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"Tradition?? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive."

"There are two ways to think. The first is to trust to your ancestors, your religious leaders, or your charismatic professors. The second is to question, to challenge, to explore history for meanings, and to analyze issues. This latter is called Critical Thinking, and it is this that is the mission of my web site. "

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman  

September 2018

Indonesia?s Endangered Democracy.


At the end of the 20th century, it appeared that Democracy was on a roll. The UN published the list of once authoritarian countries joining the roster of participatory governments. It appeared that the US had not only defeated the Communists in the Cold War, but had won the war for hearts and minds. Everyone wanted to be a modern democracy.

An analysis by the US Government-funded Freedom House (a think tank) showed that there was not a single liberal democracy with univers more...

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Why is Foreign Policy So Complex?


Diplomacy is a very old tradition in the world. The world?s first kings 7,000 years ago (Sumeria in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Hrappa in today?s Punjab) exchanged letters and sent gifts to each other. Warfare then was only local, not international. In 300 AD, the Chinese and Persian emperors exchanged gifts, sponsored a trade route across Asia (Silk Route), and never went to war. Diplomacy in those days was peaceful communications between two great empires.

The rules governin more...

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Core Values In Immigration Policy


The issue of how much and what kind of immigration we should allow in this country has fluctuated from generous to xenophobic. From our beginnings and during the 19th century, we needed workers, farmers, and pioneers. The Chinese were welcomed to build our railways but then hunted down and murdered afterwards, culminating in barring them completely until their survivors were once again welcomed after the war. Hordes of other displaced survivors of World War II were welcomed, as were the more...

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July 2017

What do you know about Montenegro?

Montenegro was in the news in late May and early June, but it is doubtful that the vast majority of Americans know anything about this country. For those of you who do try to follow important world events, it might be helpful to know where and what kind of a place it is.

I first learned about Montenegro when I read: The New Class, by Milovan Djilas, a Yugoslav communist and once best friend of Marshall Tito, the country?s long-time dictator. Djilas, born in the backwater province more...

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True Believers, The World?s Nightmares


"True Believers," by their very process, discard any effort at critical thinking. Whatever they "believe" cannot, and is not, challenged. The world, unfortunately, has many "true believers" who create misery for their fellow humans.

I have just finished reading Kati Marton?s book, True Believer: Stalin?s Last American Spy, which is the true account of an American who became a spy for the USSR and got away with deceiving our government at the highest levels of power. Noel F more...

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America?s Long Religious Heritage


Unlike the rest of the developed world, which is either tepid on religion or is fiercely secular (France) or actively hostile (China), the United States can still be called a religious country. What is different about our religious history is that we have never had a state religion and we try to protect religious freedom (freedom to practice without government intrusion). Furthermore, our lack of a formal state religion has given rise to some very original new religions, such as Church o more...

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May 2016

Book Review on Communism's Founding Tyrants

James DeMeo: "The Hidden History of Communism's Founding Tyrants, in their Own Words: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky: Genocide Quotes."
Laina Farhat-Holzman, Reviewer.

Because historic memories in the United States tend to be short, there has been a resurgence of romanticism about Marx and Lenin by those who believe that Stalin's Communism perverted what was intended to be a benign philosophy of creating a just world. Many people on the far left of the political spectrum hol more...

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Saudi Arabia: Our Troubled and Troublesome Ally (Part 2 of 2)


A country as insignificant as Saudi Arabia before oil would have mattered little to the world. In the 1950s, as oil wealth began to pour in, the Saudi princes wanted the same sorts of conspicuous consumption enjoyed by other world millionaires. When they first brought in automobiles (for themselves), the Wahhabi clergy were outraged, considering camels good enough for pious Muslims. Cameras and, later, television, were also on their list of harmful items for Saudi culture.

more...

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December 2015

Are We At War? And With Whom?


Leaders both here and in Europe are reluctant to identify those with whom we are at war. They are not fools, and I do understand their reluctance to say that the West is at war with one billion Muslims. Some demagogues might say that, but that is just as foolish as saying we are at war with Terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy.

We had no problem being at war with Nazism or Communism, without saying that all Germans and all Russians are bad people. But plenty were more...

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June 2015

Asking the Wrong Question Can Lead to War.

The United States has gone to war twice by asking the wrong questions. Fortunately for us, even though we did not "win" either of those wars (in the conventional sense, such as the way we won World Wars I and II), we did not lose them either. No enemy came to our shores and conquered us. But in both of those wars, we made a terrible mess of two countries and suffered a terrible cost of young lives of our own, costs that we are still paying. Those two wars were the Vietnam War and the second Iraq more...

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