How Ireland stayed neutral in a world at war

Under the leader ship of Eamon de Valera and with a very small army, virtually no aerial capability and little naval service, Ireland was a sitting duck in the Second World War

How Ireland stayed neutral in a world at warAs we approach the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, it’s worth remembering that many of the countries caught up in it were unwilling participants. Rather than enlisting in a universal crusade against the evils of Nazi Germany, they wanted nothing more than to stay out of the conflict. For instance,…

Believe it or not: There was once a plan for a Franco-British union

From the failed Franco-British Union during the Second World War to Brexit, some things are just meant to fail

Believe it or not: There was once a plan for a Franco-British unionIn these contentious Brexit days in the United Kingdom, it’s strange to remember that there was once a plan for a Franco-British Union. No, I’m not making that up. However short-lived, the plan was real. On June 16, 1940, the British cabinet approved a “declaration of indissoluble union” to this effect: “France and Great Britain…

Human spirit has the strength to tear down walls

Many walls remain in the world, including physical ones and those of racism, sexism and economic injustice

Human spirit has the strength to tear down wallsThe most significant global event of my lifetime has been the fall of the Berlin Wall. It not only changed the geopolitical climate we live in, it also demonstrated the power of the human spirit. As a teacher, I often bring up this event. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently spoke to the graduates of Harvard…

You have not nearly seen everything yet

A 96-year-old mother’s invaluable experiences and insights help put today’s calamitous events in perspective

You have not nearly seen everything yetIt’s tempting to think when you hit your 60s that you’ve seen it all, that your analysis of contemporary issues is tight and complete. I’m here to say it ain’t. That’s because I’ve just checked in with my 96-year-old Mom, Frances Robinson, after being in Mexico for a couple of weeks, forgetfully without a phone…

Canada helps preserve memory of Holocaust by buying Hitler’s book

Canadians need to be reminded that conflicts and human tragedies sometimes come perilously close to home

Canada helps preserve memory of Holocaust by buying Hitler’s bookWise politicians realize that the people, also known as taxpayers, are always concerned about how their money is spent by government. The cost of a policy, program or item can be large or small, but every penny – or nickel, in this era – must be used responsibly and prudently. This brings us to the…

Brexit drama has historical echoes

The battle over Brexit isn’t the equivalent of the Second World War, but the outcome is shaping up to be a disaster on its own terms

Brexit drama has historical echoesFor sheer drama – or maybe that should be melodrama – Brexit’s unfolding twists and turns are hard to beat. If you’d scripted a fictional narrative along these lines, you’d be liable to criticism for one flight of fancy too many. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s last-minute decision to postpone a parliamentary vote on her…

Heal our own pain and the pain of others, and heal the world

Our efforts to stop crime and violence through aggression and punishment have never worked. Compassion works

Heal our own pain and the pain of others, and heal the worldIt’s no secret that there’s tremendous pain in the world. What we’re not often aware of is the source of this pain. Not knowing where it’s from, we give into fear and actually make the problem worse. Canadian physician Gabor Mate has devoted his career to understanding why people do terrible things to themselves and…

Harold Macmillan and the fickleness of history

The onetime British PM’s apparent affable, avuncular nature masked a lethal ruthlessness

Harold Macmillan and the fickleness of historyHarold Macmillan, the onetime British prime minister, popped into mind a few days ago. Watching the problems in extricating the United Kingdom from the European Union reminded me that a humiliating failure to secure entry to that same entity’s predecessor was one of the things that drove Macmillan from office. Macmillan (1894-1986) was prime minister…

The arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice

Amidst acts of nationalism and racism, it can be difficult to see the fundamental goodness of humanity – but it’s there

Nov. 9 marked 80 years since Kristallnacht, loosely translated as “the Night of the Broken Glass.” On this horrendous night, rampaging Nazis destroyed Jewish businesses, synagogues, homes and other properties in what was then German territory. There were many deaths and arrests of innocent people in this precursor to the Holocaust. It would nice to…

Was the Armistice of 1918 a triumph or tragedy? 

The 1918 Armistice was an enormous historical blunder that led to the greatest tragedy experienced in modern times

Was the Armistice of 1918 a triumph or tragedy? By Stanley Taube and Michael Taube for Troy Media This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, millions of people worldwide will commemorate the signing of the Armistice. Wreaths will be laid, church bells will ring far…