A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 10, 2013
“War kills reform”

"War kills reform” is a catchphrase of American historian Robert Dallek. Dallek wrote in Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973 (1998):

It is a given of U.S. history that war kills reform. Populism could not outlive the Spanish-American clash; progressivism largely succumbed to World War I; ‘Dr. New Deal’ gave way to “Dr. Win-the-War,” in FDR’s memorable phrase; Korea overwhelmed Truman’s Fair Deal; and Vietnam largely stalled the War on Poverty and blocked Johnson’s reach for the Great Society. The country had never had the psychological and financial wherewithal to back reform and war at the same time.”

The familiar form of the quotation was said by Dallek and printed in USA Today on March 13, 2006:

“‘War kills reform,’ says Robert Dallek, an LBJ biographer and author of Hail to the Chief: The Making and Unmaking of American Presidents. ‘It consumes the energy of the administration, the public, the press. This is what the focus is on.’”


Wikipedia: Robert Dallek
Robert Dallek (born May 16, 1934) is an American historian specializing in American presidents. He is a recently retired Professor of History at Boston University and has previously taught at Columbia University, UCLA, and Oxford. He currently teaches at Stanford University’s Stanford in Washington program in Washington, D.C. He has won the Bancroft Prize for his 1979 history of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his foreign policy, as well as other awards for scholarship and teaching.

Google Books
Flawed Giant:
Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973

By Robert Dallek
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
1998
Pg. 399:
Farewell to Reform
It is a given of U.S. history that war kills reform. Populism could not outlive the Spanish-American clash; progressivism largely succumbed to World War I; “Dr. New Deal” gave way to “Dr. Win-the-War,” in FDR’s memorable phrase; Korea overwhelmed Truman’s Fair Deal; and Vietnam largely stalled the War on Poverty and blocked Johnson’s reach for the Great Society. The country had never had the psychological and financial wherewithal to back reform and war at the same time.

PBS.org
DIVIDED ATTENTION
September 2, 1998
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Transcript
(...)
ROBERT DALLEK, Presidential Historian: Well, there’s always hope. But, you know, Jim, there’s an old saying in American history that war kills reform, and we-World War I killed off progressivism and World War II killed off the New Deal. Korea stopped the Fair Deal in its tracks, and Vietnam killed off Johnson’s Great Society. I think it’s also true of a domestic crisis. It makes it almost impossible for a president to conduct an effective foreign policy. Lyndon Johnson - terrible domestic crisis over the Vietnam War. He went and met with the Soviet leadership, Kosegin at Glassboro, and couldn’t get anywhere. I mean, a lot of rhetoric, much the same as we heard today, about advancing arms control and advancing agreements to make peace in the Middle East, but nothing really could come of it, because you had only a weakened president at home but a president’s credibility with foreign leaders was, more or less, destroyed.

New York (NY) Times
February 10, 2003
Crises, Crises Everywhere. What Is a President to Do?
By TODD S. PURDUM
(...)
“This is what a president is — a crisis manager,” said the historian Robert Dallek, who wrote a two-volume biography of Johnson and has just finished another on Kennedy. “Of course, what suffers in all of this is any domestic agenda a president has. A standard reality is that war kills reform. The Spanish-American war killed populism, World War I killed Progressivism, World War II killed the New Deal, Korea killed the Fair Deal, Vietnam the Great Society.”

USA Today
Posted 3/13/2006 11:19 PM Updated 3/14/2006 7:49 AM
Conflict will define Bush’s role in history
By Susan Page, USA TODAY
(...)
“War kills reform,” says Robert Dallek, an LBJ biographer and author of Hail to the Chief: The Making and Unmaking of American Presidents. “It consumes the energy of the administration, the public, the press. This is what the focus is on.”

Google Books
A Tragic Legacy:
How a Good Vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency

By Glenn Greenwald
New York, NY: Crown Publishers
2008
Pg. 268:
As Robert Dallek, a biographer of Lyndon Johnson, put it: “War kills reform. It consumes the energy of the administration, the public, the press. This is what the focus is on.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, April 10, 2013 • Permalink