Archive for April, 2011

The New World Order

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

So what is this “New World Order”?  I am not inclined to give much credit to the boundless conspiracy theories but they do make for some humorous anecdotes (see Simpson’s “Stonecutter’s Song”).

Seriously though what would Kissinger say now, over 15 years after the publication of this book, about the New World Order.  There is an inescabably Eurocentric focus to his analysis of the periods of various World Orders, from the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna.  What did these conceptions mean to the populations of Southeast Asia, Africa or the Americas?  Not much, thank you.  If that is the case then, if Kissinger is really talking about European hegemony, and I think we could safely argue that the United States is a product of that, then is our current embroilment in the “war on terror” really much of a suprise?

As we conquered the west in the euphamism of “manifest destiny” the native American’s pushed back but could not prevail.  As “we”, meaning the European history and culture of representative democracy, seperation of church and state and free market systems, push into all corners of the globe,  is it really suprising that some are pushing back?  Is it suprising that some have acquired the means to really hurt us?   Will 9/11 be regarded as a sort of modern battle of little bighorn?  Was the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan like the Spanish retreat from the great Pueblo Revollt of 1680? 

In 2110, and yet at least one other “New World Order” will have emerged by then according to Kissinger’s rubric, what will the students of this classroom refer to our time as?  Will it be seen, as the quote on the wall has suggested, as the end of history?  As per Wikipedia…

The End of History and the Last Man is a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama, expanding on his 1989 essay “The End of History?”, published in the international affairs journal The National Interest. In the book, Fukuyama argues that the advent of Western liberal democracy may signal the end point of humanity’s sociocultural evolution and the final form of human government.

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”[1]

Some see his thesis conflicting with Karl Marx‘s version of the “end of prehistory“.[2]. Some scholars identify the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as the source of Fukuyama’s language, by way of Alexandre Kojève. Kojeve argued that the progress of history must lead towards secular free-market democracy, (conceived in terms of a multi-party system of political representation). It is conjectured that Fukuyama learned of Kojève through his teacher Allan Bloom.

Kissinger on Reagan & the End of the Cold War

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

I don’t know about you, but I find Kissinger’s analysis of Reagan hysterical.  His historical anecdotes having no “basis in facts, as facts are generally understood”, “the shallowest of academic backgrounds”, yet a man who developed a foreign policy of “extraordinary consistency and relevence”.  Yet he was bored with the details.  (Maybe he was just bored by Kissinger) 

Frankly there were many, and I think still are many, that believe Ronnie was a puppet controlled by his advisors like Alexander Haig, yet letter recently published in “Morning in America” reveal a leader very much in control of his decisions and ideas.

So why does the Cold War end according to Kissinger?  What was Reagan’s role?  What about Gorbachev, and backing up a bit how do explain this?

Talk about a blowout!

Bush & the Gulf War

Monday, April 25th, 2011

The burning of the oil fields.  Big question here, as posed by Ambrose, is Iraq vs. Yugoslavia.  Why do we do so little in the worst fighting Europe had seen since WWII and why do we do so much after the Iraq invasion of Kuwait? Did you catch the “Powell doctrine”?  Not named here, but described.  And then finally, did we, the US really “Kick” the Vietnam syndrome after the first Persian Gulf War?

See you tomorrow.  Don’t forget your Civil War Qs.


Monday, April 25th, 2011

Another long day / long weekend.  I’ll update after kids are in bed 8/9pm.  Sorry.  Bush and the Gulf War.  20 pages?  You can do it.  I will post though.

the EVIL Empire

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Have you all seen these before?  They’re called “Word clouds”.  You can cut and paste ant text and the words will be randomized but also manipulated in size by their frequency.  In other words in Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech, above, he used “World” quite a bit and “communism” rather less so.  I think they are interesting.

Here in Ambrose and Brinkley’s 15th chapter we have a marathon of words.  40+ pages!  Note the 5th edition was published in 1988, the sixth in 1991.  In one of those editions, the 6th I suspect, this chapter was new and a classic case of not having enough historical distance to weed out the significant from the non.

If I were hunting for terms I might choose Ambrose’s take in the Iran-Contra affair, Lebanon, Grenada and maybe the Falkland Islands.

So what do A&B think of old Ronnie?  Good or bad or somewhere in-between?  See you tomorrow.


Testing the Limits

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Sorry to use such a ubiquitous image but it fits so well. There is a copy of it in Spence which you saw, and it is interesting to note that over 20 years after the fact “tank man”, at least to the all knowing Wikipedia, is still not identified.

The story here, really, is what led up to “tank man”.  For Spence 1985 is a pivotal year, as is the 86,87 democracy movements, even harkening back to the democracy wall of the late 1970s.

I know you read, but I feel compelled to quote, “”There followed a period of macabre and terrifying chaos in Peking, as the army gunned down students and citizens both near the square and in other areas of the city.  Screams echoed through the night, and flames rise from piles of debris…rumors spread that swiftly that the fires in Tiananmen square were piles of corpses burned by the army to hide the evidence of their cruelty.”

Notice the way I changed the framing / context there a bit?  read  the original and read my quote.  What is different?  Does it matter?

Finally what led to “tank man” and why did this not lead to the radical change in regime that we saw in eastern europe?


Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Will update tonight after kids in bed.  8 ish.

Levels of Power

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

As China enters the 1980s here it appears that China is really entering the world.  The revolution of 1949 appears a convulsive act that required a generation of flitting recovery for the new China to emerge from.  How is this new 1980s China really different from the one in the teens or twenties or even the one that preceded the 1911 revolution?

Now in the 80s, no doubt inspired by full relations with the US and the “West”, China needs lawyers, international law, a solid education system, incentives for workers and even allows the free-wheeling Hong Kong to keep on keepin’ on.

How did all of this come about?  How does China seems to escape the fate of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union of the same time period?  What was really different here?

We are at crunch time for our little class.  I know you all have may exciting things going on and opportunities to look forward to, but the extent to which for the next simple 3 (only) or 4(stretch) weeks you can double down and focus with me on the final units and reviews as they unroll, you will see, and I will see, I think some extraordinary results.

Hang in there.