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A New Deal for the World Americas Vision for Human Rights: America's Vision for Human Rights by Elizabeth Borgwardt (2007-10-02)

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    Elizabeth Borgwardt(Author)

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  • Elizabeth Borgwardt(Author)
  • Harvard University Press (1714)
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  • By Todd Carlsen on February 28, 2012

    This book won the Merle Curti Award by the Organization of American Historians. This is a terrific history! It is an essential book on American foreign policy, the history of the 20th Century, World War Two, and the human rights movement. It is a benchmark book on President Franklin Roosevelt's post-WWII vision and, thus, an essential book on World War II history.First read the monumental Atlantic Charter, which articulated the war aims of USA and Great Britain. Read FDR's Four Freedoms, the starting point of FDR's post-war plan.Elizabeth Borgwardt states, "The Atlantic Charter with Churchill marked a bold attempt on the part of Roosevelt and his foreign policy planners to internationalize the New Deal. FDR hoped to apply the lessons of the Depression and inter-war era to the world's burgeoning international crisis and to sidestep the perceived mistakes of President Woodrow Wilson at the end of the First World War."The Treaty of Versailles following the First World War was punitive, self-serving to the victors, and disastrous to Germany economically, which destabilized the global economy and made many people bitter about the millions slaughtered in World War I. Wilson failed to win an acceptable peace despite lofty ideals. Then the people of the United States retreated into isolationism, disgusted with WWI. The world descended into the economic calamity called the Great Depression, Hitler rose to power, appeasement and international weakness encouraged Hitler, and 65 million people died in the ensuing World War II.To prevent this from happening again, Roosevelt sought a general international framework based on the New Deal and FDR's Four Freedoms that would prevent world war three, avoid economic insecurity, encourage freedom and self-determination, and restore international security and prosperity for decades. The world tore itself apart and then built itself anew following World War II in FDR's vision (but not completely). This book explains how FDR's blueprint was conceived and adopted, starting with the Four Freedoms, through the Atlantic Charter, to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and to post-war multilateral entities for security and freedom. Read the Atlantic Charter and then compare it to the Treaty of Versailles.The Atlantic Charter became a statement of human rights to Nelson Mandela and others under colonial rule, and colonialism would subsequently unravel. The UN's Declaration of Human Rights advanced that even further. At the start, FDR did not support, for domestic political purposes, the idea of the UN, but he proposed and set forth the UN to be created towards the end of the war. Additional plans put in motion that post-war vision, although there were disappointments later and obviously did not reach all areas of the world. She shows what went wrong.I especially recommend reading the final two chapters titled "Forgotten Legacies of the Atlantic Charter" and "An Expanding Vision of the National Interest." She singles out the legacies of Bretton Woods, the United Nations, the Nuremberg Trials, an integrated vision of security, America's multilateralist policies, and values that served the national interest.The vision can still be advanced today, even if the vision did not fully transpire. One need only look to the world before WWII to understand the need and the positive impact of Franklin Roosevelt's post-war vision. Critics will nitpick, but looking at the broad picture, the impact is clear. This book is an important reminder of that pivotal history. Read the Atlantic Charter, which is a monumental document like the Gettysburg Address, Declaration of Independence, and Magna Carta.To necessarily understand the New Deal and related economic history for background, I also recommend the books The New Deal: A Modern History, the chapter titled "What the New Deal Did" in Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, and Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power. Also, read the Atlantic Charter.Three other excellent books on the impact of FDR's foreign policy are Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion Of Freedom, which the Economist called "a masterpiece," Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another, and Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945. Churchill was a futile defender of British colonialism and initially resisted the Atlantic Charter, but he needed America's help. Also read The Cold War: A New History to understand how human rights, articulated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, would play an important role in the Cold War and the eventual fall of the Soviet empire.This New Deal vision that came out of the trauma of the Great Depression and horrific WWII, unfortunately, has been forgotten by many in recent generations, partly because people today do not know the great trauma of the Great Depression because the framework for security created by FDR through the principles of the New Deal banished those traumas from happening again. I would argue that the legacies of Roosevelt's post-war vision are global economic prosperity and free trade, international security regarding both military aggression and economic stability, human rights, an active USA in foreign affairs (in contrast to the isolationism before FDR), collective security, and multilateralism. The contrast between the ideals that emerged from WWII and the world that preceded it are striking.Keep in mind that FDR was an unusually effective speaker, with his silver voice. He created a bond with millions of Americans through his fireside chats. He is consistently rated internationally outside the world as one of the greatest leaders in world history. So when Franklin Roosevelt talked about his post-war vision the Atlantic Charter, it made an impact. He persuaded people. For example, Ronald Reagan wrote in his autobiography that he idolized FDR and was deeply impressed by FDR's communication style, which Reagan modeled his style after, he said. Historians have said that Reagan would pretend he was FDR speaking, swinging around a cigarette holder. So when FDR articulated his vision to a hungry world that experienced the trauma of the Great Depression and WWII, they listed to his reassuring voice. This book tells the story of his vision: a New Deal for the World. I highly recommend watching Biography -- FDR: The War Years to understand the power of FDR's communication style when he talked about this vision. (This DVD is also free as part of the FDR: Men of Secrets DVD package.) The world changed.In his last inaugural address to the American people before he died, as WWII was ending, FDR said, "We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations, far away... [The American people] have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community. We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that, 'The only way to have a friend is to be one.'"Here is the text of the ATLANTIC CHARTER:"The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world."First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;"Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned;"Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them;"Fourth, they will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity;"Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security;"Sixth, after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want;"Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance;"Eighth, they believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments."Signed by FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL (in Roosevelt's handwriting)"

  • By George Cotkin on November 11, 2005

    A NEW DEAL FOR THE WORLD is an excellent and timely book, incisive in analysis and gracefully written. It demonstrates how the imperatives of the New Deal and expanded outward into international affairs. Beginning with the Atlantic Charter (1941), Borgwardt captures the idealistic aspects of that document, while also indicating how American ideals and policy have worked in the postwar world - sometimes with good, sometimes with problematic aspects. Borgwardt stresses the importance of ideas, and she anchors her work in political and foreign policy history. She is learned on all counts. A must read for anyone interested in the issue of America and Human Rights.

  • By Terence Hegarty on September 26, 2011

    We are perhaps just now beginning to become accustomed to understanding the Cold War as a "blip" in twentieth century history, a sort of interregnum between World War II and whatever we mean by "postmodernism." It is the signal achievement of Elizabeth Borgwardt's A New Deal for the World to trace a sort of hidden continuity named "human rights," a movement that began dimly with the Hague Conventions early in the twentieth century, took on political power in the confrontational thirties, and emerged as an ugly duckling from the strange crucible of Nuremberg -- only to be instantly driven underground by the "iron curtain" worldview so cherished by political leaders from Churchill to Reagan. Since 1989, Borgwardt seems to say, we are at last back in the mainstream, a progression once known to Americans as the "New Deal," although Americans (in particular) may be the last to acknowledge it. Borgwardt's account -- historical, legal, and economic by turns -- is richly documented with archival material from many countries (including Nazi Germany), and includes character studies that will not be forgotten, from the truly admirable but unjustly neglected American official Charles E. Merriam to the ghastly but "amiable" Hermann Goering. This is a historian's view of the grim mid twentieth century that should be assimilated and given its due as among the most coherent -- and optimistic, for lack of a more scholarly word -- accounts we have.


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