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Presidents at War

with Joan Hoff

research professor of history at Montana State University

Hoff discusses the multiple issues arising when presidents go to war. Inarguably, the most important decision any president makes is taking the nation to war. The development of the atomic bomb and nuclear weapons during the Cold War increased presidential power and created a penchant for secrecy when making war. Most presidents have not told the truth when deciding for war, nor have they tried to anticipate long-term outcomes. The country has now been continuously at war since 1945—71 years this year. Ironically, going to war consistently raises presidential approval ratings, but winning wars has become more difficult since the U.S. lost in Vietnam.