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2019: Past and Present

To Learn from History

History, the collective experiences of mankind, teaches us about the present and the future. How do we look at events of the past? Do they help to solve our present political or economical conditions and conflicts?

From perspectives as varied as of the history of ideas, evolutionary psychology and ideologies – among others – the writers in this anthology apply history to today’s concerns such as international relations, geopolitics, and economics, and the role of the individual and human nature in history.


Human Nature and the Individual in History

Maurizio Viroli: Learning from the Past: Historic Examples and Civic Consciousness

Emeritus Professor of Politics, Princeton University

Maurizio Viroli is an academic, essayist, author and philosopher. He is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Princeton University, Professor of Political Communication at the University of Italian Switzerland (Lugano) and Professor of Government at the University of Texas, Austin. Among his publications are Nazionalisti e Patrioti; The Quotable Machiavelli and Redeeming ‘The Prince’: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece.

Cory J. Clark: Tribalism is Human Nature

Assistant Professor of Social Psychology, Durham University

Cory J. Clark acquired her PhD in social and personality psychology from the University of California, Irvine. Formerly, she was Assistant Professor of Psychology at Durham University and the director of academic engagement at Heterodox Academy. She is now a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests lie in moral judgement, punishment, free will belief, political bias and motivated cognition. She has been widely published in journals such as Current Directions in Psychological Science and Psychological Inquiry.

Janne Haaland Matláry: The Greatness of European Civilisation: Defining and Refining Human Nature

Professor of statecraft, University of Oslo

Janne Haaland Matláry is Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Command and Staff College. Her more than twenty books include Military Strategy in the Twenty-First Century: The Challenge for NATO (co-edited with Robert Johnson) and she is a columnist for Dagens Næringsliv. She represented the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party as Deputy Foreign Minister from 1997 to 2000. In 2001, she was appointed Dame of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and, in 2020, Dame of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.

Vernon Bogdanor: The Individual in History

Research Professor Centre for British Politics and Government, King’s College London

Vernon Bogdanor is Research Professor at the Centre for British Politics and Government, at King’s College London, and was formerly Professor of Government at Oxford University. A frequent contributor to TV, radio and the press, his books include Beyond Brexit: Towards a British Constitution and Britain and Europe in a Troubled World. He has been an adviser to a number of governments, including those of Albania, Kosovo and Israel, and he is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and a fellow of the British Academy.

Applying History

Michael Burleigh: The Ubiquity of History: Past, Present and Politics

Professor of History and International Affairs, London School of Economics

Michael Burleigh was the Engelsberg Chair Professor of History and International Affairs 2019/20 at the LSE IDEAS foreign policy think tank, connected to the London School of Economics. Burleigh’s books include Moral Combat: A History of World War II; Small Wars, Far Away Places: The Genesis of the Modern World 1945–65; Populism: Before and After the Pandemic; and Day of the Assassins: A History of Political Murder.

Erica Brenner: Democratic Crisis: Lessons from Ancient Athens


Middle East

Nathan Shachar: Fantasy in Middle Eastern Nation-making

Journalist and author

Nathan Shachar studied Arabic, philosophy and Spanish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His collections of essays have received the most prestigious Swedish literary awards, including the Övralid Prize in 2014. His works in English include The Gaza Strip: Its History and Politics from the Pharaohs to the Israeli Invasion of 2009 and The Lost World of Rhodes: Greeks, Italians, Jews and Turks between Tradition and Modernity. He has been a foreign correspondent in the Middle East and Latin America and is a member of the editorial board of Axess magazine.

Rob Johnson: Lawrence on Arabia om War: How the Past Haunts the Present

Senior research fellow, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Rob Johnson is the senior research fellow of Pembroke College, associate of the Department of Politics and International Relations and director of the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre, at the University of Oxford. The CCW Centre brings together academics, policymakers and armed-forces professionals in the study of armed conflict and its consequences. Johnson has written extensively on war, decision making and military strategic thought, including in his book Lawrence of Arabia on War: The Campaign in the Desert, 1916–18.

Brendan Simms: Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East

Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, University of Cambridge

Brendan Simms obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he is a fellow of Peterhouse and director of the Centre for Geopolitics. He is also president of the Project for Democratic Union, a Munich-based student-organised think tank. His books include Britain’s Europe: A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation and Hitler: A Global Biography.

Emma Sky: How US Policy Failure Post-9/11 Undermined International Order

Director of Yale’s International Leadership Center

Elisabeth Kendall: Making Sense of the Yemen war: A Present Haunted by the Past

Senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Elisabeth Kendall is senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford. She previously served as director of the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World. Since 2012, she has acted as international adviser to a cross-tribal council in eastern Yemen that promotes grassroots activities to counter al-Qaeda and Islamic State. She is author and co-editor of Twenty-First Century Jihad: Law, Society and Military Action and Reclaiming Islamic Tradition: Modern Interpretations of the Classical Heritage.


Josef Joffe: Germany in Europe: The Engine that Couldn’t

Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Josef Joffe obtained his PhD in government from Harvard University, and is now a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. A co-founder of the the American Interest magazine, he serves on the editorial council of Die Zeit in Hamburg and is also on the editorial board of International Security at Harvard/MIT. Joffe’s most recent book is Der gute Deutsche: Die Karriere einer moralischen Supermacht.

Peter Ricketts: Modern France and the Ghosts of the Past

Visiting Professor, King’s College London

Peter Ricketts is Visiting Professor at King’s College London. He is a former British diplomat, a life peer and a crossbencher in the British House of Lords. Before his retirement, Ricketts served as British ambassador to France, permanent secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, national security adviser and the permanent representative to NATO in Brussels.

Karin Svanborg-Sjövall: Authoritarian Populism as an Ideology

Journalist, debater and author

Karin Svanborg-Sjövall is a Swedish journalist, debater and author. She is the former director of Timbro, Scandinavia’s biggest free-market think tank, and has been a senior policy adviser at Sweden’s Ministry of Education. Her books include Private Choice in the Public Sector: The New Swedish Welfare Model (Swedish title: Kentucky Fried Children? Om den svenska valfrihetens rötter – och dess fiender), which was published in English in 2012.

Fraser Nelson: Brexit for Europhiles


Fraser Nelson is a leading British journalist and commentator. He is the editor of the Spectator, a weekly columnist for the Daily Telegraph in London and a regular broadcaster. He is also a director of the think tank Centre for Policy Studies and for the charity Social Mobility Foundation. In 2013, he won the British Press Award for Political Journalist of the Year.


Gudrun Persson: Dealing with the past – a Russian History

Associate Professor at the Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Stockholm University

Gudrun Persson is Associate Professor at the Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Stockholm University. She obtained her PhD in Political Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and specialises in Russian history and politics, as well as military strategy. She is the author of several books, including Learning from Foreign Wars: Russian Military Thinking 1859–73 and Det sovjetiska arvet (The Soviet Legacy). Persson is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences.

Andrew Monaghan: How the Past Informs and Shapes Contemporary Russian Grand Strategy

Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute

Andrew Monaghan is a researcher and analyst in the field of international politics. He obtained his PhD from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and specialises in Russian domestic politics, strategy and biography. He is a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and a non-resident associate fellow of the NATO Defense College in Rome. His books include Power in Modern Russia and Dealing with the Russians.

Calder Walton: Spies, Election Meddling, and Disinformation: Past and Present

Assistant Director of the Applied History Project and Director of Research of the Intelligence Project, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government

Calder Walton is Assistant Director of the Applied History Project and Director of Research of the Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Christopher Coker: Civilisational States and the Remastering of the Past

Director of LSE IDEAS, London School of Economics

Christopher Coker is director of LSE IDEAS, a foreign policy think tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a former member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, for whom he wrote the monograph Empires in Conflict: The Growing Rift Between Europe and the United States. He is also a former editor of the Atlantic Quarterly and the European Security Analyst.

Understanding Capitalism

Iain Martin: Make Capitalism Great Again

Journalist and author

Iain Martin is a British political commentator and author. He writes a weekly column for The Times and is editor and publisher of Reaction, a website dedicated to the analysis of politics, economics and culture. He is the author of Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy, and in 2020 he contributed to launching the website Engelsberg Ideas with Mattias Hessérus.

Niall Fergusson: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy Revisited

Milbank Family Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Niall Ferguson is Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and senior fellow at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.


Jonathan Fenby: China: Return of Empire

Chairman of the China team, TS Lombard research group

Jonathan Fenby is chairman of the China team at the TS Lombard research group. A former editor of the Observer and the South China Morning Post, and correspondent for The Economist and Reuters, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000 for services to journalism. An associate at the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, his numerous books include Crucible: The Year that Shaped Our World.

Rana Mitter: War and the World in China’s Past and Present

Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, University of Oxford

Rana Mitter, OBE FBA, is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, and a fellow of St Cross College, at the University of Oxford. His books include China’s War with Japan, 1937–1945: The Struggle for Survival, which won the 2014 RUSI/Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature, and China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism. He won the Historical Association’s Medlicott Medal for Service to History in 2020, and is a regular presenter for BBC Radio in the UK.

Yu Jie: Money, Might and Mindset: China’s Self-centered Global Ambition

Senior Research Fellow on China, Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House

World Order

John Bew: How to Think About World Order: Lessons From History

Professor of History and Foreign Policy, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

John Bew is Professor of History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London. Since 2019, he has served as foreign policy adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In 2015, he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for Politics and International Relations. His books include Realpolitik: A History and Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee.

Philip Bobbitt: World Order: A Crisis for Democracy

Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence, Columbia University

Philip Bobbitt is the Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence at Columbia University, and Distinguished Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas. He has served in the US government during seven administrations, including in the post of senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council. Bobbitt’s books include The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History and Impeachment: A Handbook (with Charles Black, Jr.).

Kori Schake: The Liberal International Order and its Discontents

Director of Foreign and Defense Policy at the American Enterprise Institute

Kori Schake is Director of Foreign and Defense Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.