Prettier Past Presidents

Telling Tales wilson-steering-clear.jpg


Having done his part to continue the Clinton era celebration of Harry Truman’s muscular liberalism, Peter Beinart is casting his eyes back further, to the glories of Wilsonian foreign policy.

It’s somehow to be different from George W. Bush Wilsonism. wilson-paperweight.jpg

Beinart presents a highly selective version of Wilson, what he might call “coherent.” It’s heavy on Wilson’s doomed world vision for after that messy war he joined. Wilson without tears – no unhappy interventions in Russia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua [inherited], no teaching the Mexicans to elect good men.

It’s gonna be great.

“McCain’s singular focus may be more easily grasped; Obama’s broader catalogue could end up sounding less like a vision than a list. Collective security offers a way of linking these disparate concerns and telling a coherent story about today’s problems and how to solve them…In 1916, Woodrow Wilson talked of “a common order, a common justice and a common peace.” In the 2007 Foreign Affairs article in which he set out his foreign policy views, Barack Obama wrote about “common threats,” “common security,” and a “common humanity.” America’s fate and the world’s fate, both men were trying to say, are ultimately indivisible. We rise together or fall together. Never has the world so badly needed to hear these words from an American president, and never have the American people been so prepared to embrace them. Wilson’s dream has been too long deferred. The time to revive it is now.”

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