abuses" by non-Communist governments in several countries.  Unless racial discrimination can be considered "external" in a way that Communism cannot, there is no basis, consistently with the pure principle of non-intervention that the liberal intellectual culture has espoused for so long, for the article by Ian Robertson and Phillip Whitten in an April 1968 issue of The New Republic entitled "The Olympics: Keep South Africa Out!"   In 1980, Bernard-Henri Levy wrote passionately that "the time has come to reestablish in the world, in its most desolate corner, the principles of an entirely different internationalism: the internationalism of human rights and of help for the tortured."   At least so far as non-Communist governments were concerned, but only as to them, the principle of non-intervention had been repudiated.32

What this shows us, as so many things do, is that, except with a few purists, principles such as "non-intervention" have been instruments of ideological convenience.   I would be the last to suggest that hypocrisy is a vice embraced exclusively by American liberalism; but we are foolish if we do not take into account the extent to which liberal thought has applied double standards in a great many areas.

"Non-intervention" is closely related to the second of the three areas that I am now discussing.   This is the question of how the United States and the world community should react to "undesirable" regimes.   We will see that here too there has been enormous inconsistency.

Immediately after Mao completed his conquest of the Chinese mainland in late 1949, The New Republic called for the United States to win back the "friendship of the Chinese people" by extending diplomatic recognition to the newly-created People's Republic of China and by engaging in trade.   Again in 1958, and at various other times as well, the editors called for recognition of Red China and its admission to the United Nations.   Obviously these attitudes were calculated not to take into account the holocaust that occurred under Mao (in which, according to Time magazine's report after Mao's death, a variously estimated 10 to 60 million Chinese were put to death following the Communist takeover) or the lack of democracy under his regime.   The principle that called for ignoring such matters had been enunciated years before when The New Republic wrote that "we have opposed this policy of making diplomatic recognition the equivalent of moral approval . . . ."33

This should be compared with Harold L. Ickes' position in 1949 that "Franco's Spain should not be admitted to the United Nations or the North Atlantic Pact unless it genuinely adheres to democratic principles."   Over the years, liberal thought has applied a similar moral sensibility to Nationalist China, Rhodesia, South Africa, the Shah of Iran, the regime of the Greek colonels, the Pinochet government in post-Allende Chile, the Marcos regime in the Philippines, and several others.   It has amounted, of course, to a selective morality; but our purpose right now is to see how it raises havoc with the principle, often asserted, that moral considerations should not affect America's willingness to recognize, to trade with, and otherwise to share a world with a given regime.34

A thread of consistency did appear back in 1933 when The New Republic argued for the recognition of Hitler's regime, at which time it pointed out that the journal had always held that moral considerations should not stand in the way of recognizing Soviet Russia.   We have already noted how The New Republic did hold consistently to a pacifist-neutralist position in 1938 about taking action against Nazis in Brazil, so we know that consistency is possible.   But whether the position taken about recognition of Hitler in 1933 represented a true consistency, or merely a tactical one in light of the journal's passionate affinity for Soviet Russia at that time and desire for American recognition of its government, is a matter of conjecture.   It would have been too directly self-contradictory to have argued opposing rationales in so brief a period.

The third point among those I am now discussing relates to the shifting positions on what liberals have called "the domino theory."

Liberal rhetoric often spoke of "the domino theory" in its criticisms of the Vietnam War, both during the war and since, and also in connection with the threats posed by Communism in South and Central America.   The concern that a Communist victory in one place would threaten adjacent areas was made to sound far-fetched, a remote conjecture.  This was accomplished by demoting the concern to the status of a "theory."   An example occurred in 1970 when Salvador Allende took office in Chile with an openly announced program for communizing the country.   A New Republic editorial said that "the White House . . . put forward a new Latin-style domino theory, according to which Peru, Bolivia and Argentina . . . might be the next three countries to fall."35

Oddly, this rhetoric was accepted at face value in much public discussion, despite the fact that the concern that the "domino theory" reflected was a valid one.   In several connections where there was no ideological reason to denigrate the concern, liberal thought has itself used the point - and has taken its validity for granted as a mere fact of common sense.   In 1937, a New Republic editorial about Spain observed that "if Franco wins, the war-willing powers will be immensely encouraged for their next aggression."   In 1967, the editors asked the readers to "imagine the world as it would have been had Israel lost on the battlefield or remained passive . . . The Middle East would have become an exclusive Soviet preserve."   In 1980, an editorial said about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that it was not "by itself, that important.   The danger is that for destabilizing - or actually attacking - neighboring areas that are important, specifically Pakistan and Iran."   (Interestingly, the so-called "domino theory" was applied in these last two instances even to Communist expansion.   I have never seen an explanation within liberal writing of why the "theory" is thought to make perfectly good sense in certain circumstances, but in others, such as in Southeast Asia and Central or South America, to be obviously stupid.)36

Consequences of the Worldview

The next chapter deals with "Liberalism and a World in Revolution."   I will then discuss the consequences of the liberal worldview as they have been felt in a number of different countries.   In the present chapter, I will mention only certain consequences that will not fit into that discussion.   Needless to say, a brief space won't allow the attempt to be exhaustive.

A major result of the self-deception can be seen in America's failure to have fought World War II with political objectives in mind.   We "won the war" but "lost the peace" in a way that was a disaster for hundreds of millions of people and for the free world.   Garet Garrett pointed to a startling fact: "When the Yalta Agreement was signed [in February 1945] the number of people in the Communist world was hardly more than 200 million.   Five years later it was 800 million . . . ."37

Our leftist-spawned illusions about Stalin's dictatorship were such that we forcibly returned a reported two million Russians to the Soviet Union at the end of the war.   A review in The New Republic in 1978 said that "Nikolai Tolstoy's The Secret Betrayal may well be the most authoritative accounting of the monstrous repatriation to the Soviet Union of more than two million Russians living (mostly imprisoned) in the countries liberated by the western allies at the end of World War II."38

In Volume I of The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who spent years in Stalin's labor camps, commented bitterly about this and other associated events: "In their own countries Roosevelt and Churchill are honored as embodiments of statesmanlike wisdom.   To us, in our Russian prison conversations, their consistent shortsightedness and stupidity stood out as astonishingly obvious.   How could they, in their decline from 1941 to 1945, fail to secure any guarantees whatever of the independence of Eastern Europe?   How could they give away broad regions of Saxony and Thuringia in exchange for the preposterous toy of a four-zone Berlin, their own future Achilles' heel?   And what was the military or political sense in their surrendering to destruction at Stalin's hands hundreds of thousands of armed Soviet citizens determined not to surrender?   They say it was the price they paid for Stalin's agreeing to enter the war against Japan.   With the atom bomb already in their hands, they paid Stalin for not refusing to occupy Manchuria, for strengthening Mao Tse-tung in China, and for giving Kim Il Sung control of half Korea!"39

Some small part of the personal tragedy caused by this Allied policy that originated in liberalism's illusions about the Soviet Union came home to me forcefully on November 14, 1976, as I read the Sunday paper.   The Wichita Eagle-Beacon  carried a feature story about a World War II prisoner-of-war camp near Concordia, Kansas.   The article quoted a Yugoslavian who had become a prisoner there after he had been impressed into the German Wehrmacht: "Later, I was sent to a camp in Nebraska and then to another for Yugoslavs in North Carolina.  There were some Russian soldiers there who had fought on the side of the Germans, and the United States had no choice but to send them back.  Rather than go back to be shot, most of them committed suicide."

Solzhenitsyn tells how the entire army of Russian soldiers under General Vlasov who had defected from Stalin and had been fighting against the Red Army were tricked into thinking they were surrendering to the English when in fact they were being turned over to the Red Army.40

During World War II, Heinz H. F. Eulau wrote prolifically for The New Republic favoring a postwar domination of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union.   In April 1944, he wrote that "Soviet influence in future Balkan politics is natural . . . Those who raise the cry of 'Soviet imperialism' fail to understand that the overwhelming majority of the common people in the Balkans do not fear Soviet influence."   In August 1944, he wrote that "Poland will be in close alliance with the USSR and form an integral part of the security system which the Soviet Union is building up in Eastern Europe under her hegemony."   A month later, Jerome Davis told the journal's readers that "the Soviet Union wants to work with the rest of the world.   In the postwar world she doesn't want to foist communism off on other nations . . . ."   In April 1945, a contributor with the initials E. L. P. spoke of "the Anglo-American Russia-haters [who] bewail the allegedly undemocratic lot of the Eastern European countries under the Soviet heel . . . ."   In July of the same year, the New Republic’s editors said that "the Russia-hating American press has long argued that once anybody got into the clutches of Soviet Russia, he was never again permitted to escape.  For the record, let it be noted that this seems to be false so far as it concerns the Poles."41

The lack of geopolitical strategy within the Roosevelt administration reflected this outlook.   A New Republic editorial in June 1945 told the story: "While Roosevelt was alive he acted as mediator between two stubborn men, Churchill and Stalin . . . who clashed . . . notably as to whether the Anglo-American invasion of Europe should be in the Balkans, as Churchill wished, through territory which the Russians regard as their sphere of influence, or through France."   It was Stalin, not Churchill, who, with Roosevelt's decisive vote, won this argument.  The decision in favor of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy, consigned Eastern Europe to Soviet domination, since it was the occupation by the Red Army, even more than any decision made at Yalta, that determined the fate of those countries.42

In a 1957 book, Rexford Tugwell discussed the decision to invade Normandy rather than to attack through Eastern Europe: "The Americans were still wary of Churchill, . . . being fearful that he would soon begin, as usual, to find reasons for postponement . . . He did now suggest that going north to meet the Russian . . . drive somewhere in the Balkans would be a way of preventing future trouble in Europe."   Tugwell said that "Marshall and Hopkins were his [Churchill's] active counters.  Their acceptance of Russia as an ally was much more sincere than that of the British . . . ."43

W. W. Rostow told about yet another facet of this strategic struggle in a book in 1960.   He said that "the United States did not support Churchill's efforts in 1945 to seek Anglo-American victory in the race for Berlin and Prague or encourage his notion that Western troops withdraw to the occupation areas in Germany only when the Yalta provisions concerning the method of forming the Eastern European governments were actually carried out."44

With regard to this same point, Senator Robert A. Taft observed that "our troops could have reached Berlin before the Russians if they had not been called back.   We withdrew from Dresden and Leipsig, which we had already occupied.  General Patton would have been in Prague the next day, but he was called back so that Czechoslovakia could surrender to Russian generals, and his own book shows that he was not pleased with the recall."45

After Eastern Europe fell into Stalin's grasp, The New Republic began the slow process (which in the next chapter we will see became part of an often-repeated cycle) of regretting it - although at first with a heavy dose of rationalization.   In November 1945, the editors reported that "the Soviet government has exercised terrific pressure on the countries liberated by the Red Army - Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Austria - . . . It has used techniques of political control which are objectionable to democratic nations."   But the editors asked, "Can it be blamed? . . . If we would share the [atomic] bomb with them . . ., our opposition to Russian-controlled governments in Eastern Europe might carry real weight."   Even in late 1947, the best face was being put on things.   The New Republic ran an article by Owen Lattimore, later of China fame, that said that "it may be that the Czechoslovakian Communists, heartily backed by the Soviet Communists, are giving a thorough trial run to a policy of suggesting, to the nation's neighbors, that socialism and eventual communism can be reached by an easy transition, with prosperity all along the way and without massacre or coercion."46 


1. New Republic, November 13, 1971, p. 13; New Republic, September 27, 1969, p. 8; New Republic, May 13, 1972, p. 8; New Republic, February 1, 1975, p. 2.

2. New Republic, December 16, 1946, p. 789; New Republic, March 24, 1947, p. 12.

3. New Republic, February 29, 1960, p. 14; New Republic, September 8, 1973, p. 18; New Republic, June 4, 1977, p. 8.

4. New Republic, June 7, 1933, p. 84.

5. New Republic, February 27, 1935, pp. 61, 77.

6. New Republic, December 9, 1936, p. 160; New Republic, December 1, 1937, p. 107.

7. New Republic, April 5, 1943, p. 428; New Republic, February 7, 1944, p. 164.

8. New Republic, September 16, 1946, p. 322.

9. New Republic, November 28, 1949, p. 21.

10. New Republic, August 27, 1956, p. 19.

11. New Republic, February 20, 1961, p. 6.

12. New Republic, November 2, 1963, p. 17.

13. New Republic, April 22, 1967, p. 4.

14. New Republic, January 23, 1915, p. 7; see also New Republic, October 9, 1915, p. 245, regarding the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks.

15. New Republic, February 9, 1938, p. 4; New Republic, December 7, 1938, p. 127; New Republic, November 22, 1939, p. 137.

16. New Republic, September 3, 1945, p. 272; New Republic, December 29, 1947, p. 9; New Republic, September 23, 1957, p. 4; New Republic, May 8, 1961, p. 2.

17. New Republic, January 23, 1950, p. 6.

18. New Republic, January 20, 1968, p. 6; New Republic, January 22, 1977, p. 54.

19. New Republic, March 26, 1962, pp. 13, 14; New Republic, July 29, 1978, p. 20.

20. New Republic, November 20, 1950, p. 14; New Republic, June 24, 1957, p. 8; New Republic, June 2, 1958, p. 4.

21. New Republic, January 6, 1958, p. 3; New Republic, March 2, 1959, p. 23.

22. Hari N. Dam, The Intellectual Odyssey of Walter Lippmann (New York: Gordon Press, 1973), pp. 152-153.

23. New Republic, April 3, 1961, p. 3; New Republic, September 25, 1961, p. 13.

24. New Republic, November 27, 1961, p. 11.

25. New Republic, March 12, 1962, p. 4; New Republic, December 15, 1962, p. 5; New Republic, September 14, 1963, p. 5.

26. New Republic, September 25, 1961, p. 9.

27. New Republic, March 10, 1958, p. 4; New Republic, November 6, 1971, p. 9.

28. New Republic, January 29, 1962, p. 6; New Republic, November 11, 1967, p. 15. Repub

29. New Republic, August 29, 1960, p. 2; New Republic, April 3, 1961, p. 2; New Republic, June 5, 1961, p. 4; New Republic, August 1, 1970, p. 5.

30. New Republic, January 12, 1927, p. 203; New Republic, January 30, 1929, p. 286; New Republic, May 8, 1961, p. 2; New Republic, May 15, 1965, p. 1; New Republic, April 22, 1978, p. 2; New Republic, March 8, 1980, p. 6.

31. New Republic, January 23, 1915, p. 7; New Republic, October 9, 1915, p. 245.

32. New Republic, April 13, 1968, p. 12.

33. New Republic, September 26, 1949, p. 6; New Republic, June 16, 1958, p. 4; New Republic, June 21, 1933, p. 138.

34. New Republic, May 30, 1949, p. 15.

35. New Republic, November 7, 1970, p. 9.

36. New Republic, January 13, 1937, p. 315; New Republic, June 17, 1967, p. 1; New Republic, January 26, 1980, p. 8.

37. Garet Garrett, The American Story (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1955), p. 349.

38. New Republic, December 1, 1978, p. 51.

39. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), Thomas P. Whitney, trans., Vol. I, pp. 259-260.

40. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag, Vol. I, p. 259.

41. New Republic, April 3, 1944, p. 462; New Republic, August 7, 1944, p. 157; New Republic, September 4, 1944, p. 277; New Republic, April 25, 1945, p. 555; New Republic, July 16, 1945, p. 59.

42. New Republic, June 4, 1945, p. 771.

43. Rexford G. Tugwell, The Democratic Roosevelt (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1957), pp. 621-622.

44. W. W. Rostow, The United States in the World Arena (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960), p. 184.

45. Senator Robert A. Taft,  A Foreign Policy for Americans (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1951), p. 54.

46. New Republic, November 5, 1945, p. 589; New Republic, September 22, 1947, p. 7.