Ever since the invention of the wheel in Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C., technological innovation has been improving our lives. Because new devices and processes help us produce more (output) with less (labor input), prices fall, real wages rise and we are all better off. If there is a free lunch in this world, it’s productivity growth.
In “American Nations,” I’ve sought to show how our Balkanized past has informed our divided present, in the hopes of fostering a better understanding of the American identity and predicament. But inevitably people ask what this means for the future.
Just shy of 10 years ago, on Sept. 12, 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the U.S. and its allies would “go after terrorism wherever we find it in the world” and “get it by its branch and root” so that it could “be brought to an end.” Things haven’t worked out that way.
For most of Islamic history, Sunnis and Shiites have managed to get along under the guidance of strong governments -- mostly run by Sunnis who kept the Shiites in their place. But when governments are on the edge of collapse, as in Iraq a few years ago and in Syria and Afghanistan today, the old sectarian tensions flare.
Archaeologists who found a 3,000- year-old gold ibex earring in the remains of the ancient Canaanite city identified with Armageddon anticipate further discoveries will broaden historical insight about the site.
Syria is the new Bosnia and Houla is the new Srebrenica. This is the fashionable conceit of journalists, think-tankers and opinion makers of various stripes after last week’s grotesque house-to-house execution of 49 children, among others, in the Syrian town.