Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at Stanford University, published an article today entitled Can’t analyze history as it unfolds. In it he discusses current American struggles (specifically dealing with Syria and WMD), and how it is too soon to speculate–for historical purposes. Below is the conclusion of his article.
The moral of the story is that history cannot be written as it unfolds. In the case of Iraq, we still don’t know the full story of Saddam’s WMD, the grand strategic effects of the Iraq war, the ripples from the creation of the Iraq republic, or the relative degree of incompetence of any American administration at war in the Middle East — and we won’t for many years to come.
In reading, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (Second Edition) by: James Loewen, the author gives textbook authors and publishers a hard time for not properly covering current history in high school textbooks. While he focuses more on the possibility of offending others (those still alive to remember the events), I think it is important to consider the lasting effects of misunderstood “facts”. As the human race is not one of total omniscience, I think a certain time-frame should be established before the “history of” a particular event or person is published. Just imagine–my generation is still in shock that Christopher Columbus didn’t first find the New World and that Pluto isn’t a planet. The truths of Christopher Columbus and Pluto have been evident for a while, but it is hard to refute published works that have been around for decades. I think it is important to remember that an improper analysis of history–especially once published in print–is hard to erase. While everyone is quick to condemn, point blame, and predict how a current event will unfold, it is important to realize that it cannot be done.
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