Every nation has divisive issues.  While most are perennials, over time new issues gain salience as others fade.  At times of rising political and social tensions, such as the US since 1990, divisive issues multiply and take on a sharper edge.

If we wish to cope with these issues or even resolve some of them, it is useful to have a shared understanding of what they are Continue reading »

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The 9/11/2001 attacks ushered in an era of endless wars, fear of terrorism, antipathy to immigrants, and domestic surveillance.  Arguably the most important issue regarding 9/11 is the doings of senior government officials in the run-up to the attacks.  Yet both the media and the 9/11 Commission report have refused to discuss it.  This refusal must raise the suspicion that there was indeed wrongdoing, while some evidence can be found in the open literature of what that wrongdoing was (opportunistic facilitation of the al Qaeda attacks by hardline members of the Israel Lobby seeking a U.S. intervention against Israel’s enemies). Continue reading »

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Historian and former State Department intelligence analyst Kenneth J. Dillon interprets the 2001 anthrax mailings case.  He explains why domestic Mailer theories were mistaken and why we should think that al Qaeda operative Abderraouf Jdey was the real Anthrax Mailer as well as the shoebomber of American Airlines Flight #587 on November 12, 2001.  In all likelihood, US Army scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins was the Innocent Preparer of the anthrax.  Then al Qaeda stole it.  See also Was Abderraouf Jdey the Anthrax Mailer?

  Who Was the Anthrax Mailer?

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In World War I Imperial Germany faced the daunting task of fighting Great Britain, France, and Russia at the same time.  Mindful of the unfairness inherent in passing judgment in hindsight, we can usefully ask whether Germany might have won the war even against these odds had it not made too many serious mistakes.  “What if?” history of this sort can help us understand better what actually happened, and it can provide precautionary lessons for the future.  Here is a list of key German mistakes, omitting errors at the battlefield level, in this colossal human tragedy. Continue reading »

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Hitler and Generals

By all accounts, Nazi Germany made serious errors in waging the Second World War that kept it from achieving much greater success, though whether it could have won the War remains open to doubt, given the American effort to develop nuclear weapons.  Also, Japanese mistakes need to be taken into consideration.  At any rate, asking “What if” questions about German strategy can help us better understand what actually happened.

Here is a list of key German mistakes that can guide our thinking about the many lessons we can learn from this greatest of wars (not included are significant errors at the battlefield level such as at Dunkirk and Stalingrad).  Of course, this list assumes that Germany’s decision to go to war in the first place and with the goals it had for doing so made sense.  I thank my students for their contributions to the list.1

Continue reading »

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japanwwiiWhen Japan went to war against the United States in 1941, its chances of winning were slim, indeed.  But it is worth asking what steps Japan might have taken, or what mistakes it might have avoided, to increase the likelihood of greater success and possibly even victory. Continue reading »

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Carroll Quigley (1910-1977) was a noted historian, polymath, and theorist of the evolution of civilizations.

Born and raised in Boston, Quigley planned to pursue a career in biochemistry. But he soon shifted to history, to which he brought an analytical, scientific approach and a questing spirit. After receiving a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D in history from Harvard University,1 he taught at Princeton and Harvard. In 1941 Quigley joined the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he came to teach a highly regarded course, “Development of Civilization”. Continue reading »

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[January 31, 2018:  This article was published in 2008. While some of the details have been overtaken by events, the main thrust of the argument has changed little.  Keeping troops in Afghanistan for 16 years by now, with no end in sight, seems so palpably contrary to American interests that we must ask whether the U.S. Government has an unstated motive.  By far the most plausible such motive is that the Israel Lobby wants us to keep our troops in Afghanistan to put pressure on Iran and to provide bases in the event of a war against Iran.  In turn, the power of the Israel Lobby and the consequent possibility of war against Iran motivate the U.S. military to seek to remain.  The cost of the war has climbed well beyond $1 trillion.  Thousands of American soldiers have been needlessly killed, and thousands more maimed.]

[2008] According to media reports, American commanders in Afghanistan are asking for 5-10,000 troops above the 4,000 approved for deployment and the 10,500-12,000 already requested–for a total of up to 26,000. 32,000 are currently in Afghanistan. Overshadowed by the elections and global financial crisis, this proposed major escalation is moving ahead with little debate. And it is not a temporary ”surge”; the generals are seeking these new troop levels for the duration of the war, however many years that may involve.
Before we make this move, a weighing of pros and cons would appear to be in order. Continue reading »

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ST-C310-87-63Sometimes a storyteller misses the real meaning of the story.

By all accounts, the Cuban Missile Crisis was the most dangerous episode of the Cold War.  The United States and the Soviet Union came frighteningly close to launching nuclear attacks at each other.  Only fear, luck, and occasionally inspired negotiating moved them onto the path of resolving the crisis−via a humiliating Soviet withdrawal in the face of U.S. nuclear superiority.

Historians have identified many motives for the initial Soviet decision to place missiles in Cuba.  Continue reading »

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The original article on this subject has been removed from the Internet.  Here is the archived text, from http://web.archive.org/web/20040830095206/http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=a4f777f9-958a-4538-9c71-7f6d797676e8.  See also:  Was Abderraouf Jdey the Anthrax Mailer?: Continue reading »

stonehenge3One of the world’s most famous monuments, Stonehenge abounds in mysteries and anomalies.

Why was Stonehenge built in the first place?  Why was it radically transformed shortly before 2500 BC into a masterpiece of megalithic architecture?  What explains the intricate, changing patterns of the stones over time?   Why the extraordinary effort?

We now have answers to these and other questions, but to get to them we need to set aside preconceptions and come to terms with something that isn’t simple. Continue reading »

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WInquiring of the Dao at the Cave of Paradisehat caused ancient China’s gigantic floods?  Who was the real Yellow Emperor?  Who was Archer Yi, what was his vermilion bow, how did he target and shoot down nine of ten suns, and why were there ten suns in the first place?

We now know the answers to these and other questions about ancient China.  These answers can lead us to a new understanding of Chinese history, of the worldwide Bronze Age catastrophes, and of the history of climate change.

Continue reading »

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