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: Voice of America (1-8-07)
"John Hope Franklin, the son of the South, has always been a moral compass for America, always pointing us in the direction of truth," President Clinton told the audience. "'I look history straight in the eye and call it like it is,' John Hope Franklin has said: telling the untold stories of northern racism and the sinful confines of slavery."
In 1921, as a boy of six in an impoverished, all-black Oklahoma town, John Hope Franklin, the grandson of a slave, watched in terror as white rioters torched African-American neighborhoods in nearby Tulsa and burned his father's law office to the ground.
But he would carry not bitterness or hatred into adulthood, but determination to learn, to excel, and to illuminate the full and true story of his people. He did so well at historically black Fisk College in Nashville, Tennessee, that he was admitted to graduate school at the acclaimed Harvard University. But the nation was in the grips of the Great Depression. Neither he nor his family could afford the tuition that Harvard demanded. These were agonizing moments until his mentor, a Fisk history professor, intervened.
"He was a young white man," Franklin recalls. "I was 20 years old; he was 32. He went downtown and borrowed $500 and put it in my hand and said, 'Money will not keep you out of Harvard.' And he sent me off to Harvard the next day. Well, if that was a low point, it was also a high point, too, for I was back on track."
SOURCE: Atlantic Monthly (Jan-Feb) (1-1-07)
Twenty-five hundred years ago, the greater Middle East constituted a world where circular boats, covered with skins, plied the Tigris; where Egyptians shaved their eyebrows in mourning for a beloved pet cat; and where Libyan tribesmen wore their hair long on one side and shorn on the other, and smeared their bodies with vermilion.
“Custom is king of all,” Herodotus, the fifth-century B.C. Greek traveler observes, quoting Pindar. He tells of the Massagetae, a people who lived east of the Caspian Sea in what is now Turkmenistan, among whom, when a man grows old, “his relatives come together and kill him, and sheep and goats along with him, and stew all the meat together and have a banquet of it.” There was a similar custom among the nearby Issedones, who would clean and gild the skull of the deceased for use as a sacred image. The breadth and complexity of Herodotus’s History sums up the romantic allure with which the word antiquity has been invested.
But Herodotus is now urgently useful for reasons that rise above mere entertainment and exotica. The state of the academy, the moral choices we face in our foreign policy, and in particular the fact that we must learn to think differently about parts of the world like the Middle East all argue for a better acquaintance with this ancient historian.
In the academy, specialization has become both a necessity and a curse. Too much narrow expertise is the inverse of wisdom. But the explosion of facts that need to be categorized demands a growing number of parochial subdivisions within any given field. We must fight against the tendency to become, as the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset feared we all would, “learned ignoramuses.”
Among the beneficiaries of this dilemma has been Herodotus’s near-contemporary Thucydides (460–400 B.C.), the Athenian general and historian of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides’ almost mathematical approach to history extracts clean philosophical principles from the complex reality of what was (by the geographical horizons of antiquity) a world war. By reducing history to war, diplomacy, politics, economics, and little else, Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian War boasts a formula that is appealing to specialists who, while mindful of the conceit of the term political science, are also leery of the sort of subjective, real-life experiences and captivating anecdotes that are problematic because their worth is difficult to measure. I do not mean to suggest that The Peloponnesian War is without riveting stories; it is jammed with them. I say only that, relative to the standards of its time, there is a structured self-editing mechanism at work in Thucydides—yet another reason why he is especially pleasing to modern academic sensibilities, and why he has become the favored Greek among today’s policy elites.
And not just today’s elites. Thomas Hobbes in the seventeenth century, the historian Lord Macaulay in the nineteenth century, and Secretary of State George C. Marshall following World War II all stressed the primacy of Thucydides. Indeed, The Peloponnesian War may well be the seminal work on international relations, even as Thucydides is venerated in the West as the founder of enlightened pragmatism in political discourse. He embodies Greek classical values, in which beauty—whether in sculpture or in philosophy—is a consequence of artistic and emotional discipline that leads to proportion, discrimination, and perspective. Accordingly, nothing is worse than excess—of decoration, or of ardor. ...
SOURCE: Bloomberg News (1-8-07)
Then their friends, no longer finding the couple useful, turned on them. In 1943, Philipp of Hessen was imprisoned in Flossenbuerg; Mafalda died in Buchenwald. Philipp's brother Christoph died in a mysterious plane crash.
Their stories are told in the absorbing ``Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany'' by Jonathan Petropoulos. These princes were the great grandsons of Victoria (but even so likely helped bomb Buckingham Palace with their relatives inside).
Petropoulos, author of many distinguished books on the Nazi era, enjoyed rare access to modern members of the clan and archives stuffed with disturbing evidence of blithe complicity.
I spoke with Petropoulos, a professor of European history at Claremont McKenna College in California, by telephone.
Hoelterhoff: How did you come to focus on the Hessens?
Petropoulos: When I went to Germany in 2000 to write a broader book about the aristocracy during the Third Reich, I found a trove of documents in Wiesbaden -- the de-Nazification files of Prince Philipp of Hessen and two of his brothers.
Hoelterhoff: How much material?
Petropoulos: Well over 1,000 pages and including letters from Albert Speer and Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
With that I had found a remarkable set of documents. The family knew I was going to write the book and became cooperative, in part to make the best of the situation.
Hoelterhoff: Had the Hessen family known about the archive?
Petropoulos: I suspect that they knew about the files. I found traces of family members searching various archives for documents about their relations. ...
SOURCE: Times Online (UK) (1-7-07)
Professor Christopher Smout, the Historiographer Royal, said it was “perfectly feasible” for Scotland to go it alone and that it could prosper in the same way as eastern European republics have done since the break-up of the Soviet Union. He claimed voters south of the border would be happy to see the break-up of the United Kingdom.
He also criticised claims by John Reid, the home secretary, that Scotland’s national security would be compromised by independence, describing his argument as “a complete non-starter”.
Smout, who is emeritus professor of history at St Andrews University, will this week chair a conference in Edinburgh, organised to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union. Ministers have condemned his intervention claiming that, as a member of the Royal household, he should remain politically neutral.
Senior Labour figures said his comments, so close to an election when the future of the Union will be a key issue, were “naive and destabilising” and would be an embarrassment to the Queen.
“It is unfortunate that someone this close to the Queen is coming out with these frankly shallow and not very significant arguments in favour of independence,” said Tom Harris, the Glasgow South MP.
“Politically, it would be better for us to stay in the Union and I would have thought that if a senior member of the Queen’s household did not share that view then they would just keep their mouth shut...."
SOURCE: http://www.redorbit.com (1-5-07)
Until recently, scholars thought only 8 or 10 of these important early telescopes _ made between 1608 and 1650 of tightly rolled paper and crudely ground lenses _ had survived to the present day.
Then two historians on a visit to a museum in Berlin last fall had an "aha!" moment. One of the oldest known surviving telescopes at the German museum gave them an idea of places to look for other, as yet undiscovered examples.
Their insight apparently was correct. According to Marvin Bolt of Chicago's Adler Planetarium, he and his colleague found a previously unreported 1627 telescope in a Dresden museum storage room within 24 hours of their brainstorm. Less than a day later, they found a second, slightly earlier telescope that had lain unnoticed in the storage room of a museum in Kassel.
"This discovery is exciting, because it suggests further places to look for more old telescopes," said Bolt, who made the discovery with Michael Korey, a museum conservator in Germany.
Finding more early telescopes will help scientists and historians better understand who made them and how they evolved and improved over time, said Eugene Rudd, an emeritus University of Nebraska professor of physics who is a world authority on old telescopes.
"I've seen the photographs of the two Marvin has located in Germany, and they certainly have the characteristics of the very early ones," said Rudd. "I know of only eight telescopes that date before 1650 that still survive, so to find two more is extraordinary, a remarkable find."
Bolt is a technology historian at the Adler, which boasts the largest and finest collection of old scientific instruments in the Western Hemisphere, including an exquisite, leather-covered, trumpet-shaped device made in Italy around 1630.
Korey is a conservator at the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon in Dresden. The museum has one of the world's oldest and most renowned collections of historic scientific instruments....
On Oct. 2, he and Korey visited Berlin's Decorative Arts Museum to see a well-known telescope dating to 1617. It had been part of a collection of 17th Century scientific instruments found in a finely crafted cabinet built for a royal family to display scientific instruments _ a kunstschrank.
Such cabinets were important status symbols in wealthy 17th Century households. The idea was that, by owning a kunstschrank and its contents, the owners showed they were learned and knowledgeable as well as generous sponsors of scientists and their work.
Seeing the 1617 telescope and the elaborate cabinet it came from, Bolt said a bell went off in his head. Probably there were other old cabinets scattered around Europe that nobody had ever looked into for old telescopes.
"In a decorative arts museum," he said, "curators aren't aware of the history of telescopes, and if they have one belonging to one of these cabinets, they regard it more as a beautiful object rather than an example of early technology.
"On the other hand, I don't think any technology historians had ever thought of a decorative arts museum as a place to hunt for early telescopes."
He and Korey excitedly began thinking about canvassing museums that might own the cabinets. That night, while attending the opera back in Dresden, Korey noticed a poster advertising the loan of a 17th Century kunstschrank from Dresden's own decorative arts museum to a Budapest museum.
The following morning Korey and Bolt visited the Dresden museum director who had loaned out the cabinet. Why yes, the director said, there was an artifact belonging to the cabinet that might have been some sort of looking device, but it was in such poor shape that it was not being displayed.
"In an early inventory of the cabinet's contents, it simply listed a `perspective glass,'" not a telescope, Korey said....
SOURCE: Mary L. Dudziak at legalhistoryblog (1-8-07)
The Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, partly financed by the State University of New York at Stony Brook and produced by Academic Analytics, a for-profit company, rates faculty members' scholarly output at nearly 7,300 doctoral programs around the country. It examines the number of book and journal articles published by each program's faculty, as well as journal citations, awards, honors, and grants received. The company has given The Chronicle exclusive access to some of its data, including rankings of the top 10 programs in 104 disciplines.
The most recent index, based on data from 2005, contains plenty of surprises. Some relatively unknown programs rank higher than Ivy League and other institutions with sterling reputations. Take English. The index ranks the University of Georgia at No. 2, while Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, and Yale Universities, and the Universities of Pennsylvania and of Virginia don't even crack the top 10.
The data on History departments is here. The top ten, in order, are: Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Univ. of Maryland College Park, Yale; tied at sixth: NYU & Loyola Univ. Chicago; Ohio State, Rice, Northwestern. (Law schools are not ranked in this index.)
The statistics for all programs seem low, in terms of percentage of faculty with book and articles published. This is because only recent data was used: books from 2001-05, and articles from 2003-05. Some grants were counted from 2003-05, some awards were counted from 2001-06, but Nobel Prizes were counted within 50 years.
The service is lauded by those who created and subscribe to it, but it is not just the unexpected rankings that suggest that caution is in order. The varying date ranges for different productivity measures strike me as problematic. Why not pick one date range -- say five years -- and stick with it across categories? That would make it easier to track all the data, to measure results across time, and to see whether particular events have an impact. In fields in which research can take years, and the review process in peer-reviewed journals is lengthy, it is not necessarily a sign of lack of productivity to have few articles within a short time period, since articles might be clumped in a time period the survey misses. Also, the very low citation numbers across the board seem to suggest that for History, the wrong data was collected. For most historians, books are their principal publications, rather than articles. But the Index does not count citations to books in journals, only citations to articles.
When reading these rankings, I would proceed with caution.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (1-8-07)
In an essay titled "The Stateless as the Citizen's Other," Ms. Kerber dove into her topic by posing a question provoked by Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly: "What passport could the ill-fated child of Madame Butterfly and Captain Pinkerton carry?"
Ms. Kerber explained that this fictional child was entitled to no passport as a birthright in Japan or the United States at the turn of the century, when Puccini's opera is set. Inclusion in the father's family registry was the test of citizenship in Japan, so Butterfly's child was not technically Japanese. Because he was born out of wedlock outside the United States, Madame Butterfly's son was not automatically a U.S. citizen. Only Captain Pinkerton -- via a formal legal effort to claim paternity -- could confer his U.S. citizenship upon the child.
This intellectual aria was the kickoff to Ms. Kerber's wide-ranging examination of various ways in which human beings fall into gaps between laws and customs involving nationality and citizenship. Legal systems and mechanisms that privilege gender as a test of citizenship were a particular focus of the address.
In regard to citizenship, she observed, "The status of the mother and the status of the father are considered asymmetrically." Ms. Kerber recalled for her audience the fact that even the daughter of President Ulysses S. Grant was denaturalized by U.S. law when she married a British subject -- and needed a special act of the U.S. Congress to regain that citizenship.
The issue of statelessness, she argued, "should command the attention of historians as well as humanitarians."
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (1-8-07)
The number of attendees was down from the record of 5,664 set at last year's meeting in Philadelphia, but outpaced the fewer than 4,000 historians who attended the 2005 annual meeting in Seattle.
Attendance was "good for a non-East Coast corridor city," the association's executive director, Arnita A. Jones, told the 100 or so historians who attended the group's business meeting on Saturday.
Ms. Jones also observed that the job activity at the meeting was higher than it had been in many years, but she quipped that history programs should not raise their enrollments just yet. "A glut of jobs rather than a glut of historians is a good thing," she said.
The historians who attended this year's meeting found a full agenda of discussions and events that encompassed local politics and national controversies, including the passage of a resolution at the association's business meeting that strongly attacked the Bush administration for "practices inimical to the values of the historical profession" in its conduct of "the war in Iraq and the so-called war on terror."....
SOURCE: Scott Jaschik at the website of Inside Higher Ed (1-8-07)
Just a few years ago, one didn’t hear so many positive reports from job seekers. But if the mood was generally upbeat about the job market, there was also a clear realization that historians don’t have it easy when it comes to finding a job. Jones immediately followed her statement by imploring graduate programs not to increase their enrollments. It’s better to have a glut of positions than a glut of historians, she said.
And for all the talk about an improved job market, it’s clear that it’s not improved for everyone. There was new evidence at the meeting of a mismatch between the areas of expertise of new Ph.D.’s and the available jobs. And there was also new evidence and much discussion about the various tiers of the graduate education and job markets, in which some academics launch great careers and others face huge debts and limited prospects for tenure-track jobs....
SOURCE: Scott Jaschik at the website of Inside Higher Ed (1-8-07)
But there was fairly intense debate on how to express those ideals. In the end, the association’s members at its business meeting backed a resolution calling on members to “do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.” Supporters said that the war is a national crisis that calls for a response from historians, but critics said that the association was risking its political stock by taking a stance that could appear to be dictating what professors should think about a controversial issue.
In an unusual move, however, the AHA’s Council, which reviews and typically accepts resolutions passed by the members, on Sunday ordered an e-mail vote of all members on the topic.....
In an interview Sunday, Arnita R. Jones, executive director of the AHA, said that there were two reasons the Council voted to accept the resolution conditional on a ratification vote by the full membership. One is that the anti-war resolution was not submitted early enough to be published in the AHA’s newsletter, so it was unclear whether all interested parties were aware of it. In addition, she said that the Council noted the “intrinsic importance” of the issue.
Jones said that in the seven years in which she has been executive director, the AHA Council has never previously sent a resolution to the full membership (which tops 14,000) for a vote in this way. She said that the Council was not motivated by a desire to block the resolution, and that she expected the resolution to be passed.
Applebaum, of Historians Against the War, said via e-mail Sunday that while his preference would have been for the Council to just approve the resolution and to take “a lead role,” he understood “why they opted for this additional step,” which he said could be useful.
“This resolution is important. It is a matter that should engage all members of our profession. The paper ballot will allow each and all to clarify the moral and ethical obligations of membership in the American Historical Association,” he said. “The notion that we can and should speak with a social voice — as other professions within and beyond the borders of the United States of America — is one that is worthwhile as well as important.”
Other leaders of Historians Against the War were more critical of the Council’s action. Marvin E. Gettleman, a professor emeritus of history at Brooklyn Polytechnic University, said that members of the group were discussing what to do, but that many were returning home from the meeting Sunday and were just learning what had happened. He said that he personally was disappointed and considered the Council’s action to be “anti-democratic.” He also noted that AHA leaders who were present when the resolution was discussed at the business meeting didn’t mention the possibility of sending the measure to the full membership.
Jones said that there was no timetable for the membership vote.
[This article also discusses other resolutions debated at the Business Meeting including one introduced by David Beito and Ralph Luker regarding speech codes.]
SOURCE: Charles McGrath in the NYT (1-7-07)
The watchdogs have been caught before. The section of the University of Oregon handbook that deals with plagiarism, for example, was copied from the Stanford handbook.
Mr. Posner, moreover, is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a law professor at the University of Chicago who turns out books and articles with annoying frequency and facility. Surely, under deadline pressure, he is tempted every now and then to resort to a little clipping and pasting, especially since he cuts members of his own profession a good deal of slack on the plagiarism issue. In the book he readily acknowledges that judges publish opinions all the time that are in fact written by their clerks, but he excuses the practice on the ground that everyone knows about it and therefore no one is harmed. What he doesn’t consider much is whether a judge who gains a reputation for particularly well-written opinions or for seldom being reversed — or, for that matter, who is freed from his legal chores to do freelance writing — doesn’t benefit in much the same way as a student who persuades one of the smart kids to do his homework for him.
Sadly, however, “The Little Book of Plagiarism” appears to be original. It’s a useful and remarkably concise overview of the subject, and is in almost every respect a typically Posnerian production: smart, lucid, a little self-satisfied and tilting noticeably toward the economic-analysis end of legal theory. ...
SOURCE: NYT (1-8-07)
Mr. Black was chosen to review “Nixon in China: The Week That Changed the World,” by Margaret MacMillan, a historian at the University of Toronto in part because he is himself writing a biography of the former president; he has also published biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Maurice Duplessis, a former premier of Quebec. (Ms. MacMillan’s book is being published in the United States under the title “Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World,” and as “Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao” in Britain).
In the review, which appeared in the Literary Review of Canada, Mr. Black wrote, “she would have to write something unrelievedly terrible before I could bring myself to write anything negative about it.” But after some praise, he suggested the book contained factual errors, insufficient research and is poorly structured. “I had some reservations about the book and tried to present a fair review,” he said in a telephone interview.
Then Mr. Black had second thoughts. He wrote a letter of apology that is scheduled to appear in the March issue of the Literary Review, saying in part, “the tenor of part of my review was one of inadvertent condescension. That is entirely inappropriate and was unintentional, but I apologize for the slightly patronizing tone of several sentences.”...
SOURCE: NYT (1-7-07)
Ms. Fox-Genovese’s husband, the historian Eugene D. Genovese, confirmed the death, citing no specific cause. He said that his wife had lived with multiple sclerosis for the last 15 years and that her health had declined after she underwent major surgery in October.
At her death, Ms. Fox-Genovese was the Eléonore Raoul professor of the humanities at Emory University. In 1986, she founded the university’s Institute for Women’s Studies and was its director until 1991.
Originally trained as a historian of 18th-century France, Ms. Fox-Genovese became known for her studies of women in the antebellum South, among them “Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South” (University of North Carolina, 1988) and “To Be Worthy of God’s Favor: Southern Women’s Defense and Critique of Slavery” (Gettysburg College, 1993).
With her husband, a well-known historian of American slavery, Ms. Fox-Genovese wrote “The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview” (Cambridge University), published in 2005.
Ms. Fox-Genovese was also known for two books about feminism that charted her evolving stance toward the movement. In the first, “Feminism Without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism” (University of North Carolina, 1991), she took the women’s movement to task for reflecting — too narrowly, she felt — the concerns of middle-class white women.
Reviewing Ms. Fox-Genovese’s book in The New York Times Book Review, Rosemary L. Bray called it “insightful and important,” adding: “It’s possible that the tough questions she asks — about abortion, pornography and the ubiquitous canon wars — might finally inspire the thoughtful debate and civilized discourse we’ve been missing.”...
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (1-6-07)
[Click on the SOURCE link above to see the winners.]
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-5-07)
Those conclusions are evident from new data from the American Historical Association, which started its annual meeting Thursday, in Atlanta.
History departments in the United States with doctoral programs received an average of 74.1 applications for the fall 2007 term and anticipate enrolling an average of 9.1 students. Those departments report currently having an average of 54.7 students, 62 percent of whom are receiving financial aid and 33 percent of whom are working as teaching assistants.
Of course for many observers of graduate education, the crucial question is whether students finish up. A majority in history do so, but for most it takes more than five years, and significant numbers also drop out — many after at least five years in the program.
[Click on the SOURCE link above to see a chart.]
SOURCE: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (1-4-07)
Emory University recruited Dr. Fox-Genovese in 1986 as founding director of its Institute for Women's Studies, where she established the nation's first doctoral program in the field, said Dr. Virginia Shadron of Atlanta, assistant dean of Emory's graduate school of arts and sciences.
Through her scholarship, Dr. Fox-Genovese alienated doctrinaire feminists and attracted conservatives, especially on women's issues.
"She probably did more for the conservative women's movement than anyone," said Dr. Sean Wilentz, a Princeton University history professor. "Betsey's voice came from inside the academy and updated the ideas of the conservative women's movement. She was one of their most influential intellectual forces."
The memorial Mass for Dr. Fox-Genovese, 65, of Atlanta is at 10 a.m. Friday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. She died Tuesday at Emory University Hospital of complications from surgery in October. The body was cremated. H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill, is in charge of arrangements.
"She established herself as an academic leader and a scholar of international significance," said Emory President Dr. James W. Wagner.
Dr. Fox-Genovese's 1988 book, "Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South" was her most courageous book, Dr. Shadron said, and established her as an independent scholar of women in the South.
Her 1996 book "Feminism is Not the Story of My Life: How the Feminist Elite Has Lost Touch With the Real Concerns of Women," published in 1996, and her 1991 "Feminism Without Illusions" critique the women's movement.
Commenting on Dr. Fox-Genovese's 1996 book, Mary Ellen Bork of McLean, Va., said, "I thought it had a very realistic view of the limitations of modern feminism." Mrs. Bork is the wife of the former judge and onetime U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork...
SOURCE: Robert Dreyfuss at tomdispatch.com (1-4-07)
Yet here is Tom Donnelly, an American Enterprise Institute neocon, a co-chairman of the Project for a New American Century, telling a reporter sagely that the surge is in. "I think the debate is really coming down to: Surge large. Surge small. Surge short. Surge longer. I think the smart money would say that the range of options is fairly narrow." (Donnelly, of course, forgot: Surge out.) His colleague, Frederick Kagan of AEI, the chief architect of the Surge Theory for Iraq, has made it clear that the only kind of surge that would work is a big, fat one.
Nearly pornographic in his fondling of the surge, Kagan, another of the neocon crew of armchair strategists and militarists, makes it clear that size does matter. "Of all the ‘surge' options out there, short ones are the most dangerous," he wrote in the Washington Post last week, adding lasciviously, "The size of the surge matters as much as the length. … The only ‘surge' option that makes sense is both long and large."
Ooh -- that is, indeed, a manly surge. For Kagan, a man-sized surge must involve at least 30,000 more troops funneled into the killing grounds of Baghdad and al-Anbar Province for at least 18 months.
President Bush, perhaps dizzy from the oedipal frenzy created by the emergence of Daddy's best friend James Baker and his Iraq Study Group, seems all too willing to prove his manhood by the size of the surge. According to a stunning front-page piece in the Times last Tuesday, Bush has all but dismissed the advice of his generals, including Centcom Commander John Abizaid, and George Casey, the top U.S. general in Iraq, because they are "more fixated on withdrawal than victory." At a recent Pentagon session, according to General James T. Conway, the commandant of the U.S. Marines, Bush told the assembled brass: "What I want to hear from you now is how we are going to win, not how we are going to leave." As a result, Abizaid and Casey are, it appears, getting the same hurry-up-and-retire treatment that swept away other generals who questioned the wisdom on Iraq transmitted from Planet Neocon....
Indeed, if President Bush opts to Kaganize the war, he will throw down the gauntlet to the Democrats. Unwilling until now to say that they would even consider blocking appropriations for the Iraq War, the Democrats would have little choice but to up the ante if Bush flouts the electoral mandate in such a full-frontal manner. By escalating the war in the face of near-universal opposition from the public, the military, and the political class, the president would force the Democrats to escalate their own -- until now fairly mild-mannered -- opposition to the war.
However, it's possible -- just possible -- that what the President is planning to announce will be something a bit more Machiavellian than the straightforwardly manly thrust Kagan wants. Perhaps, just perhaps, he will order an increase of something like 20,000 American troops, but put a tight time limit on this surge -- say, four months. Perhaps he will announce that he is giving Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki that much time to square the circle in Iraq: crack down on militias and death squads, purge the army and police, develop a plan to fight the Sunni insurgency, find a formula to deal with the Kurds and the explosive, oil-rich city of Kirkuk which they claim as their own, un-de-Baathify Iraq, and create a workable formula for sharing the fracturing country's oil wealth.
By surging those 20,000 troops into a hopeless military nowhere-land, Bush will say that he is giving Maliki room to accomplish all that -- knowing full well that none of it can, in fact, be accomplished by the weak, sectarian, Shiite-run regime inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. So, sometime in the late spring, the United States could begin to un-surge its troops and start the sort of orderly, phased withdrawal that Jim Baker and the Carl Levin Democrats have called for....
SOURCE: Newsday (1-4-07)
Cathal Nolan, a Boston University history scholar who had agreed last summer to become president of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, has stunned the organization by turning down the appointment.
Nolan, who had been working part-time for the Muttontown-based association from Boston, several weeks ago alerted the board that his daughter's health made the move to Long Island impossible.
Nolan said "the primary reason I have declined the offer is family medical reasons, which require us to remain in the greater Boston area."
Barbara Berryman Brandt of Buffalo, who became TRA board chairman in October, said "we certainly felt bad about the situation with Cathal and the sickness in his family."
The organization, which has more than 2,000 members and promotes awareness of the 26th president, will be hiring a search firm and hopes to appoint a new president within six months, she said. Nolan was to succeed acting chief executive Edward Renehan Jr. of Rhode Island, who stepped in after the death two years ago of longtime executive director John A. Gable....
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-3-07)
SOURCE: Newsweek (1-1-07)
"Some of the best weapons for counterinsurgency do not shoot," he wrote, emphasizing the need, above all, to win over the local population with aid and reconstruction. When the 279-page manual was published last week, it helped solidify Crane's position as one of the more innovative thinkers in his field. Is it too late to be useful in Iraq? "I hope not, but it's broader than that," he says. "If we'd have written a manual that's only good for Iraq, we'd have failed in our mission."
SOURCE: James Risen in the NYT (12-28-06)
For a solid Republican who had originally voted for the war, the words spoken by the senator, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, on the evening of Dec. 7 were incendiary and marked a stunning break with the president....
He said he had previously refrained from publicly criticizing the war because he had been struck by the comment of a soldier from Oregon, who told him during a 2005 visit to Iraq that if he supported the troops, he also had to support their mission.
But Mr. Smith’s attitude began to change over the past year, particularly after he visited Iraq in May. In an interview, the senator recalled two occurrences in Baghdad during his visit, one in which a massive bomb killed about 70 people and a second in which some American troops were killed on patrol.
And a book on World War I he had been reading, by John Keegan, the British military historian, was beginning to haunt him.
Mr. Smith said that his use of the word “criminal” in his speech to describe the war in Iraq came from his reading of that book, which he said explained to him the “practice of British generals, sending a whole generation of British men running into machine guns, despite memos back to London saying, in effect, machine guns work.”
Much like the British in World War I, he added, “I have concluded that we are employing strategies that are needlessly getting kids killed.”
After returning to Washington from Baghdad, Mr. Smith said he listened with growing dismay to optimistic briefings given to senators by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense, and other administration officials. Even in closed-door briefings, he said, “the answers always seemed to be, It’s tough but we have to stay the course.
“And so I started thinking about the British generals,” he said.
Last summer, on a flight from Portland, Ore., to Washington, Mr. Smith said he read “Fiasco,” a history of the Iraq war by Thomas E. Ricks, “and by the time I landed I was heartsick.”
As the situation in Iraq worsened in the fall, Mr. Smith said it became increasingly obvious to him that “we were playing street cop in a civil war.”
“I started thinking about those British generals again,” he said.
He said he had decided not to speak out before the midterm elections, both out of political loyalty and a fear that his words would be drowned out by partisan attacks.
“Then we were back in Washington for the lame-duck session,” he said, “and I woke up one morning and turned on the news and another 10 soldiers had been killed. And I went from steaming to boiled. And then I went to the floor.”...
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (12-28-06)
SOURCE: LAT (12-29-06)
IT'S A RIDICULOUS question: "What would George Washington do about Iraq?" Well, if you plopped him down in Baghdad, he would be utterly lost. He couldn't find Iraq on a map. Show him a cellphone, a helicopter or a Humvee and he wouldn't order them into action, he'd be mesmerized. He is simply unavailable for a conversation about Iraq.
But suppose you could contact him, and suppose you posed a question to him that never mentioned Iraq specifically yet described the fundamental strategic dilemma facing the United States. It might go like this:
"Can a powerful army sustain control over a widely dispersed foreign population that contains a militant minority prepared to resist subjugation at any cost?"
Washington would recognize the strategic problem immediately, because it is a description of the predicament facing the British army in the colonies' War for Independence.
And, more than anyone else, Washington's experience during the war as the leader of an American insurgency allowed him to appreciate the inherently intractable problems that faced an army of occupation in any protracted conflict.
Until the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, Washington thought of the war against Britain as a contest between two armies. When the British army presented itself for battle, as it did on Long Island in the summer of 1776, Washington felt honor-bound to fight — a decision that proved calamitous on that occasion and nearly lost the war at the very start. That's because the British had a force of 32,000 men against his 12,000. If Washington had not changed his thinking, the American Revolution almost surely would have failed because the Continental Army was no match for the British leviathan.
But at Valley Forge, Washington began to grasp an elemental idea: Namely, he did not have to win the war. Time and space were on his side. And no matter how many battles the British army won, it could not sustain control over the countryside unless it was enlarged tenfold, at a cost that British voters would never support. Eventually the British would recognize that they faced an impossibly open-ended mission and would decide to abandon their North American empire. Which is exactly what happened.
The implications for U.S. policy in Iraq are reasonably clear, and they pretty much endorse the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. Like the British decision to subjugate the American colonies, the Bush decision to democratize Iraq has been misguided from the start. The administration never appreciated the odds against its success, and it disastrously confused conventional military superiority with the demands imposed on an army of occupation.
No man in American history understood those lessons better than Washington, who viewed them as manifestations of British imperial arrogance, which he described as "founded equally in Malice, absurdity, and error." If dropped into Baghdad, he would weep at our replication of the same imperial scenario.
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (1-2-07)
SOURCE: http://www.insideindianabusiness.com (1-2-07)
They emphasized that the Web's disappearing legacy holds valuable untapped innovations, as well as the records of one of the great social and cultural transformations of our time.
The Web History Center has recently opened offices at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., and at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., as a result of a $100,000 gift from California e-commerce pioneer CommerceNet and earlier support from Rose-Hulman alumni Dennis Paustenbach and Christian Taylor.
Founding members of the Center include the Stanford University Libraries, the Internet Archive, the Charles Babbage Institute, and eight others.
The idea for a web history archival had been in existence for some time but the current initiative arose from a conversation Pickett had with Web pioneer Robert Cailliau at a Rose-Hulman conference commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Web in 2004. The conversation led Pickett to contact Weber, co-founder of the Web History Project which had assembled the largest archive of source materials now in existence.
SOURCE: Email to HNN. This response was first posted online elsewhere on Dec. 5. After Campus Watch posted a fresh article on the controversy Professor Babayan asked HNN to give her a chance to respond. We agreed. This was the statement she submitted. (12-13-06)
The following constitutes my response to the recent accounts given by the UM student organization The American Movement for Israel (AMI), Guest Speaker Professor Raymond Tanter, and Senior Information Officer Diane Brown, of the Office of the Associate Vice President for Facilities and Operations, as they were reported in the Ann Arbor News (Dec. 2nd, 2006), the Michigan Daily (Dec. 4th, 2006) and the Washington Examiner (December 7th, 2006).
The rights of the speaker Professor Tanter to lecture on Thursday, November 30th, were not abused as has been claimed by him, AMI, and others. Certainly the AMI´s own video recording of the event has documented the facts: he gave his ten-minute threadbare speech on the"Islamic fascist ideology of Iran," and then took questions, and comments from audience members, though mockingly and condescendingly.
It was in fact the rights and personal security of dissenting audience members that were egregiously abused that evening. According to the university´s policies on the freedom of speech and artistic expression, event organizers, guest speakers, and campus police cannot determine at will or arbitrarily what constitutes"undue interference" at university public events attended by diverse and, at times, contrary political opinions. According to the University of Michigan´s standard guidelines (which I encourage all readers to learn at: www.spg.umich.edu),"protesters have rights, just as do speakers and artists. The standard of"undue interference" must not be invoked lightly, merely to avoid brief interruptions, or to remove distractions or embarrassment." But that was exactly what happened: the standard of"undue interference" was abused and wantonly invoked to lead to our removal from the event. AMI organizers"sicked" the campus police on the protesters in the audience and, by force of arrest, silenced our voices, which are institutionally protected within the university community"spectrum of opinion."
As if this weren´t enough violation of university policies, what ensued was excessive and abusive use of force by campus police officers against the protesters. Targeting the most vocal,"foreign-looking," and obviously Middle Eastern protester, AMI Chair Josh Berman gave the word and signal to the campus officers to remove her. At that, one male officer lunged at her, grabbed her out of her seat next to mine, and tried to shove her out of the room. But because of the force behind the pull, she tripped, and fell onto the narrow aisle at my feet. The Officer threw his body onto her and thrust his knee into her shoulder, shouting"Get up! Get up!" though it was clear that, due to his weight and sheer force, she had been rendered unable to move or rise. When I and other audience members objected vocally to the officers´ undue and excessive use of force, he and other campus police officers warned us that, if we did not desist from our objections, we too would be arrested. These threats and intimidations represent another flagrant example of campus authorities´ suppression of the legitimate exercise of freedom of speech.
Campus police´s violence against ordinary citizens was not isolated to this one incident. When a group of us pursued down the hallway the officers who had hauled away the female protester, we saw lying on the floor there, with a bloodied forehead, another protester. He had been removed from the event venue by officers, handcuffed, and kept on his back. Despite the protests by demonstrator and physician Dr. Willkinson for medically humane treatment of the unconscious man, the male officer ignored her and defiantly repeated,"They are not coming off."
The institutional parties who have acted badly in this affair are numerous. One is Diane Brown, whose statements in the two afore-mentioned newspapers support and protect the police´s and AMI´s decisions and behavior. In unquestioningly supporting the misactions and misdeeds of both the student organization and the campus police, and in concluding that"what happened" that evening justified their responses, and that, hence, these responses do not constitute abuse of power and negligence of obligations toward all participants, including protesters, Ms. Brown has failed her institutional responsibility and duties.
The one beacon of light in the midst of this dark intolerance was one young man who did the right thing: out of the crowd he appeared and held the hand of the female victim while she was being pinned down by Officer West and a female officer. This young man remained by the protester´s side throughout her detainment by the police. He recognized that it behooved everyone to protect the rights of all participants ' to free expression, particularly when that expression is considered onerous. This young man rose as the sole conscientious citizen in that crowd and I salute him.