This blog, the second of two, seeks to answer the question ‘Was Hirohito a psychopath?’ This second post examines Hirohito’s actions from his decision to escalate Japan’s war against China in 1937 to Japan’s surrender in the wake of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Continue reading →
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire. A series of largely peaceful revolutions overthrew Soviet-backed communist regimes across Eastern Europe, beginning in Poland and spreading within months to Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, East Germany and Romania.
The Kremlin’s crucial decision not to intervene to save its Eastern European Communist allies effectively ended the East-West divide that had dominated international relations for much of the twentieth century – a divide symbolised by the Berlin Wall itself. Continue reading →
With the twenty fifth anniversary of the death of Emperor Hirohito approaching, the Japanese government is preparing to unveil a 61-volume official biography of the Emperor, which a team of scholars has been labouring on since shortly after his death.
It is unlikely that this biography will answer the question, ‘Was Hirohito, who presided over the expansion of the Japanese empire and led his nation into an East Asian war that cost over 120 million lives, a psychopath?’
This blog, the first of two, seeks to address that question. This first post examines Hirohito’s actions in the period up until the outbreak of war with China in 1937, and seeks to determine whether or not he should rank alongside Mao, Hitler and Stalin as one the twentieth century’s greatest mass murderers. Continue reading →
On 24 October 1945 the United Nations Organisation was formally inaugurated during a short ceremony at the US State Department in Washington, when twenty nine countries ratified the United Nations Charter. This post celebrates the most significant of the United Nations’ achievements – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Continue reading →
During Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972, the Chinese premier, Zhou Enlai, was asked about the impact of the French Revolution. He famously replied that he thought it was too early to say. Although it appears that Zhou may have misunderstood the question, it was as one diplomat remarked, a misunderstanding that was ‘too delicious to invite correction’.
As is well known, the French revolution, like the Chinese revolution in which Zhou played a leading role, resulted in a prolonged period of death and destruction. Here are 8 reasons why revolutions often fail. Continue reading →
Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda secured their place in infamy with the attacks of 9/11. Within one month U.S. and U.K. forces had invaded Afghanistan. Within two months both the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaderships had been forced into hiding across the border in Pakistan. With the Taliban deposed and Al Qaeda on the run, George W. Bush announced a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Afghanistan, promising substantial assistance for state building and democracy. That promise was soon forgotten, however, amidst the furore of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Continue reading →