Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

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Who Watches the Watchmen?

by Victor Davis Hanson

Originally published in the National Review. Read the original article here

History shows that special counsels almost inevitably overstep their mandates.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller was supposed to run a narrow investigation into accusations of collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government. But so far, Mueller’s work has been plagued by almost daily improper leaks (e.g., “sources report,” “it emerged,” “some say”) about investigations that seem to have little to do with his original mandate.

Now, there are leaks claiming that Mueller is going after former national-security adviser Michael Flynn for his business practices before he entered the Trump administration. Specifically, Mueller is reportedly investigating Flynn’s security assessment and intelligence work for the Turkish government and other Turkish interests. Yet possible unethical lobbying on behalf of a NATO ally was not the reason Mueller was appointed.

The Roman satirist Juvenal famously once asked how one could guard against marital infidelity when the moral guardians were themselves immoral. His famous quip, translated roughly as “Who will police the police?” is applicable to all supposedly saintly investigators. Read more →

Trump’s Fate

by Victor Davis Hanson

Originally published at the National Review. Read the original article here

Plenty of people in ‘flyover’ country like not only Trump’s message — and actions — but also Trump, the loudmouth messenger.

The political verdict seems out on Trump’s current political future.

His supporters have won four special congressional elections. Yet, more recently, Republicans lost more local and state offices. Pundits argue about the degree to which these surrogate campaigns are referenda on Trump’s future.

Trump still polls between 39 percent and 42 percent approval, occasionally higher in supposed outlier surveys. Yet most concede that such polls did not in the past, and do not in the present, fully account for the “Trump Embarrassment Factor.” That is the strange phenomenon of a sizable minority of Trump voters — including Democrats and independents — proving reluctant to express support even to anonymous pollsters. Ask independent or moderate Republican voters whether they really voted for Trump: If they hesitate for more than three seconds before they answer, they probably did.

Registering dissatisfaction with Trump, the person, is also not the same as stating a preference for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or Kamala Harris in a two-way presidential poll. Trump may be off the ballot in 2018, but in 2020 he will be opposed one-on-one by a real, progressive candidate.

Trump’s fate in the 2018 midterms — aside from the fact that first-term presidents always seem to lose congressional seats after about two years of exposure — and his reelection in 2020 supposedly hinge on whether Trump’s popular message trumps the unpopular messenger (more on that below).

If the economy grows at over 3 percent or even more from the last quarter of 2017 to November 2018, if unemployment dips below 4 percent, if the stock market holds at its record levels, if business, consumer, and corporate confidence keeps soaring, if illegal immigration continues to plummet, if construction and manufacturing stay on the upswing, if Trump’s national-security team brings a new deterrence to foreign policy without a war with North Korea or Iran, and if energy production reaches ever-record levels, then voters will put up with a lot of Trump’s downsides. Read more →

Uncommon Knowledge Part I: The Second World Wars with Victor Davis Hanson

 

How were the Axis powers able to instigate the most lethal conflict in human history? Find out in part one of this episode as Victor Davis Hanson, joins Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge to discuss his latest book, The Second World Wars.

Victor Davis Hanson explains how World War II initially began in 1939 as a multitude of isolated border blitzkriegs that Germany continued to win. In 1941, everything changed when Germany invaded their ally, the Soviet Union, and brought Japan into the war. He argues that because of the disparate nature of World War II, it’s much harder to think about as a monolithic conflict.

World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history with approximately sixty million people killed. Victor Davis Hanson argues that World War II and the many lives lost was preventable, but due to a series of missteps by the Allied forces, Germany believed they were stronger and their enemies weaker than the reality. He argues “it took Soviet collusion, American indifference or isolation, and British or French appeasement in the 30s” to convince Germany that they had the military capabilities to invade western Europe. In the aftermath of World War I, the allies believed the cost of the Great War had been too high, while Germany bragged about their defeat as no enemy soldiers had set foot on German soil.  Great Britain and France both chose appeasement over deterrence, which encouraged rather than discouraged Hitler and Germany from moving forward with their plans.

This video was originally published by the Hoover Institution. Click here to learn more about this episode.

11/27/2017

From an Angry Reader:

 

Rarely have I read such infuriating nonsense as intellectual outlier Victor Davis Hanson spouts in his thoroughly delusional commentary about Trump. I know he’s been a blind Trumpeter since the con artist’s campaign began, and he remains steadfast in defending the indefensible. His pack of fraudulent claims, gross exaggerations, evasions and bizarre compliments should make us wonder what kind of mind is needed to get into a “think tank” these days. A mind with the ability to think clearly, marshal cogent arguments and use critical faculties would be excluded, I take it.

 

Even the part about Trump having superior “bare-knuckle” skills is laughable both in fact and in analogy. I guess what he means is the narcissistic blowhard and rank vulgarian has become adept over the years at using crude forms of bullying, belligerence, intimidation and insults in an attempt to cow the opponent. We see how much good those professed negotiating skills have been for him. No significant legislative accomplishments in his first year, despite him bragging that he’d do many big things quickly and all by himself.

 

What he has supported in the way of legislation was almost entirely devoid of the content he promised—healthcare that would cover everyone for less and be “easy” to accomplish–and he clearly didn’t know a thing about the bills a Republican congress fashioned to fulfill Trump’s exaggerated boasts. The man is an ignorant, incompetent, reckless and deranged demagogue, but Hanson remains a rube on the bandwagon sucking dry turnips. Such is the blissful state of “winners”.

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader TR Jahns,

 

On a scale of angry reader absurdities, yours ranks a 9 out of 10. The key to criticism is the avoidance of emotional jargon (nonsense, laughable, gross, delusional, etc.) that always appears in lieu of an argument. And imagery and metaphors must be consistent, not incoherent and mixed: what exactly does a “rube on a bandwagon sucking dry turnips” mean exactly?

 

Nonetheless here goes the refutation of your meltdown. Read more →

China’s New Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

 

China is following the same path to regional hegemony that Japan did in the 1930s.

 

A few weeks ago, Chinese president Xi Jinping offered a Soviet-style five-year plan for China’s progress at the Communist Party congress in Beijing. Despite his talk of global cooperation, the themes were familiar socialist boilerplate about Chinese economic and military superiority to come.

 

Implicit in the 205-minute harangue were echoes of the themes of the 1930s: A rising new Asian power would protect the region and replace declining Western influence.

 

President Xi promised that the Chinese patronage offered a new option for his neighbors “to speed up their development while preserving their independence.”

 

Sound familiar?
Read more →

A Thanksgiving Toast To The Old Breed

 

The late World War II combat veteran and memoirist E. B. Sledge enshrined his generation of fellow Marines as “The Old Breed” in his gripping account of the hellish battle of Okinawa. Now, most of those who fought in World War II are either dead or in their nineties.

Much has been written about the disappearance of these members of the Greatest Generation—there are now over 1,000 veterans passing away per day. Of the 16 million who at one time served in the American military during World War II, only about a half-million are still alive.

Military historians, of course, lament the loss of their first-hand recollections of battle. The collective memories of these veterans were never systematically recorded and catalogued. Yet even in haphazard fashion, their stories of dropping into Sainte-Mère-Église or surviving a sinking Liberty ship in the frigid North Atlantic have offered correctives about the war otherwise impossible to attain from the data of national archives.

More worrisome, however, is that the collective ethos of the World War II generation is fading. It may not have been fully absorbed by the Baby Boomer generation and has not been fully passed on to today’s young adults, the so-called Millennials. While U.S. soldiers proved heroic and lethal in Afghanistan and Iraq, their sacrifices were never commensurately appreciated by the larger culture.

The generation that came of age in the 1940s had survived the poverty of the Great Depression to win a global war that cost 60 million lives, while participating in the most profound economic and technological transformation in human history as a once rural America metamorphosed into a largely urban and suburban culture of vast wealth and leisure. Read more →

From an Angry Reader:

Dear Professor Hanson,

 

I read your article on Stalingrad and I wanted to respond.

 

The German 6th army in Stalingrad had Slovakian and Croatian units in the city. On the flanks of the 6th army was the Italian 8th army which played a huge role in Russia and was successful in Russia and was a revere[d] force. The Italians committed many troops for army group south and by the way this is coming from a Greek. I would also stress the importance of the Hungarians and Romanians.

 

You write, “It marked the turning point of World War II.” I would say that R.H.S Stolfi has argued that Kursk was the turning point, because a counter attacked at Kharkov won a major battle that regained the stability on the eastern front, in his book Hitler’s Panzers East. I would also add that my view is that operation Bagration was more a turning point in 1944 because it destroyed Army group Center and annihilated whatever remained of the German infantry forces which had been severely weakened and its allies like the Hungarians and the foreign SS units. Operation Bagration also moved soviet forces closer to Hungary and Romania and pushed army group north to be closed off to Germany. I would call that a greater victory then Stalingrad. However your view on Stalingrad as the turning point is conservative which is somewhat true. Also the soviets overextended, still was losing battles even in 1944, and the Germans captured more troops before Stalingrad, which had destroyed the red army, and half of the USSR’s industry and agriculture was captured. The Germans fixed the inept railroad systems. The Soviets were able to gain ground because the Germans were exhausted, but German units were murdering Soviet divisions.

 

Sincerely, Angelo

 

Ευχαριστώ Πολύ (Thank You)

 

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Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

 

Dear Sort of Angry Reader Angelo,

 

Patton’s Third Army included the 2nd French Division as well; so are we then wrong to call it an “American army”? The Sixth Army was overwhelmingly German and to call it such is just fine and does not deprecate the sacrifices of other Axis armies. The invasion of the Soviet Union was one of the most multinational efforts in military history, involving eventually Germans, Romanians, Hungarians, Italians, Spaniards, Finns, and Western and Eastern European volunteers.

 

After Stalingrad, the Germans could not complete Hitler’s original agenda of controlling Russia to the Volga River. The later “tie” at Kursk and even a German victory there would have made no ultimate difference, given the increasingly lethal Anglo-American bombing that was siphoning off huge artillery assets, even before D-Day, and successive open German wounds in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy—as well as vast diversions of Luftwaffe and artillery assets to offset Allied bombing.

 

Bagration came much later than Stalingrad when Soviet numerical and logistical superiority was unquestioned. In contrast, at Stalingrad the forces were much more evenly matched, and thus it was a turning point after which things went downhill for the Germans. Bragration was a continuation of what happened at Stalingrad to the nth degree, given far greater resources at the Red Army’s disposal.

 

Do not define German superiority in terms of killing ratios (anywhere from 3 to 7 / 1) or the German ability to destroy more tanks than it lost. There were no finer soldiers than those of the Wehrmacht but it eventually mattered little against a 12.5 million man-military, which received 20 percent of its supplies under Lend-Lease, at a time Germany was bombed 24/7 and under assault after June 1944 in Europe and Italy without much help militarily in Europe from its Italian and Japanese allies.

 

Sincerely, Victor

Why Do These Wars Never End?

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

 

Weaker enemies, by design, do not threaten stronger powers existentially; ‘proportionality’ means stalemate.

 

From the Punic Wars (264–146 b.c.) and the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) to the Arab–Israeli wars (1947–) and the so-called War on Terror (2001–), some wars never seem to end.

 

The dilemma is raised frequently given America’s long wars (Vietnam 1955–75) that either ended badly (Iraq 2003–11) or in some ways never quite ended at all (Korea 1950–53 and 2017–?; Afghanistan 2001–).

 

So what prevents strategic resolution? Among many reasons, two throughout history stand out.

 

One, such bella interrupta involve belligerents who are roughly equally matched. Neither side had enough of a material or spiritual edge (or sometimes the desire) to defeat, humiliate, and dictate terms to the beaten enemy. Think Rome and Carthage from 264 to 146. For 118 years, they fought three Punic Wars until greater Roman growth and vitality finally allowed it to dominate the Mediterranean and dictate terms on the North African coast, which finally resulted in the destruction of the Carthaginian Empire rather than another defeat of it. There was no fourth Punic War.

 

Certainly over the length of the Hundred Years’ War, England and France were often either too equally matched, or both lacked the necessary military clout to destroy their adversary’s army, march on the respective enemy capital, occupy it, and end both the material and political ability of the losing side to make war. Read more →

From an Angry Reader:

 

Victor Victor Victor…

 

Come on lad … With your education I really thought that you would know that “nuclear” is pronounced nu-cle-ar, NOT nuc-u-ler. That is the way “dub-ya” pronounced it and he could get away with it because he is an idiot. You are not! Please fix that …

 

H.C. Southern

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Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear H.C. Southern,

 

I get about 5 emails a day like yours on diction (careless), dress (tasteless), and even baldness, wrinkles, and facial scars (unfixable), and many of such citations perhaps have merit. I will put yours in the “I’ll get to it someday” file with the others.

 

Dubya is not an idiot, unless Gore (the “crazed sex poodle” who invented the Internet) and Kerry (“Actually, I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against the $87 billion.”) were too, whose GPA records and test scores were no higher—or Obama, who apparently believed there were “57 states,” thought the Malvinas were the Maldives, Austrians spoke “Austrian”—and assumed corpsmen was pronounced “corpse-men.”

 

V.D. Hanson

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