Rewriting History

This month, the CQ Global Researcher asks: "Can nations come to terms with their own legacies?" Below is the introduction to the December 2009 report on "Rewriting History" by Alan Greenblatt.

Every nation argues about its own history, seeking to find glory and a sense of identity by celebrating its heroes while downplaying the dark side of the past. Nations also argue with each other about the past, with one side's glorious victory still rankling as the other's ignominious defeat. And, frequently, a neighboring country that has been harmed by another's actions complains that the guilty nation is whitewashing the worst incidents. Currently, an attempt to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia is proving a tough sell due to arguments about a mass slaughter that occurred more than 90 years ago. And Russia and its neighbors are engaged in heated debates about revealing the crimes of the Stalinist era. Like individuals, nations need to confront their own ghosts, but finding the balance between acknowledging past wrongdoing and learning to get along in the present can be a difficult feat. Such conflicts raise a fundamental philosophical question: Is historical accountability a human right?

(Note: To see how countries have dealt with historical controversies, click on the image to the right to view a larger version.)

The Issues:
* Can nations cover up atrocities?
* Is historical accountability a human right?
* Are national identities defined by shared history?

For more information see the CQ Global Researcher report on "Rewriting History" [subscription required] or purchase the CQ Researcher PDF