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In a series of posts in the coming weeks, I will provide some selected observations on some of history’s “Great Leaders” as described in Ralph Raico’s invaluable revisionist work, Great Wars and Great Leaders. Readers who are interested in catching a glimpse of the reality of the mind and actions of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt can do no better than this collection of short essays. There are other gems too, including a chapter on the bloodthristy Winston Churchill.

In large part Wilson’s reputation as an idealist is traceable to his incessantly professed love of peace (wintercow: utterances are costless, which explains their preponderance). Yet as soon as he became President, prior to leading the country into the First World War, his actions in Latin America were anything but pacific. Even Arthur S. Link (whom Walter Karp referred to as the keeper of the Wilsonian flame) wrote, of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean: “the years from 1913 to 1921 [Wilson’s years in office] witnessed intervention by the State Department and the navy on a scale that had never before been contemplated, even by such alleged imperialists as Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.” The protectorate extended over Nicaragua, the military occupation of the Dominican Republic, the invasion and subjugation of Haiti (which cost the lives of some 2,000 Haitians) were landmarks of Wilson’s policy. All was enveloped in the haze of his patented rhetoric of freedom, democracy, and the rights of small nations. The Pan-American Pact which Wilson proposed to our southern neighbors guaranteed the “territorial integrity and political independence” of all the signatories. Considering Wilson’s persistent interference in the affairs of Mexico and other Latin states, this was hypocrisy in the grand style.

Read further to see Raico’s discussion of Wilson’s bellicose manipulation of Mexican Civil War in Tampico and Vera Cruz. My favorite quote in the section, however, comes from a paragraph describing a Flag Day address Wilson delivered. When asked what the American Flag would stand for in the future, he replied:

for the just use of undisputed national power …

Remember, Wilson is really considered to be the first “intellectual” President, having served as President of Princeton before coming to office. During his term, he had two major “achievements”: the establishment of the Fed and the institution of the income tax, to say nothing of embroiling the U.S. in the most pointless war in the history of humanity.

3 Responses to “Paragons of Pernicious Pedantry, A Continuing Series”

  1. Harry says:

    Wintercow tempts us to read further. We dillitantes who easily talk about all of history have a small portion to learn. Great post, Wintercow.

    Send this one to Gene Sperling, who thinks he knows more than we proles.

    Speedmaster rushes to his history books.

  2. Harry says:

    That said, we got the League of Nations, reparations, horrible inflation in Germany, and Hitler. After we lost over a half million lives defeating Hitler, we got the UN, a better version of the UN, and we kept Stalin.

    This is a bad track record for Woodrow Wilson, creating chaos during the twentieth centiury.

    Hayek chronicled his personal struggle with this history, far beyond whatever I lived with.

  3. Rod says:

    Wilson was also one of the early promoters of eugenics (and, by extension, zero population growth) that got Margaret Sanger going with Planned Parenthood. The word ‘cluster’ suddenly comes to mind when one considers how all these theoreticians mixed company with each other. Nobody here but us intellectuals.

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