If you wanted to identify, with confidence, the very worst president in American history, how would you go about it? One approach would be to consult the various academic polls on presidential rankings that have been conducted from time to time since Harvard’s Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. pioneered this particular survey scholarship in 1948. Bad idea.
Most of those surveys identify Warren G. Harding of Ohio as the worst ever. This is ridiculous. Harding presided over very robust economic times. Not only that, but he inherited a devastating economic recession when he was elected in 1920 and quickly turned bad times into good times, including a 14 percent GDP growth rate in 1922. Labor and racial unrest declined markedly during his watch. He led the country into no troublesome wars.
There was, of course, the Teapot Dome scandal that implicated major figures in his administration, but there was never any evidence that the president himself participated in any venality. As Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, put it, “Harding wasn’t a bad man. He was just a slob.”
The academic surveys also consistently place near the bottom James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania. Now here’s a man who truly lacked character and watched helplessly as his country descended into the worst crisis of its history. He stepped into the presidency with a blatant lie to the American people. In his inaugural address, he promised he would accept whatever judgment the Supreme Court rendered in the looming Dred Scott case. What he didn’t tell the American people was that he already knew what that judgment was going to be (gleaned through highly inappropriate conversations with justices). This is political cynicism of the rankest sort.
But Buchanan’s failed presidency points to what may be a pertinent distinction in assessing presidential failure. Buchanan was crushed by events that proved too powerful for his own weak leadership. And so the country moved inexorably into one of the worst crises in its history. But Buchanan didn’t create the crisis; he merely was too wispy and vacillating to get control of it and thus lead the nation to some kind of resolution. It took his successor, Abraham Lincoln, to do that.
That illustrates the difference between failure of omission and failure of commission—the difference between presidents who couldn’t handle gathering crises and presidents who actually created the crises.
In the realm of commission failure, three presidents come to mind—Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Bear in mind here that nearly all failed presidents have their defenders, who argue, sometimes with elaborate rationales, that the perceived failure wasn’t really failure or that it wasn’t really the fault of this particular president. We see this in stark reality in our own time, with the ongoing debates about the presidency of the second Bush, reflected in the reaction to senator Rand Paul’s recent suggestion that GOP hawks, with their incessant calls for U.S. intrusion into the lands of Islam, contributed to the rise of the violent radicalism of the Islamic State.
The prevailing view of Bush is that his invasion of Iraq, the greatest example in American history of what is known as “preventive war,” proved to be one of the most colossal foreign policy blunders in all of American history, if not actually the greatest. According to this view, Bush destabilized the Middle East, essentially lit it on fire and fostered the resultant rise of the Islamic State and the deepening sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the region. Where this all leads, nobody can tell, but clearly it is going to play out, with devastating consequences, for a long time to come.
But of course there are those who deny that Bush created all this chaos. No, they say, Bush actually had Iraq under control and it was his hapless successor, Barack Obama, who let it all fall apart again by not maintaining a U.S. military force in the country. This is the minority view, embraced tenaciously by many people with a need to gloss over their own complicity in the mess.
There is little doubt that history eventually will fix upon the majority view—that Bush unleashed the surge of chaos, bloodshed and misery that now has the region in its grip. As Princeton’s Sean Wilentz wrote in 2006, when Bush still sat in the Oval Office, “Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.” And bear in mind that Bush also presided over the emergence of one of the most devastating financial crises in the country’s history.
Then there’s Nixon, whose Watergate transgressions thrust the nation into one of its most harrowing constitutional crises. There are some who argue that Nixon’s transgressions weren’t actually as egregious as many believe, particularly when viewed carefully in the context of the maneuverings and manipulations of many of his people, some of them conducted behind the president’s back. There may be some truth in this. But in the end it doesn’t matter. He was president and must take responsibility for the culture and atmosphere he created in the West Wing and the Old Executive Office Building. If his people were running around and breaking the law, he must bear responsibility, whatever his knowledge or complicity. And we know definitively that Nixon himself set the tone in his inner circle—a tone so dark, defensive and menacing that wrongdoing was almost the inevitable result. Also, there can be no dispute that the president himself stepped over the line on numerous occasions.
Which brings us to Woodrow Wilson, whose failures of commission probably had the most dire consequences of any U.S. president. His great flaw was his sanctimonious nature, more stark and distilled than that of any other president, even John Quincy Adams (who was no piker in the sanctimony department). He thought he always knew best, because he thought he knew more than anybody else. Combine that with a powerful humanitarian sensibility, and you get a president who wants to change the world for the betterment of mankind. Watch out for such leaders.
Even during his first term, with war raging in Europe, he sought to get the United States involved as a neutral mediator, fostering a peace agreement to break the tragic stalemate that had the nations of Europe in its grip. When that effort was rebuffed, he ran for reelection by hailing himself as the man who kept the United States out of the war.
But, immediately upon entering his second term, he sought to get his country into the war by manipulating neutrality policy. While proclaiming U.S. neutrality, he favored Britain by observing the British blockade of Germany (imposed, said a young Winston Churchill, to starve Germans, including German infants, into submission) and by allowing armed British merchant ships entry to U.S. ports, which in turn fostered a flow of U.S. munitions to the Allied powers. At the same time, Wilson declared that Germany would be held to a “strict accountability” for any American loss of life or property from Germany’s submarine attacks. This policy applied, said Wilson, even if affected Americans traveling or working on British or French ships. He declined to curtail what he considered Americans’ “right” to travel on vessels tied to France or Britain (but not Germany).
Wilson was warned, most notably by his secretary of state, William Jennings Bryan, that these lopsided policies inevitably would pull America into the war. When he ignored those warnings, Bryan resigned from the Wilson cabinet on a stand of principle.
As Bryan predicted, America did get pulled into the conflict, and it certainly appears that that was Wilson’s intention all along. Then three things happened.
First, Wilson conducted the war in ways that devastated the home front. Prices shot up into double digits, and then came a potent economic recession that lasted three years. He accepted the suppression of civil liberties by his notorious attorney general, A. Mitchell Palmer. His government nationalized many private industries, including the telegraph, telephone and railroad industries, along with the distribution of coal. Race riots erupted in numerous cities that claimed nearly 150 lives in two years.
Second, America’s entry into the war broke the stalemate, allowing the Allied powers to impose upon Germany devastating armistice terms. Third, when Wilson went to the Versailles peace conference bent on bringing to bear his humanitarian outlook and making the world safe for democracy, he promptly got outmaneuvered by the canny nationalist leaders of Britain and France, whose agenda had nothing to do with Wilson’s dreamy notions about a harmonious world born of his humanitarian vision.
The result was a humiliation of Germany that rendered another war nearly inevitable and created in that country a sump of civic resentment and venom that would poison its politics for a generation. We can’t say with certainty that Adolf Hitler wouldn’t have emerged in Germany if the stalemate of World War I had been settled through negotiations rather than diktat. But we can say that the world spawned by Wilson’s naïve war policies certainly created a political climate in Germany that paved the way for Hitler.
That’s a big load for Wilson to carry through history, though the academic polls consistently rank him quite favorably. That’s probably because most academics are progressives who like Wilson for his own progressive sentiments. But the two Roosevelts also were progressives and left the country better off when they left office. Such a case can’t be made for Wilson, who left the country in shambles. The 1920 Republican victories in the presidential and congressional elections constituted of the greatest political repudiations in U.S. history. Thus, Wilson’s failures of commission render him, arguably, the worst president in American history.
About the author:
Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington political reporter and publishing executive, is the author of books on American history and foreign policy.
Original source of the article:
Only when we refute the monolithic interpretation of Zionist theory and practice can we approach an understanding of the contested relationship between anti-zionism and antisemitism.
Israel - BDS. Flickr/ Takver. Some rights reserved.The relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is a vexed and controversial question. My starting point is to elucidate an understanding of the meaning of Zionism; a term and a political concept which is rarely defined and frequently misunderstood. This is hardly surprising given that today in the 21st century, Zionism/ist is construed as an insult by some and is often equated with apartheid and even worse, Nazism. My understanding of Zionism seeks neither to exonerate, praise nor condemn. Rather we must seek to comprehend the Zionist movement and concomitant ideology in its historical, material and constantly evolving context.
A form of nationalism
Put simply Zionism is a form of nationalism which developed under two sets of linked influences in the ...
This text was first published on March 8, 2015,
The Islamic State is not only protected by the US and its allies, it is trained and financed by US-NATO, with the support of Israel and Washington’s Persian Gulf allies.
Al Qaeda Affiliated Entities are “Intelligence Assets. Instruments of US Intelligence. The Global War on Terrorism is a fabrication used to justify a war of conquest. The Jihadist terrorists are “Made in America”. They are instruments of US intelligence, yet they are presented to public opinion as “enemies of America”.
The Obama administration has embarked upon the ultimate war crime, a Worldwide military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity.
The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest.
This military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously, resulting in millions of civilian deaths and countless atrocities. More recently, U.S. and NATO ground forces have been deployed in Eastern Europe including Ukraine on ...
Exclusive: Few Americans understand the ugly history behind the Nazi-affiliated movements that have gained substantial power in today’s U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime. Western propaganda has made these right-wing extremists the “good guys” versus the Russian “bad guys,” as Jonathan Marshall explains.
By Jonathan Marshall
The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine, one of the leading journals in its field, offers a two-page photo essay on “what to see, do, and buy” in Lviv, a picturesque city in the Western Ukraine. “Amid the turmoil that has rocked Ukraine over the past two years,” the article gushes, “Lviv has stood firmly as a stronghold of national culture, language, and identity.”
That’s one way of putting it. Another, less charitable way would be to note that Lviv has for nearly a century been a breeding ground of extreme Ukrainian nationalism, spawning terrorist movements, rabid anti-Semitism, and outright pro-Nazi political organizations that continue to pollute the country’s politics.
Sen. John ...
Professor Noam Chomsky said it would be “no small trick” for the Ferguson protests to turn into an anti-racism and social justice movement, considering America’s founding principles are slavery and the extermination of the indigenous population. In a sweeping interview covering everything from Iraq and Syria to China, capitalism, and the protests in Ferguson, MIT linguistics professor Chomsky told GRITtv’s Laura Flanders that events in Ferguson and the protests that have followed show how little race relations in the United States have advanced since the end of the Civil War.
“This is a very racist society,” Chomsky said. “It’s pretty shocking. What’s happened to African-Americans in the last 30 years is similar to what Baptist (Edward E. Baptist in The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and The Making of American Capitalism) describes happening in the late 19th Century.” Chomsky said constitutional amendments were supposed to free African-American slaves, which they ...
Author’s note and Update
The following article was first published in September 2014 at the outset of the air campaign “against the ISIS”. In recent developments Russia has officially joined the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). What are the implications?
Amply documented but rarely mentioned in news reports, the ISIS is a creation of US intelligence, recruited, trained and financed by the US and its allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.
What this means is that the ISIS terrorists are the foot soldiers of the Western alliance. While America claims to be targeting the ISIS, in reality it is protecting the ISIS. The air campaign is intent upon destroying Syria and Iraq rather than “going after the terrorists”.
But now Russia is involved in the campaign against the ISIS in coordination with the Syrian and Iraqi governments.
What does that mean? The official story is that Russia supports America’s resolve to fight the terrorists. It’s all for a good cause.
In reality, ...
The words “possible criminal actions” by CIA employees are used in the report.
The terms unethical and immoral are mentioned. The criminality of those who ordered these actions at the highest levels of government, however, is not acknowledged.
The actions directed against alleged jihadists are categorized as ineffective in the process of revealing intelligence. This in itself is a red herring. The objective of torture was not to reveal intelligence.
What of course is not acknowledged is that the alleged terrorists who were tortured were framed by the CIA.
Known and documented the Al Qaeda network is a creation of US intelligence.
The jihadists are “intelligence assets”.
Torture serves to perpetuate the legend that the evil terrorists are real and that the lives of Americans are threatened.
Torture is presented as “collateral damage.” Torture is an integral part of war propaganda which consists in demonizing the alleged terrorists.
And the Senate committee report ultimately upholds the ...
According to a number of global mainstream media sources, the Pentagon is covering up a disturbing video that was never made public with the rest of the recent torture report.
According to various well respected journalists, including Seymour Hersh, the appalling video was recorded at Abu Ghraib, the notorious US torture dungeon in Iraq that made headlines roughly a decade ago, when the inhumane tactics being used at the prison were exposed.
Sadly, it seems that the evidence released years ago was only scratching the surface.
While the video has remained under wraps thus far, Hersh says it is only a matter of time before it comes out.
Giving a speech at the ACLU last week after the senate torture report was initially released, Hersh gave some insight into what was on the Pentagon’s secret tape.
In the most revealing portion of his speech he said that:
“Debating about it, ummm … Some of the worst things that happened ...
We all know how the story goes. The Golan Heights is Syrian territory that has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. It was then controversially annexed in 1981, despite the UN calling the efforts “null”, “void” and “without international legal effect”. Today it is still internationally and legally recognised as Syrian land, but Israel persists with its possession.
Of course, such persistence can prove to be quite lucrative when the land is abundant in resources – especially land as fertile as the Syrian Golan – a generous source of gushing waters and game changing oil reserves.
In fact, the Golan Heights contributes a quenching one-third of Israel’s entire water supply. Its catchments leading to the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret – Israel’s main water source – receive long bouts of heavy rainfall, particularly during the colder months and occasionally during stormy season in the summer.
But the Golan Heights does ...
On Monday, February 8, the human rights organization Amnesty International published a 48-page report accusing the Syrian government of mass executions and tortures in Saydnaya prison. According to the watchdog, between September 2011 and December 2015, an estimated 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed.
The methods used by the report to count the alleged ‘victims’ is quite contradictory. Amnesty International admits it had little direct evidence for its claims. Instead, the report was based on conjectures and the words of former prison detainees and commentators who are linked to the Syrian opposition and have lived outside the country for a long time.
Amnesty International could name only 375 people who allegedly died as a result of ill-treatment in Saydnaya. However, even that information is compromised due to its source–the UK-based Syrian Network for Human Rights. According to that foreign-based agency’s website and Twitter feed, it has nothing positive to say about ...
Fifty years ago this next month (December 1965), with the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rubber stamp approval of President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the United States Air Force started secretly spraying the forests of Laos with a deadly herbicide that was known as Agent Orange.
Operation Ranch Hand, whose motto was “Only We Can Prevent Forests” (a shameful takeoff of Smokey the Bear’s admonition), was a desperate, costly and ultimately futile effort to make it a little harder for the National Liberation Front soldiers from North Vietnam to join and supply their comrades-in-arms in the south. Both the guerilla fighters in the south and the NLF army had been fighting to liberate Vietnam from the exploitive colonial domination from foreign nations such as imperial France (that began colonizing Vietnam in 1874), then Japan (during WWII), then the United States (since France’s ...
First published on September 12, 2015
Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror
In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos:
(1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria.
This is known as the “Mukden Incident” or the “Manchurian Incident”. The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: “Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasionsadmitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the ‘Incident’ was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army ….” And see this.
(2) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the ...
The conditionality of the Soviet Union’s agreement to allow East Germany to be taken by West Germany and for the Cold War to end, was that NATO would not expand «one inch to the east». This was the agreement that was approved by the Russian President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, a great man and a subsequent hero to democrats around the world.
He agreed then to end the Soviet Union and abandon communism and thus to end the entire Cold War; he agreed to this because he had been promised that NATO would expand not «one inch to the east,» or «one inch eastward,» depending upon how the promise was translated and understood — but it has the same meaning, no matter how it was translated. He trusted American President George Herbert Walker Bush, whose friend and Secretary of State James Baker made this promise to Gorbachev. With this ...
The term "security" is a very multifaceted one. But today's geopolitical situation forces us to think about its military aspect above all.
Our attention is completely absorbed by news about wars, conflicts, military exercises and increasing defence capabilities. An average European reader has no chances to skip this kind of news while looking through news feeds of popular media.
Even planned further militarization of the European region and Russia pose the real threat today. A whole generation of European children is growing in the firm belief that the war is approaching. We destroy ourselves by our fears. We notice everything concerning military issues and neglect economic and social sides of our life. We live in a changed world and we are to blame for it.
Let's take Lithuania as an example. This small country with reach history and with immensely kind and open people last few weeks falls into the center of world ...
THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATO
Author: Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Clarity Press (2012)
Pages: 411 with complete index
Available to order from Global Research
The world is enveloped in a blanket of perpetual conflict. Invasions, occupation, illicit sanctions, and regime change have become currencies and orders of the day. One organization – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – is repeatedly, and very controversially, involved in some form or another in many of these conflicts led by the US and its allies. NATO spawned from the Cold War. Its existence was justified by Washington and Western Bloc politicians as a guarantor against any Soviet and Eastern Bloc invasion of Western Europe, but all along the Alliance served to cement Washington’s influence in Europe and continue what was actually America’s post-World War II occupation of the European continent. In 1991 the raison d’être of the Soviet threat ended with the collapse of the USSR and the ...
Barack Obama is the first two-term American president to have presided over war every day of his tenure in office. He bequeaths to a Trump administration ongoing operations in Afghanistan, continuing drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, the consequences of the 2011 destruction of Libya, the instigation of civil war in Syria, US sponsorship of the brutal Saudi interventions in Yemen, and the civil conflicts in Ukraine, the Caucuses and across Africa.
Obama’s blood-soaked legacy, however, is most graphic in Iraq. There is a bitter irony in this, given the fact that he was elected in 2008 largely on the basis of claimed opposition to the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of the country, and his boasts, after continuing the war for nearly three more years after his inauguration, to have ended it with the formal withdrawal of US forces in December of 2011.
Obama launched new military attacks in Iraq following ISIS’ ...
This April 4th will be 100 years since the U.S. Senate voted to declare war on Germany and 50 since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the war on Vietnam (49 since he was killed on that speech’s first anniversary). Events are being planned to help us try to finally learn some lessons, to move beyond, not just Vietnam, but war.
That declaration of war on Germany was not for the war that makes up the single most common theme of U.S. entertainment and history. It was for the war that came before that one. This was the Great War, the war to end all wars, the war without which the conditions for the next war would not have existed.
As well recounted in Michael Kazin’s War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918, a major peace movement had the support of a great deal of the United States. When ...
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States of America has systematically violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force contained in the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. It has carved out a regime of impunity for its crimes based on its UN Security Council veto, non-recognition of international courts and sophisticated "information warfare" that undermines the rule of law with political justifications for otherwise illegal threats and uses of force.
Former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has compared current U.S. policy to the illegal German "preemptive first strike" policy for which senior German officials were convicted of aggression at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging.
In 2002, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy described post-September 11th U.S. doctrine as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept." And yet the U.S. government has succeeded in assembling alliances ...
A complex geopolitical situation in the region forces the Baltic States and their NATO allies to take unprecedented efforts to increase defence capabilities to counter potential aggressors. A new Lithuanian military strategy approved in March describes Russia actions along with terrorism as the main threats for the security of Lithuania, as reported by Delfi.
Unfortunately for pacifists, the Alliance and Russia today are arming and demonstrating their military power. They constantly compare their armed forces' strength and capabilities, conduct large-scale military exercises, respond to each other by deploying new contingents and military equipment closer and closer to the NATO-Russian border.
The Baltic States have become such a border.
Moscow has placed Iskander-M launchers in Kaliningrad. The Russian Iskander is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and has never been made available to any foreign army for operational use. The weapon affords Russia the ability to use its Baltic exclave to threaten US missile ...
The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.
CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force
The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. CIA organized large scale death squad activities and extreme torture in Vietnam (Phoenix Project); multiple assassinations of political leaders in the Congo, Chile, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and elsewhere; the kidnapping and disappearance of suspected activists in Iraq and Afghanistan; massive drug-running and narco-trafficking in the “Golden Triangle” in Southeast Asia and Central America (the Iran-Contra war).
The term Genocide derives from the Latin (genos=race, tribe; cide=killing) and means literally the killing or murder of an entire tribe or people. The Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group” and cites the first usage of the term as R. Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, (1944) p.79. “By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group.”
The U.N. General Assembly adopted this term and defended it in 1946 as “….a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups.” Most people tend to associate genocide with wholesale slaughter of a specific people. However, “the 1994 U.N. Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, describes genocide beyond outright murder of people as the destruction and extermination of culture.” Article II of the convention lists five categories of activity as genocidal when ...
Contestation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism
The Ultimate War Crime: America’s “Global War On Terrorism”
Nazi Roots of Ukraine’s Conflict
Chomsky on US: ‘This is a very racist society’
“Going After” the Islamic State. Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project?
The Role of 9/11 in Justifying Torture and War: The Criminalization of the US State Apparatus. Senate Report on CIA Torture is a Whitewash
Classified Evidence: US Soldiers Raped Boys In Front Of Their Mothers
The Occupied Golan Heights: How Israel Thrives from Syria’s Natural Resources
Amnesty International publishes a fabricated report on mass executions in Syria
War Crimes: Agent Orange, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Other Ugly Legacies of the Vietnam War
False Flag Terror. A Historical Overview
How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed West
Who will secure Lithuania?
NATO: Proudly Delivering Death Since 1949 – A Book Review
Mosul, Iraq and Obama’s Legacy of War
100 years of using war to try to end all war
Appeal from U.S. to World: Help Us Resist U.S. Crimes
Nuclear weapons in Lithuania: Defence against Russia or target for terrorists?
Imperialism And The Politics Of Torture: Towards A Global Secret Police Force
Tags: America, Clinton, Pentagon, President, USA, Washington