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Philip Dru's war: in a new book, noted historian Thomas Fleming examines the agenda behind U.S. involvement in World War I--and that war's cost to our nation and the West.

The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I, by Thomas Fleming, New York: Basic Books, 2003, 543 pages, hardcover. Available for $30.00 plus shipping and handling from American Opinion Book Services, P.O. Box 8040, Appleton, WI 54912; by phone at 920-749-3783; or online at

Shortly after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Pope Benedict XV "called on the warring governments to make a peace of mutual forgiveness and forbearance," recounts historian Thomas Fleming in his magnificent new book. The terms outlined by the pontiff resembled those prescribed years earlier by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. They also enjoyed broad public support in Europe on both sides of the conflict.

What might have happened if the pope's peace initiative been accepted? To begin with the obvious, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved--both those destined to end on the battlefields of France and Belgium, and those claimed by starvation and disease during and after the war.

It is also possible that Russia (by this time ruled by a "coalition" government including Lenin's Bolsheviks) could have pulled out of its death spiral before succumbing entirely to Communism. Germany, spared the vindictive provisions of the Versailles Treaty, may not have plunged into revolution and hyperinflation. The National Socialist Workers' (Nazi) Party may have remained an insignificant cluster of radicals and sexual deviants. Benito Mussolini, whose rise to power was also abetted by the Versailles Treaty, may have had to choose a different career.

Alas, sound history cannot be written in the past subjunctive. The pope's peace proposal was ignored by Wilson and the Anglo-American elite to which he gave allegiance. Although Wilson stood for reelection in 1916 as a peacemaker (his campaign theme was "He kept us out of war"), he had long sought to entangle our nation in European conflict as a means of building "a new international order." The blood of American men on European battlefields was the asking price for a U.S. role in postwar reconstruction. Wilson, like so many other wartime leaders, was generous when it came to paying the butcher's bill with the lives of other men's sons.

During his triumphal post-war visit to France, Wilson paid perfunctory visits to hospitals to mingle with men left dying, crippled, maimed, blinded, and crazed because of his globalist ambitions. These encounters, writes Fleming, left Wilson "visibly shaken.... He had sent these young men to the Western Front to give him a seat at the peace table." In public addresses, Wilson piously insisted that America's war dead "fought to do away with an older order and establish a new one."

Presumably the same was true of those who perished from starvation and disease that came in the Great War's wake, particularly in Germany. It was the British starvation blockade of Germany that precipitated the unrestricted submarine warfare, which in turn gave Wilson the pretext for U.S. entry into the war. By the war's end, people were literally dropping dead from malnutrition in the streets of Berlin. Eventually the blockade would extinguish 800,000 Germans, with the toll particularly heavy among children and youth.

A letter from Herbert Hoover's post-war relief mission to Germany described malnourished seven- and eight-year-old children, small enough to be nursery age, displaying "large dull eyes, overshadowed by huge rickety foreheads, their small arms just skin and bones, and above the crooked legs with their dislocated joints, the swollen stomachs of the hunger edema." Not surprisingly, recruiting efforts by National Socialists were particularly successful among young men whose most vivid memory was near-starvation because of the British blockade. Just as predictably, many of those who rejected the Nazi brand of revolution were drawn into the Communist Spartacist revolt.

Despite fierce resistance from both Wilson and the British, Hoover's mission mitigated Germany's humanitarian crisis, as well as the comparable crisis in Belgium. Churchill, who wanted to let the Belgians starve and blame the Germans, denounced Hoover as a "son of a b****." French Prime Minister Clemenceau breezily dismissed Hoover's concerns with a glib endorsement of genocide: "There are twenty million Germans too many."

During his triumphant tour through Europe, Wilson cabled Congress asking an appropriation of $100 million to provide food relief for Europeans "outside of Germany." Wisconsin Senator Robert LaFollette, a "progressive" socialist who heroically opposed both the war and Wilson's barbarous post-war diplomacy, described how senators would rise in support of Wilson's proposal, "each straining to outdo the others to make sure not a cent should go to feed a German.... Can these Americans have forgotten Grant at Appomattox, sending rations to feed Robert E. Lee's starving army and letting the soldiers take their horses home to plow their farms?" Rather than emulating that example of chivalry toward a defeated foe, LaFollette continued, the public was treated to the obscene spectacle of well-fed politicians gloating at the prospect of "denying a starving German child something to eat."

France's vindictiveness toward Germany was rooted in a desire to avenge their humiliation in the Franco-Prussian War. England's avidity to "make the Hun pay" stemmed from imperial and commercial competition with Germany. But Wilson used starvation as a weapon for advancing the agenda for a new world order. Germany's acquiescence to the Versailles Treaty, including the Schmachparagraphen ("shame paragraphs") asserting German war guilt, was an indispensable condition for approving what Wilson called "a great charter for a new order of things"--including the creation of mankind's first world government body, the League of Nations.

Visiting Germany in the war's aftermath, liberal .journalist Oswald Garrison Villard laid his finger on the cause of that nation's post-war catastrophe: "The godly Presbyterian from the White House ... could not be induced to make a public stand against this indefensible cruelty to noncombatants; the screw of starvation was kept turned in order to compel the vanquished to sign whatever treaty might be drafted."

When Germany balked over the Schmachparagraphen, "Wilson took charge of the situation," recounts Fleming. "He told the Germans that 'the time for discussion is past.' They had less than twenty-four hours to sign--or be invaded by thirty divisions backed by aircraft--and a renewed blockade that would cut off every scrap of food from the outside world." This threat of state terrorism had its intended results as Germany acquiesced. But this raises another important question: How many more people--Americans, allies, and civilians--were Wilson and his comrades prepared to murder in pursuit of their ambitions?

Blood for a New World Order

Illusion of Victor. is the first work of mainstream history to examine the relationship between Wilson and "Colonel" Edward Mandell House, described by Fleming as "an alter ego whom the president needed and used constantly." House's "ideal government was portrayed in a novel he wrote a few years before he met Woodrow Wilson: Philip Dru: Administrator,'" continues Fleming. "It was the story of a military and political genius who took over a wealthy, disordered, quarrelsome nation and led it into an era of almost superhuman contentment by persuading the people to make him their supreme autocrat."

The secretive House and his political soul-mate jointly disdained constitutional government, which Wilson regarded as "a messy, innately feckless process to be avoided at all costs. It was easy to see how in Edward Mandell House's reveries, Woodrow Wilson became Philip Dru."

Throughout his book, Fleming refers to Wilson as "Philip Dru," in recognition of the extent to which his presidency was a direct outgrowth of House's malevolent blueprint.

Fleming--author of 40 books and contributor to such establishment media organs as the History Channel, the Arts & Entertainment network, and National Public Radio--correctly observes: "Most Wilson biographers have been reluctant to look hard at the Philip Dm side of Wilson. Nor have many people bothered to read this rather lugubrious novel. A close examination reveals a surprisingly militaristic side to Dru's approach to political problems.... Wilson's performance as president revealed a similar readiness to resort to military solutions."

Wilson, a figure of almost superhuman arrogance and sanctimony, understood how war could be used to re-shape domestic institutions. Shortly after maneuvering the U.S. into the European war Wilson giddily confided to an associate: "It is wonderful to be a war president." in Philip Dru, House described the ideal government as "socialism as dreamed of by Karl Marx," enhanced with a "'spiritual leavening." As an academic, Wilson--the son of a Presbyterian minister--unabashedly extolled socialism. As a war president, he insisted that U.S. involvement in the war came about "by no plan of our conceiving but by the hand of God who led us into this way."

By the time he made his first post-war visit to France, Wilson had visibly succumbed to megalomania--and perhaps even delusions of omnipotence. Disembarking from his steamship, Wilson boarded a train to Paris, "where reporters glimpsed the first indications that Wilson had already achieved semidivine status," Fleming recalls. "In many villages, people knelt beside the track in the dark, their hands clasped in worship, as the train thundered past." In Rome, where the insane Caligula had announced his divinity two millennia earlier, masses of spectators chanted, "Viva Wilson, god of peace!" as "low-flying planes dropped flowers on his triumphal procession. There were pictures of him in every shop window. The streets were sprinkled with golden sand, a tradition that went back to ancient Rome's days of imperial glory."

One passage of House's indigestible novel describes Philip Dru as a messianic figure who triumphantly arrives in Washington "panoplied in justice and with the light of reason in his eyes ... the advocate of equal opportunity ... with the power to enforce his will." Considering the rapturous reception given to House's White House alter ego, "it is easy to imagine Wilson developing delusions of Philip Druish political grandeur," observes Fleming. Indeed, Wilson--who already suffered from toxic levels of self-regard--soon became utterly unbearable.

"Dru" Runs Amok

A very brief interview" with Wilson was enough to convince Britain's King George V that the U.S. president was "an odious man?' Another European leader cogently described Wilson's messiah complex when he remarked that the president considered himself "the first man in two millennia who knows anything about peace." "One wonders if the author of Philip Dru had begun to feel like Dr. Frankenstein," comments Fleming. "Had he created a monster that was running amok?"

After climbing to international power over the corpses of American "doughboys" and German civilians, Wilson became convinced that he was the living embodiment of historical destiny. War-weary America, desperate for a return to normalcy, became disenchanted with the prospect of surrendering independence to the League of Nations--which could order American men once again to die in foreign lands on behalf of abstractions.

House urged Wilson to compromise with critics on the League of Nations covenant--accepting a modified covenant, which would be revised later. But Wilson arrogantly demanded nothing less than the charter as it stood. Criss-crossing the nation by train to lobby for ratification, Wilson suffered a debilitating series of strokes, eventually becoming an invalid. The president's wife, Edith, artfully concealed her husband's condition by conniving with a reporter whose depiction of Wilson as a hands-on executive was rewarded with a Pulitzer prize.

Fleming's depiction of wartime America under Wilson is chilling--and ominously familiar. America at the time was a country in which a man could be jailed as a seditionist for reciting the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution at an anti-war rally, and a movie director could be imprisoned for producing an anti-British film (thereby supposedly undermining the allied war effort). Federally abetted vigilante groups monitored, harassed, and frequently lynched opponents of the war.

George Creel, appointed by Wilson to head the "Committee on Public Information," polluted newspapers with second-hand propaganda accounts of bogus German atrocities. Creel also unleashed all army of 75,000 "Four Minute Men," sent to propagate the gospel of total war across the country. Beginning at movie theaters, the Four Minute Men "soon expanded their operations from movie theaters to lodge and labor union meetings, church halls, lumber camps, and even Native American reservations."

In House's novel, following Philip Dru's Marxist putsch, "the property and lives of all were now in the keeping of one man." A statement made by War Industries Board Chairman Bernard Baruch on August 7, 1918 (and unfortunately not included in Fleming's book) illustrated the extent to which WWI-era America had been re-cast in the image portrayed in Philip Dru: "Every man's life is at the call of the nation and so must be every man's property. We are living today in a highly organized state of socialism. The state is all; the individual is of importance only as he contributes to the welfare of the state. His property is his only as the state does not need it. He must hold his life and his possessions at the call of the state."

In 1918, while American schemers like House, Wilson, and Baruch were struggling to build the Total State, a ruler who had succeeded at that task--Soviet dictator Vladimir Lenin--offered a memorable definition of his rifling philosophy: "The scientific concept of dictatorship means nothing else but this: power without limit, resting directly upon force, restrained by no laws, absolutely unrestricted by rules." A quote from an address given by Wilson in April of that year illustrates his close philosophical kinship with Lenin. In that speech, Wilson extolled the supposed merits of "Force, Force to the utmost, Force without stint or limit, the righteous and triumphant Force which shall make Right the law of the world."

The Power Elite Wilson served was not fully successful in bringing about its plans to remake the world. Wilson's terminal egomania played a significant role in thwarting those designs, as did the unfettered greed of European statesmen eager to feast on Germany's corpse. But we shouldn't scant the contribution made by American patriots--notably the Senate "irreconcilables" opposed to the League of Nations--who demanded a return to constitutional government and national independence.

However, House and his cronies quickly regrouped, creating organs of influence (most notably the Council on Foreign Relations) intended to capture America's political system by conducting a long march through our public institutions.

Seeking to build a new world order, the cabal House represented destroyed an imperfect, but much more civilized world. The world we live in now--in which total war, ethnic slaughter, and mass terrorism are common--is largely their creation. This is what was won on the battlefields of World War I, as the Christian West--betrayed from within--committed suicide.
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Author:Grigg, William Norman
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 8, 2003
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