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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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America: History’s Exception

We should seek to preserve the ideals that made America successful.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

The history of nations is mostly characterized by ethnic and racial uniformity, not diversity.

Most national boundaries reflected linguistic, religious, and ethnic homogeneity. Until the late 20th century, diversity was considered a liability, not a strength.

Countries and societies that were ethnically homogeneous, such as ancient Germanic tribes or modern Japan, felt that they were inherently more stable and secure than the alternative, whether late imperial Rome or contemporary America.

Many societies created words to highlight their own racial purity. At times, “Volk” in German and “Raza” in Spanish (and “Razza” in Italian) meant more than just shared language, residence, or culture; those words also included a racial essence. Even today, it would be hard for someone Japanese to be fully accepted as a Mexican citizen, or for a native-born Mexican to migrate and become a Japanese citizen.
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Remembering D-Day

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

 

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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The Myth Of Progress

By Victor Davis Hanson // Defining Ideas

President Obama is fond of using the phrase “the arc of the moral universe,” a line derived from Martin Luther King Jr’s longer quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

King, in fact, lifted the often-used sentence from earlier Christian ministers. They, in turn, apparently borrowed the optimistic adage from its originator, Theodore Parker, a mid-nineteenth-century transcendentalist preacher. Obama also frequently favors sayings such as “the right side of history” and “the wrong side of history,” even though these Marxist nuggets refer to the supposed inevitable and morally overdue triumph of statism. Another favored presidential expression is “settled science,” as if natural inquiry always meets the end of history and becomes frozen in amber.
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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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The Horrors of Hiroshima in Context

 

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

The Tough Choices of Overseas Intervention

Victor Davis Hanson // Tribune Media Services

The United States has targeted a lot of rogues and their regimes in recent decades: Muammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Mohamed Farrah Aidid, Manuel Noriega and the Taliban.

As a general rule over the last 100 years, any time the U.S. has bombed or intervened and then abruptly left the targeted country, chaos has followed. But when America has followed up its use of force with unpopular peacekeeping, sometimes American interventions have led to something better. Read more →

Barack Churchill, 1939

“Certainly we do not need a disproportionate response to Herr Hitler that initiates a cycle of violence on both sides. We need to tamp down the rhetoric.” 

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

Photo via PJ Media

Photo via PJ Media

I have nothing to offer you, except blood, sweat, and arugula.

Winston Churchill, well before he became prime minister in May 1940, was busy all through 1939 prompting the British government to prepare for war — and then, as first lord of the Admiralty, helping to direct it once it broke out. But what if Churchill had been Barack Obama? What would Britain’s foremost opponent of appeasement have been like?

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