Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Putting Bush in perspective
I'm continuing to read Henry Kissinger's book Diplomacy. I just finished the chapter on the diplomatic strategy Franklin Delano Roosevelt embarked upon to prepare America for World War II. What struck me about the topic was the extent to which Roosevelt makes Bush look like Mother Teresa when it comes to: a) the constitution; b) being open and honest with the American people. Here's how Kissinger ends the chapter:
Subsequent generations of Americans have placed greater premium on total candor by their chief executive. Yet, like Lincoln, Roosevelt sensed that the survival of his country and its values was at stake, and that history itself would hold him responsible for the results of his solitary initiatives. And, as was the case with Lincoln, it is a measure of the debt free peoples owe to Franklin Delano Roosevelt that the wisdom of his solitary passage is now, quite simply, taken for granted.Not only was Roosevelt not being honest with Americans about the extent to which they were being taken on a path towards war, he outright dismissed considerations of constitutionality for much of that time. Indeed, the violations he was probably guilty of — and let's not even get into the internment of Americans during the war — makes what Bush today is accused of seem trivial in comparison. Roosevelt often made foreign policy decisions that disregarded Congress and the American constitution. If Bush did this, he'd be crucified.
However, as the above passage indicates, it will be the success of Bush's endeavour in Iraq upon which he will be judged — not short-term politics or accusations.