Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Strategika Issue 50: Pakistan’s Partnership with the United States

The United States and Pakistan: Frenemies on the Brink

Please read a new essay by my colleague from the Military History Working Group, Peter R. Mansoor in Strategika.

For much of its short seventy-year history, Pakistan has managed to thoroughly mismanage its strategic relationships with great power patrons, regional competitors, and non-state clients. It has waged and lost four wars with a larger and more powerful India, supported terrorist organizations that have destabilized Afghanistan and conducted deadly attacks in neighboring India, and alienated its long-time American ally.

Read the full article here.

 

Pakistan: Murderous Ally, Patient Enemy

Please read a new essay by my colleague from the Military History Working Group, Ralph Peters in Strategika.

Pakistan’s military and intelligence leadership—the country’s decisive elements—view the United States as a danger to be managed and a resource to be exploited. Its approach to bilateral relations is predicated on three things: The (correct) belief that U.S. interlocutors do not understand the region; the conviction that, eventually, the U.S. will leave Afghanistan; and Pakistan’s need for hegemony over Afghanistan—not only to check India’s strategic moves but, more importantly, to guarantee Pakistan’s internal cohesion.

Read the full article here.

 

Pakistan: Neither Ally, Nor Enemy

Please read a new essay by my colleague from the Military History Working Group, Bing West in Strategika.

Last April, Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill, a distinguished diplomat, summarized American policy toward Pakistan. “Every time a new administration in Washington comes to office,” he said, “they get worried about Pakistan, which has a stockpile of nuclear weapons. The US Secretary of State then visits Pakistan and meets the top leadership. He is systematically lied to by Pakistan’s leadership, and this goes on for about two years. In the third year, he tells his colleagues at the (US) State Department that Pakistan’s leaders have been lying to him.

Read the full article here.

 

Rough Riders

Victor Davis Hanson // Hoover Institution

America has always enjoyed two antithetical traditions in its political and military heroes. The preferred style is the reticent, sober, and competent executive planner as president or general, from Herbert Hoover to Gerald Ford to Jimmy Carter. George Marshall remains the epitome of understated and quiet competence. The alternative and more controversial sorts are the loud, often reckless and pro-fane, pile drivers. Think Andrew Jackson or Teddy Roosevelt. At given times and in particular landscapes, both profiles have proven invaluable

Read the full article here.

What Randa Jarrar Teaches

The following piece is by my colleague, Craig Bernthal.

Since Randa Jarrar fired off her disgusting tweet about “the witch,” Barbara Bush, being a racist, I, like other members of the Fresno State English Department, have received about a dozen emails asking, alternatively, how we could have participated in hiring her, and then, what we would do to get her fired. For the record, I had no part in the former and am impotent with regard to the later. This is now President Castro’s baby, and all I can say is, good luck, sir. I suspect she will be the albatross around Fresno State’s neck for as long as she wants to stay.

The Barbara Bush tweet, which is clearly protected political speech under the First Amendment, and for which Jarrar should not and cannot be fired, doesn’t really get at the problem she poses, which is how the university deals with racial hatred aimed at whites?  To fully understand why Jarrar poses this question, you have to look beyond the Barbara Bush tweet to her other declarations on twitter and Youtube.

Read more →

Revolution and Worse to Come

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

When legal bloodhounds and baying critics fail to take out Trump, what’s next? The Resistance wants Trump’s head — on the chopping block.

On the domestic and foreign fronts, the Trump administration has prompted economic growth and restored U.S. deterrence. Polls show increased consumer confidence, and in some, Trump himself has gained ground. Yet good news is bad news to the Resistance and its strange continued efforts to stop an elected president in a way it failed to do in the 2016 election.

Indeed, the aim of the so-called Resistance to Donald J. Trump is ending Trump’s presidency by any means necessary before the 2020 election. Or, barring that, it seeks to so delegitimize him that he becomes presidentially impotent. It has been only 16 months since Trump took office and, in the spirit of revolutionary fervor, almost everything has been tried to derail him. Now we are entering uncharted territory — at a time when otherwise the country is improving and the legal exposure of Trump’s opponents increases daily.

Read the full article here.

Respect Unearned

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Washington’s self-righteous establishmentarians talk of professionalism when they act unprofessionally. They refer at length to their intellectual and professional pedigrees when they prove incompetent. And they cite their morality and ethics when they possess neither.

And then, adding insult to injury, when the public expresses abhorrence at their behavior, they accuse critics of unprofessionalism, a lack of patriotism, or reckless demagoguery.

A James Clapper can lie to Congress under oath about intelligence surveillance of U.S. citizens; a John Brennan can lie about CIA monitoring of U.S. Senate computers, or mislead Congress about the absence of any collateral damage in the use of drones. Yet we are supposed to give both further credence based on their emeriti titles or to believe their current Captain Renault-like outrage over President Trump’s lack of presidential decorum? But what in their past has earned them the moral high ground?

Read the full article here.

When to Wage War, and How to Win: A Guide

Victor Davis Hanson // New York Times

What is “grand strategy” as opposed to simple strategy? The term is mostly an academic one. It denotes encompassing all the resources that a state can focus — military, economic, political and cultural — to further its own interests in a global landscape.

“On Grand Strategy,” by John Lewis Gaddis, a pre-eminent historian and biographer of the Cold War, does not offer a comprehensive analysis, much less a history, of strategy on a grand scale in the manner of the classic studies by Angelo Codevilla, Edward Mead Earle, Lawrence Freedman, B. H. Liddell Hart, Edward N. Luttwak or Williamson Murray. Gaddis does concede that “grand strategies have traditionally been associated, however, with the planning and fighting of wars.” And so wars — or rather how not to lose them — are the general theme of his often didactic book.

Read the full article here.

Trump Seeks Middle Ground in Foreign-Policy Balancing Act

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The best course is to use overwhelming military force only when the interests or credibility of America and its allies are on the line.

Was the latest round of airstrikes in Syria a one-time hit to restore deterrence and stop the future use of chemical weapons, or was it part of a slippery slope of more interventions in the Middle East?

President Donald Trump was elected in part because he promised an end to optional wars, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the Libyan misadventure.

Read the full article here.

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.

Read the full article here.

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.

Read the full article here.

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