Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Strategika Issue 55: The Structure of World Power

The Structure of the Contemporary International System

Please read a new essay by my colleague, Joseph Joffe in Strategika.

A monopoly obtains when one firm is free to set prices and output while keeping ambitious newcomers out of the market. The best example is Standard Oil in the late 19th century. Ruthlessly undercutting competitors, the company ended up controlling 90 percent of refined oil flows in the United States. The United States never had that kind of overweening power in the international “market.” It may have come close to unipolarity in the 1990s when its mortal rival, the Soviet Union, had committed suicide. Yet the contemporary world is no longer unipolar. Neither is it bi- or multipolar.

Read the full article here.


Seeking Stability in the Structure of Power

Please read a new essay by my colleague, Seth Cropsey in Strategika.

The global strategic landscape is moving away from the primacy that America achieved over the last century. New terrain includes the possibility of great power competition, a return to the bipolarity that policy-makers in the immediate post-Cold War said must never happen again. Current sentiment in the U.S. illustrates that there are worse possibilities than bipolarity.

Read the full article here.


The Vagaries of World Power

Please read a new essay by my colleague,Nadia Schadlow in Strategika.

By traditional measures—military strength, economic wealth, population size—the United States remains the world’s preeminent superpower. Its economy continues to expand; it deploys the largest military in the world; it is home to a growing population; and American laws and capital flows encourage a vibrant ecosystem for innovation.

Read the full article here.

GOP failed to fight Dem’s health-care scare tactics in midterms

Please read this piece by my colleague Paul Roderick Gregory in The Hill

Exit polls showed that health care was the top factor in motivating voters in the 2018 election. Democrat candidates successfully stoked fears that the Republicans would end coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Despite repeated assurances from President Trump that pre-existing conditions were safe, almost 60 percent of voters said they trusted the Democrats on this issue. This likely provided part of the margin that switched the House from Republican to Democrat control.

If Republicans had hammered home the statistics of health-care coverage, they could have torn down the propaganda that pre-existing conditions could cause one-quarter to one-half of Americans to be denied coverage.

Although the subject of pre-existing conditions attracts a sympathetic following, relatively few voters are actually at risk of denial for pre-existing conditions. Here’s why:

Read the full article here.

Maybe We Could Use a Civic Hippocratic Oath

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

A mob of protesters associated with the radical left-wing group Antifa swarmed the private residence of Fox News host Tucker Carlson on the night of Nov. 7. They yelled, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!” The mob’s apparent aim was to catch Carlson’s family inside and so terrify them that he might temper his conservative views. Only Carlson’s wife was home at the time. She locked herself in a pantry and called police.

During the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, demonstrators disrupted the proceedings and stalked senators. Later, a mob broke through police barricades to pound on the doors of the Supreme Court while Kavanaugh was preparing to be sworn in. Their agenda apparently was to create such confusion and disorder that the nomination might be postponed.

Hollywood celebrities habitually boast of wanting to shoot, blow up or decapitate President Donald Trump. Apparently their furor is meant to lower the bar of violence so that Trump fears for his personal safety and therefore might silence or change his views.

Read the full article here.

The Present American Revolution

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The revolution of 1776 sought to turn a colony of Great Britain into a new independent republic based on constitutionally protected freedom. It succeeded with the creation of the United States.

The failed revolution of 1861, by a slave-owning South declaring its independence from the Union, sought to bifurcate the country, More than 600,000 dead later, slavery was abolished, a Confederacy was in in ruins, and the South was forced back into the United States largely on the conditions and terms of the victorious North.

The 1960s saw efforts to create a new progressive nation by swarming democratic and republican institutions. The sheer force of a left-wing cultural revolution would supposedly transform a nation, in everything from jeans, long hair, and pot to rock music and sexual “liberation.” It was eventually diffused by popular weariness with the extremism and violence of the radical revolutionaries, and the establishment’s agreements to end the Vietnam War, give 18-year-olds the right to vote, phase out the draft, expand civil rights to include reparatory action, legalize abortion, radicalize the university, and vastly increase the administrative state to wage a war on poverty, a war on pollution, and a war on inequality.

Our present revolution is more multifaceted. It is a war on the very Constitution of the United States that has not yet brought the Left its Holy Grail: a state-mandated equality of result overseen by an omnipotent and omniscient elite. The problem for today’s leftists is that they are not fighting Bourbon France, a reactionary Europe of 1848, or Czarist Russia, but an affluent, culturally uninhibited, and wildly free United States, where never in the history of civilization has a people attained such affluence and leisure.

Read the full article here.

Progressive Politics Are Not Really Progressive

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Some progressives lamented the apparent defeat of radical progressive African-American candidates such as gubernatorial nominees Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Florida’s Andrew Gillum by blaming allegedly treasonous white women. Apparently white women did not vote sufficiently en bloc in accordance with approved notions of identity politics tribalism.

According to this progressive orthodoxy, being female, gay, or minority trumps everything else. But, of course, no one believes in such mythical notions of solidarity, least of all progressives themselves.

White women were expected in Michigan, for example, to vote against a sterling African-American senatorial candidate John James, whose résumé was far more impressive than his victorious opponent, incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow.

There was no such thing as minorities on the collective barricades when it was a matter of defeating California congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng, first-generation child of refugees, Asian, female, former Stanford student body president, and Yale MBA in her singular bid to unseat a seven-term white male Democratic incumbent.

Read the full article here.

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month—100 Years Ago

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

The First World War ended 100 years ago this month on November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. Nearly 20 million people had perished since the war began on July 28, 1914.

In early 1918, it looked as if the Central Powers—Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire—would win.

Czarist Russia gave up in December 1917. Tens of thousands of German and Austrian soldiers were freed to redeploy to the Western Front and finish off the exhausted French and British armies.

The late-entering United States did not declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary until April 1917. Six months later, America had still not begun to deploy troops in any great number.

Then, suddenly, everything changed. By summer 1918, hordes of American soldiers began arriving in France in unimaginable numbers of up to 10,000 doughboys a day. Anglo-American convoys began devastating German submarines. The German high command’s tactical blunders stalled the German offensives of spring 1918—the last chance before growing Allied numbers overran German lines.

Read the full article here.

The Issues That Tore Us Apart

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Slavery was the issue that blew up America in 1861 and led to the Civil War.

But for the 85 years between the nation’s founding and that war, it had seemed that somehow America could eventually phase out the horrific institution and do so largely peacefully.

But by 1861, an array of other differences had magnified the great divide over slavery. The plantation class of the South had grown fabulously rich — and solely dependent — on King Cotton and by extension slave labor. It bragged that it was supplying the new mills of the industrial revolution in Europe and had wrongly convinced itself that not just the U.S. but also Britain could not live without Southern plantations.

Federal tariffs hurt the exporting South far more than the North. Immigration and industrialization focused on the North, often bypassing the rural, largely Scotch-Irish South, which grew increasingly disconnected culturally from the North.

Read the full article here.

CNN’s Existential War With Trump

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

It may be unwise or monotonous for President Trump to harp on CNN as a purveyor of “fake news.” And the constant refrain “enemy of the people” should not be used of a media outlet, even one as prejudicial as CNN.

Yet Trump’s obsessions with CNN are largely reactive, not preemptive.

After just 100 days in office, before his own agendas could even be enacted, the liberal Shorenstein Center at Harvard reported that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump Administration was already negative. Just one in every 13 CNN stories proved positive. That radically asymmetrical pattern (shared by NBC/MSNBC) had never been seen before in the history of comparable media analytics. No one at CNN sought to explain the imbalance, leaving the impression that the news organization had more or less joined the progressive opposition.

In his serial pushbacks against CNN, if Trump has perhaps surpassed the invective of Barack Obama’s own periodic dismissals of Fox News, he has clearly not ordered his Justice Department to monitor the communications of any CNN reporter, in the manner of Eric Holder’s surveillance of Fox News journalist James Rosen. Associated Press journalists are not being monitored by the administration as they were during the Obama years. That difference is oddly never cited by CNN reporters who are want to decry their own treatment by the administration, but who were not particularly vocal when their professional colleagues were once placed under electronic surveillance.

Read the full article here.

Angry Reader 11-02-2018

From An Angry Reader:

Maybe if nazi apologists weren’t threatening to lock up their political enemies, or harassing them in their columns, we might see less polarization. Hi Victor, Nice to meet you. You wrote about me in March. Care to discuss? Or are you just up for the pot shots in your column?

Melinda Byerley, Founder, TimeshareCMO


Dear Angry Tweeter Melinda Byerley,

I will only respond to your latest tweet and do so once, since it is merely one of a frenzied series that displays a certain obsessive-compulsive monotony.

You do not start out well when your third word is “nazi” (sic). If you meant to include me in your category of Nazi “apologists” who wish “to lock up” their enemies or harass them, you might at least cite proof that I am a Nazi sympathizer, or have advised locking up or harassing any one. As for harassing or locking people up, remember that you are writing in an era in which the Obama-administration’s FBI, CIA, DOJ, and IRS were all weaponized for political purposes and many of these agencies’ top administrators have resigned, been fired, retired, or face criminal exposure.

You are apparently angry because I merely quoted an infamous rant of your own that you posted on social media right after the 2016 election. It was reposted and republished in hundreds of social media and news venues, apparently because your candor in expressing your abject disdain for red-state America became iconic of why and how the election turned out as it did. In sum, your venom inadvertently became the touchstone to the prejudices and stereotypes of a self-appointed elite.

So what I quoted in my column was an extended excerpt of your own words as they were reported in the general media and they were as follows:

“One thing middle America could do is to realize that no educated person wants to live in a sh**hole with stupid people. Especially violent, racist, and/or misogynistic ones…When corporations think about where to locate call centers, factories, development centers, etc., they also have to deal with the fact that those towns have nothing going for them. No infrastructure, just a few bars and a terrible school system.”

Your own words reveal a great deal of hatred and stereotyping, and yet in the end display abject ignorance. By ignorance, I mean even your prejudices are not factual.

In fact, California infrastructure is usually rated at or near bottom in most state rankings of roads, bridges, and airports. The streets of suburban Palo Alto and Menlo Park are often potholed and substandard. California ranks usually in the bottom fifth of our nation’s schools; test scores usually rate no higher than 45th in comparisons with the other 50 states. Silicon Valley professionals apparently realize these depressing statistics, which may explain spiraling enrollments in private academies and prep schools by those who have apparently no desire to put their own children in Santa Clara and San Mateo public schools and have thus forsaken public education, despite their otherwise progressive and egalitarian ideologies. I have traveled to lots of small towns and rural areas in the so-called swing states that gave Trump the election, and have not witnessed the degree of homelessness that now characterizes major California cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.

Thousands of Silicon Valley tech workers, in addition to tens of thousands of low-wage and often minority laborers, live in their automobiles and vans which dot streets where they work—especially in the environs of the signature companies of Silicon Valley.

Multiple families cram into single Redwood City homes. Why, when the market capitalization of companies like Apple, Facebook and Google reaches nearly three trillion dollars, and there are vast expanses of open land between the Pacific Ocean and freeway 280, are not there not affordable housing projects, especially in a state that virtue-signals its egalitarianism?

You may think the hinterland is, in your words, a “sh**hole”, but your own state is home to the most impoverished residents in the nation, where outbreaks of hepatitis and typhus are now not uncommon. California’s poverty rate ranges at about 20 percent of the resident population; one-third of the nation’s residents on some form of public assistance now live in California. Wealth disparity is among the most acute in the nation. Crime now makes many California cities quite unsafe.

In fact, hundreds of California businesses are relocating to red-state America, often in areas without the natural beauty and climate of California, given that they find the infrastructure, government regulations, schools, safety, and power and fuel costs far superior to those in California. New changes in the tax codes and continued depressing news about rising California crime, homelessness, failing schools and public agencies may accelerate the trend.

The people of rural America outside California in fact have a lot going for them. They are hardly “stupid”, and they feel no need to flee the public-school system. As far as bars go, I think there may well be more bars per capita in cities of California, Silicon Valley included, than what I have seen in places like Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio.

Again, I bear no animus toward you. I wrote not “pot-shots,” but simply quoted your own words—as did hundreds of other writers and journalists who found them emblematic, as I did, of a cultural and political denseness that helps to explain the Trump victory. Your current scurrilous tweet alleging that I am a Nazi sympathizer only confirms your original unhinged posting. So not only do you write recklessly and inaccurately, but you display a certain crudity perhaps unbecoming of a CEO of a corporation. That you couch your views with an aura of self-assumed cultural superiority is really quite sad.

When Laws Are Not Enforced, Anarchy Follows

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

What makes citizens obey the law is not always their sterling character. Instead, fear of punishment—the shame of arrest, fines or imprisonment—more often makes us comply with laws. Law enforcement is not just a way to deal with individual violators but also a way to remind society at large that there can be no civilization without legality.

Or, as 17th-century British statesman George Savile famously put it: “Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen.”

In the modern world, we call such prompt, uniform and guaranteed law enforcement “deterrence,” from the Latin verb meaning “to frighten away.” One protester who disrupts a speech is not the problem. But if unpunished, he green-lights hundreds more like him.

Worse still, when one law is left unenforced, then all sorts of other laws are weakened.

The result of hundreds of “sanctuary cities” is not just to forbid full immigration enforcement in particular jurisdictions. They also signal that U.S. immigration law, and other laws by extension, can be ignored.

Read the full article here.

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