quinta-feira, 22 de junho de 2006

WWI (3)

The Illusion of Victory

Woodrow Wilson, a catastrophe for liberty Thomas Fleming, a terrific narrative historian whose books have sold in the millions, has emerged as a major voice challenging establishment views. Fleming is the author of Liberty!, a splendid (and splendidly-illustrated) companion to the 6-part TV series on the American Revolution. His sizzler The New Dealers’ War debunked the standard line that Franklin D. Roosevelt was a great war president.

Now in Illusion of Victory, Fleming takes on President Woodrow Wilson who is widely revered as a crusader for democracy and peace, a continuing inspiration for American political leaders. Fleming demolishes the claim that Wilson entered World War I to make the world safe for democracy. Wilson sided with Czarist Russia, with France which had colonies in Africa and Asia, with Britain which had the biggest overseas empire, and with Belgium which killed some 10 million people in the Congo. Wilson’s allies had cynical secret treaties to grab land from defeated nations. By the time America entered World War I, Fleming explains, it had become substantially stalemated, which would have meant a negotiated settlement.

But American entry enabled vengeful allies to impose harsh surrender terms on Germany. This triggered a bitter nationalist reaction and a ruinous runaway inflation, which helped Adolf Hitler recruit Nazis. Wilson pressured Russia to stay in the war, even though it was nearly bankrupt, and the result was Lenin’s Bolshevik coup and 70 years of communism. Wilson’s decision to enter World War I set the stage for World War II. Fleming tells how Wilson amassed unprecedented power in the United States. He established military conscription. He seized control of whole industries. At one point, Wilson shut down all factories east of the Mississippi River—some 30,000 factories in New York City alone. Wilson authorized the imprisonment of dissidents for criticizing him. In October 1919, Wilson suffered a massive stroke, and his wife Edith and his doctor kept this secret from Wilson’s Cabinet, the Vice President and the American people. Wilson was physically isolated, and decisions were made in his name. This was the most notorious presidential cover-up in American history."

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