Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Paul Krugman damns "war presidents" like FDR.

Paul Krugman in his column of last Friday speaks ill of presidents who get ahead of the people in making up their mind that the nation should go to war...
America's founders knew all too well how war appeals to the vanity of rulers and their thirst for glory. That's why they took care to deny presidents the kingly privilege of making war at their own discretion...

In November 2002, Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent, told an audience, "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war" - but she made it clear that Mr. Bush was the exception.
Well, apparently Helen never covered Franklin Roosevelt and his undeclared war against Germany -- offensive naval combat (including "shoot on sight" orders) that led to, among other things, the torpedoing of the US destroyers Kearny and Reuben James -- as he purposefully violated the Neutrality Act at every turn while searching for an incident that would get the US into a World War without getting himself impeached.

And apparently Paul doesn't know any more history than Helen. For if he did, surely he'd say: "FDR: Bad President! Bad, devious, sneaky, intriguing, law-breaking, war-plotting President!"

Even though all he had to do to pick up the necessary history was read the blog of his good friend Brad DeLong, who in reviewing FDR's carreer has written on just this point...
Roosevelt's greatest contribution came in his using all his devious sneakiness as a ruthless political intriguer to put the United States in harm's way in World War II. Great man. Great President.
Oh, wait ... Maybe deciding ahead of the people that a war is necessary, and engaging in devious, sneaky intrigue to get the nation into harm's way in it, makes you a good president, even a great president ... if only the war is big enough, and you are a Democrat!