Historiography

Lyndon Johnson's Tuesday Lunch, Hold the Counterinsurgency

Derek Gregory has a very interesting post on the precedents and lineages of today’s drone executions, which I suggest you read before this piece. I am thinking about this stuff this week in preparation for my presentation at the Social Science History Association annual meeting. Recent reporting has detailed how President Obama personally approves each overseas drone attack even though a wide range of intelligence and defense officials participate in the assessment of threats and identification of targets. Even critics of President Obama’s use of drones for “targeted” assassinations across the globe are likely to see something defensible, if not admirable, in his hands-on approach, whereby he reviews the evidence and orders the killing. Still, supposedly novel in this approach is the “decentralization of targeted killings across the globe and the simultaneous centralization of state power in the executive branch of government.” Through a discussion of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Tuesday Lunch” meetings, Gregory rightly points out that this decentralization-centralization double-movement is not as new as it seems.

Richard Aoki: Are We Missing the Main Story?

Seth Rosenfeld’s Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power generated a great deal of controversy immediately upon publication a couple weeks ago (see, Chronicle of Higher Ed, the American Historical Association’s blog, activist Fred Ho in SF Bay View, and historian Scott Kurashige). The chief complaint is over Rosenfeld’s characterization of Richard Aoki, a key mentor to and member of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, as an FBI informant. Several historians, commentators, activists, and former Panthers argue that this claim is exaggerated, misleading, or false. Although this argument is important and welcome, it misses two issues that I wish to highlight, one smaller and one great.

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© 2017 Stuart Schrader