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The Power Of Retreat

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Monday, August 19, 2019

On August 18, 1812, General Mikhail Kutuzov, 67 years old, took command of Russia’s army, which had been forced to retreat as Napoleon’s Grande Armée, the world’s best fighting force and three times its size, advanced into Russia. Destroying the Russian army was Napoleon’s objective. Preserving it had become the Russians’ proximate objective. 

Deus Vincit

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Friday, August 16, 2019

On August 6, 1682, the Ottoman Empire, at the height of its power, declared war on the Holy Roman Empire. Muslim domination of Europe extended from the Balkans northward through Hungary and reached into Poland. Westward, only Habsburg Vienna barred the way. Louis XIV, for his own reasons, preferred dealing with the Ottomans rather than with the Habsburgs. Were the Muslims to have been victorious, they might have ruled from the Mediterranean to the Baltic.

Poland: Caught In The Crosshairs

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

On August 1, 1944, the Polish Home Army rose against Warsaw’s German occupiers. The Soviet Red Army, in force on the Vistula’s eastern bank, had told the Poles that it would attack the Germans as soon as they rose. Instead, the Russians stood by as the Germans killed virtually all 16,000 Polish fighters along with some 200,000 civilians, and destroyed old Warsaw. Germans and Russians faced each other at that location consequent to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, in which the two had effectively jointly erased Poland from the map. 

The 100th Anniversary Of The Treaty Of Versailles

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Friday, June 28, 2019

Today the world celebrates one of the final centenarian milestones of the Great War, the signing by the victorious Allied Powers and defeated Germany of the Treaty of Versailles, which brought to an end the First World War. Although U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had hoped to conclude a peace based on his “14 Points” speech to Congress delivered on January 8, 1918, the blood debt incurred by the allies made such an idealistic peace impossible. Allied politicians had to justify to their constituencies the slaughter of a generation of young men in the trenches. One way to do this, in their eyes, was to ensure German militarism would never rise again.

Operation Bagration And The Destruction Of The Army Group Center

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, June 24, 2019

Two and a half weeks ago the nations of Europe, the United States, and Canada joined together in commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, which initiated the Great Crusade—the liberation of western Europe from Hitler’s grip. This week marks the anniversary of another major event in World War II that, though it will be little noticed outside of Russia, was just as important a piece in the mosaic of Allied victory as was D-Day. Operation Bagration, the Red Army offensive into Byelorussia from June 23 to August 19, 1944, resulted in the destruction of 28 of 34 divisions of the German Third Panzer, Fourth, and Ninth Armies of Army Group Center. 

The Six-Day War And The Golan Heights

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, June 10, 2019

Fifty-two years ago, Israel vanquished its Arab opponents in the Six-Day War, waged from June 5-10, 1967. Israeli victory led to its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, and Golan Heights. The war and its outcome had significant implications for the future of the Middle East, and its repercussions echo to this day.

D-Day At 75

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Thursday, June 6, 2019

Seventy-five years ago, American, British, Canadian, and French soldiers stormed ashore on the beaches of Normandy to begin the final campaign in the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny. It was an operation four years in the making, ever since the withdrawal of British and French troops from Dunkirk after the disastrous battle for France left the Wehrmacht in control of Northwest Europe. The campaigns waged by the Grand Alliance—the Battle of the Atlantic, the strategic bombing offensive, the invasions of North Africa and Italy— were preludes to this decisive moment in World War II. Millions of soldiers and tens of thousands of pieces of military equipment were staged in Britain in anticipation of this venture.

Asymmetrical Warfare: What We All Missed

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Thursday, April 25, 2019

Twenty-five years ago, I published an essay, “The New Warrior Class,” arguing that our military’s most-frequent opponents in the coming decades would be irregular forces, such as guerrillas, terrorists, militias, pirates, and even criminal networks. Hostile, nuclear-armed states would remain the paramount threat to our existence, but it would be the “all-others” who kept us busy. We needed to prepare for changing battlefields and tenacious, if lesser, enemies.

“Hail Caesar!” Again And Again

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 19, 2019

By his own account, Julius Caesar was a brilliant soldier, and his masterful prose obscures his later misrule. Brutus didn’t draw his dagger because he was having a bad-toga day. In his time, Caesar set the pattern for repeated—all but countless—military moves against the Roman state and, consequently, rule by ill-suited emperors, with here and there a blood-sustained triumvirate or a doomed duopoly inserted between one-man reigns. The Roman Empire was not destroyed by barbarians, but by soldiers determined to fix it.

New War for an Ancient Prize

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

As the forces of Libyan warlord, self-promoted General Khalifa Haftar, sweep out of Cyrenaica to close on Tripoli, the weaponry has changed but the patterns of military movement remain roughly the same as they have for four millennia.

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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.