tv Book TV After Words CSPAN November 21, 2010 9:00pm-10:00pm EST
discussions or the discourse. what you did instead was say this bombing was done by nonstate actors. so this made this different then the past. and it shows us and if you go back to right after 9/11, i mean it was a ghastly crime against humanity. you have people writing that shows us the barbaric nature of the islamic culture of the koran and islam. :
what do we make of ourselves as people of the modern world, and the way i have come to think of it over the years was not in terms of a clash of civilizations but in terms of a clash of cultures but out of model itself as culture. we are trapped in the coils of war. we are in wars and wars and wars. the technology is getting more and more sophisticated. in the that is by wire the book i wanted to do was call a culture of wars because i wanted to start this out -- it doesn't
mean it's all relative obviously it's not all relative but the models are in dynamic in the modern wars. and this through me into it. and so i said well, i will do a little book on this after 9/11, and i had written about world war ii and vowed to never deal with the war again, because as you know what we threw ourselves as researchers in have this, it's its own whey you know it's nothing like what people experienced and the timing is no comparison whatsoever. but it's exhausting. so exhausting. and i didn't want to go on. >> host: know, this is wonderful. you talk about -- we are covering memory which is what history is any way and you point out in your book that the bombings began prior to the u.s. entry into world war ii that the japanese bombed chinese cities,
germans bombed and even visible was in world war i were bombing. and yet there were universally condemned, and as the war progresses, the allied powers precisely to that and can you talk about a cultural shift that takes place? >> guest: many years ago in the 1980's i finished a book which was about the u.s. and japan, world war ii in the pacific and i call it a war without mercy. and i almost got into that book by accident. we often stumbling to projects by accident. i sat down to write a book about japan after world war ii and started out by i've got to write a few paragraphs about the war and diprete lewd because it was wonderful but japan and america became friends and allies after
the war. this is wonderful because it was such horrid war and then i thought i have to write a few paragraphs about the war and paragraph became a chapter and chapters begin a book and i called war without mercy. and one of the things that was stunning to me at the time was to go back into the response of the western world to the bombing, the targeting of civilians by the germans and the japanese in the late 1930's and our most famous recollection of that in the west probably most burned into our mind is the granite -- granikca as the bombing in spain -- which is the bombing in spain of a civilian community. the most famous photograph that
convinced us that the japanese were barbaro and is reproduced in "cultures of war stock quote is a photo of a chinese baby sitting in a bombed out railroad station in shanghai in 1937 and many people have called it the most powerful propaganda photograph of the war in asia because that is what made the americans say they are barbara unlike ourselves faugh cooking what is fascinating for myself as a young researcher is to go in and read the condemnation of german bombings and fascist bombings and japanese bombing of civilians by the league of nations, by the united states, the u.s. washington elite, by winston churchill and the british government, and it's
very explicit, deliberately targeting civilians is beyond the pale of civilization. this is barbaric behavior. and then the great change took place as america became involved in the war and a year of the first, as the british began to regain an offensive against the germans and as the concept of strategic warfare began to develop and concepts of psychological warfare and total war began to be concrete expanded that it is not enough to just go in and target factories and military related industry. it's not even efficient. it's very hard to hit those targets. so we've really got to do bombings in those areas so also
psychologically this will destroy the morality of the enemy because the fighting force knowing the wife and children and family back home is being destroyed will be demoralized, the people will withdraw support from the government and doing that will also bork defeat could boost the morale on our side. so this became a standard engrained part of the war in europe and then the british lead and the americans participated in it in europe. they were deliberately going after urban areas. those were the targets of the urban area this city or that city then they would free right for public relations we were attacking the real rate station in the city or the shipyards in what the city. but the reports were clearly urban targeting.
then it moves to japan and the americans very early began alone in japan to talk to cities. now while this is going on, the americans were -- and this is something that comes up in this book -- were doing their experiments on how to develop mbs and firebombs, and they began doing these experiments in 1943 and 1944, and they do particularly on the proving grounds in utah and they bring in people to reconstruct from homes of ordinary germans and ordinary japanese workers. and this is we before the news -- this is beginning very early in the war because there is a momentum in this thinking.
we have this capacity and they bring people to recreate in the case of japan workers' homes that are like the workers' homes in japanese cities and they actually go to the extent of bringing in to the strong maps from hawaii and of putting cushions people sit on the house is, recreating the storm doors and testing what it's like when the explosion takes place, what it's like when they are closed, trying to find a word that is as close as possible to the kind of cyprus and the military uses kidding stucco. this is close as possible from the southwest as close as possible to the japanese. so they are weakened workers' homes, ordinary people's homes.
this is and collateral damage. this is to deliver targeting. so in doing this book there's been quite a bit of writing in europe about the war in europe. none of this has anything to do with minimizing the atrocities of hitler with holocaust. it's the way the war conducted. the numbers you can never get the numbers, but the best numbers for europe or 400 to 600,000 civilians were killed in the anglo-american air raids. i did mostly from american documents the same kind of copulations for japan. the 60 plus cities that are bombed before hiroshima, nagasaki plus hiroshima and nagasaki, of roughly the same,
about 400 to 600,000 civilians were killed in the war in japan. so, a total figure is about a millionth of civilians were bombed in those two wars, a meeting in hiroshima and nagasaki. had i been living at the time i have no reason to think i wouldn't have supported that. but when we learned of the bombing is something peculiar to an alien culture it's those people who don't respect individuals whereas we do. the different standards. i think that's where we have to really start asking deeper questions. >> to take an 18-year-old whether it is a u.s. or japanese or german or chinese and be able to turn an 18-year-old into someone who is capable of doing
her it things to complete strangers for reasons of state is a very unnatural act. it takes a lot of conditioning so there's a lot of dehumanization that goes on of the perpetrator and the victim and this carries over in order to do these things you have to dehumanize but if you dehumanize you can't really get into the mindset that your adversaries and if you can't get into the mind set you can't understand what's motivating them and if you don't understand what motivates them you can't get them to stop doing what he want to stop him from doing in the first place. so can you talk about that process of the adversaries and how that impacts the war not just world war ii with the waraú in iraq post-9/11, will hold a way we approach our adversaries and that mentality? >> guest: in the book i wrestled with these under
several concepts, and this goes back to our failures of intelligence, and i have a chapter called the failure of imagination. this is where i go back to pearl harbor and why did the americans failure to anticipate the japanese attacked. why do the americans' failure to into the japanese military capability? you can turn that around, which i do and say why do the japanese dahuk fielder recognize the american response and a mass of americans would respond as well as our capacity and will to remember pearl harbor and get revenge of pearl harbor and that is a standard phrase. and the same thing occurs in the case of al qaeda and 9/11
antonette transfers and this is where my book, which was going to be a short book suddenly became a big book because i began trying to wrestle with these various different questions before the u.s. invasion of iraq. when the u.s. invasion of iraq took place 18 months after 9/11 and in march, 2003, we had a a colossal failure of intelligence on the part of the united states in a colossal failure of imagination on the part of the united states. so, if you come back to the u.s. perspective you say there was an incredible intelligence and imagination failure in 1941. there was another in an 2001, and instead of that getting us to think about who is this
adversary to know the enemy and that involves an inability to imagine the other side and it is not to sympathize with the other side. that's not the point. the point is to imagine the other side, and want to imagine the nature of their grievances. and of course the argument after 9/11 still pretty much as they hate us for our freedom. they have no legitimate grievances. the argument was the iraqis are under a brutal dictatorship. they were. they will greet us as liberators totally overlooking the nature of that society and the fact
that nobody likes to be invaded and occupied totally missing those kind of things and the second thing was the failure of imagination to imagine the capabilities of people we look down upon because they were materially interior and that is where racism and ethnocentrism and other things come in that we did not think the head of the capacity to wreak havoc upon us. and we went into the war terror and the war in iraq still thinking we could win with a big war and we could win with shock and awe. shocker and awe -- which is this is where all the things started ricocheting in mind and not just publishing, to write something, to figure it out myself shocked and awe is one of the key
phrases with iraq in an journalism everywhere. we will go in. we will shock and awe them with our massive display of firepower that they will cave psychological warfare. shock and awe is a doctrine that is kind of a bible in pentagon circles. it is a formal book and study very well, and the model is hiroshima and nagasaki, explicitly. not necessarily using nuclear weapons, but our superior firepower will so intimidate these other people that they will give in. they will realize it is hopeless to fight against us. we are not able to imagine it insurgency movements and people who are motivated not necessarily by islamist
fundamentalism the hatred being occupied. we were not able to imagine the way they viewed the recent history. right or wrong, the way they remember history is very important. and it just didn't enter into planning and thinking of the top levels. so, then you get into why people think the way they do and why they are the top fall into these had its committees apparently rational people all into patterns of thinking which are irrational. and then i began to wrestle with the concept of a nationality and irrationality among the people who are in fact very intelligent and knowledgeable. the japanese in world war ii, the americans in the bush administration. they are smart people. why was it so rational, and then
you get into a concept which tuscany to me which is he groupthink. >> host: that is something i want to come back to at the end which is one of the most important chapters in your book. short but beautiful and so which. but again, we fall into this pattern of thinking that our bombs are virtuous, our goals are virtuous. people won't mind so much if we accidentally bomb them and destroy their homes or wedding parties or would ever come that they will somehow forgive us and they have a way of united bombs have a way of uniting people. under a common thread, to experience if common, as 9/11 have bomb drops on your head is other quite uniform and in many ways. and just the psychology. if i lose electricity from a thunderstorm in my building i get serious. if i lose water pressure i'm upset. i can't imagine what it's like to have bombs on the city destroyed or infrastructure and have to live through that year after year.
but we have to cut away for a short break and come back and pick up on these things. >> "after words" with john dower and sanho tree will continue after this short break "after words" with john dower and sanho tree continues. >> host: so, when we think about the kind of tactics that we use in iraq against the united states, the occupiers, we think is asymmetrical warfare as
being a fairly modern phenomenon, ied, terror tactics, suicide bombings, but in fact the roots go quite deep, could you talk about those parallels? >> guest: well, the more you dig into this, the more astonishing it was, the more, to be at least. and the type of things which it chose not to remember. the extent to which we became involved in a kind of like all in the book face based secular thinking, in which we have are certain dogmatic ideas that were almost religious ideas but they were not religious, they were secular. and the whole issue of underestimating the enemy we can take this week back in history, and in fact some of the people
camaguey belatedly with their counterinsurgency ideas the back to ancient china to say with a minute. we forgot all about this, how person can be successful list that is the stronger person 31 of the striking things emerge even after line 11 is that the americans -- the american government -- i must make a distinction it's a mistake to say the americans and the japanese, and we, muslims, and so on. one of the striking things is there were many people in the u.s. government all along at lower levels. we were saying this is crazy. first, we should be doing more against al qaeda, and then after 9/11, they were saying invading iraq is crazy and this in the cia and city and this and said, and they are saying this and the defense, which, they are seeing this in the state, but it's not
reaching the top most levels of government. one of the ideas that they couldn't get through was the whole concept of insurgency, counterinsurgency, what we refer to as the weapons of the week. what is that will mobilize people to in fact fight and i recall was not necessarily being a religious. one of the major things is being occupied, which is exactly what americans would do if a foreign how were occupied us and occasionally mistakenly obliterated a wedding party. we would go and rightly so. we would become outraged. we would mobilize, we would mobilize and give our lives to drive out this person who is occupying us. in the united states -- and this
is now clear on the people who are doing counterinsurgency doctrine, and this is a questionable area in itself -- point out the fact that the united states was defeated in vietnam essentially. and it was easy to buy materially interior forces. and those forces were driven in very, very great part by nationalism and effective tactics of opposition. after the vietnam war, the u.s. ceased to teach counterinsurgency in the military academies. it disappeared. the handbooks were not rewritten. there insurgencies' guilaume all over the world. we don't study it. the imam, we've got to put vietnam behind us. we will only fight big war in
the future. we are not going to get involved in that again. then we get the soviet union and afghanistan. what an example this call loss of power goes in with conventional military power, moves into afghanistan, causes enormous loss of life and destruction in afghanistan and is defeated, and the soviet union collapses almost immediately thereafter we don't bother to study. how could these people -- i mean, ronald reagan calls them freedom fighters. we are supplying with weapons. but we don't study it and then we go into afghanistan. the united states goes into iraq and there is no thinking about any of this. why do these insurgency's come?
why are the successful? and it's just an amazing level of rationality on our part, and an amazing inability to put yourself in the position of the other side and understand why they are acting as they are and why they may regard you not as a liberator, but as an aggressor. the japanese made the exactly the same mistake. they go into china in 1937. they go into china. the general in 1937 says to the general how long is this war going to last? the general says we will be finished in six months. four years later, they go in and say we are going to attack the united states.
and it's totally irrational, and they totally -- the japanese totally missed the element of nationalism on the part of the oversight. they totally missed the way in which the guerrilla movements and insurgency movements and the weak have weapons of their own that can be extraordinarily effective. and so there is a kind of an ad hearing dahuk you get into the concept of the holy wars. every war is wholley. a jihadists wholley to the islamists, the terrorists and fundamentalists. the japanese word means holy war. they were not to protect their country and americans, general macarthur in the world were to come at the end of the war, says the holy mission is now completed. george bush and others talk
about all were holy war against terrorism, and in holy wars you get into a manichean black and white world. we are in a sort of your evil, we are pure, japanese or the islamists -- we are the pure, you are the corrupt. we are the innocent, you are the evil. we are the victims, you are the victimizer, and nobody is able to understand how complex all of this is. i wrestled in the book with evil because i believe in evil. i just don't think anyone has a real monopoly on it, and i think it's a very powerful force. just mentally. >> host: you talk about the kind of elitist face, not religion but faced the city of tashi that the people believe in the conditions of strongly that they think it is -- it's almost like religion, but this idea that, you know, when we go to
war in iraq, it's kind of the pinnacle of the neoconservative domination of american thought and a lot of think tanks including liberal, not myself, but most of the sing tanks in the city brought on the war commands did congress and a lot of other people, many of whom may have been private dissenters, but the group think takes over. and i think one of the great tragedies is if i were a staffer in the national security council, during the run-up to the war, i could wake up and get my news from fox news, good to get my newspaper and read "the desk tanks funded by the same group of(p people, but they were so effective at constructing their eisel chamber they forgot to leave an air hole for the -- for the reality check. and so it became this course that took over the narrative,
and thus are dissenters as you talk about. can you talk about the pattern of ascent -- >> guest: the book is fascinating and two levels. you see, because i have spent so many years doing research on japan, and the favorite phrase for japanese is certainly to miss her behavior, the obedient, that was probably the most popular phrase koppel and it's the notion the japanese as notice and, they are homogeneous, you've seen one you've seen them all. this is part of the clash of civilizations whereas we particularly we americans, the japanese are unique in their grouping and their backwardness.
we are exceptional in our virtue and our values that is one of the keys to the individualism. of what is one of the keys to that principal to send? what is one of the keys to this rational give-and-take that you listen to ideas and debate and if someone disagrees with you and its principal and you listen to it and its respected and that did not happen at the level of government is interesting of someone who worked on japan, and i'm very familiar with the emphasis -- emperor system and i found very interesting to look we had the records incidentally of all the top level to these
meetings for the war in 1941. they survived the war almost miraculously. all the meetings of the top leaders including meetings with the emperor. and we don't have the same thing for the bush administration and never really well and we can recreate from mars -- memoirs and a variety of sources from the bush administration and the did a lot of comparison of just how the decision making went and saw the japanese as very similar to the bush administration and other words they could give you many reasons why this is necessary and no dissent is tolerated and this is true in the u.s. government, too. descent is called lack of patriotism. first you don't have the secret
information. why aren't you going along at this moment of the national crisis? to the point it becomes treason, near trees and to leave your not going along. and in japanese terms is the majesty and in that kind of environment the lower level people are squashed out. what is fascinating is how many of the people outside the government academics and we are don't do this they were doing better stuff inside the government. the cia and others and a trustee in the arguments were all there. they couldn't to the top and then what was shocking was the mainstream media and the u.s. and just bought it hook one and sinker. >> host: the simplicity of the argument that somehow we have the magic beams of democracy
that we will go in and move the top of the head of state, plant the beams and democracy will flourish not only in iraq but for the middle east and spread magically without considering the conditions whether there's water enough sunlight or air or whatever, that kind of lack of thinking through what happens after the initial connecticut operations, which we feed at, but then when the war drags out months and years the groupthink and quagmire is almost inherent in that system when we compare it to the postwar planning or occupation of japan it is a completely different experience. i remember looking the archives and looking at some of the civil affairs the massive files starting as early as 1932 as you mentioned they were thinking how were we going to occupied japan? the contrast --
>> guest: before the book i did this before the other book that took place to launder was a book on japan immediately after the war when the americans occupied the country and so again because watching what's going on in the u.s. and how history is being used we are fascinated as historians by the use of history and by the way memories come so-called memories is used and the bush administration and many people accused pearl harbor in world war ii constantly are is a proper analogy to the war and iraq and the war in 10%. it is absolutely improper, misleading and algae, but then before the invasion of iraq,
beginning around october, 2002, so maybe five months or so before the invasion of iraq the administration began to float lines like iraq will be like germany and japan after the war, we can turn this horrendous authoritarian rule dictatorship into a peaceful, prosperous allies to ourselves and model for the middle east, and it became another mantra and a misuse of history. at that time i thought the people, the military were doing studies of occupations and occupied areas. japan and germany were special cases. incidentally not a single jihadi was killed in the occupation of
germany or the occupation of japan by a hostile germans or japanese, not one. we look back on that now and it is just unbelievable, but we said at the time, people myself, but many of these people in the government did terrific work the just couldn't be heard. japan -- iraq is not japan and in fact, you see that made japan successful or germany but particularly japan japan was a great image because it wasn't interested. bacon deily japan it's not christian and everything that they the occupation success in japan is absent in iraq. the occupation will not be legitimate, there will be no existing government to take over. we are going to go in and to get to the government who is going to take over? who is going to take over. there was no real tradition of
civil society to keep going. there was all sorts of things to read and japan everything carried on including the emperor. it was a formal surrender. the entire world saw the occupation including japanese was legitimate. it was formal. it was all missing in iraq with its secretary and schisms and lack of a real space tradition comparable to what germany and japan have. its lack of an ongoing administration. it was all missing in iraq and it is clear, put people use history as they wish to use history. the old saying is the politician uses history the way to of agent uses a lamppost for support rather than elimination.
so this was coming from a lot of people who were middle east and iraq experts. they were coming and they were saying al qaeda is, you know, and of atrocious threat. what does that have to do with iraq? if saddam hussein is a brutal dictator, but for this, this, and this reason you cannot go in and expect to have to stay smith takeover. and so, when i look back thinking all the things i've read about japan and all the places the people in the bush administration are saying here is our plan. eager is planned a. we are going to go in, topple iraq and get out quickly to get in quickly come out quickly, leave a small footprint and the existing government will take
over. >> there is no plan be. i have extensively in everything we can get. there will never be a u.s. investigation of iraq the way there was after per alarm. we will never get all those documents. but i have read and could a lot has come out to live there was no plan be so it's just like the general who so we are going to go and get in and out of china and for years. the joke was plan a is to get in and out quickly, plan b is to help plan a works. it is close to what is suggested. >> yet at relatively high levels there were two very thoughtful individuals who knew better in all a lot of these problems coming well in advance and i would like to compare the two of them. one is colin powell.
[laughter] >> guest: it is a big book but i actually threw away one gigantic section in the book in which i compared japan's holy wall with and i decided it was too much. then i threw away programs and one was comparing the japanese policymakers and the american policymakers to show the diversity and the capabilities with each side. also to show the small calls the for making policy on each side with the imperial presidency and within the emperor system and the natural comparison that moved from the book was colin powell and the man who conceived of the mastermind of the attack on pearl harbor.
the point is in both cases you had very, very smart people who on principle were opposed to the war. moto said absolutely making a terrible mistake. he tells his superiors to go to war against the united states. you can't win. and yama moto had been to the u.s. on two locations as an attache. he knew washington very well. he was a pro. he went back to the japanese war in 1904 and 1905, and he was -- there was a very, very -- to was also a very innovative tactician. he says you are crazy to do this. colin powell and of course others can speak better than i also had grave reservations.
when the japanese said they are going to attack america, he said okay corker what if you're going to do that we have to attack pearl harbor because they wanted to control south east asia the data they needed the resources in southeast asia as it could prolong the war in china which and become a quagmire. quagmire is always produce quagmire. you know, there is never an end to this. and if with yama moto if you tax south east asia america in all likelihood will come into the war we have to have a preemptive attack on pearl harbor so that we can delay the american fleet from coming over and i think if we can pull off, we can delay the american response.
the will give us the time to consolidate our position in southeast asia and our hope is this will demoralize the americans and in instead of pursuing the war against us in asia they will cut a deal and leaves us with some of the things we need for our national security. but he made a very clear he thought of as a big mistake. once the war kit and decided upon he couldn't control that the decision he would do his best to insure success. his great contribution is he was an aircraft carrier at it and do battleship and admirals and was yama moto who saw the future way of air power and the aircraft carriers and persuaded them they should do this incredibly bearing, incredibly bold attack
on pearl harbor while of course the americans have technically and psychologically the japanese are capable of doing this my impression of colin powell who, you know, has been such a great american hero in many ways is i think he says this he says while i talked to the president i told him of my reservations once on vacation. it was clear was going to win and when your president is to do something, all you can do is salute. and so then we get into a nationalism love of the country, patriotism, that once the machines get going people get bored, so you get into the whole machinery of kaput quote during the putsch as psychological. at a certain point you're supposed to get a board and
principals, criticism, there's not it's not acceptable and i think that is another culture of the war. unless we grasp of the machinery's of these pathologies the khalil of the war will be with us forever. >> host: that is a depressing note. we have five minutes to wrap this up and that is what i want to focus on this intersection we have not only the groupthink and bureaucratic momentum and the sheer size of the pentagon and the way we wage the war combined with the officious domestic election season we see the kind sneers and negative ads that attack the golan back-and-forth makes it very difficult for the legislators who are concerned first and foremost getting reelected with dealing with serious problems and the most serious are the ones that often have counter intuitive solutions
to difficult to communicate to the electorate to be one of my favorite philosopher philosophers, bartholomew simpson attacks his opponent is as my opponent says there are no easy answers. i say he's not looking hard enough and that in a mashaal is part of the problem we have with domestic problems today the lowest common denominator, the knee-jerk solutions are the ones they think will understand the most votes. the counter intuitive congressional discussions of complicated and will be attacked by your adversaries. so it seems to me is this new or is this to -- custis always been around and what lessons do you have the future? >> guest: i wrestled with this a lot because i worked on the book for shortly after 9/11 and it just cannot now so it took
quite a few years. i really was trying to puzzle out a lot of this, and when it came time to wrap it up, i was trying to find a way out to say this is the path that can be taken. i couldn't find it because the concept that kept coming back to me with words like pathologies of institutional nature, pathologies of a political nature or dysfunction a few well but the difficulties which the world is difficult to begin with, with the institutional, the psychological, the illogical constraints are sitting down and working out rational policies even within the government, let
alone been with other governments who are facing this are so extraordinary that i came up with a sense that we have to understand these things in the the hope is that is what we try to do that we can try to get clarity of this. there are lots of things, lots of lessons and having made similar mistakes or witness some of the mistakes made by others. but somehow if you just step back and say that this war, and you can say wars are always with us but it's becoming more high-tech, the weapons of mass destruction, we've been with them at a entirely new levels, we have a whole new levels of threat in terms of information technology and the way to bring society is down in the digital
age and the basic passions. i actually try to understand and i did this a lot with the atomic bombs, why are the bombs dropped and it is germane to many areas, the love of violence. there was a sense of duty in violence, there is the drive to make it better weapons. i work -- i'm associated with mit and i become sensitive to this concept of sweetness, scientific sweetness, technocratic sweetness because this is a phrase the manhattan project people use why did you make the bomb? we wanted to win the war publicity swedes -- this is their word the problems are so fascinating and challenging and
when you get the machinery behind this and the machinery takes on a life of its own and then the machinery becomes so complex that you get into your truth, and the individual products and then you get the political pressure. one of the reasons we dropped the bomb was because they believed it would end of the war quickly. i wrestle with this. i believe that. i don't repeat the argument but that's not the only reason. there were many reasons we drop the bomb and another was politically. burns says to truman you don't show where you spend all that money, you democrats spent all the money during the war. you don't show what was that you were doing to the post war elections. >> host: unfortunately we are out of time and we only dented into the book and one of the things that impressed me was not just a number of parallels
between the two long and painful wars brought by two different generations now, but the death and the breath of those parallels and also some important differences and so i think that -- i hope this becomes required reading in service academies and by elected officials who have to deal with issues of the war and peace by just want to thank to providing this book. >> guest: thank you so much for giving me the chance to chat with you. >> host: thank you. tucker grumet free because the 1924 presidential election between john davis and calvin coolidge. the last time according to the author both parties feel conservative candidates. mr. tucker discusses his book of the john locke foundation raleigh north carolina. this program is about an hour. [applause] >> thank you very much. especially to the john locke foundation for inviting me tooce
the looking forward to this. they were very generous in giving me a lot of latitude asus to what i talk about todayto doy to answer the question that i've been getting a lot of represents the book came out, as most of you all know, this is my first attempt and probably only attempt at writing a book. and so lots of people have asked me, why did you write it or what you hope to accomplish with this book? so that's what i'm going to try to answer today. and as i thought about it, there are really three reasons for my writing the book or i would slow it down to three reasons. the first two reasons for thoughts are reasons that i had in mind when i started. and the third one, interestingly enough, is one that i sort of discovered after i'd gotten into trying to write the book. i'm going to go through them in
sequence. the first reason is to that i had in mind was to reevaluate the fiscal policies of the 1920th. and i don't know -- looking around the room, some of you are young enough to maybe have had a different experience. the number of you look like he might be my age are so. and if i think back to my college experience, there was very little said about the 1920th. my recollection of historical treatment of the 1920s when i was in college was that it was just a period that was kind of sandwich then between woodrow wilson and franklin roosevelt and nothing much happened in between were certainly nothing worthy of much comment. and i think that was generally a historical perception that was very prevalent.
calvin coolidge has had a biographer named robert sobel who wrote a book on coolidge in the night eumenes. and he made this comment which i think sums up very well the historical, the typical historical live. as sobel wrote, that few presidents in all american history at his many accolades among intellectuals as did woodrow wilson. arthur/insert junior was an ardent admirer of wilson whom he saw as the president to play john the baptist or franklin d. roosevelt. /and jerry was one of those who helped fashion this legend. in the age of roosevelt in which slashings are prevented this the face, he discussed the becoming of the republicans is that they were barbarians sacking rome. fast the perception that/and or put out her put the 1920s.
and he was not alone in the widely acclaimed book, the pocket history of few nights dates. allan nevins and henry steel columns you wrote that the idealism of the wilson and i was past. at the roosevelt and passion for humanitarianism was in the future in the decade of the twenties was still, bush was ruthless. that doesn't sound very exciting. and if you heard that come you never thought much about studying the twenties. i certainly didn't and took off at face value. but interestingly, this really began to change among historians i think the biggest changes in the 1980s with reagan was elected. there was among conservative intellectuals and economists that was the rediscovery of tax
cuts and what came to be known as supply-side economics, the whole idea of smaller government in a new group of historians emerged who have taken not, if you will, revisionist view of the 1920s. and among those were paul johnson, amity shoelace, burton poulsen and some others. and johnson has written, the truth is the twenties is the most fortunate decade in american history. he also called coolidge the most internally consistent and single-minded of american presidents. and he concluded that coolidge prosperity was huge, real widespread and it showed the concept of property owning democracy can be realized. if you view the twenties through this prism, you can recognize it as a remarkable. of economic growth, an
affirmation of our basic conservative values and an emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility. in 1981, he certainly came as a shock to most americans is certainly to almost every historian when ronald reagan retrieved the portrait of calvin coolidge from storage and symbolically installed it in the white house cabinet room. i was a very tangible bit of evidence that a reappraisal of the 1920s and coolidge was going on at least in the white house. now, the backdrop while looking at the 1920s i think really needs to start with a history of progressivism, which started in the late 1800s and the united states and reached a guess as historians would argue, the pinnacle in 1912, which has been
called -- pretty widely called the high tide of progressivism. if you recall in 1912, woodrow wilson was running as a strong progressive, dominated by the democrats. republicans had a big fight. teddy roosevelt field to get the nomination. bolted in iran is a pure progressive. but farther left than he had ever gone before to get to the left of wilson and then passed was left scurrying is heard as he could to try and stop progressive and not be left out. so you had to very strong progressives and a third would be progressive all running in that election. and the result was wilson, of course, was given a doubt did a very progressive policy. the combination of its domestic policy whi he called the ..m in world war i es