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Conflict In The Eastern Mediterranean

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

This is a story of the sea. It comes from the place where sea stories began, the Mediterranean realm of Homer’s Odyssey and of the naval battles of Salamis and Actium. It’s a story of pluck and ingenuity but also of the dramatic changes that technology is bringing to war, from the skies above to the seas below.

Winning The War Or Spinning The War?

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Who won the recent war or, as some would call it, mini-war between Hamas and Israel that lasted for eleven days this past May? It depends whom you ask.

Star Wars 2.0

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, July 6, 2021

In 1983 U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which was nicknamed by some as “Star Wars.” SDI was meant to protect the United States from intercontinental ballistic missiles by the use of defensive weapons on both earth and in space. Lasers would play a key role in the technology of destroying incoming missiles. The technology didn’t exist yet, but Reagan proposed that the nation devote itself to developing it.

The Military’s Perilous Experiment

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

In war, the moral is to the physical as three is to one. The American military, the most powerful martial force in the world, has consistently preached and followed that dictum. In 2017, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis declared that the fundamental criterion by which to judge key actions in the Department of Defense was clear: Does the action enhance the lethality of the force?

Drift

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Friday, May 28, 2021

When does a powerful nation lose its spirit? And after a country’s sense of self goes adrift, can it be recovered? In the twentieth century, the gold standard of drift followed by recovery was Great Britain. More than 700,000 British soldiers were killed during WWI, roughly ten percent of all who served. Following the Treaty of Versailles, the British thought they had put war behind them. Certainly, when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, it seemed to signify that Great Britain has lost its grit.

World War III In Novels

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Like hurricanes and volcanoes, most wars are not predictable even months before the event. In this regard, national intelligence estimates are no more soothsaying than novels. But unlike estimates by bureaucrats, novels are stories about human nature that entertain and often enlighten or remind us about the complexity called human nature. Consider these five novels about World War III.

A Vietnam Retrospective

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 12, 2021

President Biden has promised that by 2022, the residual American military forces will leave Afghanistan. When that happens, it will complete the trifecta of American failure in its three major wars in the last half century: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam. Having spent years in Vietnam, when I look back, several causes for our failure there stand out.

The History Of Killing

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 30, 2021

During the week in which this column was drafted, renewed fighting, replete with atrocities, spread in Darfur; in Mozambique, Islamist fanatics continued to kill fellow Muslims; in Chad, the ethno-religious conflict worsened; the Chinese government continued to torture Uighurs; the Taliban welcomed the prospect of an American withdrawal with fresh attacks; and deadly eruptions pocked the Middle East.

Kabul, Vietnam

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 23, 2021

A British military jibe maintains that “Experience is the ability to recognize a mistake the second time you make it.” Can we recognize that, in Afghanistan, we made the identical two grand mistakes we made in Vietnam—then added a third to guarantee our failure?

Killer Of Armies: Microbes And The Military

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 16, 2021

As COVID-19 wages war on the world with its constantly mutating arsenal, this pandemic is a relatively gentle reminder of the effects of plagues on history—not least, upon armies and their operations. We live in an age of medical miracles, yet, faced with death or long-term disability on a global scale, we cannot readily grasp the most-insidious effects of this virus.

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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.