Dictators who gave up power?

That’s the topic of my weekend column over at RealClearHistory, thanks to an extended email with Andrei. Here’s an excerpt:

10. King Juan Carlos I. Juan Carlos should be a household name in the West. The monarch of Spain upon dictator Francisco Franco’s death, Juan Carlos was expected to continue Franco’s legacy of authoritarian rule. After all, he received a military education in Spain under the Franco regime and had a clear claim to the throne (although the throne itself was a complicated legal matter). Furthermore, Juan Carlos was an active member of Franco’s staff, even stepping in to fill Franco’s void when the fascist began to fall ill due to old age. When Franco died, Juan Carlos began to dismantle the Franco regime and helped usher a smooth transition to democratic rule.

Please, read the rest.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade

My latest over at RealClearHistory went up on Tuesday. The schedule for my work over there goes as follows: I’ve got a regular Friday column and a Tuesday blog post, so be on the lookout! Here’s an excerpt:

The volunteers were to be used as cannon fodder for the Republicans, which explains the high casualty rate, but it was the disorganized front put on by the democratically-elected Republican government that is to blame for the high casualty rates, rather than some sort of prejudice or malice on the part of the Spanish Left. The volunteers almost all came from non-military backgrounds, too, as most were starry-eyed urban idealists who believed they were fighting injustice. After a meager 30 days of training, the Lincoln Battalion was marched to the front lines to fight a bunch of battle-hardened troops that mostly hailed from Spain’s colonies, where military governance was practiced and honed to near perfection.

Read the rest. This was a fun one to write. I initially wanted to do something about the Spanish Civil War and international meddling (Madrid fell to Franco on March 29), before tying it in to the events in Syria.

My editor gently reminded me that the blog posts should be about American history, so I threw in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. And check out my RCH colleague’s post on the birth and rise of the Republican Party.