What Would Past Presidents Tell Trump? This New Book Imagines Just That
James Mikel Wilson's "Ghosts of Presidents Past" is an allegory that envisions what past presidents would tell the current one if they visited him, a la "A Christmas Carol."In the allegorical novel, President Daniel Hands (nicknamed "Little Big Hands") serves as a stand-in for President Donald Trump, and while there are some differences between the character and his real-world counterpart, the comparisons and points of reference are likely familiar, even to those who haven't been totally tuned in the past four years.
The claim: This was the first four-year term without a new war since Eisenhower
As the election nears, a post about President Donald Trump looks to highlight his record on military events, claiming he stands out from most modern presidents in terms of new conflicts involving the United States.
The Oct. 24 post simply reads, “Did ya know? This was the 1st 4 year term with out a new war since Eisenhower.” The poster did not respond to USA TODAY's requests for comment.
Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
Eisenhower was president from 1953-61.
A similar claim was made by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., during the Republican National Convention, saying that Trump was the first president since Ronald Reagan to not wage a new war. Reagan was six presidents after Eisenhower, serving from 1981-89.
Donald Trump made many promises in 2016 and early in his term. Which has he kept and what is he still working on?
Trump has kept a number of pledges, including tax cuts and conservative judges. But not on others such as bringing back coal and replacing Obamacare."Unlike so many who came before me, I keep my promises," Trump said during his State of the Union speech this year.
Fact check: False Kamala Harris claim uses image from 2019 trip to Iowa
Authorizations for use of military force
The accuracy of the claim depends in part on the definition of war.
The United States has only formally declared war in five conflicts — the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II — against 11 countries. Formal declarations are rare, in part, because they give the president additional powers at home. The rarity makes it a bad metric for this fact-check, as military entanglements that are considered wars, such as the Vietnam War or the Iraq War, would be exempt.
Most conflicts in which the United States engages involve “authorizations of military force” from Congress to the president. These authorizations go all the way back to John Adams.
Fighter jets fire flares, escort plane from airspace near Trump event in Arizona
U.S. fighter jets escorted a plane flying in restricted airspace near President Donald Trump's rally in Bullhead City, Arizona.The North American Aerospace Defense Command tweeted that it sent two F-16s to investigate "a general aviation aircraft that was not in communication" with air-traffic controllers as it neared Bullhead City.
President Dwight Eisenhower received an authorization for military force from Congress in 1957, in his second term, to manage escalating tensions in the Middle East. He sent nearly 150,000 troops to Lebanon in 1958.
The next authorization was under President Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam, a conflict in which Americans had been involved for more than a decade.
The next declaration was under Reagan in 1983 in Lebanon.
In 1991, authorization was made for the Persian Gulf War while President George H.W. Bush was in office. In 2001, authorizations were given for the War on Terror under President George W. Bush, and for the Iraq War in 2003.
This leaves Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama off the list of presidents who waged new wars that were authorized in some way by Congress.
Fact check: Estimated taxpayer burden for Trump's golf outings is hard to pin down
Will Trump be a one-term president? Here's the list of the Commanders-in-Chief denied a second term
From John Adams to George H.W. Bush, nearly 10 Commanders-in-Chief throughout U.S. history have run for re-election and lost. Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning. The answer to whether or not Trump will add to that list is just a few days away. But as the nation casts their ballots in anticipation of the outcome, let's take a look into the past — at U.S. presidents who didn't get a second four years because they were denied by voters in the general election.
Other military conflicts
However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t military conflicts.
Clinton, with authorization from the United Nations and money from Congress, brought the United States into the Bosnian War, and Obama brought the United States into the Libyan Civil War in 2011 under similar circumstances. Since both military engagements are referred to as wars, for purposes of this fact-check, we will consider them new wars the country entered. © Darko Vojinovic, AP A Bosnian Muslim woman reacts as she walks among gravestones at the memorial center of Potocari near Srebrenica, 150 kms north east of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Aug. 14, 2018. The leader of Bosnia's Serbs has downplayed the massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica during the war in 1995 and called for the reopening of an investigation into the worst carnage in Europe since World War II.
Get these in your inbox: We're fact checking the news and sending it to your inbox. Sign up here.
More ambiguously, Kennedy grappled with the Bay of Pigs, a military engagement that went down as an “invasion,” but never a war.
Top 50 MLB free agents of 2020-12 offseason with predictions
Michael Vick talks Cowboys week 8 loss to Eagles
Nixon governed through the Vietnam War, but didn’t start any foreign wars. Ford is not credited with starting any new wars either, and Carter famously considers it the proudest accomplishment of his one-term presidency that he never started any new wars, instead relying on negotiations.
Fact check: Flint, Michigan, councilman, a lifelong Democrat, has endorsed Trump
Our rating: False
We rate this claim FALSE, based on our research. Trump's term in office has not been the first four-year term since Eisenhower without a new war. Carter, Ford and Nixon all served after Eisenhower and did not bring the country into new wars.
Our fact-check sources:
- Congressional Research Service, April 18,2014, Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications
- U.S. Senate, accessed Nov. 1, Official declarations of war by Congress
- The Guardian, Sept. 10, 2011, Jimmy Carter: 'We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a bullet. We never went to war'
- History.com, Aug. 21, 2018, Eisenhower doctrine
- History.com, March 14, 2019, How the Vietnam War Ratcheted Up Under 5 U.S. Presidents
- RealClearPolitics, Aug. 24, Gaetz: Trump The First President Since Reagan Not To Start A New War
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, accessed Nov. 1, The Bay of Pigs
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Trump may soon join history’s club of one-term presidents, rejected by Americans they led
From John Adams to Herbert Hoover to George H.W. Bush, there are nine presidents who were elected, served one full term, and tried and failed to be reelected. Trump would be the 10th. Some one-term presidents don’t qualify for this distinction. President John Tyler, for example, who took over after the death of President William Henry Harrison before losing reelection, does not count. Neither does President Lyndon B. Johnson, who declined to run for reelection in 1968. Three presidents – James K. Polk, James Buchanan and Rutherford B. Hayes – made and kept promises to serve only one term.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.
US soldiers look out over hillsides during a visit of the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller at the Afghan National Army (ANA) checkpoint in Nerkh district of Wardak province on June 6, 2019.
Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, left, arrives in Kabul, Afghanistan, to consult with Army Gen. Scott Miller, right, commander of U.S. and coalition forces, and senior Afghan government leaders on Feb. 11, 2019.
U.S forces arrive to the Intercontinental Hotel after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Jan. 21, 2018. Gunmen stormed the hotel in the Afghan capital, triggering a shootout with security forces, officials said.
A U.S. Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Capt. Andrew P. Ross on Nov. 30, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. According to the Department of Defense, Ross, 29, of Lexington, Va., was killed Nov. 27, 2018, by a roadside bomb in Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.
In this July 31, 2017 photo, U.S. forces leave after a suicide attack followed by a clash between Afghan forces and Islamic State fighters during an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 22, 2017. Reversing his past calls for a speedy exit, Trump recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan Monday night, declaring U.S. troops must "fight to win."
In this Aug. 5, 2015 file photo, an Afghan National Army soldier, left, smokes as a U.S. Army soldier from Charlie Company, 2-14 Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division sits next to him in Camp Khogyani in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. An uptick in attacks by Afghan National army soldiers against foreign troops would seem a worrisome trend ahead of the deployment of another 4,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan in the latest attempt by Washington to turn around the protracted war against insurgents.
In this May 3 , 2017 file photo, A damaged U.S. military vehicle is pictured at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. In an "open letter" to U.S. President Donald Trump, Afghanistan's Taliban on Tuesday reiterated their call for a withdrawal of troops to end the protracted war.
Soldiers play football in front of the Boardwalk as the sun begins to set at Kandahar airfield on Nov. 12, 2014 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Now that British combat operations have ended and the last UK base in Afghanistan had been handed over to the control of Afghan security forces, any remaining troops are leaving the country via Kandahar. As the drawdown of the US-led coalition troops heads into its final stages, many parts of Kandahar airfield - once home to tens of thousands of soldiers and contractors - are being closed or handed over to the Afghans.
US soldiers and service members with the NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) eat Christmas dinner at their base in Ghazni province, Afghanistan on Dec. 25, 2013. The commander of NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan spent Christmas visiting U.S. troops at bases across the mountainous region to bring them holiday greetings and gifts for a few lucky soldiers.
In this March 18, 2010 file photo, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Mathew Gorzkiewicz, of North Liberty, Indiana, with the First Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment, Alpha company, tries out an Afghan boy's sling during a patrol in Marjah, Afghanistan. Reversing his past calls for a speedy exit, President Donald Trump recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, declaring on Aug. 21, 2017 U.S. troops must "fight to win". He pointedly declined to disclose how many more troops will be dispatched to wage America's longest war.
In this Dec. 2, 2009 file photo, U.S. soldiers stand guard near the site where Afghans, unseen, receive the food stuff donations provided by U.S. solders in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A soldier with the 3/509th of the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division keeps descends from a guard tower at Forward Operating Base Zerok Oct. 7, 2009 in Zerok, Afghanistan. The soldiers at FOB Zerok, which has been attacked repeatedly from the surrounding hostile countryside of Paktika province, keep an extensive 24 hour a day watch from several locations to guard the base. October 7th marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Afghanistan war in 2001; eight years later, thousands of American and international troops are camped out in field bases around the war-torn country.
U.S. Army Engineer Staff Sgt. Rick Atkinson of Roswell, New Mexico plays with a puppy that soldiers of Forward Operating Base Zerok adopted a few weeks ago Oct. 7, 2009 in Zerok, Afghanistan. Oct. 7th marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Afghanistan war in 2001; eight years later, thousands of American and international troops are camped out in field bases around the war-torn country.
Soldiers carry Afghan and U.S. military flags during a handover ceremony at the main U.S. base at Bagram north of Kabul, Afghanistan on April 10, 2008. The 101st Airborne Division is taking over in Afghanistan, replacing the 82nd Airborne after 15 months in the country. The U.S. now has some 32,000 troops in the country, the most since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
U.S. soldiers of the 82nd Airborne's 3rd Platoon Bravo Company move into a position during a live fire training on Jan. 9, 2003 at a firing range near the U.S. base in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Kandahar was the stronghold of the Taliban, the rigorously Islamic regime that was ousted from power in late 2001 by a U.S.-led military coalition.
In this Dec. 31, 2001 file picture, Marines with full battle gear prepare to board transport helicopters at the U.S. military compound at Kandahar airport for a mission to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.
An Afghan anti-Taliban fighter looks up at an American B-52 vapor trail during an airstrike on al-Qaida positions in the White Mountains of Afghanistan on Dec 12, 2001. Afghan tribal commanders set a new deadline Wednesday for the surrender of a group of al-Qaida fighters cornered in the mountain canyon under heavy U.S. bombardment, demanding that top terrorist suspects, possibly including Osama bin Laden, also turn themselves in.
U.S. special forces troops survey the area at the airport near Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan on Nov. 29, 2001. Special forces troops worked Thursday to prepare the airport for humanitarian aid flights.
President Bush poses for a photo after announcing air strikes on Afghanistan from the Treaty Room in the White House on Oct. 7, 2001.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Trump joins Carter, Ford and Nixon among presidents without a new war
Beyoncé and JAY-Z's Daughter Blue Ivy Is Narrating the Hair Love Audiobook — Hear Her Intro .
The Hair Love audiobook, narrated by Blue Ivy, is available now on amazon.com .