The Lincoln Brigade (actually a battalion) was part of the international forces that fought for the Republican government against Francisco Franco’s Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. Formed in 1937, the Lincoln Brigade later joined with the Washington Brigade. Some 2,800 Americans served in the two units, seven hundred of whom died either in combat or of disease before the foreign fighters were withdrawn in late 1938.

Members of the Lincoln Brigade viewed themselves as idealistic. Their courage was undeniable, as was their willingness to live what they preached. They believed in foreign intervention and they intervened—personally. No advocating grand crusades, ignoring the necessary planning and leaving the dirty work to others. This was hands-on foreign policy at its finest.

Such an approach would be particularly welcome today since so many zealous enthusiasts for war haven’t served in the active military. Nor have the leaders who took America into war…

[T]hose who believe the military should be a tool of social engineering, that American lives should be risked to conduct foreign crusades without any vital or even merely serious U.S. security interests at stake, have a special responsibility to the country. The warrior wannabes have little credibility if they do not put their principles into action.