Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Happy Independence Day, USA!  As the US remains in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere fighting insurgents, it shouldn't forget it too started as an insurgency.  See the second half of the Declaration of Independence for a list of US grievances against the English oppressors.

Our love for opera does not abate on Independence Day.  From Puccini with love.

The musical Condottiero is back!  I took some time off to get a PhD in international relations in London and then to Washington DC, where I am a professor at the National Defence University. A few other things happened along the way too. 

I love professing.  My students are senior military and civilian leaders from the US and other countries, and I teach strategy, political theory and international relations.  In short, war.  Blissful times. 

Every lecture I open with relevant opera or classical music, be it the political philosophy of Plato, teachings of ibn Taymiyya, strategy of Clausewitz, or writings of Mao.  A good military education should be musical.

For example, let’s take today: July 4th.  The writers of the Declaration of Independence were heavily influenced by the Enlightenment, especially John Locke’s political philosophy that justified removing a king’s crown (and head) from his body.

So in the saucy style of the Condottiero, let’s play the traditional English Coronation anthem, Handel’s Zadok the Priest.

On what the US stands for, who can forget Lenny Bernstein’s “America” from West Side Story.