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A Philatelic Flaw

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Royal Mail in Britain is often held up as an example of meticulous accuracy and research, but not this month when it got its military history so disastrously wrong as to announce a new stamp purportedly showing Allied soldiers wading ashore in Normandy on D-Day when in fact the photo depicted an unopposed landing in Dutch New Guinea.

A New Sacred Use For An Old Trophy Of War

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Monday, January 14, 2019

Military History is rarely out of the news in Russia, and this month it was announced that a new Army Cathedral there will have its front steps made out of melted-down tanks seized from the Germans in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45. President Vladimir Putin, whose pet project this is, has raised 1.8 billion roubles (£20.9 million, $26.8 million) for a three hundred-foot high brand-new Main Cathedral of the Armed Forces in Patriot Park, a military theme park 40 miles from Moscow.

Remembering The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Simcha Rotem, one of the last-known surviving fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April-May 1943, died in Jerusalem on December 23, 2018, aged 94. His death prompted a good deal of global coverage, since the story of the Ghetto Uprising—not to be confused with the Warsaw Home Army Uprising of August-October 1944—is an integral one to the story of Jewish resistance to the Nazis during the Second World War.

Brexit’s Losers

by Giselle Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Thursday, December 20, 2018

“Fog in the Channel,” headlined the October 22, 1957 Times of London, “Continent cut off.” This famous-but-perhaps-apocryphal bit of journalism is particularly apropos of the dank “Brexit” shroud that has settled over northwest Europe. With 100 days to go until the supposed March 29 deadline for Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the fog is only getting thicker. No proposed solution seems palatable to all parties, Prime Minister Theresa May has a tenuous hold on power and no grip whatsoever on policy, and the continentals are blithely but foolishly relishing Britain’s distress.

Unplugging From The Saudis?

by Giselle Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Thursday, December 20, 2018

One of the greatest temptations for recent American presidents has been the insidious thought that the balance of power in the Middle East is of diminishing strategic importance to the United States. This would appear to be the logic behind Donald Trump’s order to withdraw U.S. ground forces from Syria. Like Barack Obama before him, the president looks through the smaller, counterterrorism lens—fighting the Islamic State was his “only reason for being there”—rather than the regional (or global) balance-of-power lens.

A Bon-Bon For Marlborough Buffs

by Giselle Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Monday, December 17, 2018

It may be stretching the limits of this feature to offer a movie review as “Military History in the News,” but, given the temper of our times, any film even slightly to do with Britain’s greatest soldier, John Churchill Duke of Marlborough, ought to be welcomed. And in fact, The Favourite has been widely acclaimed as one of the best offerings of the year. Deliciously filmed by director Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite tells, albeit in a gossipy way, the tale of Queen Anne’s epic feud with Sarah Churchill, the duke’s wife, the queen’s longtime “favorite,” and ruthlessly Machiavellian power behind the throne. 

A Man Of His Times

by Giselle Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The passing of president George Herbert Walker Bush has, inevitably, recalled his role in the most momentous moments of the late 20th century: the fall of the Berlin Wall in the fall of 1989 and the complete collapse of the Soviet empire two years later. That this came about peacefully is still something of a wonder, and is alone more than enough to enshrine our 41st president as a superb statesman.

Will America or China Prevail in the Trade War?

by Bing West via Military History in the News
Friday, November 30, 2018

While the Constitution vests in the Congress the power to declare war, American presidents wield great discretion in initiating hostilities. Lyndon B. Johnson dribbled troops into combat in Vietnam in a series of halfway measures that led to disaster. After taking care to build a broad alliance, George H. W. Bush ordered the assault that threw the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in 1991. His son, George W. Bush, orchestrated the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, after gaining the support of Congress. And recently, without involving the Congress, President Donald Trump has shifted the field of battle to economics by declaring a trade war against China.

Defending the Nation: Resources

by Bing West via Military History in the News
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It is unremarkable to observe that America will fight a future war against an enemy much stronger than Islamist terrorists. War continues to be a central feature of world history due to the immutable nature of the human being. Understanding this, the leaders of all nations maintain armies to protect their nation states.

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.

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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.