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“The past is never dead. 
It’s not even past.” 

William Faulkner
Requiem for a Nun

From the History News Network 

  • David P. Barash is an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology emeritus at the University of Washington; his most recent book is Through a Glass Brightly: Using science to see our species as we really are (Oxford University Press), 2018.

    Those of us who worry about President Trump starting a shooting war might well be relieved that the focus, for now, is on trade rather than explosions. Clearly, trade “war” is a figure of speech, a metaphor. A better one is Game of Chicken, as analyzed by mathematical game theorists. Admittedly, Chicken also isn’t a perfect model for the current US-China imbroglio, but it can be illuminating. 

    Like war and generals, or politics and politicians, Games of Chicken are too important to be left to the game theorists alone. So here is a primer.

    What happens when a chicken, instead of crossing the road, decides to run headlong into another chicken, who is similarly determined? The result could be a Game of Chicken, if certain conditions apply. 

    Consider the classic Game of Chicken. Two cars speed toward each other. Each driver can do one of two things: Swerve or go straight. In a trade war, swerving means giving in the other’s demands (i.e., for China, buying more American-made products, and for the US, abandoning its new tariffs).

    To win, you must go straight; the one who swerves is the “chicken.” If both drivers swerve, neither wins but neither suffers relative to the other. But here is the crunch, literally: If both drivers go straight – i.e., if the trade war goes on, injuring both economies - both lose.

    It is said that Games of Chicken were first played by California teenagers during the 1950s, although that may simply be an urban legend. The philosopher Bertrand Russell, however, saw a gruesome parallel with nuclear brinkmanship: Each side wants the other to back down, although neither is willing to do so itself and so, a head-on collision beckons.

    “We’re eyeball to eyeball,” said Secretary of State Dean Rusk in 1962, as the Cuban Missile Crisis passed its near-apocalyptic outcome, “and I think the other fellow just blinked.” As games go, Chicken can be serious, and deadly. In nuclear confrontations: fried chicken. Trade wars, fortunately, are less dire, but nonetheless consequential.

    Mutual swerving seems rational, but if you think the other fellow is a swerver the temptation is to go straight. The rub is that the other driver is thinking the same thing, and Trump claims – for the most part, falsely - that the US has made a history of swerving, so perhaps China expects the US to swerve once more. Moreover, Trump has claimed that trade wars are “easy to win,” suggesting that he expects China to do the swerving. And by the rules of the game, if either side is convinced that the other will swerve, then you could win by going straight. Should you therefore go straight? Not if the other player does the same. So the “game” often boils down to a matter of communication, or rather manipulation: trying to get the other side to swerve.

    Accept, right off, that there is no way to guarantee victory. The best either player can hope for is to improve the odds of inducing the other one to buckle. Toward that end, there are many tactics, none especially appealing. Start with reputation. If you are known as a nonswerver, your opponent is bound to take that into account. Not surprising, national leaders have long been concerned that their country be known to stand by its commitments; Trump, by contrast, has distinguished himself by being capricious and unreliable, not a good prognostic sign.

    Reputation can be burnished in several ways, like cultivating an image of being literally crazy, or, better yet, suicidal. Whether actually irrational or simply faking it, there is a payoff to convincing your opponent that you have taken leave of your senses. Chalk one up for Trump.

    Yet another variant involves convincing the other player that you are unwilling or – better yet - literally unable to swerve. The logical, but nonetheless bizarre consequence, suggested in the 1960s by that bizarrely logical nuclear strategist, Herman Kahn, is to wait until you have reached high speed, and then throw the steering wheel out the window, showing the other driver you can’t swerve, which generates a contest to see who can toss out the steering wheel first! Maybe US success would be enhanced if Congress passed legislation requiring Trump not to back down, although given Republican distaste for tariffs, this seems unlikely.

    There are other ways of convincing the oncoming driver that you aren’t going to swerve. Your determination to go straight may depend on your desire to be victorious, and Trump has made it clear that for him, being a “winner” trumps all. That might help.

    A final tactic: Drive a large and imposing vehicle. If an armored cement truck is confronting a VW Beetle, who backs down? Given that the US economy is pretty strong – at least for now – this might also give Trump an advantage, although China’s economy has, if anything, even more current momentum.

    The logic of Chicken is downright illogical, which brings up the advice offered by a high-powered Defense Department computer, playing a game of Global Thermonuclear War in the 1983 movie, WarGames: “The only winning move is not to play.”

  • “My American friends are asking me about President Trumps’s observation that the British ‘like him’;  I regret this is quite unfounded. The explanation for this canard is that Trump is pronoid. Pronoid is the opposite of paranoid. A paranoid person thinks, without any basis in reality, that everybody  is out to get them. A pronoid person is someone who thinks, without any basis in reality, that everybody likes them. The fact is that the British loathe Donald Trump. This is because he is the polar opposite of a ‘Gentleman,’ who  has qualities the British admire. A fine example is Gareth Southgate. To the British, a ‘Gentleman’ is a man who  is modest, well-mannered, self deprecating, quietly intelligent, considerate of other people’s feeling, and well-informed. He is not vulgar, inflated, vain, boastful, noisily ignorant, sleazy and common as muck. I hope this clears up any confusion.”  –  John Cleese

    I began this short essay in reaction to the remarks of the English actor and producer John Cleese, whose droll works I have greatly enjoyed.  In the piece (see above) he is not quite the comedian I have enjoyed and here he lets his invective obscure what are real and urgent but not amusing issues.  He apparently opened the sluice gate on what became a deluge of criticisms of Mr. Trump.  Some were certainly deserved, but the general tone in the media was that nothing Mr. Trump did was worthwhile and, rather, that everything he did was disastrous.  Such blanket condemnation always seems to me suspicious.  So, let me offer some perspective and ask such simple questions as is what Mr. Trump is doing actually works, appears to work or digs even deeper pits into which we could fall, or what? 

    I begin with the immediate questions in foreign affairs:

    1)   Mr. Trump certainly did not “solve” the issue of nuclear weapons in North Korea. He could not have done anything significant on the nuclear issue.  Unless he is totally stupid, he must have known what President Kim’s response would be to a request to cut back or cut out nuclear  weapons — “we will denuclearize in parallel as you denuclearize; not otherwise or before.”  

    Moreover, unless Mr. Kim is totally stupid, he would have approached the meeting with the memory of what happened to Messrs. Saddam Husain and Muammar Qaddafi when they gave up their nuclear weapons programs.

    Thus, before anyone even thought of a “summit” at Singapore the nuclear issue was closed.  North Korea is a nuclear power.  Full stop.

    If Mr Trump did not know that before he got on the plane, we should be worried about his mental ability. And the fact that he went blithely ahead raises serious questions about whom, if anyone, he listens to.

    But, what he did not set out, at least publicly, as an objective was enormously important and on it he made a perhaps life-saving contribution.  Recall that we were drifting toward war.  Even if that war had remained only conventional — and no nuclear weapons were employed — it is likely that several hundred thousand people in South Korea, including a couple of hundred thousand Americans, would have been killed.  And, since it is unlikely that Mr. Trump, or any American president, could have stopped there, the chances are good that we would have plunged into a new Korean war that could only have been worse than the one fought in the 1950s.  Bad as these events would have been, I am convinced that we were closer than we realized to a nuclear war.   Faced with defeat, Mr. Kim would have had nothing to lose by using such weapons as he had.

    At least temporarily, Mr. Trump stopped the drift toward war;  thus, rather than faulting him for failing to accomplish what he had no chance of accomplishing —getting the  North Koreans to give up their nuclear program which he had,  perhaps foolishly,  announced to be his objective — we should be enormously  grateful for what  he actually did — reducing the danger of war.  What he accomplished  was of great importance  whether or not Mr. Trump  understood what he was doing.

    2) On NATO:  If the NATO members react to his bullying by raising their contributions, Mr. Trump’s rudeness will get the credit at least among his followers. 

    Let me be clear since this figures so much in the comments made in the media: I personally am revolted by bad manners and do not like being lied to by my government.  But, as a historian and occasional negotiator, I know that boorishness is the rough edge of diplomacy.  It is not common in diplomacy because it is dangerous, is ugly and may not work, particularly among states that are roughly equal in power.  But, because it is uncommon, it has a shock value. From his business experience Mr. Trump knew that it sometimes worked and probably because of his personality he found it congenial.  But let us be clear, he could have drawn on many historical precedents. 

    I confess that at least twice in my diplomatic experience I violated good manners or protocol with heads of states.  I did not do so in the way Mr. Trump did, but my difference was a matter of degree.  

    More immediately, even though it is doubtful that Mr. Trump or his immediate entourage knew of them, similar negotiating tactics were laid out in a whole school of Cold War writings.  Thomas Schelling in The Strategy of Conflict and others of his ilk put heavy emphasis on being unable or unwilling to listen or see — “the blind man has the right of way.”  Trump just substituted recklessness for blindness.  The NATO chiefs obviously found him unreachable by logic, fellow-feeling or shared fears.  He laid out his case and then just walked out.  That is the proper tactic in the “game of chicken.”  

    For entirely different reasons, I question whether he did as much harm as the pundits allege.

    To reveal  my personal viewpoint, for over 20 years I have thought that NATO was at best irrelevant and at worst provocative, but previous presidents have never looked critically at it.  It was the proverbial sacred cow. Both Democrats and Republicans just let it go on chewing its cud.  Whether or not for the right or the wrong reasons, and whether or not in ways that would otherwise damage relations with trading partners and allies, Trump has uniquely brought forward the question of its value and — perhaps in a larger sense than he  realizes — its cost.

    What are the real costs?  Like most organizations, NATO is affected by the ambitions of its staff and its constituents.  Certainly, it has been affected by “mission creep.”  If it finds an opportunity, whether or not the opportunity is beneficial,  it is tempted to seize it.   Such was the push into Russia’s “near foreign” zone.  Threatening Russia on its frontier  certainly did not give the West more security or even any tangible economic or political gains.  But it could have led to war.  

    I see no sign that Mr. Trump or our military, diplomatic or intelligence chiefs had carefully evaluated the outcome of actions we were taking, but, as a by-product of Mr. Trump’s  annoyance over what he regards as an unfair allocation of funding obligations, NATO (including, of course our officials) is likely to be forced to make a long-overdue and more general reconsideration of its role, its utility and its costs. This, I suggest, is likely even if, as his tweets indicate, Mr. Trump is simply dead wrong on such issues as Germany’s subservience to Russia in the energy field.  

    To put it bluntly, If he acts as the bull in the china shop, as he certainly does, maybe some of the crockery is no longer of use and just clutters up the shop.

    3) Favoring Mr. Putin’s opinions over those of his own team, our intelligence, military and diplomatic bureaucracies: This has two aspects.  The first is how reliable the American experts are. The record is not exactly stellar.  In case after case they proved wrong; sometimes they did not even evaluate options: To wit, the Chinese people were just waiting to welcome an American armed and funded Chiang Kai-shek back home.  Remember the “missile gap?”  It existed but in exactly the opposite way we thought.  The Bay of Pigs?  The Cuban people were sure to welcome us with open arms.  So were the Afghans and the Iraqis.  For seventy long years, we have been assured that the Taliban have been on their last legs. And, on and on.

    Intelligence is necessarily imperfect.  It comes down to the best guess, what analysts call “the appreciation,” of such facts as can be assembled.  

    The second aspect is that those who assemble the “facts” as well a those who evaluate them are not only subject to human error, but their reading are also affected by prejudice, ambition and political pressure.  

    In my time on the Policy Planning Council I several times requested a “National Intelligence Estimate” and was then allowed to sit in on what was then called the National Intelligence Board as it evaluated the estimate it was to give me.  This was purposely a very sober action.  But I found that the professionals in the CIA had to accommodate to what they called “flag” opinions:  particularly the military members would say “this is probably right, but we do not associate ourselves with this opinion.”  

    Allow me a third and different notion:  It surely is of value to know what others outside our bureaucracies think.  In my own negotiations, I always listened with great care to what the foreign leaders with whom I was speaking said.   Their viewpoint was often very different from ours, perhaps was less accurate, but since it was the basis of which they acted, it deserved close attention.  

    Thus, while Mr Trump may have been indiscrete in praising Mr. Putin’s viewpoint, he was certainly not wrong in listening to it.

    4) Domestic consequences of relations with Russia:   everyone in the media seems to focus on the probable Russian attempt to influence the American election.  We have indicted a dozen Russian agents. Big deal!  

    Let’s be realistic:  Governments always try to make other states do what they want and to forego what they oppose.  Sometimes they do it with money, sometimes with propaganda,  sometimes with threats and sometimes with violence.   These acts date back at least to the great strategists of ancient India and China and we associate them with Niccolò  Machiavelli.  Of course, one might say, all that is past; we live in a new world where everything is out in the open and we are, after all, a people who live for independence and value self-determination. Balderdash!

    Does no one remember our history?  At the end of the First World War, we invaded Russia to try to overthrow the Revolutionary Communist government.   At the end of the Second World War, we bought the governments we wanted in Italy and France ; then we secured them and Germany with the Marshall Plan; we bombed, strafed and silenced those we regarded as unfriendly in Greece reinstalling a monarchy;  we created a whole new state to our liking in Palestine with money, arms and  diplomacy; we tried to keep Chiang Kai-shek in power, by putting our troops in China despite his obvious lack of support of his own people;  then there was Vietnam, which formed a pattern we have followed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and now Yemen and Syria.  We are said to have our military, intelligence “intervention” forces (and our various economic programs) now active in over a hundred countries.    

    Bashing the Russians for tampering with our politics may play well in domestic politics but it is really rather silly. Of course they do.  And no one does it more than our dearest friend Israel.  As the British used to say of their activities, just don”t get caught.  That is the real sin the Russians committed.

    Anyway, we still have laws on the books for selling our country for private advantage: it is called treason.  If anyone, particularly a government official or elected represented does it, there are existing ascribed penalties. But, let’s be honest:  if these were enforced almost the whole House of Representatives would be in jail.  

    5) International aspects of US-Russian relations:  whether or not Mr. Trump (and/or his family) has other and probably unsavory reasons to cozy up to Mr. Putin was this a reason to break off the Helsinki meeting?  Some pundits and many of my fellow liberals obviously think so.  They were wrong.  It is surely wiser to discuss our differences and emphasize  points of agreement than to huff and puff. All the huffing and puffing of our presidents and their administrations since Ronald Reagan have produced nothing we hoped they would. 

    Our major weapon against the Russians is sanctions.  We use them against a whole range of countries.  Can anyone show that they have worked ?   They have been applied without notable result often for years and have made enemies for our country by the millions.  Why is this?  In simple terms it is because in Russia as elsewhere depriving people of their needs or desires infuriate the common people (who rightly blame us for their hunger, frustration or inconvenience), but they do not trouble the leadership.  That is because regimes, including the previous Communist regime and the current nationalist regime in Russia subsidize their leaders and protect them from our actions. What we do impacts only those outside the decision-making circle.  Thus, it is ineffective in bringing about a change in policy and probably makes the population more inclined to support their leaders. We cannot seem to learn this point. Sanctions don’t work.

    And, beyond all of this, the fact is that Russia is both a great power and a nuclear power.  In one form or another we are going to have to coexist on the same Earth or neither us is likely to survive.  

    The “father” of containment — the nuanced strategy behind the Cold War —   George Kennan, realized this fundamental fact.  He laid it our in  the Truman administration.   His nuance was by no means a “soft” policy.  He advocated and even participated in the planning of violent, covert, subversive attacks on Russia.  But he sought to avoid large-scale military confrontation.  Even this limited degree of nuance was overturned by his successor and architect of the “national security state,” Paul Nitze.  Nitze sought confrontation and encouraged the arms race. Both men were cold warriors and the differences between them have been exaggerated.  But Nitze was pushing toward large-scale war.

    During the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy listened very closely to Nitze’s followers, the  “Big Bomb” people. Such strategists as Albert Wohlstetter, Herman Kahn, Henry Kissinger and Thomas Schelling fleshed out and rationalized Nitze’s general strategy.  (Remember Wohlstetter’s catchy phrase “the delicate balance of terror”?)   He and I were several times put on the same platform at the University of Chicago to debate what that phrase might mean in practice.  I found it so horrifying that it was almost inconceivable.  I still do.

    Its implication was boiled down by that other Albert — Albert Einstein — when he said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

    If we don’t want our children to live in a stone age, we better cast our thoughts toward a strategy of peace rather than a strategy of war.  That was the lesson I learned intimately in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    6) If this is the “bottom line” of our relations with Russia it is true also and in additional dimensions of our relationship with China. Indeed, in almost every category, China presents a challenge more insistent and less amenable to hostile acts than Russia.  We can hurt Russia far more effectively than we can hurt China. Short of nuclear war, it would be difficult for America to hurt China at all without grievous harm to ourselves.  That is the bottom line in our relationship to China.  We had better acknowledge it and shape our policies on the consequences.

    Allow me a speculation that may not be inconceivable:  Mr. Trump has shown himself unpredictable with at least two of the major players in the world, North Korea and China.  He has found it possible to pull back from near-hostilities.  Some people ascribe his actions to his love of publicity.  Some even talk of the possibility of his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  If he is swayed by such considerations, he would assure himself not only of the Peace Prize but of the next election if he invited Xi Jinping to another summit.  Why not?  They need not discuss anything, just be photographed and shake hands, one on one.

    7) Connected with China policy but not restricted to it is an international policy for which I find no rationale or benefit, world trade.  

    If Mr. Trump had  learned nothing more about world affairs than the effects of restrictions — already tried in early modern Europe and junked by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations — he would not have launched his attack on free trade which almost every economist believes is the cause of our well-being.    What he is doing is the economic equivalent to the nuclear “megadeath” policy.   

    I don’t know how many people will actually starve or live in poverty as a result of it, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave us, a startling statistic and a dire warning. The statistic is that the escalating tariff war will cost the world economy perhaps as much as $430 billion; that figure is more than the total gross national product (GNP) of 85 nation-states.   The warning is that America is “especially vulnerable.”  Estimates of the number of jobs to be lost and businesses to be ruined is breath-taking. I find no primary, secondary or even accidental benefits of Mr. Trump’s new trade policy.   He has mortgaged the future of our children.  And, again personally, as a child of the Great Depression, I know what that means. 

    8) Finally on international affairs, Mr. Trump has reconfirmed the disasters of his predecessors.  Neither Democrats nor Republicans can make any claim to the high ground.  I regarded George W. Bush as the enemy of America for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and his wide-spread use of subversion, assassination, rendition and torture,  but only an uninformed observer could find Barack Obama much  better.   Indeed, Obama bombed more countries than any president we ever had.  And, he certainly never did more than talk about an alternate policy.

    In conclusion, l say again what I have said elsewhere;  when I was a young man, America was respected and Americans were treated as honored guests almost everywhere.  As I traveled the “bad lands” of Africa and Asia, I was everywhere fed, entertained and protected.  Today, I am not sure of my personal safety anywhere.  Is this what we have bought with our trillions of dollars spent on “security?”  Have we learned anything?  Do we know how to improve the quality of our lives?   We had better demand answers to these fundamental questions. They, not Mr. Trump’s boorishness, are the real issues before us.

    Well, not quite in conclusion.  I cannot deal here with the domestic actions of Mr. Trump.  I find his actions there almost completely against our national interest.  Some will have done irreparable damage;  many are callous, ugly and immoral while others evince greed, selfishness and disdain for fellow humans, our natural heritage and our future.  But that is a topic for another day and perhaps another policy planner.

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  • In his recent interview with Rolling Stone, in which he renounced his membership in the Republican Party, Steven Schmidt concluded that the task before us resembles a fire. “A forest fire is part of a natural cycle of the forest. The forest burns, and through its burning and destruction, it is regenerated and made healthy again.” Before political restoration, “there must be a season of burning.”

    The comment echoes one made on April 15 by James Comey, who likened the Trump presidency to a forest fire. “Terrible things happen in forest fires. But I’m an optimistic person. And so I choose to see the opportunity in a forest fire ’cause what forest fires do is allow things to grow that never could’ve grown.”

     The allusion to fire as destructive is an old trope. What is most interesting is that both men – neither of whom has any personal experience with wild land fires – add a coda. Fires destroy, but fires also renew. Conjuring up a fire, even one massive enough to purge the Trump administration, is not sufficient. It is the catalytic consequences of the fire that make recovery possible. This, too, has literary precedents. There are plenty of myths from the Norse Ragnarok to the Stoics’ Great Fire in which flames end one world and birth another. 

    Such allusions and allegories did not spring out of mind and text. They abstracted what people saw in the fires of quotidian life all around them. Then, over the past century, the landscape of open burning receded, and only an ever-dwindling fraction of the population understood the referent. They no longer burned stubble, fired pasture, burned the woods for wildlife and berries, or used flame to spring clean. They lived in cities, suburbs, and exurbs. They knew fire on screens and through the random candle or caged barbecue. Free-burning fire persisted mostly as a California quirk. Fires were seen as a freak of nature that happened out West like a grizzly bear attack. 

    Fifty years ago the American fire community began a revolution. It realized that the great task before the country was not just to prevent bad fires but to promote good ones. Too many biotas suffered a fire famine; too many were stockpiling fuel like 2x4s in a kiln. In 1968 the National Park Service rewrote its policies to encourage more burning; ten years later the Forest Service followed. In 1988, watching Yellowstone aflame, the public got a big-screen, Technicolor preview of what those reforms might mean.

    Now fire seems everywhere, and defined fire seasons seem to have gone the way of defined pension plans. Fire soars across headlines. Flames have leapt from California to Colorado and even to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Conflagrations have become the flip side to melting glaciers, the early tremors of climate change, and a graphic emblem of the Anthropocene. If you want to grab eyeballs, put flames into a photo. If you want to animate a message, put a fire in it. Which is just what James Comey and Steven Schmidt have done.

    Yet in reality the U.S. still suffers a fire deficit overall. The amount of burned acreage continues to rise, but the amount of good burning is not keeping pace. The sense that good fire might stimulate ecological betterment or substitute for bad fire has been elusive for most of the general public, especially in the northeast. The message seems to trail far behind the two prevailing media templates for fire stories: fire as disaster and the firefight as battlefield. 

    Yet perhaps the fuller message is getting through. Fires blasting into towns no longer seem like an alien visitation; they are of a piece with other expressions of American violence, like mass shootings. Much more interesting are those moments when it appears that the public, even political operatives and former FBI directors, might understand that fire can be a process that does useful work and outside cities is something we need to live with.

    So if we are going to carry fire into our political discourse, we might explore its nature a bit deeper. We might want to add one of the fundamental insights of fire ecology, that landscapes adapt not to individual fires but to patterns of fires. The fire regime is a term despised by journalists, but trying to speak of fire without reference to regimes is like talking about weather without referring to climate. Good or bad, fire synthesizes its surroundings. Messed up landscapes can spark messed-up fires. Fire takes its character from its context.

    Some allusions are strengthened by getting their referent right, particularly where, as with fire, the referent is more often a source than a recipient of metaphor. Fire management is not a one-and-done blowout. It’s not enough to kindle a spark and watch the ensuing conflagration. It’s about a pattern of burning, about persistence and practice, about lots of small fires and the occasional big one, about getting the right kind and mix of fires in the right setting, because even when used metaphorically, fire remains our best friend and worst enemy.


    “They are deliberately destroying democracy in favor of oligarchy.”

    by Heather Cox Richardson

    In the 1890s and the 1920s, Americans took back their democracy. Today, we are at an even more dramatic crisis.


    Never Trumpers Will Want to Read This History Lesson

    by Joshua Zeitz

    In the 1850s, disaffected Democrats made the wrenching choice to leave their party to save American democracy. Here’s what happened.


    How the Right Wing Convinces Itself That Liberals Are Evil

    by David A. Walsh

    Since the 1950s, the conservative movement has justified bad behavior—including supporting Donald Trump—by persuading itself that the left is worse.


    Trump has taken Putin’s side

    by Tom Nichols

    His stability and America’s safety are now in question.


    How the GOP Embraced the World—And Then Turned Away

    by William I. Hitchcock

    Decades ago, Dwight Eisenhower defeated the isolationist faction of the Republican Party. Now, Trump is toppling his legacy.


    Europe’s Dependence on the U.S. Was All Part of the Plan

    by Claire Berlinski

    Postwar U.S. statesmen designed our world order as it is for a reason. They had lived through what happened without it.


    The Supreme Court Doesn’t Need 9 Justices

    by Jacob Hale Russell

    It needs 27.


    A new book examines the real and threatened power of impeachment

    An interview with the authors: Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz.


    Meet the Trumpverstehers

    by Eliot A. Cohen

    We know about the president’s most vocal supporters. But what about his more discreet following?


    Trump and the Return of Divine Right

    by David Armitage

    In deploying his pardon power freely and using the Bible to justify family separation, the president is exactly the sort of ruler that Enlightenment thinkers feared.

“The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.”

James Baldwin
The Price of the Ticket