Weekly History News Roundup

A mummy with heart disease… now considered the oldest case of heart failure

 

Jesus’ wife Gospel controversy continues… researchers divided over authenticity of document claiming Christ was married

 

South Dakota schools drops history as required course… state board determines subject best taught at college level

 

ISIS destroys another historical site… militants blow up famous ruins at Palmyra

 

Federal judge rules Virginia can block Confederate flag platesrecent Supreme Court ruling led to the decision

History lost forever

History lost forever

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Nuanced to Death

The need for the Obama administration… to have a more “nuanced” approach to foreign policy is weakening our position in the world and killing innocents trapped in the middle.  ISIS represents a most serious national security threat, yet Obama and his state department refuse to recognize them for what they are- the new Islamic caliphate.  “Nuance” provides a different picture; disaffected Arab youth with limited job prospects are at the heart of the ISIS threat- find them jobs, and ISIS goes away…. Obama’s refusal to recognize religion as the ideological core of this group is putting the entire world in danger.  This “nuanced” approach is a poor excuse for true foreign policy initiative to combat a threat the late, great Christopher Hitchens predicted back in 2005.  History shows us the true nature and danger of a united, radical Islamic state…

What, me worry?

What, me worry?

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were part of our first… diplomatic delegation   in London in 1785.  They were instructed to seek out Tripoli’s ambassador, Abdra-Rahman, and seek a maritime agreement.  The ambassador shocked the Americans with his exorbitant demands for ransom and tribute- even a fee for his personal attention. Jefferson protested the piracy by stating the facts: The US had no quarrel with the Muslim world, we had never been Crusaders, we took no part in the Spanish conquests of Muslim lands- what right did Tripoli have to exact such a toll?

Don't tread on me !

Don’t tread on me !

The response must have struck every reasoned bone… in Jefferson’s body- Abdra-Rahman claimed that the Koran gave Tripoli permission;  The US and Europeans were infidels, and therefore subject to war and slavery by the Holy Ottoman Empire.  Monarchy and theocracy combined to create terror and wickedness.  Jefferson immediately responded to the US Congress that no such payment should be made to such an objectionable form of tyranny and banditry.  He advised that a naval squadron  be outfitted and sent to the Mediterranean to enforce our commercial rights.

 

Our policy for this region of the world demands strong, definitive action-  not “nuance” 

I don't think they are looking for a jobs program.

I don’t think they are looking for a jobs program.

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Dogma Trumps Intelligence

America’s blind obedience to the dogmas of… monolithic communism and the Domino Theory led to tragedy of the Vietnam war.  In 1945, American intelligence officers established clear and firm links with the Viet Minh and its leader, Ho Chi Minh.  The Vietnamese nationalists of the Viet Minh were resisting Japanese rule and providing our OSS officers with valuable intelligence.  Ho Chi Minh sought the national self-determination Franklin Roosevelt seemed to be promising the world.  The OSS agents believed Ho to be the best alternative to govern Vietnam.  FDR let them both down.

Ho Chi Minh, Giap, and members of the OSS Deer Team

Ho Chi Minh, Giap, and members of the OSS Deer Team

America’s point man in Indochina was… Lt. Col. Archimedes Patti.  Dubbed “The Deer Team,”  Patti’s men contacted the Viet Minh and began to equip and train a select number of their best troops.  In return, the Viet Minh assisted in the recovery of downed American flyers, provided invaluable intelligence, and battled the Japanese.  With the surrender of Japan, Ho Chi Minh was prepared to move forward with Vietnamese independence- a dream thousands of years in the making.

Patti working with Commander Giap in 1945

Patti working with Commander Giap in 1945

Ho Chi Minh dined with Lt. Col. Patti in late August 1945… to discuss the transfer of power and disarming Japanese troops.  Near the end of the meeting, Ho presented Patti a document- a draft of the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence he planned to release on September 2.  Patti was taken aback to read the words of Thomas Jefferson quoted reverently in the brief document.  Both men toasted the future of an independent Vietnam… Patti remembers,   “We had him, we had Ho Chi Minh on a silver platter…the Soviets were in no position to help him-only we could…I did prepare a large number, and I mean about, oh, well over fifteen position papers on our position in Vietnam. But I never knew what happened to them. Those things just disappeared, they just went down the dry well.”

Patti meets with Ho and Giap

Patti meets with Ho and Giap

Roosevelt had already decided to give Indochina… back to the French.  Churchill insisted the French empire not be broken up, lest the British empire would follow.  Rather than disarm Japanese troops, British forces rearmed them and turned them against supporters of Ho Chi Minh’s government.  A temporary division of the country was allowed to solidify.  The OSS agents were marginalized, accused of fomenting revolution, and finally forced out of Saigon by the British commanders.  The expulsion led to the murder of Colonel Peter Dewey, America’s first casualty in Vietnam.  America had followed the wrong course, in spite of all the masterful intelligence work done by Archimedes Patti and his OSS team.  The Vietnam war was our fate.

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Misreading the Same History

Cold Warriors

Cold Warriors

Kennedy wanted to end the Vietnam war.   Conspiracy theorists on both sides point to National Security Memo #263 as the smoking gun in Kennedy’s secret plan to get our troops out of Vietnam; and, also Memo #273 as proof the warmonger Johnson wanted to escalate the war.  Both accounts are demonstrably false.  Memo #263 simply states that Kennedy wanted to follow the recommendations of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor following their visit to South Vietnam(withdrawal was not one of them.)   The second memo was drafted November 21, 1963 and is clearly a Kennedy document approved by Johnson.  In an interview given on the Huntley-Brinkley Report Kennedy reaffirmed our commitment to South Vietnam and his belief in the “domino theory.”  Kennedy did not want to end the war in South Vietnam and Johnson did not personally choose to escalate it. 

 

September 9, 1963: "I think we should stay. We should use our influence in as effective a way as we can, but we should not withdraw."

September 9, 1963: “I think we should stay. We should use our influence in as effective a way as we can, but we should not withdraw.”

Far too many amateurs historians have duped… suspicious  Americans for academic credibility and financial gain.  Oliver Stone lends his tarnished credibility to the misreading of a complicated series of policy decisions.  Stone does not deal in complexities- as a film maker, he prefers stories with heroes, villains, and tidy plots.  For reasons unknown, Stone and his acolytes refuse to accept Jack Kennedy for what he was- a Conservative Democrat committed to the policy of containment as laid down by his Democratic predecessor, Harry Truman.  Vietnam was a national tragedy and a painful scar on our history- trying to make John Kennedy the martyr of it is a fraudulent endeavor.

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In A Dangerous World

“I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.”

 

These are not the words of George W. Bush… Ronald Reagan, or even John Kennedy.  This is the essence of the Truman Doctrine- a clear outline for America’s strategic place in the world.  Though primarily written by Dean Acheson, Harry Truman’s plain spoken manner made the intent abundantly clear.  Our security at home was directly tied to our vigilance abroad.

Carry the battle to them...

Carry the battle to them…

Would such decisive language be welcomed… by Democrats today? Politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to be embracing the self-destructive tenants of isolationism.  They are deluded as were our early leaders that neutrality was not only desired, but possible.

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Facts in Five

Fallen Timbers edition…

Fear the "long knives"

Fear the “long knives”

  • The name Fallen Timbers was given to the battle because a tornado touched down a few weeks prior and knocked down hundreds of trees in a circular pattern
  • Mad” Anthony Wayne earned his nickname during the Revolutionary War; he ordered a night-time bayonet charge at the Battle of Stony Point in New York
  • Washington considered leading the third expedition himself (following the embarrassing defeats of Harmar and St. Claire) Anthony Wayne was considered a gamble by the military establishment.
  • Little Turtle urged his fellow chiefs to sue for peace following Wayne’s decisive movement north- Blue Jacket and the other warriors ignored the warning… The battle was over in minutes
  • The British commander at nearby Fort Miami had been providing shelter and supplies to Little Turtle’s army… the fort was not opened to the retreating warriors following  the battle.
  • The British cautioned Wayne, “Should you continue to approach my post in the threatening manner you are at this moment doing, my indispensable duty to my King and country and the honor of my profession will oblige me to have recourse to those measures…”

Wayne’s humorous reply, “…neither the fort nor its guns could much impede the progress of the Victorious Army under my command.”

Not so Mad after all

Not so Mad after all

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Go With the Tide…..

Annette Gordon-Reed tries to explain… the suicide of James Hemings by excusing the biggest fault in her Pulitzer Prize winning book, lack of evidence, “he had his own private world…that we simply cannot retrieve.”   Perhaps this admirable level of restraint should be exercised in all her work? She has no problem discounting this inherent weakness when explaining every sinister motive and lustful desire found in Thomas Jefferson.  The irony is palpable and disturbing.  Here, Gordon-Reed is an authority; she knows exactly what was going through Jefferson’s mind as he allegedly exploited his slave, Sally Hemings.  No corroboration from fellow scholars is offered when she speculates on their relationship, Gordon-Reed’s confidence is apparent…we dare not question the writer who according to the MacArthur Foundation, ” has dramatically changed the course of Jeffersonian scholarship.”

The disputed authority

History writers are taught to avoid… “squishy” words and phrases.  If you are not sure, or cannot prove it, leave it out.  Weak historical writing deals in speculation, unsubstantiated opinions, and baseless generalities.  Gordon-Reed’s study of the Hemings family is rife with these amateurish tricks.

  • Many, Most, average, conducive, highly, nearly, majority– imprecise words disguising a lack of statistical data
  • Common ground, conducive to, seems to indicate,  obvious deduction, tends to support, highly conducive–  masking generalities and unsubstantiated opinions of the writer, these phrases insinuate expertise where it is lacking.
  • There is no reason, no reasonable person, logic dictates, one can only conclude, it is reasonable to assume–   a subtle, yet effective way at dissuading dissent.  The writer is basically saying they are the only reasonable voice.

A study filled with generalities, opinion, and conjecture… wins every major non-fiction award in 2009?  The tide of “new” Jefferson scholarship is ceaseless and can even sweep away the Pulitzer Committee.  Somewhere, Dumas Malone is smiling, for we have most definitely blazed a crooked path since his Pulitzer victory for Jefferson scholarship in 1975.

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