Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Author Archives: 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.

From An Angry Reader:

Often, as in debates with flat Earth proponents, global warming denier, the mentally ill, or the Vatican persecution of Galileo, it is quite simply ludicrous to champion “fair and balanced” coverage, validating both sides’ integrity. What one needs is a fire alarm. When the Mooch’s head rolls, you will make an excellent apologist replacement. Enjoy the Emperor’s new clothes.

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Matt Dross,

The key to letter-writing is coherence. Yours, sadly, is abjectly incoherent. So you equate skepticism over whether carbon releases have radically heated the planet in a way unknown during past radical fluctuations in climate, and are now reaching lethal levels demanding that governments radically curb the use of heat-releasing appliances and machines—with mental illness?

If you knew a tiny bit of history, you would find yourself in creepy company with those who rejected fair and balanced debate, given the certainty of their theories, and of course, with those whose sanctimoniousness demanded any means necessary (in your case the end of disinterested coverage) to achieve supposedly noble ends.

How the demise of the “Mooch” has anything to do with this question, only you apparently know.

Sincerely,

VDH

The Problem of Competitive Victimhood

by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

Divisive identity politics are fading in favor of a shared American identity.

The startling 2016 presidential election weakened the notion of tribal identity rather than a shared American identity. And it may have begun a return to the old idea of unhyphenated Americans.

Many working-class voters left the Democratic party and voted for a billionaire reality-TV star in 2016 because he promised jobs and economic growth first, a new sense of united Americanism second, and an end to politically correct ethnic tribalism third. Read more →

Miracle At Dunkirk

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A quarter-million troops of the British Expeditionary Force, together with about 140,000 French and Belgian soldiers, were safely evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk, France between May 26 and June 4, 1940, in one of the largest successful maritime evacuations of trapped armies in military history. Most other marooned armies would likely have surrendered or been slaughtered on the beach by the seasoned German Panzers.

The amazingly successful withdrawal allowed Britain to remain actively in the war, and gave inspiration for another quarter-million trapped British and French soldiers to escape across the channel in the next three weeks. Churchill, in the Periclean fashion of mixing encouragement with realist caution, reminded the beleaguered British people that such defiance presaged successful British resistance to Hitler—while also reminding them that victory is never won through retreats.

There is much to be said for the current blockbuster movie Dunkirk, directed by Christopher Nolan. The cinematography of battle is excellent. The themes of confusion, paradox, irony, and unintended consequences in war are well captured through the mostly visual daylong odyssey of “Tommy” (Fionn Whitehead). In near continual silence (dialogue is scant in Dunkirk), Tommy seems to escape one disaster only to fall into another, in his Odysseus-like effort to get across the water to home.

To read more: http://www.hoover.org/research/miracle-dunkirk?utm_source=hdr&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2017-08-03

Trump — And the Use and Abuse of Madness

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

Fiery and unpredictable rhetoric can be a powerful strategic tool, but only if it’s not habitual.

Occasionally insanity, real or feigned, has its political advantages —largely because of its ancillary traits of unpredictability and an aura of immunity from appeals to reason, sobriety, and moderation.

Rogues often try to appear as crazy as mad hatters — sometimes defined by issuing threats, throwing temper tantrums, saying outrageous things, dressing weirdly, or acting peculiarly. Read more →

Why is Everyone Suddenly Quoting Thucydides?

By | American Greatness

Currently, the historian Thucydides is the object of debate among those within the Trump Administration and its critics, who, like scholars of the last three millennia, focus on lots of differing Thucydidean personas.

Did Thucydides warn in deterministic fashion about ascendant powers like Athens that disrupt the existing order of Sparta and its Peloponnesian League—and thus prompt preventive attacks from established nations (“the Thucydides trap”)?

Is the historian thus a guide to how to handle a rising China? Or did he remind us how wrong-headed (but nonetheless free and correctable) choices can turn a tense situation into a catastrophe?

Was Thucydides, an admiral and man of action, a voice of the aristocratic elite, or sympathetic toward small landowners who were neither oligarchic nor radically democratic?

Translated into modern terms, was he like-minded with the contemporary elite Washington establishment or a likely supporter of what are now the forgotten Red-State middle classes between the coasts?

Did he despise the reckless democracy that exiled him, or develop a grudging respect for its dynamism and powers of recovery from its own self-inflicted wounds—and become especially complimentary of Periclean leaders who can act forcefully within democratic checks and balances?

Some 2,400 years after Thucydides wrote the Peloponnesian War, scholars still argue over why and how he crafted his history. Read more →

Republicans and the Lost Art of Deterrence

By | American Greatness

In a perfect and disinterested world, when Washington, D.C. is deluged in scandal, a nonpartisan investigator or prosecutor should survey the contemporary rotten landscape. He would then distinguish the likely guilty from the probably falsely accused—regardless of the political consequences at stake.

In the real cosmos of Washington, however, the majority party—the group that controls the House, Senate, presidency, and U.S. Supreme Court—if it were necessary, would de facto appoint the government’s own special investigatory team, and then allow it to follow where leads dictate. Its majority status would assure that there were no political opponents in control of the investigations, keen on turning an inquiry into a political circus. That cynical reality is known as normal D.C. politics.

But in contemporary Republican La-La Land, the party in power with control over all three branches of government allows its minority-status opponents to dictate the rules of special investigations and inquiry—a Jeff Sessions recused, a Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excused from his investigations of unmasking and leaking, a Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel, friend of to-be-investigated James Comey, and employer of partisan attorneys.

Is naiveté the cause of such laxity? Do Republicans unilaterally follow Munich rules because they hope such protocols will create a new “civility” and “bipartisan cooperation” in Washington?

Demonizing Resistance 
Or is the culprit civil dissension among the ranks, as the congressional leadership secretly has no real incentive to help the despised outsider Trump? When Republicans get re-elected on repealing and replacing Obamacare during the assured Obama veto-presidency, and then flip in the age of surety that Trump would reify their campaign boasts, should we laugh or cry? Is the Republican establishment’s aim to see Trump’s agenda rendered null and void—or does intent even matter when the result is the same anyway?

Or is the empowerment of progressive conspiracy-mongering due to fear of the mainstream media, which demonizes principled resistance to progressivism and lauds unprincipled surrender to it? Read more →

Trump’s Circular Firing Squad

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

Trump and his critics are attacking each other, failing to focus on the only story that counts: the welfare of the United States.

The American political system has never quite seen anything like the current opposition to President Trump and his unusual reaction to it.

We are no longer in the customary political landscape. Usually, the out-of-power opposition — in this case, the Democratic party — offers most of the criticism and all of the alternative policies in order to win in the next election. Instead, Trump has an entire circle of diverse critics shooting at him. But they just as often end up hitting one another — and themselves. Read more →

Sessions, P.S.

The Corner: The one and only.

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

Donald Trump’s core support is found among those who want existing immigration laws enforced, an end to state-rights nullification of federal law, and no more legal adventurism that seeks to create new laws ex nihilo. Sessions, in these regards, has been excellent. Even the thought of letting him go is already fracturing Trump’s base; his dismissal would seriously wound the administration at precisely the time it needs cohesion on the health-care and tax-reform debates. Trump apparently has forgotten that one of the reasons he retains support, and why there are several indications that real positive change is in the works, are his excellent seasoned cabinet appointees such as Sessions.

The beneficiary of Sessions’s continued tenure is Trump himself. Read more →

Trashing Jeff Sessions — Enough Already

The Corner: The one and only.

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

 

President Trump has made the point for the nth time that the recusal of Jeff Sessions on matters of alleged Russian collusion invariably led to a series of events that culminated in the appointment of Robert Mueller, a prior associate of James Comey’s, to investigate Trump with a veritable blank check and a cadre of mostly liberal attorneys, fueled by a hysterical media ready to make them all Watergate-like folk heroes if they come to Beltway-correct conclusions. I fear we could soon be in Lawrence Walsh/Javert territory.

 

So in retrospect, the recusal was probably a political mistake, given that a seemingly principled decision — most observers in the administration at the time seemed to think that Sessions’s recusal at least temporarily silenced the baying wolves — was soon seen by anti-Trumpers as weakness to be exploited (the subsequent hysterical media-driven feeding frenzy quickly turned on everyone from Representative Devin Nunes to Trump’s own family) rather than probity to be appreciated. Sessions’s own current remarkable Stoicism in the context of Trump’s attacks perhaps reflects that had he to do it over again in light of what followed, he might have not recused himself.

 

But all that said, Trump is said to value loyalty and competence. And Sessions is the epitome of both. He was a force for immigration enforcement and an advocate of the ignored muscular working classes long before Trump; it was his advocacy of these issues which drew him to Trump’s 2016 populist campaign, and prompted his early and almost solitary support for Trump. He is a good man with the legal and political experience to make the fundamental changes at the Justice Department that returns it to enforcement of existing laws rather than its past errant role under Holder and Lynch of a creator of progressive agendas masquerading as an enforcement agency.

 

Politically, Trump made his point. Again, any further public criticism of Sessions undermines two of Trump’s strengths, acknowledged even by his enemies: one, that he is loyal to those even under fire who were willing to take a risk and support him when few would; and, two, he has a proven ability to appoint superb professionals who know what they are doing and yet are not part of the deep state (McMaster, Mattis, Pompeo, etc.).

 

It’s past time to let Sessions do his job and move on.

 

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/449810/donald-trump-jeff-sessions-tweets-criticism

“Pushing Back” Iran

Image credit:Poster Collection, US3436, Hoover Institution Archives.

On both the left and the right, there is a consensus in Washington that the United States needs to “push back” against the Islamic Republic’s nefarious actions in the Levant, Iraq, and Yemen. The clerical regime largely controls the ground war in Syria: Tehran’s foreign Shiite militias, imported from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and Iranian-directed native forces lead the battle against the Sunni insurrection. In Iraq, the Islamic Republic has energetically encouraged sectarian conflict, aiding politicians and militias that have taken a hardline toward political compromise with Sunnis. Iraqi members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have become senior officials in the government. And in Yemen, Iran has backed the Shiite Houthis in their campaign to dominate the country. What once would have seemed far-fetched—Tehran trying to develop a Lebanese Hezbollah-like movement among Yemen’s “Fiver” Zaydi Shiites, who have never been close to the “Twelver” Jafaris of Iran—is now conceivable. If such Shiite militancy becomes anchored in the south of the peninsula, Tehran will surely try to aim it northward toward the badly oppressed Shiites of Bahrain and the oil-rich Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

But among Republicans and Democrats, no one really wants to clarify what “push back” means. For cause: Any serious American effort against the Islamic Republic will inevitably risk the nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the Trump administration has signaled that it will, with increasing reluctance, keep but “rigorously” enforce. Within the Democratic Party, the atomic accord has become sacrosanct. Yet the two objectives cannot co-exist. The sine qua non of the agreement is to trade temporary restraints on Iran’s nuclear aspirations for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Any serious American effort to punish Tehran will inevitably include the use of escalating sanctions. This is so even if the United States doesn’t deploy more forces into the region, which would mean, among other things, that the only unilateral way Washington could painfully hit Tehran would be through sanctions. Neither Congress nor the White House is going to confront the Islamic Republic and concurrently fuel its expansion. American foreign policy can sustain severe contradictions, but this one would be too much: We would be paying for our own defeat. If we imagine scenarios where the United States actually puts more troops into either Syria or Iraq (unlikely with President Trump), or just keeps troops in the latter against Iran’s wishes (not at all unlikely after the defeat of the Islamic State in Mosul), then we could rapidly find ourselves in an indirect shooting war with the mullahs’ praetorians, the Revolutionary Guards, who oversee all of Iran’s foreign adventures.

To read more: http://www.hoover.org/research/pushing-back-iran#

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