Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Winning a Lose/Lose War

How to lose battles and gain sympathizers.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online


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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.

6 Thoughts on “Winning a Lose/Lose War

  1. Ted Buila on July 29, 2014 at 8:56 am said:

    Vic you don’t need a water witcher: US=Israel//Israel=US.

  2. Doctor Hanson, you have covered fine points of statesmanship of Western Enlightenment. To bolster your thoughts, I copy an afterword by James Franklin Beard of Clark University regarding James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans.”

    Regarding that humankind can be very cruel… “”yet even in his fallen state, dwarfed as he is by the spatial-temporal immensities of forests, mountains, and lakes, man has impressive potentialities for good and evil; for man, as Cooper and all tragic writers regard him, is ambiguously gifted. He is irremediably finite, severely limited in his capacity for awareness, narrowly constructed by the cultural ties, and forever blinded by an egocentricity that clouds his judgment. To a variable extent, however, he is capable, through the exercise of reason and strict self-discipline, of transcending these conditions so as to solve his problems responsibly, with humility, tolerance, and generosity. Indeed, since man is a social being, his dignity and his survival depend on his cultivation of these qualities…”

    Beard writes of the negative-most features of evil in man (as shown in the demonic Magua)… “Sleflish, greedy, ambitious, lustful, ruthless, revengeful, and sadistic, he uses all his formidable powers to warp reality to his private wishes and so destroys his followers and himself.”

    On the other hand, the positive-most features of good in man (as shown by Chingachgook, Uncas and Hawk-eye)… [they] confront their realities more directly and rationally. Understanding that violence cannot be exorcised by fine sentiments and chivalric displays, they are habitually suspicious, vigilant, and pragmatic. They are experts in all the arts of forest warfare; but they are also experts in the finer art of moral discrimination required for the apparent cruelty of preventive warfare… The gun … is more appropriate to their circumstances than the pitch pipe, and the trio must spend quite as much time educating their companions to the ugly necessities of their situation as practicing their appropriate and legendary skills on the hostile Hurons. Nevertheless, the three conduct themselves with the strictest order and decorum, submitting courteously to constituted authority, even while recognizing its bookish folly…”

    Further… “‘To outwit the knaves,’ Hawk-eye advises Heyward, ‘it is lawful to practice things that may not be naturally the gift of a white skin.'” …. [i.e. nuke them until they stop their single-minded-murderous-genocide, then, after survivors’ minds are thoroughly changed towards good, welcome these post-Troglodyte,nascent proto-humans into the warm and loving family of man…]

  3. Themistocles on July 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm said:

    Thank you.

  4. Dave Kellems on July 30, 2014 at 12:08 am said:

    Ironic, that the intellectual left consistently champions emotion over reason. Modern world events seem little more than a sick circus of envy, vindictiveness, and petulance seeking an opportunity to dominate and/or destroy others in order to compensate for one’s lack of status (Hamas/Islam), or loss of status (Putin/Russia). What greater detriment to human progress can there be than the impulse to destroy others rather than emulate them in regards to their relative greater success in the world compared to one’s own? Yet our highly credentialed, and self-declared rational, liberal elites consistently support the underdog, even when the underdog behaves like a complete horses’ ass. It would seem that the western elite’s washing their hands of religion has resulted in the baby, in the form of knowledge of right and wrong, being thrown out with the bathwater of religious dogmatism. The end result has much of the west reflexively identifying with the wrong side in an endless parade of Cain-vs-Abel-esque conflicts around the world, as well as within our own borders in America. The west’s haughtiness, and lack of humility, are the cardinal sign of a foolish pride that will only continue to embolden all the world’s bad actors to keep pressing forward until they are finally in a position to forcefully restore our humility in the same manner as a hard slap to the face brings one back to their senses…

  5. Your comment about John Kerry, hit a nerve.

    So is there any evidence that our political leaders who have sought or won the Noble Peace Prize, have done so by playing to a world audience most interested in peace thru appeasement?

  6. Zachary on July 31, 2014 at 4:46 pm said:

    Brilliantly summarized. Keep up the good fight VDH.

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