Roundup: Historian's Take
This is where we place excerpts by historians writing about the news. On occasion this page also includes political scientists, economists, and law professors who write about history. We may from time to time even include English profs.
SOURCE: Newsweek (3-19-12)
Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His Latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, has just been published by Penguin Press.
"To understand China you have to think in generations," my Chinese friend explained. "And the key is that after 2012 the Cultural Revolution generation will be in charge."
While antiwar protesters clashed with the National Guard on American campuses and Czechs defied the Red Army in the streets of Prague, China had the Cultural Revolution. In some ways it was the ultimate ’60s teen rebellion. In other ways it was totalitarianism at its worst: a bloody revolution from above unleashed by one of the 20th century’s most ruthless despots.
That it disrupted the lives of a generation is clear. Only consider its effects on the two men poised to inherit the top two positions of president and premier. Xi Jinping was a "princeling," the son of one of Mao Zedong’s loyal lieutenants. He was just 15 when his father was arrested on Mao’s order. Xi spent the next six years toiling in the countryside of Yanchuan county in central China. Li Keqiang had a similar experience. No sooner had he graduated from high school than he was sent to labor in the fields of impoverished Anhui province.
To get an idea of what exactly this means, imagine Barack Obama feeding pigs in Iowa or Mitt Romney mending a tractor in Wisconsin. Except that no American farm could ever match the grinding hardship of a Chinese collective farm...
Posted on: Monday, March 19, 2012 - 13:09
SOURCE: Rolling Stone (2-28-12)
Rick Perlstein is the author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus and Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. He writes a weekly column for RollingStone.com.
I have a young friend I'll call Cecil. Cecil graduated from a prestigious liberal arts college on the East Coast in 2006 with a degree in political science. A lot of his friends were involved in political campaigns, and so, looking for work, he thought he'd try it, too: "You want to be involved in something that's trying to make the world a better place. Something that's mission-driven," he says. So he got a job as a field organizer for the senate campaign of John Tester, the populist Democrat. That election won, burned out, he drove to California and got a job waiting tables.
Then came Barack Obama, and Cecil fell in love. "The war thing was big," he remembers. "I had a friend who went to Iraq and died. Obama’s whole opposition to the war was very important to me." He packed up his car and drove all the way across the country to become an Obama organizer in New Hampshire, then Maine, then Vermont. Because he was good at it, he was named deputy field director in Oregon, then one of two deputies in a crucial Midwestern state. After the election, in Washington, he was one of the principles in setting up a major new national progressive activist group....
You could call Cecil a progressive. Just don't call him a Democrat. As intense as his alienation from the Republican Party is his disinclination to state any party identity at all. He says, "I feel more attached to a politics of hope and optimism than I do to the Democratic Party"
He's not alone. It's more and more the case that young people who identify with Democrats on the issues shy from labeling themselves Democrats. In 2008, members of the "Millennial" generation — demographers' term for kids born between 1981 and 1993 — identified as Democrats rather than Republicans by 60 to 32 percent. Now, those figures are 47 and 43 percent.
Posted on: Monday, March 19, 2012 - 10:55
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (3-18-12)
I'd like to propose the creation of a new position called the CIAO, or chief intellectual-arbitrage officer: Someone to work with the CINO not only to generate new ideas but also to ask new questions, identify new trends, explore new niches, expand geocultural boundaries, project forward, and remember the past. The CIAO would not necessarily have a science/tech or business background—in fact, such a background might detract from his or her effectiveness. Rather, I visualize the perfect CIAO as a liberal-arts type, someone who reads broadly and voraciously, is articulate, knows how to do research, can count a little, has backbone, and likes to argue.
Sounds like at least a few brilliant Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences you've met over the years, doesn't it?...
I'm proposing taking that a step further—to the benefit of both humanists and industry. What a successful intellectual-arbitrage officer would bring to the table are questions, ideas, connections, and possibilities from other intellectual, disciplinary, geographic, and cultural "worlds." Lots of "what ifs," "why nots," "did you ever think abouts," "X seems a lot like Y's." Most of those questions would not hold up to strategic scrutiny and market discipline, but a small number might. And for what it would cost a company to fill such a position, one home run—or even a single or a double—would pay handsomely. Believe me, humanists come cheap. As Calvin Trillin famously put it years ago: "The Nation pays in the high two figures."...
Posted on: Monday, March 19, 2012 - 10:31
SOURCE: The Root (3-16-12)
Stephen Tuck is a history lecturer at Pembroke College, Oxford, a visiting fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard and the author of We Ain't What We Ought to Be: The Black Freedom Struggle From Emancipation to Obama.
...In Britain and on the American right, there were suspicions that ethnicity played into Obama's apparent snub -- the son of a Kenyan would understandably not be enamored by the daily reminder of a prime minister whose second term had overseen the suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion. But in their op-ed, Obama and Cameron pointedly began by quoting Churchill and celebrated the fact that the two nations "support the human rights and dignity of all people."...
Nonwhite citizens in both countries have suffered discrimination. Activists in both countries have sought to force Britain and America to live up to their creeds of human rights and dignity for all people, regardless of color. And during the era of the civil rights movement in particular, the connections between activists across the Atlantic were strong, and influential.
This rather more grassroots version of the special relationship -- like the official version -- started in World War II. More than 100,000 American black American soldiers were stationed in Britain, swelling Britain's black population tenfold in the process.
The GIs arrived in segregated army units. Off-duty fights with their white American counterparts were common. But the British War Cabinet would not allow segregation off-base, and the British public mostly sided with the black GIs. The experience of equality abroad inspired many African-American veterans to fight Jim Crow upon their return....
Posted on: Saturday, March 17, 2012 - 09:50
SOURCE: CS Monitor (3-14-12)
Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of history and education at New York University, received his BA from Columbia in 1983. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).
...You can find [sexist comments directed toward Barnard College] on Columbia’s student blogs, which have lit up with vitriol since the March 3 announcement that President Obama will speak at Barnard’s commencement ceremonies in May. Part of the anger was directed at Mr. Obama, who graduated from Columbia but has never given an address there. But the major target was Barnard itself. Its students are promiscuous gold-diggers, posters wrote, stealing Columbia men from – yes – Columbia women....
Columbia was the last elite American college to admit female undergraduates. Women could attend the graduate schools as well as Barnard, founded in 1889 and named, ironically, after a Columbia president who had fought to admit undergraduate women on the same basis as men.
From the very beginning, Barnard attracted superb students. Indeed, professors found they were often more engaged in their academic endeavors than their counterparts across the street. “The Barnard students are interested in the subject, intelligent, and take hold of it in a satisfactory way,” wrote prominent anthropologist Franz Boas, who taught at both institutions in the early 1900s, “while the quality of the Columbia students is on the whole not as good as I should like to see it.”...
...Forty years after the feminist revolution, could it really be true that young women are defining their lives and selves in terms of relationships with men? And on Morningside Heights, no less, where the likes of Margaret Mead and Mirra Komarovsky urged women to look for more?...
But there is something wrong if this quest starts to trump all of the others. Despite their academic achievements – or, in some cases, because of them – too many bright and talented young women still think they need male companions to make them whole. And they don’t....
Posted on: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 13:21
SOURCE: Acton Institute PowerBlog (3-13-12)
Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol. des., University of Zurich) is a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty and author of Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), and co-editor of Abraham Kuyper, Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art (Christian's Library Press, 2011).
Looking through my back stacks of periodicals the other day I ran across a review in Books & Culture by David Bebbington, “Macaulay in the Dock,” of a recent biography of Thomas Babington Macaulay. The essay takes its point of departure in Lord Acton’s characterization of Macaulay as “one of the greatest of all writers and masters, although I think him utterly base, contemptible and odious.”
As Bebbington writes, “Acton, a towering intellectual of the later 19th century, was at once a strongly ideological Liberal and an entirely faithful Catholic. He considered Macaulay insufficiently liberal, and Acton, as somebody aware of the eternal law of God, felt bound to censure the historian.” It is one of the marks of Lord Acton’s historical approach that he was unwilling to bracket the question of morality from his historical judgment. As Acton contended, “Moral precepts are constant through the ages and not obedient to circumstances.” The historian could not thus proceed as if such a moral order did not exist, or was irrelevant, to the events and actions of the past. In an essay on Acton’s view of the historian, Joseph Altholtz describes Acton’s “ideal of the historian as judge, as the upholder of the moral standard.”
The biography of Macaulay at issue is by Robert E. Sullivan, who Bebbington describes as “also of liberal inclinations; and he, too, is a loyal Catholic with a firm moral outlook. The result is a biography treating Macaulay as base, contemptible, and odious.” So in one sense, argues Bebbington, what we have in Sullivan’s work is an Acton-esque biography of Macaulay, which takes into account and, indeed, passes severe moral judgment on Macaulay....
Posted on: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 16:15
SOURCE: Tablet Magazine (3-12-12)
On Dec. 17, 1862, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, concerned about smuggling and enraged by the discovery that his own father was conspiring with Jewish clothing manufacturers to move southern cotton northward, issued General Orders No. 11, which expelled “Jews as a class” from the territory under his command....
Given the Emancipation Proclamation, and Grant’s subsequent string of military victories, furor over the order quickly subsided in 1863, and practically nothing more was said about General Orders No. 11 for the next five years. But in 1868, when Grant became a candidate for the presidency of the United States, the order took on fresh significance. Indeed, it posed an unprecedented and deeply vexing dilemma for Jewish Americans. Could they vote for a man— even a national hero—who once had expelled “Jews as a class” from his war zone? If not, would this set Jews apart from the multitudes who viewed Grant as the savior of his country? Worse yet, might it raise the ugly specter of dual loyalty, suggesting that Jews cared more about “Jewish issues,” such as anti-Semitism, than about the welfare of the country as a whole?
Concern about “factional politics,” of course, dated all the way back to the beginning of the republic....
Jews, however, had not faced this problem before in a presidential election. Anti-Semitic charges had marred some presidential campaigns, notably the tempestuous campaign of 1800 when local Federalists desperately tarred their opponents as Jews and foreigners, but nobody imagined that the major party candidates in that election—John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—were themselves enemies of the Jewish people. In 1868, by contrast, the candidate himself was the issue. Much of the country loved him, while a great many Jews found it hard to forgive him....
Posted on: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 15:09
SOURCE: Salon (3-13-12)
Michael Lind’s new book, "Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States", will be published in April and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com.
...Given the importance of geography in our politics, you’d expect political reporters and other commentators to be explaining why different regions vote in different ways. Unfortunately, you can watch many successive 24-hour cycles of political news coverage without getting any adequate analysis of political regionalism.
It’s not that America’s political commentators lack interest in demographic factors that influence politics. On the contrary, they are obsessed with a small number of demographic characteristics, chiefly race and sex. Viewers or readers are told endlessly about the gender gap and racial/ethnic differences in voting. But you would fall asleep waiting in vain for a political reporter on TV to explain differences between the Highland South and the coastal South or to describe the distinctive political culture of the states in the Midwest settled by New Englanders.
In the world of our political media, there are generic whites, generic Latinos and generic African-Americans from coast to coast. The categories are sometimes refined by class, but this still produces hopelessly vague descriptions — treating Italian-Americans in Rhode Island as though they are part of the same generic “white working class” to which many Scots-Irish Tennesseans and Norwegian-American North Dakotans also belong. These fuzzy definitions all too often harden into cartoonish stereotypes like the “Angry White Male” of a few decades ago or “NASCAR Man” more recently.
A news junkie who follows the American political media could be forgiven for thinking that the American people are divided by race and gender, and perhaps religion, but not by regional culture. And yet the evidence says otherwise. Latinos in Texas vote differently than Latinos in California. Scholars have established that members of the same religions — Protestants, Catholics and Jews — tend to be more socially conservative in the South than in other parts of the country. Regional political culture is a powerful independent force, not a mere reflection of the numbers of particular demographic groups in particular territories....
Posted on: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 15:03
SOURCE: Newsweek (3-12-12)
Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His Latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, has just been published by Penguin Press.
Reading David Cameron’s biography prepares you for a character out of Downton Abbey. His paternal grandmother was a direct descendant of King William IV, so technically he is a fifth cousin of the queen. His maternal grandfather was a baronet. His father’s ancestral home is Blairmore House in Aberdeenshire. He was educated at Eton and Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was a member of the notoriously toffee-nosed Bullingdon Club. His father-in-law is another baronet.
Yet when you actually meet Cameron he’s anything but a throwback to the Edwardian era. Disarmingly free of snobbery, he is Dave to his inner circle, hates wearing a suit and tie, and is as happy watching 30 Rock as Downton Abbey on TV. The only clue that Cameron is to the manner born is the seemingly effortless way he shoulders the burdens of power. He must be the first prime minister in history to look younger after nearly two years in office.
Cameron is in fact five years younger than his American counterpart. But when he meets President Obama in Washington this week, the age difference will look more like 10 years. Power has visibly aged Barack Obama. It has rejuvenated Cameron…
Posted on: Monday, March 12, 2012 - 14:39
SOURCE: Bloomberg News (3-12-12)
Kenneth Lipartito is a professor of history at Florida International University. His co-written history of corporate social responsibility will be published in 2012. The opinions expressed are his own.
Re-elected with 61 percent of the vote in 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told his supporters, "Now I'm going back to do what they call balance the budget." True to his word, he cut spending and promptly sent the nation into a recession -- a sharper decline than in 1929.
The orthodox wisdom in Washington in 1937 remained cutting spending, reducing taxes and balancing the budget to restore business confidence. Punitive taxes on investments and capital gains and "unreasonable restrictions" on finance had put businessmen into "a state of stagnation if not panic," critics of the New Deal argued. Uncertainty was the main reason the economy was in a slump, declared the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The conservative "Brass Hats" of the National Association of Manufacturers told Roosevelt to end social-welfare policies and get tough with labor if he wanted to reduce unemployment. Chase National Bank President Winthrop Aldrich said it was time to "dismantle the anti-business elements of the New Deal."
Many in the Roosevelt administration also believed business confidence was key. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr., a close friend of the president, promoted the "Treasury view" that government spending merely crowded out private investment. The only way out of the Great Depression, Morgenthau said, "was through restoring business confidence." The liberal Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William O. Douglas believed that corporate executives were "marking time" and going on vacation rather than investing their firms' cash. Roosevelt himself never completely shook off his view that balanced budgets were a good thing. He had chastised Herbert Hoover for big deficits in the 1932 campaign and cut the wages of federal workers by 15 percent when he took office. His behavior in 1936 was completely in character....
Posted on: Monday, March 12, 2012 - 14:17
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (3-7-12)
Andrei Lankov is a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul and the author of several books on North Korea.
...The United States' official stance is unwavering: Its stated goal is the complete, irreversible, and verifiable nuclear disarmament of the North. This position has not changed over the past 20-odd years. In the meantime, the North has successfully tested plutonium devices, conducted a number of long-range missile launches (admittedly not so successful), and started an impressive uranium-enrichment program. We have never been as far from denuclearization as we are today.
This shouldn't be surprising: U.S. policy is hopelessly unrealistic. Under no circumstances will the North Korean government consider relinquishing its hard-won nuclear capabilities. And why should it?
The North's nuclear capability provides a deterrent that ensures that the leadership in Pyongyang won't suffer the sorry fate of Saddam Hussein and Muammar al-Qaddafi. Pyongyang's leaders assume, probably correctly, that the two dictators would still be alive and in power had they developed nuclear weapons. Once upon a time, in interacting with the North Korean dignitaries, Western diplomats would frequently cite Qaddafi's decision to surrender his half-baked nuclear program as a shining example to emulate. North Korean diplomats were not impressed, and they have been proved right....
Posted on: Friday, March 9, 2012 - 18:39
SOURCE: CNN.com (3-9-12)
Asher Kaufman is associate professor of history and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. He is the author of "Reviving Phoenicia: The Search for Identity in Lebanon."
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama's rebuke of Republicans who are "beating the drums of war" in encouraging the United States to take military action against Iran should be targeted not just toward those critics but also, and more important, toward the Israeli government.
An attack on Iran would not only fail to achieve its stated goal of denuclearizing the country, it would unleash a devastating confrontation between Iran and Israel that would harm thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and affect those in neighboring states.
It would drag the U.S. into another Middle East quagmire, and it would launch an oil crisis that would throw the global economy into turmoil. Then, once the dust settles (or before it does), Iran would only be more motivated to pursue its nuclear ambition....
Posted on: Friday, March 9, 2012 - 18:29
SOURCE: The New Republic (3-9-12)
Peter Baldwin is a professor of history at UCLA.
The economic crisis in Europe reached its latest crescendo last night, as Greece managed, through furious last-minute negotiations, to convince its creditors to give it some more breathing room. But if the Greeks have managed to stake off ruin for a few more minutes, nothing has essentially changed in their situation: Their economy is still in shambles.
The burning question on most observers' minds, and rightfully so, is whether the Greeks will ever manage to pay back their debts. But at this stage, it's also worth considering how we ended up on the precipice of such catastrophe at all. Here are some reflections on the long road to our present disaster — and the possible paths out of it.
The economies of Europe are vastly divergent. The EU is much more variegated than commonly realized. It spans enormous economic disparities — great enough to cause problems for its functioning as a monetary union....
Posted on: Friday, March 9, 2012 - 18:23
SOURCE: Bloomberg News (3-7-12)
Harold James, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, is the author, most recently, of “The Creation and Destruction of Value: The Globalization Cycle.” The opinions expressed are his own.
A familiar specter is haunting Europe: How to live with a powerful Germany that seems to act according to its own interests, and whose policies are driven by domestic politics.
Headlines across Europe are stoking old fantasies and fears. Yet, this time, the appropriate answer to that question is surprising, even shocking. The best way to deal with a resurgent Germany is for its partners and neighbors to imitate the institutional features, including monetary and fiscal stability, that have made that country so successful and powerful.
That will require overcoming a long history of troubled relations. The so-called German problem dominated European and world affairs from 1871 -- when the German Empire was proclaimed by Otto von Bismarck in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles -- until 1945, when the Nazi regime was defeated....
The real attraction of the modern German model shouldn’t be interpreted in terms of the occasional flourishes of Bismarckian rhetoric in parliamentary speeches. The appeal of Germany lies instead in its particular model for generating wealth and prosperity in a globalized world economy: the development of dynamic export industries, based on competitive advantage, in a world of technological progress. That is the model that is now attracting Germany’s neighbors but also reformers in southern Europe.
Those German or North and Central European initiatives are ferociously resisted by a plethora of vested interests, in Mediterranean Europe and in France. The German model involves fiscal restraint as an essential condition for private-sector initiative. That template isn’t a vehicle of German power politics in a 19th-century sense, but rather a building stone for economic success.
Posted on: Friday, March 9, 2012 - 18:20
SOURCE: CNN.com (3-5-12)
Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" (Times Books) and of the new book "Governing America" (Princeton University Press).
(CNN) -- Republicans warn that if President Barack Obama wins a second term, he will push forward with an expansive domestic liberal agenda that makes his existing record look like child's play. During the victory speech that followed the Michigan primary, Mitt Romney warned that "a second term Obama would be unrestrained by the demands of re-election."
If you didn't like health care and financial regulation, the Republicans are saying, then you really won't like what happens when things turn leftward after 2012. No longer forced to think about independent voters and suburban moderates, Obama will allow his true liberal values to shine, the theory goes.
But there is little evidence that Obama would move sharply to the left in a second term, regardless of which party controls Congress. Most likely, the president would focus his energy on protecting the programs that Congress enacted in his first term, namely health care, while he would turn his attention to narrower issues, such as specific infrastructure projects, that seem politically viable. In addition, Obama might co-opt some Republican themes by moving forward on Social Security reform and deficit reduction.
Why? Despite the Republican claims about Obama being a big-government liberal, the truth of the matter is that he is a pragmatic centrist to the core....
Posted on: Friday, March 9, 2012 - 18:18
SOURCE: The New Republic (3-8-12)
Michael Kazin’s most recent book is American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation. He teaches history at Georgetown University and is co-editor of Dissent.
Conservatives are supposed to cherish tradition, to draw on customs and policies which worked well in the past to guide what office-holders ought to do in the future. So it is ironic, if not hypocritical, that they constantly peddle a notion about the separation of business and government that has no basis in American history. “The voters,” asserted Mitt Romney, after his victory in the Washington caucuses, “want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector and knows how to get the federal government out of the way, so that the economy can once again grow vigorously.”
In fact, the Republican nominee-to-be is distorting a long and bipartisan tradition of government support for big business in America. Conservatives now object to “crony capitalism,” but for much of U.S. history, businessmen have been hungry for it. Since the early nineteenth century, the government has helped fuel economic growth and corporate profit-making, and savvy businessmen and, recently, businesswomen have lobbied hard to keep those benefits coming....
Posted on: Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 12:06
SOURCE: PJMedia (3-6-12)
Ronald Radosh is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at The Hudson Institute.
There were a few surprises at Monday night’s AIPAC meeting. Throughout the previous two days, AIPAC spokesmen regularly championed the bi-partisan nature of Congress’s resolve to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but by the end of the evening the differences in their approach and resolve were apparent, and so were the sympathies of the more than 13,000 attendees.
First up was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He laid out the many ways in which Iran has acted as a dangerous and terrorist rogue state, and noted that while the Obama administration may share the common goal of stopping Iran from going nuclear, they had not come close to achieving success.It was the failure of Obama’s diplomacy from the beginning of his term that had forced Congress to act and would do so again.
The reason, McConnell said, was that the administration’s policy contained a “critical flaw.” At first, the Obama team tried to negotiate with Iran by extending an open hand in friendship, but two different offers and deadlines to meet with their leaders in September and December of 2009 came and went with no results. Iran just continued to work on getting their bomb. As Congress grew impatient, it initiated a sanctions policy which the president opposed, eventually reluctantly signing it.Congress then handed the president an additional tool “he did not seek or ask for,” that of sanctions against the banks doing business with Iran....
Posted on: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 18:02
SOURCE: PJMedia (3-5-12)
Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.
“They” Did It (Again)!
There are no “oil men” in the White House. So the Obamites cannot, as in the past, blame Halliburton, BP, or Exxon for rigging gas prices out of the Oval Office. Which leads to the question: why then are prices now climbing when the Bush-oil company connection is no longer the narrative? The new answer? “Wall Street” (e.g., the fat-cat bankers, corporate jet owners, those who don’t know when not to profit, etc.) raised prices.
But if true, who let them get away with that? The Chinese, who are scrounging every barrel they can on the world market? The Indians, who follow suit? Maybe it’s the Obama administration Treasury that has borrowed $5 trillion in three years, not only eroding the buying power of the world-traded dollar but also sending a message to oil producers that even more debt is coming and their petrodollars will only be worth less and less?
Or perhaps it is growing world tension, as in Iran, that caused the panic? But then who snubbed the Green revolution in Iran in the spring of 2009, sought “outreach” and “reset” with the theocracy, and leveled five serial demands to stop Iranian enrichment (or else!) to the point that Iran no doubt understood 2009-2012 was a once-in-a-lifetime exempt window of opportunity to get the bomb and to control the Gulf?
To paraphrase William Tecumseh Sherman, Obama might as well rail at the wind. The administration’s current panic mode arises because we are nearing $5 a gallon. (I just filled up two miles away in West Selma, with a supposed 21% unemployment rate and a per capita income of about $14,000, and the price today was $4.27.) It is only early March. Obama may blame Wall Street, but he is savvy enough to do the following calculus: by August, people will want to drive more than they do in March; the Chinese will suddenly not wish to buy less oil this summer; he has no federal leases that he approved in January 2009 that will be coming on line after three-and-a-half years; Volts will not be going into hyper-production mode; and prices will only go up just as the campaign and the weather heat up. There is about an hour’s worth of Obama administration past quotes on gas prices that should make some interesting campaign ads....
Posted on: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 18:00
SOURCE: WSJ (3-7-12)
Mr. Mead is a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College. His blog, Via Meadia, appears at the American Interest Online.
The Middle East is on fire. As waves of populist, ethnic and religious unrest sweep the region, long-established regimes totter like ninepins, violent conflicts explode in once-quiet countries, and all the rules seem up for grabs.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is on life support and Iran is marching steadily toward obtaining a nuclear weapon. And even as President Obama assures us that he has Israel's back and "will not countenance" Iran getting a nuclear weapon, as he did this week, his administration speaks about "leading from behind" and of a "pivot toward Asia."
Many observers see all this as reflecting a sharp decline in American power. But the reality is more complicated and less dramatic. The reality is that the United States remains the paramount power in the region and will remain committed to it for a long time to come...
Posted on: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 14:48
SOURCE: The New Republic (3-7-12)
Geoffrey Kabaservice is the author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party.
With its 80-foot-high smokestack columns towering over a four-acre site whose only representation of its subject would be a statue showing him as a barefoot boy, the current design for the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial in Washington, D.C. manages to be both bombastic and silly. It’s easy to imagine tourists mistaking the memorial as a spectacularly misconceived tribute to Huckleberry Finn.
Which is why it’s entirely appropriate that a dispute has broken out over it....
But one group has thus far been conspicuously absent in the fight: Eisenhower’s own political party, the GOP. Indeed, Republicans’ silence on the matter of Eisenhower’s legacy says volumes about how far the party has come since his day. Rather than claim ownership over his legacy, they have abandoned it entirely, to the detriment of their party and their country....
This should probably come as no surprise. The conservative movement that has taken over the GOP was nursed on hatred of Eisenhower’s moderation. The eight years of peace and prosperity he gave Americans are remembered by conservatives as a dark age of “me-too” Republicanism, brightened only by the founding of the Ike-smiting National Review in 1955. The anti-heroic bent of the proposed Eisenhower memorial, with its refusal to acknowledge that there was anything great or admirable about its subject, may well be a source of considerable satisfaction to many on the right as well as the left.
But it’s important to remember that the relationship between the 1950s conservative movement and its contemporaneous Republican President was one of mutual ill-will. Conservatives had expected that Eisenhower, as the first Republican president since 1932, would repeal the New Deal; instead he augmented and expanded programs like Social Security, thereby giving them bipartisan legitimacy as well as added effectiveness. Conservatives had expected that the president would support Senator Joseph McCarthy’s crusade to tar all liberals as pro-Communist; instead he denied McCarthy the authority to subpoena federal witnesses and receive classified documents, thereby precipitating the red-baiter’s overreach and fall....
Posted on: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 09:26