Scimitar: How One Sword Dominated Warfare for Centuries

On the coat of arms of Finland, a crowned lion tramples upon a curved sword with his hind paws while brandishing a straight sword in his right forepaw. The straight sword represents Finland, and the curved sword represents Russia. Together, they symbolize the struggle between the West and the East. The curved sword depicted in the coat of arms is not the traditional Russian saber, but its forerunner, the scimitar, a sword found in cultures from North Africa to China.

In 1981, Israel's Deadly Air Force Took out Saddam Hussein's Only Nuclear Reactor

What if Israel had not struck Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981? Or what if the attack, which was technically quite difficult, had failed? The attack, which was deeply controversial at the time, shifted the course of Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program. It also set a lasting precedent for how Israel, and potentially other nuclear states, have managed would-be proliferators. Could Iraq have developed a nuclear weapon if the Israelis had not attacked?

The Debate

Japan Used Armored Trains, Bombers and Tanks to Seize Part of the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall reigns as a symbol of Chinese nationhood, over 3,800 miles of fortified walls (or 5,500, if you count trenches and natural barriers) built to shield the settled peoples of the North China Plain from the depredations of nomadic horse-riding tribes to the north. While the wall undoubtedly posed a formidable obstacle against horsemen armed with spears and bows, less than a century ago today’s scenic attraction was also used in a desperate defensive battle against a foe armed with tanks, airplanes, naval destroyers and machine guns.