AH wilson video

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Wolttaire, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2018

    So what are u guys thought on this video. Do you think that not tough enough or just completely wrong? The most surprising thing for me was Wilsonian intervention
    Thoughts?
     
  2. Lazer_Pages Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2017
    I saw it and thought it was pretty bad. Lots of over simplification, not much actual alternate history, and the scenario itself was ridiculously barebones.

    So about the usual with any of his videos.
     
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  3. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.
    Right about Wilson being a disaster. Wrong about almost everything else.

    If they regret Wilson's election (as I do) the place to stop him was at the Democratic Convention. Instead (as all too often happens in discussions of 1912) they wandered off into talking about TR, who was at best a 10-1 outsider even if he got the Republican nomination, and 1000-1 without it. Everyone gets so obsessed with him that they ignore the other Democrats (esp Clark, Marshall and Bryan) who were the only real alternatives to Wilson.
     
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  4. Amadeus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2017
    The most realistic way to stop Wilson is have Bryan not give his speech condemning Clark, who goes on to win the Democratic nomination and defeat Taft. Perhaps Wilson becomes his running mate or Cabinet member, but he almost certainly never becomes President.
     
  5. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.
    Yes.

    I've always been tickled by the notion of WJB getting in, Wilson becoming Sec of State, and resigning because President Bryan's Lusitania note is too soft. Imnsho, however, Wilson is unlikely to be interested in serving under anybody. As Lloyd George observed, he was always primus, not inter pares, but among subordinates, whether as President of Princeton University, as Governor of New Jersey, or as President of the United States. He just wasn't a team player.
     
  6. SlideAway Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Meh.

    I don't know. I realize that with what they're doing they need to sell a sweeping claim. "Woodrow Wilson is the root of everything bad!" is emotionally satisfying and makes for good clickbait.

    It's also not a remotely controversial opinion. If anything, it's sort of conventional wisdom in many circles: pundits, liberal and left-wing activists, academics (ironically mostly those outside WWI or Progressive-era studies) - to the point that I actually think it's congealed into something that's actually pretty debatable.

    My own feelings about Wilson are complicated. At one point I too had extremely negative views of Wilson, and I still agree with many of the criticisms of his record. He was racist. By segregating federal departments, his administration took a giant step backwards on civil rights. He was terrible on civil liberties. His postwar economic record was atrocious. And I think the claim that the world would have been better off had the US intervened in World War I is a plausible, though unprovable, point. His record in Latin America was terrible.

    Broadly speaking, however, I think the total dismissal of Wilson is oddly de-contextualized. It often relies on a faulty baseline or erroneous assumptions about alternative pathways. It often blames him exclusively for things that were sometimes only partially his doing or not at all his doing. And many of the terrible things people associate him with were also failings of, for example, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, yet Wilson gets singled out completely while the others get painted favorably.

    In terms of this video, some of the arguments are plausible. At least they recognize that Teddy Roosevelt would have brought the US into war sooner, and are making the argument that this would have been better. Many other critics argue that the US should not have gotten involved at all, which is on its own a fair argument, but then simultaneously assert that this would have led to a better outcome, even though the likely outcome is a longer and more deadly war, and little reason to think the peace would have been any better.

    I'm far more skeptical of the video's claim that US imperialism would have been inhibited without Wilson. If anything, Teddy and Republicans wanting to enter the war sooner and align more comprehensively with the UK and France would have still led to an imperialist outcome. It's weird that the video acknowledges but quickly dismisses the US' Philippines occupation, even though much of that war occurred under Teddy. And interventions in Latin America preceded Wilson; if anything, TR and most Republicans wanted a significantly bigger intervention in Mexico than Wilson's more limited (and, frankly, more justifiable) one.

    I also think this falls into the rabbit hole of primarily blaming US interventions abroad on "imperialism" or "idealism," when the US interventions globally mostly trace to the Second World War and the US role as the global hegemon. We underwrite most countries' security: most states around the world depend on US or US-directed capabilities to maintain stability. It's those global obligations that drive US interventions for both good and ill. Why would no Wilson automatically avoid this outcome? A situation where there were no world wars, perhaps. But once European colonialism collapsed, something was going to have fill their roles, with the US as the logical actor. Getting rid of Wilson doesn't get rid of that dynamic. And in any event, what jolted the US into its role as global guarantor was WWII not WWI.

    What they're blaming him for is the justification of "Wilsonianism." But just because Wilson wasn't around doesn't mean people wouldn't find competing reasons to intervene, especially when pressured to by global commitments. In practice, the main tenet of Wilsonianism are things like international organizations, international law, diplomacy over war, something which progressives generally support.

    Anyway, this is a very complicated debate. But the tl;dr is I think Wilson's record is complicated, his impact is complicated, "everything is Woodrow Wilson's fault!" is a fashionable opinion but is, I think, simplistic.
     
  7. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Location:
    Peterborough, UK.
    Only a couple of months sooner. There was no way a DoW could have got through Congress before the declaration of USW against American ships. Until that happened it didn't really matter who was POTUS. The video was talking nonsense there.


    Teddy yes, the Republicans no. Neither party favoured war prior to USW, and even when it was declared a majority of the negative votes were cast by Republicans. And Teddy could have speechified to his heart's content without changing much on that point.