The American Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in our nation’s history, made all the more tragic by the fact that, with more willingness by both sides to negotiate differences, it might have been avoided. It has long raised constitutional questions, as well, with its alteration of the fundamental relationship between the federal and state governments continuing to this day.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the infamous Shanghai Communiqué, the joint diplomatic agreement between the United States and the People's Republic of China issued during President Richard Nixon's visit to Communist China in 1972. In the document, the two nations pledged to work toward "normalization" of their economic and cultural relations. They further agreed that neither country would "seek hegemony in the Asian-Pacific region."
On February 28, 1972, the United States also acknowledged the "One China Policy," and agreed to cut back on its military bases on Taiwan (the Republic of China or "Free China").
Sunday, February 19, is the 205th anniversary of the arrest of the former hero of the American Revolution and Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr, on charges of treason.
The anniversary of the Allied bombing of Dresden on February 13 and 14, 1945 has become an increasingly contentious memory for thousands of Germans. Historians have debated the military value of the old and crowded city, some saying it had little significance, with others pointing out that until the bombing it was still active with war production. What few doubt is that the war was already lost for Germany before the bombing of Dresden, and that the unconditional surrender demanded by President Roosevelt was inevitable in a few weeks no matter what.
Algeria — just west of Libya in northwest Africa — has been part of the civilized world since before Christ. In ancient times, it was first associated with the colonies of Phoenicians who, in competition with Greek colonists from various cities, founded cities along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Carthage was such a city in what is present-day Tunisia (between Algeria and Libya), and the Punic Wars of the late Roman Republic were a battle to the death between the two great powers of Carthage and Rome, one of which would dominate the Mediterranean Sea.
The nation of Yugoslavia was a creature of the Versailles Treaty, first cobbled together out of the remnants of the old Austro-Hungarian empire and the nations of Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia itself included ethnic minorities such as Slovenes and Croats. These people did not speak the same language or share the same religious confessions. They were simply defined as “South Slavs,” who were put together to create a nation that it was hoped would contain imagined future threats to peace and to reward Serbia, one of the victors in World War I.
Seventy-five years ago, on January 25, 1937, the terror known generally as the Moscow Show Trials entered its second phase. The first phase began in August, 1936, and the intended political enemies of Stalin constituted the “Trotskyite-Zionvievite Terrorist Center.” This was a purging of the notional “left” within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev were among the most prominent members in this purge. Zinoviev had been considered one of the leading theoreticians of the party. Kamenev had been the head of the Moscow Soviet and then the Deputy Premier under Lenin. Zinoviev and Kamenev followed Stalin (left) in pushing Trotsky out of party leadership in 1924.
The Soviet Union since its earliest days described the United States as the “main enemy.” The penetration of American government and society was a natural goal of the Soviets, and the totalitarian state would resort to any lies to achieve that goal. Deception and power have always been the heart of Marxism. For example, Lenin wrote, “The scientific concept, dictatorship, means nothing more nor less than power which directly rests on violence, which is not limited by any laws or restricted by any absolute rules.”
Thirty years ago, on January 17, 1982, America experienced the famous “Cold Sunday,” when temperatures in various parts of the nation plummeted to astonishing record lows. A massive cold front blowing down from Canada caused International Falls, Minnesota to record -45 degrees Fahrenheit, while the lowest temperature in the United States that day was the -52 degrees near Tower, Minnesota.
The Black Hills of South Dakota have long been associated with the four U.S. Presidents who adorn Mount Rushmore. The granite faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln have been etched into the American imagination. Yet a fifth granite face has emerged from the Black Hills in the form of the famous Lakota leader Crazy Horse.
On January 8, 1918, less than one year after the United States had declared war on Germany and its allies in the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson gave an address before a joint session of Congress in which he proclaimed "Fourteen Points" that were intended to be our war aims. Wilson’s clarion call upon bringing America into this European conflict had been to “Make the world safe for democracy.”