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December 2008: Making Sense of the 'Hermit Kingdom': North Korea in the Nuclear Age (Mitchell Lerner)

The Bush administration's controversial October 2008 decision to take North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, in an effort to keep Pyongyang's nuclear program halted, opens a new chapter in the history of North Korea's international relations. Nuclear proliferation is worrisome anywhere in the world, but particularly coming from secretive, unpredictable, and, for many analysts around the world, incomprehensible North Korea. Water Mondale once declared 'anyone who claims to be an expert on North Korea is either a liar or a fool.' This month, Mitchell Lerner, a professor of history at Ohio State, braves being called one or the other. He offers insight into how policy is formed in North Korea and what drives its seemingly fickle relations with the rest of the world.

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November 2008: Clash in the Caucasus: Georgia, Russia, and the Fate of South Ossetia (Stephen F. Jones )

The brief war in Georgia in August 2008 has ushered in a new era in international relations -- although likely not the "new cold war" that so many analysts have rushed to declare. In this month's article, Stephen F. Jones, one of the world's foremost specialists on Georgia, explores the origins of this summer's fighting. The war's main protagonists -- Georgians, Ossetians, Abkhaz, and Russians -- have had a long and tangled history, made worse by the swirling nationalism that accompanied the break-up of the Soviet Union, the promise of free-flowing petrodollars, and Russia's international resurgence.

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October 2008: Punishing the Past: Presidential Elections in Times of Crisis (1932, 1968, 2008) (Bruce Kuklick )

With the campaign for the November election at full throttle, candidates will be working hard to persuade voters that their vision for the future is better than their opponents. This month historian Bruce Kuklick offers a provocative and counter-intiutive way to think about the upcoming election. In this thought-piece, Kuklick argues that rather than being about the future of the nation, elections must be about the past.

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September 2008: A Tale of Two Fisheries: Fishing and Over-Fishing in American Waters (Mansel Blackford)

Not too long ago, we viewed the oceans as an inexhaustible resource. Now, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Baltic, from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea we find our oceans struggling, in some cases dying, from pollution, global climate change, and over-fishing. This month, Ohio State historian Mansel Blackford discusses the problem of collapsing fish stocks. Looking at the very different histories of two American fisheries, he explores how best to manage our ocean resources.

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August 2008: Playing Politics: Olympic Controversies Past and Present (Alfred Senn)

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games have already generated a great deal of political controversy around the world. Protesters have used the Olympic torch relay as a stage from which to protest China's human rights record, and in response Chinese activists have denounced the protests. This month, historian Al Senn of the University of Wisconsin -- the foremost American historian of the Olympics -- reminds us that the Olympics are no stranger to politics and he puts these current controversies in historical context.

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July 2008: What's in a Name?: The Meaning of 'Muslim Fundamentalist' (David Watt)

Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell both described the way politics and war involve the struggle over the control of language. They remind us that language shapes in powerful and subtle ways the way we understand and respond to politics and military crises. In the spirit of these writers, David Watt examines the term 'muslim fundamentalist' to ask whether it is useful in describing the current political and cultural landscape or whether it obscures as much as it clarifies.

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June 2008: Taiwan's 2008 Elections: A New Direction for the 'Other China'? (Christopher A. Reed)

The recent Presidential elections in Taiwan brought to office Nationalist Party leader and Harvard-educated lawyer Ma Ying-jeou, who promises to set Taiwan on a path of much closer economic and political ties with mainland China. As Taiwan strives to bolster its democracy, enhance its economic competitiveness, negotiate coexistence with the mainland, and confront local nationalist unrest, Christopher A. Reed explores the historical trends in Taiwanese politics that have brought the tiny island nation to this turning point.

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May 2008: (Fore)Closing on the American Dream (Lawrence Bowdish)

In light of the current mortgage crisis, the American Dream of homeownership for some people has become an unreachable goal, and for others, a nightmare. Ph.D. candidate at Ohio State University, Lawrence Bowdish, will illustrate the history of the mortgage market and its problems, and why the consequences of that history makes so many homeowners vulnerable today.

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April 2008: Beyond 'Tribes': Violence and Politics in Kenya (Claire Robertson)

The violence and turmoil that overtook Kenya in the wake of the disputed December 2007 Presidential elections came as a surprise to many in the world, as Kenya has long been viewed as a source of stability on the African continent. Claire Robertson, a historian of Kenya and an active fund raiser for Kenyan development projects, explores the historical roots of the contemporary strife and the problem of using 'tribes' to explain the conflict.

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March 2008: After Putin? Russia's Presidential Elections (Marlene Laruelle) | UPDATE: This article was updated on June 30 2008

Under the leadership of Vladimir Putin since 2000, Russia has become ever richer, ever stronger on the world stage, and increasingly restrictive at home. Now that Putin's term as President is up, Marlene Laruelle offers insight into the upcoming March Presidential elections and what the future holds for Russia at home and around the world.

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February 2008: The Second Amendment Goes to Court (Saul Cornell) | UPDATE: This article was updated on November 7 2008

Few issues divide Americans as thoroughly and angrily as gun control and the Second Amendment. With the Supreme Court agreeing to hear a Second Amendment case for the first time in almost seventy years, Saul Cornell takes a look at the issues at stake and the history of American interpretations of this Amendment, and offers some thoughts on the outcomes.

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January 2008: The Politics of International Adoption (Peter Conn)

While the phenomenon of adoption has existed for thousands of years, international adoption is relatively new. The Census Bureau has described in great statistical detail how the shape of the American family has changed dramatically over the last fifty years. This month, Peter Conn, Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania discusses the history and controversy of international adoption.

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