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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.

Did China Have A Chance To Win The Opium War?

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The most consequential war involving a European nation in Asia in the 19th century is the 1839-1842 Opium War. The war was fought between a large British expeditionary force composed of nearly 20,000 British troops and three dozen of the Royal Navy’s modern warships, against about 100,000 Chinese defenders. 

China’s Strategic Ambiguity

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Monday, June 25, 2018

Since the end of the Cold War, leading Western military leaders and strategists have consistently pressured China to answer a meaningless question: “What are your intentions for the massive military buildup?”

The Dialectics Of Host And Guest On The Korean Peninsula

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Monday, June 18, 2018

In the ancient Chinese military strategy classic, Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong, the great Tang Dynasty Emperor Taizong of the 7th century famously ruminated that, “In war, we prefer the position of the host to that of the guest.”

Know Neither Your Enemy Nor Yourself—The Lessons of Vietnam

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Monday, June 11, 2018

The sage, albeit overly quoted, wisdom of the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu still applies in modern warfare: “Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, find level of loss and victory. Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time.”

Military Pageantry At The Royal Wedding

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Monday, May 21, 2018

Although Prince Harry’s marriage last week to Ms. Meghan Markle was not a military occasion, the groom and best man wore uniform and more than 250 servicemen from units with storied military histories took part, so I think it’s acceptable to report on it for Military History in the News.

Indian Military Truths

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Military history has been much in the news in India this month because it was twisted by Narenda Modi, the Prime Minister and leader of the ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, in a blatant attempt to besmirch his great rival, the Congress Party. Campaigning in Karnataka in the south-west of India, Mr. Modi declared, “In 1948 we won the war against Pakistan under General [Kodendera Subayya] Thimayya’s leadership. 

Through The Minefield To Victory

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Thursday, May 10, 2018

Somewhere that military history is constantly in the news—or at least in the newspapers—is in the obituaries of old soldiers. With the generation who comprised the generals and colonels from World War II now almost completely gone, it is the officers from later conflicts who tend to feature now. In the London Times last week, the death notice of Colonel John Cormack, a mining expert who won the Military Cross in the King’s Royal Irish Hussars in the Korean War, reminds us that that conflict never formally ended with a peace treaty, but only sputtered out with an armistice.

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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.