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Feminine Spycraft

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Times of London report that Mata Hari, the notorious World War One double agent, owed her downfall to MI5 rather than to the French secret service comes at a time when the British domestic security service could do with some good news, even if it is one hundred years old. Still reeling from the shock of three terrorist attacks in two months in London and Manchester this year—two of them perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists who were known to the organization—perhaps MI5 can learn something from the superb professionalism of their forebears in 1916.

Stalin’s Greatness?

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

“The Red Army could have defeated Nazi Germany without Allied help,” records The Times of London, “according to two thirds of Russians, who are adopting an increasingly positive view of Joseph Stalin’s wartime leadership despite the enormous casualties suffered under his command.” This worrying sign of increased ultra-nationalism under Vladimir Putin was based on findings from a poll conducted by the respected Levada Center in Moscow. 

Civilian Casualties In The Battle For Mosul

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

As the battle against ISIS in Mosul reaches its climax with an assault by Iraqi forces on the remaining enemy stronghold in the old city west of the Tigris River, predictable appeals for a lessening of civilian casualties have been issued by various pundits. Since August 2014 the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS has killed just under 500 civilians. 

Battlestations! The U.S. Navy And Damage Control

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Seven American sailors on the USS Fitzgerald died last Saturday after their destroyer was rammed by the Philippine-registered cargo ship ACX Crystal. The incident, now under investigation, occurred at 2:20 a.m. local time off the Japanese coast. Although the loss of life was tragic, heroic damage control efforts by the ship’s crew saved the vessel from sinking. 

ISIS And Tora Bora—Back To The Future

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Reports today have confirmed that a branch of the Islamic State has seized Tora Bora, once the stronghold of the iconic founder and leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. The terrorists of al-Qaeda used this remote and forbidding mountain fortress, honeycombed with caves and tunnels, as protection against airstrikes and ground assault in the weeks after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.”

The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Seventy-five years ago this week the U.S. Navy pulled off one of the all-time upsets in the history of military affairs when it defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway. Beginning on December 7, 1941, with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that crippled the U.S. Pacific fleet as it lay at anchor, the Imperial Japanese Navy put together an incredible run of victories. 

Andrew Jackson And John Quincy Adams Teach National Security

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On May 24, 1818, General Andrew Jackson occupied Pensacola, then the capital of the Spanish province of Florida. This was the terminus of an expedition in which his forces had destroyed a band of marauders which had been preying on the southern edges of U.S. territory from bases in Spanish territory. 

May 11-23, 2003: From Peace To War In Iraq

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Friday, May 19, 2017

In the middle of May 2003, the U.S. government threw away a victory that its armed forces had won and started a new war that it had no idea how to win. This fortnight’s events remind us that the lack of unity of conception and command can turn victory into disaster.

No Safe Wars

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Monday, May 15, 2017

The events of May 12 in and concerning the Vietnam War remind us of the necessity to be clear about one’s objectives and what it takes to achieve them, by showing how speaking and acting without such clarity places one’s fortunes at the enemy’s mercy.

Unjustifiable Tribute

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On May 10, 1801, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha of Tripoli, announced his intention to commence hostilities against the United States and then formally declared war on May 14 when his men chopped down the consulate’s flagpole. Tripoli, along with the other North African (Barbary) states of Tunis and Algiers, was demanding tribute for the passage of American ships. This war ended in 1805 with a U.S. military victory over Tripoli, but without removing any of the Barbary states’ pretensions regarding the United States. 

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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.