Monday, November 21, 2005

Goldberg: Bush is no FDR

Jonah Goldberg wrote a column recently in which he compared contemporary anti-war, Bush-"haters" (moonbats) to FDR nemesis Clare Booth Luce. Both Luce and the anti-Bush crowd claimed that the object of their contempt lied the nation into war. As Goldberg explains, Luce probably had a much stronger case:
Charles Beard, arguably the most influential historian of the 20th century - and a very liberal progressive - dedicated the last years of his life to writing about FDR's lies and "Caesarism." Richard Hofstadter, another of the great liberal historians (and a sharp critic of Beard's), also conceded FDR's "undeniably devious leadership" in the months and years before the war. Hofstadter, like countless other historians, had to agree that FDR's diplomacy and politics were designed to push the United States through a "back door into war."

Roosevelt won his unprecedented third election on the vow that he wouldn't send American boys to war: "While I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." This was almost surely a lie.

"Roosevelt repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor," writes the historian Thomas A. Bailey. "He was faced with a terrible dilemma. If he let the people slumber in a fog of isolationism, they might fall prey to Hitler. If he came out unequivocally for intervention, he would be defeated" in the 1940 election. This view was seconded by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in a rave review of Bailey's book in 1949. Schlesinger now spends his time lending gravitas to the moonbattier "Bush lied" table-thumpers at Arianna Huffington's Web site.

Just three days before Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 4, 1941, the Chicago Tribune and Washington Star-Ledger broke the story that FDR had already drafted a plan for war with Germany, a plan that entailed a 10-million-man army invading Germany by the middle of 1943. Democrats and Republicans alike saw this as further proof that FDR had been lying all along. Some suggest that a U.S.-flagged schooner sent into Japanese waters that same day was intended to provoke a fight. Roosevelt got Pearl Harbor instead, which was a surprise but nonetheless "rescued" the president, in Hofstadter's words, from the "dilemma" of needing to start a war the American people opposed.
Goldberg concludes that this does not make FDR a bad president because he recognized that WWII would have to be fought sooner or later. In general, he continued, leaders have to venture into "duplicity" all of the time. In short, the "neocon" Goldberg is espousing realpolitick. Imagine that. He also delves into the History vs. Memory debate:
Now, you might say that Iraq was no WWII, Saddam was no Hitler, and 9/11 was no Pearl Harbor. Those are all fair arguments with varying degrees of merit. But WWII wasn't "the good war" in our hearts until after Pearl Harbor and even until after the Holocaust, and a lot of Hollywood burnishing.
And concludes by remarking on the rather focused criticism of Bush.
The Bush Doctrine is not chiefly about WMD and never was. Like FDR's vision, it balances democracy, security and morality. Still, the media and anti-Bush partisans have been bizarrely unmoved by the revelations of Hussein's killing fields, his torture chambers for tots, and democracy's tangible progress in the Middle East.

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