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.

Trump’s Generals Are Too Valuable to Be Dismissed

Victor Davis Hanson // Town Hall

Near-daily gossip surrounds Donald Trump’s three marquee generals.

The media sometimes blare out rumors that Gen. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, is proving to be a loose cannon and might soon be fired.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, is occasionally rumored to be a robotic PowerPoint wonk and hawkish interventionist who soon might be terminated.

Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis is purportedly too much the centrist Democrat, and embarrassed by Trump’s antics, and thus might be leaving.

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The Real Russian Disaster

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Donald Trump has said a lot of silly stuff about Russia, from joking about Vladimir Putin helping to find Hillary’s deleted emails, to naïve musings about the extent of Russian interference into Western democratic elections. But far more important than what he has said is what Trump has done. That same caveat applies to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Start with two givens: Vladimir Putin is neither stupid nor content to watch an aging, shrinking, corrupt, and dysfunctional — but still large and nuclear — Russia recede to second- or third-power status. From 2009 to 2015, in one of the most remarkable and Machiavellian efforts in recent strategic history, Putin almost single-handedly parlayed a deserved losing hand into a winning one. He pulled this off by flattering, manipulating, threatening, and outsmarting an inept and politically obsessed Obama administration.

Under the Obama presidency and the tenures of Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, Russia made astounding strategic gains — given its intrinsic economic, social, and military weaknesses. The Obama reaction was usually incoherent (Putin was caricatured as a “bored kid in the back of the classroom” or as captive of a macho shtick). After each aggressive Russian act, the administration lectured that “it is not in Russia’s interest to . . . ” — as if Obama knew better than a thuggish Putin what was best for autocratic Russia.

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The Labyrinth of Oppressions

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

When the human experience is simplistically divided into two worlds, then things increasingly do not easily fit.

Specifically, what happens when the number of victims begins to outnumber the pool of oppressors? At that point can the oppressed become victims of the oppressed?

The following news stories illustrate the increasingly incoherent world of the aggrieved and their aggressors:

Item: Nancy Pelosi is on a tour to blast the new tax reform and reduction law, whose savings often will result in $1,000 or more per annum to families. The law already had encouraged private enterprise bonuses to employees due to employer savings. Pelosi habitually scoffs that such savings are “crumbs.” At a recent speech, after she intoned that income inequality would be exacerbated, a woman in the audience shouted out, “How much are you worth, Nancy?”

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Rethinking Watergate

Victor Davis Hanson // Hoover Institution

The Watergate break-in is now 45 years old. The scandal is as distant from our own time as it was once from 1928. The median age of Americans is about 38 years old. Half of all Americans were likely born after the break-in. But Watergate is hardly ancient history.

The fumes of Watergate waft around the current FISA-gate scandal. The now septuagenarians Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, of All the President’s Men fame, are back in the news. As seasoned crusading reporters, they currently offer admonitions that Donald Trump is replaying the role of a supposedly paranoid and imperious Richard Nixon.

But is he? The two investigative journalists who first brought Watergate to public attention are certainly not wrong about parallels—but not in the way they imagine. FISA-gate is becoming Watergate turned upside down. The respective roles of the government, liberal Democrats, civil libertarians, and the White House are now reversed—and this turnaround is, in a strange way, redefining Watergate itself.

In 1973-74, civil libertarians were shocked at White House efforts to use the CIA to suppress information about the break-in at the Watergate complex and the subsequent efforts to hide or misrepresent it. They were rightly outraged that the Nixon reelection campaign broke the law in efforts to find dirt on Democrats. They were incredulous that the White House used hush money to silence those charged with the crime, and to hide the origins and transference of such payments.

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The Paradoxes of the Mueller Investigation

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

They are numerous, and none of them are good news for President Trump’s opponents.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals for allegedly conspiring to sow confusion in the 2016 presidential election. The chance of extraditing any of the accused from Vladimir Putin’s Russia is zero.

Some of the Russians’ Keystone Cops efforts to disrupt the election favored Donald Trump (as well as Bernie Sanders). Yet Mueller’s team made it clear that the Russians neither colluded with any U.S. citizens nor had any material effect on the election’s outcome.

But from here on out, there will be ironies, paradoxes, and unintended consequences with just about everything Mueller does.

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Understanding the California Mind

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Nancy Pelosi gave a marathon speech on illegal immigration the other day. But how would she know much about the realities of open borders, given her palatial retreat in Northern California and multi-millionaire lifestyle that allows wealthy progressives like herself to be exempt from the consequences of her own hectoring? In the end, the House minority leader was reduced to some adolescent racialist patter about her grandson wishing to look more like his Mexican-American friend.

I was thinking of the San Francisco Democrat’s speech last week, during a brief drive into our local town, in a region that is ground zero of California’s illegal immigration experience.

Illegal immigrants are neither collective saints nor sinners, but simply individuals who arrive from one of the poorest regions in the Americas, without legality or much in the way of English, or high school education.

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Kill Chic

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

In movies, novels, music, and art, progressives murder their enemies, including presidents, in myriad ways.

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom.

We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping flesh, as if it is some sort of macabre ballet. Rap music has institutionalized violence against women and the police — to the tune of billions in profits, largely as a way for suburban kids to find vicarious street authenticity. And this idea of metaphorically cutting, bleeding, or shooting those whom you don’t like without real consequences has seeped into the national political dialogue.

For example, why does popular culture wink and nod at the widespread metaphorical killing of Republican presidents? Liberals used to believe that words mattered and images had consequences; the casual glorification of carnage trivialized violence and only made it more acceptable — and likely.

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02/16/2018 Angry Reader

From An Angry Reader:

Sir, Your piece on political scandals is totally skewed of facts. The only so-called FISA-gate has been created by Trump’s lacky Nunes. Your writing of lies and inaccuracies only fuels the clueless base of this president. I don’t need to tell you what the real information about the Carter Page investigation reveals. The vomit you write is just total fantasy building up an immoral and totally unfit president. Hopefully you’ll come to your senses when all of these scumbags are thrown out of our White House. Kelly is on his way out along with two staffers. Forty plus other staffers still have no security clearances after more than a year. Nunes will be brought forth for obstruction of justice, not following his charge to investigate Russian interference, but trying to set up the Justice Department to eventually get rid of Dept. Attorney General Rosenstein. Your column was disgusting at best and a total disgrace to factual journalism. Jack Sweeney

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Who’s Really Winning the North Korea Standoff?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

There have been wild reports that the United States is considering a “bloody nose” preemptive attack of some sort on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Such rumors are unlikely to prove true. Preemptive attacks usually are based on the idea that things will so worsen that hitting first is the only chance to decapitate a regime before it can do greater damage.

But in the struggle between Pyongyang and Washington, who really has gotten the upper hand?

With its false happy face in the current Winter Olympics, North Korea thinks it is winning the war of nerves. Yet its new nuclear-missile strategy is pretty transparent. It wants to separate South Korea’s strategic interests from those of the United States, with boasts — backed by occasional nuclear-missile tests — that it can take out West Coast cities.

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02/14/2018 Angry Reader

From An Angry Reader

From SM:

Your article sucks. What if CNN didn’t hate FDR? You can’t debate a hypothetical situation.

Trump is probably going to prison. Have fun.


Dear Angry Reader SM,

1) Define “sucks.”

2) It is called counter-factual history and offers food, however unwished, for thought.

3) Trump is not likely to be going to prison, because key Democratic Senators such as Diane Feinstein, Obama-appointed intelligence officers such as James Comey and James Clapper, and private FBI correspondence such as the texts of the Page-Strzok archive, all conceded that there is no evidence of Russian collusion, a conclusion borne out by the pivot in the Mueller investigation away from its original mandate. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton might face legal consequences, given her destruction of subpoenaed material, her use of an illegal private server, her quid pro quo relations with foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation, and her present likely permanent distance from power.

4) I always try to have fun.

From VH

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