Obama Lands in Cuba

With his arrival in Cuba yesterday, President Barack Obama has become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the island nation since 1928. This three-day trip is just one step in the major shift under the Obama administration to begin to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. For insightful historical perspective on what this trip means, we check in with some UNC Press authors who are providing helpful analysis.

Jonathan Scott Holloway: Sincere Fictions, Real Horrors, and the Tourism Trade

Goree Island is not the only site of slave trade remembrance on the African coast. Further south, in Ghana, there are two prominent warehouses, most often referred to as the slave castles at Cape Coast and Elmina, that are part of a thriving tourism trade catering mainly to black American travelers, many of whom are on roots journeys to “return home.” Just as Post reporter Fisher is right for asking critical questions related to Obama’s photo op at Goree Island, we can profit from asking challenging questions about a tourist trade that offers an uncomplicated reconciliation and welcome home at the same time that it traffics in horror.

Michael H. Hunt: Obama and the War on Terror: Toward Greater Realism

Reading the address delivered 23 May at the National Defense University surprised me not just because it went well beyond the drone issue to address the conduct of the war on terror. More than that, Obama took some significant steps toward dealing with the war in terms of classical realism.

Lisa Materson: African American Women, the Great Migration, and the Obama Presidency

The political influence of black Chicago emerged decades before Obama announced his first candidacy for president, during the years of the Great Migration when tens of thousands of southern blacks relocated to northern cities.

Michael H. Hunt: The New Foreign Policy Concensus: A Word of Caution

The new consensus has been confirmed since Obama’s victory. His inaugural address announced the end of a decade of war and the start of a process of national reinvention meant to address challenges on the home front. However sensible this new consensus may be, it suffers from a major flaw: its profound vulnerability.

Lara Putnam: Families and the Cost of Borders

Some of the deepest costs of our prohibitionist immigration system have to do with family. And they’re not just emotional costs—they’re economic costs as well.

Lara Putnam: Children of Immigrants, the American Way: Mitt, Gwen, and Barack

In some unexpected ways, it is Mitt and Gwen who have the most in common. For both of them are not only children of immigrants, but children of parents who were themselves children of immigrants.

On the MLK Memorial–Celebrating “A Day That Would Not Be Denied”

Here are some beautiful images of the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, as well as a thoughtful meditation by UNC Press author Blair L. M. Kelley on the subject of King’s work and legacy.

Michael Bowen: Obama, Truman, and the Challenge of Running against Congress

Heeding lessons from the 1948 election, historian Michael Bowen assesses the challenges Obama faces in trying to capitalize on current GOP disunity.

Michael Bowen: War on the Middle Class, Then and Now

Today’s political fault lines are direct descendants of the postwar Republican split.

Michael H. Hunt: Out of Afghanistan: Tragedy or Farce?

Michael Hunt on how the United States’ exit from Afghanistan might seem similar to some past tricky military retreats.

Michael H. Hunt: Obama on the Middle East: Let’s Pretend

Obama’s presentation lacks the first element of good policy. It fails to honestly confront the main trends and defining features of the problem confronting us.

Blair L. M. Kelley: A Dred Scott Moment?

America might be having a new Dred Scott moment as the black sitting president is forced to prove the place of his birth.

Michael Hunt: Questions that the Libya Intervention Begs

It’s ok to feel conflicted over the Libyan intervention. You’re not alone — and you have good reason. The U.S. response to the uprising against the Gaddafi regime raises a welter of issues. Is oil driving decisions? Why the inconsistency if not hypocrisy of acting in Libya but not Gaza? Is Libya just another case …

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Reverby recalls discovery, Hadler puts Guatemala case in context

Earlier this week we posted lots of links to headlines about Susan Reverby’s discovery of U.S. medical experiments on nonconsenting Guatemalans in the 1940s. Today, she wrote in more detail about the discovery of this horrific medical history over at the Hastings Center’s Bioethics Forum: What might have been buried in an historical journal, however, …

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Susan Reverby Uncovers History of U.S. Medical Testing on Guatemalans

You’ve probably already heard: last Friday President Obama called President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala to apologize for a public health outrage committed 64 years ago.  In 1946, American doctors, with the support of the Public Health Service, conducted experiments on prisoners, the insane, soldiers, and prostitutes, who were initially used to infect the prisoners. Though …

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A Middle East Policy in Deep Denial

Denial is a well known defense mechanism that keeps unpleasant realities at bay. U.S. policymakers seem well practiced in this common coping device. Heaven knows they have good reason, no matter which direction of the Middle East they turn. Afghanistan seems right now to occasion the deepest denials because the realities are the grimmest. Two …

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General McChrystal, General Petraeus, and General Confusion

Barack Obama’s Afghanistan commanders are something else. First, they promoted a highly debatable counter-insurgency strategy. Then, despite the numerous and cogent contemporary critiques, they got the president to buy into their particular brand of wishful thinking, and they got from him the additional troops supposedly needed for success. They have since failed to deliver. There …

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Obama’s HIV/AIDS Strategy: Real Change or Pocket Change?

We welcome a guest post today from Jennifer Brier, author of Infectious Ideas: U.S. Political Responses to the AIDS Crisis. When the Obama administration announced a new HIV/AIDS strategy, we asked Brier to unpack the news and help give historical perspective to the new plan.–ellen Reading President Obama’s new HIV/AIDS strategy, released on July 13, …

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The Obama National Security Strategy: “Mush” Ado about Nothing?

In the world of U.S. foreign policy, the release of a new National Security Strategy is a big deal. This congressionally mandated exercise offers an opportunity for the executive to grapple with basic issues, and it may even herald the birth of a “doctrine” (as it did for George W. Bush in 2002). The Obama …

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