Opinion | Mitch McConnell’s Warning Against Isolationism


To the Editor:

Re “Mitch McConnell: We Cannot Repeat the Mistakes of the 1930s” (Opinion guest essay, nytimes.com, June 6):

I rarely find myself agreeing with Mitch McConnell, and even then it is usually on a position he quickly backtracks from to keep himself in the good graces of the party that has pulled away from traditional Republican values. But his call to end isolationism is compelling.

Now, if he could only convince what is left of the Republican Party of that, the world would be a safer place. America needs and thrives on a true two-party system, but when one of them is blindly bound to a narcissistic wannabe dictator, that system will fail.

Mr. McConnell needs to restore his party to one that argues over policy differences with the left, as opposed to one that exists solely to support a man who would lead us back to the mistakes of the 1930s. Show some guts, Mitch.

Robert Wallenstein
San Diego

To the Editor:

Bravo to Senator Mitch McConnell for praising the courageous American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who fought in World War II to preserve freedom and democracy. And bravo to him for taking a swing at the “disgraced isolationists” who strove to persuade Americans in 1940 that the fate of our European allies was irrelevant to our own national security.

Senator McConnell, however, does not mention that the influential, pro-fascist and antisemitic isolationist organization was called America First, a slogan that Donald Trump has adopted to encapsulate his nationalist and unilateralist views.

In the months and years ahead, I suggest that we remember the words of Henry L. Stimson, the Republican who served as secretary of war under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman and who believed that America must act with a sense of global responsibility.

“No private program and no public policy, in any sector of our national life,” he wrote in 1947, “can now escape from the compelling fact that if it is not framed with reference to the world, it is framed with perfect futility.”

Susan Dunn
Williamstown, Mass.
The writer is emerita professor of humanities at Williams College and the author of “1940.”

To the Editor:

It required a great deal of restraint to read through the piece written by the Senate minority leader. Does he not see the irony in each sentence he wrote, or does he think that amnesia is so pervasive that the public won’t remember his own complicity in creating the environment he warns us of?

Perhaps this will serve as a confession, a means toward easing a very guilty conscience. Sorry, Mitch, too little, too late.

Matthew Levanda
Manalapan, N.J.

To the Editor:

Mitch McConnell has written an interesting essay. However, if he is really concerned about the possibility that the world will repeat the mistakes of the 1930s, I suggest that he watch the six-part docudrama “Hitler and the Nazis: Evil on Trial,” which is now airing on Netflix.

If he cannot see the timely parallels between the events that are recounted in that television series and what is happening politically in America today, I would suggest that Mr. McConnell needs new glasses.

Ken Cuthbertson
Kingston, Ontario

To the Editor:

Re “D-Day Shows What Democracy Can Achieve,” by Garrett M. Graff (Opinion guest essay, June 6):

As I read Mr. Graff’s brilliant article, for me, it raised the question: Are we up to the task of defending our democracy today as the Greatest Generation was?

What we do know is that today we are a very different people than we were in World War II. We are more likely to question authority, while obeying authority is essential to the smooth running of a military. We are used to creature comforts that didn’t exist then, and those that did were affordable to a smaller portion of society.

The answer is, We cannot know unless we are put to the test, and that’s a test I hope we never have to take.

John A. Viteritti
Laurel, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Dozens of veterans in wheelchairs, their eyes glistening with tears but still bright. Row after row of reverently maintained white grave markers. Grainy videos of troops storming the Normandy beaches with unrelenting and deadly fire raining down from a well-entrenched enemy.

As I watch coverage of these overwhelmingly moving scenes on TV, why can’t I stop thinking of the question posed by former President Donald Trump during a visit to Arlington Cemetery: “What was in it for them?”

It is up to us to make sure that the man who could make such an incredibly thoughtless inquiry never becomes commander in chief again.

Stephen F. Gladstone
Shaker Heights, Ohio

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Denounces G.O.P. Moves to Subvert the Decision of a Jury” (front page, June 1):

Silly me, I thought the Republicans prided themselves on being the party of law and order. It seems that this party of law and order is the same party that has endorsed the Jan. 6 insurrection, and the party that has decided to discredit a properly rendered jury verdict from a jury that Donald Trump’s own lawyers helped to pick.

I am at a loss to understand how the G.O.P. can possibly still claim that it is the party of law and order out of one side of its mouth and still denounce the very system that it professes to uphold out of the other side.

Joanne Rosen
Paramus, N.J.

To the Editor:

Re “Harvard Should Say Less. Maybe All Schools Should,” by Noah Feldman and Alison Simmons (Opinion guest essay, June 2):

Schools should say more. Universities are valuable assets of cities and the global community. Their impact is great and goes beyond their walls. They should be engaged and active.

Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., is in a neighborhood directly affected by destruction that occurred after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Scars from the aftermath were seen for months. It was imperative that the president, Fayneese Miller, speak out on behalf of the university, and she did.

The divestiture by universities (and cities and other institutions) in investments that supported apartheid South Africa was correct and made a difference. Today’s debate on the divestiture of funds that support the Israeli military and the destruction in the Middle East is appropriate.

Universities should make statements on moral and ethical issues, and can demonstrate how debate can be conducted with civility. Institutions of higher education build better communities and contribute to a more just society.

Jim Scheibel
St. Paul, Minn.
The writer is a retired professor at Hamline University.

To the Editor:

Re “If A.I. Can Do Your Job, Maybe It Can Also Replace Your C.E.O.” (Business, May 29):

Not so fast.

As a longtime adviser to C.E.O.s, I have found that the head of a company needs only two attributes to succeed: vision and the judgment to find the right people to achieve that vision. Yes, much of the job can (even should) be done by others, even A.I., but only humans can exhibit those attributes.

Mark Perlgut
New York