History

WSC Before the Fact, Part 2

Featured image The other day I made note of Churchill’s description in a 1901 speech of what we would come to call “total war” in the 20th century.  In August 1911, around the time of the Agadir crisis and when he became First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill wrote a memo critiquing the existing view of the British and French general staffs that a German offensive into France could be easily beaten »

WSC Before the Fact, Part 1

Featured image While just about everyone caught up in Progressive-era optimism thought a general war in Europe was impossible—right up to this moment a hundred years ago—Churchill not only thought it possible, indeed likely, but anticipated its character.  From one of his early speeches in the House of Commons in May 1901: “A European war cannot be anything but a cruel, heartrending struggle, which, if we are ever to enjoy the bitter »

One less U.S. apology required

Featured image In his 2009 Cairo speech, President Obama declared that “in the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” Obama clearly intended to convey that the United States shares some of the blame for its longstanding dispute with the current regime. In conceding wrongdoing in connection with the overthrow of the government of Mohammad Mosaddeq and the restoration »

The Last Days of Nixon–And the American Republic?

Featured image We’re coming up shortly on the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation, which coincides with the publication of Rick Perlstein’s new doorstop, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, about which more—much more—in due course.  (I’m working on a long review for the Claremont Review of Books, and also following closely the unfolding controversy about potential plagiarism that Craig Shirley has brought against Perlstein’s peculiar »

The Evil Empire Is Back

Featured image So Obama, ever the bright and prompt one when it comes to foreign affairs, has declared the Soviet Union Russia to be in violation of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—Ronald Reagan’s famous “zero option.”  The violation occurred in 2009.  Guess it would have got in the way of that whole “reset” thing to have brought it up at the time. As it happens, I’m working on a new »

The Great War and Modern Memory

Featured image Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war on Serbia—the official beginning of hostilities of what became World War I.  There’s a ton of new books about the Great War (as it was called before the sequel caused a re-numbering), but in many ways my favorite remains Paul Fussell’s treatment of the literary legacy of the war from the 1970s, The Great War and Modern Memory. A few »

Harry Jaffa on the Famous “Extremism” Speech

Featured image Paul noted yesterday the 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater’s famous—or infamous—convention speech in 1964.  Has there ever been another convention speech before or since that is as well recalled for a single line?  Only William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech comes close. Harry Jaffa, who turns 96 in a few weeks, reflected some time ago about the famous line—”Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”—and his role in »

This week in conservative history — Goldwater’s acceptance speech

Featured image 50 years ago this week, Barry Goldwater accepted the Republican nomination for president with this speech. Today, it makes for a great and timely read. But the speech should really be viewed (and can be here; watch for Richard Nixon’s reactions) in order to understand its impact. The main impact of the speech, unfortunately, was to scare Americans. Indeed, although Lyndon Johnson’s campaign did a masterful job of scaring Americans »

The College Board, the Common Core, and “the world without America”

Featured image Years ago, Richard Rorty, the left-wing pragmatist philosopher, defended the leftist slant in university instruction by arguing that it was an antidote to the rah-rah, pro-American indoctrination students received in high school. In Hegelian-Marxist terms, high school instruction was the “thesis,” college instruction was the “antithesis,” and students could work out their own “synthesis.” Rorty’s argument was characteristically clever. But the content of high school education was always destined to »

Is Administrative Law Unlawful? (2): July 4 edition

Featured image In advance of the holiday weekend and late in the afternoon yesterday, the Obama administration released 1,300 pages of new Obamacare regulations, adding to the more than 10,000 pages previously promulgated. This is the way we live now under the regime of the administrative state, subject to regulations dwarfing the laws duly enacted by Congress. Continuing our series of excerpts from Columbia Law School Professor Philip Hamburger’s important new book »

The eternal meaning of Independence Day

Featured image On July 9, 1858, Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas gave a campaign speech to a raucous throng from the balcony of the Tremont Hotel in Chicago. Abraham Lincoln was in the audience as Douglas prepared to speak. Douglas graciously invited Lincoln to join him on the balcony to listen to the speech. In his speech Douglas sounded the themes of the momentous campaign that Lincoln and Douglas waged that summer and »

The improbable lives of Louis Zamperini

Featured image I am saddened to learn of the death yesterday of the remarkable Louis Zamperini. What a man; what a great American. The New York Times obituary by Ira Berkow is here. I wrote about Mr. Zamperini on Power Line after I finished reading Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling biography of him (linked below). The following comments are adapted from what I wrote then. In November 2010 the Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Review »

Revisiting the Obama-Ayers connection

Featured image Many of you probably watched portions, if not all of, Megyn Kelly’s interviews with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant domestic terrorist of yesteryear. Kelly did her usual excellent job of pressing Ayers on his violent past. But Stanley Kurtz wishes she had pressed Ayers more about his relationship with Barack Obama. For, as Kurtz points out, Ayers and Obama had a much tighter political alliance than Ayers admitted to on Kelly’s »

Would the civil rights act of 1964 pass Congress today?

Featured image Today marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It passed Congress over the strenuous opposition, and indeed filibuster, of Southern Democrats. At Politico, Todd Purdum seizes on the occasion to argue that this landmark legislation could not pass Congress today. This is mainly true, he asserts, because “sometime in the 1980s” the Barry Goldwater wing of the Republican Party seized control causing the »

“The Dread Signal of Armageddon”

Featured image Today is the 100th anniversary of Gavrilo Princep’s assassination of the Archduke Francis Fertinand and his consort in Sarajevo, what Churchill called “the dread signal of Armageddon.”  We’re about to start a four-year palooza of commemorations of the signal episodes from the Great War, including lots of chin-stroking about whether something like it could happen again in the heart of Europe (or on the periphery, like, say, Ukraine).  I offered »

Don’t Know Much About History, Hillary Edition

Featured image We have commented a number of times about Barack Obama’s below-average knowledge of history. But he is not alone: his would-be successor in the White House, Hillary Clinton, wouldn’t fare well in a high school American history class, either. The Free Beacon covers her book-promoting appearance with Rahm Emanuel. Note that her blunder isn’t a mere slip of the tongue, but rather part of an extended analogy that she draws »

Revisionist history on hold

Featured image D-Day seems to have been well commemorated in France on its 70th anniversary. President Obama apparently saw fit to chew gum while Queen Elizabeth II was welcomed and during the playing of the Marseillaise. But as far as I can tell, the Europeans behaved with dignity and gratitude, as well they should. There is, though, an unflattering revisionist history of the Normandy invasion that has gained some currency in France. »