Kristin Fabbe and Kimberly Guiler, at The Washington Post's "Monkey Cage" blog, looked at the proliferation of conspiracy theories surrounding last week's attempted coup in Turkey. In their piece, they made a point about a Turkish institution that probably deserves more explanation than they were able to give it, the Diyanet: Turkey’s self-avowed secularists also … Continue reading The History of Turkey’s Diyanet
Today in Chinese history: the Siege of Kaifeng ends (1233)
The 1232-1233 Mongolian siege of Kaifeng provides some of the most detailed early accounts of the use of gunpowder weapons in combat.
Today in Mexican history: the shortest presidency ever (1913)
Hey, I've moved! If you enjoy this post you can find more of my writing at Foreign Exchanges, a Substack newsletter covering a variety of topics in history and foreign affairs. Check it out today and become a subscriber! I have to start this post with a caveat, which is that that Mexican history is … Continue reading Today in Mexican history: the shortest presidency ever (1913)
You should read this blog even though it may be defunct now
No, I don't mean this blog. A Saudi woman named Sara Masry decided a couple of years ago to pursue a master's degree in Iranian studies in Tehran. More importantly for us, after a few months in Iran she decided to blog about her experiences. The result is the blog A Saudi in Iran, which … Continue reading You should read this blog even though it may be defunct now
Did Saddam Hussein Create the Islamic State?
Middle East analyst Kyle Orton has an op-ed in The New York Times today, called "How Saddam Hussein Gave Us ISIS," that, as you might imagine, is raising some eyebrows on the internets. I have to say, though, as somebody who has read Orton's work (the growth of ISIS out of the wreckage of Saddam's … Continue reading Did Saddam Hussein Create the Islamic State?
A Short Primer for Islamophobe-Americans
Hey, folks, how are you doing? Yeah, I figured. It seems pretty scary out there, huh? Lotta people with funny-sounding names from distant lands seem to be doing a lot of bad stuff. I get it, you're afraid. And fear makes people do crazy things, especially when their fears are being demagogued by anthropomorphic piles … Continue reading A Short Primer for Islamophobe-Americans
Progress never comes without cost
It's never a good idea to extrapolate a trend from just a couple of data points, but the downing of Kogalymavia Flight 9832 a couple of weeks ago and the Paris attack on Friday (assuming that ISIS was behind both) may illustrate a shift in ISIS's tactics away from insurgent warfare and toward international terrorism. … Continue reading Progress never comes without cost
Cannibalizing the Past
I really don't have much to say about Benjamin Netanyahu's latest kerfuffle, the one where he intimated that (an apparently reluctant) Adolf Hitler was talked into exterminating the Jews (all he wanted to do was expel them from Europe) by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the 1920s and most of the … Continue reading Cannibalizing the Past
Starting from Basic Principles
Writing that piece about Libya put me in mind of a piece I flagged months ago but never did anything with. "First, Do No Harm" is the title of the second piece I thought of on Friday, a 2010 essay from analyst David Reiff in The New Republic. Reiff also went from being a liberal/humanitarian … Continue reading Starting from Basic Principles
Libya: the Good War
Atrios reminisces about the days when Libya was the war everybody liked instead of the war nobody wants to talk about: I was talking about this with a friend who knows a bit about such things (I mostly don't) yesterday. There was a time when we had to do something in Libya, and doing something … Continue reading Libya: the Good War