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Hagia Sophia Becomes A Mosque Once Again

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

On Friday, July 24, Hagia Sophia was reopened as a mosque, after about a century as a museum. About 1,000 people attended Friday prayers there. The date, July 24, was not chosen at random, but marks a significant moment in military history.

The “Miracle” Of Dunkirk

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

For those of us stuck in social isolation, which would be just about everyone these days, binge watching TV and cable series has turned from an occasional weekend activity to a national pastime. Stuck in a post-“Game of Thrones” void, I asked my students for suggestions on what to watch. They turned me on to “The Man in the High Castle,” a four-season drama about a dystopian alternate universe in which the Axis powers win World War II and establish puppet states in North America. 

Space—The Final Military Frontier?

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, May 18, 2020

Late last week defense leaders presented the flag of the newly created U.S. Space Force to President Donald Trump in a ceremony in the Oval Office. The new Space Force emblem, eerily reminiscent of the logo for Starfleet Command in the Star Trek sci-fi series, now takes its place alongside those of the five other U.S. armed services. 

Ordering Moments In History

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

At irregular and rare moments in history, something happens that fundamentally changes the economic, political, or societal order. These historical “ordering moments” are related to black swan events, seemingly unpredictable occurrences with extreme consequences. But all black swans are not created equal. 

Victory In Europe—75 Years Later

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, May 11, 2020

Seventy-five years ago, the guns fell silent in Europe as Germany capitulated to the Grand Alliance of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and other allied powers. There were actually two surrender ceremonies. At 2:41 am on May 7, 1945, German General Alfred Jodl, chief of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht Operations Staff, signed the instrument of surrender in General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces headquarters in Reims, France. 

Strategy And The Continental Commitment

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, April 28, 2020

In the 1930s, the British military pundit B. H. Liddell Hart argued that Britain’s participation in the First World War with a massive commitment to France to fight the Germans had been a terrible mistake. Instead, he argued, Britain, as it had supposedly done in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, should have committed minimal forces to the continent and used its army and navy to attack Germany on the periphery. Liddell Hart’s arguments represented a rephrasing of the “blue water” school in British strategic thinking which had argued that Britain should focus almost entirely on the Royal Navy to the exclusion of spending any resources or committing any troops on the European Continent.

On Plagues and Their Long-term Effects

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 24, 2020

One of the most impressive sections of Thucydides’s timeless account is that of the plague that devastated Athens in the second year of the Peloponnesian War that had begun in 431 BC. He provides us with a clinical description of the disease and its progress, which my medical friends have assured me no modern physician could improve on. Not surprisingly, “the doctors were quite incapable of treating the disease because of their ignorance of the right methods.” 

How To Explain The Western Way Of War

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, April 21, 2020

At the start of the sixteenth century, Europe appeared the least impressive of the global civilizations, certainly the least likely to achieve a dominant position in the world. Europe was little more than a conglomeration of small, nasty states and cities, sharing a common religion and a common, ferocious desire to fight each other. Moreover, that common religion was about to be shattered by the Reformation. 

History: Our Own Past

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 17, 2020

When we think of history, we tend to think of the dim past before our memories. Thus, it is a knowledge acquired from history books, documents, archeology, inscriptions, and a myriad of other sources. There is, however, another history and that is our own past: the details and memories that we have picked up as we have aged over the years. Those that we have acquired from our earliest years are episodic and lack a clarity that incidents in our more recent days possess. Nevertheless, such early memories can be of use in understanding the present.

Embracing de Gaulle

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Oooh la la! The news that a new biopic movie about General Charles de Gaulle is about to be released showing him making love to his wife Yvonne shortly before the Germans invaded France in 1940 has left the normally-relaxed French all of a fluster.


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.