Don't know much about history -- and about to pay for it
By Toby Westerman
May 23, 2015

In 1960, Sam Cooke released a hit song which began with the words "Don't know much about history." Beginning in 1990, Kenneth C. Davis began a popular series of books on history using Cooke's initial five words. Unfortunately, Cooke's lyrics, despite Davis' efforts, reflect not only the knowledge base (or lack of it) of today's millennial generation, but also that of many American politicians. The United States is about to pay a bitter price for this ignorance.

To be fair to the millennials, they have reached adulthood after years of schooling in public or private instiutions which were more interested in advancing Leftist propaganda than in imparting accurate knowledge regarding who we are and how we arrived at our current situation. For decades, students have been not only misled by Leftist "educators," but also abandoned by most "Conservatives" who were, for whatever reason, too preoccupied to recognize that an entire generation was not being taught, but propagandized. The "who," "where," and "why" of the past remains vague at best for most young Americans. This leads directly to ignorance, or an annoying confusion, about the present.

"World War I/II?" "Cold War?" "Bolshevik Revolution?" (OK, there is no nation called "Bolshevik.")

The United States is in serious danger of losing its allies and being surrounded by hostile nations. The problem is, how does one explain this dilemma to individuals who very well may not know where the nations are to which one refers?

AGGRESSION IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA! Where? Why should we care about the South Chinese, anyway?


Americans of all ages have a sense of the dangers presented by Islamic militants, some of whom are now in the United States and ready to attack. More difficult to explain is the danger presented by China and Russia. After all, China is, by most estimates at this writing, the largest creditor of the United States and our second largest trading partner. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, aka the "fall of Communism," Russia was considered a democratic nation in the making. That was the thinking of the "experts" until Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory in November last year.

A review of the actions of China, which remains a Communist regime calling itself the People's Republic of China, and the not-so-democratic Russian Federation, cries out danger for the U.S. and its allies. To understand why and how one of our largest trading partners is a threat and why Russia is not really a democratic state requires a basic knowledge of history and an awareness of current events. History, however, is not being taught, and the most dangerous developments of our day are not being fully reported – at least in mass media outlets.

The dangerous situation in the South China Sea is an example. This part of the world sounds far away. with little direct importance to the U.S. The truth is that much of the world's trade goes through this area, and several important U.S. allies, including Japan and the Philippines, depend on the United States to assist in their self-defense.

The People's Republic of China, which claims the entire area, is constructing islands from coral reefs which are becoming military bases. Runways for military aircraft and harbors for warships are rapidly coming to completion. These new bases are tightening China's grip on the South China Sea. The People's Republic of China continues to expand its naval forces and intends to eventually rival the U.S. Navy in the Western Pacific.

Japan is threatened not only by Chinese expansion, but also by Russian aggression. Within the last year, Japanese jet fighters have had to scramble 943 times to deter Russian military aircraft from entering Japanese airspace. Moscow is expanding its military installations on the Russian-occupied Kuril Islands (owned by Japan until the end of WWII), and the growing Russian Pacific fleet engages in joint military exercises with China's navy.

Should China, or Russia and China, become capable of expelling the United States from the Asia-Pacific region, not only Japan and the Philippines, but also Australia and the free island of Taiwan, would eventually become virtual colonies of China.

The threats in Asia are matched by the dangers of Russian aggression in Europe. Russian troops have been in eastern Ukraine assisting separatists who want to unite with Russia. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are staging maneuvers in anticipation of a Russian attack. Poland is increasing its military budget and is seeking cooperation with neighboring states in an attempt to deter or blunt Russian aggression.

Germany is reviving its military tradition in response to Russia's aggressiveness.

Russia is assisting the Islamic Republic of Iran in its quest to obtain nuclear weapons and to deliver those weapons to virtually any target. Iran is prepared to share its nuclear technology with nations hostile to the United States.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, American and European investments in the Russian Federation and in the People's Republic of China have made possible the military build-up in Russia and China, as well as their expansion in various parts of the world, including Latin America.


All of the above makes no sense unless one knows some history, along with geography. An individual is lost in current events unless one has some basic knowledge of what has already happened and where these places are.

America's survival depends on the people's readiness to meet the challenges around us. A knowledge of geography, current affairs, and, yes, even history, is vital. Ignorance of the world around us will lead to bad political decisions, which, in turn, can easily lead to national disaster.

Traditional schooling has failed. Millennials and anyone else wanting accurate information on the past and present can turn to the "non-traditional" media. A new world awaits – a sure cure if you "don't know much about history."

© Toby Westerman


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Toby Westerman

Mr. Toby Westerman is editor and publisher of International News Analysis Today ( Since 1996, Westerman has used English and foreign language materials to bring to public attention general trends and specific events that pose dangers to the American public but are either ignored or superficially treated by the centralized media... (more)


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