Tag: History

Moscow, August 1991: a world-changing failure

25 years ago, an attempted takeover by communist hardliners led to the Soviet Union’s collapse. The reverberations still continue.

The death of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a reality, despite rumours that it didn’t happen at all. But it was a strange death, reflecting the strange life of the beast itself. A state that had survived the onslaught of Nazi armies and avoided overthrow by popular revolution ended as a result of the failure of the “State Committee for the State of Emergency” (GKChP in its Russian acronym), better known as “the failed coup in Moscow in August 1991”. A quarter of a century later, the aftershocks are still being felt, and by all of us.

It was a pathetic end for the former superpower. The coup was orchestrated by its top officials, the entire cast in power with one exception: the USSR’s first (and last) president, Mikhail Gorbachev, who was taking his summer vacation in Crimea. The “gang of eight” included Gennady Yanayev, the Soviet Union’s vice-president; Valentin Pavlov, its prime minister; Dmitri Yazov, defence minister; Boris Pugo, interior minister; Vladimir Kryuchkov, head of the KGB.

The June 1981 Coup: The Stolen Narrative of the Iranian Revolution

We can fundamentally transform our understanding of the Iranian revolution by letting the untold stories to be told.

DemilaRouseff calls her impeachment a coup d’état. Many academics and political experts agree that the old guard and corrupt capitalist elite in Brazil have overthrown the president, despite the fact that all the legal procedures for her impeachment have been observed. As one pro-Rouseff Brazilian protester remarked, this is a ‘civilian coup – capitalism doesn’t need guns and soldiers; it is enough to have an anti-democratic judicial system’.

Now go back 35 years to Iran. The 1979 Iranian Revolution is less than two-and-a-half years old. The clergy have, gradually, monopolized the state. The aim is, as the head of the Islamic Republic Party (Ayatollah Beheshti) has stated, to establish a ‘despotism of the pious’. The only remaining obstacle to the total monopolization of power is the office of the recently elected president, Abolhassan Banisadr. He insists upon defending the democratic goals of the revolution despite being offered increased powers to reject them, therefore he writes to Khomeini:

Taking Back Japan, One History Textbook at a Time?

After spending most of the past 20 years living in Japan, to me 2015 seemed like a turning point for the country. 70 years after the end of World War II, and despite massive demonstrations all over the country, in September 2015 Japan’s ruling coalition, led by Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), used cloture to force the implementation of new security laws that will allow Japan to engage in military action outside of the country. Thanks to this new legislation, Japan effectively renounced 70 years of pacifism and can now go to war again.

For many of my friends—long-term “foreign” residents with deep connections to and equally deep knowledge of Japan—the Abe government’s relentless effort to “make Japan great again” was like a nightmare come true. The country we had all come to love seems like it might be disappearing, leading us to ask whether our children will have a future here.

The forced passage of the new security legislation was simply the most striking example of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s steady attempt, over the past three years, to incrementally shift Japan rightward. Abe is perhaps the first prime minister to directly and loudly criticize the media, and has been accused of trying to turn NHK, Japan’s nominally impartial national broadcaster, into a government mouthpiece that promotes the current Japanese position on regional territorial disputes with South Korea, Russia, China and Taiwan.

Enjoy Another Sugar-Coated Thanksgiving, America

Seattle, Washington (TFC) – A public school teacher in Alaska created a call-to-action in The New York Times today challenging educators and family members to teach the truth about Thanksgiving to children. Yatibaey Evans, educator and president-elect of the National…