OPINIONSrnThe Myth of American Isolationismrnby Paul Gottfriedrn”Internationalism is a luxury which only the upper classes can afford; the commonrnpeople are hopelessly bound to their native shores.”rn—Benito MussolinirnPromised Land, Crusader State:rnThe American Encounter With thernWorld Since 1776rnby Walter A. McDougallrnBoston: Houghton Mifflin;rn304 pp., $25.00rnWalter A. McDougall, a professorrnof international relations at thernUniversity of Pennsylvania, presentsrnuseful truths about the history of Americanrnforeign policy. The United States,rnhe correctly argues, was never reallyrn”isolationist” in its relations with the restrnof the world; long before it plunged intornthe protracted wars of the current century,rnthe American government pursuedrnperceived national interests abroad. Inrnaccordance with its own “unilateralist”rninclinations the federal government,rnwithout much popular opposition,rnpushed an American empire acrossrnNorth America and into Latin America,rnopened China to American trade and influence,rnand subdued the Philippines asrna base for American power in the FarrnPaul Gottfried is a professor of humanitiesrnat Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown,rnPennsylvania.rnEast. If the United States did not continuernto expand its overseas empire on thernEuropean or Japanese model after thernSpanish-American War, McDougall observes,rnit was not because of a lack of militaryrnenergy or the prevalence of isolationismrnat home. Rather Americans,rnincluding their leaders, saw no practicalrnneed to indulge in a civilizational mission.rnSuch a course would have broughtrnlittle material benefit while causingrnmany headaches, as exemplified by therncounterinsurgency waged against Filipinornrebels at the turn of the century.rnMcDougall stresses two other truthsrnabout American attitudes toward internationalrnrelations which do not fit currentrnmisconceptions. One of them isrnthat those politicians who today are routinelyrncondemned as “isolationists”rn(such as Henry Cabot Lodge, WilliamrnBorah, and William Jennings Bryan),rnwere often vigorous internafionalists whornhad sound objecfions (though not alwaysrnthe same ones) to Wilsonian liberalism.rnBryan did favor an active American rolernin making peace among the World WarrnI belligerents, but unlike Wilson, he didrnnot incline strongly toward the Allies.rnThough Lodge had been even morernopenly pro-British during the war thanrnWilson and Secretary of State Lansing,rnhe opposed Wilson’s equivocations duringrnthe struggle and his idealistic, entanglingrninternationalism afterwards. Borahrntoo had begun as sympathetic to the Alliedrnside but, like Robert Talt, grew disillusionedrnwith the victors and their treatmentrnof the vanquished. Nonetheless,rnlike the Republican Presidents of thern20’s, Senator Borah advocated closerncommercial and economic ties with thernmajor European states, partly to mediaterntheir differences.rnThe second truth is that, from thern19th century on, Americans vacillatedrnbetween two self-images, both with implicationsrnfor foreign policy. Either thernUnited States was to be an Old Testamentrnpromised land whose people, likernthe Jews, dwelt alone, or it would have tornfollow the example of the New Testament,rngoing forth to preach the Word (inrnthis case republican government andrnbourgeois Protestant values) to benightedrnheathens. McDougall presents thernlatter vision with such unmistakablernscorn that one has to conclude that he isrneither flattering Jewish readers or expressingrnhis revulsion for democraticrnglobalism (which he identifies with thernNew Testament-crusader view of Americanrndestiny). In his section on WoodrowrnWilson, McDougall notes that whatrn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn