This Iranian postage stamp commemorates the shooting down of a commercial passenger flight, Iran Air 655, by a U.S. Navy cruiser in 1988. The memory of the history of foreign intervention in Iran casts a long shadow on its current relationship with the United States.
Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and the taking of American hostages that year, Americans have tended to see the Iranian regime as dangerous, reckless and irrational. Recent concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions and anti-Israel declarations have only underscored the sense many Americans have that Iran is a "rogue" nation, part of an "axis of evil." There is another side to this story. This month historian Annie Tracy Samuel looks at American-Iranian relations from the Iranian point of view, and adds some complexity to the simplified story often told. Read more here.
The euro serves as a common currency for most members of the European Union. Euro coins all have one side in common, while the obverse side (examples shown here) is stamped with a national motif. The tension between unity and sovereignty lies at the heart of the EU's history.
The economic crisis in Europe has had many predicting the end of the Eurozone and an end to the grand dreams of European unity. This month historian Donald A. Hempson III charts how the European Union and the Eurozone evolved out of a twin set of goals after World War II: to prevent European nations from going to war again and to foster economic prosperity across the continent. The current tensions are nothing new. Instability has long characterized the EU as it has expanded and integrated.
The modern drone has many technological and cultural precursors dating back to the turn of the century. Shown here is a Predator drone widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Air Force; originally designed for reconnaissance, it has now been outfitted with missiles and used in offensive strikes.
The use of unmanned drones for surveillance, for targeted assassinations, and for attacks more broadly seems to be the latest evolution in the technology of war. But as historian Kenneth C. Hough reminds us, the military use of drones goes back at least a century, as does the controversy they have generated over the morality and meaning of using such technology to kill.
The American Founding Fathers were famously suspicious of political parties and warned repeatedly about the dangers of "factionalism." Americans, however, have long loved them. While much has been made since the November 2012 election about the "death" of the Republican Party, historian Marc Horger reminds us that there have been several major party realignments in American history. Parties may change their characters but the two-party system has proved remarkably durable.
As three Christian Churches recently elected new leaders, they confront a world in which global Christianity may be poised for the third major reorganization of its history. Here, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis in March 2013.
While the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to head the Roman Catholic Church as Pope Francis received widespread international attention, in fact the last six months have seen the elevation of three Christian clerics to fill the top position in their respective churches. This month historian David Brakke examines the different processes involved in electing these figures and explains how the Christian world came to have two popes and a primate in the first place.