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.

Learning to Love the Deep State

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

In the 1970s, the military officer corps and the top ranks of the CIA, DOJ, and FBI were, in the eyes of the Left, synonymous with Seven Days in May— and Manchurian Candidate–like conspiracies. Yet in 2016, these same institutions had been recalibrated by progressives as protectors of social justice against interlopers and bomb throwers like Donald Trump. Whether it was scary or needed to have a secretive, unelected cabal inside the White House subverting presidential agendas depended on who was president.

During the Robert Mueller investigations, progressives usually defended the FISA-court-ordered intercepts of private citizens’ communications, despite the machinations taken to deceive FISA-court justices. Indeed, liberal critics suggested that to question how the multitude of conflicts of interest at the Obama DOJ and FBI had warped their presentations of the Steele dossier to the courts was in itself an obstruction of justice or downright unpatriotic.

News of FBI informants planted into the 2016 Trump campaign raised no eyebrows. Nor did the unmasking and leaking of the names of U.S. citizens by members of the Obama National Security Council. Former CIA director John Brennan and ex-director of National Intelligence James Clapper soon become progressive pundits on cable news. While retaining their security clearances, they blasted Trump variously as a Russian mole, a foreign asset, treasonous, and a veritable traitor.

Read the full article here.

The Continued Resilience of Quiet America

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Fifty years ago, the United States was facing crises and unrest on multiple fronts. Some predicted that internal chaos and revolution would unravel the nation.

The 1969 Vietnam War protests on the UC Berkeley campus turned so violent that National Guard helicopters indiscriminately sprayed tear gas on student demonstrators. Later that year, hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of major cities as part of the “Moratorium to the End the War in Vietnam.” In Washington, D.C., about a half-million protesters marched to the White House.

Native American demonstrators took over the former federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay and stayed there for 19 months, declaring it their own sovereign space.

In November 1969, the American public was exposed to grotesque photos of the My Lai Massacre, which had occurred the year before. The nation was stunned that American troops in Vietnam had shot innocent women and children. My Lai heated up the already hot national debate over whether the Vietnam War was either moral or winnable.

Meanwhile, the trial of the so-called Chicago Seven, involving the supposed organizers of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, roiled the nation. The courtroom drama involving radical defendants such as Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin descended into a national circus, as the battle between leftists and the establishment went from the streets to the courtroom.

Read the full article here.

Enter the Disrupter

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

No one in Washington called Donald J. Trump a “god” (as journalist Evan Thomas in 2009 had suggested of Obama) when he arrived in January 2017. No one felt nerve impulses in his leg when Trump talked, as journalist Chris Matthews once remarked had happened to him after hearing an Obama speech. And no newsman or pundit cared how crisply creased were Trump’s pants, at least in the manner that New York Times columnist David Brooks had once praised Obama’s sartorial preciseness. Instead, Trump was greeted by the Washington media and intellectual establishment as if he were the first beast in the book of Revelation, who arose “out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.”

Besides the Washington press and pundit corps, Donald Trump faced this third and more formidable opponent: the culture of permanent and senior employees of the federal and state governments, and the political appointees in Washington who revolve in and out from business, think tanks, lobbying firms, universities, and the media. Or as the legal scholar of the administrative state Philip Hamburger put it: “Although the United States remains a republic, administrative power creates within it a very different sort of government. The result is a state within the state — an administrative state within the Constitution’s United States.” The power of the deep state was twofold: it had the unlimited resources of government at its call in any fight against individuals. And it knew how government worked and could be manipulated far better than the citizens whom it supposedly for a brief time served.

In theory, the deep state we have described should have been a nonpartisan meritocratic cadre of government officials who were custodians of a civil service that had often served Americans well and transcended changes in presidential administrations. The ranks of top government regulators, justices, executive officers, and bureaucrats would take advice, and often be drawn, from hallowed East Coast, supposedly apolitical institutions — the World Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Federal Reserve, the Ivy League faculties, Wall Street, and the blue-chip Washington and New York law firms.

Read the full article here.

Historian makes ‘The Case for Trump’ in new book

Victor Davis Hanson // Fox News

Hoover Institution senior fellow and author Victor Davis Hanson breaks down how President Trump won in 2016 and continues to win against the media and D.C. establishment.

Watch the full interview on Fox here.

Episode 236: The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

John J. Miller is joined by Victor Davis Hanson to discuss his book, The Case for Trump.

Watch the full interview here.

The Deep State Past and Present

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

All great empires of the past created deep states.

The permanent bureaucracies and elite hangers-on adapted as imperial conditions dictated. Imperial Spain’s El  Escorial outside Madrid, the courts of Renaissance Venice, and Byzantium’s Constantinople, or the thousands who lived at 18th-century Versailles, were all thronged with court functionaries. They were the embryos of nonstop dramas of intrigue and coups, and often immune to periodic changes even in autocratic heads of state.

The Byzantine emperor Justinian savagely curbed the influence of his bureaucratic opponents only through the infamous slaughter of the Nika riots of AD 532. The key for the deep-state careerist was always survival, even more than public service. The ubiquitous fifth-century B.C. Athenian Alcibiades was variously an Athenian democratic imperialist, a suspected oligarchic sympathizer, a wanted outlaw of the Athenian state, a turncoat working for Sparta, a returning Athenian democrat, and an aristocratic exile under the protection of Persia — the common denominator being a manipulative skilled survivor of the politics of the Greek city-state.

Similar was the much later example of the “versatile” French minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. Talleyrand for more than 40 years was a fixture of the permanent Paris court and thus in succession an advocate and betrayer of the Ancien Régime, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and the restored monarchy. His loyalty was to the career of Monsieur Talleyrand rather than to France, much less to monarchy, the revolution, republican government, or dictatorship.

Read the full article here.

Pigs on Two Legs Turn on Each Other

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Tennis great Martina Navratilova until recently had long been coronated as a social justice trailblazer. She was one of the first marquee celebrity athletes to come out as gay, and then to advocate lesbian issues in and out of sports. But suddenly the icon seems out of step with her progressive legend status.

Navratilova had the temerity to suggest that one’s sex is biologically determined. In other words, transgenderism, even with the imprimatur of the social and biological sciences, cannot trump our innate genetic codes.

A frustrated Navratilova was editorializing mostly in the context of men “transitioning” to women, while in many cases still enjoying innate muscular and size advantages over females in same-sex sporting events. As a result, she is being demonized unfairly as an intersectional traitor (“transphobic”) and thus increasingly disinvited from a number of events by what is known as the LGBTQ community.

In other words, her intersectional femaleness and gayness are revoked by improper ideology.

Barack Obama, once the progressive “god” who was acclaimed to have the power to cool the planet and halt the rising of the seas, had the recent audacity to suggest, quite understandably, that young black teens need not ostentatiously show their wealth with gaudy chains, or highlight their sexuality with a cadre of “twerking” girls. Worse, the now multi-million-dollar-mansion-residing Obama sort of suggested that young inner-city African-Americans who do such gauche things might be insecure about either their income or their sexuality.

Read the full article here.

For Kim, his regime ‘ain’t broke’ — so why fix it?

Please read this piece by my colleague Paul Roderick Gregory in The Hill

The agreement that President Donald Trump is offering Kim Jong Un carries uncertain rewards and considerable risk for Kim. Trump’s offer is based on the false assumption that Kim wants a prosperous country from which he and the people of North Korea can benefit.

A more accurate starting point is that Kim cares only about his survival and that of the Kim family dynasty. Add to this the dysfunctionality of Washington and the prospect of a hard-left Trump successor, Kim has every incentive not to sign any agreement that offers growth and prosperity in return for denuclearization and joining the world community. The status quo is, unfortunately, Kim’s best option.

Under Trump’s proposals, Kim will give up his nuclear arsenal and open his hermit kingdom to the world economy and foreign investment. A peace treaty will be signed that ends the Korean War, and the Korean Peninsula will divide into two separate countries that would supposedly live in peace.

According to Trump’s “carrot” scenario, foreign direct investment will flow into North Korea and make it prosperous. 

Read the full article here.

California’s Rendezvous With Reality

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Californians brag that their state is the world’s fifth-largest economy. They talk as reverentially of Silicon Valley companies Apple, Facebook and Google as the ancient Greeks did of their Olympian gods.

Hollywood and universities such as Caltech, Stanford and Berkeley are cited as permanent proof of the intellectual, aesthetic and technological dominance of West Coast culture.

Californians also see their progressive, one-party state as a neo-socialist model for a nation moving hard to the left.

But how long will they retain such confidence?

California’s 40 million residents depend on less than 1 percent of the state’s taxpayers to pay nearly half of the state income tax, which for California’s highest tier of earners tops out at the nation’s highest rate of 13.3 percent.

In other words, California cannot afford to lose even a few thousand of its wealthiest individual taxpayers. But a new federal tax law now caps deductions for state and local taxes at $10,000—a radical change that promises to cost many high-earning taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Read the full article here.

The Establishment Goes Trump on China

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Read recent essays on China. Visit think-tank public symposia. Hear out military analysts. Talk with academics and media pundits. Listen to Silicon Valley grandees. Watch Senate speeches and politicians interview on television.

The resulting new groupspeak is surreal. If one excises the word “Trump,” what follows is a seemingly revolutionary recalibration of attitudes toward China that more or less echo Trump’s voice in the wilderness and often crude and shrill warnings dating back from the campaign trail of 2015.

Trump’s second secretary of state, the skillful Mike Pompeo, has been institutionalizing the president’s pessimistic view of China. Insightful but heretofore underappreciated assessments from China scholars such as Miles Yu and Gordon Chang are now being taking seriously. Both have been warning us for years that the Chinese seek domination, not accommodation, and are replacing their erstwhile feigned respect for our strength with an emboldened contempt for our perceived growing weakness, whether real or psychological. Both have warned also that once China achieves military, economic, and cultural parity with the United States, the global order will be quite different from that of the last 75 years.

From the military, one hears more frequently now that we were at a tipping point by late 2016: The Obama Asian pivot had failed — publicly provocative, but in reality without substance, giving the lethal impression of real weakness masked by empty rhetoric. The Chinese militarization of the Spratley Islands was conceded as the inevitable future of the South China Sea. Chinese military and weapons doctrine was aimed at destroying the offensive capability of the U.S. fleet in the Pacific as a way of breaking off allies from America, and then Finlanding them.

Read the full article here.

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