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Republican leaders need to remember what happened the last time America chose to be isolated

By attacking our closest allies and their leaders and displaying obsequious deference to the virtual dictator Vladimi...

Posted: Jul 22, 2018 12:24 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2018 12:24 PM

By attacking our closest allies and their leaders and displaying obsequious deference to the virtual dictator Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump has repudiated American global leadership. He has replaced it with a hyper-nationalism and unilateralism that are less of a foreign policy and more the bullying tactics of a would-be strongman.

Trump's "America First" isolationism is fast weakening and isolating the United States, undermining the stability of long-standing alliances, and allowing dictatorships to thrive unchallenged around the world.

At the same time, it represents a dangerous and head-spinning reversal from decades of American conduct. Today, more than ever, we need Republican leaders who share the far-sighted and generous internationalist vision of the post-war future held in the 1940s by three exceptional Republicans: Henry Luce, the publisher of Time, Life, and Fortune; Wendell Willkie, the successful Indiana businessman who ran against and lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 election; and Henry Stimson, FDR's secretary of war.

Luce published his famous article, "The American Century," in February 1941, seven months after all the European democracies -- except Great Britain -- had surrendered to Hitler's ruthless armies. Luce traced this catastrophe to the end of World War I when the Senate rejected Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations and the United States began its retreat from world affairs.

In the 1920s and '30s, Americans embraced "the moral and practical bankruptcy" of isolationism, Luce wrote, and "failed to play their part as a world power." That unwillingness to confront Hitler's aggression in the 1930s, he underscored, brought "disastrous consequences" to "all mankind."

But in early 1941, with strongmen like Hitler and Mussolini on the march to world domination, Luce believed that the United States still had the opportunity and obligation to exercise global leadership. The 20th century was "America's first century as a dominant power in the world," and if Americans rejected that global leadership, he warned, "the responsibility of refusal is also ours, and ours alone."

Wendell Willkie shared Luce's strong internationalist outlook. A talk he gave in 1941 could scarcely be timelier today:

"The isolationist believes that while international trade may be desirable, it is not necessary. He believes that we can build a wall around America and that democracy can live behind that wall. . . . . But the internationalist denies this. The internationalist declares that, to remain free, men must trade with one another -- must trade freely in goods, in ideas, in customs and traditions."

In late 1942, in the midst of the war, Wilkie embarked on a round-the-world journey, acting as FDR's unofficial emissary, demonstrating American unity, gathering information, and discussing plans for the post-war future with key heads of state. The result was his book "One World," a sensation that sold a million and a half copies in its first few months. The message of "One World" -- the title itself was a rebuke to the very notion of isolationism -- was that "this is one world; that all parts of it for their own well-being are interdependent on the other parts."

Willkie called for a new "declaration of interdependence among the nations of this one world." He hoped that in the postwar-world the United States would help unify and lead "the peoples of the earth in the human quest for freedom and justice." Luce, too, envisaged the American century as powered by a "passionate devotion to American ideals," a sharing "with all peoples of our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution."

Another Republican wise man, Henry Stimson, who had served as secretary of state under Herbert Hoover and secretary of war under President William Howard Taft as well as under FDR, wrote an essay in 1947 that was, in a sense, a postwar coda to Luce's "The American Century."

In "The Challenge to Americans," Stimson dismissed the idea that "America can again be an island to herself." Americans, he wrote, were now "required to think of our prosperity, our policy and our first principles as indivisibly connected with the facts of life everywhere." And this responsible outlook, he emphasized, meant that any policy -- private or public -- that wasn't framed with reference to the rest of the world "is framed with perfect futility."

It wouldn't be an easy task -- it called for tolerance, a steadfastness of purpose, and, above all, the lucid and pragmatic recognition that "we are forced to act in the world as it is, and not in the world as we wish it were."

More than 200 years ago, in his farewell address, George Washington spoke of his hope that the United States, as "a free, enlightened, and at no great distant period, a great nation," would "give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."

And to ensure the security of that magnanimous nation, he urged Americans to remain on their guard. "Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government."

If they were alive today, Luce, Willkie, and Stimson would be shocked by Donald Trump's "America First" foreign policy and his cozying up to the impenetrable Russian autocrat. But where are the Republican wise men of today, the patriots who cherish our republic and embrace its foundational values, who believe in global interdependence and American benevolence, who repudiate unilateralism and isolationism and yet who remain vigilant, as Washington wisely said, "against the insidious wiles of foreign influence"?

Unless they play a more responsible, active and outspoken part in upholding American democracy today, they will be held accountable by history.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1385749

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1538881574
Cuyahoga1358332341
Hamilton987081326
Montgomery679671161
Summit568451051
Lucas51531869
Butler48000663
Stark42232983
Lorain32046539
Warren30404338
Mahoning27463643
Clermont25990297
Lake24809422
Delaware22566147
Licking20767246
Fairfield20730223
Greene20611275
Trumbull20257516
Medina20074290
Clark18170332
Richland16680236
Portage16389231
Wood15926209
Allen14333261
Miami14018261
Muskingum12927155
Wayne12185244
Columbiana11980242
Tuscarawas11204271
Marion10908150
Pickaway10606129
Scioto10531127
Erie9864171
Ross9612177
Lawrence8934125
Hancock8603143
Ashtabula8474187
Geauga8251156
Belmont8236188
Jefferson7691175
Huron7537131
Union742651
Washington7380126
Athens709365
Sandusky6963135
Darke6875137
Knox6812122
Seneca6519137
Ashland6051115
Auglaize595388
Shelby5820104
Brown575372
Mercer565190
Defiance5564101
Crawford5563117
Madison551071
Highland549282
Fulton542583
Clinton533781
Logan518687
Preble5102111
Putnam4900107
Guernsey484364
Williams468982
Perry462254
Champaign454264
Ottawa442484
Jackson434563
Pike398345
Morrow396451
Coshocton391969
Fayette383753
Adams369275
Hardin366170
Gallia355458
Holmes3321111
Henry329869
Van Wert320771
Hocking310770
Wyandot285458
Carroll266352
Paulding246443
Meigs221742
Monroe192749
Noble174142
Morgan170029
Harrison160741
Vinton141319
Unassigned05
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