Franklin D Roosevelt’s America: A Progressive’s View

Matt Yglesias is shocked that Americans think the 1940-1949 was one of the best decades of last century. His description of the presidencies of FDR and Harry Truman is the best concise version I’ve ever read:

Some salient facts about the 1940s: There was a big war. One participant in that war had an active policy of targeting enemy civilian population centers for wholesale destruction as a battlefield tactic. Initially they did this with large-scale bombing raids designed to set as many houses ablaze as possible. Eventually they developed nuclear weapons in order to massacre enemy civilians in a more pilot-intensive way. The country in question was allied with a vicious dictator whose political strategies included mass rape, large-scale civilian deportations, and the occasional deliberate engineering of famine conditions. And those were the good guys! We’re all very happy they won!

Indeed. Let us never forget that the “victory” of the US over Germany in World War 2 was a savage one. Let us not forget that if the tables had been turned, and Germany and Japan had somehow been able to conquer the United States, Washington would have been found to be guilty of horrific atrocities both at home and abroad.

The German people have largely been implicated in the crimes of the German state. The logic behind this goes as following: yes, some Germans may have been forced to do things for their state that they would not have otherwise done, but for the  most part, most Germans were happy to oblige Berlin and commit crimes in the name of the state. I tend to subscribe to this view. In fact, it is this view that makes me a libertarian. Americans today seem far too comfortable committing crimes in the name of their government. They point to Roosevelt’s administration as proof of America’s wholesomeness.

They are far too comfortable committing crimes in the name of their government that they would never, ever commit by themselves. How many of you would be comfortable bombing Syria? What if Washington bombed Syria under the auspices of humanitarianism? Of an undefined national interest?

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