Author Archives: Lawrence Davidson

The Republican Party falls apart, the Democrats get stuck

The Republican Party has been falling apart for at least 54 years. The official start of this process can be dated to 1964, when the conservative Republican Barry Goldwater captured the GOP nomination for president. When asked his plans if elected, he replied, “I do not plan to pass laws. I plan to repeal them.” That was a signal that he was intent on changing the role of government. His goal was to narrow the government down to the basic tasks of defending the realm (the military), enforcing a diminishing number of federal laws (the courts), and providing only those few necessary services that the “free market” could not take care of. Continue reading

The U.S. at war with itself

The United States is at war with itself. It is actually a function of the nation’s heritage—the past contesting specific aspects of a modern present. This results in traditions in flux. Some examples of this are the racism, the pseudo-frontier mentality, and the religious fundamentalism that persist into the present moment. Continue reading

The Saudi-Israeli liaison

In a 2 April 2018 interview in the Atlantic, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman publicly declared that the Israelis “have a right to live in their own land just like the Palestinians.” It is a problematic assumption, given that the Israelis’ “own land” is the land they took away from the Palestinians. This, and much else, has been either forgotten or ignored by the Saudi crown prince. Continue reading

Freedom’s perversities

For much of human history, the idea of freedom had little meaning. This was because life was, as Thomas Hobbes put it, “poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” And while he thought this descriptor applied to life outside of society, for a long time it did not really matter—life within pre-modern societies often had the same limiting character. Religious belief in these same times reflected this depressing fact by asserting that there was no hope of meaningful freedom in this life. To achieve it you would have to die and go to Heaven. So, what set you free was death. Continue reading

Vietnam’s lessons and the U.S. culture of violence

Back in October 2016 I wrote an analysis entitled “Natural Born Killers?” It described and commented on research on the origins of human violence published in the science journal Nature. The conclusion offered in the article is that humans come from an evolutionary line that has the capability for violent behavior genetically built into it. It is a reasonable hypothesis. As just about every serious historian knows, the human propensity for lethal violence goes back as far as the evidence can take us—so far that there can be little doubt that this trait is inherited from our pre-human ancestors. Continue reading

War culture-gun culture: They’re related

If you go to the Wikipedia page that gives a timeline of U.S. foreign military operations between 1775 and 2010, you are likely to come away in shock. It seems that ever since the founding of the country, the United States has been at war. It is as if Americans just could not (and still cannot) sit still, but had to (and still have to) force themselves on others through military action. Often this is aimed at controlling foreign resources, thus forcing upon others the consequences of their own capitalist avarice. At other times the violence is spurred on by an ideology that confuses U.S. interests with civilization and freedom. Only very rarely is Washington out there on the side of the angels. Regardless, the bottom line seems to be that peace has never been a deeply ingrained cultural value for the citizens of the United States. As pertains to foreign policy, America’s national culture is a war culture. Continue reading

Trump’s defining moments

In the last few weeks President Trump has gone through a series of defining moments, in which his disturbing rhetorical reactions to historical developments have opened a window on his sense of the world and the nation. Continue reading

A culture war against tolerance

In case you haven’t noticed, the United States is a country deeply divided on a large number of basic issues: racial issues, gender issues, issues of sexual preference, the role of government in society, the role of religious views in shaping laws, and so on. Influential institutions, such as media outlets, are being labeled as “left” or “right” depending on how they report or relate on these issues. Continue reading

Our hidden cultural corrupters

There is a lot of violence in the United States, and if you look at the news it appears that things are getting worse. The nation is armed to the teeth, which means that any out-of-control angry person can vent in lethal fashion. Or, maybe they can choose to vent in the European style by using their car as a battering ram. Continue reading

Reality and its enemies

There is an ongoing reality that is destroying hundreds of thousands of lives in the Middle East. And though most Americans are ignorant of the fact, and many of those who should be in the know would deny it, the suffering flows directly from decisions taken by Washington over the last 27 years. Continue reading

A future for the Democratic Party?

You would think that learning from experience is a common thing to do. But, for the Democratic Party’s leadership this seems not to be the case. After the landslide victory of Trump’s version of the Republican Party in the 2016 national election, it is fair to say that the Democratic Party is in big trouble. As Senator Bernie Sanders has observed, the party needs to reform. Continue reading

Customizing truth

For those who might wonder why foreign policy makers repeatedly make bad choices, some insight might be drawn from the following analysis. The action here plays out in the United States, but the lessons are probably universal. Continue reading