This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: NYT (4-30-06)
Mr. Galbraith lived in Cambridge and at an "unfarmed farm" near Newfane, Vt. His death was confirmed by his son J. Alan Galbraith.
Mr. Galbraith was one of the most widely read authors in the history of economics; among his 33 books was "The Affluent Society" (1958), one of those rare works that forces a nation to re-examine its values. He wrote fluidly, even on complex topics, and many of his compelling phrases — among them "the affluent society," "conventional wisdom" and "countervailing power" — became part of the language.
An imposing presence, lanky and angular at 6 feet 8 inches tall, Mr. Galbraith was consulted frequently by national leaders, and he gave advice freely, though it may have been ignored as often as it was taken. Mr. Galbraith clearly preferred taking issue with the conventional wisdom he distrusted.
He strived to change the very texture of the national conversation about power and its nature in the modern world by explaining how the planning of giant corporations superseded market mechanisms. His sweeping ideas, which might have gained even greater traction had he developed disciples willing and able to prove them with mathematical models, came to strike some as almost quaint in today's harsh, interconnected world where corporations devour one another for breakfast.
"The distinctiveness of his contribution appears to be slipping from view," Stephen P. Dunn wrote in The Journal of Post-Keynesian Economics in 2002....
SOURCE: Rick Shenkman reporting for HNN (4-22-06)
Stanford's Richard White took over from Vicki Ruiz today as president of the OAH. He in turn will be succeeded by Princeton's Nell Irvin Painter. And she will be succeeded by Pete Daniel.
In 2005 after the Katrina disaster he gave an interview to HNN about the flood of 1927, which he has researched.
His official entry on the OAH website says this about Mr. Daniel:
Pete Daniel is a curator in the division of industry and transportation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. He specializes in the history of the twentieth-century South, in particular agriculture, labor, culture, and civil rights. He has curated exhibits that deal with science, photography, and music. His most recent book, Lost Revolutions: The South in the 1950s (1999), won the Elliott M. Rudwick Prize. Currently vice president of the Southern Historical Association, he will be its president in November 2005. In spring 2004, he delivered the Walter Lynwood Fleming Lecture at Louisiana State University about pesticides and health.
SOURCE: Newsletter of the National Coalition for History (4-28-06)
Larson (D-CT) whose legislation (P.L. 106-99) served as the catalyst for the first comprehensive history of the House targeted to the general reader.
The book, titled “The House: The History of the House of Representatives” is published by Smithsonian Books (an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) and is available for $34.95 in bookstores (and via the Internet) nationwide. Remini had the challenge of condensing over 200 years of history into a 625-page book. The author, who is principally a historian/biographer found conceptualizing his first institutional history a challenge. Remini’s thoughtful narrative solution was to chronicle the first through the 108th Congress by highlighting the struggle between principle and pragmatism. To that end he showcases not just events but the many colorful personalities who have contributed to making the institution what it is today. Remini drew heavily on manuscript materials as well as the congressional records, newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, memoirs, and his own interviews with many current and former members. The result is a rich history of “the people’s House.”
SOURCE: NYT (Excerpt) (4-27-06)
Calling the exposure of the hidden effort to reclassify records a "turning-point moment," Allen Weinstein, the head of the National Archives, announced a new effort to set consistent standards for deciding what records should be protected.
The pilot National Declassification Initiative, overseen by the archives, will seek to reduce what Mr. Weinstein called an "unconscionable backlog" of historical records not yet released and to avoid unnecessary classification in the future.
"We're in the access business, not the classification business," Mr. Weinstein said. He said all the agencies that had withdrawn records, including the Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency, had agreed to drop the practice of secretly reclassifying documents and to operate under new standards of transparency.
Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, said the reclassification of documents had been necessary because other agencies had released C.I.A. intelligence without allowing the spy agency to review it.
"Once classified material is made accessible to the public, there are few good options to protect that information," Mr. Gimigliano said Wednesday. "That said, the C.I.A. has worked very closely with the archives to improve the process and ensure that the public has maximum access to properly declassified records."
SOURCE: Philip Weiss in the Nation (4-27-06)
Titled "The Israel Lobby," the piece argued that a wide-ranging coalition that includes neoconservatives, Christian Zionists, leading journalists and of course the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, exerts a "stranglehold" on Middle East policy and public debate on the issue. While supporting the moral cause for the existence of Israel, the authors said there was neither a strategic nor a moral interest in America's siding so strongly with post-occupation Israel. Many Americans thought the Iraq War was about oil, but "the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure."
The shock waves from the article continue to resonate. The initial response was outrage from Israel supporters, some likening the authors to neo-Nazis. The Anti-Defamation League called the paper "a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control." University of Chicago Professor Daniel Drezner called it "piss-poor, monocausal social science." Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said the men had "destroyed their professional reputations." Even left-leaning critics dismissed the piece as inflammatory and wrong. As time passed (and the Ku Klux Klan remained dormant), a more rational debate began. The New York Times, having first downplayed the article, printed a long op-ed by historian Tony Judt saying that out of fear, the mainstream media were failing to face important ideas the article had put forward. And Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, praised it at the Middle East Institute for conveying "blinding flashes of the obvious," ideas "that were whispered in corners rather than said out loud at cocktail parties where someone else could hear you."
While criticisms of the lobby have circulated widely for years and been published at the periphery, the Mearsheimer-Walt paper stands out because it was so frontal and pointed, and because it was published online by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where Walt is a professor and outgoing academic dean. "It was inevitably going to take someone from Harvard [to get this discussed]," says Phyllis Bennis, a writer on Middle East issues at the Institute for Policy Studies.
What's more, the article appeared when public pessimism over the Iraq War was reaching new highs. "The paper was important as a political intervention because the authors are squarely in the mainstream of academic life," says Norman Finkelstein, a professor of political science at DePaul University dedicated to bringing the issue of Palestinian suffering under the occupation to Americans' attention. "The reason they're getting a hearing now is because of the Iraq debacle." Bennis and Finkelstein, both left-wing critics of Israel, have criticisms of the paper's findings. Partly this reflects the paper's origins: Though it was printed in a left-leaning English journal, it was written by theorists of a school associated with the center/right: realism, which holds that the world is a dangerous neighborhood, that good intentions don't mean very much and that the key to order is a balance of power among armed states. For realists, issues like human rights and how states treat minorities are so much idealistic fluff.
Given the paper's parentage, the ferment over it raises political questions. How did these ideas get to center stage? And what do they suggest about the character of the antiwar intelligentsia?
Let's begin with the personalities. The more forceful member of the duo (and the one who would talk to me), Mearsheimer, 58, is by nature an outsider. Though he spent ten years of his youth in the military, graduating from West Point, he wasn't much for tents and guns even as he latched on to David Halberstam's book The Best and the Brightest because it explained a horrible war. Out of pure intellectual curiosity Mearsheimer, who had become an officer in the Air Force, enrolled in graduate school classes at the University of Southern California. Today he is a realist powerhouse at the University of Chicago, publishing such titles as Conventional Deterrence. Like Mearsheimer, Walt, 50, grew up in privilege, but he is a courtly and soft-spoken achiever. Stanford, Berkeley and Princeton figured in his progress to Harvard. "I think Steve enjoyed moving into institutional roles," says one academic. "Steve likes a good argument, but unlike John he can be polite. John enjoys the image of the bomb thrower."
Mearsheimer was hawkish about Israel until the 1990s, when he began to read Israel's "New Historians," a group of Israeli scholars and journalists (among them Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim and Tom Segev) who showed that Israel's founders had been at times ruthless toward Palestinians. Mearsheimer's former student Michael Desch, a professor at Texas A&M, recalls the epiphany: "For a lot of us, who didn't know a lot about the Israel/Palestine conflict beyond the conventional wisdom and Leon Uris's Exodus, we saw a cold war ally; and the moral issue and the common democracy reinforced a strong pro-Israel bent." Then Desch rode to a conference with two left-wing Jewish academics familiar with the New Historians. "My initial reaction was the same as John's: This is crazy. [They argued that] the Israelis weren't the victims of the '48 war to destroy the country. Ben-Gurion had real doubts about partition. Jordan and Israel talked about dividing up the West Bank together. All those things were heretical. They seemed to be coming from way, way out in left field. Then we started reading [them], and it completely changed the way we looked at these things." Mearsheimer says he had been blinded by Uris's novel. "The New Historians' work was a great revelation to me. Not only do they provide an abundance of evidence to back up their stories about how Israel was really created, but their stories make perfect sense. There is no way that waves of European Jews moving into a land filled with Palestinians are going to create a Jewish state without breaking a lot of Palestinian heads.... It's just not possible."
September 11 was a catalytic event for the realists. Mearsheimer and Walt came to see the close US alliance with Israel as damaging American relations with other states. American policy toward the Palestinians was serving to foster terrorism, Walt wrote in a book called Taming American Power. And you weren't allowed to discuss it. Walt spoke of the chilling effect of the Israel lobby (on a University of California, Berkeley, TV show called Conversations With History last fall): "Right now, this has become a subject that you can barely talk about without people immediately trying to silence you, immediately trying to discredit you in various ways, such that no American politicians will touch this, which is quite remarkable when you consider how much Americans argue about every other controversial political issue. To me, this is a national security priority for us, and we ought to be having an open debate on it, not one where only one side is being heard from."
For his part, Mearsheimer saw the lobby's power in an episode in the spring of 2002, when Bush called on Ariel Sharon to withdraw troops from Palestinian towns on the West Bank. Sharon shrugged him off, and Bush caved. Mearsheimer says by e-mail: "At the American Political Science Association convention in the late summer of 2002, I was talking to a friend about the US-Israel relationship. We shared similar views, and agreed that lots of others thought the same way. I said to him over the course of a dinner that I found it quite amazing that despite widespread recognition of the lobby's influence, no one could write about it and get it published in the United States. He told me that he thought that was not the case, because he had a friend at The Atlantic who was looking for just such an article."
The Atlantic had long hoped to assign a piece that would look systematically at where Israel and America shared interests and where those interests conflicted, so as to examine the lobby's impact. The magazine duly commissioned an article in late 2002 by Mearsheimer and Walt, whom Mearsheimer had brought in. "No way I would have done it alone," Mearsheimer says. "You needed two people of significant stature to withstand the firestorm that would invariably come with the publication of the piece."
Mearsheimer and Walt had plenty of ideological company. After 9/11, many other realists were questioning American policy in the Mideast. Stephen Van Evera, an international relations professor at MIT, began writing papers showing that the American failure to deal fairly with the Israel/Palestine conflict was fostering support for Al Qaeda across the Muslim world. Robert Pape, a professor down the hall from Mearsheimer at Chicago, published a book, Dying to Win, showing that suicide bombers were not religiously motivated but were acting pragmatically against occupiers.
The writer Anatol Lieven says he reluctantly took on the issue after 9/11 as a matter of "duty"--when the Carnegie Endowment, where he was a senior associate, asked him to. "I knew bloody well it would bring horrible unpopularity.... All my personal loyalties are the other way. I've literally dozens of Jewish friends; I have no Palestinian friends." Lieven says he was a regular at the Aspen Institute till he brought up the issue. "I got kicked out of Aspen.... In early 2002 they held a conference on relations with the Muslim world. For two days nobody mentioned Israel. Finally, I said, 'Look, this is a Soviet-style debate. Whatever you think about this issue, the entire Muslim world is shouting about it.' I have never been asked back." In 2004 Lieven published a book, America Right or Wrong, in which he argued that the United States had subordinated its interests to a tiny militarized state, Israel. Attacked as an anti-Semite, Lieven says he became a pariah among many colleagues at the Carnegie Endowment, which he left for the fledgling New America Foundation.
Yet another on this path was the political philosopher Francis Fukuyama, a neoconservative-turned-realist. In 2004 he attended Charles Krauthammer's speech at the American Enterprise Institute about spreading democracy and was shocked by the many positive effects Krauthammer saw in the Iraq War. Fukuyama attacked this militaristic thinking in an article in The National Interest. He wrote with sympathy of the Palestinians and said the neoconservatives confused American and Israeli interests. "Are we like Israel, locked in a remorseless struggle with a large part of the Arab and Muslim world, with few avenues open to us for dealing with them other than an iron fist?... I believe that there are real problems in transposing one situation to the other." Krauthammer responded in personal terms, all but accusing Fukuyama of anti-Semitism. "The remarkable thing about the debate was how oblique Frank's reference to the issue was and how batshit Krauthammer and the other neoconservatives went," says Mike Desch. "It is important to them to keep this a third rail in American politics. They understood that even an elliptical reference would open the door, and they immediately all jumped on Frank to make the point, 'Don't go there.'" It seems to have worked. The soft-spoken Fukuyama left out the critique of the neocon identification with Israel in his recent book, America at the Crossroads.
"We understood there would be a significant price to pay," Mearsheimer says. "We both went into this understanding full well that our chances of ever being appointed to a high-level administrative position at a university or policy-making position in Washington would be greatly damaged." They turned their piece in to The Atlantic two years ago. The magazine sought revisions, and they submitted a new draft in early 2005, which was rejected. "[We] decided not to publish the article they wrote," managing editor Cullen Murphy wrote to me, adding that The Atlantic's policy is not to discuss editorial decisions with people other than the authors.
"I believe they got cold feet," Mearsheimer says. "They said they thought the piece was a terrible--they thought the piece was terribly written. That was their explanation. Beyond that I know nothing. I would be curious to know what really happened." The writing as such can't have been the issue for the magazine; editors are paid to rewrite pieces. The understanding I got from a source close to the magazine is that The Atlantic had wanted a piece of an analytical character. It got the analysis, topped off with a strong argument.
That might have been the end of it. The authors "nosed around," Mearsheimer says, looking for another US publisher, then gave up, concluding that the piece could not be published as an article or book in "a mainstream outlet" in the United States. Half a year passed. Then a scholar Mearsheimer will not identify called to say that a staffer at The Atlantic had passed along the piece, which he found "magisterial." The scholar put the authors in touch with Mary-Kay Wilmers, the London Review of Books editor, and last fall she contracted to publish the piece.
"John, who I think is a little bit more hardheaded politically and intellectually, expected what came," Desch says. "Steve was more confident that facts and logic would carry the day, and from some conversations I've had he was clearly shellshocked. He was in an exposed position at Harvard." Desch adds that when the New York Sun linked the authors to white supremacist David Duke, who praised the article, "it came as a real kick in the stomach." Some measure of Walt's exposure is financial. Bernard Steinberg, director of Harvard's Hillel center, brought this issue up unprompted to me: "I talked to someone in Harvard development and asked what the fallout had been, and he said, 'It's been seismic.'"
Something in Mearsheimer's spirit would seem to be fulfilled in upsetting people by expressing ideas that he deeply believes. "When you write about this subject and you're critical of Israeli policy or critical of the US-Israel relationship, you are invariably going to be called an anti-Semite," he says. When I said he had autonomy as a professor to enjoy "free discourse" in this country, he said, "What free discourse in the United States? What free discourse are you talking about?" Mearsheimer's friend Van Evera criticizes him for allowing his legitimate anger over being shut out of the discourse to affect the tone of the article. But Mearsheimer was expressing his sharp personality; and doesn't passion give life to an argument?
The authors have gotten support from hundreds of e-mails, three-quarters of which congratulate them, Mearsheimer says. Foreign-service officers in Washington who are frightened by the neoconservative program are said to be excitedly passing the article around. The European left has also welcomed the paper, saying that these issues must be discussed. And even in Israel the article has had a respectful reading, with a writer in Ha'aretz saying it was a "wake-up call" to Americans about the relationship.
Many liberals and leftists have signaled their discomfort with the paper. Daniel Fleshler, a longtime board member of Americans for Peace Now, says the issue of Jewish influence is "so incendiary and so complicated that I don't know how anyone can talk about this in the public sphere. I know that's a problem. But there's not enough space in any article you write to do this in a way that doesn't cause more rancor. And so much of this paper was glib and poorly researched." In Salon Michelle Goldberg wrote that the authors had "blundered forth" into the argument in "clumsy and crude" ways, for instance failing to distinguish between Jewish Likudniks and Jewish support of Democrats in Congress. Noam Chomsky wrote that the authors had ignored the structural forces in the American economy pushing for war, what he calls "the tight state-corporate linkage." Norman Finkelstein makes a similar distinction. "I'm glad they did it," he says of the publication, but he argues that while the pro-Israel lobby controls public debate on the issue, and even Congress, the lobby can't be shown to decide the "elite opinion" that creates policy in the Mideast.
One problem with this argument is that in insisting on the primacy of corporate decision-making, it diminishes the realm of political culture and shows a real dullness about how ideas percolate in Washington. Think tanks, the idea factories that help produce policy, used to have a firmly WASPish character. But as Walt and Mearsheimer show, hawkishly pro-Israel forces have established a "commanding presence" at such organizations over much of the spectrum, from the Brookings Institution in the center to the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation on the right. After Bush's 2000 victory, Dick Cheney made sure that his neoconservative friends were posted throughout the Administration, and after 9/11 their militaristic ideas swept the government like a fever. In a fearful time, their utter distrust of Arab and Muslim culture seemed to the Bushies to explain the world. "You have an alliance between neocons and aggressive nationalists that goes back thirty years. Their ideas have bled into one another," says Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service. "And neoconservatives put Israel at the absolute center of their worldview." One of the tenets of neocon belief was that the road to peace in Israel/Palestine led through Baghdad: Give Israel a greater sense of security and you can solve the Palestinian issue later. That has been the government policy.
Lieven says, "It's self-evidently true that other interests and ambitions are involved in the war with Iraq.... Oil is very much--imperial ambitions are very much there." But, he adds, "it is crazy to suggest on the one hand that the neoconservatives had a great influence on the Bush Administration and to say that it didn't play out in terms of a hard interest for Israel. If you think the neocons were not running the whole show but had a definite impact, then you can't possibly suggest that Israeli interests were not involved."
The liberal intelligentsia have failed in their responsibility on specifically this question. Because they maintain a nostalgic view of the Establishment as a Christian stronghold in which pro-Israel Jews have limited power, or because they like to make George Bush and the Christian end-timers and the oilmen the only bad guys in a debacle, or because they are afraid of pogroms resulting from talking about Jewish power, they have peeled away from addressing the neocons' Israel-centered view of foreign relations. "It seems that the American left is also claimed by the Israel lobby," Wilmers, LRB's (Jewish) editor, says with dismay. Certainly the old antiwar base of the Democratic Party has been fractured, with concerns about Israel's security driving the wedge. In the 2004 primaries, Howard Dean was forced to correct himself after--horrors--calling for a more evenhanded policy in the Middle East. The New Yorker's courageous opposition to the Vietnam War was replaced this time around by muted support for the Iraq War. Tom Friedman spoke for many liberals when he said on Slate that bombs in Israeli pizza parlors made him support aggression in Iraq. Meantime, out of fear of Dershowitz, or respect for him, the liberal/mainstream media have declined to look into the lobby's powers, leaving it to two brave professors. The extensive quibbling on the left over the Mearsheimer-Walt paper has often seemed defensive, mistrustful of Americans' ability to listen to these ideas lest they cast Israel aside.
Mearsheimer and Walt at times were simplistic and shrill. But it may have required such rhetoric to break through the cinder block and get attention for their ideas. Democracy depends on free exchange, and free exchange means not always having to be careful. Lieven says we have seen in another system the phenomenon of intellectuals strenuously denouncing an article that could not even be published in their own country: the Soviet Union. "If somebody like me, an absolute down-the-line centrist on this issue--my position on Israel/Palestine is identical to that of the Blair government--has so much difficulty publishing, it's a sign of how extremely limited and ethically rotten the media debate is in this country."
Realist ideas are resonating now because the utopian ideas that drove the war are so frightening and demoralizing. Indeed, Fukuyama has moved toward what he calls Wilsonian realism. Lieven is about to come out with a book (co-edited with a right-winger from the Heritage Foundation) on ethical realism. These ideas are appealing because they offer a better way of explaining a dangerous world than the idea that our bombs are good bombs and that Muslims only respect force. Left-wingers and liberals who find themselves alienated from the country's warmongering leadership have to acknowledge the potential in these ideas to forge a coalition of outs. But the price of effecting such a realignment is high: It means separating from the Israel lobby (or reforming it!) and trusting that a fairer American policy in the Middle East will not mean abandoning Israel.
Reprinted with permission from the Nation. For subscription information call 1-800-333-8536. Portions of each week's Nation magazine can be accessed at http://www.thenation.com.
SOURCE: NYT (4-27-06)
What in the world took so long? Some of us have known since the moment he hopped behind the wheel that this reckless president was driving the nation headlong toward a cliff.
SOURCE: David Brooks in his NYT column (4-27-06)
At the time, Bernstein and Tomasky were lonely voices on the left, and the multiculturalists struck back. For example, Martin Duberman slammed Tomasky's book in The Nation, and defended multiculturalism:
"The radical redefinitions of gender and sexuality that are under discussion in feminist and queer circles contain a potentially transformative challenge to all 'regimes of the normal.' The work of theorists like Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jeffrey Weeks, Marjorie Garber and Judith Butler represents a deliberate systemic affront to fixed modes of being and patterns of power. They offer brilliant (if not incontrovertible) postulates about such universal matters as the historicity and fluidity of sexual desire, the performative nature of gender, and the multiplicity of impulses, narratives and loyalties that lie within us all."
Duberman insisted that postmodern multicultural theorizing would transform politics, but today his gaseous review reads as if it came from a different era, like an embarrassing glimpse of leisure suits in an old home movie.
That's because over the past few years, multiculturalism has faded away. A different sort of liberalism is taking over the Democratic Party....
SOURCE: Michael Rubin at frontpagemag.com (4-24-06)
In the coming week, the Yale Center for International and Area Studies will consider the candidacy of Juan Cole for a tenured position to study and teach the modern Middle East. The vacancy is palpable, but Cole should not be the man to fill it.
The international studies program has long struggled at Yale. In 1950, A.Whitney Griswold shut down the Yale Institute for International Affairs; he did not consider international affairs worthy of Yale's liberal arts curriculum. Two years later, Yale professors departed en masse when Princeton University opened the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. For decades following, serious international relations work had to be conducted outside of New Haven. Robin Winks, Gaddis Smith and Paul Kennedy grounded their students well in foreign policy and history, but then sent them on to finishing schools in Boston, Princeton or Washington.
The opening of Luce Hall in 1994 breathed new hope into international studies. YCIAS expanded, but its approach remained scattershot. It became a receptacle for professors' pet projects, but struggled to bridge traditional academe and contemporary reality. Many faculty members quietly acknowledge that it remains in the shadow of international affairs programs at Princeton, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University and even Columbia University. While Yale's decision last year to fund a position for a contemporary Middle East scholar sought to remedy this, Cole's appointment would be hemlock.
Universities thrive on scholarly discourse. Professors should be open to new ideas--not only those that challenge policymakers, but also those that test entrenched campus opinion. Unfortunately, Cole has displayed a cavalier attitude toward those who disagree with him. In a February interview with Detroit's Metro Times, he argued that the U.S. government should shut down Fox News. "In the 1960s, the FCC would have closed it down," he argued. "It's an index of how corrupt our governmental institutions have become that the FCC lets this go on." Many Yalies may not like Fox, but top-down censorship is no solution. Cole's outburst was the rule, not an exception. On Sept. 4, 2004, he wrote that "The FBI should investigate how [Walid] Phares, an undistinguished academic with links to far right-wing Lebanese groups and the Likud clique, became the 'terrorism analyst' at MSNBC." While Cole has labeled his own critics "McCarthyites," they have not called for his censorship or arrest.
False accusations are telling. Phares is neither "far right-wing" nor tied to "the Likud clique." Public figures label and dismiss when they do not want to debate the substance of ideas. Take Cole's reaction to Phares, who is far from undistinguished. His most recent book, "Future Jihad," won acclaim in both the scholarly and policy communities.
While Cole condemns anti-Semitism, he accuses prominent Jewish-American officials of having dual loyalties, a frequent anti-Semitic refrain. That he accuses Jewish Americans of using "the Pentagon as Israel's Gurkha regiment" is unfortunate. Further, while Cole has never visited Iraq, he condemns many who have.
Credibility matters. Blogging is not scholarship, but it reflects upon it. Sources matter. To support his opinion, Cole has cited the work of Lyndon LaRouche's former Middle East intelligence correspondent. Seldom are Cole's opinions backed by fieldwork. If Cole wants to believe that "right-wing Zionists" falsely depict the genocide in Darfur as "Arab" versus "black," fine. But did he do the work to justify his belief? When I was in southern Sudan, residents laughed at such apologia.
Professors should choose their words carefully. Early in his career, Cole did serious academic work on the 19th century Middle East, although his books did not have lasting historiographical impact. He has since abandoned scholarship in favor of blog commentary. Perhaps YCIAS is not looking for academic rigor. But unlike prominent professors at Princeton, Columbia or Tufts, Cole cannot bring real-world policy experience to either the classroom or research.
Cole is a major public figure. But political popularity and punditry should not substitute for research, accuracy and experience. Bush criticism may be trendy and perhaps even valid, but the reputation of Yale's faculty and the future of YCIAS should be based on more. Now, it is time for YCIAS to decide whether it prioritizes academics above politics.
SOURCE: Juan Cole at his blog, Informed Comment (4-26-06)
SOURCE: Informed Comment (blog) (4-24-06)
The most egregious is this:
' He calls Israel "the most dangerous regime in the Middle East." '
This a lie. I never said that. Try googling it. (All that comes up is the circular allegation I said it, never sourced. It never comes up on my site, because I did not say it, or say or imply anything like it.)
I did say that then-Israeli policies of assassinating people like Sheikh Yassin were dangerous to US interests in the Middle East. Since those policies also inspired such sympathy with Hamas that they went on to win the recent elections, the policies were dangerous to Israeli interests, too.
I presume Mr. Fund will apologize for libelling me and smearing me in an apparent attempt to interfere with my professional life.
That he can't get something so basic right, of course, says it all about the rest of his screed, during which he also accuses me of being a racist bigot for complaining about the then influence of Ariel Sharon and the Likud line on Bush administration policy toward the Middle East.
Mr. Fund should take it up with the Republican Party. Look at former National Security Council adviser under Bush senior, Brent Scowcroft: "Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger," Scowcroft told London's Financial Times. "I think the president is mesmerized."
Then Secretary of State Colin Powell told W. that Douglas Feith, the number 3 man in the Pentagon was a "card-carrying member of the Likud." Powell also routinely referred to the Neocons in the Pentagon as the "Gestapo."
Fund calls me "anti-Israel." I have a funny way of showing it, if so. What he really demands is not that I be pro-Israel, but that I support Bibi Netanyahu. Why should I, Mr. Fund? Explain that to me.
Mr. Fund goes on to attempt to link me in some way with the Taliban. I am mystified by that particular smear. What similarity, exactly, does he see between an American member of the Democratic Party who voted for Clinton, Gore and Kerry, and the devotees of Mullah Omar?
Fund inaccurately says that I am alone among academics in arguing that the Mearsheimer and Walt paper on the Israel lobby should be given a hearing. He ignores Mark Mazower, Tony Judt, and a host of others. Fund accuses me of saying that AIPAC is powerful in Congress. La di la.
Mr Fund has clearly never read a word I've ever written. He has just cobbled together some snarky smears from other pundits who also have never read my work. Indeed, I know how to fix this Rightwing smear machine that has revved up against me. We'll make a rule that they can't criticize me unless they read my scholarly works first. :-)
As for the Web log being unscholarly or polemical, there are some issues about which some sharp writing is necessary. Fund can't make up his mind as to whether the problem with me is that I have written books about the 19th century Middle East, or that I comment extensively on contemporary developments. I'm not sure what business it is of his, anyway. But he should not lie so blatantly about me.
SOURCE: John Fund in the WSJ (4-24-06)
Mr. Cole's appointment would be problematic on several fronts. First, his scholarship is largely on the 19th-century Middle East, not on contemporary issues. "He has since abandoned scholarship in favor of blog commentary," says Michael Rubin, a Yale graduate and editor of the Middle East Quarterly. Mr. Cole's postings at his blog, Informed Comment, appear to be a far cry from scholarship. They feature highly polemical writing and dubious conspiracy theories.
In justifying all the time he spends on his blog, Mr. Cole told the Yale Herald that "when you become a public intellectual, it has the effect of dragging you into a lot of mud." Mr. Cole has done his share of splattering. He calls Israel "the most dangerous regime in the Middle East." That ties in with his recurring theme that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee effectively controls Congress and much of U.S. foreign policy. In an article titled "Dual Loyalties," he wrote, "I simply think that we deserve to have American public servants who are centrally commited [sic] to the interests of the United States, rather than to the interests of a foreign political party," namely Israel's right-wing Likud, which was the ruling party until Ariel Sharon formed the centrist Kadima Party. Mr. Cole claims that "pro-Likud intellectuals" routinely "use the Pentagon as Israel's Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv."
Last January, Mr. Cole participated in a "teach-in" at Yale that could have been an audition for his possible hiring. According to the Yale Daily News, he told students that U.S. efforts "in helping create a constitution for the 'new Iraq' have increased factionalism." He concluded that "this is a recipe for continued social turmoil and continued global war."
Mr. Cole says that he is often unfairly attacked for being anti-Semitic, when in reality he claims he is only critical of Israeli policy. But Michael Oren, a visiting fellow at Yale, notes that in February 2003 Mr. Cole wrote on his blog that "Apparently [President Bush] has fallen for a line from the neo-cons in his administration that they can deliver the Jewish vote to him in 2004 if only he kisses Sharon's ass." Mr. Oren says "clearly that's anti-Semitism; that's not a criticism of Israeli policy." (Exit polls showed that 74% of the Jewish vote went to John Kerry.)
Mr. Cole appears to be the only prominent academic in America to have embraced "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," a highly controversial paper by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard. Mr. Cole told the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday that the paper argues the "virtually axiomatic" point held by the rest of the world that a "powerful pro-Israel lobby exists." The result is that "U.S. policy toward the Middle East has been dangerously skewed."
But the paper has been roundly attacked for sloppy generalizations. The two authors claim that "neither strategic nor moral arguments can account for America's support for Israel." Even Noam Chomsky, a far-left critic of Israel, wrote that we "have to ask how convincing their thesis is. Not very, in my opinion." But Mr. Cole praises the two professors for seeking "to end the taboo [on discussions of the "Israel lobby"], enforced by knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism."
Mr. Cole wants to enforce his own taboos on free expression .In February, he told the Detroit Metro Times that the federal government should close the leading cable news channel. "I think it is outrageous that Fox Cable News is allowed to run that operation the way it runs it," he said in summarizing his view that Fox "is polluting the information environment." He went on to claim that "in the 1960s the FCC would have closed it down. It's an index of how corrupt our governmental institutions have become, that the FCC lets this go on."
Appointing someone as hotheaded and intolerant as Mr. Cole to a prestigious appointment at Yale wouldn't seem to make any sense. The drive to hire him can be explained in part by the same impulses that prompted Yale to admit Mr. Hashemi. "Perhaps the folks who still want to let Taliban Man into the degree program are also thinking Cole would make a great faculty advisor for him," jokes Mr. Tayor, the alumnus leading the NailYale protest.
But that might not be a joke. Many Yale faculty members are deadly serious about wanting Mr. Cole to become their newest colleague, and their views hold great sway. Unlike at Harvard, the university president at Yale has no power to veto the faculty's hiring choice. So even if the admissions department rejects Mr. Hashemi's application for the fall semester, Yale may jump out of the Taliban frying pan and into the Cole fire.
SOURCE: Seattle PI (4-16-06)
So believes Bryant Simon, a historian who is searching for the meaning of modern life amid the round tables and comfy sofas of Starbucks coffee shops.
Simon, who teaches at Philadelphia's Temple University, thinks that by spending time at Starbucks - observing the teenage couples and solitary laptop-users, the hurried office workers and busy baristas - he can learn what it means to live and consume in the age of globalization.
"What are we drinking, and what does it say about who we are?" Simon asked during a recent research trip to London.
His research has taken him to 300 Starbucks in six countries for a caffeine-fueled opus titled "Consuming Starbucks" that's due for publication in 2008. He is one of several academics studying a type of 21st century cafe culture - Italian coffee in an American package - that has spread rapidly around the world.
Founded in Seattle in 1971, Starbucks Corp. now has 11,000 outlets in 37 countries, including 500 in Tokyo. There is a Starbucks's in Beijing's Forbidden City, and the round green logo adorns the streets of Edinburgh and the boulevards of Paris.
British historian Jonathan Morris said that even in Britain - a stalwart bastion of tea drinking where there are now almost 500 Starbucks stores - the chain has become entrenched in daily life.
While British coffee consumption lags far behind most other European nations, sales of "premium" coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos are on the rise.
"I'm not sure how much Starbucks is American any more for British customers," said Morris, a University of Hertfordshire professor who is leading a research project called "The Cappuccino Conquests" about the global spread of Italian coffee.
Simon, whose last book, "Boardwalk of Dreams," was a study of Atlantic City, N.J., estimates he has spent 12 hours a week in coffee shops for more than a year.
"I try to limit myself to two to three coffees a day," he said over a "tall" - that is, small - filter coffee at a Starbucks outlet in London's bustling Islington neighborhood.
Starbucks and other coffee houses, he believes, fill "some kind of deep desire for connection with other people."...
SOURCE: National Coalition for History (4-21-06)
Weinstein stated, "There can never be a classified aspect to our mission. Classified agreements are the antithesis of our reason for being. If records must be removed for reasons of national security, the American people will always, at the very least, know when it occurs and how many records are affected." Furthermore, stated the Archivist, "Our focus is on the preservation of records and ensuring their availability to the American public while at the same time fulfilling the peoples expectation that we will properly safeguard the classified records entrusted to out custody. Agencies have the prerogative to classify their requests to the National Archives if disclosure of the reasons why they are asking us to take action would cause identifiable damage to national security. However, what we do in response to such requests, and how we do it, will always be as transparent as possible."
Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archives who last week criticized the agreement entered into by Weinstein' predecessor, John Carlin, praised Weinstein. "He's doing the right thing, no more secret agreements to classify open files" said Blanton. Steven Aftergood, director of the anti-secrecy project at the Federation of American Scientists, recently characterized the episode as "a genuine scandal for the archives" also praised Weinstein: "He did not attempt to deny the existence of the problem, and he did not attempt to evade responsibility for it...instead he moved to fix it, and that is something we don't see very often these days." In a letter to Weinstein, the Society for American Archivists (SAA) also thanked the Archivist for "taking the several actions you have taken to balance the public's need to know against national security interests."
John W. Carlin, Weinstein's predecessor who ran the archives from 1995 to 2005 also has issued a statement fully supporting Weinstein's "quick response." In that statement Carlin denies knowledge of the reclassification program and asserts that he was "shocked" to learn of them when he read about the program in a February New York Times article. NARA insiders report that Carlin was briefed but has apparently forgotten about it. According to these sources, Carlin authorized the agreements but he did not personally read them.
Weinstein stated that the existing secret MOU's will soon be replaced with thoroughly transparent versions that will be promulgated as a change to "Classified national Security Information Directive No #1 (32 CFR Part 2001) following formal interagency coordination and an opportunity for public comment. But for the time being, a moratorium on the withdrawal of documents remains in place and an audit of the program is being conducted by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). The audit is expected to be completed and a report released 26 April 2006.
For the link to the NARA press release and statement of Archivist Weinstein, go to: http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2006/nr06-92.html . For additional background on the MOU's, go to: http://www.archives.gov/declassification/background.html .
Geoffrey Ward won the Friend of History award for his broad support of history in books and numerous documentaries, including two Emmy-winning television series: Civil War and Baseball.
Tiya Alicia Miles picked up the Frederick Jackson Turner Award, which is given to first-time authors. She won for the book, Ties that Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom.
SOURCE: Steve Plaut at frontpagemag.com (4-20-06)
Kleinberg claims to have some expertise in medieval history, as well as philosophy and religion. (His interest in Jewish "religion" seems to end with his pronouncements that the sage Maimonides necessarily implies that one must vote for the Israeli Labor Party's candidate, or Kleinberg's fatwa that all retaliation against terrorists is "not kosher".) Some of his research has been on pop pseudo-medieval novels, like "The Name of the Rose" and the "Da Vinci Code." He also heads the Tel Aviv University Press, a small in-house publishing house at TAU, and writes a regular leftwing column for Yediot Ahronot, Israel's largest-circulation tabloid.
In a recent Op-Ed, Kleinberg denounced all counterattacks by Israel aimed at stopping the firing of Qassam rockets, insisting that the "War on Qassams (is) not kosher... Even during Pesach (Passover), there are methods that are simply not kosher."
Now Qassam rockets are routinely fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Hamas, the PLO and the Islamic Jihad, shot into civilian areas INSIDE Israel, that is, inside Israel's 1967 border lines. Thousands have already been fired at the Jews by the terrorists. Recently the PLO-Hamas terror army added Katyusha rockets to its Gaza arsenal, the same weapon used by the Soviet Red Army with such effectiveness in terrorizing its enemies in World War II, and at least one has been fired at Jewish civilians.
Kleinberg's central thesis is that Israel is behaving like a barbarian terrorist state when it defends its civilians from these rockets:
"IDF (Israel Defense Forces) attacks almost always strike the innocent. The reason they are being fired is psychological. They are intended to give Israelis a nice feeling for the beginning of Pesach (Passover) – "See, the IDF isn't sitting on its hands." Quite the opposite, the army is using what the media admiringly calls (sic) its "iron fist", and is striking painful blows to the innocent."
In other words, Israel shoots at the terrorists for the heck of it because it is a bloodthirsty irrational country trying to terrorize the poor innocent Palestinians for no reason. Kleinberg insists that Israel should not respond at all to having thousands of Qassam rockets shot into its civilian areas, since such rockets are not an "existential threat" to Israel.
Among his other comments in the same piece, Kleinberg denounces the Israeli media for not opposing Israeli retaliations against the rocket shooters:
"If you listen carefully, you can hear the sounds of spring: Birds chirping, the buzz of mosquitoes, and the incessant sound of IDF artillery, turning the lives of innocent Gazans into a living hell. Springtime's here, alright. The IDF's firing a lot, alright, thousands of shells into "open fields" from where the Qassam Rockets are being fired. Of course, the term "open fields" is given to interpretation….Qassams are primitive rockets… You can find an article, maybe even a picture, in (Israeli daily) Yedioth Ahronoth, of a dog at Kibbutz Zikim that was literally scared to death by the exchange of fire. "The artillery fire killed our dog," screamed the headlines. Who said Jews had no compassion?...And IDF attacks almost always strike the innocent..."
Kleinberg has long denounced Israel for retaliatory and pre-emptive anti-terror strikes. Kleinberg believes Israel should be prevented from conducting any such strikes as long as there is any risk at all that some Palestinian civilian might get hurt. But since the terrorists firing the rockets at the Jews always are based and hiding among Palestinian citizens, Kleinberg's position is equivalent to demanding that Israel refrain altogether from defending its own citizens from Palestinian rocket and mortar terrorism.
Instead, Kleinberg demands that Israel restrict its responses to terrorism to displays of pacifism and turning the other cheek, at least until a danger arises that is "considered an existential necessity." Otherwise, Israel itself is the real terrorist. Kleinberg then concludes: "Arab lives are very cheap in the State of Israel."
All this is the familiar message from Israel's extremist anti-Israel leftist academics: Palestinian atrocities are acts of "self-defense" and "protests against occupation," even when they involve shooting rockets into Jewish civilian homes. Israel's actions to stop the rockets are human rights abuses that must be denounced and obstructed at all costs, all so that the Qassams may be fired with continued impunity. As Kleinberg says:
"But more importantly, the (Israeli counter-) attacks are also intended - pay attention to the sophisticated psychology here – to put pressure on the civilian population, that (sic) will put pressure on PA authorities, that (sic) will put pressure on the Qassam gunmen to stop shooting. It's like that song about the little goat at the end of the Pesach haggadah (holiday prayer reader)."
Kleinberg has been turning out extremist anti-Israel propaganda from his Tel Aviv University office for many years. Israel is not a democracy at all, Kleinberg pontificates, because of the "reversal of Israel('s) integration into the block of democratic nations and the adoption in its place (of) the same pattern of violent and ethnocentric policies we officially condemn." In other words, in order to be a democracy, Israel first needs to adopt those extremist policies which he himself favors and most Israeli voters oppose.
Kleinberg insists Israel is "autocratic" and undemocratic because it "relies on its leaders," like Ariel Sharon. "This (system of democracy) is not the case in Israel today. The great weakness of the system is that too much power is concentrated in the hands of the prime minister, sending signs of autocracy (for instance, making his son a secret advisor.)"
Kleinberg considers Ariel Sharon a warmonger devoted to preventing peace, but also regards Ehud Barak from the Labor Party Left in the same way. All they offered the Palestinians, according to Kleinberg, was a "Bantustan," that familiar nonsense term beloved by the Bash-Israel Left. (Google and Yahoo list over 40,000 web pages in which Israel haters have linked the term "Israel" and "Palestinian" with "Bantustan".) Here is Kleinberg's bottom-line assessment of his own country's defense strategy: "So Israel has to make sure the Palestinians give up their dreams, that they reach total despair."
Kleinberg's conception of democracy is best illustrated by the fact that he is a longtime endorser of politically-motivated insurrection and mutiny by Israeli soldiers. Law-breaking is his notion of the highest values of democracy. As a writer featured on many Palestinian propaganda web sites, he has signed calls upon Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in the military. This is his own anti-democratic tactic to coerce the country into implementing the policies endorsed by Israel's anti-Zionist far Left. Then, without pausing even to take a breath, he denounces the Jewish "settlers" for "law breaking": "The settlers pose a danger not only because the 'legal' settlements stand in the way of any lasting agreement between us and the Palestinians, but because a whole generation has grown up with no respect for authority and a view of its representatives as a hindrance." Meanwhile, the Gaza Jewish settlements were all removed, but in response the Palestinians escalated the rocket shootings. So much for the learned history professor's analysis of why there is no peace.
In general, Kleinberg dismisses Israel as a racist society and has denounced Israel as "marching to apartheid." A few years back Israeli universities temporarily abolished college board exams, but then reintroduced them, realizing that without them standards were simply being "dumbed down." Kleinberg attacked the universities for their "anti-Arab racism" in restoring the exams. In any test of academic proficiency, Arabs in Israel do worse than Jews on average, which indicates to Kleinberg that such proficiency must not be tested at all. [Interestingly, he did not denounce Arab universities in Arab countries for their own "anti-Arab racism," even though they also use entrance exams.] Never mind that those very same Israeli universities have implemented affirmative action preferences across the board in favor of Arabs.
Naturally, Kleinberg is also anti-American. Right after the start of the liberation of Iraq from Saddam, Kleinberg wrote: "The war in Iraq was more than the first expression of the United States' readiness to go to war as an empire (sic)….The world has a new sheriff who does not hesitate to use his pistol, with or without partners, with or without sanction, with or without justification."
Professor Kleinberg is somewhat knowledgeable about medieval Christianity, which he seems to think entitles him to issue policy pronouncements on everything from the Jewish religion to Israel's water policy. While he has trouble rustling up any sense of indignation at the firing of Qassam missiles into Jewish civilian homes, Kleinberg gets positively livid and uncontrollably outraged at one group of people: religious Jews. He is even more of a zealot of hate when it comes to the Jewish "settlers":
"The settlers are in the grip of a godly zealotry – for years they have been operating outside of the law, motivated by a deep feeling that they are not transgressing the ‘real laws.’ In the name of zealotry, they robbed, lied, and cheated, spilt blood, and all this so that their feeling of complete devotion to God remains undamaged."
A few years back, Kleinberg signed a statement that declared:
"In this part of the world there are two borders that are now recognized internationally and regionally: the international border (sic) between us and the Arab states and the border of June 1967 between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians accept this border. Not only that, they have shown a readiness to demilitarize the Palestinian state in relation to heavy weapons, to recognize the annexation of the ring of Israeli suburbs built in Jerusalem, and other changes in the 1967 border, on the basis of a mutual agreement and lands swap."
Now that the Hamas has seized power in the West Bank and Gaza and is rapidly building an Islamofascist terror army, we are waiting for the TAU Professor of History Aviad Kleinberg and his extremist friends from Tel Aviv University to repudiate that statement and issue an academic apology. We will not be holding our breath.
SOURCE: Press Release -- Boston University (4-19-06)
BU recipients include Thomas Barfield, professor and chair of anthropology, for his project entitled “Political legitimacy in Afghanistan;” Frank J. Korom, associate professor of religion and anthropology, for “The impact of modernity on traditional Bengali scroll painters and singers;” Richard Primack, professor of biology, for “Climate Change in Thoreau's Concord;” and Julian Zelizer, professor of history, for “National Security Politics from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.”
“These Guggenheim fellowship awards are well deserved recognition of the achievements of our four colleagues as scholars and researchers,” said Boston University President Robert A. Brown. “We are fortunate to have professors Barfield, Korom, Primack and Zelizer at Boston University.”
Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of unusually impressive past achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishments.
“The grant is a wonderful opportunity to continue my work on Afghanistan, particularly to develop the long-term perspective on the country's history and culture,” said Barfield. “The hope in these regions is that after more than 25 years of invasion and civil war, Afghanistan will once again return to an era of peace and hope for the future.”
“I am truly honored to be a 2006 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship,” said Korom. “This award will allow me to take a leave of absence to complete a multi-year project on the impact that modernity has been having on a caste of scroll painters/singers in West Bengal, India, and to spend time helping these artists achieve the recognition they deserve. Receiving a Guggenheim is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege.”
Professor Primack noted that for the last three years, his students and he have been documenting the earlier arrival times of migratory birds and the earlier flowering times of plants in Concord and other sites in Massachusetts as a result of a warming climate.
“We also have been recording changes in the abundance of wildflower species in Concord since Thoreau's time,” said Primack. “During my sabbatical year, I will use this (award) to write a book on the subject, and three months will also be spent as an invited Visiting Professor in the Zoology Department at Tokyo University.”
“I feel greatly honored to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship,” said Zelizer. “In addition to joining a prestigious group of scholars and artists, this fellowship will enable me to work on my forthcoming book on the history of national security politics.”
Since 1925 the New York City-based Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has annually offered fellowships to artists, scholars and scientists in all fields. The 2006 selection committee, which drew on the recommendations from panels and juries involving hundreds of distinguished professionals, chose 187 winners from 2,887 applicants for awards totaling $7.5 million.
What distinguishes the Guggenheim Fellowship program from all others is the wide range in interest, age, geography, and institution of those it selects as it considers applications in 78 different fields, from the natural sciences to the creative arts. The new Fellows include writers, playwrights, painters, sculptors, photographers, film makers, choreographers, physical and biological scientists, social scientists, and scholars in the humanities. Many of these individuals hold appointments in colleges and universities with 100 institutions being represented by one or more Fellows. Since 1925, the Foundation has granted more than $247 million in Fellowships to just over 16,000 individuals.
SOURCE: Guardian (4-18-06)
Robert was even portrayed, under a pseudonym, in a numismatic roman à clef, The Coin Collectors (1997), by his friend and colleague the Belgian Pierre Bastien. "The chief curator was tall, with blond hair, and an angular face brightened by piercing eyes. His personality radiated kindness, tempered by a slight coolness, rather characteristic of the well-educated Englishman." It was an accurate description of Robert's appearance and his character, but not of his nationality.
Educated at Kirkcudbright academy, Robert was awarded a first in classics at Glasgow University during the first year of the second world war. Serving in north-west Europe, he rose to a captaincy in the Royal Artillery. Then, in 1947, he joined the British Museum's department of coins and medals. This continued his engagement with classics, and he learned Roman numismatics under the guidance of Harold Mattingly. In 1965 he was appointed deputy keeper.
During his first year at the museum he published his first two reports, on Roman coin hoards, in the Royal Numismatic Society's annual Numismatic Chronicle, and in the ensuing 55 years he wrote about 350 articles. His last, on Roman coin finds from Jordan, apppeared in 2001. Many of these were published in the Numismatic Chronicle, which he edited from 1964 until 1973.
A large part of his work was the processing and publishing of details of coin hoards from Roman Britain. ...
SOURCE: NYT Editorial (4-19-06)
As time passes, the need for secrecy, which should always adhere to a very strict standard, usually diminishes. Apparently the C.I.A. wants to turn back the hands of time.
The new director of the National Archives, Allen Weinstein, rightly put a stop to this nonsense as soon as he heard about it. But he will need to do more than just abrogate these suspect agreements with the C.I.A. and the Air Force. He will need to figure out how they came about in the first place. The former director, John Carlin, has said he knows nothing about them. They appear to have been signed only by the assistant archivist. ...
SOURCE: Daniel Pipes at frontpagemag.com (4-17-06)
What is the impact of Campus Watch, a project I founded that"reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them," in its four years of existence? It gets plenty of back-handed compliments (a favorite: Duke University's Miriam Cooke claims it threatens"to undermine the very foundations of American education"), but last week turned up the most eloquent, if unintended, testimony to its effectiveness.
The story begins on November 11, 2005, when"Students for Justice in Palestine" (SJP) at Georgia Institute of Technology hosted a week-long film series titled"Life Under Occupation." Although run by faculty and paid for by the institute, the series was totally unbalanced in its treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian war. Orit T. Sklar, a junior majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering, wrote up her negative reactions to the series' concluding event at FrontPageMag.com on December 5, in an article titled"Georgia Tech's Propaganda War."
Among other topics, Sklar, who is president of her school's Hillel, founder of"Jackets for Israel," and co-plaintiff in a lawsuit against Georgia Tech demanding the freedom to dissent from the school's official orthodoxies, criticized Laura Bier, a just-appointed assistant professor. Bier's bio states that her interests"encompass the history and culture of the Middle East, gender and Islamic law, and the role of women in Egypt." When Bier, the faculty advisor to SJP, spoke at the film series, wrote Sklar, she
managed to include the word"occupation" into every statement. It was like a propaganda lesson from the Nazis – if you say it enough, people will believe it is true. … The present situation in the Middle East is much more complex and deserves more than a one word description – a word that has become the Arab world's best international marketing ploy in history. Professor Bier's promotion of anti-Israel rhetoric leads me to question her intellectual capacity and objectivity on Middle East issues.
The matter should have ended here, but it did not. The April 14, 2006, issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education carried a pseudonymous article by one"Leah Bowman" titled"The New Blacklists." In it, the author, who identifies herself as an assistant professor, provides copious details establishing her as Laura Bier:
I was at the end of my first semester of teaching Middle Eastern history at a large research university in the South. … I had spoken on a panel about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It was on the closing night of a weeklong Palestinian film festival called"Life Under Occupation" sponsored jointly by a few human rights groups on the campus and a Palestinian advocacy group for which I am the faculty adviser. … I said a few words [at the event] about the humanitarian costs of the occupation on Palestinians and the necessity of a just political solution. … A student in the audience who is the head of a pro-Israel group on the campus … wrote an article that appeared on a right-wing Web site, identifying me as someone who condoned terrorism and objecting to my use of the term"occupation" to describe Israel's military presence in the West Bank.
Note that Orit Sklar, an undergraduate, signs her real name to her article; whereas Laura Bier, a professor, hid behind a pseudonym. Bier's timorousness points to the mood of paranoia among Middle East studies faculty. Bier goes on to explain why:
Entire Web sites are devoted to exposing academics with expertise on the Middle East as dangerous radicals who pose a threat to the young minds of America. I have seen many of my professors, colleagues, and friends over the past few years placed on such blacklists.
That's a reference to Campus Watch and its brief-lived dossiers.
The message to those of us who believe there must be room for ethical and reasoned debate on American involvement in Iraq, on the Israeli occupation, and on the war on terror has never been clearer: We are watching you. And we're going to take you down.
That's a reference to Martin Kramer's writing, the day Campus Watch appeared:"Well, academic colleagues, get used to it. Yes, you are being watched." (No mention by him, however, of taking anyone down.)
Bier relates her good fortune of enjoying the support of departmental colleagues but notes that they"have also pointed out that as an untenured faculty member I am vulnerable. Just don't do anything ‘stupid' in your classes, they caution, and you'll probably be alright." She reflects on this advice:
I get my colleagues' message. Somewhere between teaching students to try to think critically about the world and their place in it and giving students a reading, delivering a lecture, or asking them to discuss issues that might land me in the middle of a public witchhunt, there's a line that can't be crossed. The problem is that no one can tell me where that line is. …
So I stand in front of my class. I think about the articles I won't write and the book I won't publish if I inadvertently take a wrong step and have to spend all of my time defending my integrity as a scholar and a teacher to the university administration.
Bier puts it negatively, but her little crisis actually benefits herself and her students. It improves the life of the mind when instructors with strong commitments (as a student, Bier signed a petition urging divestment from Israel) rethink their premises. The purpose of the university, after all, is to stimulate ideas. Campus Watch compelled Bier to weigh her words and consider what she needs to do to prevent her colleagues from abandoning her. She now has to take another viewpoint into account. Perhaps she will even understand that the classroom is not a soapbox.
Bier, not thinking along these lines, goes maudlin at her dilemma:
I think of the career that I dreamed about during endless years of graduate school and dissertation writing that might be destroyed. It is in that moment that I choose between educating my students and saving my own hide. And it is in that moment that those who want to stifle debate on campus win. They don't need to get me fired to shut me up. I'm already doing it to myself. And I know I'm not alone. I talk all the time with untenured friends and colleagues about how our attempts to be cautious in the classroom too often translate into self-censorship.
Bier points here to a fact we at Campus Watch have also noted: that untenured faculty are most attentive to our critique. Talking"all the time" about us seems a stretch, but Bier's emotional account informs us to spend more time on younger members of the guild.
"We also share our feelings of anger and frustration," she goes on,"that the political agendas of a few well-placed, well-organized people can dictate how we do a job for that we've spent years training for." I must be one of those"well-placed, well-organized people." But, fear not, our heroine stands up triumphantly to these powerful and nefarious forces:
Yet in those feelings of anger and frustration I find reason to hope. Because it means that, in spite of the uncertainty and anxiety that come with teaching controversial subjects in an inhospitable intellectual climate, we haven't given up on the idea that it's still our job to teach our students that the world is a messy and complicated place; a place that is not easily reducible to simple political platitudes or clichés about"us" and"them." When that struggle becomes less important that [sic] getting tenure or leading a comfortable life, I know it will be time to start looking for another line of work.
This is the most revealing statement yet by a Middle East specialist about the"anger and frustration" Campus Watch has prompted. Thank you, Laura Bier, for the encouragement and guidance.
SOURCE: Michael Hill in the Balt Sun (4-16-06)
Actually, it was the beginning of a protracted guerrilla war, years of bloody fighting that led to allegations of brutality on the battlefield and widespread protests and political controversy at home.
It is not Iraq that Johns Hopkins University historian Paul Kramer is writing about; it is the Philippines. His newly published book, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines, tells the story of a war fought as the 19th century turned into the 20th that is largely left out of the history books.
Most know of the war that preceded it, the Spanish-American War of "Remember the Maine" and the Rough Riders' charge up San Juan Hill fame. Many know that it included Commodore George Dewey's sailing the American Pacific fleet into Manila, and his order "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley," taking out the Spanish ships guarding their Philippine colony.
But few can say they know much about what came next, a fight not with the Spanish but with Filipinos over the fate of their island. It is a story that quite obviously resonates a century later.
Why do people know so little about this war?
Sometimes it is referred to as a forgotten war, which sounds like a passive process, as if it eroded away in people's memory. Actually, it was hidden. There was a deliberate attempt to suppress its memory.
While the Spanish-American War was referred to as "a splendid little war" by Secretary of State John Hay, there was nothing splendid nor little about this war, which makes its suppression all the more striking.
It went on for at least three years by some measurements as long, as 10 — and involved over 120,000 U.S. troops, with almost 5,000 of them killed. There were 16,000 Filipino military deaths and, by conservative estimates, over 250,000 Filipino civilians died from malnutrition and disease.
One of the factors that led to its hiding was the name for it. From the very beginning, U.S. forces refused to call it a war, because that would give recognition to the forces of the Philippine republic. The U.S. administration wanted to believe that it was fighting a war to enforce a legitimate legal treaty with Spain, so the war was called an insurrection, a term for a domestic uprising within a legally constituted sovereign society.
That means veterans of the war were treated differently. It didn't become part of commemoration ceremonies; it doesn't make the list of U.S. wars. That was a decision made at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th that has, in a way, echoed across the decades in facilitating the erasure of the war from U.S.. memory.
How did this war come about?
It helps to see the occupation of the Philippines as a part of a much older set of prerogatives that has to do with the expansion of U.S. trade into Asia. In the 1890s, the U.S. suffered the worst economic depression it had ever experienced, and the theory that came up to explain it was under-consumption — the country was producing goods at a break-neck pace but did not have enough people to consume them. The government focused on over-seas markets. This was an era when most of Asia and Africa were colonized by European powers, so the U.S. was entering a very competitive environment. One of the things id did was develop its first modern navy in the 1890's, becoming one of the world's top three naval powers, along with Great Britain and Germany.
Then 1898 comes along, with rising tensions with Spain over its treatment of a Cuban independence movement. The Spanish were using very brutal tactics, including setting up concentration camps for Cuban civilians, warehousing people without adequate water or sanitation or housing. Americans were also concerned about their significant business interests in Cuba, even the possibility of annexing this rich sugar colony.
With the humanitarian concerns raising hell in the press, the U.S. sent the battleship Maine to Havana, where it mysteriously exploded in February 1898. A naval inquiry determined it was as a result of a torpedo, evidence of Spanish treachery. In some ways, this is the first time the question of weapons of mass destruction was raised in the U.S. It was subsequently determined that, in fact, internal technical failures led to the explosion. But at the time it was seen as an outrage against American honor, and there was a great popular upsurge for a war against Spain.
It turns out that at the same time the Spanish were fighting an independence movement in Cuba, they were also fighting in their largest Asian colony, the Philippines. When the war started, the order was given by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Teddy Roosevelt, to send the Pacific squadron into Manila Bay to engage the Spanish. Taking Manila would provide, at the least, a coaling station for U.S. commercial vessels. The Philippines were seen as a kind of steppingstone to China.
The Navy quickly defeated the Spanish on May 1, 1898, and President McKinley sent over 10,000 U.S. troops for the occupation of Manila. This is a very ambiguous moment. It is not clear how much of the islands the U.S. planned to occupy. Admiral Dewey, the head of the Pacific squadrons, engaged in very delicate negotiations — still not completely understood — with Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the revolt against the Spanish, who had gone into exile to Hong Kong with his comrades when the revolt failed in 1897.
Aguinaldo was enthusiastic about the U.S. being a possible ally with the forces of liberation and saw the destruction of the Spanish fleet as helping to get the revolution back on its feet. Dewey brought Aguinaldo back to the Philippines, where he reorganized the revolution and defeated the Spanish troops on land. In June 1898, a month after the U.S. defeated the Spanish navy, he declared an independent Philippines. There was sort of a sham battle that let the U.S. occupy Manila while the independence movement occupied much ofthe zone surrounding. There was a lot of suspicion on both sides.
Then, in treaty negotiations with Spain in Europe, neither side would recognize diplomats from the independent Philippines. On the ground, the two armies begin to get to know one another. There is fascinating stuff in the archives, as many U.S. soldiers tell how impressed they are with the Filipinos, especially the elites, and express sympathy for their cause. But others resort to racial epithets. So there is tension as well. in 1899, U.S. sentries fired on Filipino troops outside Manila; they fired back, and war broke out.
It is an enormously controversial moment in American political history because the Senate was debating the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish American War, and many senators opposed the U.S. taking over any colonies, becoming an imperial power. But once war broke out, there was no longer any backing away.
So was it immediately a guerrilla fight?
No, the leadership of the independence movement came from the elite Filipinos, and they found it very important to convey to the United States and the international community that the Philippines were civilized and thus deserved independence. So they tried to fight a conventional war. it was disastrous for them. So they reluctantly adopted a guerrilla strategy, taking the battle into the countryside where Filipino fighters were familiar with the land, fighting soldiers who were not familiar with the language and subject to disease. This proves to be a very successful strategy in military terms. From late 1899 through 1901, the U.S. would occupy a town, the opposing forces would evaporate and pick them off in hit-and-run attacks. Local authorities aided both sides, waiting to see who would win.
The result was U.S. forces were caught in a quagmire while anti-imperialist groups at home were gearing up their opposition to the war. William Jennings Bryan made it one of the paramount issues of the 1900 presidential election. When Bryan lost catastrophically, McKinley saw it as a mandate to break the back of the insurrection and introduced tougher tactics, opening up attacks not just on toe insurgents but on anyone seen as aiding them. Reports of atrocities begin to increase — looting and burning of civilian homes, the torture of prisoners, sometimes for interrogation, sometimes for sadistic pleasure.
And the U.S. began to use the tactics that the Spanish were condemned for in Cuba, setting up con-centration camps to isolate the revolution's civilian supporters. Tens of thousands died of starvation and disease.
Many in the army begin to think of the entire Philippine population as the enemy. One thing I argue in the book is that it becomes a race war for many soldiers.
Was this reported in the United States?
The war was major news, headlines virtually every day..But much of the news came from letters written home by soldiers that were published as dispatches from the front by many small-town newspapers. They often contained records of atrocities....
Do you think this war has lessons that apply to the United States' war in Iraq today?
I am always hesitant to draw any kind of easy lessons. If history is anything, it is a series of strands that emerge in the past and converge in complex patterns that are not repeated. But those strands may be present later on, even if they do not come together in the same way.
Some patterns are remarkably similar. Both wars were waged for abstract principles, in the name of defending civilization — in the case of the Philippines, from savagery; in Iraq, from terrorism. That approach exempts the United States from certain international norms. It was clearly true in both of these wars that the United States fights them because it is an exceptional society with exceptional values that it declares to be the world's values.
In both cases, there is the sense that this is a different kind of war. When you read the reports of U.S. commanders in the Philippines about targeting civilians, how you don't understand this new kind of war, it has eerie echoes with the present.
One of the clear lessons is that the United States has repeatedly underestimated the power of peo-ples' desire for self-determination. In the Philippines, you read of this kind of naive surprise on the part of the U.S. military when they find out that self-determination and freedom did not include U.S. occupation.
Ultimately, the tragic lesson of this war is that to win a guerrilla struggle on a political timetable determined within the United States has a cost in lives to the other, society that is usually not taken into account.
SOURCE: John Carlin, in a letter posted on Archives Listserve (4-17-06)
Many individuals have asked me about the recent revelations regarding the reclassification efforts at the National Archives. Like the current Archivist, Dr. Weinstein, I first learned of a “secret” reclassification program in February from the New York Times. Because the Memorandum of Understanding was still classified, I had no idea what was being discussed in the press. I read the MOU with the Air Force for the first time when the declassified version was released on the Archives website on April 10. I was shocked by the content, particularly the language that it was in the best interest of the National Archives to keep the public in the dark. I spent most of my tenure stating that NARA is a public trust this MOU undermines that trust.
I fully support the Archivist’s quick response; including the moratorium on reclassification, his direct involvement in resolving issues with the agencies involved, and the audit by Bill Leonard and the Information Security Oversight Office. I have every confidence that the audit results and Dr. Weinstein’s other efforts will provide the transparency and improved processes needed to repair the damage done to public trust in NARA.
SOURCE: Robert KC Johnson at the HNN blog, Cliopatria (4-17-06)
Bowman/Bier alleges that after publication of an article in Frontpage, she received hate e-mails—which, if true, is utterly inexcusable. The rest of her piece, however, makes for interesting reading. Now that the cloak of anonymity has been removed from Bowman/Bier (though not on the HNN homepage, where the Chronicle formally protested the posting of her article under her real name), it’s possible to provide some context to her portrayal of events.
[Click on the Source hyperlink above to continue reading this article.]