Discussion in 'World Events' started by 7DZ, Apr 19, 2003.
Who do you consider to be a great political leader, current or past? And why?
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I consider Reagan the best president of the 20th century. He fixed our military, collapsed communism, freed millions of people from enslavement, and I loved the way he did politics.
Second, Lincoln... He ended slavery.
I reckon Tony Blair.
His economic policies are spot on - "Thatcherism with compassion". He is an impressive public speaker. He is a genuine leader - he has risked his career and gone against popular opinion and the opinion of his own party on what he believes is right. (The Iraq issue saw one third of parliament voting against him, most of the dissenters were from his own party.)
Before Blair, I would have said Thatcher because her policies were revolutionary and had profound effect on economic policies and economies throughout the world, including Australia. She was the politician that dared to challenge Keynesian orthodoxy and was in the end proven right. But she was a little too brutal in some ways.
Would that the Australian labor party were to follow Blair's "Third Way". But alas the current leader, Simon Crean, is too much of a union lackey (former ACTU president) and just doesn't seem to have the right stuff every time he speaks.
No brainer. FDR. He pulled us out of a depression, a world war, and gave those with polio courage- all while he himself was handicapped in the latter stages of his career. He was part of the big 3, and did so much for this country.
Only as an afterthought. Lincoln’s feelings about black people are well documented. He thought they would never be the equal of whites. He never even mentioned slavery until halfway through the Civil War. The Union was not doing well and many Northerners were ready to call a truce. Lincoln needed something to rekindle their enthusiasm, and he stumbled upon the great idea of promising to end slavery – but only in the Southern states! (It was still practiced in states that hadn’t seceded, including Maryland and Missouri.)
Lincoln’s legacy is that the USA is one of only two countries in this entire hemisphere that wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to abolish slavery by peaceful means. (Haiti is the other.) It’s been argued that as a result, Americans on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line had a convenient focus for their post-war anger and hatred: our black citizens, who could now be blamed for a war that was actually launched without a single thought for their welfare. After 140 years our race relations are conspicously worse than most anywhere else in the Americas. We have white people and black people and a whole lot of problems with racism. In other countries such as Brazil and Cuba, everybody is just a slightly different shade of brown.
I believe that Lincoln is highly overrated. He dragged the Union into the bloodiest war in U.S. history, the only one that was fought entirely on U.S. soil, and one that to this day casts a shadow over our politics.
Roosevelt spat on the Constitution, setting precedents that still threaten to destroy our political system. He put the government into businesses such as charity and finance, endeavors for which there is absolutely no Constitutional justification. Government welfare is a bureaucratic nightmare, dissipating 75 percent of the money it steals from the solvent by giving it to administrators who spend their lives administering other administrators, and giving a good portion of the 25 percent that is actually meant for “the poor” to dishonest people who have figured out how to beat the system and fill out the forms properly. The Salvation Army and other private charities teach their people a skill that eludes civil servants: how to distinguish between a genuinely poor man and one who is faking it; and they do it with a very small administrative staff. If all the money the government collects for welfare were simply divided up and handed out to America’s poor, each legitimately “poor” family would receive $40,000 per year!
Roosevelt didn’t “pull us out of a depression [and] a world war.” He dragged us into WWII precisely because he figured it would kickstart the economy and end the depression. He died and left it up to Truman to “pull us out” of WWII. All the Japanese wanted was permission to buy petroleum from Indonesia. That would arguably have prevented Pearl Harbor. We could have left the Europeans to fight the same stupid damn war they had been fighting for 500 years without our help. All our help did was replace Hitler with Stalin as the world’s most powerful evil man. What a fabulous improvement!
As for sheer power, cunning, and charisma its a tie between ghengis khan and alexander of macedon.
Whoever gets the award for being good to his people was forgotten by history long ago. Nice guys usually dont make it to history books. Antoninus pius was pretty good in this extent as far as I remember. If he was real and like the legends depict King arthur would take the cake. A number of america's founding fathers might also get into the semifinals.
A number of biblical figures might go into the "greatest" catagory. Starting with god, then lucifer (the devil goes under the same classificantion as ghengis khan. not nice but great nonetheless) , and a whole bunch of others...
I agree with you on most of FDR exsept that I think he should have gotten involved sooner into the war.
Lincholn could not say that the border states would loose slavery. They would have joined the confedrate states then and we would have lost the war. He had to wait till the confedracy had hurt the border states also so they hated the confedracy too. Then he could make the Emancipation Proclamation.
The United States was also had a huge amount of capital in slave labor. We could not end slavery peacfully. We tried to contain it but containment never works. It was in Jeffersons origginal declration of independence that he says how the British promoted slavery making it hard for them to stop the disease.
Mine would be James Madison and Theodore Rosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt is undoubtedly for me the most colorful president we've ever had; dynamic visionary, but a realist. Churchill rose to the occasion. Bismarck unified the Germanic states and melded a great power. Lincoln held a nation together. Slavery was not the issue with him; preserving the Union was. The Emancipation Proclamation was only in response to pressure from the Radical Republicans in Congress, those former abolitionists who, in 1863, wanted the abolition of slavery as part of the gains of a Northern victory.
More to it than that. It's obvious from FDR's personal records that he had an intense dislike of Hitler, and often commented during the '30s of the growing 'lawlessness' of Germany and Japan. And the US was coming out of the depression by '41. If FDR just wanted to kickstart the economy we could have remained neutral and traded with both sides.
He died one month before Germany collapsed and Japan no longer had a navy to speak of.
All Japan wanted was to control east Asia. Japan could have avoided the oil embargoes by renouncing its pact with the Axis, which the US asked for to preserve the US-Japanese relationship, but which Japan refused to do. The US didn't want war with Japan. At the time Asia was secondary to Europe. FDR was more concerned with Germany, but he couldn't afford to have Germany's ally in the East unchecked. While it's true FDR misread Stalin, sometimes you have to choose between two evils.
Slavery was not just the basis of the southern economic sysyem (king cotton), it was also the defining element of the South's social structure. Southern planters had long resisted the more urbane southerners arguments to industrialize and ease out of slavery. To end the slave system would have ended the southern feudal system, and threatened the ruling oligarchy that not only controlled over 90% of the South's wealth, but also passed around senate seats and governerships at the whim. It was these few extremists' desire to secede that led to their purposely causing a rift between the northern and southern factions of the Democratic Party for the 1860 election, enabling the fledgling anti-slavery Republican Party candidate, Lincoln, to win, even though the party had absolutely no support in the South.
Perhaps so. You're obviously more well read on the subject than I. Yet judging from history it would have backfired. Every nation that "conquered" China ended up being assimilated, losing its national identity, and becoming part of China: the Mongols, the Manchus. It's possible that by 2003 Japan would already be just another Chinese province and they would all be speaking Chinese. This alternate history might have halted the nearly fatal flirtation with communism in China, Korea and Vietnam, which threatens to destabilize and impoverish the region, arguably far worse than a Japanese victory would have.
If the Confederacy had been allowed to continue as an independent nation, the issue would have eventually manifested itself as a stagnant economy and been resolved in one of two ways.
1. By implosion, as in Brazil. Its slaveholders were universally regarded as the cruelest and most arrogant aristocrats in the New World, yet in 1893(?) even they had to throw in the towel because slavery simply doesn't work. In other countries the governments simply wrote the slaveholders a check for the current market value of their slaves, which by then wasn't a whole lot, and immediately handed them all writs of manumission.
2. By begging to be readopted by kindly old England as a colony again. The Brits had long cast covetous eyes on their cotton supplier, and when the slave-based economy of the southern aristocrats ceased to support their aristocratic lifestyle, becoming British citizens might have seemed an attractive option. The Queen would have immediately freed the slaves, as had already been done throughout the Empire. By now of course the Confederate American colonies would have the same independence as Canada. They would undoubtedly be a similarly peaceful neighbor, chuckling over our differences and still calling us Damn Yankees, but closing ranks with the U.K. and the U.S. in wartime just as they have always done. The key difference between that alternate history and reality would be the fate of the black Americans on both sides of the Mason Dixon line. There would be no Civil War or Reconstruction to blame on them. It was no secret that white Southerners (and Northerners) were already happily having mixed-race children out of wedlock with their slaves. The practice would surely have become even more common and more legitimate in a South without the Reconstruction-spawned K.K.K. and in a North that didn't see hundreds of thousands of dead Union soldiers every time it looked into the face of a freedman. Who knows, by now the people in both subsets of the fifty States might be various shades of brown, just like the other former slaveholding nations. Isn't that a nice dream?
I lived in the south most of my life. I never hear anybody blaming the Civil War on black people. First off the confederates started the war. Linchon only wanted to stop the spreading of it to the western states.
England would not have gotten rid of slavery. They were doing far worse things then slavery at the time. I would have rather been a slave and worth something then a colonist and being starved to death because of the colonial system.
That's very likely true. Japan was having a lot of trouble in its occupation, only having success in the north. The coalition of the Chinese nationalists and communists made it very difficult for the Japanese, particularly as US aid increased.
I pretty much agree. Britain was encouraging more cotton production in Egypt and India, reducing its needs on southern cotton. As the need for their cotton diminished, the power of the planters would have diminished. Cotton was no longer the driving force behind the American economy after 1840; transportation, specifically the railroad, was. And the South could not afford to continue to lag behind the North in education, industry, transportation, etc. By the end of the 19th century the South would have had to either reconsider rejoining the Union or approaching Britain. While the planters may have desired to rejoin the empire, they would not have the true aristocratic status they had in America. They might have been better off investing in industry and becoming giants of the status of the Carnegies and Rockefellers. I think that the average farmers in the South, who made up the overwhelming majority of southern society, would have pushed for reunion with the North. That was the only way for them to actually have some political influence in a federal republic as opposed to the oligarchy they had existed in since 1783. JMO.
i think it's mahatma gandhi. he managed to make the indian freedom struggle a non-violent one. the concept of a non-violent revolution at the time was ludicrous. yet he managed to do it. it wouldn't have been possible if he didn't have the support of the people, and everyone supported him. they felt they could trust him. his universal appeal, and non-violent, yet crippling methods, like swadeshi and all the principles under it, still amaze me.
he never stood for any election, but was a member of the Indian National Congress, so i guess that qualifies him.
There's three that particularily stand out for me.
1 - Pierre Trudeau
2 - Fidel Castro
3 - Nelson Mandela
Carmagio, you reminded me..i have 1 more:-
Actually, I forgot about Che, add him to my list as well....... thanks Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
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Ronald Reagan: Ended the Soviet empire and eliminated what was and still is at this point the greatest threat to the world that has ever existed.
The American Founding Fathers: Established the greatest and most powerful nation in the history of mankind.
Charles Martel: Saved Western Civilization from Muslim invaders.
Actually, it was Axis warmongering that ended the great depression. All Roosevelt did was curse us with unprecedented government involvement in our economy.
I knew it'd cause some controversy. Here's my argument:
Well, there isn't Constitutional justification for much. Executive orders have been issued from our first President, and none have been legally challenged, to my knowledge. FDR did what he had to do in order to ensure that our economy rebounded.
Axis warmongering? That's not true. Our domestic economy was caused by internal margin buying. So how could a foreign political move so greatly influence the American dollar? It is possible, do not misstate me, that it did influence our economy at the time, but not so much as to remove us from a Depression that was worsened by the Dust Bowl. Socialist procedures were required to help the country, much like France after their revolutions.
Had there been no World War II, or no American involvement in World War II, would we have still recovered from the depression in the same time frame?
Mr. Reed says it better than I could hope to: Great Myths of the Great Depression
I wasn't quite alive during the Reagan administration, but from what I've heard, from my various liberal relatives and friends who were alive and self conscious at the time, was that they were terrified of the man, and hated him for the incredible amounts of money he spent on the military, which did destroy the Soviet Empire, but also "forced" every president since then to spend just as much or more on the military itself, which is not as warranted considering the fact that we lack a large, foreign enemy to dehumanize.
I thought we were weaklings until after WW2. I would argue that Great Britain is the greatest and most influential nation ever. If it weren't for them then we wouldn't be here!
I think that western civilization would have been a great deal more peaceful if Christianity had been eradicated by Islam. I researched Islam, and found that most or all of the Islamic rulers of the middle ages preached a thing called tolerance, a concept thought completely insane by more European legislators. If you lived in an Islamic country and were not a Muslim, and as long as you worshipped the bible and paid a small tax you were fine. There are other aspects of Islam as well that make it particularly intriguing (Mohammed was fairly wealthy before he started preaching, then was dirt poor for the rest of his life) and, in my mind at least, make it better than Christianity.
I know little about this guy..all I do know is that the word che is used to say that something is cool in Spanish. So the fellow must have been pretty influential.
How come no one's mentioned Garfield? He never gets any credit as the greatest president in this nation's history!
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