“What History Can Teach Us About The Worst Refugee Crisis Since WWII” The World Post

Watching the tragedy of Syrian refugees unfold makes me wonder if we’ve learned anything from the past refugee crises. It seemed that Europe had learned some lessons as they dealt with the refugee crisis from the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s. But the combination of economic crisis, anti-Islamic sentiments, and inter-E.U. bickering has set this latest crisis up to be a disaster.  The U.S. response has been lackluster as well. We are better able to handle large numbers of refugees, and given the fact that we bear some responsibility for the crisis we have a moral obligation to help the victims fleeing Syria.

Maybe it’s too late, but for what it’s worth Alexander Betts,  professor of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, discusses the history of refugee crises and lays out five history lessons.

“Just What Exactly Are People Commemorating on the 200th Anniversary of Waterloo?” | History News Network

The Battle of Waterloo is one of the most famous battles in history since it marks Napoleon’s ultimate and final defeat. Escaping from the island of Elba, where he had been exiled after his first defeat, Napoleon took power once again of the French empire only to be defeated by the British and Prussians a few months later at Waterloo.
But as the 200th Anniversary of this battle approaches, its commemoration poses a dilemma for those countries involved in the conflict, France in particular. Alan Forrest, author of Great Battles: Waterloo, examines the difficulties presented by this commemoration. He asks, “Is it appropriate, in the twenty-first century, to celebrate, joyously, an engagement that resulted in the deaths of so many soldiers in a single day? Should we not remember Waterloo more for the scale of the sacrifice it demanded of the men who fought and the families they left behind, or for the fact that it ushered in a century of relative peace following the Congress of Vienna? Or is it more about the colour of the military spectacle – as will doubtless be exemplified in the re-enactments of the battle that will take place on 18 June and the days following?”
Read his thoughtful examination of the commemoration here:

History News Network | Just What Exactly Are People Commemorating on the 200th Anniversary of Waterloo?

Painting of the Scots famous cavalry charge at the Battle of Waterloo by Elizabeth Butler: Scotland for Ever!, 1881

Painting of the Scots famous cavalry charge at the Battle of Waterloo by Elizabeth Butler: Scotland for Ever!, 1881

“The American Military Uncontained” | History News Network

The retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) William J. Astore examines the current role of the U.S. military from the perspective of the 1990s, after we emerged victorious from the Cold War. Rather than gearing down for peacetime Astore shows that the military retained it Cold War size and attitude. But crucially, according to Astore, it also became uncontained as the sole superpower. He argues that after the fall of the Soviet Union the attitude that emerged was one of “go[ing] for broke.” After laying out the consequences of this situation, he warns, “No military should ever be trusted and no military should ever be left uncontained.  Our nation’s founders knew this lesson.  Five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower took pains in his farewell address in 1961 to remind us of it again.  How did we as a people come to forget it?  WTF, America?”
I agree with much of what Astore says, but I see the transition to the present situation a little differently. He makes no differentiation between the humanitarian efforts (or non-efforts to be more accurate) in places like Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda in the 1990s, and the so-called “national security” interests in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen in the twenty-first century.
“Yet even as civilian leaders hankered to flex America’s military muscle in unpromising places like Bosnia and Somalia in the 1990s, and Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen in this century, the military itself has remained remarkably mired in Cold War thinking.”
I think it is a mistake to see this trend beginning in the 1990s. We did NOT “go all in” for the 1990s humanitarian situations. In fact, trying to persuade the Bush (papa) administration and then the Clinton administration to do anything in these situations was like pulling teeth. We only intervened belatedly in the Bosnian War with very little cost or effort after thousands of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) were slaughtered. We did successfully intervene in Kosovo, but mostly out of guilt for what we didn’t do in Bosnia. We shamefully did nothing in Rwanda. And we pulled out of Somalia, where we were engaged in humanitarian aid, after the first sign of trouble (Black Hawk Down), which played right into the hands of the Somalian warlords. So, I think it is misleading to include Madeleine Albright’s plea to send in troops to the former Yugoslavia as evidence of the “all in” attitude in regards to the military. In all these cases, those in power did everything they could to make sure we didn’t use the military. Why? Because these were humanitarian causes and the “Vietnam Syndrome” was still alive and well. These were the cases we should have intervened, but didn’t. So much for “never again”!
The hawks that Astore refers to care little for humanitarian interventions and were happy to intervene in what they saw as “national security” situations (e.g. The Gulf War). But I think it was something else that turned the tide toward the intervention everywhere attitude: 9/11. Presently the fear of terrorism ensures that this attitude will continue to prevail.
However, I agree with his conclusion “Take an uncontained, mutating military, sprinkle it with unconditional love and plenty of dough, and you have a recipe for disaster.” Read the entire article here:

History News Network | The American Military Uncontained.


History News Network | Why No One Remembers the Peacemakers

This December 25 will be the hundredth anniversary of the Christmas Truce that occurred during World War I.  An event worth celebrating! Usually most “outbreaks of peace,” as Adam Hochschild points out, are not celebrated but “the anniversary of this one is being celebrated with extraordinary officially sanctioned fanfare.” The fact that this event “did not represent a challenge to the sovereignty of war” and is receiving significant support from European governments and the Football Association [soccer] explains why this particular event (and not other peace promoting events) will be celebrated. While Hochschilds supports the celebration of this event he thinks that we should celebrate peace and peacemakers more often. He suggests:

“Perhaps when the next anniversary of the Iraq War comes around, it’s time to break with a tradition that makes ever less sense in our world. Next time, why not have parades to celebrate those who tried to prevent that grim, still ongoing conflict from starting? Of course, there’s an even better way to honor and thank veterans of the struggle for peace: don’t start more wars.”

History News Network | Why No One Remembers the Peacemakers.

War to end war Hothschild