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 (12-9-07)
He died while hospitalized for an infection associated with treatment of cancer, said his daughter Anne-Christine Strugnell.
At 23, while still a student of languages at the University of Oxford, Mr. Strugnell joined the original team of scholars piecing together and translating the scrolls, one of the great ancient finds of the 20th century. About 900 documents in Hebrew and Aramaic, bearing on a critical period in the history of Judaism and the origins of Christianity, were uncovered from 1947 to 1956 in caves near the Dead Sea, in the West Bank.
Mr. Strugnell, who never completed his studies for a Ph.D. at Oxford, was appointed to the faculty of the Harvard Divinity School in 1966, becoming a professor of Christian origins. He was made editor in chief of the scrolls project in 1984.
Six years later, at a time when the scrolls team was coming under sharp criticism for its exclusive control over access to the documents and its sluggish pace of publication, Mr. Strugnell was in Jerusalem and gave an interview to the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha’aretz. As quoted by the newspaper, he said of Judaism: “It’s a horrible religion. It’s Christian heresy, and we deal with our heretics in different ways.”
SOURCE: Salon (11-30-07)
Or changing his linen shirt to get clean.
How cleanliness has changed in the West is the engrossing (and sometimes gross) subject of Katherine Ashenburg's"The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History," which skates merrily from ancient frolics at the public baths to today's obsession with hand sanitizer and teeth-whitening strips. Ashenburg, whose previous book was a popular history of grief called"The Mourner's Dance: What We Do When People Die," argues that contemporary cleanliness has more to do with appearances than hygiene. Considering our relative lack of physical exertion compared with our ancestors, why do we consider a daily shower an ideal, anyway? Apparently, the less we sweat, the more we clean. But our very fear of dirt may actually be making us sick.
Salon spoke with Ashenburg by phone from her office in Toronto.
What did clean mean in ancient Rome?
If you were a man, you would take off all your clothes, put a little oil on your body, rub it with dust and go out into the playing field to work up a sweat. Then you would get somebody to scrape off your perspiration with an instrument that looks like a little tiny rake, called a strigil. Then you would get into a tepid bath, then into a really hot bath, then into a cold bath.
You never used any soap, and it was all done in public. If you were just a normal person, you'd probably spend a couple of hours every day in the bathhouse, where you could get wine, food, sex, a medical treatment, a haircut. You could have a depilator pluck the hair in your armpits.
Why wasn't soap popular?
Soap was a combination of animal fat and lye. The Egyptians went to great lengths to make a soap that was mild enough to use on bodies, but many cultures, including the Romans and Greeks, didn't really. So they scraped themselves. Basically, it was a kind of drastic exfoliation. They probably got as clean as soap makes you. Most people, except very rich people, didn't use soap until about the second half of the 19th century.
Why did public baths go out of fashion?
They went out of fashion because the infrastructure to run them -- the mechanisms that brought them water, that heated their water, that separated out the different heats of the various pools -- required an enormously sophisticated and complicated infrastructure, which the Roman Empire had. But when the empire started to fall apart, people couldn't maintain that, and the invading barbarians disabled the aqueducts. There was never an empire large enough to support that again. ...
SOURCE: http://www.gainesville.com (12-7-07)
And retired University of Florida Professor Michael Gannon, a noted Pearl Harbor historian, said some of the shortcomings in the U.S. defense system that led to the Japanese bombing of the Hawaiian base 66 years ago today could teach current political and military leaders some lessons.
"Pearl Harbor is a lesson in preparedness and it is a lesson, also, in . . . letting down its officers in the field," Gannon said. "The tragedy . . . on 9/11 has been generally perceived by the American people as worse than what happened in Pearl Harbor. The destruction was greater than the military losses in Pearl Harbor. In terms of loss of life is concerned, they were pretty much the same."
Japan bombed a U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, catching the government and top military leaders in Washington off guard.
Gannon is author of "Pearl Harbor Betrayed: The True Story of a Man and a Nation under Attack."
He contends that President Franklin Roosevelt and top brass were so focused on going to war with Germany that Pearl Harbor was left with few defenses.
When Japan attacked, 2,323 Americans were killed and several ships were sank. Most of the ships were refloated, repaired and used later in the war, Gannon said.
The psychological impact of the attack was almost as visceral as the physical attack.
"The effect was very severe. It was a humiliating defeat, as Americans looked on it, and one of the slogans that developed was 'Remember Pearl Harbor.' It was a very powerful slogan or war cry," Gannon said.
"In the view of the American people, that was a defeat that just had to be avenged."
Gannon and others say that the cultural relevance of Pearl Harbor to the general public is fading as time passes and new events occur...
SOURCE: Pueblo Chieftain (12-7-07)
"Personally, I'm not sure the devil would know how to tempt people in Greeley today, let alone in 1949," Colorado College professor Dennis Showalter joked to a surprised but laughing audience of about 60 people at a guest lecture Thursday night at Colorado State University-Pueblo. "God help us if Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood visited Las Vegas in 2008," he finished.
The anecdote was only part of Showalter's thesis - that the Islamic world is going through a fundamental religious reformation that is only going to pose a greater challenge to the West and the U.S. in particular. That challenge should force the U.S. to become more energy independent as well as give up some naive notions about its ability to broker peace in the Middle East, the 65-year-old military historian told the audience.
The long struggle between Israel and Palestinians is a conflict than can't be resolved, given the current rise in Islamic fundamentalism, Showalter argued. Israel wants to force its enemies to accept its existence, while Palestinians want "justice" and their former lands back, meaning the destruction of Israel.
"That's like trying to bring two parallel lines together in geometry," Showalter said, acknowledging that his view was pessimistic, but one he argued was realistic.
Showalter has taught at Colorado College since 1969 and has published a long list of books on European and German history, particularly military history. He has been at guest professor at the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and shows up occasionally on the History Channel in programs about Nazi Germany and World War II.
In his lecture Thursday, sponsored by CSU-Pueblo's History Club, Showalter briefly traced the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire and the failure of Muslim nationalism to defeat Israel militarily. Those struggles and failures opened the door to extremely devout groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, to declare that Muslim nations needed to return to a more devout faith and then they would be victorious....
SOURCE: http://www.coloradoan.com (12-7-07)
"The fun of something like this is that you keep educating yourself," Hansen said. "The other thing is (discovering) how good your colleagues are. One of the real pleasures of doing this is ... coming to understand their greatness."
Hansen is a history professor emeritus at CSU, where he worked from 1966 until retiring in 2002. He recently completed his second volume of CSU's history, "Democracy's University: A History of Colorado State University, 1970-2003.''
Hansen said he got started on his first volume of CSU history because he was trying to get funding as a relatively new professional historian. But as he got started, he realized the university lacked a comprehensive central repository of documents. That led to the creation of the university archives.
And as he researched and wrote the first book, Hansen also helped create the university's highly respected public history master's degree program, which trains students to become archivists and museum managers.
When his first book, "Democracy's College in the Centennial State," was complete, Hansen said that he was surprised to learn it became a desk reference for students, faculty and the community. That helped color his approach to the second book, in which he said he tried to provide a social context for the events happening at the university.
SOURCE: http://www.eagletribune.com (12-5-07)
Now the issue is playing a role in Mayor James Fiorentini's decision to oust a member of the city's Historical Commission, that member said.
Thomas Spitalere said he believes his support for a local law that would force developers to wait up to a year before demolishing historical buildings - a so-called "demolition delay ordinance" - was a key factor in his ouster from the commission.
"I made some noise with the scenic roads and demolition delay ordinances, but only after the Essex National Heritage Commission said Haverhill should have both to protect its history," Spitalere said. "So as chairman, I took it upon myself to do the legwork to put together proposals for both."
Spitalere, 31, who lives in Methuen but has worked part time at the city's Buttonwoods Museum on Water Street for more than a decade, has been notified by Fiorentini that he would not be reappointed to the commission because of a new ordinance requiring that members live in Haverhill.
SOURCE: http://media.www.redandblack.com (12-5-07)
At the time of his death, Ladis was the Franklin Professor of Art History at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, a position he held for more than a decade.
A specialist in the painting of the early Italian Renaissance, he played a prominent role in international scholarship in the field, writing or serving as general editor of 14 books and producing many articles and published lectures.
Ladis was the recipient of several international awards and appointments.
"Ladis was one of the world's most distinguished historians of early Italian art. At the center of his scholarly life was an enduring passion for Giotto di Bondone, the founder of the Florentine school," said Hayden B.J. Maginnis from Canada's McMaster University.
Ladis was born on Jan. 30, 1949, in Athens, Greece, the son of Thomas and Marina Ladis.
He attended the University of Virginia, receiving a bachelor's degree in history in 1970. He transferred to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. four years later.
SOURCE: Letter to the Editor of the NYT (12-7-07)
To the Editor:
Re “Gospel Truth” (Op-Ed, Dec. 1), about the Gospel of Judas:
April D. DeConick speaks too confidently when she talks about our mistakes in translation. She knows better. The issues of translation she highlights are almost all discussed in the notes in the popular edition and critical edition of the Gospel of Judas, and the observation that Judas is the “thirteenth daimon” in the text is open to discussion and debate.
Professor DeConick’s additional insinuations of ulterior motives by her fellow scholars in the establishment of the Coptic text and the development of an appropriate translation are extremely disappointing and disturbing. She knows how we struggled carefully and honestly with this difficult text preserved in fragments.
Professor DeConick comes up with her interpretation of the Gospel of Judas by virtually ignoring all the positive things said about Judas in the text. In the end, Professor DeConick’s Judas recalls Brando in “On the Waterfront.” He coulda been a contenda, he coulda been somebody — if he just were not so demonic.
When the positive things said about Judas in the Gospel of Judas are given fair consideration, it may be said: Judas is still a contenda. Marvin Meyer
Orange, Calif., Dec. 4, 2007
I suppose I should be flattered that so distinguished a personage as Professor Alan M. Dershowitz devoted so much attention to me in a piece in the Crimson. According to him, I am an enemy of free speech because I criticized Columbia President Lee Bollinger's remarks in introducing the president of Iran when he spoke at our University. My real agenda, according to Dershowitz, is that I am "against Israel," by which he evidently means anyone who criticizes any Israeli policy.
I don't know what the standards of proof among law professors are, but among historians it is customary to present facts to bolster an argument. I defy Professor Dershowitz to cite any statement of mine that is "against Israel." My criticism of President Bollinger revolved around the part of his speech that seemed to commit Columbia University to support of the Bush administration's war in Iraq, and to blame Iran for the violence there. When introducing a foreign head of state, the president of a university is not simply expressing his "personal views," as Dershowitz claims, but speaking for the university.
Lest anyone actually believe Dershowitz's misrepresentation, I am categorically in favor of the broadest possible freedom of speech for everyone, whether I agree with them or not. If Dershowitz had taken the time to study my writings and actions he would have realized this. Criticizing the content of speech -- as I did with President Bollinger -- is not the same thing as trying to deprive him of the right to speak, a distinction a law professor ought to understand.
DeWitt Clinton Professor of History
Do anti-Israel professors "tremble in fear" when they criticize Israel at Harvard and other American universities? Not likely, if you have any sense of what's going on on college campuses today where Israel-bashing is rampant among hard left faculty and students. But a Harvard professor named J. Lorand Matory who teaches anthropology and Afro-American studies, whined to the Harvard faculty last week that he "tremble[s] in fear" whenever he criticizes Israel. Well, he must tremble an awful lot, since he spends so much of his time criticizing Israel, a country he has never even visited and a country that he recently told an interviewer he has never even read a book about. Matory submitted a motion stating that "this faculty commits itself to fostering civil dialogue in which people with a broad range of perspectives feel safe and are encouraged to express their reasoned and evidence-based ideas." Nothing wrong with encouraging free speech as long as speech is free to people representing different perspectives. But Matory's motion received support from other paragons of political correctness, who are well-known for their advocacy of censorship of the "offensive" speech of others, but who are now complaining that there's not enough free speech for them at Harvard.
At Columbia University, on the other hand, a group of professors -- who are generally in sync with their extremist colleagues at Harvard -- are complaining that Columbia's President, Lee C. Bollinger, has too much freedom of speech when it comes to the Middle East. A campaign is underway to rebuke Bollinger for expressing his personal views about the Iranian dictator, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Led by well-known radicals such as Eric Foner -- who complained that Bollinger's harsh description of Ahmadinejad was "completely inaccurate" -- these politically correct censors want to muzzle Bollinger. They also want to muzzle students, alumni, and other "outsiders," who have legitimate complaints about the Middle East Studies Department, which has become a wholly owned subsidiary of radical Islam.
It all seems so inconsistent unless you understand what the real agenda is, and then everything becomes completely clear and totally consistent. The agenda is Israel. If you're against Israel -- as Matory, Foner, and their ilk are -- then they want you to have complete freedom to speak against the Jewish state (as they certainly should and do). If, on the other hand, you're perceived as pro-Israel (or pro-American, for that matter), then suddenly you have no right to free speech. It is so transparently cynical that I'm amazed that any reasonable person actually falls for it.
The hypocrisy is rather easy to spot if you've been around long enough to remember when it was leaders of the radical left, led by MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, who were trying to intrude on the tenure process for political reasons. I recall vividly when Chomsky campaigned to prevent Columbia from granting a tenured position to Henry Kissinger. Chomsky spoke at a noisy rally against Kissinger's tenure. It was that same Chomsky who complained when I wrote a letter -- in response to a request from the former chairman of the political science department -- detailing misquotations, made-up facts, and other scholarly sins by anti-Israel extremist Norman Finkelstein and urging DePaul University to deny him tenure. I also remember when it was Professor Matory who tried to prevent former University President Lawrence H. Summers from exercising his freedom of speech with regard to Israel when he was president.
What I don't remember (because it didn't happen) are any complaints by these born-again freedom of speech phonies when Summers, as a mere professor, was prevented from making a speech to the University of California Board of Regents this September. Those political-correctniks who weren't actually demanding censorship of Summers were predictably silent because it wasn't one of theirs who was being censored. Nor do I remember (because it didn't happen) the hard left at Columbia protesting when the University provost defended an anti-Israel professor who was caught by a camera throwing a rock at an Israeli guardhouse. Nor do I remember (because it didn't happen) Professor Matory complaining when Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Barak was prevented from speaking at Concordia University by a hard-left anti-Israel crowd of violent censors. For that matter, where was Columbia's Eric Foner when the leader of the Minutemen was chased off the stage at Columbia by another group of freedom-suppressing hooligans?
I challenge Matory and his hard left political cronies to show a history of supporting the free speech rights of those they disagree with. Has Matory defended the right of Professor James D. Watson, whose despicable theories of racial inferiority resulted in the cancellation of his speech at Rockefeller University? I, and many other genuine civil libertarians, have long histories of defending the free speech rights of those we most despise. I supported the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, Ill. 40 years ago. I opposed the cancellation of a speech by Tom Paulin, who advocated the murder of Israelis. I defended, pro bono, a virulently anti-Israel Stanford professor who was fired for inciting violence. I opposed Harvard's attempt to prevent students from flying the Palestinian flag to commemorate the death of mass-murderer Yasser Arafat.
Don't expect the defense of those with whom they disagree from the Israel-bashers at Columbia, Harvard, and MIT. For them, it is "free speech for me, but not for thee!"
Freedom of speech to criticize Israel and the U.S. is alive and well at Harvard and most other universities. Matory need not "tremble in fear" of anything except his pernicious opinions being rebutted in the marketplace of ideas.
Freedom of speech to criticize Palestinian extremism is however in short supply at many American and European universities. Jewish students do actually "tremble in fear" of offending anti-Israel professors who have the power to downgrade and negatively recommend them. This is an issue that deserves serious attention in the real world of academia, rather than in Matory's ersatz world of topsy-turvy newspeak.
So let us all support complete free speech for every perspective relating to the Middle East, not just for perspectives supported by the hard left.
In those past centuries, interest in Islamic studies came largely from colonial powers, such as France and Britain, that were "attempting to understand the religious references and practical motivations of their colonized subjects," according to Mr. Ramadan, now a research fellow at the University of Oxford. Today, he says, scholarship on Islam is fueled by factors that include "the increased visibility of new generations of western Muslims" and, of course, terrorism. In each instance, he writes, "Islamic studies are directly or indirectly involved as part of an attempt to understand and to prevent, to protect ourselves, to dominate, and even to fight should the adversary be violent Islam."
That approach presents several difficulties, he argues. For example, it makes it harder "to establish a distance between the stress generated by current affairs, and the objective study of contemporary Islamic thought." Likewise, it reduces critical aspects of Islam, such as its legal heritage and mystical elements, "to elementary, contemporary surveys of political ideologies, migrations, and social movements."...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) (12-5-07)
What this means, of course, is that historians are now being paid at levels comparable to those of the other humanities disciplines —and for compensation purposes, history is clearly considered a humanties, not a social-science, field. History still does better at the lower ranks than literature, but it is now low enough to be included in the CUPA-HR list of “Disciplines with the Lowest Average Salaries.” And the humanities-social science distinction matters — salaries in the social sciences are on average 7.5 percent higher than in history.
What these numbers tell us is not so much that we should feel sorry for historians, but that our universities are systematically discriminating against the humanities in setting compensation. We should not be surprised, should we, that an increasingly market-oriented higher education system should respond to market pressures? Or should we? Are we really to consider the humanities a throw-away part of the faculty and curriculum, to be less valued that income-producing ideas and behaviors? I hope not, but until humanities faculty complain loudly and systematically about being undervalued the situation will continue to deteriorate.
SOURCE: Tom Engelhardt at his website, TomDispatch.com (12-4-07)
Only the titles of the books scattered everywhere hint at the less than mild-mannered reality of his life: Living with the Bomb, Empire, The Next War, Savage Dreams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, The United States and the Legacy of the Vietnam War, and -- all in Japanese characters but for a single word in English -- Hiroshima. It's hard to believe that this modest-looking man once rode in a forward air controller's small plane in Vietnam, surveying the wholesale destruction of two provinces for what became his 1968 book, The Military Half, or that his 1982 bestselling book on the nuclear conundrum, The Fate of the Earth, was one of the sparks for the greatest anti-nuclear movement of our -- or any other -- lifetime. In one way or another in those days, he jostled with millions of demonstrators and activists; most of the time since, while writing for the New Yorker, then Newsday, and now the Nation, he has remained a largely one-man campaign against nuclear annihilation and nuclear"forgetfulness," as well as for the abolition of such weapons from the fateful face of our Earth.
Several days after the publication of his latest nuclear book, The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger, at a moment when the Bush administration, long focused on nuclear weapons, fictional and real, was up to its ears in a potential nuclear crisis involving Pakistan, we sit down in the conference room of the Nation Institute, where he is a Fellow (as am I). With two cheap tape recorders rolling and Tam Turse, the official photographer of this site, snapping photos, we begin to explore the mysteries of the nuclear crisis -- and conundrum -- that has occupied much of his life and threatened the planet for the last 62 years. He speaks with emphasis, but in a measured way, stopping from time to time to carefully consider his answers.
Tomdispatch: So, take us on a little tour of our world in terms of nuclear weapons.
Jonathan Schell: The way I think of it, in the Cold War, the nuclear age was in a sort of adolescence. Just a two-power or, at most, a five- or six-sided affair. Now, it's in its prime. We already have nine nuclear powers, with lots of aspirers to the club waiting in the wings. The nuclear weapon is fulfilling its destiny, which was known from the very beginning of the nuclear age: to be available to all who wanted it, whether or not they choose to actually build the thing.
In a certain sense, we're just beginning to face the nuclear danger in its inescapable, quintessential form. At key moments in the nuclear age, the public has suddenly gotten very worked up about its peril. Now, if I am not mistaken, could be another such moment. Everybody who has ever marched or spoken up against nuclear weapons should dust off their hiking boots and get back in the fray.
TD: Once upon a time, of course, we would have said that the Cold War superpower stand-off with tens of thousands of such weapons was its quintessential form.
Schell: But that was not correct. The Cold War was in fact a temporary two-power disguise for a threat that was essentially universal in double sense: Number one, it could destroy everybody; number two, over the long run, anybody was going to be able to acquire it. There's still a ways to go, but we've already reached the verge at which it's imaginable that a mere terrorist group could get its hands on the bomb technology, or even on a ready-made bomb.
That's part of the universalization that was written into the bomb's genetic code. Once a terrorist group has such a weapon, deterrence -- a relic of the Cold War -- is no longer operable. So this supposed solution, which seemed to work, after a fashion, for more than four decades, is now essentially out the window and we're in the market for another solution, which must be geared to this matured form of danger in which the weaponry can pop up anywhere.
That's a different riddle, but one faced way back in 1945 by the atomic scientists of the Manhattan Project, who made the first bomb. They grasped what was coming. That's why they immediately put together a proposal to ban nuclear weapons altogether -- the so-called Lillienthal-Acheson Plan.
It was all or nothing. They, of course, were just projecting, based on the realities of science and the physics of the weapon which they knew so well. Now, the world they feared is becoming a reality: North Korea is a nuclear power -- and so is disintegrating Pakistan.
TD: As you point out in your new book, The Seventh Decade, the Bush Doctrine has pushed us into a situation in which we can, strangely enough, see all this far more clearly.
Schell: That's exactly right. The Bush Doctrine had one virtue. As an imperial solution -- the United States will stop proliferation by military force, if need be, wherever it arises -- it was also an attempt at a universal solution. Unfortunately, it backfired horrendously. It's in a shambles. We waged a war in a country that didn't have nuclear weapons, meanwhile letting North Korea get them.
So once again, as at the end of the Cold War, we're without a workable policy for dealing with nuclear danger. But, today, for the very first time, we are goaded by events toward creating a policy that fits the essential nature of the danger. Just as that danger is universal because any country -- even a terrorist group -- can potentially get hold of the bomb, so we need a universal solution, which can only be what the atomic scientists said it was in 1945 -- to roll back, ban, and abolish all nuclear weapons and nuclear-weapons technology.
The First Nuclear Proliferator
TD: Before we head into the subject of abolition, let's go back to the beginning. In your new book, and your past work, you've suggested that nuclear weapons, perhaps the most awesome objects in our world, reside most essentially not in arsenals, but in the human mind. What do you mean by the bomb in the mind?
Schell: Well, that's the foundation of the whole nuclear dilemma. The bomb itself is the fruit of basic twentieth-century discoveries in physics, specifically its most renowned equation -- energy equals mass times the speed of light squared -- which gives the amount of energy that's released in nuclear weapons. Being rooted in science, the bomb is a mental construct to begin with, which means it's always present and will always be present, even if we do get rid of the hardware. The bomb in the mind will be there forever.
So, before any physical bomb existed, there was the bomb as conceived by scientists, destined, sooner or later, to become available to all competent and technical minds in the world. What follows, of course, is that a growing list of countries -- at present probably around 50 -- are able to have nuclear weapons if they so decide. What, in turn, follows is that, if those countries are not going to have the bomb, it will only be because they have made a political decision not to have it.
And what follows no less surely is that this global issue cannot be solved by any means but the political. More specifically, it can't be solved by military force.
TD: The story, as you explain it, starts in a specific mind on a specific street corner in London.
Schell: That person, as Richard Rhodes tells it in his wonderful book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, was Leo Szilard, the maverick Hungarian scientist. One day in 1933, he was crossing a London street and the idea of the chain reaction occurred to him. The thought arose by connecting work of the scientist Ernest Rutherford, who had recently given a speech on the transmutation of atoms, and a novel by H.G. Wells, The World Set Free, which described an atomic war. The science fiction writer's imagination and the scientist's information fused in his mind at that moment, and he realized that the world was in deep trouble.
TD: Interestingly, you then have your first test of what we would now call"nuclear proliferation" along with attempts to stop it almost immediately.
Schell: That's right, because Szilard understands what's at stake instantly. And, remember, the world would soon be on the brink of war. He doesn't want Adolf Hitler or his scientists to have this idea first or develop it. So he tries to put a secret patent on the process as he understands it. Eventually, he takes it to the British admiralty and they accept it. This was the first attempt at non-proliferation, the first attempt to stop the first proliferator from turning the bomb in the mind into a piece of hardware and, of course, it failed, as every subsequent attempt failed or, at least, proved highly imperfect.
TD: Could you say that the greatest illusion, beginning with the American nuclear"monopoly" in 1945, is the idea that the bomb can be nationalized, that it can remain the property of one, or several, countries?
Schell: Yes, and following from that mistake is the second most mischievous idea of the nuclear age -- that you can obtain nuclear superiority, an advantage that requires you, or your group of allies in the"nuclear club," to maintain either a nuclear monopoly or a decisive superiority in numbers of weapons. History has shown that, in the long run, that cannot be.
This second illusion has had many permutations, the most important being the nuclear war-fighting school, which believed such a war was"winnable." That notion persisted for most of the Cold War, but was essentially abandoned, at least at the presidential level, by Ronald Reagan, of all people, who insisted a nuclear war could not be won and should not be fought. Beginning with this key insight, he went on to become a nuclear abolitionist and almost achieved the goal with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Reykjavik Summit of 1986.
The Nuclear Archipelago
TD: In this context, I've always been struck by the surreality of the superpower nuclear arsenals in the Cold War era. They held tens of thousands of such weapons. You would have had to fight your ultimate battles on five or six Earth-sized planets to use up such arsenals -- and you could have destroyed them all. Why couldn't those war-fighters stop building their weapons, even after the destruction of the enemy had been assured ten, twenty times over?
Schell: I think there's a historical answer to that question. Because nuclear weapons were born as seeming weapons of warfare, millennia of tradition, of gut feeling about enemies and friends, about what makes you safe and what puts you in danger, were attached to them. The whole psychological apparatus that has made war unstoppable since the beginnings of history, or before, enveloped these weapons. So an understanding that they had in actuality exploded the traditional context for war was, perhaps unsurprisingly, very slow in coming. It meant undoing several thousand years of tradition in all countries -- the idea, in particular, that you couldn't build up too large an arsenal, that if you didn't match the other side you would lose the war, and that they would then destroy your town and carry off the women and children and slaughter or enslave the men. To understand that nuclear weapons could not be used that way, that they, indeed, made a whole range of warfare impossible, was a lesson that was viscerally, as well as intellectually, difficult to absorb. Above all, viscerally.
TD: By the way, the war-fighting idea was closely linked, early in the Cold War, with the idea of a first strike. If you couldn't knock out the other side with your surprise attack, you were in trouble, right?
Schell: Yes, indeed, and acknowledgment of that trouble led to the rise of the counter-school, the doctrine of"mutual assured destruction," which gained the appropriate acronym MAD, and which eventually predominated. It said: No, don't launch a first strike because you can't win a nuclear war. Wait for the other side to launch and then retaliate, if need be. The whole purpose of this MAD exercise, of course, was to ward off the first strike that meant annihilation.
TD: It's always seemed to me that, though the U.S. used atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, deterrence preceded the bomb. We never did, for instance, launch a first strike against the Soviet Union when we could have, when they didn't have an effective nuclear force to strike back with.
Schell: In a very literal sense, deterrence preceded the very existence of the bomb. After all, Roosevelt started the atomic project in 1939, well before the United States was even in a war in Europe, because of his fear that Hitler would get it first. In other words, he was preparing to deter an arsenal that had not yet -- and, in fact, never would -- come into existence.
It was the use of the bomb against Japan, of course, that set the stage for the war-fighting school. No deterrence was needed against Japan, since everyone knew it had no nuclear weapons. The way was clear for use, and that use was then considered, however doubtfully, to have won the war. America's bomb became a war-winning, war-fighting weapon.
TD: To this day, despite coming to the edge of thinking about using the bomb -- in Korea, Vietnam, even, if rumors are to be believed, in these last years when the Bush administration may have been preparing to wield "the nuclear option" against Iranian deep-dug nuclear facilities -- it has yet to happen.
Schell: That brings us to another dimension of the bomb in the mind. It turned out, as I mentioned, that this weapon was not going to be useful for war-fighting; that, at very best, it was useful for threatening. After all, use was likely to annihilate everyone concerned -- and possibly the rest of the human species in the bargain. Thus, nuclear policy became a matter of bluster and bluff, while what we thought of as"the balance of nuclear terror" proved to be a strictly mental operation. Policy became a pure play of psychology and images, of threats as distinct from use.
TD: And yet, somehow, the war-fighting school has made a comeback in the Bush moment…
Schell: Exactly, and with a permutation of the familiar Cold War illusion, based once again on the idea of sole, or group, proprietorship of the bomb: That a limited club of good countries, led by the United States, could still more or less corner the market on such weapons.
Well, it's way too late in history for that! But what flowed from that idea, however, was the entire Bush Doctrine, the Bush revolution in nuclear policy, which proposed that the United States, using its immense military force, could actually stop proliferation in other countries by military means. This is probably the most dangerous permutation of the idea of first use and nuclear war-fighting we've had in the nuclear age -- and the Iraq War was its first child.
TD: Over a bomb that really was in the mind, by the way.
Schell: (Laughs) Actually, that fiasco illustrates one true fact about the bomb in the mind. The mistake was possible only because everyone knew that Saddam Hussein could have been building the bomb. For the bomb is misconceived as just a piece of hardware, or even many pieces of hardware scattered around the world. It is essentially, originally, and everlastingly a set of scientific and technological capacities open to all and coming at you, in a certain sense, from all directions at all times. As soon as you put out the fire over here, another is likely to spring up over there, and so on. Military force is singularly inappropriate for facing this conundrum and yet that's what the Bush administration chose. It's like trying to dispel a mist with a machine gun, just the wrong instrument for the job.
TD: You have a very vivid image related to this in your new book. You call our world a nuclear archipelago.
Schell: Just imagine the science of the bomb as like the white-hot magma at the center of the Earth, always there. The spread of nuclear technology is like volcanic lava spilling onto the ocean floor, and nuclear arsenals are like so many islands that have built up under the sea and suddenly penetrate its surface to form an island chain. The islands seem separate from one another, but in fact are only the highest peaks of an underwater mountain range.
TD: To play out that image, in the Bush years we've been focused on just a few of the smaller islands -- the Korean island, the Iranian island that may or may not be there, the Iraqi island that wasn't there -- to the exclusion of the larger islands or the mainland.
Schell: In this blinkered vision, we see an aspect of a grand illusion that was born at the end of the Cold War era. A very curious thing happened. The United States -- maybe Russia, too -- just forgot about its own arsenal. Didn't get rid of it, just pushed it out of consciousness. But other countries didn't forget. They saw that every one of the nuclear powers of the Cold War era was choosing to remain a nuclear power. Even as the numbers of weapons were being brought down a little, huge arsenals were retained. So other countries were then faced with a decision: In a nuclear armed world, are we going to remain without nuclear arms? Well, India decided no. It rebelled against what it called"nuclear apartheid," joined the nuclear club, and Pakistan followed suit.
The Romance of the Bomb
TD: I want to back up a little. We've been talking about the bomb in the mind. You were born in…
TD: …and I, in '44, so we barely beat the bomb into the world. The bomb in my mind was a vivid thing. I still remember my nuclear nightmares from childhood. What about the bomb in your mind -- and the path that brought you to your bestselling and seminal book, The Fate of the Earth.
Schell: For some reason, I remember a photo and a headline from the [New York] Daily News announcing that the Soviet Union had set off its first hydrogen bomb in August of 1953. Then, in college at Harvard in the Sixties -- it's only in retrospect that I attach any importance to this -- I took a course from one Henry Kissinger. I recall a feeling almost like schizophrenia. It was a very hot spring and I was sitting in sweltering libraries reading these nightmarish texts about nuclear weapons. I remember this thought: That the people who were for the bomb were politically sane but morally crazy, while the people who were against the bomb were morally sane but politically crazy. These seemed like two universes that would never meet.
Of far greater importance was going to Vietnam in 1966 and becoming a reporter on the war. The experience led me to think seriously about nuclear arms. When I began to study the origins of the war and the American search for" credibility" through victory in Vietnam, I saw the connections with the nuclear policies of the day. Even before the United States had many troops there, Vietnam was conceived of as a"limited war." Limited in comparison to what? Well, in comparison to a general war, which was a nuclear war, which you couldn't fight. I began to believe what I still believe: You cannot think about any aspect of international politics without finding the bomb located somewhere at the center of it. Manifestly, that was true throughout the Cold War, and now it's true again.
TD: This leads me to one of the more fascinating, stranger parts of your new book The Seventh Decade -- your complex discussion of the attraction of these weapons to various nations. Since they can't be used, why in the world do states want them?
Schell: Often only as a kind of symbol of power and prestige, another bomb in the mind, if you will. This is easily demonstrated if you look at a country like India. There, getting the bomb was never primarily a matter of countering manifest foreign threats. Instead, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party mainly wanted to elevate India to great-power status in the world. It also saw joining the nuclear club as a continuation of the anti-nuclear, anti-colonial struggle, as an escape from nuclear apartheid. If the superpowers would not disarm, India would arm.
But if you happen to think of this motivation as strictly Indian, you'd be quite wrong. If, for instance, you look at the record of British deliberations on the bomb in the late 1940s and early 1950s, there's very little discussion of the Soviet Union, or of any enemy for that matter. All the talk is about keeping in the game with the United States. This was the post-World War II moment. Britain was losing its empire and its leaders were desperate to find some way to maintain a semblance of being a great power.
At one point, for instance, when Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin returned from Washington, having been talked down to by U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes, he told [British Prime Minister Clement] Atlee that Britain must have the Union Jack on the bomb, because he didn't ever want a foreign secretary of Britain to be spoken to that way again.
In France, we find very much the same story. In fact, [President Charles] De Gaulle actually said at a certain point: It's precisely because we're not a great power that we have to have the bomb.
TD: I noticed that, in your book, you link this horrific weapon to a word that normally wouldn't be associated with it. You call those like the Indian leadership who wanted the bomb"nuclear romantics." The romance of a world-destroying weapon. Please explain.
Schell: Again, getting the bomb is like striking a pose, like a Byronic or Napoleonic hero. Seeming to be a great power. There is a nice line in the new Richard Rhodes book, Arsenals of Folly, in which someone says: The reason we don't want to get rid of nuclear weapons is that then we'd walk down the street in a different way. That may be close to the essence of what it's all about. Without these weapons, you can't be quite so cocky.
TD: There's another aspect of our nuclear world that we should touch on. Call it: the bomb out of the mind. In the U.S., there have been periods of mass fascination with, and panic over, the bomb, of dreaming about the bomb and making movies about it, but for long periods the bomb seems to fall out of collective consciousness. I mean, right at this moment, I can't say you're quite a one-man movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons, but… Anyway, can you talk about denial and the bomb?
Schell: I mean, these are deep, deep mysteries. The more I've thought about the psychology of the bomb, the more puzzling it's become. It's true that there's been a habitual denial of the problem, broken, as you say, every now and then by awareness, and then a movement arises. In a curious way, you could think of denial of the bomb as a pathological form of the bomb in the mind -- in the sense that denial once again, in a way, removes the bomb from the world.
Now, what all this points toward is a final bomb in the mind in which the terror of the weapon would inspire people to take the action that fits that emotion, which is to get rid of the hardware. What's left over is still the scientific bomb in the mind, but standing guard over it, so to speak, is our horror at its return and the political arrangements that we will have put in place to eternally keep that thing in its grave. Finally, in other words, you move to a kind of bomb in the mind that inspires positive action, rather than just deters or inspires terrors.
TD: The abolition of these weapons has always been presented as hopelessly utopian. As you describe it in your new book, however, it's not that at all. If we wanted to head in that direction, you believe, there's an actual, practical path open for us to do so.
Schell: It's not utopian; it's a necessity, and the path to abolition you mentioned remains open, at least in the sense that the nearly insurmountable ideological obstacles of the Cold War struggle aren't in the way. If the U.S. were to join with Russia and China in putting their arsenals on the bargaining table and then demand that proliferators not proliferate, we would quickly find ourselves in a different world.
In writing The Seventh Decade, by the way, I've had a chance to reconsider the bomb in the mind, something I first brought up in 1982 in my book The Fate of the Earth. My new thought is this: You have to see the acquisition of this knowledge not as something that might have been avoided but as a kind of coming of age of humanity. We are inquisitive creatures, homo sapiens, capable of plumbing certain secrets of the universe. We embarked on that path three or four hundred years ago when the scientific method was invented. We were then destined to discover that the basic building block of nature, matter, contained energy -- and that we could get it out.
It's therefore as useless to lament our lost innocence as it is for an adolescent to lament lost childhood. The task is to live -- that first means survive -- with our new powers, however troublesome or unwanted they may be. We have to incorporate those powers into our thinking at a fundamental level and learn how, forever after, to live as a species that can destroy itself, but has chosen, through an enduring act of political will, not to. Making that choice would mark the culmination of an evolution which began with the scientific discovery of the energy in the atom, continued through deterrence, and now would be transformed into a kind of eternal vigilance to prevent the bomb from ever returning to our midst.
A Crisis Breaking the Bounds of War
TD: Let's move back, for a moment, to the immediate crisis. Let's talk about the Iranian nuclear situation. What do you make of it?
Schell: The Bush administration has framed the Iranian issue in such a way that, as everyone likes to say, there are no good options. On the one hand, Iran is de facto heading down a path that leads towards the bomb. Whether they actually want to turn themselves into a nuclear power or, like India for many decades or Japan today, simply be ready to do so in a couple of months, I don't know. But they're enriching uranium. They have that technology. The United States has said: No! You mustn't enrich, even though you say it's for nuclear power, because that gets you nine out of ten steps to the bomb.
So the United States and Europe mount diplomatic efforts. Iran spurns them. They make threats. Iran ignores them and goes on with its program. The diplomatic path conceivably might work if the United States were more forthcoming in what it offered Iran, but success even then looks doubtful at best. It appears that Iran is determined to have that technology and keep it, not roll it back. So you are left with the only other option within this framework -- the use of military force.
I would say, though, that the surefire way of ensuring that Iran will go for the bomb is to attack them. If, the day before, they were ready to stop short of having the bomb, the day after, they'll go for it and they'll get it, too. So, just as people say, there are no good options -- but that's only within the framework of the Bush Doctrine. And the key element in that doctrine is that a few countries, almost all of them nuclear powers, are supposed to stop other countries from getting the bomb. But the record of the last half decade has shown that this is an unworkable plan.
The option which is never explored, although I'm convinced it's the key to breaking an impasse like this one, is for the nuclear powers to bring their own weapons to the negotiating table and say: We will reduce ours -- eventually down to zero -- on condition that you proliferators stop proliferating.
Let me give you an example. Right now the United States says: Iran is going on with its enrichment, so we want to impose harsher sanctions. Russia and China say: No, we don't think that's necessary, we don't want to do that. They worry that the United States may attack Iran; they also have financial deals with Iran; and so on. In other words, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, all of whom are nuclear powers, are divided among themselves and can't present a united will to proliferators.
Now, imagine a situation in which these powers have decided they are ready to surrender their own nuclear arsenals and rely on an abolition agreement in the same way they now rely on those arsenals for their security. There would be no disunity among them in approaching Iran. In addition, the 183 countries which have already agreed, under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to remain without nuclear weapons, would join this consensus. You would have a united global will which, in my opinion, would simply be irresistible to any country -- whether Iran, North Korea, or Israel -- that proposed to hold on to its own little arsenal in defiance of the united resolve of the Earth.
So, to me, the idea of abolition has tremendous practical force as an immediate solution to proliferation. It kicks in the second you make that commitment and signal that it's serious and irrevocable…
TD: Even if you were going to build down your nuclear arsenals over a long period…?
Schell: Even then. You could simply start off with a freeze everywhere. Everybody just stops where they are and then begins to head toward the common destination with coordinated steps in a single negotiating forum in which, for instance, Russia and the United States would initially agree to go down to 500 weapons from their present combined 25,000 or so weapons. In exchange for that, Iran would stop its enrichment activities, or begin to dismantle its enrichment facilities. There would be all sorts of bargaining and deals between proliferators and nuclear powers. At the same time, you would be creating an architecture of inspection housed in the International Atomic Energy Agency that would be founded for the purpose of going in and making sure the rules were being followed.
TD: By the way, I noticed that you mentioned the Israeli arsenal. It's usually left completely out of the Iranian discussion. I'm struck sometimes that our news is so filled with stories about the Iranian bomb, which doesn't exist, and yet you'd be hard-pressed to find a single mention of Israel's perhaps 200-weapon arsenal, including city-busters, not to say civilization busters, on any given week, even though that arsenal puts it in a league with other major powers…
Schell: Britain, say. Israel probably has more active warheads, in fact. It only gets mentioned when people are asking whether Israel might attack Iran's nuclear facilities. But, believe me, Israel's capacity doesn't go unnoticed or unmentioned in the Middle East, only here. I mean, Israel has done something ingenious. It's taken the psychological fact of denial of nuclear weapons and made it a policy. So they won't confirm or deny that they have them, but they have this curious phrase:"We will not introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East." Evidently, in some abstruse way, possessing them is not introducing them. You'd have to do something more to introduce them. You'd have to brandish one or make a threat with one, or maybe just acknowledge that you had them. As long as they keep them in the basement and don't make any introductions, then it's alright. And that policy seems to have had a certain success in dampening criticism, amazing to say.
TD: A last topic. When we grew up there was one world-destroying thing, whether you were obsessed with it or not: the bomb, the nuclear arsenals. Today, for young people, there appear to be several paths to the end of the world, ranging from the fictional to pandemics to global warming. Nuclear weapons seem to be in a jostling queue of world-destroying possibilities. What kind of a mental landscape, especially for the young, goes with such a situation do you think?
Schell: Global warming, which is a whole new way of doing ourselves in, does create a radically new context. You know, when I wrote The Fate of the Earth, back in 1982, I said that, first and foremost, nuclear weapons were an ecological danger. It wasn't that our species could be directly wiped out by nuclear war down to the last person. That would only happen through the destruction of the underpinnings of life, through nuclear winter, radiation, ozone loss. There has been an oddity of timing, because when the nuclear weapon was invented, people didn't even use the word"environment" or"ecosphere." The environmental movement was born later.
So, in a certain sense, the greatest -- or certainly the most urgent -- ecological threat of them all was born before the context in which you could understand it. The present larger ecological crisis is that context. In other words, global warming and nuclear war are two different ways that humanity, having grown powerful through science, through production, through population growth, threatens to undo the natural underpinnings of human, and all other, life. In a certain way, I think we may be in a better position today, because of global warming, to grasp the real import of nuclear danger.
The fact that the nuclear crisis grew out of war obscured this deeper significance. In truth, nuclear weapons effected a revolution in warfare that made it impossible, at least among the greatest powers. The bomb really isn't a military thing at all.
In a sense, the nuclear dilemma is the easy crisis to solve. It does not require us to change our physical way of life; it just requires a different sort of political resolve. Technically, ridding the planet of such weapons is very feasible. We've already gotten rid of half the ones that existed at the peak of the Cold War. So, it's almost as if it's a preliminary item, something to get out of the way as we try to save the Earth from the other, newer ecological dangers that threaten our existence.
Copyright 2007 Tomdispatch
SOURCE: Robert McHenry at Britannica Blog (11-30-07)
It was about 1988 or ’89, I think, when I attended my first meeting of the Britannica Board of Editors, on which Barzun long served. It was held that year at the Wye Plantation in Maryland. The evening before the formal session began there was an informal cocktail hour, during which I hung well back and watched as the mostly old friends and acquaintances greeted one another and caught up on news and gossip in the accepted cocktail-hour manner. At some point I became aware of a tall man of quite different mien. He had not been in the room earlier; as I was to learn, he was always late to these meetings, a fact usually attributed to his insistence on traveling by train rather than airplane.
When I say he was tall I mean not simply that his height as measured in inches exceeded that of others in the room, but that he stood to his full height, whatever it might have been, and quite visibly gave body to the very idea of uprightness. His lean face, with a tall forehead from which his hair was brushed straight back, was rather what I had imagined a good aristocrat’s might be – not stern or severe but reserved; not complacent but composed; not supercilious but observant and tolerant. In all, a figure conveying the strongest sense of austere self-possession.
“Who is that?” I asked my mentor at this affair.
“That’s Jacques,” he said simply.
Ah, Barzun. I knew the name, of course, and had at least some dim sense of why I should know it. One of the Columbia group out of which so much of what Britannica had done and how it had done it had grown. Mortimer Adler was in the room, along with Clifton Fadiman and – a second-generation representative – Charles Van Doren.
I squinted at Barzun’s brown suit, which despite an inexpert eye I suspected was of superior cut. What was that?
“That thin red line on his lapel – at the buttonhole. What is it?”
“That?” he echoed, looking at me with what seemed to be a touch of pity; “That’s the Legion of Honor.”
Whatever bit of crest I had permitted myself for having been invited to this gathering of genuine adults promptly fell and remained prostrate. Or, as I might have thought a decade later, d’oh!
It is not for me to comment on Jacques Barzun’s scholarship or his importance to Columbia. For Britannica in my time he was first among equals in keeping us to the highest standards of scholarly and cultural responsibility. Not that we always succeeded. One of his more pointed, not to say acerbic, essays was prompted by his experience with Britannica editors, though he was kind enough not to say so explicitly.
Barzun had been prevailed upon to contribute an article on European culture in the period from the French Revolution until World War I. It ran to some 15,000 words. I don’t know which editor handled it, but he or she must have had a remarkably poor sense of literary style, for the manuscript was returned to the author for approval of enough niggling, tin-eared, and outright erroneous changes to evoke an essay titled “Behind the Blue Pencil – Censorship or Creeping Creativity?” The essay appeared in The American Scholar in 1985 and was included in Barzun’s 1986 book On Writing, Editing, and Publishing, and it is now used widely in courses in writing and editing.
Being a bad example is, I suppose, service of a kind. But being a good example is better, and the example set by Barzun’s prose style is almost unattainably good. Like the man, so the style: No obfuscating jargon, no exhibitionistic sesquipedalianism, none of the affectations of less confident scholarship mar his lines. To read him is to be reminded how shockingly bad is so much of what passes for discourse in the humanities today. But that is no reason to read him. The reason is that he teaches in the great sense of the word, so that we come away not only with our understanding deepened but marveling at how he has made learning pleasurable.
SOURCE: http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk (11-27-07)
Professor Lipton was recognized as one of the leading philosophers of science and epistemologists in the world. Born in New York in 1954, he studied physics and philosophy at Wesleyan University and Oxford where he earned his PhD in 1985 with a thesis on explanation and evidence. From 1985 to 1990 he was Assistant Professor at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. He joined the Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy of Science in 1991 as Assistant Lecturer, quickly rising to the rank of Lecturer in 1994 and becoming holder of the Departmental Chair in 1997. From June 1996 until his death he also acted as Head of Department.
Lipton was an extraordinarily gifted teacher. His lecture courses on philosophy of science and philosophy of mind attracted big crowds of students and were marked by the most unusual clarity, critical acumen and his wonderful – and justifiably world-renowned – sense of humour. One year the second-year students so wished to show their appreciation for his performance that in the last lecture of the year they showered him with flowers. Many a student was drawn into philosophy through these lectures. Lipton's seminars and reading groups were similarly legendary. His 'Epistemology Reading Group' – modelled on A. J. Ayer's Oxford discussion circle that he had attended – was the philosophical centre of gravity in the Department. Lipton supervised numerous students at all levels; he was always working with between six and ten PhD students.
Lipton lectured widely both within and outside of the academia. He enjoyed bringing philosophical ideas to schools, colleges and summer schools; the frequency with which he was invited back by the same institutions attests to his incredible talent in this domain. He felt very strongly about making Cambridge more accessible to students from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and made significant contributions towards this goal. It was in keeping with this spirit of openness that Lipton's brilliant inaugural lecture in March 1998 as Professor was simultaneously staged as a contribution to the University's Science Week to a vast audience, many of them schoolchildren. Lipton's many contributions to the internet site 'Ask Philosophers' also fall in this category. He memorably defended his involvement with the site by saying: 'It's very important that philosophers get out more.'...
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Historians (NCH) (12-4-07)
Today, Scholars at Risk (SAR) reports about Mehrnoushe Solouki, a filmmaker and journalism graduate student at Quebec University (UQAM), who, while making a documentary on burial rites of religious minorities in Iran, allegedly stumbled upon a site that was reportedly a mass grave of regime opponents summarily executed in 1988. On 17 November 2007, she was tried on charges of “intent to commit propaganda”. I hope that you can send the recommended urgent appeals immediately. Please remember to write in your professional capacity. Thank you.
With best wishes,
Antoon De Baets
(Network of Concerned Historians)
SCHOLARS AT RISK CALLS FOR LETTERS ON BEHALF OF
DETAINED GRADUATE STUDENT MEHRNOUSHE SOLOUKI
Date: December 4, 2007
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is deeply concerned about the trial and travel restrictions facing Mehrnoushe Solouki, a graduate student and joint French and Iranian citizen who has been kept from leaving Iran. SAR calls for letters, faxes and emails calling for authorities to explain publicly the reasons for Ms. Solouki’s trial and travel restrictions and to lift these restrictions immediately.
Scholars at Risk is an international network of universities and colleges dedicated to promoting academic freedom and to defending the human rights of scholars worldwide. SAR learned that Solouki, a filmmaker and graduate student at the Université de Quebec à Montréal (Canada), entered Iran with permission in December 2006 in order to film her third documentary, on the subject of the burial rites of religious minorities. The Iranian Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance granted Solouki a research license and officials were told in advance of locations where she would film. Solouki allegedly stumbled upon a site that was reportedly a mass grave of regime opponents summarily executed in 1988.
SAR learned that, following this incident, in February 2007, Solouki was arrested by five armed men and placed in Evin prison. She was released from prison when her parents posted bail of 85,000 Euros on March 28, 2007, but authorities confiscated her French passport, thus preventing her from leaving Iran. In breach of Iranian law limiting travel bans to six months, Solouki has still not been allowed to return to France.
On November 17, Solouki was tried in closed-door proceedings on charges of “intent to commit propaganda” against the Iranian regime. She has neither edited nor broadcast any film taken during her current stay. The trial was adjourned to an unspecified future date.
SAR calls on the authorities to explain the reasons behind Solouki’s detainment and trial and to lift the travel restrictions, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Scholars at Risk requests that urgent letters of appeal, emails and faxes be sent:
**respectfully calling for the full acquittal of Mehrnoushe Solouki in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a signatory;
**respectfully urging authorities to allow Mehrnoushe Solouki to return home safely without further delay;
**respectfully seeking assurances of Mehrnoushe Solouki’s physical well-being while she is in custody pending any proceedings;
**respectfully reminding authorities that the free exchange of ideas across national boundaries is a core value of academic freedom and higher education generally.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic:
**His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed â€˜Ali Khamenei
**The Office of the Supreme Leader
**Shoahada Street, Qom,
**Islamic Republic of Iran
**Email: info “AT” leader.ir
**Email: istiftaa “AT” wilayah.org
**His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
**Islamic Republic of Iran
Head of the Judiciary:
**Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
**Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahrz
**Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
**Please send emails via the Judiciary website <iranjudiciary.org/feedback_en.html>
Minister of Intelligence:
**Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
**Ministry of Intelligence,
**Second Negarestan Street,
**Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
**Email: iranprobe “AT” iranprobe.com
H.E. Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations
**Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
**622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
**New York, NY 10017, USA
Scholars at Risk:
**c/o New York University
**194 Mercer St., Rm. 410
**New York, NY 10012, USA
**Fax: 212-995 4402
**scholarsatrisk “AT” nyu.edu
**Programme Officer, Network for Education and Academic Rights
**London South Bank University
**90 London Road
**SE1 9LN London, UK
**Fax: 0044(0) 207 021 0881
**jonathan.travis “AT” nearinternational.org
This message was first circulated to persons on the Network of Concerned Historians (NCH) mailing list. You have been included on this list either because you indicated your wish for updates on the NCH, or because it was suggested to us that you or your organization might be interested in this initiative. If at any time you would like to be removed from the list,
simply send us a reply stating your request. Please also feel free to contact us if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. You can reach us at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information you may also visit the NCH website at: http://www.concernedhistorians.org
We invite you to forward information about NCH to other individuals and organizations who may be interested.
SOURCE: http://www.recordpub.com/ (11-30-07)
KSU and Jerry Feezel, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, assert Jameson was removed from his post for violating written university policy by improperly granting academic study leave to a controversial KSU history professor.
Jameson, who remains a full professor of history, was notified Nov. 7 that he was being removed as department chair in an e-mail sent by Feezel. Feezel said Jameson failed to go through him in requesting mid-semester leave for associate history professor Julio Assad Pino.
Jameson said Pino came to him earlier in the fall semester seeking six weeks of leave to study Arabic in the United Arab Emirates because his research is on black Muslim slaves brought to Brazil.
"A lot of their sources are in Arabic, so again he's immersing himself in that culture," Jameson said. "It's a legitimate research project, and could be an exciting project."
Department chair for the last 10 years and self-described as having the support of a majority of history professors, Jameson said Pino had figured out how to cover his classes for the six-week leave. Pino already was overseas before Feezel, who said he and the provost's office had no idea Pino was away, e-mailed him and told him to return to KSU or else risk losing his paycheck.
Feezel said he was away at a conference when he learned Pino had left campus and said he e-mailed both Jameson and Pino because he believed the matter should be dealt with immediately. Notice would have been given by e-mail for records purposes anyway, he said....
SOURCE: http://www.newuniversity.org (12-3-07)
Pipes’ speech was intended “to defeat stereotypes,” according to Cameron Galbraith, fourth-year international studies and history double-major, and president of the College Republicans. “Our issue is with militant Islam, militant Muslims, not the moderate ones, not the ones here. So part of this [lecture] is to clarify this conflict that we’re in.”
Students who queued up outside the lecture hall were probed with metal detectors by a private security firm hired by the College Republicans before they were allowed to enter. Galbraith described the metal detectors as a “precaution.”
“Pipes has a history of drawing controversy,” Galbraith stated. “With any highly visible speaker, we felt it would be prudent just to get the metal detectors just in case.” Six police officers were also on hand, though their services were not required.
While waiting for the event, people were also met with leaflets distributed by the Worker Student Alliance. Titled “Daniel Pipes: Racist Mouthpiece for U.S. Imperialism,” they provided quotes from Pipes meant to expose him as a xenophobe and racist. Students from the Worker-Student Alliance, Students for Peace and Justice and the Muslim Student Union, also placed tape over their mouths with words such as “hatred,” “Islamophobia,” “racism,” and “Daniel Pipes” written across them.
A few minutes into Pipes’ speech, in response to his statement that the “subtle totalitarian movement” exists “not just in the case of Afghanistan, [but] right here in American universities,” those students rose in silent protest and filed out of the room. Many were holding posters with statements such as “We Will NOT Be Silenced” and “From Gaza to Jena: Smash Racism with Multiracial Solidarity.” Their departure left much of the room empty.
Pipes, who has met with protests at various schools such as UCLA, UC Berkeley and Yale University, was able to recover and delved back into his lecture. He said that “when Islam began, it was a success,” and for the first 600 years, “being Muslim meant to be on the winning team.” He argued, however, that the past two centuries have been a challenge for the Muslims to figure out what went wrong. Pipes then presented his solutions....
SOURCE: Julia Keller in the Chicago Tribune (12-2-07)
And speaking of tale-telling, Ellis ran into trouble in 2001 for exaggerating his resume to his students and in media accounts. Anyone who believes there are no second acts in American lives is ignoring Ellis' example: He apologized, took a leave of absence and then got back to doing what he does best: ruminating about this incredible country, and then sharing his insights with the rest of us. Atonement bestows gifts not only on the forgiven, but also on those who do the forgiving.
SOURCE: HNN Staff (12-4-07)
Last February historian Max Holland argued in the pages of HNN that the Zapruder film missed the first shot Lee Harvey Oswald fired at President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, meaning Oswald had more time to have gotten off his three shots than previously believed.
In November the New York Times posted an op ed by Holland, drawing attention to his bold thesis. Now a Seattle lawyer, Kenneth R. Scearce, using clips from the film in a dramatic web presentation, has augmented Holland's thesis with evidence from the film itself. Scearce's article is posted on Marquette Professor John McAdams's respected JFK assassination website.
Holland's thesis challenges one of the main arguments used by conspiracy theorists, who claim that Oswald could not have fired three shots at Kennedy in the brief timeline laid out in the report of the Warren Commission.
SOURCE: http://www.budapesttimes.hu (12-4-07)
President Laszlo Solyom, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and House Speaker Katalin Szili paid their respects at the funeral bier.
Kosary's funeral will be held at Budapest's Farkasreti Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon.
President of the Constitutional Court Mihaly Bihari, former presidents Arpad Goncz and Ferenc Madl, leader of the junior governing Free Democrats Janos Koka, Professor Jozsef Palinkas of main opposition Fidesz also attended the memorial.
Born in Banska Stiavnica, now Slovakia, in 1913, Kosary was a scholar of modern Hungarian and European history who was imprisoned for his role in Hungary's 1956 revolution. He became a member of the MTA in 1985 and presided over the institution from 1990-1996. He published numerous volumes on European history.
He was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Grand Cross in 1993 and the Szechenyi award in 1995. He was member of the Royal Historical Society, the British Academy and the Academie Europeenne des Sciences des Arts et des Lettres, among receiving many other honours.
SOURCE: Independent Catholic News (12-4-07)
Professor Maurice Whitehead, an educational historian in the University's School of Humanities, was shown the document last July by Bart Op de Beeck, from the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels. Professor Whitehead, whose research focuses on the educational experience of English and Welsh Catholics before emancipation, identified the manuscript as the long-lost catalogue of the library of the English Academy at Liège, compiled in about 1792.
In the 17th and 18th Centuries, before Catholic schools were permitted in Britain, significant numbers of English and Welsh Catholics were educated in continental Europe.
A school was founded by the Jesuits in 1593, in Saint-Omer, France. In 1762 it moved moved to Bruges. When the Jesuits were suppressed by the Pope, in 1773, they fled from Bruges to Liège, where they were protected by the state's Prince Bishop. Once again, they re-founded their school, which was now called the English Academy.
In 1794, the French threatened Liège and the suppressed Jesuits were forced to flee once more, this time to England, as the 1791 Catholic Relief Act now permitted the establishment of Catholic schools.
In moving from Liège to Stonyhurst, Lancashire, the staff of the Academy managed to take part of their valuable library with them. However, the invading French army also seized many of the books, including the library catalogue, taking everything off to Paris.
Many of the manuscripts looted from Brussels and Liège during the French Revolution were subsequently returned to Brussels in 1815, after the battle of Waterloo, and it appears that the catalogue was then mis-classified and subsequently lost among other manuscripts in the Royal LibraryProfessor Whitehead said: "This discovery proves the real value of international research collaboration: through a team effort we've managed to uncover an extremely valuable and important manuscript.
Proessor Whitehead said: "The list of approximately 7,000 books that made up the library at the Liège Academy gives us a fascinating insight into the educational and cultural world of the suppressed English and Welsh Jesuits and their lay students.
"The catalogue also proves beyond any doubt how up-to-date the educational community in Liège was in its reading. Particularly interesting is the number of scientific publications listed, and the scholars there clearly kept abreast of developments in chemistry and physics. We also know that they took a keen interest in the emerging concept of electricity.
SOURCE: Catholic News Service (12-4-07)
The appointment of Antonio Paolucci, 68, was announced Dec. 4.
The same day, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict appointed Francesco Buranelli, an archaeologist and the museums' director since 1996, to be the new secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and an officer in the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology.
Paolucci spent years overseeing local and regional government offices responsible for museums and monuments, including a term as superintendent of the Polo Museale in Florence, Italy, which runs the famous Uffizi Gallery.
In 1995-96, he served as Italy's culture minister.
After a September 1997 earthquake devastated the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the Italian government named Paolucci director of the restoration effort.
SOURCE: AP (12-4-07)
Jewish community leaders testified at an Athens court that the book by Costas Plevris "The Jews: The whole truth" has led to a spike in attacks on Jewish monuments in the country.
"After the book was published, attacks against Jewish sites increased," said Moses Constantini, head of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.
The trial - Greece's first for inciting racial hatred - was adjourned until Dec. 13. On trial together with Plevris are the publisher, the editor and a journalist on a small right-wing magazine that published extracts from the book.
SOURCE: The Hill (11-16-07)
Indeed, this author is hardly your typical political scribe. He compares himself to such eminent historians as Thucydides, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Theodore H. White, and claims he has invented a new subset of historical analysis in his book. He also sees parallels in the Senate race he chronicles to the historic 1858 Lincoln-Douglas contest.
To do so must require an ego the size of Mount Rushmore, not to mention formidable reporting and literary skills.
Lauck is clearly willing to endure howls of outrage from fellow academics by purporting to write an unbiased book when he obviously favors one of the candidates. Lauck will not endear himself to historians by quoting conservative historian Leo Ribuffo that the “tendency toward glib moralizing from a left liberal or radical perspective has affected American historical writing for the worse.”
Nevertheless, Lauck pulls off his audacious task by producing a book that is generally even-handed, meticulously researched and historically illuminating.
For my part, I’m willing to let historians fight among themselves over Lauck’s book while I savor his engrossing account of the hard-fought Daschle-Thune face-off, which The New York Times called “the other big race of 2004” after the presidential election. ...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) (12-4-07)
In 2003 the academy's leadership announced that 2007 would be the last year of joint meetings—a decision it reached without consulting either its own membership or the society. The unilateral move drew fire from the society and from many academy members, who complained about being shut out of the process. The debate flared up again last month in San Diego, at this year's annual meeting (The Chronicle, November 20).