Historical lessons from Europe’s transformation in the late nineteenth century
A LOOK AT SOVIET ETHICS CALLED CHERNOBYL & A SILLY THING CALLED JUDICIAL SUPREMACY OF THE CONSTITUTION
Chernobyl: A Tale of Science and the Soul
by Flagg Taylor
No matter one’s position in society, the vibrancy of communism, and its superiority to other systems, must be constantly affirmed. Read More »
Judicial Supremacy and the Constitution
by Greg Weiner
Greg Weiner discusses the difference between the political constitution and the judicial constitution. Read More »
JOHN PODHORETZ: THE FIRST NEO-CONSERVATIVE, WHY HE MATTERS TODAY & EMILE DURKHEIM AND THE DRYFUSS AFFAIR
Happiness through Chutzpah: The Norman Podhoretz Story
It was a privilege for us to give the Herzl Prize to the great Norman Podhoretz last Sunday. Read New York Post Op-Ed Editor Sohrab Ahmari's recounting of the day and tribute to this American patriot, proud Jew, and legendary conservative.
Hinges of History series, Thomas Cahill guides us through the thrilling period of the Renaissance and the Reformation (the late fourteenth to the early seventeenth century), so full of innovation and cultural change that the Western world would not experience its like again until the twentieth century. Beginning with the continent-wide disaster of the Black Death, Cahill traces the many developments in European thought and experience that served both the new humanism of the Renaissance and the seemingly abrupt religious alterations of the increasingly radical Reformation. This is an age of the most sublime artistic and scientific adventure, but also of newly powerful princes and armies and of newly found courage, as many thousands refuse to bow their heads to the religious pieties of the past. It is an era of just-discovered continents and previously unknown peoples. More than anything, it is a time of individuality in which a whole culture must achieve a new balance if the West is to continue
Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about. Best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York's Central Park to Boston's Emerald Necklace to Stanford University's campus, Olmsted was also an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War. This momentous career was shadowed by a tragic personal life, also fully portrayed here.
Most of all, he was a social reformer. He didn't simply create places that were beautiful in the abstract. An awesome and timeless intent stands behind Olmsted's designs, allowing his work to survive to the present day. With our urgent need to revitalize cities and a widespread yearning for green space, his work is more relevant now than it was during his lifetime. Justin Martin restores Olmsted to his rightful place in the pantheon of great Americans.
Larry Diamond has made it his life's work to secure democracy's future by understanding its past and by advising dissidents fighting autocracy around the world. Deeply attuned to the cycles of democratic expansion and decay that determine the fates of nations, he watched with mounting unease as illiberal rulers rose in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, the Philippines, and beyond, while China and Russia grew increasingly bold and bullying. Then, with Trump's election at home, the global retreat from freedom spread from democracy's margins to its heart.
Ill Winds' core argument is stark: the defense and advancement of democratic ideals rely on US global leadership. If we do not reclaim our traditional place as the keystone of democracy, today's authoritarian swell could become a tsunami, providing an opening for Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and their admirers to turn the 21st century into a dark time of despotism.
We are at a hinge in history, between a new era of tyranny and an age of democratic renewal. Free governments can defend their values; free citizens can exercise their rights. We can make the internet safe for liberal democracy, exploit the soft, kleptocratic underbelly of dictatorships, and revive America's degraded democracy. Ill Winds offers concrete, deeply informed suggestions to fight polarization, reduce the influence of money in politics, and make every vote count.
In 2019, freedom's last line of defense still remains "We the people."
The remarkable tale of Elena Rzhevskaya, the Jew who identified the fuehrer’s remains—and sat on the secret for decades
At the beginning of 1965, the U.S. seemed on the cusp of a golden age. Although Americans had been shocked by the assassination in 1963 of President Kennedy, they exuded a sense of optimism and consensus that showed no signs of abating. Indeed, political liberalism and interracial civil rights activism made it appear as if 1965 would find America more progressive and unified than it had ever been before. In January 1965, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed that the country had “no irreconcilable conflicts.”
Johnson, who was an extraordinarily skillful manager of Congress, succeeded in securing an avalanche of Great Society legislation in 1965, including Medicare, immigration reform, and a powerful Voting Rights Act. But as esteemed historian James T. Patterson reveals in The Eve of Destruction, that sense of harmony dissipated over the course of the year. As Patterson shows, 1965 marked the birth of the tumultuous era we now know as “The Sixties,” when American society and culture underwent a major transformation. Turmoil erupted in the American South early in the year, when police attacked civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama. Many black leaders, outraged, began to lose faith in nonviolent and interracial strategies of protest. Meanwhile, the U.S. rushed into a deadly war in Vietnam, inciting rebelliousness at home. On August 11, five days after Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, racial violence exploded in the Watts area of Los Angeles. The six days of looting and arson that followed shocked many Americans and cooled their enthusiasm for the president's remaining initiatives. As the national mood darkened, the country became deeply divided. By the end of 1965, a conservative resurgence was beginning to redefine the political scene even as developments in popular music were enlivening the Left.
In The Eve of Destruction, Patterson traces the events of this transformative year, showing how they dramatically reshaped the nation and reset the course of American life.
Political Islam Is Declining in the Middle East
By Prof. Hillel Frisch, October 18, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The lack of a reaction to the death of former Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi and the absence of religious demands by protesters in Algeria, Sudan, and Iraq suggest that political Islam is waning after the defeat of ISIS three years ago.
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Kissinger on Kissinger
By Thomas Alan Schwartz, Strategy Bridge: "In dealing with one of the less successful aspects of his diplomacy, Kissinger defends his conduct of the negotiations that brought an end to the American role in the war in Vietnam. Had Congress not undermined the 1973 Paris peace agreement by cutting economic aid and forbidding any military reaction to North Vietnam’s continuing aggression, he insists, South Vietnam would have had a “genuine opportunity to survive.”"
Looking back at the remarkable history of the Nobel Prize from 1901 to 2019 using maps, charts, and tables
Mark J. Perry | AEIdea
The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, by Thomas E. Ricks
news.usni.org . . . Fiasco [an earlier book by Thomas Ricks] contributed to a reassessment of military strategy in Iraq and focused attention on the failures of American military leadership in that war. One of the most pointed indictments came from inside the Army when my friend Lt. Col. Paul Yingling published an essay entitled “A Failure of Generalship.” Yingling noted the Army’s failures to prepare for the Iraq war and to adapt to its requirements during the course of the conflict; his most damning line noted that, “As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.”
In response to Yingling’s j’accuse and similar indictments, Tom Ricks has written a must-read book that explains why America’s generals now lose wars with impunity. In The Generals, he argues that the decline in the performance of the Army — from the triumph of World War II to stalemate in Korea through defeat in Vietnam to the fiasco of the early years of the Iraq war — can be attributed to failures in how the Army manages its senior officers. Gen. George C. Marshall, the architect of victory in America’s greatest war, relieved subordinates regularly and with gusto. Since that war, Ricks argues, the Army has abdicated its responsibility to police its own ranks, failing to hold senior officers accountable for their actions. Instead, it has fallen to presidents to relieve generals, as Harry Truman did to Douglas MacArthur for rank insubordination during the Korean War or Barack Obama did to Stanley McChrystal for indiscrete political comments.
In a cascading litany of failures, this book presents more villains than heroes. Other than Marshall, generals who receive high praise include Matthew Ridgway, who turned around a losing war in Korea, and David Petraeus, who performed a similar task in Iraq. Marine Maj. Gen. General O. P. Smith earns praise for his exceptional performance at the 1950 Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, where his inspired generalship saved a Marine division from a Chinese onslaught. Smith’s success is contrasted with US Army generals who left their units exposed and subject to devastating defeats.
Others are not so fortunate. Generals Maxwell Taylor and William Westmoreland earn scathing criticism for their performance in Vietnam. Gen. Tommy Franks is faulted for his leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan and for his post-Army conduct, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is described as “in over his head” for his leadership during the first, horrible year of the Iraq fiasco.
There is much truth in Ricks’s description of flawed Army generalship. Since Vietnam, the Pentagon and civilian administrations have too often failed to hold general officers accountable for their actions in war. The admiration that the American public rightly proclaims for the soldiers of today’s conflicts should not automatically extend to their superiors, despite the hard tasks they recently have been given. America’s major wars of the past four decades (other than the brief and almost completely conventional Operation Desert Storm) have been the sort of protracted counterinsurgency campaigns that have tested generals since the Roman Empire. While Rome’s legions could simply lay waste to rebellious provinces, modern morality has rendered that technique untenable.
Instead, success in modern counterinsurgency campaigns demands a precise calibration of military force along with an integrated campaign to improve governance, spur economic development, and create effective local security forces—formidable tasks for which military service is seldom good preparation. Only a few generals have shown the ability to successfully integrate these tasks; Creighton Abrams in Vietnam and David Petraeus are the best examples, although their talents were applied to the conflicts they led late in the day — after many damning mistakes had been made by their predecessors. Ultimately, the failures of American generalship in Iraq, as in Vietnam, resulted from failures of imagination and the ability to adapt to changed conditions in the Army over several generations.
Ricks notes that, “Of all the nation’s armed forces, the Army arguably is the dominant service, the one around which the national defense still is constructed.” This has been true for the past decade, which saw more soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan than Marines, sailors, and airmen put together. However, there is no guarantee that this state of affairs will continue, and it is therefore essential that this book be widely read outside the Army. The Navy and Marines have much to gain from a careful consideration of the lessons with which Ricks concludes the book. The rise of China and U.S. pivot to Asia, along with an American population weary of protracted ground wars in Asia, likely signal an increase in the prominence of the sea services during the next few decades—and it is worth noting that both the current and incoming commanders of the Afghan effort are Marines rather than Army generals. One hopes that the naval tradition of relief for ship captains who run aground (literally or figuratively) has properly shaped the men and women America will need on point in the Pacific for the next generation.
With penetrating insight and warm humor, Scott shows that while individual critics - himself included - can make mistakes and find flaws where they shouldn't, criticism as a discipline is one of the noblest, most creative and urgent activities of modern existence. Using his own film criticism as a starting point - everything from his infamous dismissal of the international blockbuster The Avengers to his intense affection for Pixar's animated Ratatouille - Scott expands outward, easily guiding listeners through the complexities of Rilke and Shelley, the origins of Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones, the power of Marina Abramovich and "Ode on a Grecian Urn".
Drawing on the long tradition of criticism from Aristotle to Susan Sontag, Scott shows that real criticism was and always will be the breath of fresh air that allows true creativity to thrive.
"The time for criticism is always now," Scott explains, "because the imperative to think clearly, to insist on the necessary balance of reason and passion, never goes away."
The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland from which the Indo-European languages spread out throughout Europe, Eurasia and parts of Asia. It postulates that the people of a Kurgan culture in the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea were the most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). The term is derived from the Russian kurgan (курга́н), meaning tumulus or burial mound.
See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurgan_hypothesis#/media/File:IE_expansion.png
Map of Indo-European expansion 4000–1000 BC, according to the Kurgan hypothesis. Even within the Kurgan hypothesis, there is considerable uncertainty, mainly depending on assumptions about the Tocharians, the Corded ware culture, and the Beaker culture. The central purple area is supposed to show early Yamna culture (4000–3500 BC); the dark red area could show expansion to about 2500 BC; and the lighter red area,expansion to about 1000 BC.
Alliances: Past, Present, And Future
by Williamson Murray via Military History in the News
In the 1930s, the British military pundit B. H. Liddell Hart argued vociferously that traditional British conduct of war in the seventeenth and eighteenth had represented a strategy of minimal commitment to the wars on the European Continent while focusing on a blue-water strategy to attack the enemy on the periphery. Thus, Britain’s effort in the First World War with its emphasis on the British Expeditionary Force in France had been a terrible mistake. He could not have been more mistaken.
The Essence Of Lenin
by David R. Henderson via EconLog
Lenin did more than anyone else to shape the last hundred years. He invented a form of government we have come to call totalitarian, which rejected in principle the idea of any private sphere outside of state control. To establish this power, he invented the one-party state, a term that would previously have seemed self-contradictory since a party was, by definition, a part. An admirer of the French Jacobins, Lenin believed that state power had to be based on sheer terror, and so he also created the terrorist state.
EXAMPLE OF SUCCESS IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY ACE VENTURA
PAUL RAHE: REALISM IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS, SPARTA
CONSCIENCE & TEMPORAL AUTHORITY
POSITIVE LAW vs. CONSCIENCE