Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Author Archives: 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.

Colluders on the Loose

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Comey, McCabe, Clapper, Brennan, Lynch, Andrew Weissmann, Bruce and Nellie Ohr, Harry Reid, Samantha Power, Clinton attorney Jeannie Rhee . . .

If collusion is the twin of conspiracy, then there are lots of colluders running around Washington.

Robert Mueller was tasked to find evidence of Trump and Russia collusion that might have warped the 2016 campaign and thrown the election to Trump. After a year, his investigation has found no concrete evidence of collusion. So it has often turned to other purported Trump misadventures. Ironically, collusion of all sorts — illegal, barely legal, and simply unethical — has been the sea that Washington fish always swim in.

Read the full article here.

Donald Trump, Tragic Hero

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

His very flaws may be his strengths

The very idea that Donald Trump could, even in a perverse way, be heroic may appall half the country. Nonetheless, one way of understanding both Trump’s personal excesses and his accomplishments is that his not being traditionally presidential may have been valuable in bringing long-overdue changes in foreign and domestic policy.

Tragic heroes, as they have been portrayed from Sophocles’ plays (e.g., AjaxAntigoneOedipus RexPhiloctetes) to the modern western film, are not intrinsically noble. Much less are they likeable. Certainly, they can often be obnoxious and petty, if not dangerous, especially to those around them. These mercurial sorts never end well — and on occasion neither do those in their vicinity. Oedipus was rudely narcissistic, Hombre’s John Russell (Paul Newman) arrogant and off-putting.

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Dueling Populisms

Victor Davis Hanson // Hoover Institution

Populism is seen as both bad and good because people disagree about what it represents and intends. In the present age, there are two different sorts of populism. Both strains originated in classical times and persist today.

In antiquity, one type was known by elite writers of that time to be the “bad” populism. It appealed to the volatile, landless urban “mob,” or what the Athenians dubbed pejoratively the ochlos and the Romans disparagingly called the turba. Their popular unrest was spearheaded by the so-called demagogoi(“leaders of the people”) or, in Roman times, the popular tribunes. These largely urban protest movements focused on the redistribution of property, higher liturgies or taxes on the wealthy, the cancellation of debts, support for greater public employment and entitlements, and sometimes imperialism abroad. Centuries later, the French Revolution and many of the European upheavals of 1848 reflected some of these same ancient tensions. Those modern mobs wanted government-mandated equality of result rather than that of opportunity, and they believed egalitarianism should encompass nearly all facets of life.

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Mueller at the Crossroads

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017 in reaction to a media still gripped by near hysteria over the inexplicable defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

For nearly a year before Mueller’s appointment, leaks had spread about collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign that supposedly cost Clinton a sure victory. Most of these collusion stories, as we now know, originated with Christopher Steele and his now-discredited anti-Trump opposition file.

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Five Catastrophic Decisions

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

1) The Obama administration’s invitation to Vladimir Putin to come into Syria ostensibly to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction. The latter did not happen, but after an over 40-year Russian hiatus in the Middle East, Putin has recalibrated the region, and Russia will be far harder to expel than it was to invite in. John Kerry did not get rid of WMD; he ensured that he got more of it.

2) The Ben Rhodes/John Kerry/Barack Obama Iran Deal. It was a disaster precisely because a) it was unneeded, given the ongoing strangulation of the Iranian economy due to tardy but finally tough sanctions, and b) it was embedded within so many side deals and payoffs, mostly stealthy, that it became a caricature, from nocturnal hostage ransom payments that helped fuel terrorists to whole areas of the Iran nuclear project exempt from spot inspections.

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The Ideology of Illegal Immigration

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Gang members next door and dead dogs dumped in your yard? Don’t complain, or you’ll be called racist.

Illegal immigration has become so deeply embedded for so long within contemporary power politics, demography, and cultural change, so charged with accusations of racism, nativism, and xenophobia, that we have forgotten its intrinsic contradictions.

We saw a glimpse of reality with the recent “caravan” of Central Americans. With a strong wink and nod from their Mexican hosts, the travelers assumed an intrinsic right to march northward into the United States. Had they done so, they would have confirmed the impression, advanced during the last administration, that the border is porous and that a sovereign United States and its citizenry have scant legal right to secure it.

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The Limits of American Patience

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Not being willing any longer to be manipulated is not succumbing to isolationism. Wondering whether the United States can afford another liability is not mindless nationalism. Questioning whether America can afford the status quo here and abroad is not heresy. Assuming we can borrow our way out of any inconvenience is largely over.

What helped elect Trump was a collective weariness with demands put on a country $20 trillion in debt. America is currently running a $57 billion a month trade deficit.

The poverty of inner-city Detroit, or rural Central California, or West Virginia does not suggest an endlessly opulent nation, at least as a visitor might conclude from visiting Manhattan, Chevy Chase, or Presidio Heights.

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A Response to Kevin Williamson

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

In the past, I have often enjoyed Kevin Williamson’s essays. Even when I found them occasionally incoherent and cruel, I thought it hardly my business to object to a colleague’s writing. But I gather, under changed circumstances, such deference no longer applies, given that in Williamson’s very first column at The Atlantic he attacks both me, and in a backhanded way, his former employer National Review for publishing a recent article I wrote.

Last week, my former National Review colleague Victor Davis Hanson published an essay calling for a stronger regulatory hand over high-tech companies, fondly recalling the “cultural revolution of muckraking and trust-busting” of the 19th century, and ending with a plea for “some sort of bipartisan national commission that might dispassionately and in disinterested fashion offer guidelines to legislators” about more tightly regulating these companies, perhaps on the public-utility model.

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Trump Is Cutting Old Gordian Knots

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The proverbial knot of Gordium was impossible to untie. Anyone clever enough to untie it would supposedly become the king of Asia. Many princes tried; all failed.

When Alexander the Great arrived, he was challenged to unravel the impossible knot. Instead, he pulled out his sword and cut through it. Problem solved.

Donald Trump inherited an array of perennial crises when he was sworn in as president in 2017. He certainly did not possess the traditional diplomatic skills and temperament to deal with any of them.

In the last year of the Barack Obama administration, a lunatic North Korean regime purportedly had gained the ability to send nuclear-tipped missiles to the U.S. west coast.

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The New Last Refuge Of Scoundrels

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

Samuel Johnson famously used that line in an attack on William Pitt for supposedly advancing his agenda under warped pretenses. During the McCarthy era and the 1960s anti-war movement against Vietnam, when leftists were called unpatriotic, they offered Johnson’s line as a riposte, quoting it ad nauseam, not as a serious counter-argument but as an accusation that the conservative establishment was smearing them.

When Harvey Weinstein was caught coercing female subordinates, assaulting actresses, and offering quid pro quo perks for quickie sex, he thought, in medieval fashion, that he could preserve his fortune and power by making politically correct offsets.

Read the full article here.

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