Victor Davis Hanson

Category Archives: International Relations

The Case for Trump

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Conservatives should vote for the Republican nominee. Donald Trump needs a unified Republican party in the homestretch if he is to have any chance left of catching Hillary Clinton — along with winning higher percentages of the college-educated and women than currently support him. But even before the latest revelations from an eleven-year-old Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump crudely talked about women, he had long ago in the primaries gratuitously insulted his more moderate rivals and their supporters. He bragged about his lone-wolf candidacy and claimed that his polls were — and would be — always tremendous — contrary to his present deprecation of them. Is it all that surprising that some in his party and some independents, who felt offended, swear that they will not stoop to vote for him when in extremis he now needs them? Or that party stalwarts protest that they no longer wish to be associated with a malodorous albatross hung around their neck?

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America’s Civilizational Paralysis

by Victor Davis Hanson // Defining Idea

Image credit:Barbara Kelley

The Greek city-states in the fourth-century BC, fifth-century AD Rome, and the Western European democracies after World War I all knew they could not continue as usual with their fiscal, social, political, and economic behavior. But all these states and societies feared far more the self-imposed sacrifices that might have saved them.

Mid-fifteenth-century Byzantium was facing endemic corruption, a radically declining birthrate and shrinking population, and the end of civic militarism—all the last-gasp symptoms of an irreversible decline. Its affluent ruling and religious orders and expansive government services could no longer be supported by disappearing agrarians and the overtaxed mercantile middle class. Returning to the values of the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century empire that had once ensured a vibrant Byzantine culture of stability and prosperity throughout the old Roman east remained a nostalgic daydream. Given the hardship and sacrifice that would have been required to change the late Byzantine mindset, most residents of Constantinople plodded on to their rendezvous with oblivion in 1453. Read more →

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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Is Deference Really Safer than Deterrence?

Beware international affairs the next five months, a dangerous period for America.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review online

Where’s The Letter From Democratic Security Officials Opposing Hillary?

By Victor Davis Hanson//Town Hall

A group of 50 conservative foreign policy elites and veteran national security officials of prior Republican administrations recently wrote an open letter denouncing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

They cited especially his lack of character and moral authority — and his “little understanding of America’s national interests.” Particularly bothersome, they wrote, is Trump’s inability “to separate truth from falsehood.”

The letter stated that Trump’s one-year campaign of blustery rhetoric suggests he could be as reckless in deed in the White House as he has been in word on the campaign trail.

Is there a like group of past Democratic wise men and women who can commensurately “police their own” and so warn us about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton?

Unlike Trump, Clinton already has an actual political record as a former U.S. senator and secretary of state.

If there were such a group, the heart of their letter might read something like the following:

“We the undersigned who have served in prior Democratic administrations will not vote for Hillary Clinton. Read more →

A Convention of the Absurd

The Democratic Convention was an exercise in absurdist theater.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Trump and the Politics of Moral Outrage

We are very far from a politics of ideological purity and high character.


By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

America In Free Fall

By Victor Davis Hanson // Defining Ideas


Before the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), where Philip II of Macedon prevailed over a common Greek alliance, the city-states had been weakened by years of social and economic turmoil. To read the classical speeches in the Athenian assembly is to learn of the democracy’s constant struggles with declining revenues, insolvency, and expanding entitlements. Rome between the First Triumvirate (59 BC) and the ascension of Caesar Augustus’s autocracy (27 BC) was mostly defined by gang violence, chaos, and civil war, the common theme being a loss of trust in republican values. Russia was in a revolutionary spiral for nearly twenty years between 1905 and the final victory of the Bolsheviks in 1922, ending up with a cure worse than the disease. And Europe between 1930 and 1939 saw most of its democracies erode as fascists and communists gained power—eventually leading to the greater disaster of the outbreak of World War II.

The United States has seen periods of near fatal internal chaos—in the late 1850s leading up to the carnage of the Civil War, during the decade of the Great Depression between 1929 and 1939, and in the chaotic 1960s. Something similar is starting to plague America today on a variety of political, economic, social, and cultural fronts.

The contenders for president reflect the loss of confidence of the times. Bernie Sanders is an avowed socialist. Yet scan the record of big government redistributionism here and abroad—from Chicago and Detroit to the insolvent Mediterranean nations of the European Union and failed states like Venezuela—and there is no encouraging model of socialist success. Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination—if she is not the first nominee in American history to be indicted, on possible charges of violating federal intelligence laws, and perhaps perjury and obstruction of justice. Donald Trump has neither political experience nor a detailed agenda, but has charged ahead on the basis of his vague promise to “make America great again”—a Jacksonian version of Obama’s equally vacuous 2008 promise of “hope and change.”
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ISIS and ‘Domestic’ Terrorism

In reacting to terrorism, Obama cannot bring himself to say the words ‘radical Islam.’

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

There are many threads to the horror in Orlando.

Most disturbing is the serial inability of the Obama administration — in this case as after the attacks at Fort Hood and in Boston and San Bernardino — even to name the culprits as radical Islamists. Major Hasan shouts “Allahu akbar!” and Omar Mateen calls 911 in mediis interfectis to boast of his ISIS affiliation — and yet the administration can still not utter the name of the catalyst of their attacks: radical Islam. It is hard to envision any clearer Islamist self-identification, other than name tags and uniforms. The Obama team seems to fear the unwelcome public responses to these repeated terrorist operations rather than seeing them as requisites for changing policies to prevent their recurrence.

On receiving news of the attack, Obama almost immediately called for greater tolerance for the LGBT community — as if American society, rather than jihadism and the cultural homophobia so characteristic of the Middle East, had fueled the attack; or as if Mateen had not phoned in his ISIS affiliation. Obama strained to find vocabulary equivalent to “workplace violence” and was reduced to suggesting that the Orlando club was a nexus for gay solidarity and thus a target of endemic LGBT hatred, a half- but only half-right summation. Why is Obama’s first reaction always to find perceived fault within American society rather than with radical Islamism, an ideology certainly at odds with all progressive notions of gay rights, feminism, and religious tolerance?
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Walls and Immigration — Ancient and Modern

The Roman empire faced a challenge similar to what the EU faces.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

When standing today at Hadrian’s Wall in northern England, everything appears indistinguishably affluent and serene on both sides.

It was not nearly as calm some 1,900 years ago. In A.D. 122, the exasperated Roman emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of an 80-mile, 20-foot-high wall to protect Roman civilization in Britain from the Scottish tribes to the north.

We moderns often laugh at walls and fortified boundaries, dismissing them as hopelessly retrograde, ineffective, or unnecessary. Yet they still seem to fulfill their mission on the Israeli border, the 38th parallel in Korea, and the Saudi-Iraqi boundary: separating disparate states.

On the Roman side of Hadrian’s Wall there were codes of law, habeas corpus, aqueducts, and the literature of Cicero, Virgil, and Tacitus — and on the opposite side a violent, less sophisticated tribalism.
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