Wednesday, December 08, 2004

After a month of blogging

This marks the beginning of my second month of blogging. I'm still getting used to the medium, as you've no doubt been able to tell. Thanks to everyone who has sent me stuff they thought I should blog on. Keep it coming!

It's been a slow-news week, which is part of the reason I haven't blogged quite as frenetically. Another reason I'll be blogging a little less frequently is that I'm working on a few longer posts, one on the challenge of nation-building (just finished Francis Fukuyama's excellent book on the subject), another on the transformation of American populism, and a third on the alleged problem of "excessive liberalism" on American campuses.

Also, in what I hope will be an ongoing series on "why knowing history matters," I'll be posting on specific examples of how misreadings of the past often provide spurious "lessons" that end up justiying poor policy decisions in the present. Specifically, we'll show how two crucial geopolitical episodes, namely the Marshall Plan and Ronald Reagan's role in the end of the Cold War, have been consistently misremembered and mischaracterized. These mischaracterizations provide the essential background for understanding why the Bush regime and its intellectual sycophants have backed such a disastrous policy in Iraq and the GWOT: they're trying to replay scenarios that never happened in the first place.

The larger point will be to amend Santayana's overquoted and much-misunderstood insight: it's not just that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it, but even worse, those who do not understand the past will be unable to repeat the parts of it they want to repeat.

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