July 28, 2005

Victor David Hanson - A Lesson In History....

Another great column from Victor David Hanson:


The mantra "Bush lied; thousands died" charges that the president altered his reasons for the war from the original worry over weapons of mass destruction. But, aside from the fact that the U.S. Senate voted for the war on 22 additional counts, wars, rightly or wrongly, have often had a variety of changing public explanations. Lincoln led the North into the Civil War emphasizing that it was a struggle to preserve the Union, not outlaw slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was not passed until January of 1863 when enough Union progress allowed Lincoln to publicly redefine a practical struggle of restoration into one of sweeping idealism. Woodrow Wilson ("He kept us out of war") and Franklin D. Roosevelt ("Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars") won re-election by promising noninvolvement in Europe's fighting. Yet, when voted back in, they both prepared for war, convinced that there was no living with either Prussian militarism or Axis fascism. Since America entered World War I without first being attacked, should we conclude "Wilson lied, thousands died"?

Sen. John Kerry intoned of the Patriot Act he voted for, "We are a nation of laws and liberties, not of a knock in the night." Though, so far, that mild statute pales before exigencies of past liberal wartime presidents who really did jail innocents, night and day, without warning or sometimes even justification. Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. During World War I, under the Espionage and Sedition Acts, Woodrow Wilson detained citizens without trial and made it a crime to slander the United States. Franklin Roosevelt convicted and executed saboteurs through military tribunals, and sent thousands of Japanese Americans to relocation camps.

We're constantly reminded of the regrettable intelligence lapses from Sept. 11 onward, but they seem almost minor in light of prior blunders in the fog of war. Thousands of Americans perished at Shiloh, Pearl Harbor and during the Battle of the Bulge because commanders like Ulysses S. Grant, Admiral Husband Edward Kimmel and Dwight D. Eisenhower didn't have a clue what the enemy was planning.

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