“The Shah Always Falls”

A soldier-historian looks at how the world has changed in the past decade and finds that America is both hostage to history and likely to be saved by it

Military historians sometimes write biographies of people they call military intellectuals. Such people are interesting because they can have a vast effect on history, and also because they combine in one career two modes of life normally considered incompatible, the life of thought and the life of action. Read more »

Liberal Imperialism

At a time when it can offer answers to urgent questions, we have forgotten America’s long history of “nation building.”

In late January 2002 Hamid Karzai, the newly installed leader of Afghanistan, visited Washington and New York. He received a standing ovation at the President’s State of the Union address, and glowing press attention, in no small part because of his gentle demeanor and splendid attire. But he did not receive what he had come for, an enlarged U.S. peacekeeping presence in his wartorn country. President Bush turned him down cold, offering him economic aid, military aid, anything but what he really wanted: U.S. troops to patrol his country and bring peace to his people.Read more »

NATO’s Nativity

It was born of a slew of compromises—which may be the secret of its survival in a vastly changed world

Sometimes historical changes march onstage to the sound of trumpet fanfares. And sometimes they arrive with what seems remarkably little notice by a distracted audience. Such, at least, were my own feelings last spring when the Senate voted 80—19 to approve the admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. How could NATO, a defensive anti-Communist coalition of 1949, come to embrace three former Soviet satellites and presumptive U.S.Read more »

The Meaning of ’98

Our war with Spain marked the first year of the American Century

One hundred years ago, in April 1898, the American Century suddenly began. “Suddenly” because what happened then—the declaration of war against Spain—led to a rapid crystallization of a passionate nationalism. The American longing for national aggrandizement existed before 1898—indeed it was gathering momentum—but as the great French writer Stendhal wrote in his essay “On Love,” passion has a way of “crystallizing” suddenly, as a reaction to external stimuli. Such a stimulus, in the history of the United States, was the Spanish-American War in 1898.

 
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Lifeline To A Sinking Continent

Secretary Of State George C. Marshall received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the Harvard commencement exercise on the morning of June 5, 1947. That afternoon he spoke to a group of alumni. His message was short and grim. World War II and its aftermath had brought Europe to the brink of disaster.Read more »

History’s Largest Lessons

A historian of the ancient world believes that in every era humankind has reacted to the demands of waging war in surprisingly similar ways, and that to protect our national interests today Americans must understand the choices soldiers and statesmen made hundreds and even thousands of years ago

In a time when the usefulness of the past as a means to comprehend the present remains the object of skepticism, if not outright attack, inside the academy, Donald Kagan, the former dean of Yale College and a professor of ancient history, has published a book about the necessity of historical analogy for understanding a nation’s security interests. Read more »

From World War To Cold War

In an exchange of letters, a man who had an immeasurable impact on how the great struggle of our times was waged looks back on how it began

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“That Hell-hole Of Yours”

In 1943 Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Britain’s poorest, most dismal African colony, and what he saw there fired him with a fervor that helped found the United Nations

President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not look favorably on European colonialism. Like most Americans, he believed that the self-determination clause of the 1941 Atlantic Charter should apply to all peoples, not just Europeans. In the war’s early years he so disagreed with Britain’s prime minister, Winston Churchill, on the future of the British Empire that the two heads of state tacitly agreed to avoid discussing the topic.Read more »

The Man of the Century

Of all the Allied leaders, argues FDR s biographer, only Roosevelt saw clearly the shape of the new world they were fighting to create

AFTER HALF A CENTURY IT IS HARD TO APPROACH FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT EXCEPT through a minefield of clichés. Theories of FDR, running the gamut from artlessness to mystification, have long paraded before our eyes. There is his famous response to the newspaperman who asked him for his philosophy: “Philosophy? I am a Christian and a Democrat—that’s all”; there is Robert E. Sherwood’s equally famous warning about “Roosevelt’s heavily forested interior”; and we weakly conclude that both things were probably true. Read more »

Present At The Creation Again?

The unquiet history of the modern state of Israel has been tied up with the United States from the beginning

Peace was not in evidence in the Holy Land last Christmas Eve. Outbreaks of violence still rocked the West Bank and Gaza Strip three months after the signing of the accord between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat at the White House, with a beaming President Clinton standing by.Read more »