Essential Background Reading on Cuba from UNC Press

In light of the sea change in U.S.-Cuban relations, I am delighted to recommend two books to anyone who wants to get up to speed: On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture, by Louis A. Pérez Jr., and Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, by William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh.

Excerpt: The Making of a Southern Democracy by Tom Eamon

Unlike many white leaders of the time, Sanford was acquainted with many black business and political leaders. He brought Durham bank executive John Wheeler into interracial discussions. Wheeler publicly prodded Sanford to take bolder steps toward integration but also offered vital links to more militant younger people whom Sanford did not know.

William A. Blair on the Consequences of Silence during the Civil War

Americans have a high regard for free speech, but should we have the same concern for the protection of silence? Should saying nothing or doing nothing open one to military arrest? What if a president has gone on record as advocating such a policy? This may sound like a ridiculous proposition, given our system of rights embedded in the Constitution. But it is not a hypothetical statement: this scenario faced northerners, border state loyalists, and especially Confederates in occupied zones during the U.S. Civil War. Saying nothing and doing nothing did bring the U.S. Army to one’s door.

Michael H. Hunt: The Ukraine Crisis and the Rules Great Powers Play By

The United States has championed a values-based approach with a strong missionary impulse behind it. Woodrow Wilson provided its first full-blown articulation, and post-World War II policy saw to its full-blown application. Holding a dominant global position, Washington sought with varying degrees of urgency and determination to advance a basket of ideological goods. U.S. leaders have articulated these goods in a variety of ways such as “democracy,” “free-market capitalism,” and “human rights.” But underlying all these formulations is a strong and distinctly American belief in the autonomy of the individual and a commitment to political liberty and limited state power. In the rhetoric of American statecraft these notions are a leitmotiv. They have generally set the direction of U.S. policy responses to problems of the sort that Ukraine poses.

Shane J. Maddock: The Case for Nuclear Zero

U.S. military dominance in both the quantity and quality of its weapons has reached a point where it has stopped increasing the nation’s security and has begun to erode it instead. Unable to match the conventional might of the United States, nations who fear American coercion can either seek nuclear weapons to deter a U.S. attack or use the threat of retaliatory terrorist attacks to make Washington pause. U.S. fear that its enemies will resort to either of these two options, in turn, leads to pressure to increase military spending to even higher levels.

Tammy Ingram on the Importance of Roads and the Foundation of the Dixie Highway

At the turn of the 20th century, roads dominated everyday life. They determined where people could and could not travel, as well as whether or not other people, goods, services and even ideas could reach them. Roads dominated conversations around the ballot box and the dinner table, but good roads eluded most Americans and virtually all Southerners

Beth Tompkins Bates: What Happened the Last Time Detroit Faced Bankruptcy

In the end, it was the federal government that made the difference between bankruptcy and [Detroit] emerging out of the crisis, as Murphy put it, with credit and honor. Throughout the crisis, Murphy practiced his belief that government’s primary responsibility was to serve the social and economic welfare of people, whose basic needs must not be subordinated to corporate America’s agenda.

Laura Micheletti Puaca: Shopping and the New National Security Frontier

The widespread use of information technology by the military, government, schools, financial institutions, transportation centers, and personal homes (to name just a few) means that nearly every aspect of American society is susceptible to cyber-violations. Hardly limited to the theft of individuals’ personal information, hacking threatens to undermine the nation’s economy and our general safety. Electrical grids, water processing facilities, stock exchanges, and weapons defense systems all depend on computer networks, and any malicious incursions could render disastrous results.

Shane J. Maddock: Obama’s Course Correction on Iran

Much of the evidence now available suggests the Bush administration threats reinvigorated a moribund program. A Central Intelligence Agency report contended that Iran had abandoned its weapons program. But after the Bush administration scuttled diplomatic agreements regarding the Iranian program, hardliners took control and argued that Iran needed a nuclear weapon to deter a potential U.S. or Israeli military attack. They argued that Iraq had abandoned its nuclear ambitions under pressure from the West and reaped a brutal invasion for its efforts. North Korea, on the other hand, thwarted Western efforts to end its nuclear weapons program and avoided Baghdad’s fate. Arguments that at least the threat of a nuclear weapon was necessary took on greater persuasiveness given that U.S. military deployments sandwiched Iranian territory.

Interview: Tom Eamon on North Carolina Politics

Today, there is a gap. Many metropolitan areas and university communities are booming and attract migrants from all over. But farming areas once reliant on tobacco and old textile towns are withering and face high unemployment. And textiles were a low wage industry to begin with. More recently, public employees have faced salary freezes. Economic problems are here to stay. Despite great progress in many areas, North Carolina is a captive of its past.

50 Years Ago: Historians on the Legacies of JFK

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWnsJmBsvHU”

Blair L. M. Kelley and Kathryn Cramer Brownell consider the assassination of JFK in the contexts of the civil rights movement, media spectacle, and shifting political structures.

Alex Lubin: Exhuming Yasser Arafat

Yasser Arafat has meant many things to many people over the course of his life. To some he is a freedom fighter, and throughout the world he is often depicted in posters alongside Che Guevara. To others he is a terrorist. To the Nobel Prize Committee he is a peace-maker. Arafat has had many lives, and his reputation has been exhumed numerous times over his life and now, after his death.

What often gets overlooked about Arafat and the PLO is the impact he and his movement had on a global third-world movement in general, and on the Black freedom movement in particular.

Sarah Caroline Thuesen: The North Carolina NAACP: 80 Years at the Forefront of Struggles for Equality

It is fitting that in this 80th anniversary year of the 1933 rally the North Carolina NAACP is once again in the headlines, this time for its leading role in the recent Moral Monday protests at the state legislature.

Jaime Amanda Martinez: Zeb Vance, Ken Cuccinelli, and Chris Christie: Governors as Bellwethers

The elections in Virginia and New Jersey have been touted as indicators of where the Republican Party, and indeed the entire country, will head in 2014 and beyond. The North Carolina governor’s race in 1864 served a similar role. Though often overshadowed in discussions of Civil War politics by the U.S. presidential election of 1864, the North Carolina race, which pitted incumbent Zebulon Baird Vance against newspaper editor William W. Holden, tells an equally important story about shifting political winds.

Tomas F. Summers Sandoval Jr.: Out of Many, Uno

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnSIAPiFAXc”

At 10% of the U.S. electorate, Latino voters overwhelmingly (more than 70%) cast their ballots for the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012. Those numbers shed light on how Obama became the first U.S. President elected while losing the “white vote”, as they also signal the changing composition of the 21st-century United States.