Let’s turn on our imaginations and play a little game of speculation. I was listening to some pundits talking about similarities between FDR’s economic policies and those of President Obama. A little later, I was reading some interesting material about the United States prior to our entry into World War II and some very interesting parallels began popping into my mind’s eye. Think about conditions just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor for a moment.
The United States was recovering from a major economic depression. The world situation was tense and conflicts seemed to be popping up everywhere, including full-blown wars in Europe and China. President Roosevelt was publically telling the American people we should leave these matters to the Europeans and Asians, that it was not our business. At the same time, however, he was sending material and US troops (“advisers”, “volunteers”, and “observers”) to England and France against Germany and Italy; to China against the Japanese; and to Finland against the Soviets (remember, until Germany attacked the Soviet Union those two nations were allies). He moved to encourage US companies to produce war materials and supplies and sell them to the side he was already referring to as ‘the allies” (a little psychological maneuvering if there ever was any). He had Congress giving those companies incentives and tax breaks, and passing legislation such as the “Lend-Lease” agreement while giving speeches about US neutrality.
There are conspiracy buffs who will swear that President Roosevelt knew about the pending attack on Pearl Harbor and let it happen as an excuse to get into the war. Despite extensive research, there has never been any tangible proof of that. I personally reject the theory completely. However, it is well known that everyone fully expected to be going to war with Japan in the very near future and President Roosevelt continued to take provocative actions against the Japanese anyway (such as declaring a complete oil embargo).
In the end, the United States was forced into the war and FDR appeared to the world as a shining white knight coming to the rescue.
Now, fast forward to today. The United States is slowly recovering from a major recession. Conflicts and tensions keep popping up, including two shooing wars (Iraq and Afghanistan). President Obama is telling the world the United States wants peace, wants to bring our troops home and thinks we should not be getting directly involved militarily. He backs away from confrontation with Iran, knowing full well that this leaves Israel in a position where it will have to strike for its own survival. If that happened, the United States could be forced into the conflict “against our will” and Obama might look like the shining white knight coming to Israel’s aid. The major problem with that line of thought is, of course, that Israel might not survive an Iranian Blitzkrieg.
Now, before you have a heart attack, I know there are some major flaws in my line of thought and it is not an exact parallel. It also implies that some key players were and would be exceptionally dishonest and I have no evidence of that at all, nor do I mean to make any accusations. As I said, this was just pure speculation anyway. Just some random thoughts on a lazy afternoon…
Here is a clip of one of his great speeches. Say what you will about Mr. Roosevelt, he knew how to give one good speech (kind of like our current President)...