On this edition of the City Journal Books Podcast, Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis discuss presidential power with Stephen F. Knott, author most recently of Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and His Critics (University Press of Kansas). Knott, a professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, contends that historians have done a disservice to their profession by judging President Bush's record too harshly, too soon. His previous books include Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth, Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency, and At Reagan’s Side: Insiders’ Recollections from Sacramento to the White House.
Among the questions we discuss:
• How did George W. Bush's national security decisions differ from former presidents?
• Do historians give some presidents a pass on abuse of power more than others?
• Is the role of Congress in wartime to write checks and shut up?
• Should Congress have formally declared war on the Taliban in 2001?
• Have the courts carried out a "quiet constitutional revolution" in the way presidents may handle national security?
• Did the Bush Administration's wiretapping program go too far?
• Did Bush invite the judgment of history?
• And much more!
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"You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you...I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle."
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander
"Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices, the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon."
- President Harry S Truman
Joel is joined by Dominic Tierney. He is an assistant professor of political science at Swarthmore College here in Pennsylvania, and is the author of three books: The newest is "How We Fight: Crusades, Quagmires and the American Way of War." The book informed his recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, and it forms the foundation of his speech Friday at Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia -- check the FPRI website for details.
Topics discussed in this podcast:
• What are the "crusade" and "quagmire" traditions of American warfare?
• Isn't it pretty easy to get Americans to go to war? And isn't it easy to sour them on the experience of war?
• Is there a good reason for America to conduct "nation-building" missions in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq?
• What did the Founders see as the role of the American military?
• Would re-orienting the military to a nation-building role make us more vulnerable to peer competitors like Russia or China?
• Where will the U.S. be nation-building next?
Music heard in this podcast:
• "War," Edwin Starr.
• "War Zone," Rob Zombie.
• "War Pigs," Black Sabbath.
• "War Ensemble," Slayer.
• "Dogs of War," Pink Floyd.
What can we say? How about: Thanks.
Joel's computer has been a bit balky today — lots of mysterious viruses, strange things showing up on his screen, and whatnot — but he urged me to relate this big news to the Monkey Community. In fact, it's big news for the both of us. Joel was hesitant to post this himself, but I think it's too important to keep secret anymore.
I repeat Joel's proposed announcement verbatim — that he emailed to me earlier today — whether he likes it, or not:
As many of us have heard, Dr. Zaius will soon be leaving the sunny hills of Southern California to be Communications Director of The Heartland Institute in Chicago. And, out of the goodness of his heart, Jim has agreed that this jobless bloke could use a "hand up." So, beginning in July, I will take my place at the Good Doc's right hand, as Assistant Communications Director of the free-market, libertarian think tank.
The job requires that I leave behind the political viewpoints I have long defended around here, but desperate times require desperate measures. And since Jim had long assured me that many libertarian Heartlanders were against the War in Iraq and Bush's power-grab in the War on Terror, I should be a pretty decent fit.
So, goodbye liberalism! Nice knowin' ya. But duty to family, my career — and a nice paycheck — calls.
P.S. That means you're on your own, Khabalox. Sorry.
I'm sure we all would like to congratulate Joel. But let me be the first to do it here at Infinite Monkeys.
(The official announcement, is here.)