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?
For nearly a thousand years after the death of the prophet Muhammad, the Islamic world was powerful, creative, and self-confident. In science, in trade, and in the arts, Muslim civilization rivaled and often surpassed the best achievements of the European world. But beginning sometime around the seventeenth century, Islamic power and dynamism began to wane, to be eclipsed by the West. Today, by nearly every measure of social and economic development, Islamic nations fall far short of Western nations. Why? Did the historical rise and decline of Islam result from processes internal to the Muslim world or from its interaction with the West? What can and should be done to revive Islamic civilization?
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?
The Prussian military historian Carl von Clausewitz famously observed that "war is merely a continuation of politics by other means." These "other" (violent) means have been used on countless occasions throughout human history to settle conflicts over land, resources, and political rule. But what is the utility of war in the modern world? In a world with weapons of mass destruction, have the means of war delegitimized its use? In a world of expanding democracy, and cultural and economic interdependence, has the use of force become outdated?
George Orwell was one of the great journalists and political writers of the twentieth century. His writings on the great political struggles of that century—imperialism, fascism, Stalinism—in books such as Homage to Catalonia, Animal Farm, and 1984, are revered. But is Orwell relevant to the main political and cultural issues of our present day? Or should we read Orwell merely out of an appreciation for language and history?
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?
John McCain has spent a lifetime in the service of his country, including twenty-two years as a naval aviator, two terms in the House of Representatives, and service in the U.S. Senate since 1986. Following his 2000 presidential campaign and the hard-fought passage of his campaign finance bill, John McCain reflects on a life in politics in his recent memoir Worth the Fighting for. A lifelong Republican, Senator McCain has broken with his party's mainstream on a number of issues in recent years. Does John McCain still consider himself a conservative? And why does McCain so often play the maverick?
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?
Henry Ford once said that "history is more or less bunk. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we make today." Do Americans care about history or not? Journalist Andrew Ferguson discusses America's relationship with its own history using the continuing fascination with Abraham Lincoln as a case study.
Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury, may today be better known for his death in a duel with Aaron Burr, than for the role he played as a founder of the nascent United States. His vision of a federal, mercantile nation was in opposition to Thomas Jefferson's vision of an agrarian society. Who won this battle of ideas and why? Just what is the enduring legacy of Alexander Hamilton? Peter Robinson speaks with Ron Chernow.
As Barack Obama begins his second term as president of the United States, the nation faces a range of formidable challenges at the intersection of which are national security and law.
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.
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?
Research Fellow Peter Robinson discusses the fall of the Berlin Wall on Principles Not Politics with Seth Leibsohn.
Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson discusses his life and the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson discusses how the "Tear Down This Wall" speech came about.
Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson on Common Knowledge, what Robinson already knows.
Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson discusses 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the lessons from that fateful year.
Peter Robinson, former Reagan speechwriter, who wrote the Tear Down That Wall Speech on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. . . .