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Fighting To Leave: The Devolution Of The American War Aims In Afghanistan

by Bing West via Military History in the News
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

In early winter of 2001, an invading force of fewer than 10,000 American soldiers, Marines, Special Forces, and CIA operatives stampeded the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces across Afghanistan. A punitive campaign of historic brevity and one-sided casualties was about to end. Then our most senior officials made two disastrous decisions. First, General Tommy Franks, the commander of the invasion, refused to employ American forces to seal off the al-Qaeda remnants, including Osama bin Laden, hiding in the Tora Bora mountains. Instead, General Franks handed the fight over to unreliable Afghan warlords, who let bin Laden and al-Qaeda escape into Afghanistan.

U.S. Government Passivity In Cyber Space

by Bing West via Military History in the News
Friday, November 9, 2018

In 2015, President Obama held a press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “I indicated that it [cyber theft] has to stop.” Both governments agreed not to engage in or support online theft of intellectual property.

The Bloodiest Battle In American History

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Thursday, September 27, 2018

One hundred years ago this week doughboys of the American Expeditionary Forces went over the top in the Meuse River–Argonne Forest region of France, marking the beginning of what would become the bloodiest battle in American history. More than 1.2 million American soldiers took part in the six-week battle, part of a larger Allied effort known as the Hundred Days Offensive. By the time the battle concluded with an armistice on November 11, 1918, more than 26,000 U.S. soldiers—half of American combat fatalities in the Great War—would lie dead on the blood-soaked fields of France, with another 100,000 wounded-in-action.

Hama Rules Revisited

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 24, 2018

In 1982 the Muslim Brotherhood launched an uprising against the rule of Hafez al-Assad, the authoritarian ruler of Syria. The rebellion never stood a chance. After initial attacks on February 3 killed scores of Ba’athist leaders and rebels seized the city of Hama, the Syrian government reacted by sending 12,000 troops to besiege and retake the city. 

Fort Trump—A Permanent U.S. Military Base in Poland?

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Following a meeting in the Oval office on September 18, President Donald Trump said he is considering a request from Polish President Andrzej Duda to permanently station American troops in his country. Duda even offered to name the military facility “Fort Trump” and to provide more than $2 billion to help finance it. Poland desires the protection and stability that a permanent U.S. presence on its soil offers. One can sympathize with the Polish desire for a superpower security umbrella.

Will China One Day Dominate the Seas? History Provides Some Clues

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 10, 2018

China has recently launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, doubling its embryonic capacity to project power on the world’s oceans. A third carrier is under construction, with more to follow in due course. China has militarized its artificial islands in the South China Sea, extending its security barrier away from the Asian coast. It has fielded anti-access area denial weapons, including so-called “carrier killer” ballistic missiles that can reach Guam, to keep foreign warships away from Chinese waters should war come to East Asia. 

Europe’s Deep Localism And Populism

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Thursday, August 23, 2018

On June 25, 1183, representatives of Italy’s Lombard League met Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa on Lake Konstanz to receive his signature on a charter promising to respect the effective independence of the League’s component cities, as well as the League’s right to continue defending that independence by force of arms.

Squaring Ends And Means

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Self-determination for countries that had been occupied by Nazi Germany—Poland in particular—was foremost of the common objectives to which President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winton Churchill committed on August 14, 1941 after meeting on the British battleship Prince of Wales off Newfoundland. Germany’s invasion of Poland had been the reason why Britain had declared war. Restoring Poland’s freedom was the war’s first-order objective. The Soviet Union’s 1939 partnership with Germany in that invasion and, by August 1941, its alliance with Britain, added a layer of difficulties. 

Nuclear Birthday

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

On August 6 and 9, the popular mind recalls the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear bombs, congratulates itself that no such weapons have been used since, and pleases to imagine that none will be used ever again. Never mind that they have ceased to be exotic, that nine governments now possess them (Iran is on the cusp of joining them), and that just about any government so inclined can have them. There is near-unanimity that nuclear power “changed everything, forever.” Not quite.

Rabaul, August 1943

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The naval and air bases that Japan established at Rabaul on the eastern edge of New Britain Island in 1942 became the leading edge of its resistance to America’s return to the Western Pacific. Five hundred miles from the nearest Australian air base and supported by nearby Japanese naval and air power, Rabaul almost prevented America’s power, projected as it was from across the Pacific, from gaining a toehold in Guadalcanal, on the easternmost edge of the Solomon Islands. That notwithstanding, Rabaul continued to dominate the Southwest Pacific.

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Wars, terrorism, and revolution are the daily fare of our globalized world, interconnected by instantaneous electronic news.

Military History in the News is a weekly column from the Hoover Institution that reflects on how the study of the past alone allows us to make sense of the often baffling daily violence, not by offering exact parallels from history, but rather by providing contexts of similarity and difference that foster perspective and insight—and reassurance that nothing is ever quite new.