Stand Up, America
It’s about time for the country to define, and defend, its national interests.

Roosevelt and Churchill at Casablanca, 1943


Conrad Black

At the end of World War II, the Americans and the British ruled, or heavily influenced by traditional right, or occupied, or sustained by force of arms righteously exercised, almost all the world except what was under the hobnailed jackboot of Stalin’s Red Army (largely supplied by the United States as it was). The masses of the world were generally uneducated and didn’t speak English, but most of their local leaders did. Latin America admired the U.S., as Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy gave back a good deal of sovereignty and ended the practice of having the United Fruit Company and other American corporations deploy the U.S. Marines around Central America. Most of the Latin American countries joined the war effort, if only to be in at the founding of the United Nations, and the whole hemisphere — except for Canada, a dominion of the British Commonwealth and autonomous but in close alliance with Great Britain — sheltered under the shield of the Monroe Doctrine, which under its more vigorous espousers had purported to authorize the U.S. to intervene anywhere in Latin America for almost any reason.

The British Indian empire (now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Nepal) was restless, but it, and the spine of Africa from Cairo and Alexandria in a thick red line on the map to the Cape, all South Africa, most of Australasia and the Middle East, and other chunks of territory (including Nigeria, Malaya, Cyprus, and much of the Caribbean) were British. American and British forces occupied most of Germany and Italy, and were much in evidence as liberators of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, and Greece. The U.S. occupied Japan, half of Korea, and maintained a lifeline to the Nationalist government of China. The U.S. owned and occupied the Panama Canal, and the British owned and held the Suez Canal, and the countries together had 95 percent of the naval forces in the world and controlled every sea and ocean beyond any possible dispute. The U.S. had half the gross economic product of the world and a monopoly of atomic weapons (though they had been developed largely by European fugitives from Nazi and Italian oppression). The U.N., which was being set up in New York, was man’s most ambitious attempt at coordinating government in the world, and the Anglo-Americans were assured of absolute control of its proceedings, subject only to the slight encumbrance of the Soviet veto in the Security Council. (France and China, the other permanent council members, were client states.) The other traditional Great Powers — Germany, France, Italy, and Japan — were devastated by war, and dependent on Anglo-American assistance to get back on their feet and to avoid being subverted within or simply conquered by Soviet Communism.     

No one burned American flags, ever, anywhere. American and British embassies and consulates were not violated. The English-language media and entertainment industries, though they were reasonably restrained, could indulge themselves in ethnic slurs and caricatures and sectarian disparagements of non-Judeo-Christians as much as they wished. The Western Allies, led by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, had led the destruction of the forces of barbarism and racist aggression, though the Soviet Union, which had connived with Nazi Germany to start World War II, had taken over 90 percent of the casualties fighting the Germans. Churchill and Roosevelt were not only distinguished and enlightened democratic leaders, they were great orators and public-relations geniuses (unlike Stalin, who gave only one real speech every couple of years and was furtive and dogmatic, apart from his psychopathic paranoia), and they enjoyed an immense personal prestige, personally and for the nationalities they led, that permeated the world. When, in early 1941, Roosevelt sent Churchill a verse, from Longfellow, which, he said, “applies to you people as it does to us,” Churchill read it on a world broadcast (“Sail on, O Ship of State! / . . . Humanity . . . / is hanging breathless on thy fate!”). He replied with a verse from Clough (“Say not the struggle naught availeth / . . . And not by eastern windows only, / When daylight comes, comes in the light; / . . . But westward, look, the land is bright!”). Apart from all their other attainments, these were cultured men who did not need speechwriters and researchers to prepare their most important remarks. How fortunate we were that they so largely personified the civilization whose defense they successfully led.