“Treating Lindbergh sympathetically was something new,” said Christopher M. Nichols, an assistant professor of history at Oregon State University and an authority on the isolationist movement.
“Charles Lindbergh put great faith in [Cole] and his work, granting him access to his papers of that period and detailing his role in its ‘Great Debate,’ ” over whether the United States should intervene in World War II, said A. Scott Berg, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1998 biography of Lindbergh.
Some reviewers faulted Dr. Cole for failing to address why Lindbergh used such inflammatory language during the 1941 rallies — even though the aviator knew how his comments would come across — and why Lindbergh never issued a retraction.
Wayne Stanley Cole was born in Manning, Iowa, on Nov. 11, 1922. He was a 1946 graduate of Iowa State Teachers College, now the University of Northern Iowa. He studied American diplomatic history at the University of Wisconsin and received a master’s degree in 1948 and a doctoral degree in 1951.
Dr. Cole taught at the University of Arkansas and Iowa State University before starting his 27-year tenure on the University of Maryland faculty in 1965. He was a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and a recipient of its lifetime achievement award.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Virginia Miller Cole, and their son, Thomas R. Cole, both of Silver Spring, Md.
“Cole did a lot to show the domestic grounding of foreign policy questions,” Nichols said. “I think that the questions and that history is really with us today. There are real reasons to be cautious about the use of U.S. power around the world.”
Strains of support for isolationism persist today in debates about the faltering national economy versus intervention in foreign crises, including the Syrian civil war. While Dr. Cole believed that the roots of isolationism go back to America’s founding, he thought that the movement could never prevail in an era of greater international cooperation and economic interconnectedness.
“It isn’t likely to revive,” Dr. Cole told the Hartford Courant in 1991. “The world and American society and the economy are so radically different now.”