Victor Davis Hanson

Category Archives: War

From Greek tragedy to American therapy

From Greek tragedy to American therapy


The Greeks gave us tragedy — the idea that life is never fair. Terrible stuff for no reason tragically falls on good people. Life’s choices are sometimes only between the bad and the far worse.

In the plays of the ancient dramatists Aeschylus and Sophocles, heroism and nobility only arise out of tragedies.

The tragic hero refuses to blame the gods for his terrible fate. Instead, a Prometheus, Ajax or Oedipus prefers to fight against the odds. He thereby establishes a code of honor, even as defeat looms.

In contrast, modern Americans gave the world therapy.

Life must always be fair. If not, something or someone must be blamed. All good people deserve only a good life — or else.

A nation of victims soon becomes collectively paralyzed in fear of offending someone. Pay down the $20 trillion debt? Reform the unsustainable Social Security system? Ask the 47 percent of the population that pays no income tax to at least pay some?

Nope. Victims would allege that such belt-tightening is unfair and impossible — and hurtful to boot. So we do nothing as the rendezvous with financial collapse gets ever closer.

Does anyone think a culture of whiners can really build high-speed rail in California? Even its supporters want the noisy tracks built somewhere away from their homes.

Even animals get in on the new victimhood. To build a reservoir in drought-stricken California means oppressing the valley elderberry longhorn beetle or ignoring the feelings of the foothill yellow-legged frog.
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Is Trump Admiral Bull Halsey or Captain Queeg?

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
In debate No. 2, Trump owes it to the ‘deplorables’ to focus on the issues and exert some self-control. In the first debate, Hillary stuck out her jaw on cybersecurity, the treatment of women, sermons on the need for restrained language, and talk about the shenanigans of the rich — and Trump passed on her e-mail scandals, her denigration of Bill’s women, her reckless smears like “deplorables,” and her pay-for-pay Clinton Foundation enrichment, obsessed instead with the irrelevant and insignificant.
In fact, the first presidential debate resembled the final scene out of the Caine Mutiny. Trump was melting down like the baited Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), in his convoluted wild-goose-chase defenses of his arcane business career. Watching it was as painful as it was for the admiral judges in the movie who saw fellow officer Queeg reduced to empty shouting about strawberries.

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Douglas MacArthur’s Brilliant, Controversial Legacy

A new biography examines the many sides of the versatile American general.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

When a War Went Worldwide 75 Years Ago

The irrational aggressiveness of the Axis powers teaches us not to expect our enemies to be reasonable.


By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Remembering D-Day

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online


President Obama Is Visiting Hiroshima. Why Not Pearl Harbor?

On the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, what lessons does the U.S. need to relearn?

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the December 7, 1941, Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that killed more than 2,400 Americans.

President Obama is visiting Hiroshima this week, the site of the August 6, 1945, dropping of the atomic bomb that helped end World War II in the Pacific Theater. But strangely, he has so far announced no plans to visit Pearl Harbor on the anniversary of the attack. The president, who spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, should do so — given that many Americans have forgotten why the Japanese attacked the United States and why they falsely assumed that they could defeat the world’s largest economic power.

Imperial Japan was not, as often claimed, forced into a corner by a U.S. oil embargo, which came only after years of horrific Japanese atrocities in China and Southeast Asia. Instead, an opportunistic and aggressive fascist Japan gambled that the geostrategy of late 1941 had made America uniquely vulnerable to a surprise attack.

By December 1, 1941, Nazi Germany, Japan’s Axis partner, had reached the suburbs of Moscow. Japan believed that the German army would soon knock the Soviet Union out of the war.
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How Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy De-Stabilized the World

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Trump or Clinton — a Hobson’s Choice?

What do conservatives do when there is no conservative candidate?

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Setting the Record Straight on Britain, America, and World War II

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

While in London last week, President Obama waded into the upcoming British referendum about whether the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union.

Controversy followed his lecture about the future of the Anglo-American relationship should Britain depart the EU. Obama also implied that without an EU, the United States might again be dragged into European squabbling, as it had been in the prior world wars.

Americans might take this occasion to reflect on Britain’s role in World War II.

Before the war, the League of Nations had done nothing to deter the future Axis powers from invading or annexing Albania, Austria, China, Czechoslovakia, and Ethiopia.
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World War II Amnesia


Seventy-seven years ago, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, triggering a declaration of war by Great Britain and its Empire and France. After Hitler’s serial aggressions in the Rhineland, the Anschluss with Austria, the Munich Agreement, and the carving up of Czechoslovakia, no one believed that a formal war over Poland would lead to anything greater than yet another German border grab. The invasion of Poland would likely be followed by loud but empty threats for Hitler to stop, and a phony war of inaction and grumbling.

But after dismembering Poland, and dividing its spoils with the Soviet Union, Hitler unexpectedly absorbed Denmark and Norway the next spring. Then in May 1940, he successfully invaded Belgium, France, Holland, and Luxembourg. He tried to bomb Britain into submission. The conflict eventually spread to the Mediterranean and became truly a “world war” in 1941 with the surprise Axis attacks on the Soviet Union and the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
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