Category : History

The Top 100 Most significant American political speeches of the 20th Century?

Interestingly President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 speech (prior post) is #58 in the 100 most significant usa political speeches of the 20th c, according to 137 leading scholars of usa public address, as compiled by Stephen E. Lucas (U of Wis-Madison) Martin J. Medhurst (Baylor U). See what you make of their list of the top 100 speeches of the 20th century there.

Posted in History, Language

(Washington Post) ‘The boys of Pointe du Hoc’: The Reagan D-Day speech that moved a nation Washington

‘Sitting before him were 62 of the “boys,” now-middle aged men who had climbed the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, using ropes, grappling hooks and ladders to reach a suspected German gun emplacement 100 feet up.

They were boys no more, and even on the that stormy morning in 1944, they were more a group of rugged characters than youths.

One, William “L-Rod” Petty, 63, had lost his teeth playing football and suffered two broken legs in training before he joined the Army Ranger outfit that fought there. It took him three tries to reach the top. He is thought to have killed 30 German soldiers that day.

Leonard G. “Bud” Lomell, 64, had been a railroad brakeman before the war. Shot in the side, he barely made it up the cliff but later destroyed two big German guns with thermite grenades. He would be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Frank South, 59, was a Ranger medic, and had treated many wounded men on the beach before reaching the heights with the others. He would earn two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

Antonio “Tom” Ruggiero, 58, had been a professional tap dancer before the war. He was plunged into the water when a shell hit his landing craft on D-Day and later became a sniper in the Rangers.’

Read it all and do not miss the full text of the speech there.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Language, Military / Armed Forces

Remembering D-Day–(Globe and Mail) How four Canadian soldiers made it through their longest day

Half an hour after they had set foot on French soil on D-Day, Sapper John Schaupmeyer and his fellow combat engineers remained stranded on the beach, pinned down by German machine guns, mortars and artillery.

From the cover of a seawall, they saw an LCI, one of the larger models of landing craft, touch ground. Soldiers aboard tried to disembark but the rough waves tangled up their gangway. Trapped on the LCI deck, the men came under enemy fire. At that moment, one of the combat engineers, Sapper Walter Coveyduck, left the seawall’s protection to go save the men of the LCI.

This was Juno Beach’s Nan Red sector, the morning of June 6, 1944, a pivotal day in the Second World War. The Allied invasion of occupied France had begun, opening a new front against Nazi Germany.

The 14,000 Canadians who landed that day, 75 years ago, included a Nova Scotia fisherman, a Quebec labourer, an Ottawa civil servant and an Alberta farmer. For decades, their eyewitness accounts sat in a U.S. archive, unseen even by their relatives.

Four years ago, a Toronto resident, Geoff Osborne, started documenting his grandfather Earl Olmsted’s journey through the war. This led him to The Longest Day, the 1959 best-seller about the landing written by former war correspondent Cornelius Ryan. Mr. Ryan had collected the testimonials of more than 1,000 survivors but only quoted a portion in his book. Those files, including submissions from about 120 Canadians, are stored at the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries.

From those papers, here are the stories of four Canadians.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, History, Military / Armed Forces

(CNN) A 97-year-old vet jumped out of a plane to recreate his D-Day parachute drop

For most people, a summer trip to France is a chance to relax in beautiful surroundings and to savor the country’s fine food. For Tom Rice of San Diego, it’s an opportunity to relive the time he nearly died jumping from a C-47 Douglas airplane, then was shot at, again and again.
Despite being 97, Rice climbed once more into the bone-rattling fuselage of a C-47 and, while flying over the Normandy fields where he first saw action in 1944, leaped into the unknown.

Those on the ground watched the anxiety-inducing descent as, strapped to another parachutist dangling beneath a red, white and blue canopy, the old man coasted through the sky, another gigantic American flag billowing out behind him.

Reaching the ground with only a slight stumble on impact, Rice proudly gave V for victory signs with his hands and, wearing a 101st Airborne baseball cap, said he felt “great” and was ready to “go back up and do it again.”

Read it all (and if you have time the video is delightful).

Posted in America/U.S.A., France, History, Military / Armed Forces

Remembering D-Day–He got to witness The Longest Day

Cornelius Ryan was a 24-year-old war correspondent when he had a chance to see a defining moment in the defining event of the 20th century — the Allied landings on the coast of France to retake France and bring down Hitler.

Ryan at first witnessed the invasion from a bomber that flew over the beaches. Then, back in England, he scrambled to find the only thing he could that was going to Normandy. A torpedo boat that, he learned too late, had no radio. “And if there’s one thing that an editor is not interested in,” he said, “it’s having a reporter somewhere he can’t write a story.”

Recalling those five hours off the coast, watching the struggle on the beaches, he remembered “the magnitude of the thing, the vastness. I felt so inadequate to describe it.”

But today, as the 71st anniversary of D-Day approaches on June 6, Ryan is most likely to be remembered for being the one who did describe it, who told so many millions the real story of what happened that day, in his book which became the famous movie, “The Longest Day.”

Read it all.

Posted in Books, History, Media, Military / Armed Forces

Remembering D-Day–The Poem “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

Remembering D-Day–General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Speech

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

Read it all (audio link also available).

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces

Remembering D-Day–Winston Churchill’s Speech, June 6, 1944

I have also to announce to the House that during the night and the early hours of this morning the first of the series of landings in force upon the European Continent has taken place. In this case the liberating assault fell upon the coast of France. An immense armada of upwards of 4,000 ships, together with several thousand smaller craft, crossed the Channel. Massed airborne landings have been successfully effected behind the enemy lines, and landings on the beaches are proceeding at various points at the present time. The fire of the shore batteries has been largely quelled. The obstacles that were constructed in the sea have not proved so difficult as was apprehended. The Anglo-American Allies are sustained by about 11,000 firstline aircraft, which can be drawn upon as may be needed for the purposes of the battle. I cannot, of course, commit myself to any particular details. Reports are coming in in rapid succession. So far the Commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place. It involves tides, wind, waves, visibility, both from the air and the sea standpoint, and the combined employment of land, air and sea forces in the highest degree of intimacy and in contact with conditions which could not and cannot be fully foreseen.

There are already hopes that actual tactical surprise has been attained, and we hope to furnish the enemy with a succession of surprises during the course of the fighting. The battle that has now begun will grow constantly in scale and in intensity for many weeks to come, and I shall not attempt to speculate upon its course. This I may say, however. Complete unity prevails throughout the Allied Armies. There is a brotherhood in arms between us and our friends of the United States. There is complete confidence in the supreme commander, General Eisenhower, and his lieutenants, and also in the commander of the Expeditionary Force, General Montgomery. The ardour and spirit of the troops, as I saw myself, embarking in these last few days was splendid to witness. Nothing that equipment, science or forethought could do has been neglected, and the whole process of opening this great new front will be pursued with the utmost resolution both by the commanders and by the United States and British Governments whom they serve. I have been at the centres where the latest information is received, and I can state to the House that this operation is proceeding in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. Many dangers and difficulties which at this time last night appeared extremely formidable are behind us. The passage of the sea has been made with far less loss than we apprehended. The resistance of the batteries has been greatly weakened by the bombing of the Air Force, and the superior bombardment of our ships quickly reduced their fire to dimensions which did not affect the problem. The landings of the troops on a broad front, both British and American- -Allied troops, I will not give lists of all the different nationalities they represent-but the landings along the whole front have been effective, and our troops have penetrated, in some cases, several miles inland. Lodgments exist on a broad front.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, History, Language, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

Remembering D-Day–Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer on June 6, 1944

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.&

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.

“Amen.”

You can listen to the actual audio if you want here and today of all days is the day to do that. Also, there is more on background and another audio link there.–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President, Spirituality/Prayer

(Premier) Church of England provides update on oversight to Channel Islands

The Church of England says a report will be submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury later this year on how oversight is provided to parishes in the Channel Islands.

Historically, churches in Jersey and Guernsey have been part of the Diocese of Winchester.

However in 2014, a disagreement over the handling of abuse allegations led to the Bishop of Dover being given temporary oversight.

Rt Rev Trevor Willmott retired earlier this year and the Church now has to decide what to do next.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), History

Today in History in 1968–Robert Kennedy shot

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Politics in General, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Clarence Thomas’s Dangerous Idea

In any other area, the left would look at a history like this and ask whether those formal convictions are the only thing that matters, or whether the eugenic past still exerts a structural influence on the present. And in any other area of policy Thomas’s point about how legal abortion appears, in the aggregate, to act in racist and eugenic ways would be taken as an indicator that something more than just emancipation is at work.

Yes, in their theoretical self-conception, pro-choice institutions are neutral custodians of the right to choose. In theory the genetic-screening industry exists only to provide information. In theory the high abortion rate in black America is just the result of countless individual decisions.

But in practice, liberal technocracy still has a “solve poverty by cutting birthrates” bias inherited from a population-panic age, and abortion-rights rhetoric still has a way of sliding into Malthusian fears about too many poor kids in foster care. In practice the medical system strongly encourages abortion in response to disability, with predictable results. In practice Planned Parenthood clinics are in the abortion, not the adoption business — and the disparate impact of abortion on black birthrates is shaped by that reality and others, not just by free choice.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Theology

(ESPN FC) Liverpool’s latest European Cup win comes on a journey that is far from over

And now, after a 2-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, it is six European Cups for Liverpool. With Barcelona and Bayern Munich left behind, ahead are Milan — just one away — and then 13-time winners Real Madrid, who have owned the European Cup competition like no others. No club can be separated from its past, but Liverpool, more than most, are marked by what came before, from the sublime to the tragic.

The latest title mirrored those that came before in the sense that it was gutted out and filled with might-have-beens, probably many more than there should have been. That has been the story of Liverpool’s European wins: twice on penalties, twice by a single goal, always with the game in the balance until the final minutes.

So maybe it was apt that after the final whistle, when most of the newly crowned champions had collapsed to the Wanda Metropolitano pitch, felled by equal parts exhaustion, elation and the need for release, the last to get up was Jordan Henderson.

The Liverpool captain stayed down for what felt like an eternity, first with head in hands, then hunched on all fours. Only when substitute Divock Origi put the match out of reach, with three minutes to go, had Liverpool been able to shake a creeping fear that a final marked by errors and fatigue could take a twist against them.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, History, Men, Spain, Sports

(AP) Rare color footage brings D-Day memories alive, 75 years on

Seventy-five years ago, Hollywood director George Stevens stood on the deck of the HMS Belfast to film the start of the D-Day invasion.

The resulting black-and-white films — following Allied troops through Normandy, the liberation of Paris, Battle of the Bulge, the horror of the Dachau concentration camp — form the basis of Americans’ historical memory of World War II, and were even used as evidence in Nazi war crimes trials.

But the director was also shooting 16-millimeter color film for himself of the same events, creating a kind of personal video journal of his experiences.

Read it all.

Posted in History, Military / Armed Forces

(NBC) The Grand Canyon Celebrating its 100th Birthday this year

Watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Energy, Natural Resources, History

In Pictures: The US Observes Memorial Day 2019

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Photos/Photography

A Message from the Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs for Memorial Day 2019

As you and your family prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, I hope you remember the true meaning behind the day. Memorial Day is the day that we’ve set aside to pay tribute to our heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and all those who have served our Nation.

These heroes are not the only ones who have sacrificed. Behind each of these brave men and women are the families that shared their loved ones with us. The gave up holidays, milestones and achievements with their Veteran so that we can sleep soundly at night.

Because of this, NCA has installed “Tribute to the Fallen and Their Families” plaques within our cemeteries. These plaques are but a small remembrance of incredible service, but I hope they are a gentle reminder of how appreciative our Nation is for the sacrifices of not only our Veterans, but their families.

At NCA we have one sacred mission, to ensure no Veteran ever dies. It is said that we all die two deaths, the first when breath leaves you for the last time and the second, the last time someone speaks your name or tells your story. It is the second that we are committed to ensuring never happens and I task all of you with the same.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

More Poetry for Memorial Day–Theodore O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the Dead”

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow’s strife
The warrior’s dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

(CT) Retired General Roger Brady–Memorial Day: For What Shall We Live?

Most Americans will never serve in the military—actually less than one percent of our population do so. And even among those of us who do, very, very few of us are asked to give that last full measure of devotion. So what is the question for us on this day as we remember those Americans who died on our behalf? I believe that question is —for what shall we live?

Whether or not we wear the uniform of our country, we all have a service to offer, a service to those ideals that reflect God’s universal truths and that our American ancestors captured in the formation of this country. When Jesus left this earth to take his place at the right hand of the Father, he left us, his bride, the church, to carry on his work. So when evil strikes in the form of a school shooting or when nature unleashes its fury and devastates property and lives, when children suffer, when people are hungry or homeless and ask “Where is God?!” we must be there and have them see him in us.

We must bring his comfort and his healing to this world. When we live lives of service to those around us, we honor the God who saved us and we honor all those who gave that last full measure to secure for us all the things we enjoy in this nation.

Someday we will find ourselves at the end of our lives looking back, and we will ask ourselves what it was all for. At that moment, we will all want to recall a life of service to something larger than ourselves, to children who needed our teaching and our example of service, to people whom we gave a hand up in time of need, to friends and colleagues whom we comforted in times of sorrow, lives with whom we shared the many physical and spiritual blessings that have been bestowed on us. If we live that life of service, we will have fulfilled the challenge of the Savior when he said, “Whatever you did for one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).

So on Memorial Day, and every day, we need to ask ourselves, for what shall we live? How are we doing at fulfilling not just the ideals of our American forefathers but those universal values set in place by the one who made us in his image, who sent his only begotten son to secure our salvation, the one who “created us in him to do good works?”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Military / Armed Forces, Theology

Poetry for Memorial Day–Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

In Flanders Fields for Memorial Day 2019

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In thanksgiving for all those who gave their lives for this country in years past, and for those who continue to serveKSH.

P.S. The circumstances which led to this remarkable poem are well worth remembering:

It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915 and to the war in general. McCrea had spent seventeen days treating injured men — Canadians, British, French, and Germans in the Ypres salient. McCrae later wrote: “I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days… Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done.” The next day McCrae witnessed the burial of a good friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer. Later that day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the field dressing station, McCrea composed the poem. A young NCO, delivering mail, watched him write it. When McCrae finished writing, he took his mail from the soldier and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the Sergeant-major. Cyril Allinson was moved by what he read: “The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene.” Colonel McCrae was dissatisfied with the poem, and tossed it away. A fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915. For his contributions as a surgeon, the main street in Wimereaux is named “Rue McCrae”.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

Happy Birthday to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Posted in History, Poetry & Literature

(Ely Standard) Science festival at Ely Cathedral – a ‘seamless mix of reverence and awe’ celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing

Launch night for the Ely Cathedral science festival began with choral evensong that included the first performance of the anthem ‘The Ordinances of Heaven’, a piece commissioned especially for the festival.

It has been written by Tim Watts, artist-in-residence at the Institute of Astronomy and a fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, set to the words from the Book of Job.

Once over the choristers were among those cheerfully and gleefully enjoying the delights of the science festival.

Not only is there plenty to see and to do but exhibitors actively encourage audience participation – such as discovering, for scientific purposes, who can refrain from blinking the longest.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(GR) Richard Ostling writes on recent reports about Religious Affiliation in America and what to Make of them

Writing for the interfaith journal First Things, Mark Movsesian of the St. John’s University Center for Law and Religion (who belongs on your source list) joins those who say the U.S. is experiencing “a decline in religious affiliation among people whose identification was weak to begin with.” As with politics, he proposes, “the middle seems to be dropping out in favor of the extremes on either end.”

Examining the post-2000 mystery, reporters could theorize that priestly molesting scandals undercut Catholic involvement – but they were a continual embarrassment the prior 15 years. Liberals may have been alienated by Protestant churches enmeshed in conservative politicking – but that was the case for two decades before 2000. Many younger Americans reject old-fashioned sexual morality, but churches that upheld that belief fared better than “mainline” Protestants who’ve liberalized since 2000.

So what gives? The Guy proposes that reporters look for underlying societal factors. Americans have eroding faith in all institutions (among which religion is the ultimate institution). And what about the lure of weekend leisure, entertainment and athletics over against attending worship? Perhaps most powerful is the way social-media addiction undercuts face-to-face involvements. How are your area volunteer fire departments or Kiwanis clubs faring?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Media, Religion & Culture

(FT) Edward Luce–US declining interest in history presents risk to democracy

Yet the folk prejudice against history is hard to shake. In an ever more algorithmic world, people believe that humanities are irrelevant. The spread of automation should put a greater premium on qualities that computers lack, such as intuitive intelligence, management skills and critical reasoning. Properly taught that is what a humanities education provides. Almost no one can fix their own computers: the field is too specialised. People ought to be able to grasp the basic features of their democracy. Faith in ahistoric theory only fuels a false sense of certainty. Few economists expected the 2008 financial crash. Historians were unsurprised.

Alas, America’s curiosity about itself is suffering a prolonged bear market. What may work for individual careers poses a collective risk to US democracy. The demise of strong civics coincides with waning voter turnout, a decline in joining associations, fewer citizen’s initiatives — and other qualities once associated with American vigour. The spread of fake news is often blamed solely on social media. Facebook bears a heavy — and largely uncorrected — responsibility for the spread of viral harm. But the ultimate driver is the citizens who believe it.

There is no scientific metric for gullibility. Nor can we quantitatively prove that civic ignorance imposes a political cost on society. These are questions of judgment. But if America’s origins tell us anything it is that a well-informed citizenry creates a stronger society. We may no longer be interested in history. History is still interested in us.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., History

(FA) Daniel W. Drezner–This Time Is Different: Why U.S. Foreign Policy Will Never Recover

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a foreign policy community in possession of great power must be in want of peace of mind. Climate change, the Middle East, terrorism, trade, nonproliferation—there is never a shortage of issues and areas for those who work in international relations to fret about. If you were to flip through the back issues of Foreign Affairs, you would find very few essays proclaiming that policymakers had permanently sorted out a problem. Even after the Cold War ended peacefully, these pages were full of heated debate about civilizations clashing.

It is therefore all too easy to dismiss the current angst over U.S. President Donald Trump as the latest hymn from the Church of Perpetual Worry. This is hardly the first time observers have questioned the viability of a U.S.-led global order. The peril to the West was never greater than when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik—until U.S. President Richard Nixon ended the Bretton Woods system. The oil shocks of the 1970s posed a grave threat to the liberal international order—but then came the explosion of the U.S. budget and trade deficits in the 1980s. The perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks seemed like an existential threat to the system—until the 2008 financial crisis. Now there is Trump. It is worth asking, then, whether the current fretting is anything new. For decades, the sky has refused to fall.

But this time really is different. Just when many of the sources of American power are ebbing, many of the guardrails that have kept U.S. foreign policy on track have been worn down. It is tempting to pin this degradation on Trump and his retrograde foreign policy views, but the erosion predated him by a good long while. Shifts in the way Americans debate and conduct foreign policy will make it much more difficult to right the ship in the near future. Foreign policy discourse was the last preserve of bipartisanship, but political polarization has irradiated that marketplace of ideas. Although future presidents will try to restore the classical version of U.S. foreign policy, in all likelihood, it cannot be revived.

The American foundations undergirding the liberal international order are in grave danger, and it is no longer possible to take the pillars of that order for granted. Think of the current moment as a game of Jenga in which multiple pieces have been removed but the tower still stands. As a result, some observers have concluded that the structure remains sturdy. But in fact, it is lacking many important parts and, on closer inspection, is teetering ever so slightly. Like a Jenga tower, the order will continue to stand upright—right until the moment it collapses. Every effort should be made to preserve the liberal international order, but it is also time to start thinking about what might come after its end.

The gravity of the problem is dawning on some members of the foreign policy community. Progressives are debating among themselves whether and how they should promote liberal values abroad if they should return to power. Conservatives are agonizing over whether the populist moment represents a permanent shift in the way they should think about U.S. foreign policy. Neither camp is really grappling with the end of equilibrium, however.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General

(ACNS) Diocese of Egypt teams up with British university to open new archive research centre

A new Research Centre has been opened in Cairo as part of a newly renovated archive facility for the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt. The new Cairo Research Centre has been created by the Diocese of Egypt, part of the Anglican / Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, in collaboration with the UK’s University of Leicester.

The British Ambassador to Egypt, Sir Geoffrey Adams, attended the opening ceremony last week (9 May) alongside the Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, and Dr James Moore of the University of Leicester and Dr Richard Gauvain from the British University in Cairo. They were joined by representatives of the Diocese of Egypt and members of the country’s academic community in what the local Church described as an “exciting event”.

Last week’s ceremony was a significant milestone in a project which began in 2015 with the digitisation of the diocese’s documents and manuscripts dating back to the early 19th century. As part of the process, the archive has been moved to a newly-renovated facility which has been specifically designed to house the materials. The work has been carried out with the technical and financial support of the University of Leicester

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Posted in Egypt, England / UK, History, Jerusalem & the Middle East

(NYT BR) Joseph Ellis reviews Rick Atkinson’s new book on the American Revolution

My old mentor, Edmund Morgan, used to say that everything after 1800 is current events. According to Morgan’s Law, Rick Atkinson has been doing first-rate journalism, enjoying critical and commercial success for three masterly books on World War II, all thoroughly researched and splendidly written. To say that Atkinson can tell a story is like saying Sinatra can sing.

Now Atkinson has decided to move back in time past the Morgan Line, into that distant world where there are no witnesses to interview, no films of battles or photographs of the dead and dying. Visually, all we have are those paintings by John Trumbull, Charles Willson Peale and Gilbert Stuart, all of which are designed to memorialize iconic figures in patriotic scenes, where even dying men seem to be posing for posterity.

Undaunted, Atkinson makes his debut as a historian, determined to paint his own pictures with words. “The British Are Coming” is the first volume in a planned trilogy on the American Revolution that will match his Liberation Trilogy on World War II. It covers all the major battles and skirmishes from the spring of 1775 to the winter of 1776-77. There are 564 pages of text, 135 pages of endnotes, a 42-page bibliography and 24 full-page maps. Lurking behind all the assembled evidence, which Atkinson has somehow managed to read and digest in a remarkably short period of time, is a novelistic imagination that verges on the cinematic. Historians of the American Revolution take note. Atkinson is coming.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces

Food for Thought from G K Chesterton (in 1926!)

From there:

The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming, not from a few Socialists surviving from the Fabian Society, but from the living exultant energy of the rich resolved to enjoy themselves at last, with neither Popery nor Puritanism nor Socialism to hold them back… The roots of the new heresy, God knows, are as deep as nature itself, whose flower is the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life. I say that the man who cannot see this cannot see the signs of the times; cannot see even the skysigns in the street that are the new sort of signs in heaven. The madness of tomorrow is not in Moscow but much more in Manhattan – but most of what was in Broadway is already in Piccadilly.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Sexuality