Pax melior est quam justissimum bellum (peace is better than the most just war)
Recently, a European friend and I discussed the difference between the Europeans and Americans which could be summed up in the follow two phrases. For the U.S. Peior est bello timor ipse belli. or the fear of war is worse than war. For Europe, Pax melior est quam justissimum bellum. or peace is better than the most just war. With that in mind, I present Sunday's wisdom courtesy of Max Boot. The following is taken from page 149 of The Savage Wars of Peace:
The difference between Roosevelt and Wilson was not primarily over ends but means. Wilson believed in the efficacy of international law and moral force. Roosevelt believed that American honor could be protected, and its ideals exported, only by military force. His famous slogan was "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Wilson almost inverted this aphorism.
The irony is that Wilson would wind up resorting to force more often than his famously bellicose predecessor had. This may not have been entirely accidental, for Roosevelt believed that his buildup of the military and his well-advertised willingness to use it, deterred potential adversaries from challenging U.S. power. Wilson, by contrast, he condemed as one of those "prize jackasses" who combined "the unready hand with the unbridled tongue," and hence made war more likely. This may be an overly harsh judgement - there was abundant personal animus between Roosevelt and his successor - but there is little doubt that Woodrow Wilson came into office little realizing how often and how much military force would be required to implement his ideals.