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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

March 2018

Russia?s Disinformation Campaign


Last week, we reviewed Russia?s long-term foreign policy, a policy that is a reflection of its historic vulnerability and weakness. This time, we will examine Russia?s long-term use of disinformation and discord. They have turned to this policy because it is inexpensive and can divide democratic societies without firing a shot. It is effective because so many people in our liberal democracies (rule of law) are not willing to think things through; it is easier to latch onto a source of in more...

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Russia?s Foreign Policy

"Russia," as Winston Churchill once noted, "is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." They are not so mysterious if we understand what Russia is, what its internal problems are, and how they have had a consistent foreign policy for the past century.

Russia?s emergence as a country only began in the 10th century, making it far younger than the rest of Europe, starting with Greece 2500 years ago and the Roman Empire about 2000 years ago, bringing its laws, urban life, and more...

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November 2017

One World or Back to Tribalism?


The past few centuries have seen the rise of the nation-state, countries defined by a common language, often a common religious identity, and a strong central rule. Out of that process came Spain, France, Great Britain, and the United States of America. Other nation-states emerged in the 19th century: Germany, and very late, Italy.

Before nation states, the western world was divided into kingdoms---some fairly large, and others (such as Spain and France) divided into mult more...

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January 2017

The Arc of History


As a historian, I share with former President Obama the idea that there is such a thing as "the arc of history." What is meant by this is that human beings have very gradually changed over the centuries from small clans and tribes who had to fight tooth and claw to survive to a global society, much of which has common (and largely American) values.

We no longer throw our adolescent girls into a volcano to calm the rage of the volcano god. Most of us no longer regard women more...

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November 2016

Culture Matters Part 1


In August, I wrote several columns on how culture matters, both domestically and internationally. I have long doubted that the issue is as much racial differences as it is the practices and values of various cultures. Our recent election was a perfect demonstration of a cultural clash that shocked the world.

The US is going through the same conflict that we are seeing around the world: democratic institutions are losing the support that they have had for a long time. We kn more...

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Israel?s Changing Neighborhood


When Israel first became a nation, a unified Muslim world (in particular, Arab world) invaded, hoping to destroy the nascent state. The Arabs did not prevail, but that did not stop them for trying 13 other times since 1947.

In the past 12 months alone, Israel faced 407 terror attacks, including 165 stabbings, 87 attempted stabbings, 107 shootings, 47 vehicular attacks, and one bus bombing. All this is in a country the size of New Jersey!

Today, however, the more...

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September 2016

Is There Global Rule of Law?


During President Obama?s recent visit to Asia, he spoke about Global Norms to students in Laos. He also said that America has been an enormous force for the good in the world, but that we often think that because of our size and clout, we do not need to know much about the rest of the world. Some people will be annoyed by this comment, but I think it is obvious. Only a steady ten percent of the American public has any interest in foreign policy, which is too bad, considering how importan more...

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Why the EU is not like the US: The BREXIT Surprise

European nationalism did not die when the EU was born. Climbing out of the ashes of Europe?s second massively destructive war in the 20th century, a group of educated idealists formed the first attempt at economic integration of the European Coal and Steel Community in the 1950s. This grew to integrating more European nations into an Economic Community from 1958-1992. The EC added more European countries to this community, which then became the European Union, an actual attempt to create a "Unit more...

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