The Vice President is one heartbeat away from being the leader of the “free world”.

This is the community where people live with the belief that we are “citizens of the world”. With this in mind, it is important to remember history. This office has played a crucial role in our government.

Dick Cheney was instrumental in steering America into an unlawful war against Iraq. At the root of this was money of course. Cheney personally made millions of dollars from this war, at the expense of American and coalition forces.

Of all the men that have filled this position, (and it has only been men), the one that has had the biggest impact on our current world to date was Harry Truman.

Henry Wallace

Truman served a Vice President to Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was not the Vice President during Roosevelt’s previous terms. The person serving in this position was Henry Wallace. Wallace served as VP from 1941-1945. The difference in the two men is staggering.

Being 5’8″ tall, Truman had a “Napoleon” complex. Wallace on the other hand was estimated to stand at about six feet. The actions Truman took as President following the death of Roosevelt is where the debate begins.

What was at stake

In 1941, war erupted. This was also the first year of Wallace’s tenure as VP. This was the big one, WWII. Bloodshed was on a global scale with over 90% of Europe involved. Adolph Hitler invaded Poland, kicking off the war on the continent. His “Blitzkrieg” machine spread into Russia and North Africa.

The United States and the Empire of Japan were destroying one another across the Pacific Ocean. No island in this vast expanse of water was safe and fighting was fiercer than anticipated. North and South America seemed to be immune to this cancer and hatred that was spreading.

Nazi Germany was eradicating anyone not affiliated with the “Master Race.” Japan had begun its ethnic cleansing earlier in the Manchurian War. The Earth was truly in a fight for freedom and the value of human life.

Why Roosevelt should have turned left at Albuquerque

One thing is true, President Truman gave the order to use weapons of mass destruction on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Wallace would not have made the same choice. This is not a discussion on that decision, but on how the actions of the two men separate them.

Allied forces of the US, Great Britain and Russia joined together to defeat the “White Supremacy” that was the German Army. Stalin, Russia’s leader, maintained over 20,000 tanks on its eastern borders in the event Japan invaded . Once it was determined no invasion was coming, those tanks headed west.

Wallace enjoyed good relations with Russia and wanted to strengthen the alliance with them. However, during the election of 1945, Roosevelt made the change from Wallace to Truman. Truman had a much different view.

Truman is why relations with Russia are what they are today — some 74 years later.

Why “Do as I say” does not work

Truman began his presidency due to the death of a President. This is what makes the office so important. Lyndon Johnson ramped up the war in Vietnam where it is believed John Kennedy would not have. Truman committed the “cardinal sin” against an ally.

Where Wallace treated Russia with the respect, Truman chose a different path. He operated under the belief that America’s nuclear technology was impervious to Russian access. In truth, Russia took advantage of America’s desire for weapons rather than national security.

Their plan was simple, send one of their own scientist to work on the project. It was not revealed until years later. They used Truman’s arrogance against him.

With ignorance as his moral compass, he decided to employ a “might is right” foreign policy with Russia while being in the dark. Truman had “egg on his face” when Russia successfully tested its first nuclear weapon in 1949. He did not seek re-election.

The moral of the story

While Wallace maintained positive friendships with Russia after his Vice Presidency, he was aware of how much trust should be placed in Soviet leadership.

Might make right makes foes, not alliances. Nobody wants to be under anyone’s thumb. Truman created animosity that led to Russia secretly build a nuclear arsenal. They developed technology which propelled them to be the first in space.

This is what led to the “Cold War” and the relations that exist between the two countries today.

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Gene Smith

Gene Smith is a Chief Campaign Strategist living in Arizona. He is a Juris Doctor, and host of the podcast "Hanging With Uncle"

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