Amidst the breakdown of their negotiations with the Palestinians and a wave of terrorist attacks rolling across the country, Israelis will gather on the evening of October 31 in Tel Aviv to honor the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated 20 years ago. And they will continue to wrestle with the meaning for Israel’s future of his life and tragic death.
Admirers and critics have two diametrically opposed views of President George W. Bush. The admirers see a compassionate conservative at home and defender of the nation against terrorism and rogue states abroad. Critics see a radical conservative at home who led the nation into a destructive and unnecessary war abroad. Why do conservatives and liberals so often seem to be describing two different men when discussing President George W. Bush? Is it possible to find any common ground on which view of President Bush is closer to the truth?
In an effort to restore the teaching of our nation's founding principles at colleges and universities and produce the next generation of professors prepared to effectively teach America's history and institutions, new academic centers of excellence are now active at the University of Chicago; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Texas, Austin; and Emory University...
In 1978, the Polish cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected to the papacy of the Catholic Church, taking the name John Paul II. In the twenty-four years since, Pope John Paul II has traveled more widely and held audiences for more people than any other pope in history. But beyond his long service and high profile, how will John Paul II be remembered? Will he be remembered more for his political impact—many say that he played a crucial role in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe—or for his ecclesiastical work? Just how well has John Paul II prepared the Catholic Church for the twenty-first century?
The Crusades happened almost a thousand years ago—why do they still provoke an argument? Osama bin Laden has used them to attempt to rally the Islamic world to his cause; President Bush has called the war on terrorism a "crusade." But what is the truth about the Crusades? Were they motivated by savage greed and intolerance or by pious idealism? Were they an unprovoked attack by the West on the Islamic world or a reaction to centuries of Islamic incursions? How should we understand the legacy of the Crusades today, in a time of conflict between the West and radical Islamic terrorists?
George W. Bush, during the 2000 presidential campaign said that "America has never been an empire... We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused." Was then-candidate Bush right when he made those remarks? Or has America become an imperial power in all but name? How do America's unique historical circumstances predispose it to handle the unrivaled power it holds in the world today? And what lessons can we draw from our nearest historical antecedent, the British Empire of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?
Since the end of the cold war, the United States has been the world's only superpower, accounting for 43 percent of the world's military expenditures. During this time, America has led major interventions into Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Are the United States and the world better off when America follows a unilateral, interventionist foreign policy? Or should the United States reduce its overseas presence and instead emphasize international cooperation? Peter Robinson speaks with Niall Ferguson and Ivan Eland.
Biographies of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams and histories of the revolutionary era have been bestsellers and Pulitzer Prize winners in the past several years. What explains this recent surge of interest in the founding fathers of the American nation? What does the fascination with the founding fathers tell us about our own time? What would the founders have to say about the state of the nation today?
Over the past year, the clashes between the Bush administration and European leaders over the best way to handle Saddam Hussein have led many observers to suggest that the half-century-long alliance between Western Europe and the United States is dead. How serious is the rift between Europe and America, and why has it emerged? Is it still in the strategic interest of the United States to maintain tens of thousands of troops in Europe, or should we pull out of NATO altogether?
When the Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1789, the infamous "three-fifths clause" gave the southern slaveholding states disproportionate power within the federal government. To what extent did this southern advantage help the southerner Thomas Jefferson win the presidency? And to what extent did Jefferson, author of the phrase "all men are created equal," use the power of his presidency to preserve and perpetuate the institution of slavery?
Is France America's oldest friend or its oldest enemy? Americans are taught that the United States owes its very independence to France—that if the French hadn't helped us during the Revolutionary War, we would still be part of the British Empire. Was this assistance the beginning of a long and close friendship between France and America or an anomaly in an otherwise contentious relationship? Peter Robinson speaks with John Miller and Robert Paxton Mellon.
Did Ronald Reagan win the cold war? It's been a dozen years since its end—time enough to look back on the era with some historical perspective. And one question that historians continue to argue about is the role that Ronald Reagan, the man and his policies, played in bringing the cold war to an end. To what extent did Reagan's cold war strategy build on efforts of previous administrations and to what extent was it new? Did the Soviet Union collapse as a result of external pressure or internal weakness?
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?