Albert Einstein’s Letter to President Roosevelt

Albert Einstein’s Letter to President Roosevelt

Many people and scholars regard a democratic form of government as the surest way of making leaders accountable for every action they take, and more importantly to respect the rule of law and the will of the people (Mullen et al. 225). In his definition of the term democracy, Abraham Lincoln stated that it was a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Based on Abraham’s definition, it is an expectation that leaders in a democratic nation will always consult the public in vital national issues that they undertake. However, this is not always the case as most leaders end up executing critical national issues and programs secretly, thus resulting in the subversion of both the rule of law and the will of the majority. Such issues are what Smith addresses in his bookBeyond conspiracy theory: Patterns of high crime in American government where he examines the flaws associated with SCADs. This paper aims to determine whether the August letter written to President Roosevelt by Albert Einstein in 1939 can be classified as part of the SCAD.

According to Lance Smith, State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs) are the extralegal or illegal actions committed by senior political leaders or business elites who manipulate or subvert a country’s democratic process and undermine the popular sovereignty. Some of the issues that Smith describes as part of SCADs are election tampering, voter fraud, political assassination, corruption by government officials, rogue operations by government and non-governmental agencies, and corporate collusion (deHaven-Smith 798). In 1939, Einstein signed a letter which was written by Leo Szilard and sent it to President Franklin Roosevelt informing him of the proposal by Germany to develop nuclear weapons. In this latter, Einstein was warning President Roosevelt that in case Germany succeeded in developing the atomic bombs, it would be difficult to suppress their dominance in Europe or prevent the atrocities that were being committed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Hence, Einstein recommended that President Roosevelt execute the Manhattan Project which saw the US develop its first atomic bombs. The Manhattan Project might be considered as rogue operations by President Roosevelt’s administration since it was undertaken secretly without the consultation or participation of the public. It is the same atomic bombs which were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan bringing an end to World War 11.

In conclusion, therefore, the fact that the letter was meant to inform President Roosevelt to implement the Manhattan Project, a project which was not only expensive but also resulted in calamitous consequences in Japan, proves the that the Einstein’s letter constitutes a SCAD.


Works Cited

deHaven-Smith, Lance. “Beyond conspiracy theory: Patterns of high crime in American government.” American Behavioral Scientist 53.6 (2010): 795-825.

Mullen, Carol A., et al. “Democratically accountable leadership: Tensions, overlaps, and principles in action.” Journal of School Leadership 18.2 (2008): 224-248.

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