New York Diarist: United We Fall
March 03, 2003
Not since that lofty spiritualist Dag Hammarskjold has there been a U. N. secretary-general whom the worthy have so taken to their bosoms. A great moral aura attaches to Kofi Annan, even though--as a lesser U.N. official in both bloody Bosnia and bloodier Rwanda--he kept armed multinational forces under his command from impeding the macabre work of mass murderers. But, at the Secretariat, the salient comparisons are to ex-Nazi Kurt Waldheim. So it is not surprising that Annan considers himself the embodiment of all that is virtuous in world affairs.
March 03, 2003
"Ideas have consequences," the conservative intellectual Richard Weaver wrote half a century ago. The truism comes to mind as another group of conservative intellectuals, this one guiding foreign policy inside the Bush administration, prepares to launch a war in the Middle East--not for oil or geopolitical advantage but on behalf of an idea. The idea is liberalism. According to President Bush, "Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause," and, as such, he routinely casts the impending war as an effort to bring democracy to a land that has known only dictatorship.
March 03, 2003
Liberals are no strangers to foreign intervention. Democratic presidents took the United States into two world wars, as well as Korea and Vietnam; Bill Clinton himself sent American forces to Haiti, the Balkans, and Iraq. But, if there was a connection between liberalism at home and intervention abroad, it generally ran from the former to the latter. Liberals believed that by intervening abroad they were spreading or defending liberal values. The Clinton administration's 1996 National Security Strategy, for instance, was based on "enlarging ...
July 08, 2002
It is June 2005. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy goes on a fact-finding mission to Guantanamo Bay, where he meets with Al Qaeda prisoners of war. Furious over Leahy's refusal to confirm federal judges, President George W. Bush plots revenge. When Leahy arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport, he is arrested by military police on the grounds that he has passed information to the enemy and is therefore an enemy combatant.
October 08, 2001
Rescue workers were still combing through the wreckage of the World Trade Center when stern voices arose to caution us that the war against our attackers will not only challenge America's military resolve but also test its democracy at home. "[A] number of government agencies and their cheerleaders would be clearly tempted to lock the Bill of Rights away in some basement dustbin of the National Archives," The American Prospect warned on its website. Which agencies? Which cheerleaders? The editorial didn't say, though elsewhere the magazine published musings about "a systematic breakdown of res
The Imperial Temptation
March 15, 1987
The imperial presidency in the United States has staged a comeback some 13 years after the fall of Richard Nixon. Both the recent renewal of presidential aggrandizement and the reaction against it recall the latter days, hectic and ominous, of the Nixon presidency, when I wrote The Imperial Presidency. My argument then, as now, was that the American Constitution intends a strong presidency within an equally strong system of accountability.
The Moral Equivalent to Football
July 23, 1977
Wilcomb E. Washburn: Why football reflects the true nature of the American character.
Wilson, the Intransigent
August 06, 1945
Time to reassess our twenty-eighth president.
The Smoldering Constitutional Crisis
January 18, 1943
We re-elect FDR—and the opposition is installed within the government. The cause which failed to persuade the voters scores an easy victory in Washington. The democratic process operates, yet it is by-passed. Somehow a wedge has been driven between the exercise of power and its popular source. A constitutional crisis impends which makes insistent the question, Whose government? In a sense a sport has been thrown up by the war. Yet the war has done little more than accelerate trends long in the making. For our political order is undergoing revolution.
Again—The Trust Problem
January 19, 1938
The speeches of Robert H. Jackson and Secretary Ickes, as well as the President's message to Congress and his Jackson Day address, have again brought to the foreground the problem of monopoly. It is now generally recognized that these utterances constitute an effective political counter-attack against those who have been blaming the administration for the depression. But what is the program of the President? Is he going to do anything about the situation except to make political capital out of it? The retort frequently made to Mr.