Saturday, March 25, 2006

Book review of revisionist history

I was searching for another book to read about Woodrow Wilson and I stumbled over a book review of a Cato Institute crony about Wilson titled Wilson's War: How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and World War II. Catchy title, hungh? What a load. The review is as follows:

"'Wilson's War: How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and World War II

Kirkus Reviews
If Woodrow Wilson hadn't entangled the US in WWI, there wouldn't have been a Hitler. Hitler, of course, said that the humiliation at Versailles-mostly at the hands of France and England-made it necessary for him to come to power, but he didn't stop to single out Wilson personally. Never mind: for Cato Institute denizen Powell (The Triumph of Liberty, 2000, etc.), Wilson was the architect of the 20th-century's worst political disasters, and therefore "surely ranks as the worst president in American history." By Powell's account, this is not merely because Wilson dragged America into WWI (as, the right wing once sniffed, FDR dragged America into WWII) for his own selfish and misguided reasons, but also because-that most mortal of sins among libertarians-he turned away from laissez-faire policies, which means more government and more tax. And why? Because Wilson "had dreams of glory, telling other people what to do at the peace settlement." And to get a place at the peace table, Wilson had to get us into the war: ergo Versailles, and thence Hitler, and Lenin, eased into power because Wilson "utterly misunderstood what was going on in Russia," and Stalin, because without Lenin there could be no Stalin, and so on. Of course, Waterloo would have turned out differently if Napoleon had only had a few helicopters: this is a book in which post hoc is definitely propter hoc, and never mind the factual niceties, and in which history hinges on single men rather than-as most historians would suggest-a combination of social and economic forces and people in the right place. The upshot is up-to-the-minute: lest we create a few more Stalins down the line, Powell insists, the US must become isolationist rather than interventionist ("American blood and treasure should be reserved for safeguarding Americans"), and thus lessen the reach of that pesky thing, government. Powell uses up a lot of vitriol, supported by mere assertion, to get to that payoff. None of it is convincing. "

I thought it would be nice to provide a sample of how the conservative demagogues who have proven the past 10 years how unworthy they are to ever hold high office, if any, in America, are fighting hard to revise American history to craft their own special destruction of our democratic republic. They've been trying to discredit and destroy New Deal inspired programs since the Depression, when conservative government in the U.S. fiddled while America starved until FDR radically changed the response to the devastating economic cataclysm of 1929 when Democratic nominee FDR routed Hoover in 1932. In fact, the same author of this particular hatchet-job on Wilson, utilizing the shakiest rationale I've ever encountered, wrote a fine revisionist piece on FDR's New Deal legacy. America was suffering an economic emergency the likes of which had never been encountered since English colonists landed on these shores and began their conquest of North America. Hoover saved the children of Belgium from starving in the aftermath of WW I and helped aid poor black Mississippi River valley inhabitants who were flooded from their homes in 1927, but didn't do a damned thing to help his fellow Americans survive their desperate conditions. Perhaps it takes hard lessons for Americans to remember the harsh essence of Republican rule's effect on the nation.

Right-wing populism represses liberty, in the name of moral principle or rescuing Americans from themselves, leading to socially disastrous results or reactions to their heavy-handed imposition of self-righteous moral practice on other Americans. Not to forget their jingoistic propagandic drag on Americans to needlessly send troops into harm's way. The Iraq War is a needless war, particularly since the war no one disagrees with, the Afghan War, is incomplete and the nation-building may never be completed since most of our military assets are in use in Iraq, a nation that had no involvement in the 9-11 attacks and had no stockpiles of WMD. The Europeans must succeed where Americans have failed. The latest nut-job call by fundamentalists in Afghanistan to murder a man who converted to Christianity because sharia demands it is proof that we have no idea how maniacally primitive these cultures are and now we have an involvement in a middle eastern powderkeg which grows in intensity by the hour.

Sure one could argue that Americans should never have intervened on behalf of two democratic nations in WW I who had become cozy American allies after a bloody history fighting for European and global hegemony. Germany wanted to expand its empire and to succeed it had to defeat the two current European players who controlled the seas and important African and Asian outposts, in addition to America's latest attempt at building empire which was forced by a Republican administration with the help of a jingoistic, powerful press, led by Hearst, a jingoistic, conservative enterprise determined to use American military power for all the wrong reasons with little evidence for the necessity of the conflict with the two target nations, the Spanish Empire and Iraq. Hearst's nationalistic itch for American service in combat is certainly a predecessor of Fox News' recent revival of the "yellow press." I cannot blame Wilson for secretly providing financing and war materiel prior to the sinking of the Lusitania in 1916, which precipitated our involvement in the war. What conservative wouldn't deliver aid to their favored participant in a conflict or attack a nation which sank a ship with Americans aboard as Wilson declared war on Germany for having killed Americans traveling as "tourists" to merry old England with some secret stash of artillery shells in the cargo hold, etc, etc. ? Granted, this author is a libertarian, but they've since merged with the GOP, so he's certainly to be lumped in with Bush's supporters.

More fallacious reason by Republicans and their sympathizers.


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