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 Victor Davis Hanson

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.

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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