Lincoln and Roosevelt: American Caesars
It is interesting to compare Lincoln and his treachery in causing the Southern "enemy" to fire the first shot at Fort Sumter, resulting in the Civil War, with Roosevelt's similar manipulation causing the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., a well-known American "court historian," has written the definitive defenses for both Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding their reprehensible behavior in causing their respective unnecessary American wars. He clearly documents the unconstitutional behavior of both and offers great praise for the same. He attempts to justify the actions of both presidents on grounds that they were acting during a "crisis" pertaining to the "survival of the American government," and that their unconstitutional actions were thereby made "necessary." Schlesinger has stated that "Next to the Civil War, World War II was the greatest crisis in American history." His defense of these two "great" presidents is as follows:
Roosevelt in 1941, like Lincoln in 1861, did what he did under what appeared to be a popular demand and a public necessity. Both presidents took their actions in light of day and to the accompaniment of uninhibited political debate. They did what they thought they had to do to save the republic. They threw themselves in the end on the justice of the country and the rectitude of their motives. Whatever Lincoln and Roosevelt felt compelled to do under the pressure of crisis did not corrupt their essential commitment to constitutional ways and democratic processes.
Schlesinger, however, recognizes the terrible precedents that were created by these presidents' violations of the clear constitutional restrictions on their office:
Yet the danger persists that power asserted during authentic emergencies may create precedents for transcendent executive power during emergencies that exist only in the hallucinations of the Oval Office and that remain invisible to most of the nation. The perennial question is: How to distinguish real crises threatening the life of the republic from bad dreams conjured up by paranoid presidents spurred on by paranoid advisers? Necessity as Milton said, is always "the tyrant's plea."
Let us add to John Milton's statement a more specific warning by William Pitt in his speech to the House of Commons on November 18, 1783: "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants."
Finally, it is instructive to compare the circumstances for Lincoln at Fort Sumter with those for Roosevelt at Pearl Harbor. In neither case was there an actual "surprise" attack by the enemy. In fact, there was an extended period of time, many months prior to the "first shot," in which both Lincoln and Roosevelt had ample opportunity to attempt to negotiate with the alleged "enemy," who was desperately trying to reach a peaceful settlement.
In both cases, the presidents refused to negotiate in good faith. Lincoln sent completely false and conflicting statements to the Confederates and to Congress — even refused to talk with the Confederate commissioners. Roosevelt also refused to talk with Japanese Prime Minister Konoye, a refusal that brought down the moderate, peace-seeking Konoye government and caused the rise of the militant Tojo regime. Both Lincoln and Roosevelt repeatedly lied to the American people and to Congress about what they were doing while they were secretly provoking the "enemy" to fire the first shot in their respective wars. Both intentionally subjected their respective armed forces to being bait to get the enemy to fire the first shot.