Making War and Talking Peace: Legacies of Wilson, Roosevelt and Bush

By Katherine Maynard.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In his quest for approval of the Iraq War, George W. Bush visited two sites that might have given him valuable advice on how to be a more successful war President: the US Army’s War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he outlined his strategy for defeating the insurgency (24 May 2004) and the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, where he prescribed democracy as a panacea for Iraq’s increasingly ominous problems (14 December 2005). At the latter location he could have learned from Wilson’s April 1917 declaration of war how important it is to have genuine facts, rather than spurious “intelligence,” as a basis for going to war. From Wilson’s seminal “Peace without Victory” speech (22 January 1917) he could have learned how a “soft” non-vindictive peace process is both a better way to end a war and a way to prevent future wars.
At Carlisle he could have learned from Franklin Roosevelt, in many respects Wilson’s foreign policy heir, how actually to plan and implement a soft peace. For instead of relying on oratory and debate like Wilson or shock and awe like Bush, FDR’s government relied on the meticulous pre-war and pre-victory planning of Operation ECLIPSE (followed by the post-war Marshall Plan) to transform Germany from a dangerous enemy into one of America’s closest friends.
This analysis will focus on three areas, whether American foreign policy should be “realistic” or “idealistic” in its goals and objectives; domestic concerns, national security, and individual rights; and rationalizations for wars and the effects these wars have on America’s standing in the world. By focusing on primary texts, Wilson’s speeches and Roosevelt’s planning will then be contrasted with Bush’s speeches and absence of planning for post-war Iraq, examining historical circumstances and political considerations that may have influenced the speeches; and the rhetorical strategies and devices employed by each President to make his policy decisions and recommendations more convincing.

Keywords: Speeches, Rhetoric, Politics of War

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.337-344. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.152MB).

Dr. Katherine Maynard

Professor, English Department, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, USA

I am a professor of English at Rider University. I’ve published a book on Thomas Hardy’s poetry as well as a book on behaviors in business. I have a contract on a book I’m completing on the ideas of justice and revenge in literature and film. My many article publications range from nationalism in South Africa to various works of literature.


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