Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

From an Angry Reader:

You are most definitely wrong, California could go it alone. They are after all the sixth largest economy in the world. If secession is in their future the US Federal government would be more likely to fall into chaos than California. We need them more than they need us. As for your comparison between post Civil War South Carolina and California you again miss the mark. California is not a defeated state divided along the lines of different human types. They get along together just fine. The comparison you make is a better fit to the new White House. White billionaires take over America. Private academies, are you playing with me? These are the future under the new White house. California’s crumbling infrastructure would be a thing of the past if they seceded. You my friend and I would pay for it when we go to the grocery store. If you think produce from Mexico and South America will fill this gap your wakeup to reality will be monumental. Read more →

The Labyrinth of Illegal Immigration

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Navigating self-interest, ideals, and public opinion in the debate about illegal immigration.
Activists portray illegal immigration solely as a human story of the desperately poor from south of the border fleeing misery to start new, productive lives in the U.S. — despite exploitation and America’s nativist immigration laws.
But the truth is always more complex — and can reveal self-interested as well as idealistic parties.
Employers have long sought to undercut the wages of the American underclass by preference for cheaper imported labor. The upper-middle classes have developed aristocratic ideas of hiring inexpensive “help” to relieve them of domestic chores.

Read more →


From an Angry Reader:

Prof. Hanson:

First, as an aggressive moderate, I believe any talk of California secession is simply a waste of time and idiotic.  But saying “California” supports secession is equally absurd.  One third of the population reflects nothing close to a majority, not to mention the small poll sampling, and it does not compare to Virginia in 1860, where fewer than 2,000 people voted for Lincoln (as a historian, I’m sure you know Lincoln wasn’t even on the ballot in South Carolina).  This secessionist garbage is not close to getting on the ballot yet, but, of course, if there is sufficient funding, anything can hit the ballot.

Further, as I live in Silicon Valley (and I am aware you are at the Hoover Institution), the majority here do not believe that these tech companies are “a world unto their own.”  Quite the opposite, they believe that they are part of the world, with a powerful global view that great companies throughout our history have held.  My office sits between Oracle and Electronic Arts, and, frankly, I find the population of these organizations essentially the same as those who populated the Engineering Quad at my college 35-40 years ago. Read more →

Trump’s Team of Sort of Rivals

The Corner
The one and only.
By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
The selection of the multitalented and independent thinker Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster as national-security adviser is inspired and reifies Trump’s past statements that he likes outspoken and independent advisers. McMaster is best known for his counterinsurgency work in Iraq, but prior to that, he wrote a principled critique of Vietnam-era top brass, and he was the epitome of traditional Army conventional excellence, especially in armor, as evidenced by the victory at the Battle of 73 Easting in the first Gulf War.
He is also a pragmatist experienced in the interworkings of the media, politics, and the military, and he won’t be surprised by the many fault lines in the Trump administration. Along with Mattis and Kelly, McMaster reflects well on Trump’s Jacksonian and deterrent instincts. These picks also reveal Trump’s assumption that independent and frank minds will more likely enhance his judgment and reputation by their possible occasional differences with him than they would undermine him by either obsequiousness or media-driven, opportunistic criticism.
The world is a mess, but some of America’s most talented are now in critical positions to protect and strengthen the United States.


From an Angry Reader:


Read your piece LA Times this a.m., then another in National Review.
Big, sweeping rhetorical claims and attendant slamming- mostly about progressives trajectory. Your type of policy wonk rap is common and toothless. Evidence specific? Not.
Easy to see why you’re just a fellow.
DeToqueville…read his work recently?


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader CRD,

I would like to offer you a coherent reply but your Angry Reader rant is unfortunately childish.

Please cite in detail “rhetorical claims” and “slamming,” rather than just emoting. What is “wonk rap”?  You ask for something called “evidence specific” but supply none. What is “not.” I don’t know what “just a fellow” means? I have read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution; he is quite good on the impracticality of the Left and the dangerous extremism posed by radical democracy and impractical ranters and zealots.

Sincerely, VDH

Seven Days in February

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
 Trumps’ critics, left and right, aim to bring about the cataclysm they predicted.
A 1964 political melodrama, Seven Days in May, envisioned a futuristic (1970s) failed military cabal that sought to sideline the president of the United States over his proposed nuclear-disarmament treaty with the Soviets.
Something far less dramatic but perhaps as disturbing as Hollywood fiction played out this February.
The Teeth-Gnashing of Deep Government
Currently, the political and media opponents of Donald Trump are seeking to subvert his presidency in a manner unprecedented in the recent history of American politics. The so-called resistance among EPA federal employees is trying to disrupt Trump administration reform; immigration activists promise to flood the judiciary to render executive orders inoperative.
Intelligence agencies had earlier leaked fake news briefings about the purported escapades of President-elect Trump in Moscow — stories that were quickly exposed as politically driven concoctions. Nearly one-third of House Democrats boycotted the Inauguration. Celebrities such as Ashley Judd and Madonna shouted obscenities to crowds of protesters; Madonna voiced her dreams of Trump’s death by saying she’d been thinking a lot about blowing up the White House.

Read more →


From an Angry Reader:

Victor David Hanson’s latest rant, “Obama left the president with monstrous mess (2/17),” is in its unmitigated slam at our “last president” not the least bit surprising, both in its orientation as well as in its patent bias.   While it’s a fool’s errand to try to defend much of Obama’s efforts in foreign affairs, the notion that the present mess is Obama’s work alone is absurd.  It is widely recognized that the work of a dud named Bush, in his less than honest war making policies had a good bit to do with today’s mess.  Indeed, Hanson recognizes as much, but waits till his very last sentence (contrary to the title) to do so.  In the meantime, should Victor tire of Obama bashing, he might do a column on the domestic economy under O.  While it would be foolish to suggest that all’s super well on the domestic front, it is the case that Obama inherited a serious recession with an unemployment rate reaching 10% shortly after his inauguration, and which to today is significantly below 5 percent.  Alas, in keeping with his obvious right wing bias, I’m sure that Hanson will soon join Trump himself in claiming credit for the present state of the domestic economy.  Alas, it’s the blatant bias of folks like Hanson that helps create the deep hostility in so much of our politics.  Sad.

As ever, and in not surprising contempt, David E. Kaun

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader David E. Kaun,

Much of what you write is not just emotional ranting, but simply factually incorrect (Davis not David) and logically incoherent (e.g., much of Obama’s efforts in foreign affairs are not defensible, but the present mess is not his alone). When Obama entered office in January 2008, Iraq was quiet—so much so that Vice President Joe Biden termed it the administration’s likely greatest achievement and Obama boasted that he was leaving behind a “stable” and self-reliant” Iraq. Thus the administration apparently felt the nascent consensual government in Iraq was not the source but the antidote to Middle East instability—which magnified by the abrupt 2011 Obama pullout, the destruction of Libya, the fake redlines in Syria, the promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the rise of “jayvee” ISIS, the “daylight” between Israel and the US, the failed “special relationship” with Turkey, the invitation to Putin to reinsert Russia into the Middle East, the Iran deal, and on and on.

I have written on Obama and the economy: sadly, he is the first president since Herbert Hoover not to achieve 3% per annum GDP growth; he doubled the debt to $20 trillion in just eight years, and left a near record labor non-participation rate. The recession he inherited from George W. Bush ended in June 2009, suggesting that had he not enacted his agenda, the economy would likely have naturally recovered and robustly in a way it did not for the next eight years.

I don’t think Trump or anyone wishes to “claim credit” for the present economy: despite near record deficits, near zero-interest rates, and massive new federal spending, the economy was never primed—largely because of new regulations, the ACA health mandates, higher taxes, and constant “you didn’t build that” attacks on private enterprise. I assume that explains why the Democratic “blue wall” crumbled in 2016 due to dissatisfaction among Democrats with the status quo.

Trump will either fail or succeed, but we will have to wait at least 4 years for the verdict. If Trump is culpable, I will write just that.

Again, the letter’s venom (“contempt”) is once again thematic of the leftist inability to debate without slurs. Very sad.

Sincerely, VDH

The End Of Identity Politics

by Victor Davis Hanson//via Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution)

 Image credit: Barbara Kelley

Who are we? asked the liberal social scientist Samuel Huntington over a decade ago in a well-reasoned but controversial book. Huntington feared the institutionalization of what Theodore Roosevelt a century earlier had called “hyphenated Americans.” A “hyphenated American,” Roosevelt scoffed, “is not an American at all.” And 30 years ago, another progressive stalwart and American historian Arthur Schlesinger argued in his book The Disuniting of America that identity politics were tearing apart the cohesion of the United States.

What alarmed these liberals was the long and unhappy history of racial, religious, and ethnic chauvinism, and how such tribal ties could prove far stronger than shared class affinities. Most important, they were aware that identity politics had never proved to be a stabilizing influence on any past multiracial society. Indeed, most wars of the 20th century and associated genocides had originated over racial and ethnic triumphalism, often by breakaway movements that asserted tribal separateness. Examples include the Serbian and Slavic nationalist movements in 1914 against Austria-Hungary, Hitler’s rise to power on the promise of German ethno-superiority, the tribal bloodletting in Rwanda, and the Shiite/Sunni/Kurdish conflicts in Iraq. Read more →

The Three-Headed Hydra of the Middle East

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Trump has inherited a matrix of problems that primarily stem from Iran, Russia, and ISIS.

The abrupt Obama administration pre-election pullout from Iraq in 2011, along with the administration’s failed reset with Russia and the Iran deal, created a three-headed hydra in the Middle East.

What makes the Middle East monster deadly is the interplay between the Iranian terrorist regime and its surrogates Hezbollah and the Assad regime; Russian president Vladimir Putin’s deployment of bombers into Syria and Iraq after a 40-year Russian hiatus in the region; and the medieval beheaders of the Islamic State. Read more →

The Deplorables Shout Back

Struggling rural America proved disenchanted with the country’s trajectory into something like a continental version of Belgium or the Netherlands: borderless, with a global rather than national sense of self; identity politics in lieu of unity and assimilation; a statist and ossified economy with a few winners moralizing to lots of losers—perhaps as a way of alleviating transitory guilt over their own privilege.

The full lessons of the 2016 election are still being digested (or indeed amplified), but one constant is emerging that the world outside our bi-coastal dynamic, hip, and affluent culture is not very well understood by those who lead the country.

 The Left feels that the interior is a veritable cultural wasteland of obesity, Christianists, nihilist self-destructive behavior, and evenings that shut down at dusk in desperate need of federal moral and regulatory oversight. Read more →
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