Volume 2, Issue 3, Spring 2020

This seventh  issue of the Journal arrives at a propitious time. Richard Thornton’s opening article sets a context for understanding turbulent transitions in American history, positing four distinct political revolutions, the latest of which is now unfolding. This is followed by analyses of important points in the previous era.  Thornton relates the KAL-007 tragedy to the precarious US-Soviet strategic weapons balance in the early 1980s. Mark Schneider records the ineffectiveness of the INF Treaty amid serial Russian violations. The fourth essay frames a notorious terrorist’s assassination within a larger US-Syria rapprochement gambit (which ultimately fizzled).  James Perry critiques Nigel Hamilton’s trilogy of works on FDR’s leadership during World War II, exposing flaws in the scholarship and interpretation, and elucidating the strategic rationales behind the decisions that determined the post-war order.

Cover, Table of Contents, and Editorial Note (PDF)

America’s Four Revolutions  (PDF)—Richard C. Thornton

Abstract: The United States has experienced four political revolutions in the past two and a half centuries, not one. 1776 was the first revolution; the Civil War, the second; the Great Depression, the third; and the 2016 election, the fourth. Each involved the overthrow of the existing political order and its long-term strategy.

KAL Flight 007: Accident or Intelligence Probe? (PDF)—Richard C. Thornton

Abstract: An analysis of the evidence suggests that the ill-fated flight was used to determine the status of a new Soviet phased-array radar at Krasnoyarsk. Despite its tragic outcome, the mission produced an intelligence bonanza that enabled President Reagan to guide the nation through one of its most challenging moments.

Russia’s INF Treaty Violations: Evidence & Implications (PDF)—Mark B. Schneider

Abstract: Russian breaches of the 1987 agreement were numerous over many years, but no violation was cited officially by the United States until 2014, followed by fruitless efforts to bring Russia back into compliance. The Trump Administration finally scrapped the treaty in 2019, demonstrating an overdue commitment to enforcement.

The Mughniyeh Mystery: Calculations and Betrayal (PDF)—Anonymous

Abstract: Conventional wisdom holds that the notorious terrorist’s assassination in 2008 was a revenge killing carried out by the Mossad (with CIA support) under the nose of the Syrian government. This paper argues instead that Mughniyeh’s death was facilitated by the Syrian regime as part of an attempt to reposition the country into the Western orbit in a manner reflecting the experience of Libya.

Book  Review: Nigel Hamilton’s Mantle of Command  (PDF)—James D. Perry

Abstract: The first installment in Nigel Hamilton’s trilogy about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s leadership in WWII covers the period between the 1941 Argentia Summit and the Anglo-American landings in North Africa in November 1942. Hamilton illustrates FDR’s control of US strategy, but he focuses excessively on the Roosevelt-Churchill relationship and presents an imbalanced appreciation of the American president over the British prime minister.

Book  Review: Nigel Hamilton’s Commander in Chief  (PDF)—James D. Perry

Abstract: This second volume fixates on the president’s “Battle with Churchill” during 1943, as plans are formulated for the allied invasion of France the following year. Hamilton not only misrepresents the British military position, he also largely fails to consider the two leaders’ objectives with respect to the Soviet Union, and how this affected their military planning.

Book  Review: Nigel Hamilton’s War and Peace  (PDF)—James D. Perry

Abstract: The third of Hamilton’s works on FDR examines the period from the Tehran Conference in November-December 1943, to Roosevelt’s death in April 1945. Crucial decisions about the war’s conclusion and aftermath are made between and among allied leaders, but the author remains confused about their strategies and key discussion points. There is useful detail about FDR’s failing physical and mental health, but no critical inference about his decision to run for a fourth term.