Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Will 2020 Be Another 1972 for Democrats?

by Victor Davis Hanson//National Review

Going hard to the left was the wrong lesson to learn from their narrow loss in 1968, and they could repeat the mistake.

Forty-nine years ago, Vice President Hubert Humphrey was the Democratic candidate for president.

The year 1968 was a tumultuous one that saw the assassinations of rival candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy and civil-rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. Lyndon Johnson’s unpopular lame-duck Democratic administration imploded because of massive protests against the Vietnam War.

Yet Humphrey almost defeated Republican nominee Richard Nixon, losing the election by just over 500,000 votes (43.4 percent to 42.7 percent). Read more →

From an Angry Reader:

Dear Continually Angry Reader Steve Faddy

Hey Vic,

I understand you are a historian, but please write a timely piece, maybe touching on the brilliant incoherence of the foreign policy of the Mad King Don. Obama is no longer the President. Write something relevant to the present populace instead of another pedantic vitriolic anti-Obama rant. That piece may even be apt. Seriously you can do better, I suspect you are relatively intelligent. I have even read your books. Thanks. Your friend, Steve

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Hey Steve,

Sometimes unpredictability is far more effective in a leader than scripted impotence. Obama is no longer president, yes—but his legacy of appeasement with Iran, North Korea, and Russia, as well as the messes in Syria, Libya, and Iraq remain. Even his supporters now say that they wish he had honored his redline in Syria, which might have deterred Assad from gassing additional children.

I follow the following formula: I do not mention Obama for four columns, and on the fifth may if his legacy is in the news. He is fading from the national conscious, but we still are stuck with a doubling of the debt, the ACA, and a world at the brink.

Thanks. Your friend, Victor

Nukes + Nuttiness = Neanderthal Deterrence

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Acting crazy has worked for rogue regimes, but Western appeasement is not a long-term solution.

How can an otherwise failed dictatorship best suppress internal dissent while winning international attention, influence — and money?

Apparently, it must openly seek nuclear weapons.

Second, the nut state should sound so crazy and unpredictable that it might just use them, regardless of civilization’s deterrent forces arrayed against it.

Third, it must welcome being “reluctantly” pulled into nonproliferation talks to prolong the farce and allow its deep-pocket enemies to brag of their diplomatic “strategic patience” and sophistication. Read more →


From an Angry Reader:

Mr. Hanson,

 As a registered Republican, I am disgusted with the behavior of President Trump and always surprised with the support he receives from people who appear to be well educated knowledgeable, and intelligent.

 I would give your written opinion more credit if you did not position yourself so far to the Republican right. Certainly every president inherits the responsibility to address the current problems of the United States and world politics and it’s effects on the US. One of Obama’s first, was the financial crisis caused by wide spread banking fraud allowed by Pres. Bush. When the American sailors were taken into custody by Iran, they had trespassed (lost or not) into Iranian waters, and diplomatic efforts, under Obama resulted in their release. Obama was an eloquent speaker and displayed strong family values, something the Republican party use to tout as very important but now with Trump fathering children from three different women and bragging about sexually grouping women at the age of 59 years old, the Republican’s stay quiet on this character flaw. Russian and China may have launched cyberattacks on us, however Trump cheered Russian on, to continue those attacks during his election.

 My hope is our government has enough protections in place, so that we can control Trump’s “kneejerk,” and “loud mouth,” twitter reactions to avoid an unnecessary war and if war is required, we are in the best position to win that war.

 Nina Jacobs


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Nina Jacobs,

Where to begin?

The “banking fraud” of 2008 was caused by lax standards, mandated during Clinton-era “reforms” at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which led to vast sums loaned for subprime mortgages to unqualified buyers—a result also of Wall Street/banking greed, Clinton appointees enriching themselves, and identity/progressive politics. Read more →

The Tar Pits Abroad


As missiles fall on Syria in retaliation for Bashar Assad’s medieval use of chemical weapons—and as voices call for the use of some American ground troops to expedite his removal—we might reflect upon American military interventions in the post-Vietnam era.

America’s major interventions include Iraq in 1991, the Balkans in 1995 and 1999, Afghanistan in 2002, Iraq from 2003 to 2011, and, Libya in 2011. More minor interventions occurred in places like Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama—and there were occasional bombings in Africa and the Middle East. Although awful dictators were often removed—Maurice Bishop, Manuel Noriega, Slobodan Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi—nothing quite turned out as expected.

The first Gulf War forced the genocidal Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, but left him in power in Iraq, where he continued to murder thousands. Hussein’s reign prompted 12 years of UN-sanctioned no-fly-zones, “oil for food” graft, on-off American bombing against his regime—and, of course, another war. Twelve years later, and after the disaster of 9/11, George W. Bush finally got rid of Saddam. But the cost was steep. America lost 4,516 soldiers to achieve a peace and consensual government by 2008—only to have Obama effectively relinquish control of the country to Iran and ISIS in 2011.

To read more:

Apocalyptic Progressivism

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Instead of overcoming challenges, progressive politicians exploit them to expand government.
Shortly after the 2008 election, President Obama’s soon-to-be chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, infamously declared, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”
He elaborated: “What I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
Disasters, such as the September 2008 financial crisis, were thus seen as opportunities. Out of the chaos, a shell-shocked public might at last be ready to accept more state regulation of the economy and far greater deficit spending. Indeed, the national debt doubled in the eight years following the 2008 crisis.
During the 2008 campaign, gas prices at one point averaged over $4 a gallon. Then-candidate Obama reacted by pushing a green agenda — as if the cash-strapped but skeptical public could be pushed into alternative-energy agendas.

Read more →

What Happened to the ‘Special Relationship’?

The Corner
The one and only.
by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Not all that long ago we were lectured that Obama, with his charisma and savvy, had won over Recep Tayyip Erdogan and formed a new partnership with him that would lead to Middle East stability and a new Turkish omnipresence as a force for good. So, for example, on December 7, 2011, in the Washington Post, Washington insider David Ignatius gushed about the emerging duo:
They are unlikely partners: a cool and unflappable U.S. president and a proud, sometimes hot-tempered Turkish prime minister. But they have developed a working relationship that is one of the most important but least discussed developments shaping this year of change in the Arab world.
If you’re looking for factors that can keep the Arab Awakening from turning into a nightmare, the U.S.-Turkey partnership is mildly reassuring. President Obama and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have worked closely to manage events in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and, increasingly, Iran.
They have talked by phone 13 times this year, according to the White House.

Read more →

From an Angry Reader:

You used to be my favorite columnist, in fact the only one I read. But it seems you’ve recently become overly mesmerized with Trumpism and the resulting anti Obamaism. I wish you’d returned to objective history.


Doug Waltner

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

 Dear Sort of Angry Reader Doug Waltner,You should read more than one columnist; I certainly do.

If you followed my columns from last year, you will remember that I had often criticized “Trumpism,” which is not directly tied to “anti-Obamism.” But by June 2016, when considering likely appointments to the Supreme Court, State, Defense, Homeland Security, and National Security Advisor, as well as issues such illegal immigration, taxes, health care, and spending, I felt there was no comparison between what Trump might do versus what Hillary Clinton most certainly would do. I think the first 100 days bears that out, namely that Trump is the more conservative candidate. I also thought he was likely to win the election, after listening to various working class people tell me that they were going to vote for the first time and for Trump. Read more →

Restoring Deterrence, One Bomb at a Time?

 by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
The only thing more dangerous than losing deterrent power is trying to put it back together again.
The Tomahawk volley attack, for all its ostentatious symbolism, served larger strategic purposes. It reminded a world without morality that there is still a shred of a rule or two: Do not use nerve gas on the battlefield or against civilians. The past faux redline from Obama, the systematic use of chlorine gas by Syria, and its contextualization by the Obama administration had insidiously eroded that old battlefield prohibition. Trump was right to seek to revive it.
The subsequent MOAB bomb strike in Afghanistan is useful against ISIS’s subterranean nests, and in signaling the Taliban and ISIS that the U.S. too can be unpredictable and has not quite written off its 16-year commitment. But as in the case of the Tomahawk strikes against Syria, it also fulfilled the larger purpose of reminding enemies, such as Islamic terrorists, North Korea, and Iran (which all stash weapons of destruction in caves and the like) that the U.S. is capable of anything.
In other words, apparently anywhere Trump thinks that he can make a point about deterrence, with good odds of not getting Americans killed or starting a war (he used Tomahawks not pilots where Russian planes were in the vicinity), he will probably drop a bomb or shoot off a missile or send in an iconic carrier fleet.

Read more →

Obama Is America’s Version of Stanley Baldwin

 by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Both leaders put their successors in a dangerous geopolitical position.

Last year, President Obama assured the world that “we are living in the most peaceful, prosperous, and progressive era in human history,” and that “the world has never been less violent.”

Translated, those statements meant that active foreign-policy volcanoes in China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and the Middle East would probably not blow up on what little was left of Obama’s watch.

Obama is the U.S. version of Stanley Baldwin, the suave, three-time British prime minister of the 1920s and 1930s.

Baldwin’s last tenure (1935–1937) coincided with the rapid rise of aggressive German, Italian, and Japanese Fascism.

Baldwin was a passionate spokesman for disarmament. He helped organize peace conferences. He tirelessly lectured on the need for pacifism. He basked in the praise of his good intentions. Read more →

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