OPINIONSnThe Isolationist Enigmanby Chilton Williamson, Jr.n’We assert that no nation can long endure half republic and half empire.”n— Democratic National Platform, 1900nThe Colonel: The Life and Warsnof Henry Stimson, 1867-1950nby Godfrey HodgsonnNew York: Alfred A. Knopf;n402 pp., $24.95nAccording to Godfrey Hodgson,nHenry L. Stimson—secretary ofnwar for William Howard Taft, secretarynof state for Herbert Hoover, and, again,nsecretary of war, this time under FranklinnD. Roosevelt—“was identified withnthe dangerous idea that it is America’sndestiny to lead the wodd, and the drivesnthat had led him to that convictionncome from deep in the American past.nBut, when all else is said and done, henwas one of the great guardians of thenRepublic, one of those to whom Platonsaid the fullest honor should be givennbecause he preserved us from our enemies.”nIf only he had preserved us fromnourselves as well.nGodfrey Hodgson, who is currentlynforeign editor of The Independent innLondon, was Washington correspondentnfor the London Observer fromn1967 to 1971; also he has taught atnHarvard, Yale, and other Americannuniversities and is described by hisnAmerican publisher as a frequent lecturernin the United States. Thus credentialed,nhe has included in his biographynof this distinguished Americannstatesman and warrior glib glosses onnthe topic of isolationism in the UnitednStates in the 20th century and a sillynsummary of American immigration reformnin the 1920’s; an equation ofnAmerican isolationists between the twonWorld Wars with H.L. Mencken’snChilton Williamson, ]r. is senior bookneditor for Chronicles.n28/CHRONICLESnnnbooboisie (Mencken!—who loathednthe Brits and in 1914 hoped that thenGermans would be in Paris beforenChristmas); and a declaration thatn”Stimson, in 1939 and 1940, was thenAmerican Churchill. He was articulatingnthe New Deal Democrats’ instinctsnmore clearly than their own leaders.nBeyond Left and Right, above Republicannand Democrat, he was settingnforth the lasting principles of thenAmerican tradition.” Elsewhere, he remarksnin passing: “In the last analysisn[isolationism] was not about world politics,nbut about American politics.”nThat is, of course, a profoundly truenstatement. Why didn’t Mr. Hodgsonnpay due attention to it in his book?nHenry Stimson was indeed a grandnold man of a type (morally, not intellectually)nthat today is as dead as thendodo. And it is indisputable, as Hodgsonnamply shows, that by keepingnRoosevelt’s mind opposed to Churchill’snpassion for military feints and parryingsnand directed instead toward annall-out assault on what Hodgson callsn”the citadel of Nazism,” he made anmajor contribution to the Allied warneffort. Yet to praise Stimson so unstintinglynas the preserver of the “Republic”nis much less a rash act than it is annuninformed one. For this “Republican”nwas a man who held ideas ofnrepublican government that were incongruent,nin many important ways,nwith the republicans who had designednthe American Republic and set it innmotion. “His conception of the role ofnthe executive in constitutional law,”nHodgson writes, “was robust, to say thenleast: it could verge on the scarcelyndisguised expression of the ancient andnprofoundly un-American code of statecraftnthat is summed up in the phrasen