Trump administration seems doomed to repeat its historical talking points

This blog has been on an extended hiatus for maintenance and under-the-hood improvements, but as far as the current administration is concerned it didn’t miss much.

Some of the administration’s newish political uses of the past involve the centrality of human rights in the founding of the UN and seem deliberately focused on that audience; we are unlikely to hear these much now that Pence and Trump have paid their respects to that body, such as they are. Now Trump is committing to historical parallels between Iran and North Korea, with the stark claim that 25 years of diplomatic efforts “have done nothing.” His UN ambassador drew a line from this claim to his threats to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. The lesson of history they are drawing here seems to be that the diplomacy of previous administrations has absolutely no value. Continue reading Trump administration seems doomed to repeat its historical talking points

Daily Summary: Uses of the past from Trump’s UN speech, why do we vote on Tuesday, and more

While President Trump’s promise to destroy North Korea has grabbed most of the headlines, he also made pointed uses of the past during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. Surprisingly for a president who is cutting foreign aid and folding USAID into the State Department, Trump touted the massive (and controversial at the time) Marshall Plan for Europe. Much less surprisingly, he was unequivocal in his statement on the history of communism and “true socialism.”

Trump closed with an extension of his “America first” ethos: he wants other nations to also be more patriotic and more nationalist. Continue reading Daily Summary: Uses of the past from Trump’s UN speech, why do we vote on Tuesday, and more

Daily summary: Immigration and the 1980s, the US and Asia after World War II, and Reagan’s medium-range missile treaty

Today’s summary of political uses of the past includes a series of statements about immigration that use the 1980s as a point of reference. A Democratic representative claimed on Friday that the issue of undocumented immigrants goes “back to the 1980s” and was largely sparked by refugees from El Salvador. From the other side of the aisle comes the claim that the gang MS-13 was imported to the United States from El Salvador. And another Congress member evokes episodes of church groups facing persecution for helping undocumented immigrants.

No surprise that the immigration issue would prompt a few glances in the rearview mirror–the debate is about who is an American, and that issue will always bring history to the fore. Continue reading Daily summary: Immigration and the 1980s, the US and Asia after World War II, and Reagan’s medium-range missile treaty