Jack Ross writes:
As I wrote after the Cairo speech, Obama may be the first president since Herbert Hoover to seriously believe in the cause of peace.
It is impossible to know for certain whether Obama “believes in the cause of peace,” but if we look at what the man has said and done over the years I think we can see that he does not work in the cause of peace. When we look back at his responses to wars in Lebanon, South Ossetia and Gaza waged by our allies, we see mostly uncritical and reflexive support for those responsible for escalating small-scale conflicts into larger, unnecessary wars. Obama was not on the national stage in 1999, so I do not know for sure what his view of the bombing of Serbia was, but I would be very surprised if he spoke out against a “humanitarian” intervention led by a Democratic President. At some sentimental level, it may be that many Republican and Democratic hawks “believe in the cause of peace” and are so confused as to imagine that they are contributing to the peace of the world with their constant advocacy of war. An entire generation of hawks grew up misunderstanding the meaning of “peace through strength.” They thought that it meant the constant demonstration of strength through uses of force to keep the general peace, and as a result we have seen many shows of strength (against vastly weaker opponents) and not much peace.
Hoover and Taft may have been more peacefully-inclined Wilsonians, though I am skeptical about applying this label to Taft, but we should also remember that Woodrow Wilson himself was very devoted to a belief in the “cause of peace,” which meant getting over a hundred thousand Americans killed, destabilizing Europe and the Near East for the next 90 years and indulging the destructive idea of self-determination that continues to extract a price in blood throughout the Old World. Peace is an ideal that can be exploited by hawks just as easily as freedom, democracy or human rights. By their works shall ye know them.