tv Why Wilson Matters CSPAN June 19, 2017 6:30am-8:01am EDT
>> the french -- and we were doing it, by the way, with the support of the church. and the church that was most involved in this was guess which one? the presbyterian church which was woodrow wilson was a member of. in fact, calvinism in general was the opposite of the anglican church. so what we have here is a
argument that democracy is something that is suited only to certain peoples who have had a certain cultural history to them. well, if that's the case, what are these cultural prerequisites? and here the more i read wilson, the more i became persuaded that there was the dog that doesn't bark x. the dog that didn't bark was calvinism. and it was particularly the covenant of the presbyterian church. this was the template for wilson of how democracy comes about. now, i don't know how many of you belong to the group of churches that today can be called affiliated with presbyterians in terms of their domestic organization, but it's not just churches. it's also reformed judaism and explains at least in part, i
think, why wilson was so welcoming of jewish americans into princeton and then into his administration and also was protective of the notion of a jewish homeland in the far east. i mean, the middle east. okay. so what we have then is the notion that you can strip it away from calvinism. you don't have to be christian. you don't have to be white. and, in fact, what these protestant denominations began to do was to found universities like what they called the american university in cairo, the american university in beirut, also in iran and turkey. they were going to convert these muslims to christians. well, it didn't work very well. what they did convert them to was constitutionalism. and many of the liberal movements that we have seen in the middle east come out of these plants in the late 19th
and early 20th century that are related to the protestant missionary schools that spread in so many parts of the world. finish -- well, let's get back if we can without me running over time to what was going on, meanwhile, in the united states. in the united states, the critical mistake that was made was to think that local cultures don't matter. now, it's true we were a necessary condition to german democratization. but we were far from a sufficient condition for german democratization. that depended largely on the german people themselves. it could not have happened without a strong german meddle class, a strong german -- middle class, a strong german protestant, also catholic movement, without a high level of economic development, without
a received doctrine from even before from the kaiser of the reichstag which is the notion of civic honor and duty of bureaucrats. i mean, the germans were not difficult to democratize. yeah, it took a while, but germany, as anybody's noticed, remains very much germany. and yet in many ways, it was fundamentally changed by the american occupation. or take the only country that democratized after world war i, and there was no american occupation. it was czechoslovakia. they became a model democracy by the '30s, and it did so not because american troops occupied czechoslovakia, but because of the czechs and the slow vehicles and -- slovacs and what they were able to work out among themselves. in short, if you do not look at the caught of the people -- at the character of the people you are saying you're going to democratize, you're going to get into trouble.
well, this is what happened in iraq. do you know that these people really thought that democracy was just going to spring out in iraq? i mean, anyone who looks, anyone who has any background in the area would have said this is an absurd belief. and yet i can document that it was a real belief. now, i know what some of you are thinking. you're thinking that this was all a facade over something else. it was really the weapons of mass destruction. please, it was not the weapons of mass destruction. everybody in washington knew -- everybody was clued in that this was the calling card. but there are other persuasions, other arguments that are perhaps a little bit more persuasive. for example, that george bush wanted to show his father, george h.w. bush, that he really could do something right. or that there was a lot of oil there, and we could beat opec if we got ahold of that oil. or look at the geostrategic
position of iraq. it touches our friends, israel and jordan, and -- and saudi arabia, and it also touches our enemies, syria and iran. what a beautiful place to hold with all that oil and to show the world what we can do. so democracy was just sort of an afterthought. it really wasn't an afterthought. it was in the forefront of the global war on terrorism. now, i'm not saying the other factors didn't matter. i think they did. i'm not giving only one cause for the invasion. but there was the belief, extraordinary, totally mistaken, that we could democratize these countries and that in doing so, we would create the same kind of peaceful attitude in the arab middle east that we with had
created with the european union. now, you're asking yourself how, how do i know this? well, i think i know it because the ideology is very easy to see how it went from university seminar rooms into the white house. there's what i call a food chain, or it could also be called a gravy chain because money's involved in it, that goes from these, from harvard and yale and princeton and stanford and other leading organizations into groups like brookings and the american enterprise institute or a variety of other places where policymakers go. and the early 1990s were a time when everybody wanted to know, well, now what do we do? we're the world's only superpower, what are we going to do with all this power we've got? what's the purpose to our power? and the answer was, well, we'll just democratize as much of the
world as we can. we'll bring about peace, freedom, prosperity and an increase in american national security. you can see this in specific groups. the progressive policy institute, which was related to the democratic party, is, it's mind-boggling to read the statements which they put out. or the project for the new american century which was the center of the neo-conservative movement. okay. it can be easily documented that these people went into overdrive to push the idea that the iraq war was going to be easily won, democracy would be the result and then there would be falling dominoes in the middle east as democracy took hold. we see this even more strikingly, to me, or more worrisome to me in studies that came out from, apparently,
totally nonpartisan sources; rand, whose major settlement is in santa monica, california. got all kinds of government grants to write these enormous studies which, by the way, you will see listed in your handout today. you can get them for free online still today. called such things as a nation -- a beginner's guide to nation-building. nation and state building. how we're going to democratize all these people. democratize all these people? are you kidding? are you kidding that we're going to democratize afghanistan? i mean, what possible, what possible believer could hold up for five minutes to such a preposterous idea? well, tens of millions of dollars went into this, hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, billions of dollars were spent proving that it could happen. what it proved, of course, is
that it couldn't happen. well, what occurs then in all of this is the notions in the bush white house that it will happen. and he gets elected a second time, believe it or not. but what i want to do in making my argument is to say that it doesn't stop here. it doesn't stop. this isn't a neo-conservative plant within the republican party. if you look on my handout, the people who wrote blurbs -- i can't find it myself, but it's number five on the handout -- to a nation, the 2009 publication of nation-building, it includes prominent german, swedish high government officials, people who have been secretaries, are equivalent of secretaries of state.
it also includes kofi annan, includes a lot of people who thought that nation-state building for denial accuracy could be accomplished -- for democracy could be accomplished. the men who wrote this, and there were some women in it too, who had ideas. they were trained at these best universities during the cold war by professors who knew better than all of this. i mean, i knew better than all of this instinctually because i'd been trained by these people myself. okay. so what happens then, and i'm going to be running out of time in a minute, is the proof that this is really such a strong conviction in washington takes us to the obama administration. now, some of you may be aware that in 2016 jeffrey goldberg published a highly influential,
in my view not particularly good, article called the obama doctrine in the atlantic monthly. got a big play everywhere. he calls it then the obama doctrine. there was no such thing as the obama doctrine. it doesn't exist. obama simply updated the bush doctrine. he didn't change it. this is as good an argument as i can find to show the power of ideas. i'll give you just two examples of this during the obama years. first, the endless decision making he had to go through during 2009 to decide whether to surge in afghanistan or not. and then he decided to do so. after he said he'd spent all his time reading about vietnam. he didn't read about vietnam. i'm sure he didn't read about vietnam. what he read were the rand reports and general david petraeus' book awful book called
counterinsurgency: a manual, all of which were nation and state-building devices which either glibly passed over vietnam or just talked about vietnam without coming to any real conclusions. those also are available online for free, and they're listed on my handout for free. so obama's surge, now, he didn't surge as much as secretary of state clinton wanted him to. he only put in an additional 30,000 service members in 2011. he said he'd -- in 2010. he said he'd have them out by 2014. three years ago, by my counting. secretary clinton wanted 100,000 and wanted it to increase. okay, this was all a very unfortunate mistake. but obama -- it's amazing, and in the book i've got quote after quote after quote from him. he didn't learn from the mistake, he actually thought he was winning in afghanistan. i don't know what he thought he was winning. democracy?
at any rate, he thought he was winning. so that in 2011 when the spring emerged, what did he do? he did what any liberal internationalist would do. he saluted the arab spring. well, so did i, i have to admit it. but he then intervened in libya. now, he calls that intervention in libya the biggest mistake of his presidency. it was actually hillary's doing, it wasn't his doing. but he had to -- and i've got quotes here from obama that i won't go over. he put all kinds of sugar coating on it about how the egyptian people are going to show the world that 6,000 years of history is behind them as they introduce democracy into egypt. 2011. okay. as far as libya goes, it was going to be exactly the same, they were finally going to be democratic. and as for hillary, when in october of 2011 gadhafi was
killed, cbs news came to her and said what do you have to say about this? she said, we came, we saw, he died. well, probably a million people have died thanks to gadhafi's fall. of course, he was a madman and a cruel authoritarian. this was nothing that was going to create anything other than anarchy in that country if you decapitated it. well, this takes us then to the end of the line, because by 2011 they were also saying -- obama and especially secretary clinton -- that assad had to go. he was unilaterally deposed by washington. had they contacted moscow? no. had they contacted tehran? of course not. they had decided themselves that assad had to go. so go, he would. and they were going to fund the so-called moderate arabs. by 2014 president obama admitted in public testimony that there
were maybe five or six they had found. five or six. in other words, there was no such thing as the moderate arabs. there were a few, but most of them were fronts for al-qaeda that just wanted our weapons. syria -- except for the kurds. the kurds are the single exception here, i agree. now, i could get into why obama became a liberal internationalist, was one. part of it came from the fact that he was born that way. as a black man, as a constitutional lawyer, as a community organizer in chicago, what do you expect? but he also used all the buzzwords of the time. he used words like the universal appeal of democracy, the universal value of democracy, the nonnegotiable human rights that had to be sent everywhere in the world. if anything, more than george bush did it. okay. so we get to, finally, 2015 and the light comes on in obama's
mind that this nation and state-building thing was a mistake all along. but it's too late. he only has a year and a few months left in his presidency when he finally announces to his cabinet that the whole thing has been a mistake. they were -- the question is how the mistake took so long to be corrected. well, let me conclude by turning to your next subject which is the first 100 days of donald trump. one of the ways they were corrected was by the election of donald j. trump as president of the united states. liberal internationalism, in important ways, did itself in. first of all, it got involved in these imperialist wars that it could not win and that for good reason angered and scared the american public. it certainly angered and scared me, i don't know about you. about three million american service members have now served
in muslim countries since 2003. they come back to their families with post-traumatic stress syndrome, they come back with all kinds of tales of suicides being, taking more of their colleagues than enemy fire. they come back with defeat written all over them because they have been defeated, by the way. sorry to tell you this, we've been defeated time and time again in these wars. and be we're going to continue to be defeated in these wars. afghanistan is going south, for sure. look at iraq. the whole thing is just unbelievable. well, it's not unbelievable, it's totally believable. at any rate, this scares and angers the american public. and donald trump says something very important. he says i am not going to push human rights and democracy. we will defend the national interest, but we're not going to engage in this will of the -- talking and just monday when
erdogan won the election in turkey, he called him and congratulated him on winning the election. well, erdogan is everybody's authortarian, folks. let's -- authoritarian, folks, let's not pretend he's not. and, in fact, he was contradicting his own secretary of state who said, oh, this election is rigged and everyone's in jail. let me tell you something, i don't think it would have mattered to donald trump or woodrow wilson either for the simple reason we cannot preach these things to people who are not ready to hear us. now, it doesn't matter -- we certainly would like them to become this way, i mean, that they would respect human rights, give equality to women and so on and so forth. but one of the best ways to insure they won't do it is to try and force them to do it. in guatemala there's a statement, our culture is our resistance. [speaking spanish]
and so you have the mayan communities that assert their mayan personality. that's fine in guatemala. in the muslim world it's been by becoming more muslim than they have been in generations in part because of these pushes that are coming from outside. now, although i agree with donald j. trump on this, there's a significant difference between trump and wilson. wilson was not going to engage in war to bring about -- he was not an imperialist. he was an idealist, he was a moralist, but he was not a utopian, and he was not an imperialist. therefore, he would create something like the league that would protect democracies and foster democracies where they had some chance of existing. but he wasn't going to send in the troops with bayonets to
force people to do this. trump, so far as i can see, is not interested in a league with anybody. he's leaving the paris climate accords, he's leaving the trans-pacific economic agreement, he is leaving the kinds of multi-national organizations that can sponsor democracy and alliances among democratic peoples. for this reason, although you can see a superficial similarity between wilson is and trump, in fact, the differences outweigh the similarities. the second s and i'm going to kind of conclude on this, is something that i haven't talked about at all, and that is the neo-liberal economic globalization. now, this was something that you might say is liberal internationalist. and, indeed, in its way it is. except that for woodrow wilson
democracy always had to be regulated. think canada. think sweden. think any of the scandinavian countries. there had to be ways in which democracy wasn't going to be undermined by capitalism, but instead strengthened by capitalism. it was, he was -- wilson was not against a free market, he was against an unregulated free market. think how many banks collapsed in the united states between 2007 and 2009. not a single major canadian bank collapsed. they're regulated, that's the difference. they also regulate their immigration. they don't have immigration problems because they regulate that too. and, well, i won't get into immigration. the point here is that it was this economic globalization that was unregulated that created the extraordinary economic disparities in the united states, probably the largest that ever have existed in this
country. certainly as great as any that have ever existed that has resulted in an absolute decline in the purchasing power of at least 60% of our population. of course these people are going to vote for donald j. trump. he says they're globalizing the middle class while they're impoverishing our middle class. he's right. the trouble is he talks the talk, but he doesn't walk the walk. he, what he does is he allows crony capitalism to grow up. he puts his daughter and his sons in charge of his businesses. i don't know how much money ivanka's now making with her line of clothes and cosmetic, but it seems to be considerable. the sons are doing much better. although they did lose that huging deal with the chinese. he's honeycombed his administration with former
lobbyists that he said he would never hire. in other words, he told -- he sold out the very people who thought that he was going to bring them help. yes, he helped the carrier people, but it look ares as though both careerer and -- carrier and ford were going to bring their investments home anyway. wilson would not -- wilson would have said, yes, it's fine to have open markets, but they must be regulated x those who benefit from them must be taxed for the benefit of the entire country. this means, for example, that the 2.5-$3 trillion in corporate profits that are left abroad should be brought home and taxed. yes, we should probably lower the corporate income tax from the very high level it is now to something like 10%. okay, fine. but i think this is something that bernie sanders and senator elizabeth warren and nobel prize
laureates paul krugman and joseph stiglitz would agree with. in short, there's something of an agreement among people like senators sanders and warren that economic globalization got out of hand in agreement with trump, but they have a solution that would reinforce our democracy where i'm afraid that trump is going in the other direction. let me conclude by saying that wilson, i think, would say, in effect, physician heal thyself. we've got can enough problems at home, the drug problem, the prisons problem, not simply the inequality in wealth, that we'll always have with us, but the actual decline in the purchasing power of the lower 60 or even 80% of the population. and so i would conclude by saying why wilson matters, that wilson would have seen all of this. there's nothing new that wilson
would not have seen in what's going on today. and that's why i'd like to conclude my talk with a page i can't find which is the last statement on the handout sheet that i have. it's his famous address -- do you have it, jeff? printed in the, printed in the nation's service which i'm sure tom knows as a princeton graduate and those others of you, this is princeton motto, princeton in the nation's service. the world's memory must be kept alive, or we shall never see an end to the old mistakes. we are in danger to lose our identity and become infantile never engeneration. i need not tell you that i believe in full, explicit instruction in history and politics. in the experiences of people and forchubs of government -- fortunes of government. in the whole story of what men
have attempted and accomplished through all the changes both of form purpose. and then i'll skip to the end. you do not know the world until you know the men who have possessed it and tried it ways before you ever were given your brief run upon it. and there is no sanity comparable to that which is schooled in the thoughts that will keep. do you wonder then that i asked for the old drill, the old memory of times gone by, the old schooling in president and tradition, the old cooping of faith with the -- keeps of faith with the past as preparation for leadership in the days of social change. that's why wilson matters. thank you for your attention. [applause] >> thank you all. thank you for putting up with our technical difficulties at the beginning. we have questions.
i'm not going to call on anyone from -- [inaudible] [laughter] >> if you would, please, raise your hand, we'll bring a microphone over to you -- [inaudible] brian, i'll let you -- [inaudible] >> you mentioned during your presentation wilson and calvinism. could you explain exactly what you mean by the relationship between wilsonian internationalism and calvinism? what's the relationship between calvinism and these cultural prerequisites necessary for democracy? >> well, the interesting thing about wilson is he was the son and grandson of presbyterian ministers. he prayed every day. he read sections from the bible every day. and the thing i found so interesting and terrific about the presbyterians was that they
have two books. i think it will be con firmed the episcopalians do too. one is called the book of worship which has to do with the beliefs that all presbyterians must have. the other is the book of order. and the book of order reads like a constitution. and what you find in this is that to be a minister, you must be ordained in a seminary that is recognized by the presbyterian church where princeton was the major 'em their at the time. then -- seminary at the time. once you've passed all your exams in things like greek and latin and hebrew and church history, you will be vetted, given your -- ordained as a minister x. the other ministers will propose you to congregations who, who are in need of a minister. my understanding is, by the way, that a reformed --
[inaudible] is like in this too, and i assume other protestant denominations are as well. you're saying yes? exactly. which they got from -- it comes from the cincinnati movement in ohio and the contact between jewish germans and the protestant reformation. okay. so reformed jewery is the same way. i'm sure there are other christian organizations that do it too. my friend, dr. tucker, will say the episcopalians are something like this now. they weren't before. secondly, the congregation that is empowered is empowered through deacons, through elders who associate themselves with the minister when he or now she goes on meetings with other ministers. the covenant, which is the center of all of this, is changeable. be in wilson -- in wilson's time, women, it was unthinkable that a woman could be a minister.
now there are many presbyterian ministers just as there are many women rabbis. the same is true now of homosexual ministers in the presbyterian church and in the episcopalian church and in reformed judaism too. so what we see then is a way in which the constitution changes over time. now, if you look at -- i have a definition of the covenant that comes from ryan hold -- brother richard, if you look at the covenant and if you think about it, if you get out one of these extraordinary, a book of orders as it's called that the presbyterians have, it's so democratic, you know, you immediately want to convert. [laughter] i mean, it's just terrific. if you're a democrat, that is. [laughter] because they have checks and balances built into them. they have all kinds of freedom of information and speech built
into them. this then becomes the template for the american constitution. in many ways, it was these dissident calvinists who waged the revolutionary be war against the anglican brits. i could give many examples of this from boston where, for example, the major calvinist burial site -- because the massachusetts bay colony was founded by calvinists -- half of it was built up to build an anglican church. do you know what this does the if you're a calvinist? you get damn mad, that's what you do. so the princeton itself became a bastion of -- now, this then leads to the extraordinary history of princeton. its great, i don't know how long i can go on before you cut me off. i'm really into this calvinist stuff. [laughter] john witherspoon who -- oh, one thing that i found out in all of
this was the greatness of the scottish enlightenment which i hadn't appreciated before. and the presbyterians, the presbyterian church is most powerful in scotland. there was an early contact between enlightenment thinkers like adam myth and david -- adam myth and david hume and the church that by the time that witherspoon arrived at pregnanciton in 1773, he was -- princeton in 1773, he was a minister, he told his students there's nothing that faith will teach you that reason cannot sustain. whoa. this was a mating of the enlightenment with faith. quite extraordinary, if you ask me. pleasure and this is why when you see these various groups that go along with this, they have long sessions of prayer and
religious meditation. and then they, again, enter into conversation with one another. this for, this in many way, i think, is the constitution. but if you look at the great statements by wilson on the covenant of the league of nations, it's all there. and finally, in kansas city on september 9,919 wilson -- 1919 wilson got so excited that he held up, he waved at the crowd his copy of the covenant, and he said this is the covenant of the league of nations. i am a descendant of the covenantors of scotland. this is the covenant. and by covenant he meant constitution. well, the question is what oh -- other peoples can become like this? you don't have to be christian. you don't have to be white. i mean, india, i don't know, we can argue about a lot of countries. tunisia could become a
functioning liberal democracy. i happen to think so. maybe cuba. cuba has a lot of the ingredients that could lead to a liberal democratic takeover there. i don't call it a white country, and i don't think it's particularly christian anymore either. i mean, maybe it is, but the point that it's not restricted. there's no -- what wilson was trying to do was to overcome the idea that you have to be white, of british descent, and you have to be a christian -- particularly not a catholic or an evangelical -- to be a full-fledged american. it was enough to be a democrat, a liberal democrat to be an american. that was his great, one of his many great breakthroughs, i think. sorry i went on so long. sir, you were going to say something. >> i just had a couple of quick questions. number one, you mentioned early on that since wilson every president that's followed him
has been wilsonian to a degree more or less, and i would like to ask you how wilsonian was lyndon johnson. >> yeah. okay, that's fair. first of all, since fdr. neither nixon, nor lbj were particularly wilsonian, you're quite right. and in the book i do have reservations for these people. on the other hand, nobody talked so try dentally -- stridently against, in order, they would engage in open economies worldwide, they certainly saw democracies and nato as important to us. the idea that either lbj or nixon would have said, quoting trump, nato is obsolete, that trump saluted the british exit from the e.u., that trump repeatedly mocked german leadership of the e.u. and
singled out angela merkel for particular criticism, it's unthinkable that lbj or richard nixon ever would have adopted positions so extremely anti-liberal as that. i mean, so to one like me it's simply shocking -- now, he's begun to reverse himself. good. just like that fleet that was going toward north korea reversed itself and headed for australia, i guess. [laughter] >> amen, yes. >> is so i don't know. >> my second quick question is could you define the difference between capitalism and corporatism and give us some idea of how it affects democracy as we're living today. >> well, that's a really hard question, okay? but what i would say is that capitalism can be of many different types in different countries, it all depends. there can be small capitalism, there can be corporate capitalism.
corporate capitalism has the capacity to be multi-national, to be global. and that's at the point that they begin to find the cheapest resources. if they pollute, well, that's up to the local people to decide to pay the lowest wages? well, let's not unionize, that's for the local people to decide. if they park their profits abroad because to bring them home means they're taxed, that's for the corporation to decide. an example of in that absolutely took my breath away was last year when apple corporation was told by the european commission that it had to give $14 billion in profits -- anybody remember this awful story? -- to the irish government. if you'll recall, the irish government refused to accept the taxes. they said, absolutely not. we have all these corporate tax havens here. if we tax ibm -- apple, the others won't come. so the european commission said, well then, the united states
should tax them. apple's an american company. the obama administration immediately i said we don't tax corporate profits abroad. do you wonder why donald j. trump had a certain appeal? it had a certain appeal to me when he gets angry at things like this. and i do hope he lowers corporate taxes. i perm hi think they're -- personally think they're too high. so that more money is repatriated at a reasonable rate and injected into the american economy. where's the young lady from princeton who wanted to say something? i met her earlier. well, yes. that's not the young lady from princeton, but -- [laughter] oh, he is from princeton. okay, good. >> you'll be glad to know my question has nothing to do with princeton. >> oh. [laughter] >> my question is, do you know if wilson read montesquieu? and the reason i ask that question is because at the heart
of montesquieu's philosophy was what might be called the politics of place. >> right. >> he believed the right regime for my people was very much determined by their culture, their religion, their economy, their environment. all of those factors mattered to what kind of government would actually succeed in that kind of context. >> exactly. >> now, montesquieu, you may know, was the thinker most often cited by the founding fathers. so i would imagine that wilson probably did know something about montesquieu who, by the way, was the source of the inspiration for checks and balances -- >> right. >> -- and the separation of powers in the u.s. constitution. but i wonder, because that idea actually at the core of what you're talking about, seems to me. >> it is at the core. but he did not read montesquieu carefully. and the reason -- he knew, of course, about it. i mean, it would be impossible for him knot to know about it -- not to know about it. the spirit of the laws, that kind of thing. and like everybody, there was
enormous respect for montesquieu. he called him one of the greatest thinkers. he read detocqueville more, but essentially, he didn't like the french revolution, so he avoided the french. [laughter] the problem with the french illustrates your point. they made the mistake of revolting against both the throne and the altar. they destroyed the catholic church and they destroyed the monarchy. in the united states, the revolution was with backed by the church. many of the leading churches. certainly, the press presbyteri. and instead of destroying the institutions, our revolution claimed the institutions the english had left us for our own. but, yes, he cites montesquieu, but it's not evident to me he read him in the depth he read other people. burke was the person he mentioned most and was particularly the british historians. he kept a log of everybody he wrote. i looked for russo.
i found him mentioned once in the 70 volumes that link produced of his presidential writings. there's one reference to him and that's it. yes, sir. >> to question, then we'll get you a microphone for the next one, okay? so i'm going to push back a little bit. >> good. >> [inaudible] >> they have not yet. you'll get it on the way out. [laughter] as a card-carrying liberal internationalist, i want to push back. and bizarrely enough, i'm going to defend the bush doctrine. and defend the obama doctrine, as you put it, as one and the same. because it strikes me that one of the major critiques that our students -- and i think the general public -- has about wilson, when they think of wilson, when they think of wilson, they often times associate him with failure. because, obviously, he did not achievement and the world that he wanted -- achieve the world
that he wanted. he did not achieve the league of nations that he wanted, he did not achievement and american participation. i like to point out that, you know, if you get, if you try to remake the world and you get 94% of it right, thats' pretty good. let's not focus on the 6% that went bad. and i think maybe the same could be applied to bush and obama in the sense that for all of their faults of exuberance, for promoting democracy, it is true, i think, that they were trying to promote the diamond, as you described it. they were trying to promote a better world and trying to create a world in the 21st century which is different, of course, in many ways than wilsons, but also paramountly the same in the sense of trying to promote democracy, trying to promote civil rights, human rights around the world, free markets around the world, all of which wilson in and of themselves approved of.
so my critique, i guess, in a sense is, is it fair to look at the faults of the obama and particularly the bush years as sin z of comission when, a, one could argue their hearts were in the right place, but b -- and this is really the kicker -- if your primary critique as i understand is they tried to create democracy in places where it naturally wouldn't fit? it's hard to know until you try. >> okay. [laughter] okay, good. you're on my side. [laughter] let me answer both of these briefly -- >> i'm just glad we got the discussion going. >> oh, boy. oh, boy, oh, boy. good. yeah. the gentleman who talked about the spurt of the laws had it right the spirit of the laws had it right. the fact is wilson is seen as failure, yes. but he was redeemed by fdr in the 1940s, that's my point. and that's why people like professor knock and i are trying
with a few others to rehabilitate him. we've seen now in a longer his for to have call perspective that allows us to see the '40s and '80s as times in which the wilsonian vision triumphed only to be undercut by its own pride, hubris, i think. a tragic flaw. but to this thing, i'm glad you all agree with me -- [laughter] because what i lay out in the book is the number of what -- you are young. [laughter] you weren't in political science. [laughter] in political science, it's divided into a bunch of different domains, bun of them is called comparative politics, the study of individual countries on their own bottoms. wilson was a comparative political scientist. and in this he came to what in the cold war the establishment of political scientists and comparative politics called
preconditions and she intentions -- sequences for democracy. now, there were a long list of them. they included such things as a middle class, some tradition of consent of the government, some limits on central government, some kind of social contract that provided for tolerance. they had a long list of these things. and what happens is that only in the late, it starts, well, it starts in 1970, but with the change in the iberian we anyones that when everybody -- peninsula when everybody thinks this is going to be so easy. the it's a very long process. now, what occurs then is you need the equivalent of this. and in the book, i try and lay out a series of differences between the democratic transition crowd and what you should look for. it's not a mystery.
if you had known about germany, let's take germany -- a country i know better than japan -- if you'd looked at germany, you would have said the ingredients are here for germany to be a democracy. it's not a matter of the german government, it's a matter of the german people having the ability to make this transformation. it's, to compare as these people did, it's just unbelievable to see it. germany with afghanistan? germany with iraq? i've got a whole list in the book of the differences between the two and how one -- now, if you want to wage war, fine. i'm not a pacifist. i'm for waging war against afghanistan to get rid of al-qaeda. not in the name of democracy, just to get rid of al-qaeda. i'm for waging war against isis but not in the name of creating democracy in syria -- in iraq. that's, that's a pipe dream. i want to get rid of isis. that's what i want to get rid of.
so at any rate, jim has something -- >> [inaudible] >> okay. a two-finger one. >> [inaudible] >> oh, sam huntington agrees with me completely from the grave. [laughter] oh, no. no, no, sam huntington is the most -- >> [inaudible] >> sam huntington is the most famous comparative political person going. he died several years ago. he, i'm one of the two people who were academics who criticized, who read his third wave in 1991. are you another? no, i don't remember your name in there. at any rate, in 1996 he wrote a book called the clash of civilizations, and in the clash of civilizations he made exactly point. exactly this point. the book went down in flames, everybody was so furious about it. huntington was 100% right. as he put it, islam has bloodied borders. that's probably the most single
famous line from the book. in other words, if you launch -- he kept saying the clash of civilization is going to be our fault. i don't know when it's going to happen, but i see all this growing up, all this pride in the united states, all this self-confidence, all this self-righteousness. yes, we did win the cold war. yes, the right side one won. yes, we should be proud of who we are and so on and so forth. but don't think that these other people are going to be like us or want to be like us or respect us. they may strike -- there may be an authoritarian backlash. well, he was right. and in 1994 i said the same, don't play with the muslim world china, russia or sub-saharan africa. they don't have the ingredients. maybe -- yes, central europe, eastern europe, perhaps. last pen america, let's hope so. latin america, let's hope so. the rest of the world, ferret it.
we just have to get along with them as they are and hope for the best . they turn out to be mad dogs like the germans, let's fight. but the ottoman empire, you know, or austria-hungary, they were just sort of like, what do you call them, stuffed animals. [laughter] you could kind of admire them for their strudel. i don't know -- [laughter] it wasn't, it wasn't -- they weren't good people, but what about us? what about our african-americans? what about our nate e americans? -- native americans? what about our drug problem and so on and so forth? let's not worry about setting other people's houses straight, let's try and get ours straight unless they attack us x. then if they attack us, we'll take them on, of course. >> [inaudible] >> here, i'll stand up, i guess. when you were talking about the middle east, i thought i understood you to say that unless a country's got a
cultural affinity or a history with democracy, they're not going to be democratic. i said, okay, otto turk has proved he tried to take turkey out the middle east, but erdogan has proved you can't take the middle east out of turkey. so i thought maybe you were arguing for isolationism. but then how do you explain culturally dissimilar countries like japan and south korea? asian countries which have embraced democracy whereas russia, a western country, it's failed. >> yeah. that's a good question. each of these, the comparatives would say, has to be looked at individually. and what you'll find in most of these countries is, first of all, either an american or british influence. those are outside influences that are very important. you'll usually find a middle class which is educated and cosmopolitan.
you'll often find a movement, as in south korea, of presbyterians. presbyterians are big in south korea. i don't know how many of you know that, but presbyterians are big and so are catholics. and since the vatican reforms, democracy has been very important to both catholics and presbyterians in south korea. none of this is to be found in mother russia. [laughter] it's crony capitalism. it's traditions of absolute itch. now, they -- absolute itch. they had absolutism in these other places too. when we see these, we should salute it. chile is another one. all the ingredients were there. it was terrible when nixon and kissinger pulled the rug from under a guy none of us need to have liked, i'm forgetting his name. >> [inaudible] >> yeah.
and instead put pinochet in his place. and i think chile is now a stable, functioning democracy and all power to chile. we can undermine democracy too, and we have. and i'm afraid that the, to go back to this gentleman's point, the nixon years -- like the lbj years -- were not the happiest for this -- >> i think we have time for one more question and, sir, can i just say that you get to have his place at dinner with me tonight. just to you know. [laughter] in the back. [laughter] >> would you agree, sir, that the philosophy in wilson's statement that we were going to, america was going to make the
world safe for democracy was, looking back now, terribly misguided to the point of disastrous for us? because you had a succession of presidents buying into this. kennedy, an example, going to go anywhere, bear any burden. bush, saying we're going to unsaid iraq, make over the modern day kaiser, make them into a democracy and do the same thing there that we did in world war ii. and it's just been a succession of disasters. this philosophy's been applied way too broadly. >> i wonder if -- that's an excellent point. i wonder if wilson hasn't been taken out of context. let me put it this way. i think no phrase has been more debate in the wilson literature than what he meant by the world must be made safe for democracy. now, my interpretation of it
after long readings about the league is that he was very worried in 1919 that democracy was going to fail most places. when he went to paris, he was shocked at the way the french and the british and the italians not only didn't cooperate with each other, but didn't cooperate with him either. and he was going to create this league of democracies with governments, all of which were thinking in terms of balance of power and revenge? for him, therefore, the league had to be run by the united states. or, as he put it in his famous words that became the title of one of john milton cooper's books, we would break the heart of the world. well, break the heart of world we did, because we didn't join. and by not joining, the league became too weak. and by being too weak, it became a total failure. okay. so the finish your question is nonetheless, you see, from my point of view -- and i don't
want to put words in tom's, i know john cooper agrees with me, is that the league was seen as a protect e or defensive -- protective or defensive organization. a circling the wagons, if i can put it in texas terms. it was not seen as we'll pay any price and bear any burden. that was what people like lodge said was implied in article x of the league of nations. but you read article x, you and i may disagree on this, i don't see it in article x. it says that the council of the league will consult with the member governments. it does not say we are pooling -- the council is going to override the american congress. well, this goes back to the whole illness of wilson and all the rest that we don't have time to get into here. the major point here is that these later expressions of faith
had to do with, i think, an exaggerated fear of communism. but nonetheless, a fear of communism that i think all liberal internationalists shared. liberal internationalism understood that wolfe vim or communism was a dire threat to liberal democracy. you're not going to find liberal internationalists liking communists. in fact, they will work with authoritarian governments against the commune itselfs in hopes -- communists in hopes that eventually the authoritarian governments will mend their way with. chester crocker put it in south africa, we'll put our arm around the south african apartheid regime, and by reassuring them, they can get rid of apartheid. that kind of thing. so your question is a good one, but i really think wilson is protected from it by the defensive, not offensive nature that he placed on -- he really
was worried about democracy surviving. in another war. >> as we all are. [laughter] so thank you for giving us that. thank you all for coming. [applause] >> thank you. [applause] >> let me quickly remind you that there are copies of the book available for you to get and get signed. and let me also remind you that i spent the whole weekend with it, it's really, really deep and really good and really thoughtful as a work. and also, therefore, we'll see you next week for trump's 100 days. thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> booktv is on facebook. like us to get publishing news, scheduling update, behind-the-scenes pictures and videos, author information and to talk directly with authors during our live programs. facebook.com/booktv.
>> every summer or booktv visits capitol hill to ask members of congress what are you reading. here's a look at some of their answers. >> right now i'm reading a book called hold up take meadows -- mountain meadows written by richard turley and can't remember the names of the co-authors. it's a historical account that took place on september 11th, 1857, in southern utah. it was a tragic event but one that factored significantly into the history of the state of utah, where i come from. >> i am reading a book by president jimmy carter, his autobiography. it's called "a full life." i had the privilege to attend his sunday school very recently where he taught sunday school. and i was in the congregation in his sunday school class. it was amazing. and after that i went to the school that he attended. and, of course, it's been turned into a wonderful museum, and i
purchased his book, "a full life." >> by a guy named thomas mayer about the relationships between the kennedy family and the churchills before churchill became prime minister. and, of course, joseph kennedy was ambassador to the u.k. at the outbreak of world war ii and was widely criticized because he was very sympathetic with the germans. not that he wanted the germans to win, but he didn't think we could win and wanted to keep america out of it. well-researched book about the relationships going right up until the time churchill was still alive when kennedy was assassinated. so it tracks that a whole period there from joseph kennedy down to jack kennedy. >> we also want to hear from you. send us your summer reading list via text or video or post it to our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv, on twitter @booktv or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> you're watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> host: walt mossberg, in your code of ethics statement you write that i am not an objective news reporter, i am a subject i opinion columnist -- subjective opinion columnist. >> guest: right. >> host: what does that mean? >> guest: just what it says, you know? i'm like a movie reviewer. movie reviewer is not objective. you don't look at the movie reviewer to read an objective, each-handed, i don't know -- even-handed, i don't know, business story. you go to read someone's opinion about whether this particular actor did a good job or a bad job, whether this actor did a good job or a bad job, whether the, you know, aaron sorkin did