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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.

The New Old Frontier Of Islamist Terror

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Monday, April 5, 2021

Largely ignored for years, the hyper-violent Islamist terror in northern Mozambique has begun to receive international attention—now that Western oil and gas projects are threatened.

The Next Great Plague

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, March 30, 2021

During the past year, the globe has gone through a time that to most of its people, at least in the developed world, has appeared to be an entirely new experience. A plague of considerable virulence has rippled across the world and resulted in the deaths of millions as well as untold damage to national economies.

Thoughts On The Fragility Of Civilization

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Thursday, March 25, 2021

A 2017 Norwegian-Irish film (The King’s Choice) examines the hard choice that the nation’s monarch, Haakon VII, confronted in the dark days that followed the German invasion of his country on April 9, 1940.

The Assault On Our Past

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The assault on our past continues unabated. In its efforts to further “racial healing” in something called the “historical reckoning project,” the City of Chicago is deciding whether to eliminate some forty plus statues from its environs.

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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.