Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

An Optimistic U.S. Foreign Policy

 
 History teaches us that during war and international crises, just when things were looking most grim, they were oftentimes already getting better.

Consider the dark days of World War II. Seventy-five years ago, 1942 started out as an awful year. The United States and the British were still reeling from the December 1941 Japanese surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Singapore would fall in February 1942 in an ignominious defeat; and the American bastion at Corregidor surrendered in May.

For the first four months of the war, Japan had run wild. Or as two Japanese analysts, Masatake Okuymiya and Jiro Horikoshi, put it: “Japan took more territory over a greater area than any country in history and did not lose a single ship.” By June, the Japanese Empire stretched from the Aleutian Islands to the Indian Ocean, and from Wake Island to the Russian-Manchurian border—the most expansive Asian Empire in world history.

Things were no better for the Allies in the European theater. In August 1942, German soldiers climbed Mt. Elbrus, the highest mountain in the Caucasus, as the German army neared the shores of the Caspian Sea, and one of the richest oil fields in the world. The vast Third Reich stretched from the English Channel to the Volga River and from the Arctic Circle southward to the Sahara by the summer of 1942.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

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.

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