An Empire If You Can Bear It

"The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation."
—William McKinley

In his classic study of "isolationism," Not to the Swift, Justus Doenecke takes note of a phenomenon called "Asia Firstism"—the view of conservative politicians and publicists of the postwar era who opposed meddling in Europe but saw Asia as the equivalent of the long-vanished American frontier and the East as the natural sphere of American expansionism. In the postwar world, the old America Firsters "concentrated less and less upon withdrawal from the world's passions and battles, and more and more upon the most hazardous commitments on the Asian continent." Today, a new crop of Asia Firsters opposes U.S. intervention in the Balkans but considers the military occupation of Japan, South Korea, and Okinawa as vital to American interests. Vladimir Putin is a pussycat, but the "Chicoms," in these circles, are a rising challenge to American hegemony that must be "contained."

In the 1950's, as the Cold War delivered the conservative movement to the tender mercies of various ex-communist and pseudo-Trotskyist charlatans, a tiny minority retained the old faith. Doenecke recounts that, even at the height of the Cold War hysteria, "genuine outsiders" like Lawrence Dennis, Harry Elmer Barnes, Garet Garrett, and precious few...

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