William Pfaff’s latest book is The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America’s Foreign Policy.
The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century by Vladimir Tismaneanu
Why Priests? A Failed Tradition by Garry Wills
Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations by Norman Davies
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama
George F. Kennan and the Origins of Containment, 1944–1946: The Kennan–Lukacs Correspondence with an introduction by John Lukacs
Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam by Gordon M. Goldstein
The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership by Zbigniew Brzezinski
The army, in my opinion, did more to desegregate the United States than the civil rights movement of the 1960s. From 1948 on, nearly every able-bodied young man in the United States served and lived side by side with Americans of all colors, all in strict alphabetical order, in old-fashioned unpartitioned barracks, sleeping bunk to bunk, sharing shelter-halves on bivouac, in what amounted to brotherly endurance of the cold, heat, discomfort, and misery of military training—and following that, of service. When their war was over, the survivors, white and black, didn’t go home to Georgia and hang out together on Saturday nights. They hardly saw one another again. But those two years changed them. It certainly changed many of the younger generation of white southerners who served and who a decade and a half later were ready to accept desegregation, even though they disliked it.
More may be said about the Toulouse murders. In murdering the children, Mohammed Merah acted ruthlessly and despicably. We do not know enough about him to be sure he killed principally out of anti-Semitism, which is an irrational hatred with historical origins not to be gone into here. Merah killed Muslim, or supposedly Muslim French soldiers (the one survivor was Christian, and remains in a coma), because they betrayed Islam by joining the enemy army. I would presume that he acted—in the case of both the children and the soldiers—out of what to him was a rational motive, to kill, or punish, those he believed or had been told were enemies of Islam. It does not appear he was directly influenced by any coherent ideology.
The terrorist shootings in Toulouse and Montauban in France last week were, among other things, another episode in the war that for nearly a half century has been going on between Zionism and the Palestinians, in which Western Europe and the United States have suffered much collateral damage. Sensational headlines about al-Qaeda and the “global jihad” striking France have followed Mohammed Merah’s death. But the night before he was killed in a police raid, Merah told police that he felt justified for killing three children and a teacher at a Jewish school as revenge for the killing of Palestine children in Gaza.
Dictators do not usually die in bed. Successful retirement is always a problem for them, and not all solve it. It is a problem for everybody else when they leave. What’s to be done afterwards?