Victor Davis Hanson

Obama’s Tranquility

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJMedia

Photo via PJMedia

Photo via PJMedia

Barack Obama’s team recently took credit for improving the “tranquility of the global community,” and the president made it clear just what a calm place the world has become during his tenure.

But this summer Obama’s tranquil world [1] has descended into medieval barbarism in a way scarcely seen in decades. In Gaza, Hamas is banking its missile arsenal in mosques, schools and private homes; even Hitler did not do that with his V2s. Hamas terrorists resort to trying to wire up animals [2] to serve as suicide bombers. Aztec-style, they seek to capture Israeli soldiers to  torture or trade — a sort of updated version of parading captive soldiers up the Templo Mayor [3] in Tenochtitlan.

Hamas cannot build a hotel, but instead applies its premodern cunning to tunneling [4] and killing in ever more insidious ways. Yet it proves incompetent in doing what it wishes to do best — kill Jewish civilians. Its efforts to kill Jews while getting killed in the process earn it sympathy from the morally obtuse [5] of the contemporary world who would have applauded Hitler in 1945 as an underdog who suffered greatly as he was overwhelmed by the Allies that he once tried to destroy.

In Paris, just seventy years after the Holocaust, sympathetic rioters hit the streets to cheer on Hamas’s efforts to kill more Jews with their crude versions of Vergeltungswaffen [6]. The passive French solution apparently is once again to encourage Jews to leave the country, given the growing number of new Nazis in their midst. Whether Hamas or Putin, the European response is always the same: why cannot they just go away to bother to some Jews or Americans, and leave us alone?

Russian operatives, role-playing as Ukrainian separatists [7], shot down a civilian airliner, then tried to doctor the debris field, then let the bodies decay, and now are looting the wallets of the dead. You cannot get much less tranquil than that.

In Iraq, ISIS, not content with the usual Middle East savagery, resorts to warring on religious  icons, as if torture and murder of the living do not offer enough outlet for their barbarity. They blow up mosques, shatter tombs, and deface graveyards, in their eagerness to restore the 7th century. All that seems more Dark Age than merely medieval.

Iran just missed our “deadline” [8] that was supposed to result in fewer centrifuges in exchange for suspending the sanctions. No sane person now believes that the Iranians will stop nuclear enrichment, or will not get a bomb, or will not threaten to use it when they get one. What will Secretary Kerry do, now that the currency of “red lines,” “deadlines” and “step-over lines” has been all used up?

On the southern border, parents in Central America send unescorted preteens northward among thugs, rapists, and murderers, in hopes that their offspring will survive and thus either anchor their own immigration or at least send back money from the north. Somehow that reality is lost in all the talk about the “children” — the abject callousness of the parents, the greedy cynicism of Central American governments, the shameless duplicity of Mexico that facilitates the transit of children, and the wink-and-nod demographic angling of the Obama left.  Add it all up and we see tens of thousands of children manipulated as mere pawns, as racialists, the callous, and the conniving all call others the very names that properly fit only themselves.

Why go into the torturing, dismemberment and gassing in Syria, or the random savagery of Libya, or what the cartels do each day in Mexico?

In short, outside the rather limited Western world of democracy and free market capitalism, the world — Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East — is a very untranquil place, where the strong dictate to the weak and the weak suffer as they must.

The West is not perfect. It is aging and tired. But right now Obama’s mythical vision of global tranquility exists only in the Westernized world, the result of an aberrant 2,500-year tradition that most of the world despises even as it incompetently seeks to emulate it or travel to it — or just destroy what it cannot have.

Some tranquility.

Copyright © 2008 Works and Days. All rights reserved.

URLs in this post:

[1] Obama’s tranquil world:

[2] trying to wire up animals:

[3] Templo Mayor:

[4] to tunneling:

[5] earn it sympathy from the morally obtuse:

[6] Vergeltungswaffen:

[7] role-playing as Ukrainian separatists:

[8] just missed our “deadline”:



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About victorhanson

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. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

3 Thoughts on “Obama’s Tranquility

  1. Jeff Stanley on July 21, 2014 at 2:55 pm said:

    Aging I suppose, but tired?

    Let’s see. Iraq is living in the aftermath of an American invasion and occupation of 8 years. While in Ukraine, as Peter Hitchens has pointed out, “the EU began [the] conflict by its open encouragement of unconstitutional lawlessness in Kiev” lest the country sign a deal with Putin that the Union didn’t like.

    Meanwhile from down here on the border, it looks like both sides of the aisle must believe that the good ol’ U.S.A. is highly lively. Lively enough to absorb however many millions of Latin America’s “tired, poor, and huddled masses” decide to wade the Bravo while they dither for decades on end.

    Three out of five ain’t bad, and give France an “A” for effort, and that’s four. Heck, I think here in the West we’re acting positively robust.

  2. Wayne Delbeke on July 21, 2014 at 9:07 pm said:

    Note that the four month extension given to Iran takes the date past the November election. Coincidence?

  3. Wayne Delbeke on July 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm said:

    Tranquility base: “The Eagle has NOT landed.”

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