What others

December 08, 2006

The anniversary of Dec. 7, 1941, is a reminder that responsibility comes with power and that attempting to evade that responsibility is impossible. On this day, we should not forget that one of the contributing causes of World War II was American isolationism.

At the end of the First World War, Europe was devastated, bled white by the butchery of trench warfare. America emerged as the world's sole great power, but it was a role we were unprepared to play.

The Senate rejected the Versailles Treaty. Washington shunned the League of Nations. The treaty was admittedly flawed; its "war guilt" clause fed the deep waters of German resentment, and the sections on reparations proved unworkable. Yet it is often forgotten that enforcement of the treaty's military provisions would have prevented the rearming of Germany.

Absent any leadership from Washington, Britain and France were left alone as the chief bulwarks of an anemic security system.

In the heyday of 20th-century militarism, American disengagement only added to the instability. Would a more activist Washington, lending leadership and material support to Britain and France, have prevented a second global conflict?

It is impossible to say; U.S. isolationism was a contributing factor, not a dominant one.

We face a different array of dangers today. Yet many of the lessons of the past still apply. Chief among them is the need for U.S. leadership in the world and the folly of showing weakness in the face of aggressive regimes.

- The Kansas City Star

The helter-skelter closing weeks of any lame-duck Congress are not a good time to do serious work. One thing that the current lame-duck session should avoid is a proposal to end a bipartisan 25-year moratorium on coastal oil and natural-gas drilling. That ban has protected most of the nation's Outer Continental Shelf. Better to wait until next year, debate it fully, and get it right.

- (New York) Newsday

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