Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

From An Angry Reader:

To: Prof. Victor Davis Hanson


At the end of your interview with Scott Simon on 8 July 2017 I heard this: “And look how they took a good man like George Bush and turned him into a monster”. It caught my attention.


One of the few things I agree with Donald J Trump about is what he had to say on the campaign trail about George W Bush, his administration, 911, and the Iraq war. I don’t think I need to remind you but: The Bush Administration was informed repeatedly by the outgoing Clinton administration that Osama Bin Laden was determined to attack the US on its own soil. So the Bush Administration failed to act on the real intelligence it had. Donald J Trump said as much. Donald J Trump thought that the George W Bush and his Administration lied to congress and the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He said so. Now I don’t believe this is true because Trump said so, I believe it because I used the same straight up news reporting to come to my conclusions Trump did. Reporting by people with years of credibility at major news organizations brought me the following:


  1. The ‘Yellowcake from Nigeria’ paper is a phony. With real yellowcake, billions of dollars, the right people, and a couple of years perhaps you have a deliverable weapon.
  2. Iraq had been under embargo since the first Gulf war. They didn’t even have GPS for their troops in the desert, much less centrifuges, aluminum tubes, or a way to get a nuclear weapon to the US.
  3. Hans Blixt and his team had found all but nothing that suggested a current WMD program. No program.
  4. Secretary of State Powell’s presentation at the United Nations was unconvincing. If the Bush Administration had something real to show let the public see it.
  5. All assertions of great danger to the public in the press were coming from the Bush and Blair administrations or parrots in Commons, Congress and the Right wing press.
  6. Real reporters have ways of getting information out of places like Iraq under Saddam Hussein There was silence. No intelligence is intelligence too.
  7. Finally an ‘intelligence estimate’ (which is all they had), is an estimate. Not a ‘slam dunk’.


On the basis of the above I believed there was little chance Iraq had wmd’s. There is no Bill Maher or Steven Colbert or any one like them leading to my conclusion that the Bush and Blair Administrations lied. If George W Bush’s reputation suffers from this so be it. I have in laws who still think of George W Bush as a “lovely Christian man” I don’t. I think “monster” is not as accurate as war criminal. He’s a war criminal along with Cheney and Rumsfeld et al. who supported this lie. My opinion of George W Bush is not based on Left wing comics and commentators and I don’t need to use foul or abusive language. I’m as angry as those who do. So no weapons of mass destruction. Plenty of lies and death. America should face up to this. I hoped to hear more when Trump brought it up. All I heard was the sound of pearls being clutched Left and Right. Let’s not let something so wrong happen again. We would be living in a different world if the SCOTUS cared about who won Florida in 2000.


Have a nice day.


Reuel Kenyon


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Reuel Kenyon,


Bill Clinton is not a good source for bin Laden on any matter; his appeasement after terrorist attacks emboldened bin Laden, and he turned down an offer from Middle Eastern nations to arrest bin Laden and extradite him to the U.S.


All these issues have been adjudicated. Bush did not “lie” but relied on the intelligence of the era—from the CIA (“slam dunk”), NSA, and DIA, and from foreign intelligence services such as those in Jordan and Egypt that warned us that our troops would come under missile chemical attack while mustering in Kuwait (was that an international conspiracy, one that prompted tens of thousands of chemical mask protection kits to be issued to our troops?).


But more importantly, did you ever read the joint Congressional authorizations of October 2002 for the war—the official and legal basis for undertaking the war?


There were some 23 writs; only 3-4 concerned WMD. Most cited genocide, violation of UN accords, destruction of the Kurds and Marsh Arabs, the Clinton era liberation act, bounties for suicide bombers on the West Bank, harboring of terrorist killers from the first World Trade Center attack and other operations, attempts to kill George H.W. Bush, violations of no-fly-zones and 1991 accords, etc.


They were passed with sizable Democratic support—with stirring speeches from Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton. Biden later suggested a stable Iraq was perhaps the Obama administration’s “greatest achievement,” a characterization echoed by Obama when he prematurely pulled out peace-keepers from a stable Iraq in late 2011—ensuring the chaos that followed.


Your angry letter is a calcified relic of 2006-7 and the hysteria of the Michael Moore/Cindy Sheehan era. In the words of progressives—time to Move On.


Have a nice day,


Victor Hanson

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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