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American presidents and war crimes

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Eugene posted on Mon, Nov 26 2012 1:50 PM

I'm reading the "Recarving Rushmoore" book that rates American presidents according to libertarian values. However some information is missing there. For example in my opinion the killing of innoocent people, whether Americans or not, is the worst crime a president (or any person for that matter) can commit. So the question is who are the most murderous presidents? Truman, F.D.R, Lincoln, Willson? Is there a list of them somewhere? Can we come up with a list here?

Thanks.

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Washington should be up there because of the Whiskey Rebellion in which federal agents killed at least 5 civilians while the Whiskey Rebels killed none... he enacted the first national draft to do so.

To answer your question... I'd have to say FDR was the bloodiest President because the most people were killed under his Admin and because he didn't go through Congress to continue the world war and because of all the future damage he caused.  OTOH, one could say Lincoln was the worst since he ruled on his own... FDR couldn't do anything on his own, so I'd say Lincoln was guiltier of war crimes than FDR.  Lincoln was more human than FDR was.

I don't like Jackson all that much, but I've never really understood why he gets the vast majority of criticism for the Indian Wars when he wasn't really capable... he went through Congress (unlike what FDR Executively Ordered did to the Japanese descended people) plus the fact Henry Clay's attitude toward them was worse and more consistent than Jackson's.  Yet Jackson gets praise for reducing the debt when he increased it again with the War againt the Native Americans.

Truman was carrying out what became popular in America so I don't think he's quite on FDR's level.

Good thread topic BTW, Mr. Eugene: )

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Marko replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 2:35 PM

That would be very difficult to determine. What does it really mean for a president to kill someone? How big a role does the regime he heads has to have in the person's death? Should it be counted only if it is the most direct cause of death of them all, or also if it is a large contributing factor? I think you could come up with different answers depending on where would you draw this line.

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cab21 replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 2:36 PM

ww2 most deaths

vietnam highest percentage of civillian deaths

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Eugene replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 11:55 PM

I don't think any president was liable for the murders commited under his regime. I believe you are liable only if you committed the murder with your hands (without an agent acting on your behalf). Having said that, U.S presidents were definitely morally responsible for the murders carried out under their regime.

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Well you have to specify whether or not a president is committing murder. Postulate this: If a president sends military forces into a country and commands them to murder the enemy, is he the one doing the murdering? 

When does the command become action? Is the president committing the action or merely giving the command. Just because one is commanded to do something does not mean that the action follows. So really is it the president committing murder?

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Eugene replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 12:49 PM

He clearly does not. A person commits murder only if he does that himself

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Marko replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 2:08 PM

So what is it you're even asking here? Which American president killed the most people with their bare hands? Does it count if they used a musket, or does it have to be killing by strangulation?

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Eugene replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 11:04 PM

They are not criminally liable for any of the murders, but they are morally responsible, so I am asking about that.

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Anenome replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 11:16 PM

Eugene:

He clearly does not. A person commits murder only if he does that himself

I disagree. One can be charged with murder if one murders via an agent.

A president is merely the world's most powerful principal, nothing more. He has the most powerful pawns under his command. And the rest of the world knows they can't hold him to account for his directives to those agents.

Most murderous president (as a principal)? Hmm. I'd say Lincoln. Not only did more Americans die as a percentage of the population in the CW than any other (iirc), but it was American on American war, so doubly reprehensible and completely avoidable.

Back when I was a rightist I used to like Lincoln too :\

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hashem replied on Wed, Nov 28 2012 11:24 PM

The OP is a false analogy, or some form of a red herring or non sequitor type of fallacy. Presidents (probably) don't kill anyone. Murderers acting as "soldiers" kill people. I would imagine that presidents are probably extraordinarily abusive and dissociated from negative feelings "normal" people associate with exploitation and violence, but they're so powerful they don't dare offend their sensibilities by ending lives when they can abstract such acts far from themselves since so many others are willing to do it instead.

EDIT: Oh, this view is already acknowledged in this thread. My expectations around these forums have been slowly declining so this is another pleasant surprise today.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Marko replied on Thu, Nov 29 2012 1:51 PM

Most murderous president (as a principal)? Hmm. I'd say Lincoln. Not only did more Americans die as a percentage of the population in the CW than any other (iirc), but it was American on American war, so doubly reprehensible and completely avoidable.

So Lincoln becasue he killed Americans? Do only American lives count? Or is just they count doubly?

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Anenome replied on Fri, Nov 30 2012 12:38 AM
 
 

Marko:
So Lincoln becasue he killed Americans? Do only American lives count? Or is just they count doubly?

Not like that. I mean that because it's american on american it's not like we had the war forced on us by outsiders who may have used the excuse of cultural, racial, geographic, language differences, etc., that are often used to demonize others for war justification. The war was perfectly avoidable, and any kill on either side counted as an American casualty (thus the 'doubly').

 
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People are getting caught up in Lincoln too much. You are creating another cult of personality. 

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