Tag Archives: Woodrow Wilson

The Lesson of a Crash that Cured Itself, by Wendy McElroy

What if the best thing a government could do for an economy was leave it alone? From Wendy McElroy at fff.org:

If a government wishes to alleviate, rather than aggravate, a depression, its only valid course is laissez-faire—to leave the economy alone. Only if there is no interference, direct or threatened, with prices, wage rates and business liquidation, will the necessary adjustment proceed with smooth dispatch. — Murray Rothbard, America’s Great Depression

Government interruption of this dynamic is useless, and worse. It is useless because government policies cannot prevent a depression. It is “worse” than useless because the policies can prevent a free-market recovery and needlessly draw out the economic pain.
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The economic disruption caused by the government’s coronavirus clamp-down may lead to a deep recession or depression; arguably, it already has. President Trump’s $2.2 trillion relief package indicates what his answer to such an economic disaster will be: mega-spending on hand-outs and social projects. Trump is setting himself up as a modern version of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) whose New Deal programs defined 20th century America by diverting it from a largely free-market path down a largely statist one. Trump wants to be an activist president — the type that history books applaud. Congress’s near-unanimous support of the relief bill means that no real brake will be applied on the speed or depth of federal spending. Few voices even question the need for government to lift up the economy by its bootstraps.

The Great Depression of the 1930s is often viewed as the gold standard for a federal response to an economic crisis. And, yet, FDR’s strong-man policies ushered in a decade of economic misery that did not end until the jolt of a world war in which over 400,000 Americans were killed. Happily, a less bloody “success” story exists.

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The Long Shadow of World War I and America’s War on Dissent, Parts 1 and 2, Danny Sjursen

World War I was not just an unnecessary war for the US, it also sparked a dramatic diminution of Americans’ civil liberties, setting some of the precedents used to justify later abominations, including the Patriot Act. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Part 1

“War is the health of the state.” So said the eerily prescient and uncompromising antiwar radical Randolph Bourne in the very midst of what Europeans called the Great War, a nihilistic conflict that eventually consumed the lives of at least 9 million soldiers, including some 50,000 Americans. He meant, ultimately, that wars – especially foreign wars – inevitably increase the punitive and regulatory power of government. He opposed what Americans commonly term the First World War on those principled grounds. Though he’d soon die a premature death, Bourne had correctly predicted the violations of civil liberties, deceptive propaganda, suppression of immigrants, vigilantism, and press restriction that would result on the home front, even as tens of thousands of American boys were slaughtered in the trenches of France.

This, the war on the free press, free speech, and dissent more generally, is the true legacy of the American war in Europe (1917–18). More disturbing, in the wake of 9/11 and Washington’s two-decade-old wars for the Greater Middle East, the dark, twisted, underbelly of World War I’s legacy has again reared its ugly head. Bipartisan, interventionist presidential administrations – unilaterally tyrannical in foreign affairs – from George W. Bush to Barrack Obama to Donald Trump have sought mammoth expansions of executive power, suppressed civil liberties, trampled on the Constitution, and waged outright war on the press.

All this was done – in 1917 and today – in the name of “patriotism,” what Oscar Wilde (perhaps apocryphally) labeled the “virtue of the vicious.” World War I produced the repressive and now-infamous Espionage and Sedition Acts, along with brutal vigilante attacks on Germans and other immigrants. The 21st century’s endless wars have engendered the equally autocratic USA PATRIOT Act, and their own reinvigorated brand of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim abuses. It is for this reason that a brief reflection on America’s troubled – and oft-forgotten – experience on the home front during the First World War is more relevant than ever.

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Woodrow Wilson Goes to Europe: One Hundred Years of Delusional American Madness, by Martin Sieff

Martin Sieff discusses “that extraordinary American combination of innocence, arrogance and ignorance.” From Sieff at strategic-culture.org:

We are now in the dubious position of “celebrating” – if that is the word – the 100th anniversary of US President Woodrow Wilson’s departure on December 4, 1918 on the liner SS George Washington for the Versailles Peace Conference where he was confident he would dictate his brilliant solutions that would end war in the world for all time.

Historians and psychiatrists – including Dr. Sigmund Freud himself who co-authored a book on Wilson – have endlessly debated whether Wilson was sane and just deluded or raving mad. Freud clearly inclined to the latter view. And he had ample evidence to support him. What is most alarming is that, as Henry Kissinger – significantly not born an American at all – points out, all US presidents either share Wilson’s ridiculous messianic fantasies or feel they must pretend to.

During the supposed dark age of the Cold War from 1945 to 1989, the recognition that the Soviet Union was at least as militarily powerful as the United States imposed the disciplines of realism and restraint on US policymakers. But since the Berlin Wall came down, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and the Soviet Union peacefully disassembled, that restraint has vanished.

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America Should Have Skipped the War, Not Just the Ceremony, by David Stockman

World War I set up most of the devastation and madness that is still going on, and Woodrow Wilson was America’s worst president. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

This weekend the Donald took some heavy duty flack from liberals, Dems, the MSM and harrumphing patriots for canceling his appearance at a wreath laying ceremony at the famous WWI battle site at Belleau, France owing to inclement weather. For instance, former Secretary of State, John Kerry got himself worked into high dudgeon:

Mr. Kerry criticized the president’s decision on Twitter, saying that the weather “shouldn’t have stopped an American President”.

“President @realDonaldTrump a no-show because of raindrops?” he wrote. “Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow – & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom.”

We truly wonder whether Mr. Kerry gets the monumental irony. In his youth he was a courageous leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement based on the insanity of America’s role in a needless war in Southeast Asia of which he was a veteran.

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Everything About 2018 Shows Why Americans Should Remember World War I, by Harry Blain

A war the US never should have entered proved very tough on American civil liberties. We’re talking World War I, not the war on terror, but there are striking similarities. From Harry Blain at antiwar.com:

The families of World War I political prisoners protest outside the White House. (Shutterstock)

It wasn’t the good war. But, in our popular imagination, it wasn’t the bad one either.

Instead, it’s identified by a vague mixture of concepts, names, and events: the Lusitania, “Wilsonian Idealism,” Versailles, Theodore Roosevelt.

The First World War – known as the “Great War” in Europe – has largely faded from memory on this side of the Atlantic. Arguably, this is because our involvement was so brief – joining the slaughter over two years after it began and leaving it just over eighteen months later.

But, beyond the fact that it claimed the lives of over 100,000 Americans, there are good reasons why, a century later, we should remember this chapter in our history, not least because it has ominous parallels with today. Continue reading

Why the Empire Never Sleeps: War Finance Made Easy, Part 3, by David Stockman

The US empire couldn’t exist without the Federal Reserve and its fiat debt instruments. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com, via antiwar.com:

Woodrow Wilson’s Folly gave rise to more than the 1,000 year flood of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism and their state orchestrated campaigns of mass murder.

It also opened the door to massive, cheap war finance. And that baleful innovation has sustained the Empire long after Hitler and Stalin met their maker and the case for the Indispensable Nation had become ragged and threadbare.

In the context of American democracy – special interest dominated as it is – the greatest deterrents to imperial adventurism and war are the draft and taxes. Both bring home to the middle class voting public the cost of war in blood and treasure (theirs), and force politicians to justify the same in terms of tangible and compelling benefits to homeland security.

We leave the draft for another day, but do note that when the draft expired in 1970 what ended was not imperial wars – only middle class protests against them.

In fact, the Empire has learned to make do, happily, with essentially mercenary forces recruited from the left behind precincts of the rust belt and southeast and the opportunity deprived neighborhoods of urban America.

But even mercenaries, and the upkeep, infrastructure and weaponry of the expeditionary forces which they comprise, cost lots of money. And that would ordinarily be a giant problem for the Imperial City because the folks in the hinterlands have a deep and abiding allergy to high taxes.

As we explain below, however, Woodrow Wilson solved that problem, too, by drafting the printing press of the newly minted Federal Reserve for war finance duty.

So doing, he opened the Pandora’s box of Federal debt monetization by permitting the Fed to own government debt – a step strictly forbidden by the stringent 1913 enabling statute drafted by the legendary maestro of sound money, Congressman Carter Glass.

Needless to say, as a political matter printing money is a lot easier than taxing the people. And that’s especially true when the spending in question involves the machinations of Empire in distant lands spread about the planet at a time when citizens on the home front feel abused and over-taxed already.

To continue reading: Why the Empire Never Sleeps: War Finance Made Easy, Part 3

Why the Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly, Part 2, by David Stockman

David Stockman presents the real history of World War I, and how it set the stage for the rest of the 20th Century and the first 18 years of the 21st. From Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com, via antiwar.com:

Read Part 1

The rise of the murderous Nazi and Stalinist totalitarian regimes during the 1930s and the resulting conflagration of World War II is held to be, correctly, the defining event of the 20th century. But that truism only begs the real question.

To wit, were these nightmarish scourges always latent just below the surface of global civilization – waiting to erupt whenever good people and nations fell asleep at the switch, as per the standard critique of the British pacifism and US isolationism that flourished during the late 1930s?

Or were they the equivalent of the 1,000-year flood – a development so unlikely, aberrant and unrepeatable as to merely define a horrid but one-off chapter of history, not the ordinary and probable unfolding of affairs among the nations?

We contend that the answer depends upon whether your start with April 2, 1917, when America discarded its historic republican policy of nonintervention and joined the bloody fray on the old continent’s Western Front, or December 7, 1941, when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor allegedly awoke America from its isolationist slumber and called it to global leadership of the so-called American Century.

Needless to say, the Deep State’s ideology of the Indispensable Nation and its projects of Empire are rooted in the Pearl Harbor narrative. That is, the claim that global affairs go to hell in a hand basket when virtuous nations let down their guard or acquiesce to even modest acts of regional aggression.

The now faded verities of republican nonintervention, by contrast, properly finger Woodrow Wilson’s perfidious declaration of War on Germany as the event that changed the ordinary course of history, and paved the way for the 1,000-year aberration of Hitler and Stalin which ultimately ensued.

Not surprisingly, the official historical narratives of the Empire glorify America’s rising to duty in World War II and after, but merely describe the events of 1917-1919 as some sort of preliminary coming of age.

As a consequence, the rich, history-defining essence of what happened during those eventful years has been lost in the fog of battles, the miserable casualty statistics of war, the tales of prolonged diplomatic wrangling at Versailles and the blame-game for the failed Senate ratification of Wilson’s League of Nations thereafter.

To continue reading: Why the Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly, Part 2