Walter G. Moss challenges those who criticize the President for showing empathy toward Iran. “Rather than empathy clouding the president’s judgment, as Herf maintains, it is (as I have argued elsewhere) an important characteristic of political wisdom. Contrary to much of our macho political rhetoric, it is not a sign of weakness. It does not prevent a realistic assessment of the “enemy,” but can enhance it. And most importantly, the diplomacy it forwards can help prevent, as the president insists in his American University speech, “the drumbeat of war.”
Read Moss’s thoughtful critique here: History News Network | Barack Obama, Whatever His Faults, Shouldn’t Be Criticized for Showing Empathy toward Iran
The answer might surprise you. Walter G. Moss argues that Putin is more of an opportunist, but that he also “hold[s] some basic conservative beliefs and is willing to use various means to trumpet them.” Read his entire article here:
In his review of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, Walter G. Moss examines how Putin uses and abuses history for his own purposes. Fittingly, he concludes:
“Putin is far from unique among politicians, or even among professional historians, in attempting to manipulate history. But a true “history man” (or woman) is primarily a truth-seeker, one who puts discovering the truth before any political or personal causes, whether they are of an ideological, national, patriotic, class, ethnic, or gender nature. Philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch in her The Sovereignty of Good writes of the “honesty and humility of the scholar who does not even feel tempted to suppress the fact which damns his theory.” Without denying that Putin believes much of what he says, he possesses neither the honesty nor humility of Murdoch’s hypothetical scholar. Politicians who do possess such virtues are rare—in any country. And even we professional historians must fight a constant battle to prevent our biases and causes from trumping truth-seeking.” Read the entire article here:
Walter G. Moss’s book review of Edmund Fawcett’s book Liberalism might be of interest to some of you. The word “liberal” continues to mean different things to different people. This is partly due the ever evolving meaning of the word. Fawcett uses a broad definition of liberalism that would include those who we would call “liberal” today (such as FDR, John Rawls, and Paul Krugman), but in addition he includes those who might be considered “liberal” in its classic meaning (such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher). Therefore, Moss thinks that the question we must ask is “whether today, we wish to use the narrower evolved definition that Safire suggests or the broader, more inclusive one Fawcett maintains.” Although Moss “prefers the former—referring to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan as liberals, as Fawcett does, just seems wrong—I’ll grant the logical consistency of his treatment.”
I think that the term loses its usefulness if it becomes so broad as to include all of the above individuals. But we all need to know the history of this term if we are to avoid the current confusion about the meaning of the term.