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On Syria, Obama is more like Wilson than Bush: This isn't about imperialism. It's about justice
The Week ^ | August 29, 2013 | Bill Scher

Posted on 09/01/2013 10:15:45 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

As President Obama moves toward launching military strikes against the Syrian regime, some have been quick to charge him with hypocritically following in the footsteps of the president he long sought to repudiate: George W. Bush.

Ron Paul kicked things off two months ago with a baseless charge of "fixing the intelligence and facts around the already determined policy." More recently, a leading Russian legislator claimed Obama would be "Bush's clone" because "just like in Iraq, this war won't be legit." Fox News columnist and strident U.N. critic Anne Bayefsky declared that Obama will be seen as a "hypocrite or a fraud" for not pursuing a U.N. Security Council resolution after "bashing" Bush on similar grounds.

The Bush swipe is a cheap shot. It also misses the far more relevant historical parallel. Obama is not walking in Bush's footsteps, but Woodrow Wilson's.

As World War I raged in Europe and civil war erupted in Mexico, Woodrow Wilson won re-election in 1916 on the slogan "He Kept Us Out Of War." But Wilson's slogan proved ephemeral, and his strategy of "armed neutrality" finally gave way in the face of German aggression.

Similarly, Obama won the presidency in no small part because of anti-Iraq War sentiment, and was re-elected at least in part for following through on withdrawal. Now Obama faces his own second-term Wilson moment, as Syria's genocidal tactics severely test President Obama's foreign policy goals of facilitating democracy, strengthening international institutions, and avoiding "dumb wars" that sap American lives, resources, and global influence.

The similarities do not end there. Both Wilson and Obama sought to turn away from the imperialism of their predecessors while embracing the use of American influence to spread the right of self-determination abroad. Both expressed restraint regarding the use of military force, yet both pushed back on pacifist constituencies in their political bases and kept their options open. Both were charged with vacillation, and both suffered the occasional rhetorical misstep, as they walked those fine lines in the run-up to military action.

Obama was knocked for drawing a "red line" against the use of chemical weapons without being prepared to follow through, arguably giving Syria license to go farther. Wilson quickly regretted saying America was "too proud to fight" in May 1915, three days after Germany sunk the Lusitania and killed 1,198 people, including 128 Americans. Seven months later, Wilson recalibrated. During a speaking tour promoting a new policy of military preparedness, Wilson made a clear break with his party's pacifist wing: "There is a price which is too great to pay for peace, and that price can be put in one word. One cannot pay the price of self-respect."

Still, Wilson's restraint continued through the 1916 re-election campaign. Then less than three months after Election Day, Germany secretly cabled Mexico, proposing an alliance and offering three American states upon victory. Britain intercepted the code and fed it to Wilson, who publicized it and then took another two months before concluding it was time to enter the war.

Wilson risked being portrayed as a hypocrite, or even an outright liar, considering his campaign slogan. But as it turned out, his patient deliberation and clear reluctance for war buttressed his credibility when the moment for intervention came, helping to bring along a reluctant public.

Most importantly, Wilson did not betray his core principles. He did not flip from isolationism to imperialism. He had been seeking to play the role of peace broker, and end the war in a fashion that would move the world away from colonization and toward self-determination.

Shortly before he knew of Germany's Mexican machinations, he laid out his vision in his "Peace Without Victory" address. Instead of a harsh peace in which the victor punishes the defeated, claims new territory, and sows the seeds of future conflict, Wilson saw a compromise settlement between belligerents, moving the world towards democratic governance and establishing a new "League of Nations" international body to prevent future world wars.

Wilson stuck by this vision even after he picked a side in the war, rejecting calls from both allies abroad and Republicans at home for an "unconditional surrender."

Here too does Obama overlap with Wilson. Military action in Syria is not a betrayal of Obama's foreign policy principles.

This is not a repeat of Bush-style neo-conservatism. There is nothing from the Obama White House that suggests a desire to handpick Syria's leaders, establish permanent military bases, or claim natural resources. While Obama may not seek a U.N. Security Council resolution as he did to oust Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, he is also not suddenly snubbing international law, as he reportedly sees justification in existing treaties such as the Geneva Conventions and the Chemical Weapons Conventions.

The administration's emphasis on limited strikes makes clear that President Obama still wants to do all he can to avoid ending his presidency with a "dumb war" that would mire the United States in a hopeless quagmire.

The White House has even stated that the military strikes will not be designed to spark "regime change," instead stressing that "resolution of this conflict has to come through political negotiation and settlement." In other words, it anticipates some sort of power-sharing agreement between Syrian factions, leading to a government that is fully representative of all Syrian people. This policy objective harkens back to Wilson's "Peace Without Victory."

Of course, none of the above guarantees that Obama's vision will triumph. Wilson learned that the hard way.

Wilson did succeed in accelerating the end of the war and jump-starting a negotiated settlement. But after long multi-party negotiations that he personally undertook, Wilson reluctantly accepted harsher terms for Germany's surrender than he deemed fair. And a debilitating stroke in 1919 muddled his thinking and warped his ability to compromise with the Republican-led Senate, dooming ratification of the treaty and America's entry into the League of Nations.

But Wilson's inability to close the deal doesn't mean he was foolish to try. He came pretty close, and a healthier Wilson with a stronger foreign policy team could well have pulled it off. In fact, President Franklin Roosevelt's team did just that, proving Wilson's wisdom correct with the founding of the U.N. after World War II. We have not suffered world wars since.

Obama may be taking a mighty gamble, but it is in pursuit of self-determination and an international order intolerant of genocide, not an ignoble quest for empire.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Germany; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush; genocide; germany; mexico; obama; partisanmediashill; partisanmediashills; syria; woodrowwilson
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I already knew he was a vile racist, Bill. Oh, that isn't what you meant?

Bill Scher is the executive editor of LiberalOasis.com and the online campaign manager at Campaign for America's Future. He is the author of Wait! Don't Move To Canada!: A Stay-and-Fight Strategy to Win Back America, a regular contributor to Bloggingheads.tv and host of the LiberalOasis Radio Show weekly podcast.

1 posted on 09/01/2013 10:15:45 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Where’s the “Barf Alert”?


2 posted on 09/01/2013 10:17:09 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Nah, he’s more like PeeWee Herman than like either of them.


3 posted on 09/01/2013 10:17:29 AM PDT by DoughtyOne (This post coming to you today, from behind the Camelskin Curtain. Not the Iron or Bamboo Curtain...)
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To: dfwgator

I had to cut the hell out of the headline as it was. Go look.


4 posted on 09/01/2013 10:18:18 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (I aim to raise a million plus for Gov. Palin. What'll you do?.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

We have Wilson to thank for 100,000 obituaries (give or take a few thousand) in American newspapers from WWI.


5 posted on 09/01/2013 10:18:41 AM PDT by Zhang Fei (Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Justice? Not so much.

The Imperial Caliph Obama-the-Undocumented First Moslem
is deliberately blaming the wrong side
so that blowback will follow
against America and Israel.
As his handlers have long planned.


6 posted on 09/01/2013 10:19:40 AM PDT by Diogenesis
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Dear president Hussein obamar, I am not in support of sending the men and women of our armed forces to fight a war for the terrorists that did this .............
7 posted on 09/01/2013 10:21:19 AM PDT by boycott
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

No, he is following in the footsteps of feckless Jimmy Carter


8 posted on 09/01/2013 10:22:15 AM PDT by ari-freedom (Obama is the biggest joke. But I can't laugh.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Exactly! It’s nothing like Bush, cause, well, Bush was BUSH! Evil, man! A republican! Darth Cheney! H-a-l-I-b-u-r-t-o-n!!!! Papa Bush!

On the other hand, St. Barack, would-be father of St Trayvon, the Child, MEANS well! His HEART is in the right place, even if a lot of innocents get killed...

/S


9 posted on 09/01/2013 10:22:47 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: dfwgator

This guy is a fool.

UN has prevented world wars? Try nuclear capability.

Bombing Syria is all because Barry embarrassed himself. He wants to use US resources for personal reasons (no big change there).


10 posted on 09/01/2013 10:22:52 AM PDT by School of Rational Thought
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To: School of Rational Thought
UN has prevented world wars? Try nuclear capability.

He must have been through the "Time Masheen"


11 posted on 09/01/2013 10:25:12 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

‘On Syria, Obama is more like Wilson than Bush: This isn’t about imperialism. It’s about justice.’

Pure, unadulterated horsesh*t.


12 posted on 09/01/2013 10:28:16 AM PDT by Jack Hammer (American)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’m exhausted from reading the backflips in this article. This is hilarious.


13 posted on 09/01/2013 10:29:15 AM PDT by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“Obama is not walking in Bush’s footsteps, but Woodrow Wilson’s.”

-Mr. Wilson bores me with his Fourteen Points; why, God Almighty has only Ten! (Georges Clemenceau)


14 posted on 09/01/2013 10:31:17 AM PDT by DemforBush (Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

It’s his fellow A-rabs killing A-rabs, and we can’t have the ‘future caliph’ looking like he cannot control ‘his people’, now can we?

As for my 2cents, watch for the right wind pattern, target everything that isn’t Israel, and press “the red Staples button”!!


15 posted on 09/01/2013 10:34:16 AM PDT by Terry L Smith
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To: DoughtyOne

No, he is exactly like Donald Duck, sound and fury wrapped in inability and incompetence. The only real difference is you had a choice in watching a Donald Duck cartoon.


16 posted on 09/01/2013 10:35:55 AM PDT by Mastador1 (I'll take a bad dog over a good politician any day!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
proving Wilson's wisdom correct with the founding of the U.N. after World War II. We have not suffered world wars since.

What an idiot. The UN has not prevented world wars. What has prevented world wars is the USA's projection of military power around the world since WWII.

But the writer may be right to compare Obozo with Wilson: Wilson was a feckless, vacillating, incompetent, ivory-tower, know-nothing pontificator, and so is Obozo.

17 posted on 09/01/2013 10:36:53 AM PDT by hsalaw
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To: Diogenesis; 2ndDivisionVet; Alas Babylon!; DemforBush; cripplecreek
Alright you Stupid Libs, You wanna compare Ubama's Wars to Wilson than to Bush?

Fine, I'll bite.

It’s World War One; there’s thirteen million killed; it was all because the militaries of both alliances believed they were so highly attuned to one another’s movements and dispositions, they could predict one another’s intentions, but all their theories were based on the last war. And the world and technology had changed, and those lessons were no longer valid, but it was all they knew, so the orders went out, couldn’t be rescinded. And your man in the field, his family at home, they couldn’t even tell you the reasons why their lives were being destroyed.

And here we are 100 years later, we haven't learned a damn thing.

Remold the World Nearer to Hearst Desire, through the Good Red Wine of the Battlefield, and if more than a few get crushed underneath?

Well....You can't make an Omelet without breaking 13 Million Eggs.

Liberals Disgust me.

18 posted on 09/01/2013 10:38:10 AM PDT by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: Terry L Smith
As for my 2cents, watch for the right wind pattern, target everything that isn’t Israel, and press “the red Staples button”!!

Would that be the "reset" red Staples button? Or the "easy" button? Either would work.

19 posted on 09/01/2013 10:39:56 AM PDT by hsalaw
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To: DoughtyOne

Wilson’s stroke and subsequent muddled thinking led to his wife becoming the unelected President. Obama’s hubris and drug-induced muddled thinking are the reasons Valerie Jarrett is our unelected President. That and enough voters with muddled thinking to elect both of these losers twice.

Of course, in Wilson’s election, you can’t place any blame on women voters.


20 posted on 09/01/2013 10:42:50 AM PDT by beelzepug (if any alphabets are watchin', I'll be coming home right after the meetin')
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Wilson was a good Communist, and we all know that Communism is NEVER about empire, now don’t we?


21 posted on 09/01/2013 10:44:32 AM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Obama,Chamberlain.
Same difference.


22 posted on 09/01/2013 10:45:17 AM PDT by llevrok ("It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words....." - Geo. Orwell)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Woodrow Wilson is unquestionably among the top ten worst Presidents in US history.

Maybe even among the top five.


23 posted on 09/01/2013 10:45:27 AM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: KC_Lion

Yes sir-eee. We have a Wilson clone in the WH. Micromanage in order to stall a decision and end up on both sides of the argument. While thousands suffer and die.

(By the way - another of her books, the Zimmerman Telegram, likewise shows what an idiot Wilson was)


24 posted on 09/01/2013 10:48:45 AM PDT by llevrok ("It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words....." - Geo. Orwell)
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To: Mastador1

Ha. Good one.


25 posted on 09/01/2013 10:54:20 AM PDT by DoughtyOne (This post coming to you today, from behind the Camelskin Curtain. Not the Iron or Bamboo Curtain...)
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To: beelzepug
Wilson's thinking was muddled long before his series of strokes.

My family knew him back when he married a cousin of ours in Rome GA in the 1880s (her family's plot is next to ours in the old cemetery west of town).

Nobody liked him, you should have heard my great-aunt and grandmother feeling sorry for his first wife and declaring that he got what he deserved in his second (nobody cared for her either, apparently).

He really was a very unlikeable person and not very bright to boot. Hard work and determination without any underlying character or intelligence may get you someplace, but it's probably not where you ought to be.

26 posted on 09/01/2013 10:57:01 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ecce Crucem Domini, fugite partes adversae. Vicit Leo de Tribu Iuda, Radix David, Alleluia!)
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To: beelzepug

Women voters... don’t get me started. And there are a lot of women who recognize the problem as much as we do.


27 posted on 09/01/2013 10:58:55 AM PDT by DoughtyOne (This post coming to you today, from behind the Camelskin Curtain. Not the Iron or Bamboo Curtain...)
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To: llevrok; MeganC
(By the way - another of her books, the Zimmerman Telegram, likewise shows what an idiot Wilson was)

I have not read that one. It is now on my To-Read-List.

Thanks Llevrok!

With Progressives the Ends justify the means, you should look up where the Term "Can't Make an Omelet without Breaking some eggs" came from.

It was the Bastard Walter Durante who said that about the Starvation in the Ukraine in 1933.

28 posted on 09/01/2013 10:59:46 AM PDT by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

If it is about justice why didn’t he act 3 years ago?
Why did he do nothing when Iran was slaughtering it’s people?

FUBO!


29 posted on 09/01/2013 11:01:51 AM PDT by mylife (Ted Cruz understands the law, and he does not fear the unlawful.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Bill Scher compares Barak Obama with Woodrow Wilson as if that were a good thing.
30 posted on 09/01/2013 11:06:01 AM PDT by Tupelo (There are no Republicans or Democrats in Washington. Just Millionaires protecting their turf.)
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To: boycott
"Umm... I would ehrr...advise Mr Obamar to wag his finger more forcefully"


31 posted on 09/01/2013 11:08:43 AM PDT by mylife (Ted Cruz understands the law, and he does not fear the unlawful.)
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To: All
On Syria, Obama is more like Wilson than Bush: This isn't about imperialism. It's about justice

It's more about ego at this point than anything else.

32 posted on 09/01/2013 11:13:30 AM PDT by Turbo Pig (...to close with and destroy the enemy...)
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To: Turbo Pig

Nothing more dangerous than a President in “Legacy Building Mode.”


33 posted on 09/01/2013 11:14:29 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: AnAmericanMother

Your last sentence should be required reading in every management class in this country.


34 posted on 09/01/2013 11:19:21 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: beelzepug
Edith, Wilson's wife, um, ended up with a pretty big vote...

Scher missing another commonality between Wilson and Obama - delusions.

35 posted on 09/01/2013 11:22:38 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Jack Hammer
Pure, unadulterated horsesh*t.

You got that right!!! Obama, Biden and Kerry make Moe, Larry and curly look like geniuses.

36 posted on 09/01/2013 11:24:02 AM PDT by True Grit
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To: mylife
If it is about justice why didn’t he act 3 years ago? Why did he do nothing when Iran was slaughtering it’s people?

FUBO!

On this topic, I agree with you, word for word!

37 posted on 09/01/2013 11:26:42 AM PDT by exit82 ("The Taliban is on the inside of the building" E. Nordstrom 10-10-12)
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To: mylife
If it is about justice why didn’t he act 3 years ago?

Why did he do nothing when Iran was slaughtering it’s people?

Exactly.

Justice...?

Sher's hero Obama even refused to send the poor Syrian refugees gas masks.

Now he wants to start a war.

Is it any wonder that the British decided to bail...?

38 posted on 09/01/2013 11:43:49 AM PDT by Cyropaedia ("Virtue cannot separate itself from reality without becoming a principal of evil...".)
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To: Cyropaedia

It is no wonder at all.
Who in their right mind would share a foxhole with Odingus?


39 posted on 09/01/2013 11:48:57 AM PDT by mylife (Ted Cruz understands the law, and he does not fear the unlawful.)
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To: Alas Babylon!; Impy; fieldmarshaldj; sickoflibs
>>>
It’s nothing like Bush, cause, well, Bush was BUSH! Evil, man! A republican! Darth Cheney! H-a-l-I-b-u-r-t-o-n!!!! Papa Bush!

On the other hand, St. Barack, would-be father of St Trayvon, the Child, MEANS well! His HEART is in the right place, even if a lot of innocents get killed...
<<<<

You've nailed the RAT mindset perfectly.

40 posted on 09/01/2013 11:49:45 AM PDT by BillyBoy (Liz Cheney's family supports gay marriage. Do you?)
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To: BillyBoy
Pray for peace...


41 posted on 09/01/2013 11:52:40 AM PDT by mylife (Ted Cruz understands the law, and he does not fear the unlawful.)
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To: mylife

Or is that “prey for peace?”


42 posted on 09/01/2013 11:54:29 AM PDT by mylife (Ted Cruz understands the law, and he does not fear the unlawful.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The author seems to think that his comparison is a compliment to Obama.

How absurd.


43 posted on 09/01/2013 12:37:38 PM PDT by Jim Noble (When strong, avoid them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.)
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To: Jim Noble

Well Liberals worship Wilson almost as much as their patron saint, FDR.


44 posted on 09/01/2013 12:38:14 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Jim Noble

It’s a fantastic article.


45 posted on 09/01/2013 12:39:12 PM PDT by JCBreckenridge
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To: JCBreckenridge

“It’s a fantastic article”

Not in the way the author intended, though


46 posted on 09/01/2013 12:54:18 PM PDT by Jim Noble (When strong, avoid them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Don’t forget Hilary in march 2011. Assad was a reformer. This makes her very presidential.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/hillary-clintons-uncredible-statement-on-syria/2011/04/01/AFWPEYaC_blog.html


47 posted on 09/01/2013 1:04:33 PM PDT by ncfool (Obama's aMeriKa 2012 The land of entitlement for the 51% crowd.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I would love to see what this asshat wrote about the run up to the Iraq war..


48 posted on 09/01/2013 1:59:27 PM PDT by cardinal4 (The GOP, the ultimate battered wife? Or willing co-conspirators?)
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To: KC_Lion

Off topic, but Tuchman wrote an excellent book on 14th century France. Her research and writing was superb. As result, I am going to get this book from library..


49 posted on 09/01/2013 2:02:30 PM PDT by cardinal4 (The GOP, the ultimate battered wife? Or willing co-conspirators?)
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To: llevrok

While Chamberlain is well known for his Munich appeasement, what is lesser known was his staunch anti-nazism after he finally woke up and realized he’d been played for a fool. He really worked hard to undo his silly “waving of the treaty” moment..


50 posted on 09/01/2013 2:05:48 PM PDT by cardinal4 (The GOP, the ultimate battered wife? Or willing co-conspirators?)
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