The spread of democracy around the world was one of the most significant developments of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the last century, democracy was limited to a handful of Western nations, while today perhaps 120 nations have some form of democratic government. Yet among Muslim countries, democracy is rare, and among Arab states, essentially nonexistent. Why? Is the Islamic faith compatible with the essential features of a democratic society—separation of church and state, freedom of expression, and women's rights, to name a few—or not? Just what is the future of democracy in the Arab world?
In 1946, in the wake of two world wars that left the continent devastated, Winston Churchill famously declared, "We must build a kind of United States of Europe." But for a continent of 500 million people and several dozen nation-states with singular histories, cultures, and identities, how complete and how inclusive can unification be? With the end of the cold war, what is the motivation for continuing on the path toward union? If we are on the threshold of an actual "United States of Europe," what role will, and should, the United States of America have in this new Europe?
In a 2002 Gallup poll conducted in ten Muslim nations, only 22 percent of the people questioned viewed the United States favorably. Why does the United States foster such hatred in the Islamic world in particular? Is it our foreign policy—our support of Israel and of repressive Arab regimes in the Middle East? Or is it our culture? Does globalization spread American values that are simply antithetical, thus disruptive, to the traditional Islamic view of society? Just what should we do to win this struggle for the hearts and minds of those who despise us around the world?
Can America become an "empire for liberty"? British historian Paul Johnson believes that it can and should. The United States, he argues, is uniquely suited, as a result of both its principles and its current power, to bring about benevolent change throughout the world. But does empire suit the United States? We ask Johnson just how and why America can be this "empire for liberty" and to place American imperialism in its historical context.
To what extent are government leaders personally responsible for the outcomes of foreign policy and war? We review the career of Henry Kissinger, one of the most colorful statesmen of the twentieth century. Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford during two pivotal events in American history, the cold war and the Vietnam War. Is Kissinger guilty, as some have charged, of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his conduct during that era? Or should he be regarded as a bold defender of American freedom during a time of crisis?
In the modern democratic era, it's not uncommon for elected leaders to have little or no military training or experience. It has become an accepted notion that political leaders should therefore leave battle plans and campaign decisions to the military commanders and avoid "micromanaging" war. But is that notion correct? Or was Clemenceau right when he said that "war is too important to be left to the generals"? What lessons can we learn from studying the greatest wartime leaders, such as Lincoln, Churchill, and FDR?
What kind of war is the war on terrorism? Ordinarily wars are fought against proper nouns—against Germany during the Second World War or against the Soviet Union during the cold war, for example. Now we're being asked to fight a war against a common noun, terrorism. Just how accurate and useful is the phrase "war on terrorism"? Is this a war? And who exactly is the enemy—Al Qaeda? Al Qaeda plus all other terrorists around the world? Al Qaeda plus all other terrorists plus all the countries in which the terrorists operate? In other words, just how good a job are the president and the administration doing, not just in prosecuting the war but in defining the objectives?
We asked George Shultz, secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, to help us put America's war on terrorism in historical, political, and moral context. What lessons can be drawn from previous attempts to deal with terrorism? What should we make of the complaints leveled against the United States by terrorist organizations? What will it take to win the war on terrorism and how long will it last?
Since the end of the cold war, the world has watched as the United States became, not merely the world's only superpower but what the French began calling a "hyperpower." Now, with the United States asserting its will and power on such issues as Iraq and the war on terror while rejecting contraints that the international community tries to place on it, some suggest that the term American empire is more appropriate. If America does have an empire, it is not based on territorial expansion as in past empires. So what is it based on? And would taking on the role of imperial hegemon be good for America and the world?
The causes, the players, and the likely consequences of the Arab eruptions. A conversation with Hoover fellows Peter Berkowitz, Victor Davis Hanson, and Peter Robinson.
Peter Robinson, former Reagan speechwriter, who wrote the Tear Down That Wall Speech on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. . . .
Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson talks about celebrating the 30th anniversary of the history-making Brandenburg Gate speech where against advice from the White House, State Department, and Germans, President Reagan called on General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!”
How NATO has survived—and will continue to prosper—in the post–Cold War era. Military historian Peter Mansoor explains the historical trajectory of NATO, how it adjusted after the demise of the Soviet Union, and why it will survive the current threats from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
How do we stop the next great terrorist threat?
Fifteen years later, how have the September 11 attacks shaped the West's response to the threat of terrorism.
Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and Palantir, discusses his essay “The Straussian Moment,” describing how the ancients believed in the power of the intellect and the weakness of the will, but how today we believe the opposite. We want machines to do the thinking, because we don’t trust rationality. Also, Thiel gives his overview on the current American political scene and discusses whether he will endorse President Trump in 2020.
Peter Robinson interviews Fresno State Classicist Bruce Thornton about his new book Decline and Fall: Europe's Slow Suicide.
In his new book, Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow Motion Suicide, Bruce Thornton asserts that Europe has turned its back on the Western tradition to which it owes its greatness. It has abandoned pride in the nation, discarded traditional Christianity, and, in so doing, is without unifying values, ideals, and beliefs. But if Europe is still democratic, and if it still embraces the free market, why should anyone care that Judaeo-Christian religious beliefs are slipping away. The answer lies in the coinciding rise of radical Islam. (35:45) Video transcript
He was the dashing, doomed general who challenged the Bolsheviks, an icon of a Russia that might have been. By Anthony Kröner.
A glimpse at globe-trotting diplomats and conflicting interests. . . .