Category: History

Knowing history allows us to help predict the future.

The ‘Dear Comandante’ letter (1984)

Keeping the Senate out of the loop on arms control negotiations is a rather novel development, so it is with interest that 47 US senators wrote to the Iranian regime, warning that any agreement with the White House might not remain valid without Senate approval. The letter prompted an outcry of “treason” from supporters of the administration, with one lawmaker...

Qutb developed his philosophy from a prison cell

While we’re on the subject of the necessity of prison time (or some other form of exile or retreat) for the politically active operative to have the down-time needed to develop his philosophy and other motivational writings, we turn to Syyed Qutb (pictured) the lead theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) and an inspirational source for al Qaeda and other...

How prison can help the political warrior

We mustn’t always believe everything we read, and when bad guys with big ideas are released from prison, we should presume that they’ll be causing trouble again soon. Especially if the nice, civilized prison officials are good enough to give them writing implements and paper. Here’s an article from the December 21, 1924 issue of the New York Times. No,...

An amazing charitable campaign for postwar reconciliation

It isn’t sponsored by any government and gets virtually no public attention. But a years-long effort by a volunteer group in Latvia has provided closure for family members of Soviet, Latvian and German soldiers who died and disappeared in battle during World War II, and has helped Latvia close the wounds caused by those who collaborated with the Soviets and...

Bicentennial of the Luddites

This month marks the bicentennial of the peak of the Luddites, the movement in Britain of those who feared technological advances. Of course, many of the Luddites of 1812 were talented craftsmen who feared that mass production would trump quality, and that unskilled laborers at the mills would put the skilled artisans out of business. All Luddites were clinging to...

Disinformation meets economic warfare

Forgeries can be used to influence decisionmaking or undermine an enemy, just as they can be used to defraud for financial purposes. Wartime adversaries have used forgeries throughout the ages, both to finance their military and intelligence efforts, and to damage a target economy. Nazi Germany created some of the most perfect forgeries ever made – the infamous fake British...

Can anybody help me on this? American economic warfare during the Revolution

We know that the British forged paper Continental Currency to undermine the 13 colonies/states in the 1770s, and we also know that the Americans faced limitations in the support they were getting from many Canadians, in part because the Patriots could not afford to pay in silver and gold. We also know that individual American engravers and metalsmiths made forgeries...

British cartoons during the American Revolution

This fine electronic collection of historical British political cartoons has just come to my attention. The cartoons and sketches parody and otherwise skewer the American Revolution and its allies. This file contains more than 150 British political cartoons concerning the American Revolution. Each is accompanied by an archivist’s description. The two sample cartoons are representative: One shows American savages hanging...

A re-enactment of Boston mob action against the crown

Pay close attention to this dramatization of the tarring and feathering of a tax official on the Boston waterfront in the early days of revolutionary ferment, in December 1773. The 3 1/2-minute scene is from Episode 1 of the excellent HBO series, John Adams. In this scene, Samuel Adams (the tall one at left, played by Danny Huston) is taking...