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War and the American Presidency : Arthur Schlesinger

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  1. Introduction
  2. Unilateralism - not a new foreign policy in America
  3. Schlesinger as a famous liberal historian and honest about his political affiliation
  4. The difference between preventive and preemptive
  5. Schlesinger's comments on the malfunctioning of the Electoral College
  6. Schlesinger's style of writing
  7. Conclusion

War And The American Presidency was written by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who used to be an adviser for Adlai Stevenson's campaign and a special assistant to President Kennedy . He participated in the founding of Americans for Democratic Action, ?America's oldest independent liberal lobbying organization? . Schlesinger wrote many famous books about the American politics, including the much heralded work The Imperial Presidency (1973). War And The American Presidency was published in September 2004, two months before the presidential elections. As a liberal historian, it is not a surprise that Schlesinger disapproves with the so-called ?Bush doctrine?, but as the author underlines it in the Foreword (p. XI), the ?historical dimension? is essential to understanding current issues such as the war in Iraq.

[...] Once more, Arthur Schlesinger wanders from the initial subject, the war in Iraq and the Bush presidency. After two chapters off subject, he concludes the book with a general thought on history. Thus, he explains that history must be known by policymakers, but is often a negative model rather than a positive one. This non-partisan conclusion contrasts with the rest of the book, but also contradicts the two previous chapters. After having analyzed the future of democracy through history, Arthur Schlesinger declares that historical analogy has important limits. [...]

[...] that there was no imminent threat from Iraq, which leads Schlesinger to the conclusion that it is a preventive war, that is to say, a ?potential, future, therefore speculative threat?. It was an easier target than the war on terrorism (p. 31). Thus, war ?becomes a matter of presidential choice? (p. 21) and signals the renewal of the ?imperial presidency?. This increase in executive powers can be a danger for democracy if it lasts. Then, the author analyzes the history of dissent in wartime through centuries. [...]

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