Roundup: Talking About History
This is where we excerpt articles about history that appear in the media. Among the subjects included on this page are: anniversaries of historical events, legacies of presidents, cutting-edge research, and historical disputes.
SOURCE: Moscow Times (10-31-12)
George Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management and of the Open Society Institute.
Originally, the European Union was what psychologists call a "fantastic object," a desirable goal that inspires people's imaginations. I saw it as the embodiment of an open society: an association of nation-states that gave up part of their sovereignty for the common good and formed a union dominated by no single nation or nationality.
The euro crisis, however, has turned the EU into something radically different. Member countries are now divided into two classes — creditors and debtors — with the creditors in charge. The EU is today held together by grim necessity. That is not conducive to a harmonious partnership. The only way to reverse the trend is to recapture the spirit of solidarity that animated the European project from the start.
To that end, I recently established an Open Society Initiative for Europe, or OSIFE. In doing so, I recognized that the best place...
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (10-30-12)
The writer is a resident of Jerusalem and host of the radio show Walter’s World.
Throughout the Jewish world, there were/will be meetings to commemorate "Kristallnacht," – or the night of the broken glass – from November 9 to 10, 1938.
That night, most synagogues throughout Germany, Austria and the by then annexed Czechoslovakian Sudetenland were set alight, thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed and almost 30,000 Jewish men sent off to concentration camps.
The trigger for these atrocities can be found in the events of a few years earlier. During 1938 the Polish authorities were concerned about the German annexation of Austria in March of that year and also about the increased persecution of German and Austrian Jews. It was not their welfare that concerned them, but they feared that the many Polish nationals among them would either want to or be forced to return to Poland. So in mid-October the Polish government issued a de-nationalization law...
SOURCE: Daily Star (Lebanon) (10-30-12)
Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister for eight years and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group, is currently chancellor of the Australian National University and co-chair of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect.
One of the worst atrocity crime stories of recent decades has barely registered in the world’s collective conscience. We remember and acknowledge the shame of Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. We agonize about the failure to halt the atrocities being committed almost daily in Syria. But at least until now, the world has paid almost no attention to war crimes and crimes against humanity comparable in their savagery to any of these: the killing fields of Sri Lanka in 2009. Three years ago, in the bloody endgame of the Sri Lankan government’s war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, some 300,000 civilians became trapped between the advancing army and the last LTTE fighters in what has been called "the...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-24-12)
SOURCE: AHA Today (10-15-12)
Linda K. Kerber is the May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts and professor of history emerita, and lecturer in law at the University of Iowa. She is the author or editor of several books, including No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship. She was president of the AHA for 2006.
Nearly 40 years ago, on January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that turned out to be one of the most contentious in its history. Two plaintiffs whose names were changed to protect their privacy—"Roe" from Texas and "Doe" from Georgia—claimed that laws making abortion illegal undermined their own right to make medical choices for themselves and their physicians' right to practice medicine according to their best judgment. Less than a decade before, abortion had been illegal in every state, with very narrow exceptions—to save the life of the mother; or, occasionally, in cases of rape or incest. At...
SOURCE: WaPo (10-18-12)
George Derek Musgrove is an assistant professor of history at University of Maryland Baltimore County and the author of “Rumor Repression and Racial Politics: How the Harassment of Black Elected Officials Shaped Post-Civil Rights America (University of Georgia Press, 2012).
Chris Myers Asch is the author of “The Senator and the Sharecropper: The Freedom Struggles of James O. Eastland and Fannie Lou Hamer” (University of North Carolina Press, 2011). They are collaborating on a book about race and democracy in the District.
Who remembers the Irish of Swampoodle? The Jews of Petworth? The working-class whites of Anacostia? The blue-collar black community of Georgetown?
For all but the most serious students of D.C. history, these once-vibrant communities are gone and forgotten, lost to the...
SOURCE: Salon (10-18-12)
David Chambers, a grandson of Whittaker Chambers, runs www.whittakerchambers.org
Dr. Jon Wiener needs to set some facts straight, at least in the excerpt from his new book, just published by Salon (“A visit to the right’s least popular museum”).
First, the Whittaker Chambers Farm is no museum. In fact is neither a requirement nor even an implication that a property designated as a National Historic Landmark need open to the public at all. In “Protecting America: Cold War Defensive Sites (A National Historical Landmark Theme Study),” dated October 2011, the NPS clearly holds the Whittaker Chambers Farm “private property, not open to the public.” Further, Whittaker Chambers (my grandfather) never claimed his...
SOURCE: Daily Star (Lebanon) (10-17-12)
Brahma Chellaney, professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, is the author of Asian Juggernaut and Water: Asia’s New Battleground.
SOURCE: Policy Review (Hoover Institution) (10-2-12)
Amy B. Zegart is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of Eyes on Spies: Congress and the United States Intelligence Community.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (10-16-12)
SOURCE: Moscow Times (10-17-12)
Fyodor Lukyanov is editor of Russia in Global Affairs.
SOURCE: CS Monitor (10-16-12)
John Yemma is editor of the Christian Science Monitor.
History is like archaeology. What humans live through in the present – economic struggles, political contests, national crises – drifts to the ground and slowly gets buried under the strata of more recent events. Then one day we excavate and wonder: What were our predecessors thinking?
When Graham Allison reviews October 1962 with people under the age of 50, their usual reaction is dropped-jaw amazement. How, they ask, could leaders have felt so boxed in that they seriously entertained the idea of nuclear war?
“It just seems incredible to people who didn’t live through those times,” says Dr. Allison, director of Harvard University’s...
SOURCE: PS: Political Science & Politics (10-1-12)
Mark Zachary Taylor is an assistant professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology. He can be reached at email@example.com.
How relatively good or bad were the economic performances of our past presidents? The answers to this question remain unclear. Most evaluations of presidential performance cloud the issue with partisan bias and subjective judgments or mix economics together with other policy areas. To address these shortcomings, this article uses new data from the Measuring Worth Project to calculate the relative economic rankings of the United States presidents who served from 1789 until 2009. It analyzes up to 220 years of data on economic growth, unemployment, inflation, government debt, balance of payments, income inequality, currency...
SOURCE: WSJ (10-5-12)
Jeffrey Wasserstrom is a history professor at the University of California, Irvine and co-editor of "Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land."
Fear of China is back. But it's a nebulous fear, and this creates both an opportunity and an obstacle for the male and female anti-heroes of Christopher Buckley's latest look at the surreal world of lobbyist, the uneven but occasionally hilarious "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?" Both characters are eager to whip up anxiety about the Chinese military threat in hopes that Congress will fund development of a costly new weapon. They quickly realize, though, that China is different from radical Islam when it comes to generating dread.
There is no obvious panic-inducing face for this phobia, no counterpart to Osama bin Laden. Yes, there is clear evidence of China's leaders treating opponents brutally at home and bullying neighbors in territorial spats, but this alone can'...
SOURCE: Buzzfeed (10-15-12)
John R. Bohrer's work has appeared at Esquire.com, Politico, Salon, The Awl, USA Today and other publications
Everyone agrees: Mitt Romney is not like his father.
The late Michigan governor and 1968 presidential candidate George Romney is remembered as a principled man of spontaneity and candor. His example is regularly invoked by both admirers of his son's disciplined campaign style and critics of Mitt's back-and-forth pandering. George, it is said, told the truth about the Vietnam War before it was popular to do so, with an unfortunately worded comment about “brainwashing” by U.S. government officials that cost him the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. “Mitt learned at an impressionable age that in politics, authenticity kills,” historian Rick Perlstein wrote in Rolling Stone earlier this year. “Heeding the lesson of...
SOURCE: CS Monitor (10-15-12)
“My fellow Americans, with a heavy heart, and in necessary fulfillment of my oath of office, I have ordered – and the...
SOURCE: Daily Beast (10-15-12)
Sidney Blumenthal, journalist, author, historian, and former senior adviser to President Clinton, is completing a book titled The Man Who Became Abraham Lincoln: How He Won the Civil War and Was Assassinated .
The latest Lincoln boom—kicking off with the bicentennial of his birth in 2009 and the continuing sesquicentennial of the Civil War—shows no sign of abating. It may not even reach its apogee with the release immediately post-election of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a biopic starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. Spielberg, according to a source familiar with the production, has deliberately withheld the film until the current, divisive presidential campaign is over in order to prevent Lincoln from being seized upon to score political points.
But lifting Lincoln above the fray doesn’t remove him from politics. While the political Lincoln may be difficult for us to acknowledge at a time when politics and partisan commitments are...
SOURCE: New Republic (10-14-12)
Chris Matthews is the host of Hardball and the author of Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.
Fifty Octobers ago, the world faced a nuclear war that would have left this planet a very different place. The danger was every bit as it appeared. Nikita Krushchev, the Soviet leader who had secretly deployed 90 nuclear missiles in Cuba, had a back-up plan should the United States attack the weapon sites.
"I knew the United States could knock out some of our installations, but not all of them," he wrote in his memoirs. "If a quarter or even a tenth of our missiles survived—even if only one or two big ones were left—we could still hit New York, and there wouldn’t be much of New York left."
The U.S. never tested Khrushchev’s dire resolve. We never attacked his missiles. Instead, President Kennedy improvised a jerry-built policy that included an embargo on further shipment of Soviet missiles and a demand that all such weapons in Cuba be removed. Khrushchev...
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (10-12-12)
Stephen Sestanovich is Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis professor of international diplomacy at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. His book, The Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama, will be published next year by Knopf.
Is there a better measure of an international crisis than how long we keep arguing about it? This month, umpteen retrospectives will remind us that it has been 50 years since the United States and the Soviet Union were "eyeball to eyeball" over nuclear weapons in Cuba. The basic facts have been known for a long time, yet the arguments about this legendary confrontation go on and on.
The latest entrant in the wars over the Cuban missile crisis is Leslie Gelb, whose article "The Myth That Screwed Up 50 Years of U.S. Foreign Policy" appears in Foreign...
SOURCE: LA Times (10-14-12)
Jon Wiener is a professor of history at UC Irvine and the author, most recently, of How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey Across America.
In 2007, when President George W. Bush's White House spokesperson, Dana Perino, was asked a question about one of the biggest foreign policy crises in American history, she drew a blank. "I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about … the Cuban missile crisis," she later told NPR...