Trump’s strike that killed Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani continues a long, failed history of American actions based on the idea that the US military can shape the Middle East in accord with our wishes. That’s what Andrew Bacevich argues—his new book is The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered its Cold War Victory.
Plus: Henry Louis Gates discovers slave owners—and also slaves—in the family histories of some surprising people—on the PBS series Finding Your Roots. On this season’s premiere, Anjelica Houston learned that one of her ancestors, who died in Maryland in 1811, was a slave owner, and that in his will he acknowledged fathering four slave children. Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, also talks about his collaboration with historian Eric Foner on the award-winning PBS documentary on Reconstruction.
Also: Joe McCarthy as a predecessor of Donald Trump: The connections and similarities (“McCarthy was willing to assert things that he knew weren’t true, and did it with aplomb”) are traced by Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker and the Columbia University faculty. He’s a contributor to the new McCarthy episode of the PBS series American Experience.