Category Archives: History

Russia: Weaker than What?

VDH commentary on the ‘CAN OR SHOULD THE WEST TRY TO STOP VLADIMIR PUTIN’S ATTEMPTS TO REABSORB PORTIONS OF THE OLD SOVIET UNION?’ issue 13 of Strategika

Our elites often diagnose Vladimir Putin as acting from “weakness” in his many aggressions.

A list of Russia’s symptoms of feebleness follows: demographic crises, alcoholism, declining longevity, a one-dimensional economy, corruption, environmental damage, etc. But weakness is a relative concept in matters of high-stakes aggression.

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D-Day at 70 

Remembering the most brilliantly conducted invasion in military history

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

General Eisenhower speaks with paratroopers prior to the invasion. (Photo via Library of Congress)

Seventy years ago this June 6, the Americans, British, and Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest amphibious invasion of Europe since the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 B.C.

About 160,000 troops landed on five Normandy beaches and linked up with airborne troops in a masterful display of planning and courage. Within a month, almost a million Allied troops had landed in France and were heading eastward toward the German border. Within eleven months the war with Germany was over.

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‘This Is the Last Territorial Demand I Have to Make in Europe’

by Victor Davis Hanson // NRO’s The Corner 

Vladimir Putin all but said the above yesterday, after annexing the Crimea — and promising to let alone the rest of the Ukraine. If we just insert Ukraine and Russia for Czechoslovakia and Germany, the following speech could easily be Putin’s: Read more →

A New Obama Doctrine?

With his presidency in tailspin, Carter radically changed course. Will Obama do the same?

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

By the beginning of 1980, Jimmy Carter was in big trouble. Almost everything he had said or done in foreign policy over the prior three years had failed — and he was running for reelection.388px-JimmyCarterPortrait

Carter had come into office in 1977 promising a new American stance abroad predicated on human rights. He bragged of an end to our supposedly inordinate fear of Soviet-inspired Communism. He entertained the hope of not losing a single American soldier in combat during his tenure. And he rejected the realpolitik of the Nixon-Kissinger years.

The State Department would end the excessive influence of the bellicose National Security Council. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance would put a kinder, gentler face on American diplomacy. We championed Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe over more moderate black reformers. We broke with the Shah of Iran, who fled his country in January 1979. We for a while praised the Ayatollah Khomeini and sought ways to reach out to him. Carter’s U.N. ambassador, Andrew Young, called Khomeini “some kind of saint.” Young met secretly with PLO representatives in Kuwait. In an interview, he falsely alleged of his own country that “We still have hundreds of people that I would categorize as political prisoners in our prisons.” Read more →

Following the Trail Nixon Blazed

Obama shows the same Orwellian disregard for the Constitution.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

What would a president do if he were furious over criticism, or felt that his noble aims justified Nixon_while_in_US_Congressmost means of attaining them?

Answer that by comparing the behavior of Richard Nixon to that of an increasingly similar Barack Obama.

Nixon tried to use the Internal Revenue Service to go after his political enemies — although his IRS chiefs at least refused his orders to focus on liberals.

Nixon ignored settled law and picked and chose which statutes he would enforce — from denying funds for the Clean Water Act to ignoring congressional subpoenas.

Nixon attacked TV networks and got into personal arguments with journalists such as CBS’s Dan Rather.

Nixon wanted the Federal Communications Commission to hold up the licensing of some television stations on the basis of their political views.

Nixon went after “enemies.” He ordered surveillance to hound his suspected political opponents and was paranoid about leaks. Read more →

Obama: Ike Redivivus?

Obama admirers have created a complete distortion of “the Eisenhower era.”

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

In critique of the George W. Bush administration, and in praise of the perceived foreign-policy restraint of Obama’s first five years in the White House, a persistent myth has arisen that WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR II/PERSONALITIESObama is reminiscent of Eisenhower — in the sense of being a president who kept America out of other nations’ affairs and did not waste blood and treasure chasing imaginary enemies.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Andrew Bacevich, Fareed Zakaria (“Why Barack Is like Ike”), and a host of others have made such romantic, but quite misleading, arguments about the good old days under the man they consider the last good Republican president.

Ike was no doubt a superb president. Yet while he could be sober and judicious in deploying American forces abroad, he was hardly the non-interventionist of our present fantasies, who is so frequently used and abused to score partisan political points.

There is a strange disconnect about Eisenhower’s supposed policy of restraint, especially in reference to the Middle East, and his liberal use of the CIA in covert operations. While romanticizing Ike, we often deplore the 1953 coup in Iran and the role of the CIA, but seem to forget that it was Ike who ordered the CIA intervention that helped to lead to the ouster of Read more →

Class Warfare, An American Tradition

We are no more partisan today than we were at the nation’s founding.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

Are we more “polarized” and “partisan” than we were in the past? Political commentators think so. In a recentAtlantic profile, conservative pollster Frank Luntz attributed his cynicism about American politics to the unprecedented polarization of the American people he has seen in his recent work with focus groups. They are “contentious and argumentative,” don’t “listen to each other as they once had,” and are not “interested in hearing other points of view.” The fault lies in Washington, where the people are “picking up their leads.” Read more →

Why Should We Study War?

Military history tells the story of human nature at its great heights and terrible lows.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

In the latter years of World War I, Winston Churchill met with the novelist and poet Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon was a winner of the Military Cross––he single-handedly routed 60 Germans and captured a trench on the Hindenburg Line––and a fierce pacifist. Sassoon’s reminiscences of that meeting reveal how odd my title question would have struck most people before our time. He recalled that during their conversation, Churchill “gave me an emphatic vindication of militarism as an instrument of policy and stimulator of glorious individual achievements.” Read more →

Facts, Democrats and the JFK Legend

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

The mythologizing of John F. Kennedy in the 50 years since his death has verified the adage in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The JFK legend recycled all these years is of a liberal icon, the glamorous martyr470px-John_F._Kennedy,_White_House_photo_portrait,_looking_up whose violent death has validated and sanctified big government, redistributive economic polices, and quasi-pacifist internationalism. The facts, however, belie this myth, which also obscures the true significance of JFK’s brief administration.

In reality, Kennedy was not a liberal in today’s sense of the word, but a conservative Democrat, a Cold-War warrior and tax-cutter, as documented by Ira Stoll in JFK, Conservative. Far from the civil rights saint portrayed in the legend, his support for civil rights legislation was lukewarm, driven by the momentum for desegregation started before him by Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces, and codified by Eisenhower in the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights acts, the first civil rights legislation since 1875. In fact, Kennedy believed that over-hasty progress on civil rights would alienate the conservative Southern wing of the Democrats. That’s why he advised Martin Luther King against his groundbreaking March on Washington in August of 1963, and put little effort into passing additional civil rights legislation. Read more →

Needed: A Different Sort of President

Charismatic career politicians don’t make the best commanders-in-chief.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

The second terms of the latest three presidents have not been successful. Bill Clinton was impeached after his infamous lie to Americans, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Photo Credit: Loomingy1 via FlickrGeorge W. Bush was blamed for the postwar violence in Iraq.

Barack Obama’s scandals — with his accompanying “limited hangout” denials — are ruining his second term: the growing IRS messes, the Associated Press monitoring, the NSA embarrassments, the Benghazi killings, the Syria bluster and backdown, and, of course, the Obamacare fiasco and the misleading statements about it.

What are other common denominators of this collective tenure of our recent presidents?

After popular first terms and reelection, they seemed to have lost public confidence and the ability to continue an agenda.

Do two terms wear out a president?

Maybe the hubris of getting reelected convinces our commanders-in-chief that they are mostly beyond reproach. Overreach ensues. Then the goddess Nemesis descends in destructive fashion to remind them that they are mere mortals. Read more →

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