Retired Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, a Fox News analyst, was recently on Tucker Carlsons show. The two had what can be described as a frank exchange of views over the situation in Syria and what should be America’s role in the conflict. The exchange neatly encapsulates the argument Americans are having as we approach the 17th year of the lengthy war on terror.

Peters compares Carlson to Lindbergh and not in a nice way

Carlson's view is, shared by people like Rand and Ron Paul, that the United States should not be involved in foreign conflicts. To be sure, he makes an exception for terrorists like ISIS which had a provable direct threat to the United States.

However, he does not think America should involve itself in the wider Syrian Civil War. He shares President Trump’s view that Russia might make a good ally in the war against ISIS.

Peters is a more traditional, Reagan-style internationalist, believing that the United States has a role in world affairs, especially in stopping the imperial ambitions of countries like Russia and Iran in the Middle East. At one point during the discussion, Peters compared Carlson to Charles Lindbergh, circa 1938. Carlson, understandably, took umbrage, though he persisted in asking what Russia or Iran has done to earn American enmity.

What does Charles Lindbergh have to do with anything?

Lindbergh, as most people know, was the first man to fly across the Atlantic and was thus an American hero.

He was also a leader in the isolationist movement in the 1930s that opposed American involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Nazi sympathizer, which he was almost certainly wasn’t even though he was impressed by the power of the Luftwaffe. He was also charged with being an anti-Semite. To the extent that he was, Lindbergh was no more an anti-Semite than many people of his time, including President Franklin Roosevelt.

To his credit, Lindbergh immediately volunteered for combat duty when Pearl Harbor happened. He was prevented from serving in the military by Roosevelt, acting out of spite, but flew combat missions in the Pacific as a civilian contractor. Lindbergh was also cured of whatever anti-Semitism he may have harbored when he visited the concentration camps soon after the war.

To intervene or not to intervene

Carlson’s isolationist views are shared by many who have become weary of war in the Middle East and are thus understandable. However, Colonel Peters, a little more steeped in history than the host and thus aware of what isolation can lead to, has more right on his side than not where it comes to dealing with threats like Putin. Of course, Iraq has taught us that there are smart ways to intervene and not so smart ways.