Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

West Can Neither Live with nor Take Out North Korean Nukes

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


It’s time for the U.S. and its allies to prepare for a tough, messy confrontation.


North Korea recently test-launched a long-range missile capable of reaching Alaska.


When North Korea eventually builds a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, it will double down on its well-known shakedown of feigning indifference to American deterrence while promising to take out Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle unless massive aid is delivered to Pyongyang.


Kim Jong-un rightly assumes that wealthy Western nations would prefer to pay bribe money than suffer the loss of a city — and that they have plenty of cash for such concessions. He is right that the medicine of taking out Kim’s missiles is considered by Western strategists to be even worse than the disease of living with a lunatic regime that has nukes.


No wonder that the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations had few answers to North Korea’s serial lying and deceit about its nuclear intentions.


Sanctions were eventually dropped or watered down, either on reports of the mass starvation of innocent North Korean civilians or on false promises of better North Korean behavior. Read more →

Military History In The News

Stalin’s Greatness?

by Andrew Roberts

Poster from Stalin Era

Image credit:Poster Collection, RU/SU 2156, Hoover Institution Archives.

“The Red Army could have defeated Nazi Germany without Allied help,” records The Times of London, “according to two thirds of Russians, who are adopting an increasingly positive view of Joseph Stalin’s wartime leadership despite the enormous casualties suffered under his command.” This worrying sign of increased ultra-nationalism under Vladimir Putin was based on findings from a poll conducted by the respected Levada Center in Moscow. Whereas 34% of Russians in 1997–the year Putin came to power–believed that the fact that “Stalin acted regardless of casualties” and that was the main reason that 27 million Russians died in World War Two, today only 12% believe that, a tribute to the two decades of Putin’s ceaseless propaganda sanitizing Stalin’s role.

In June Putin claimed that “excessive demonization” of Stalin had been used to “attack” and slander post-Soviet Russia. History is a political battlefield in modern Russia, where the historical and civil rights society Memorial, which investigates the extent of Stalinist crimes in the Gulags, has been repeatedly disrupted and attacked by the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation). This was taken to a new level in June when Yuri Dmitriev, who dedicated his life to finding and identifying the burial sites of Stalin’s victims in his native Karelia, was arrested for child abuse. Dmitriev played a huge role in uncovering the hidden history of the Solovetsky Islands and the White Sea Canal, and the accusations made against him appear to be a pure act of vengeance carried out by the FSB–the institutional descendant of the NKVD and KGB.

Campaigners such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag, who demand that the accusations against Dmitriev are investigated properly and independently, point out how the FSB persecution tactics come straight out of the old Soviet playbook. Alexei Navalny, the charismatic Russian opposition leader, is also being barred from contesting the presidential elections against Putin in March next year because he has a criminal conviction for fraud, also on trumped-up charges.


Trump’s Anti-Cairo Speech

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

In Warsaw, the president delivered the antithesis to the fallacious, appeasing lecture Obama preached to the Egyptians.

Obama’s Cairo Address, June 4, 2009

About five months after the inauguration of Barack Obama, the president gave a strange address in Cairo. The speech was apparently designed to win over the Muslim world and set Obama apart from the supposed Western chauvinism of the prior and much caricatured George W. Bush administration.

Obama started off by framing past and present tensions between Muslims and the West largely in the context of explicit and implied Western culpability: past European colonialism, and the moral equivalence of the Cold War and disruptive Westernized globalization. Read more →

As physical jobs decline, something is lost


By Victor Davis Hanson // Los Angeles Times

As jobs that require physical work decline thanks to technological advances, life superficially appears to get better. Cheap cellphones, video games, the Internet, social media and labor-saving appliances all make things easier and suggest that even more and better benefits are on the horizon. Formerly backbreaking industries, from the growing of almonds to the building of cars, are increasingly mechanized, using fewer but more skilled operators.

Anyone who has spot-welded or harvested almonds with a mallet and canvas has no regrets in seeing the disappearance of such rote drudgery. Consumers benefit in the from of cheaper prices. But as we continue on this trajectory, initiated in the Industrial Revolution, is something lost? Something only poorly approximated by greater leisure time, non-muscular jobs and contrived physical exercise in air-conditioned gyms?

Talk long enough to the most accomplished academics, lawyers and CEOs — who also tend to be the most conscientious about biking, jogging and weightlifting (obesity being an epidemic of the poor and lower middle classes) — and more often than not, they will brag about a long-ago college summer job waiting tables or repairing hiking trails. They might praise the granite-counter installer who redid their kitchen, or offer an anecdote about the time they helped the tree-trimmer haul limbs from the backyard out to the trailer at the curb. There seems a human instinct to want to do physical work.

The proliferation of hard-work reality-television programming reflects this apparent need, if only vicariously. Indeed, the more we have become immobile and urbanized, the more we tune in to watch reality television’s assorted truckers, loggers, farmers, fishermen, drillers and rail engineers. In a society that supposedly despises menial jobs, the television ratings for such programs suggest that lots of Americans enjoy watching people of action who work with their hands. Read more →

From an Angry Reader:

Mr. Hanson,

You seem intent on defining progressives as people who loathe Donald Trump, as clearly defined group who have a unified strategy of driving him out of office.


The tactic of defining—and dismissing—all progressives with a broad brush is a convenient way to give Trump supporters a clearly defined enemy to hate. That style of rhetoric has more in common with Rush Limbaugh than a respected academician. It is also the type of divisive and overwrought discourse (from both sides) that we are currently awash in.


I am a progressive, which to my mind describes what I am for, not against.


I do deeply regret that, though fairly elected, Donald Trump is our president, but that is unrelated progressivism or conservatism.  Even if I were apolitical I would find President Trump deeply lacking in so many non-ideological ways. He is thin-skinned, untruthful and doesn’t seem to grasp the import of his position and seems to lack the character and intellect for the presidency.


I agree that he is being relentlessly attacked from many quarters (not just progressives), but his detractors do not need a strategy to bring him down. The media does not need to constantly vilify him to destroy his credibility. Simply observing his behavior, listening what he says and reading his tweets is sufficient to irreparably damage his presidency. He will likely bring down his own presidency with very little outside help.



Glenn Shellhouse

Colorado Springs, CO


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Glenn Shellhouse,
I do not think nor did I write that all progressives wish to drive Trump from office.
But what political rubric would you use for those who wished to subvert the Electoral College, or sued to nullify the voting results in three states, or boycotted the Inauguration, or seek to impeach Trump after 120 days, or to sue him under the Emoluments Clause, or to invoke the 25th Amendment, or seek to trump up false charges of collusion, or obstruction of justice, or demand recusals, or stonewall appointments? Are they reactionaries? Conservatives? Perhaps libertarians? Some generalized rubric is needed.
And what do Madonna, Snoop Dog, Bill Maher, Steven Colbert, etc. have in common? A shared conservative vision?
“An enemy to hate”? Who is using scatology, and the f— word? Who videoed a ritual decapitation, or dreamed of blowing up the White House, or wanted to punch Trump in the face? Independents? Moderates? Palecons?
It seems the vast majority of threats are from the left and their target is Trump, in a way not true of conservatives in their opposition to Obama. I was very critical of Obama’s policies and often polarizing rhetoric. I think he crippled the economy and left us vulnerable abroad, but I never translated that opposition to any personal hatred of the President, and most certainly I would never have gone the CNN or Chris Matthews route. Let us confess, so far the hate is mostly a left-wing phenomenon.
Trump is certainly flawed as you point out. But his agenda is far preferable to the Obama-Clinton trajectory. And we have had pretty creepy presidents in the past. So far Trump is not seducing and bedding 20-something interns as did JFK routinely, or as Bill Clinton frolicked with an unpaid intern of 22 (and then lied about it to the nation and under oath in a deposition). He has not tried to pack the Supreme Court as did FDR, or report book profits as capital gains to escape income taxes, as did Ike. We must in part see Trump’s excesses in a context of past presidencies. I thought de facto suspending federal immigration law was revolutionary and harmful to the state.

Trump is the first president who has neither political nor military service, so obviously the landscape is very different, and of course Trump’s style is over-the-top and often ad hominem. All regrettable. But with Obama the venom was directed at entire groups (“punish our enemies”, “get in their faces”, “take a gun to a knife fight”, the clingers, the “lazy” Americans, etc.).

As to your point of Trump’s self-destructiveness, time shall tell. He certainly is diverted by the trivial, such as two failed morning hosts without an audience. But the Shorenstein Center noted that 80% of all media coverage of Trump was negative, and in the case of CNN, 93%.  We’ve never seen that level of bias before. Nor the level of hatred and assassination talk: celebrities and public figures have variously talked of decapitating Trump, ritually stabbing him, hanging him, blowing him up, shooting him, beating him to a pulp—all without consequences. So, yes, we are in new territory.
Finally the polls, to the degree they are credible after the 2016 fiasco, suggest Trump enjoys only 40%—quite an amazing number actually when 80% of all news coverage is negative.
 Yet the media polls much lower, about 30-35% expressing confidence in journalists.
Trump has exposed the utter corruption of the media (Wikileaks did the same), but in the process he has diverted attention from the real issues at home and abroad. Tweeting is a wise way to communicate directly over  the heads of the media, but only if focused and confined to existential issues.
What you or I think about Trump won’t matter in 2020:  if the economy hits 3% GDP growth, he will be likely reelected, if it does not, he may not even run. Let us wait and watch the issues play out and we will see whether a sharp decrease in illegal immigration, an increase in oil and gas production, less regulation, and lower taxes,  enrich the citizens or impoverish them.  If the former, a crude Trump will win; if the latter, even Trump an angel would still lose.
Victor Hanson
Selma, CA

From an Angry Reader:

Dr. Hanson,
You will not like what I am about to say.
It’s a good thing we’re 3,000 miles apart.  Because if I saw you on the street, I’d …
A threat?  You decide.
Daniel Weir
Washington, DC

Reply from Victor Davis Hanson:

Dear Second-time Angry Reader Daniel Weir,
And if we we’re not 3,000 miles apart, you would do what exactly if you saw me? Resort to physical violence?
In the polarized age of assassination chic and threats against the president and an actual hit on Rep. Scalise, do you really think it is wise to threaten publicly someone with whom you disagree?
 I get a few letters and angry calls like your own, and occasionally a few mad sorts have shown up at my office or farm or follow me around in stores, so your sort of threat is not new.
Victor Hanson
Selma, CA


Lord Ismay, NATO, and the Old-New World Order

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


What has become of the prescient post-WWII dictum ‘Russians out, Americans in, Germans down’?


The accomplished and insightful British general Hasting Ismay is remembered today largely because of his famous assessment of NATO, offered when he was the alliance’s first secretary general. The purpose of the new treaty organization founded in 1952, Ismay asserted, was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”


Ismay formulated that aphorism at the height of a new Cold War. The Soviet Red Army threatened to overrun Western Europe all the way to the English Channel. And few knew who or what exactly could stop it.


A traditionally isolationist United States was still debating its proper role after once again intervening on the winning side in a distant catastrophic European war — only to see its most powerful ally of WWII, Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, become the victorious democracies’ most dangerous post-war foe.


A divided Germany had become the new trip wire of the free world against a continental and monolithic nuclear Soviet Union and its bloc.


Nonetheless, note carefully what Ismay did not say.


He did not refer to keeping the “Soviet Union” out of the Western alliance (which the Soviets had once desired to join, a request that Ismay compared to inviting a burglar onto the police force).


Ismay did not cite the need to ensure that Nazi Germany never returned.


He did not insist that the inclusion of Great Britain was essential to NATO’s tripartite mission.


Why? Read more →

From An Angry Reader:

In your recent article you are off base, friend. Every day that passes proves Trump to be unfit in so many ways.
I figure a Trump believer to be either embarrassingly uninformed or purely hypocritical, willing to push a conservative agenda regardless of flag bearer. No doubt you are the latter…
If conservatism was more about fairness instead of protecting the wealth of the very rich, I might even go for that. Minus the current “leader”, of course.

Stop defending him; you clearly are too intelligent to believe he is worthy.

Bill Sellars

Reply from Victor Davis Hanson:

Dear Angry Reader Bill Sellars,

Is “friend” sarcastic? I don’t recall ever meeting a Bill Sellars. Congratulations, you met one of the angry reader criteria: ad hominem (“you are the latter….”) but are to be commended for omitting the usual exclamation marks, capital letters, and profanity.

In the fashion of Barack Obama’s “clingers” and Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” and “irredeemables,” in your contempt, you are writing off half the country who voted for Trump. I have a number of friends and family members who voted for Hillary, and never resorted to the sort of ad hominem that you and the Left routinely embrace.

No candidate runs solo, but always against someone else. Hillary on every issue—higher taxes, more regulation, restrictions on gas and oil development, open borders, identity politics—was, to paraphrase Obama, on the wrong side of history. She was enmeshed in scandals, shamelessly breaking the law with a private server, destroying documents, trafficking in classified documents. The Wikileaks trove revealed the depths of corruption between her campaign and the sycophantic media. She and her husband had created a net worth of over $200 million, largely by leveraging her political career and offices to earn huge speaking fees, and donations to the foundation, which they manipulated as a source of free travel for themselves and sinecures for their hangers-on. Hillary is “very rich”, and her trajectory started at the beginning of Bill’s Arkansas career, when she leveraged her husband’s governorship to manipulate the cattle futures’ market, earning $100,000 on a $1,000 investment, at odds of over a billion to one.

The “very rich” are mostly liberals. Try looking at counties by per capita income and then look how they voted in the last three elections: your “very rich” are very liberal, largely because they have the capital and income to exempt themselves from the logical consequences of their own ideology. A case in point is socialist Bernie Sanders—with a million-dollar-income, three tony homes, and a wife under investigation for improperly arranging a sweet-heart loan (and she was instrumental in evicting the disabled from the new campus she purchased on her road to bankrupting her college). Why are Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street predominately progressives?

Conservatism is about three things: 1) respect for past traditions and customs and emphases on family, religion, and communities, 2) a growing market economy in which free market capitalism creates wealth that enriches everyone—in which one tolerates some inequality because the vast majority is not poor, rather than one being impoverished like everyone else (cf. Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela,  3) a deterrent foreign policy that believes peace is a dividend of bad people being afraid of the consequences of their natural desire to try something stupid against stronger better people.

The Republican Party is mostly a middle class and upper-middle class party; the Democratic Party is now the domain of the subsidized lower middle classes and poor, and the hyper-rich. It despises the middle class for lacking the romance of the distant poor and the middle classes for their supposedly crass and tasteless culture.

Stop stereotyping: you may be too smart to mouth such ossified liberal talking points.

Vic Hanson

Freedom and Tyranny: The Meaning of Independence Day

A reflection amidst the barbecues and fireworks and the paeans to patriotism.

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

The Fourth of July is not just another day off from work. Nor is it just the celebration of our country’s birth, the bold act of the Colonists in challenging the world’s greatest power and creating a government based on freedom and self-rule. On this day 241 years ago the delegates to the Second Continental Congress adopted a document that laid the foundations of the American political order. Sadly, the meaning of the Declaration of Independence has been lost, and the order it created eroded by progressivism.

One of the greatest statements of political philosophy occurs in the preamble to the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ––That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .

Government is a creation of the sovereign people who must consent to its forms and functions. It is thus accountable to the people, and exists primarily to protect their rights, especially freedom, that precede government. These rights are the “unalienable” foundations of our human nature, and come from a “Creator” and the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” They are not gifts of the powerful or any institutions that an elite of wealth or birth create to serve their interests. They cannot justly be taken away by any earthly power, but they can be limited and destroyed by tyranny. Read more →

The Progressive Boomerang

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


Not only have progressives failed to take down the president, but they also haven’t offered an alternative agenda.


The progressive strategy of investigating President Donald Trump nonstop for Russian collusion or obstruction of justice or witness tampering so far has produced no substantial evidence of wrongdoing.


The alternate strategy of derailing the new administration before it really gets started hasn’t succeeded either, despite serial efforts to sue over election results, alter the Electoral College vote, boycott the inauguration, delay the confirmation of appointments, demand recusals, promise Trump’s impeachment or removal through the 25th Amendment, and file suit under the Emoluments Clause.


Likewise, a third strategy of portraying Trump as a veritable monster so far has failed in four special elections for House seats. Read more →

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