Some things never change, either at home or abroad:
Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday criticized U.S. Republican front-runner Donald Trump for a speech in which he said it would be “America first” if he were elected president. Trump said on Wednesday that if elected, his foreign policy would leave European and Asian allies of the U.S. fending for themselves if they did not pay more for U.S. defense measures. “I can only hope that the election campaign in the USA does not lack the perception of reality,” Steinmeier said.
“The world’s security architecture has changed and it is no longer based on two pillars alone. It cannot be conducted unilaterally,” he said, referring to Trump’s “America first” message. Steinmeier said international conflicts could only be solved nowadays if heavyweights like the United States and Russia and others joined forces.
“No American president can get round this change in the international security architecture,” Steinmeier said, adding that this was why “‘America first’ is actually no answer to that.”
How quickly everyone forgets that “America First” was once the consensus position across elements of the political spectrum. Back in 1940, Americans skittish about running headlong into a European war formed a number of committees to try and stay out of the wars in both Europe and Asia. On both the patriotic right and the socialist left, groups like America First and the League of American Writers agitated for American neutrality, and pushed back against FDR’s interventionism.
The America-Firsters (whose ranks included Gerald Ford, Sargent Shriver, and the philo-Germanic, anti-Semitic Charles Lindbergh, among many other famous names) were largely motivated by opposition to foreign entanglements, while the now-memory-holed agitprop groups on the left — such as the “Keep America Out of War” communist front — wanted the U.S. to leave their beloved Soviet Union’s alliance with National Socialist Germany alone. (Their tune quickly changed after Hitler attacked U.S.S.R. in June of 1941.)
So, naturally, it’s the America First Committee (which dissolved in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor) that is slandered by the modern left, with nary a word about their own advocacy for their brother socialists, the Nazis:
It is extremely unfortunate that in his speech Wednesday outlining his foreign policy goals, Donald Trump chose to brand his foreign policy with the noxious slogan “America First,” the name of the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.
Seeking to brand itself as a mainstream organization, America First struggled with the problem of the anti-Semitism of some of its leaders and many of its members. It had to remove from its executive committee not only the notoriously anti-Semitic Henry Ford but also Avery Brundage, the former chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee who had prevented two Jewish runners from the American track team in Berlin in 1936 from running in the finals of the 4×100 relay.Still, the problem of anti-Semitism remained; a Kansas chapter leader pronounced President Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt “Jewish” and Winston Churchill a “half-Jew.” After Pearl Harbor, the America First Committee closed its doors, but not before Lindbergh made his infamous speech at an America First rally in Des Moines, Iowa, in September 1941. After charging that President Roosevelt had manufactured “incidents” to propel the country into war, Lindbergh proceeded to blurt out his true thoughts. “The British and the Jewish races,” he declared, “for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.”