A while ago I did some research and found striking descriptions of 1930’s Appeasement by one of its architects and one of its opponents (Chamberlain and Attlee). I did so because we have all become accustomed to letting one familiar voice (Churchill) characterize the debate, and I thought other voices would freshen the issue.
Yesterday, I had the idea that another anti-Appeasement voice had not been much heard: Harry Truman. Here was the quintessential American take on the efficacy of cozying up to dictators and dangerous regimes. Here was a man willing to take the heat for refusing to treat treacherous tyrants as if they were obstreporous city councilmen.
And I wanted a break from my 1930’s obsession. Truman at least moves me a decade or two closer to being up to date. So I resolved to do some Truman research today.
But lo and behold, in my morning newspaper (don’t look at me like that – it was free at my hotel), I beheld a column by someone named David Shribman, writing from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (someday we will miss those goofy newspaper names). Shribman wrote comparing Truman to Obama, calling it “The Truman Show”, complete with a picture of Give-Em-Hell-Harry.
And here was one of the Truman quotes he used.
“I had trained myself to look back into history for precedents, because instinctively I sought perspective in the span of history for the decisions I had to make. That is why I read and re-read history. Most of the problems a president has to face have their roots in the past.”
So I wanted a Truman quote, and I wanted to probe my own obsession with history in understanding our present challenges. In one page of the newspaper, both wishes are answered.
(Now I wish for a winning Powerball ticket. I have never bought a ticket, but as I understand it that doesn’t materially affect my chances.)
I will now go do my research and see what Harry had to say about calming dangerous tyrants by giving them what they want.
If you, dear reader, have something handy in this line, please share. The COMMENTS button is up on top of this post.