Source: C-SPAN: Q&A With Brian Lamb- A. Scott Berg: Woodrow Wilson
I agree with Scott Berg as far as how consequential President Woodrow Wilson was. “We must create a world safe for democracy”, is the most famous and important quote of the Wilson Presidency. That is the foreign policy in one way or another that America has used and been a part of since his presidency, except for again perhaps Donald Trump who is more of a Nationalist and not so much interested in working with our allies when it comes to foreign policy. And when America does act in foreign affairs and national security, President Trump and his Administration tends to do it alone.
Almost every President since Woodrow Wilson has had their own version of this liberal internationalist policy that is about promoting, protecting, and defending, democracy around the world.
President Franklin Roosevelt and then later President Harry Truman, were our strongest liberal internationalist hawks. World War II being the perfect example of that where America conquered Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, and knocked out those authoritarian regimes that were replaced with democratic government’s and democratic constitution’s.
President Dwight Eisenhower was perhaps our most cautious liberal internationalist President and believed in limited usage of our military power. And understood the importance of having a strong military like our other President’s, but understood perhaps the limits of American power and that we couldn’t do everything ourselves as a military power. Probably the most anti-Neoconservative President that we’ve had.
John F. Kennedy perhaps being the strongest anti-Communist President that we’ve had and strongest cold warrior that we’ve had as President as a liberal internationalist.
President Lyndon Johnson tried to literally wipeout communism in all of Vietnam and using almost exclusively American power to do that.
President Richard Nixon was a strong anti-Communist himself but was the great negotiator and believed the best way to defeat communism and authoritarianism in general, was to open authoritarian regimes up to Western culture and freedom.
President Jimmy Carter was a strong liberal internationalist and anti-Communist himself as President, as well as a World War II Naval veteran, believed that communism wasn’t the only threat to freedom and human rights. And gave his best speech as President in 1977 about the importance and need for human rights and freedom and that communism wasn’t the only opponent of those things.
President Ronald Reagan, believed that America should no longer try to live with the Cold War, but win it by ending it. President Reagan, obviously didn’t win the Cold War and defeat the Soviet Union by himself with all the President’s I just mentioned going back to Harry Truman, all having a major role there. But President Reagan hated communism so much and the system that Russia had that it had to be defeated and eliminated and replaced with a more responsible governmental system.
President George H.W. Bush, saw a world post-Cold War where America would be able to trade and work with all of our new European allies and even ben able to work with Russia to keep the peace in Europe and protect democracy there, but also protect and defend democracy in other parts of the world. Like in Asia and Africa. The 1991 Gulf War wasn’t America against Iraq, but America, Europe, and even Arabian countries, against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
It took President Bill Clinton at least two years to develop his own foreign policy as President, but the Balkans in Southern Europe and the wars going on there is where you finally see the Bill Clinton Doctrine as President. That America wouldn’t stand by and watch authoritarian regimes try to wipeout ethnic groups and ethnic minorities in their own countries. And because of this foreign policy the Communist ethno-Seriban State of Yugoslavia, is no longer in existence. And we now see democratic peaceful countries in the Balkans. And President Clinton worked with Europe and this was a American/European campaign against Yugoslavia. First during the Bosnian/Serbian conflict in Yugoslavia and then later in Albanian Kosovo.
President George W. Bush is where you see a break from America’s liberal internationalist foreign policy doctrine. He was a Neoconservative as President with the 9/11 attacks being the ignitor to this new right-wing authoritarian unilateral foreign and national security policy. The 2003 Iraq War as basically America and Britain, against Iraq because America didn’t like Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Saddam was brutal to his people as President of Iraq, but never before had we eliminated another dictatorial regime simply because we didn’t like them.
President Barack Obama, gets I believe most of his best marks as President in foreign affairs especially in his first term. You can say what you want about Libya today but America and Europe working together, with both France and Italy, having major roles there, stepped in to that civil war and crude the Quadafi Regime in Libya. Not just because we didn’t like the regime there but because the Libyan Military was about to crush 100,000 people in Benghazi and we not stepped in the Libyan Military would have massacred 100,000 of their own people simply to protect the Quadafi Regime.
Woodrow Wilson was obviously a flawed President and was a racist as President who believed that European-Americans were superior to African-Americans, simply because of their race. And was a s supporter of the Jim Crow segregationist laws of the South and these are horrible aspects of the Woodrow Wilson Administration. But you’ll have a real hard time finding a President who had more of an impact on America as they relate both to our economy with the Federal Reserve, the progressive income tax, and and support for workers rights, as well as foreign policy and national security, than President Woodrow Wilson. I don’t believe we become the world superpower without President Wilson, at least not as soon as we did without him. And he deserves a lot of credit for these policies.