Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers


From An Angry Reader:

Angry Reader Rich Laughlin


Mr. Hanson, please try using sentences with less words. Most recently, I read one of your articles that had a sentence with 44 words. Other sentences in the same article were almost as bad. Really.

You are loosing me with those lengthy paragraphs that contain so many examples of organizations, groups, etc., etc. One or two would, in most cases, satisfy the message. And, I find I have to keep a dictionary nearby while reading some of your articles.

Less is good!


Rich Laughlin


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Rich Laughlin,


Perhaps I should agree with your Callimachean advice: μέγα βιβλίον μέγα κακόν.



Victor Hanson

(and I do not get paid by the word, so my verbiage would be unprofitable and unnecessary).


From An Angry Reader:

Angry Reader Bob McCarthy

For one who loves to cast aspersions on political incorrectness in the use of words, maybe you should ‘splain to your readers your use of the term “Mexifornia” in decrying the Mexican “takeover” of California, as racist a piece as I’ve ever read. I find it shameful that The Bee chooses to run your right-wing screeds every Sunday. Jim Boren once defended you to me for being “local” as in Selma, as if that gives you special cred. It certainly doesn’t.


Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Quite Angry Reader Bob McCarthy,

Why the unhinged anger?

I do not have to “splain” anything to you, given that you clearly have never read the book Mexifornia. It was a call for legal, measured, and diverse immigration, a return to the melting pot of integration, assimilation, and intermarriage, and an immigration solution that would allow those who broke the law but who are employed, have not committed a crime, and have lengthy U.S. residence to apply for a green card and legal residence in exchange for a national policy of enforcing existing immigration law—in other words, the policies embraced by Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1990s. It championed a unifying multiracialism rather than a separatist multiculturalism. You have no idea of the origins of the word Mexifornia, which is not my own, but one borrowed from a preexisting and common Latino gang reference that was apparently meant to highlight ethnic tribalism. Read more →

Virtual Virtue

By Victor Davis Hanson//American Greatness

It is not healthy for a society to live two lives that are antithetical, as America has been doing in recent decades.

Disillusionment with government and popular culture arises at anger over two entirely different realities. One truth is politically correct and voiced on the news and by the government. It is often abstract and theoretical. And the other truth is empirical, hushed and accepted informally by ordinary people from what they see and hear on the ground.

Public orthodoxy signals virtue, private heterodoxy ensures ostracism. So Americans increasingly make the necessary adjustments, modeling their lives in some part as those once did in totalitarian societies of the 20th century. The reality they live is the stuff of the shadows; the falsity they are told and repeat is public and amplified.

Cynicism and eventual anger at the schizophrenia are always the harvests of such bipolarity.

Read more →

Two Resistances

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

The quiet resistance — the one without black masks and clubs — is the more revolutionary force, and it transcends race, class, and gender.

After the election of Donald Trump, there arose a self-described “Resistance.” It apparently posed as a decentralized network of progressive activist groups dedicated to derailing the newly elected Trump administration.

Democrats and progressives borrowed their brand name from World War II French partisans. In rather psychodramatic fashion, they envisioned their heroic role over the next four years as that of virtual French insurgents — coming down from the Maquis hills, perhaps to waylay Trump’s White House, as if the president were an SS Obergruppenführer und General der Police running occupied Paris. Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone wrote admiringly about the furious Resistance’s pushback against Trump, with extravagant claims that his agenda was already derailed thanks to a zillion grass-roots and modern-day insurgents.

Read more →

Linguistic McCarthyism

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review

Most Americans recoil from the statue-smashers and name-changers.

‘The Bard,” William Shakespeare, had a healthy distrust of the sort of mob hysteria typified by our current epidemics of statue-busting and name-changing.

In Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar — a story adopted from Plutarch’s Parallel Lives — a frenzied Roman mob, in furor over the assassination of Julius Caesar, encounters on the street a poet named Cinna. The innocent poet was not the conspiratorial assassin Cinna, but unfortunately shared a name with the killer. Read more →

Calculating The Risk Of Preventive War

by Max Boot

War Savings poster WWII

Image credit: Poster Collection, UK 4018, Hoover Institution Archives.

The issue of “preemptive” war is more in the news now than at any time since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The impetus, of course, is the rapid development of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which will soon give Pyongyang the capability to hit any American city with a nuclear-tipped ICBM. President Trump has been threatening “fire and fury” in response, and warning that the United States is “locked and loaded” for war. His national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, has said that North Korea may not be deterrable and that, therefore, a preemptive strike may be justified.

In truth, the use of “preemptive” in this context is a misnomer. In international law, a “preemptive” strike is one undertaken just before an enemy attack. There are few examples of such conflicts beyond the 1967 Six Day War. The use of force in such an instance is labeled “anticipatory self-defense” and is clearly legal and logical. If Washington were to acquire intelligence that North Korea was about to attack the United States—or even U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan—there is no doubt that a preemptive strike would be warranted. Read more →

Preemptive Strikes and Preventive Wars: A Historian’s Perspective

By Barry Strauss

Buy War Bonds Poster WWII

Image credit: Poster Collection, US 1684, Hoover Institution Archives.

Preventive wars and preemptive strikes are both risky business. A preventive war is a military, diplomatic, and strategic endeavor, aimed at an enemy whom one expects to grow so strong that delay would cause defeat. A preemptive strike is a military operation or series of operations to preempt an enemy’s ability to attack you. In both cases, a government judges a diplomatic solution impossible. But judgment calls are debatable and preventive wars often stir up controversy. Preemptive strikes run the risk of arousing a sleeping enemy who, now wounded, will fight harder. Yet both preventive wars and preemptive strikes can succeed, under certain limited circumstances. Consider some examples. Read more →

Preemptive Strike Or Preventive War?


Image credit:Poster Collection, US 1696, Hoover Institution Archives.

With the troubles bubbling over on the Korean Peninsula, as the North Korean regime approaches possession of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of striking the United States, two words, preemptive and preventive, have gained increasing currency. While similar in meaning, their context is crucial in understanding their applicability to the current crisis. And here, as is so often the case, history is a useful tool in thinking through the possibilities. A preemptive strike usually carries the connotation of attacking or destroying substantial enemy capabilities, in some cases with the hope that it will so wreck the enemy’s military forces that he will not be able to use them effectively, should war result. In the largest sense, those who execute preventive strikes have usually understood that their military effort, no matter how successful, would lead to a conflict of some indeterminate length. Thus, the two words are directly tied together in that preemptive strike almost inevitably will lead to what the attacker in most cases regards as a preventive war.

We, of course, have been down this road in the recent past. In response to 9/11, the Bush administration in its National Security Strategy for 2002 boldly stated that the United States “must be prepared to stop rogue states and their territorial clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends.” That statement led directly to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 with the aim of removing Saddam Hussein and his supposed weapons of mass destruction as well as the possibility that he might eventually possess nuclear weapons. Well, there were not any weapons of mass destruction and the United States almost immediately found itself mired in a totally unexpected quagmire—a quagmire at least unexpected by the administration and all too many of its military advisers. The ensuing insurgency against the United States and its allies as well as the civil war between the Sunni and Shi’a religious constituencies proved to be a nightmare for American strategists and policy makers. In retrospect, the result of the Iraq invasion seems obvious, but it was certainly not so at the time. Read more →

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review


Partisan conflict is not new, nor is GOP internal dissent. What’s new is in-fighting among the elites.


The Left-Wing Trump Haters

About a third of the Democratic party (15–20 percent perhaps of the electorate?) loathes Trump, from reasons of the trivial to the fundamental.


The hard-leftist hatred is visceral; it is multidimensional; and it is unalterable.


Trump is rich, crass, showy, a white male, and 70. As the anti-Obama, he punches every progressive button in existence. A candidate like Trump was not supposed to exist any longer in the 21st-Century Age of Obama, much less should he have ruined the anticipated progressive Obama-Clinton 16-year regnum. Trump’s accent is outer-borough and seems to exemplify for Trump haters the gaucheness of the golden trump name stamped all over New York. The Europeans have utter contempt for Trump, and that embarrasses leftists especially.


Unlike some Republican politicians who wished to be admired by cultural progressives, Trump prefers baiting the Left and its media appendages, as if to remind them that he prefers to overturn the entire progressive project of the last eight years — if not on ideological grounds (Trump not so long ago voiced a number of centrist and liberal views), at least out of tit-for-tat animosity. Unlike a restrained presidential Bush or a sober Romney, the president answers in kind — and trumps — the boilerplate leftist charge of “fascist!” and “Nazi!” leveled against him.


The Trump haters dominate our media and the universities, the entertainment industries, Silicon Valley, the billionaire green classes, the foundations and the brigades of professional foot-soldier activists, identity-politics operatives, and the Bernie Sanders shock troops. They are frenzied because they think their 1,000 cuts have finally hit arteries — only to see Trump revive in Nietzschean fashion, emerging stronger for the wounds. To come so close to ending this nightmare only to realize they are at the alpha and not the omega of their efforts intensifies their hatred.
Read more →

Equal by Catastrophe

The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century
by Walter Scheidel
Princeton University Press, 528 pp., USD$35.

Scheidel argues that history offers few peaceful antidotes to the accumulation of property, money, and leverage in the hands of the few. “For thousands of years,” Scheidel observes, “civilization did not lend itself to peaceful equalization. Across a wide range of societies and different levels of development, stability favored economic inequality.”2 Civilization is the culprit; its absence, the cure. Scheidel wrote the book as a warning to progressives: “If we seek to rebalance the current distribution of income and wealth in favor of greater equality, we cannot simply close our eyes to what it took to accomplish this goal in the past.”3 Read more →
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