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Talk - The Use and Abuse of History in the 'War on Terror': The Strange Career of Thomas Jefferson
Frank Cogliano, Professor of History and Dean International at Edinburgh University, considers the ways in which political commentators have interpreted and misinterpreted history to justify contemporary military action. Since 9/11 advocates of US intervention in the Middle East have invoked the precedent (supposedly) set by Thomas Jefferson in the First Barbary War (1801-5) to justify the use of force in Islamic countries. It considers the degree to which contemporary events have distorted our understanding of the Barbary War and how the past has been distorted to suit contemporary political agendas. The result is cautionary tale on the use and abuse of history.
Pictured: Burning of the Frigate Philadelphia in the Harbor of Tripoli by Edward Moran (1897), courtesy the U.S. Naval Academy Museum Collection.