Sen. Robert Taft (1889-1953), son of a president, did not consider himself an isolationist. But early in 1940, shortly before Hitler’s blitzkrieg to Paris and the English Channel, Taft said, “It would be a great mistake for us to participate in the European war. I do not believe we could materially affect the outcome.” He lost the 1940 Republican presidential nomination to Wendell Willkie, who had been a registered Republican for less than a year and who said he would vote to reelect President Franklin D. Roosevelt rather than a Republican opposed to aid for Britain and FranceEnd of carousel
Taft greatly, if inadvertently, contributed to the nation’s security by voting against the NATO treaty. The Soviet Union, he said, did not want war, but NATO might provoke it to war. Besides, U.S. possession of the atomic bomb would keep the peace. On July 21, 1949, after the communist coup in Czechoslovakia and the Berlin blockade, the Senate approved NATO membership 83-13. Taft’s opposition, combined with his quest for the Republicans’ 1952 nomination, helped provoke Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of NATO (1951-1952), into entering the race. This brought the Republican Party into the bipartisan, internationalist foreign policy that won the Cold War.