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Michael van der Galien

Did America Bring Down the British Empire?

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Posted on January 9 2010 11:00 am
Michael van der Galien was born in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden in 1984. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with the United States. When he was 17 years old, he started blogging - of course about America. His articles have been published at Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, Hot Air (the GreenRoom) and Right Across The Atlantic. He's also an editor for the Dutch conservative blog, De Dagelijkse Standaard.
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What I found so implausible about this assertion is the notion that American presidents, lawmakers, and ordinary citizens were sitting in their respective homes deliberating on the obliteration of an ally’s interests around the globe. What was America’s biggest obsession in the 1920s? My contention is that the Bolshevik revolution and rise of the Soviet Union was at the top of any leader’s list as that decade unfolded. From Woodrow Wilson onward, the emphasis was on developing America’s industrial heartland and keeping Wall Street booming. Likewise the reactionary and isolationist lawmakers and presidents elected in the 1920s were not, I hasten to stress, hell-bent on bringing down the British Empire. The suffering of the corn and farm belts during the Great Depression of the 1930s was immense and the project on which Franklin Roosevelt had embarked to save his country from utter desolation was manifold. At the same time, the threat of Stalin’s Soviet Union and of internal communist infiltration was uppermost in the thoughts of lawmakers, intelligence officers, and leaders. The German American Bund and rising anti-Semitism, due to the suspicion that many Jewish-American immigrants were fifth-columnists wedded to communism, was a significant element in the public discourse of the 1930s. After the war there was a wave of trials, the Nixon-Alger Hiss hearings, and the Jerry Voorhis-Helen Gahagan Douglas cases culminating in the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as atomic spies. The communist threat had become an American fixation, not the threat of Britain. It could be mooted that the rise of socialism and of the welfare state under Clement Attlee after the war raised American hackles, but I do not see how this could be interpreted as an effort to disable British power.

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