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The Mud-Level Reason Our Nation-Building Fails

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Our military leaders have just proclaimed a renewed, more-effective policy for Afghanistan, which they assure us will turn around the decaying situation.

We’ll see…

The Real Lesson Of The Thirty Years' War For Today

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Thirty Years’ War in the German states between 1618 and 1648 has been invoked repeatedly in discussing the Syrian conflict, with commentators focusing on the multiple sides in the struggle and the interference by great powers. While those are surface similarities, there have been plenty of multi-sided conflicts and competitive great power interventions. The real lessons we might take to heart are that it’s far easier to get into conflicts that mingle dynastic ambitions, competing faiths, and quarrelsome ethnicities than it is to get out of them; that extended periods of warfare impose disproportionate casualties on civilian populations; and that late entrants have the best chance of winning.

Border Walls, Battles, And Ghosts: The Mexican-American War's Lasting Legacy

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, February 2, 2018

One hundred and seventy years ago, on February 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo expanded the territory of the United States by over 500,000 square miles, not only making it inevitable that we would become a Pacific power, but setting the stage for what may be the most complex border relationship between any two nations. The treaty formally ended our War with Mexico, but accelerated our headlong plunge toward the Civil War, intensifying the debate over the geographical expansion of slavery into our newly acquired territories. 

Tet In Retrospect

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive. During the Tet holiday ceasefire, Vietnamese Communist forces attacked all of South Vietnam’s towns and cities in order to smash South Vietnamese government forces and incite popular uprisings. Many of the government’s soldiers and policemen were off duty during the holiday, enabling the Communists to infiltrate the towns and cities undetected and strike the first blows. But government forces rallied quickly, and everywhere the population rejected Communist appeals to take part in the uprising. 

Network Concerns

by Mark Moyarfeaturing Niall Fergusonvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The publication this month of Niall Ferguson’s new book The Square and the Tower has illuminated both the power of networks and the human tendency to overstate the power of networks. For longer than one might expect, tech enthusiasts, corporate executives, social scientists, and military theorists have proclaimed that networks will revolutionize some, if not all, aspects of human existence, generally for the better. As Ferguson’s book explains in devastating detail, their lofty visions have been repeatedly confounded by reality.

The Legacy Of Operation Desert Storm

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

On January 16, 1991, President George H. W. Bush announced the start of armed hostilities with Iraq. Operation Desert Storm, as the Americans called the offensive, followed the five months of Operation Desert Shield, during which American and allied forces from around the world had sailed to the Persian Gulf to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

Wilson’s Fourteen Points

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

One hundred years ago this week, Woodrow Wilson delivered his Fourteen Points address to a joint session of Congress.

The Lessons Of Dien Bien Phu

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Friday, December 22, 2017

The most consequential military engagement in Southeast Asia in the 20th century is the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu. It was fought ostensibly between the French and the communist-led Vietmin at Dien Bien Phu, an obscure valley bordering China, in the remote northwestern part of what was then French Indochina. The battle ended with a humiliating defeat for the French, which brought down the French government, ended French colonial rule in Asia, ushered in America’s epic military involvement in the region for decades to come, and fundamentally changed the global geostrategic landscape.

China’s Achilles Heel

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The best political commentary out of East Asia last week is the one published on December 15 by South Korea’s second largest newspaper, Dong-A Ilbo. The paper’s editors asked a question on the mind of the entire Korean nation after their president had been outrageously snubbed by the Chinese leadership during his four-day state visit to the communist country, and Korean reporters accompanying their president’s visit were savagely beaten by thuggish Chinese security guards: “China should reflect on this question: why is it that for such a big country, there is hardly any neighbor that can be described as China’s friend?”

A Dangerous Triangular Liaison—How To Avoid The Next War In East Asia

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Today, China is having tense, and often explosive, territorial and maritime disputes with many of its neighbors including Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India. The threats of wars are routinely reported in the news.

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Strategika

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.