PRINCIPLES OF HISTORY TO TEACH
By Richard H. Shulman
Like terrorism, totalitarianism is the enemy of mankind.
Aggression warrants punishment.
Appeasement doesn't work.
Reform movements often get subverted.
People seek scapegoats.
People tend to stick with ideologies after they have failed. They invested too much in them emotionally, to drop them without some great disillusioning event(s).
People seldom think through their political notions.
Those in a flourishing civilization assume it always will flourish. They don't try to keep it vibrant. They grow soft, vis-à-vis barbaric challengers.
Young rebels think they are clever in adopting revisionist theories, but those theories may be false. They undermine their own society.
The greatest mistake is to assume that other religions have the same ethics as one's own, and to predict the behavior of other societies by one's own or to. Other cultures not only have different values, they have different ways of thinking. This difference is significant between Arab and Western society. Islamic religious mores are much different from those of Christianity and Judaism. Non-Arabs propose "solutions" that the Arabs don't consider solutions and won't accept.
Everyone knows that if one doesn't learn from history, one repeats it. Everyone knows that, but nevertheless few learn from history.
The opposite problem is little known. What one learns from history may not be fully applicable under changing conditions of society. Thus people may agree that the US should stop aggressors such as Iraq, but wait for what they think is imminent danger and assume there always is time to mobilize, as the US did for WWII and Desert Storm. The advent of weapons of mass-destruction eliminates that luxury of time.
History classes should teach the value of keeping faith with allies, knowing who are one's allies, and knowing when they no longer are allies. Ancient Athens let its allies get picked off seriatim, until its turn came. The Allies abandoned members until Hitler unraveled their alliance. Congressional aid keeps Israelis from perceiving State Dept. hostility, and lip service to mutual friendship lulls Israelis. Disloyal expediency often fails.