This is a podcast for people who want to think historically about current events. History As It Happens, hosted by award-winning broadcaster Martin Di Caro, features interviews with today's top scholars and thinkers, interwoven with audio from history's archive.
Forgetting the Holocaust
Is it possible for society to forget the Holocaust? As the war during which 6 million European Jews were murdered slowly recedes into history, survivors and their death-camp liberators are dying off. The world is losing its last remaining witnesses. And as far-right leaders in some of the nations where the Holocaust was perpetrated rewrite their national histories, there is an ugly and not unrelated resurgence of anti-Semitism. So although public surveys show most Americans and Europeans know at least something about the Holocaust, this knowledge is often superficial. Moreover, school curricula on both sides of the Atlantic face an array of challenges when education the younger generations about the Nazi persecution of the Jews. In this episode, a former educator in South Carolina, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and a political scientist based in Europe share their views about the state of Holocaust studies and the never-ending fight against anti-Semitism.
Who Was Osama bin Laden? An interview with Peter Bergen
Although no one in the United States could have realized it at the time, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979 was a seminal moment in the life of a young, devout Sunni Muslim whose father was a billionaire construction magnate in Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden, then 22, was “deeply upset” when he heard an “infidel” army attacked Afghanistan, an event that would turn out to be “the most transformative of his life, launching him into a full-time job helping the Afghan resistance,” writes Peter Bergen in his new biography, The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden. And few in the West noticed when bin Laden, a decade and a half later, issued his first public declaration of war against the United States, a vow of holy war repeated in 1997 during a television interview produced by this episode's guest.
The journalist and al-Qaeda expert Peter Bergen discusses the purpose of his short, comprehensive biography of al-Qaeda's dead leader: to explain why and how bin Laden chose to dedicate his life to mass murder. Among the subjects covered in this episode: Islam at the heart of al-Qaeda; bin Laden’s battlefield exploits in Afghanistan; the myth of CIA-bin Laden cooperation; why so few people in the West noticed him prior to 1998; and his escape from Tora Bora in late 2001.
Paging General Washington
When Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan tweeted “Vaccine mandates are un-American,” he immediately received a Twitter history lesson. Commenters pointed out that none other than General George Washington of the Continental Army required smallpox inoculations for all his troops as an epidemic of the dreaded disease killed off thousands of people across the colonies. Washington’s mandate worked, even if some soldiers had to be held down against their will to be inoculated. Vaccination mandates, and resistance to them, have been the norm across U.S. history, leading to the eradication or dramatic reduction of as many as 14 diseases that once ravaged humanity. In this episode, Dr. René Najera of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia discusses the history of vaccination and origins of the modern anti-vax movement at a time when President Biden is mandating shots for most of the American workforce. As summer turns to fall, more than a thousand Americans are dying daily from Covid-19, almost all of whom are unvaccinated.
A slew of unsigned opinions from the Supreme Court, made from the "shadow docket" outside its normal procedures, have refocused Americans' attention on the importance of (and controversies over) whom is chosen to lead the judicial branch. With a 6-3 conservative majority after Donald Trump appointed three justices in his single term as president, the court is facing renewed allegations of excessive partisanship and ideological rigidity. SCOTUS expert Lawrence Baum, who has followed the court for more than a half century, discusses whether it is really more partisan and ideological than in past eras. That's because political battles over the federal bench go back to the dawn of the republic.
The Hubris of Post-9/11 Foreign Policy
This is the final part of a three-episode series examining the post-9/11 world for the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.
At least 335,000 civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere “died violent deaths as a direct result of the war on terror,” according to Brown University researchers’ Costs of War project. The total number of people killed — civilians plus U.S. and allied troops, enemy fighters, contractors, journalists, and aid workers — approaches one million. Close to 40 million humans have been displaced by the ravages of war, and the cost from the destruction of buildings and infrastructure is incalculable. This road to this misery and mayhem was paved with good intentions: after al-Qaeda struck the U.S., the Bush administration, with the assent of Congress and other key American institutions, launched the Global War on Terror with the aim of eliminating terrorists and ending tyranny, as President Bush proclaimed in his second inaugural address in January 2005. In this episode, Brown University anthropologist Catherine Lutz and Southern Methodist University presidential historian Jeffrey Engel discuss how and why U.S. foreign policy took such a disastrous turn.
The Law of Unintended Consequences
This is the second part of a three-episode series examining the post-9/11 world for the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.
The law of unintended consequences may explain why jihadists and "freedom fighters," as Ronald Reagan once referred to them, continue to haunt the U.S. in Afghanistan. Counterterrorism experts are warning Afghanistan will once again become a cradle for terrorism because of the U.S. withdrawal. But it is worth remembering how Afghanistan became a cauldron of jihadism in the first place. Anatol Lieven, who as a journalist traveled with the mujahideen during the late 1980s, discusses how foreign policy decisions under Presidents Carter and Reagan continue to cause problems today. In fact, some of the same warlords who benefited from U.S. covert support to fight the Soviets are still around. And it was Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, working with the U.S., who recruited tens of thousands of foreign jihadists to Afghanistan. One of them was Osama bin Laden.
Very concise, insightful discussions.
I’ve discovered this podcast in the last month and am listening to many earlier recordings. These are intelligent discussions on a variety of current and historical issues with well-informed and interesting guests. It feels very NPR-ish but that’s okay. Most last around 30 minutes so they’re very succinct and don’t go overboard.
Very Well Produced Conservative Podcast!
This is one of the best conservative republican podcast out there! Well done Washington Times!
Intuitive, interesting, and detailed