It is not about the strong on defense, hawkish Republicans juxtaposed with peace-loving dovish Democrats anymore. Looking back at the past 118 years, there have been some 'divergents' — warmongering Democrats and amicable Republicans. However, more interestingly and surprising for the conventional-minded — the number of the XX century Democratic presidents who kept from starting wars is actually zero.
According to the research conducted by Sputnik, since the turn of the 20th century — out of 8 US presidents none have managed to stay away from initiating military aggression.
In turn, out of 12 Republican leaders, two — Warren Harding and Gerald Ford — have deviated from the generally accepted party reputation.
Since 1900, 35 conflicts have been launched by Republican administrations compared to 23 by Democrats, with 10 (out of 12) GOP presidents launching one or more conflicts, compared to 8 (out of 8) Democrats.
Values and Wars
Rooted in American conservatism, the US Republican party — commonly referred to as the GOP (abbreviation for Grand Old Party) — has always viewed strong national defense as one of its core principles.
Online users visiting the GOP website today are encouraged to choose principles that are most important to them. One of the options reads: "Military must be strong and prepared to defend our shores."
Given the party's solid emphasis on military strength and national security, it's not accidental the Republicans may be perceived as more eager to partake in military endeavors with the US acting as the world's policeman.
One of the recent examples would be the 2003 Iraq invasion under the administration of the Republican president George W. Bush. The conflict was deemed to be over in 2011 but its consequences are still far from settled.
What one wouldn't normally consider is that advocates of socio-economic equality and modern liberalism, aka the Democratic Party, would not produce a war-free president in over a hundred years.
"Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict," the party's online platform says.
However, contrary to the promoted tenet, the Democratic president Bill Clinton in 1999 committed US forces to the war in then Yugoslavia, which lasted a decade.
The bottom line is that the Democrats have been closely trailing the Republicans in warmongering stakes.
So who started them, and who ended them?
- The Korean War began and was fought under a Democrat. It was ended by a Republican.
- The Vietnam War began under one Democrat, escalated and spread beyond Vietnam under his Democratic successor, and then under a Republican. It was ended by another Republican.
- The Persian Gulf War was entirely a Republican affair.
- The Bosnian war and the bombing of Serbia were overseen by a Democrat.
- The "war on terror" was started by a Republican who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and has continued for nearly 8 more years under a Democrat.© AFP 2019 / Saul LOEBUS President Barack Obama speaks during a surprise visit with US troops at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014, prior to the Memorial Day holiday
A 'peacetime US president' is a rarity, especially — during the Cold War, when fear of the spread of communism in Latin America and not only — saw American commanders-in-chief commit US troops all over the world.
Regardless of who sat in the White House there was hardly a presidential term in US history when the country was not at war.
It took a Republican Dwight Eisenhower to warn Americans of the corrupting power of the military-industrial complex. And it was a Democrat Bill Clinton who bombed Belgrade TV, designating journalists "legitimate targets".