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Churchill’s Heroic Leadership

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Two films graced the cinemas of the United States—and Europe—this past year that are worth noting for the light they shine on the past as well as the current sensibilities of our chattering classes. Both cover the same period: May and the first days of June 1940 when the fate of the world hung in the balance. The first, Dunkirk, supposedly covers the escape of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from France as German panzer divisions, having broken through the French defenses at Sedan, rolled toward the Channel ports and appeared to be on the brink of cutting off and destroying the BEF before it could escape. 

Time To Celebrate Munich

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Monday, April 9, 2018

And so here we are with the eightieth anniversary of the Munich agreement to look forward to this coming September. Of course, it represents the best in the great liberal tradition that one can find a reasonable solution to any major international dispute, based on the common threads of humanity and disgust at the myths of military preparedness. Recognizing that Czechoslovakia was far away and that the country’s geographic position and industrial strength were irrelevant to any serious strategic considerations, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed away its citizens’ freedom. 

Failed Wartime Leaders Have A Short Shelf Life In Democracies

by Barry Strauss via Military History in the News
Monday, March 26, 2018

“I have often before now been convinced that democracy is incapable of empire.” So one ancient Athenian politician complained when his countrymen rejected his advice during the Peloponnesian War. “Democracy is acknowledged folly,” said another Athenian politician, after his career took a nosedive. Sour grapes, sure, but not unusual. Today democracy still has plenty of critics.

Chemical Weapons In The Shadow Of Magna Carta

by Barry Strauss via Military History in the News
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Located in rural southwest England, Salisbury has long been famous for its medieval cathedral and its proximity to Stonehenge. It even houses a rare copy of that precious document of western constitutional government, Magna Carta.

Crossing the Rubicon at the 39th Parallel?

by Barry Strauss via Military History in the News
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A historian of ancient Rome is skeptical of the comparisons between Julius Caesar and Donald Trump. After all, slamming a leader we don’t like as “a new Caesar” is one of America’s oldest traditions. It stretches from George III to Lincoln to Obama and now Trump.

Syria: A Long, Long History Of War

by Barry Strauss via Military History in the News
Monday, March 5, 2018

The war in Syria just seems to go on and on, with civilians in the line of fire as often as not. Currently an estimated 400,000 civilians are trapped in Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb and rebel enclave, currently under bombardment by government forces. Fighting since February 18 has killed over 600 people, including many children.

Post-Modern Propaganda: The Gatekeepers Are Gone

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, February 23, 2018

No plague in history spread with the speed of internet disinformation. We live in an age of hyper-charged propaganda, an onslaught of lies more pervasive than any that came before. Over millennia, propaganda changed minds. Today, it changes governments and subverts institutions. And this flood has burst the dams that, for centuries, kept the foulest waters in check.

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. 

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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.