Evan Thomas and Douglas Brinkley Discuss Presidents and War

In the latest event co-hosted by the Center and the Council on Foreign Relations at the Council’s New York headquarters, Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley questioned Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas on the relationship between U.S. Presidents and war.  Evan Thomas delves into the “psychohistory” of Theodore Roosevelt’s enthusiasm for the Spanish-American War and Roosevelt’s subsequent international decisions as President compared to other early twentieth-century U.S. presidents. The series, now in its third year, focuses on the connection between history and current foreign policy. The November 30 session was attended by more than 130 members of the Council and their guests.

Douglas Brinkley (left) and Evan Thomas (right)

Thomas used his recent book, The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, and Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1898, as a springboard to a discussion beginning with Teddy Roosevelt and moving through history to the current administration. He argued that Roosevelt’s experiences in the conflict with the Spanish in Cuba broke his yearning for war. Thomas compared TR’s “carry a big stick” policy to Eisenhower’s efforts to keep the U.S. out of combat during the Cold War, remarking that both believed in the public display of awesome war power as a deterrent to its actual use. Thomas also answered questions from the audience.

The transcript of the event can be found here.