Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Sacrifice In War

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 27, 2018

Seventy-five years ago, over the period from March through early July 1943, the RAF’s Bomber Command was waging what was called at the time, the Battle of the Ruhr. In our own time, only a few antiquarian military historians—a rapidly disappearing breed—would recognize the importance of that battle. Certainly, none of those social historians who today inhabit the halls of academia would have any comments except to condemn the merciless slaughter of “innocent” German civilians by what was part and parcel of the Anglo-American Combined Bomber Offensive. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Churchill’s Heroic Leadership

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Two films graced the cinemas of the United States—and Europe—this past year that are worth noting for the light they shine on the past as well as the current sensibilities of our chattering classes. Both cover the same period: May and the first days of June 1940 when the fate of the world hung in the balance. The first, Dunkirk, supposedly covers the escape of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from France as German panzer divisions, having broken through the French defenses at Sedan, rolled toward the Channel ports and appeared to be on the brink of cutting off and destroying the BEF before it could escape. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Time To Celebrate Munich

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Monday, April 9, 2018

And so here we are with the eightieth anniversary of the Munich agreement to look forward to this coming September. Of course, it represents the best in the great liberal tradition that one can find a reasonable solution to any major international dispute, based on the common threads of humanity and disgust at the myths of military preparedness. Recognizing that Czechoslovakia was far away and that the country’s geographic position and industrial strength were irrelevant to any serious strategic considerations, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed away its citizens’ freedom. 

Featured CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

A Brief Guide To Strategy And Sanctions

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Thursday, March 29, 2018

Recently, the United States’ closest European allies, Britain, France, and Germany, proposed “fresh” economic sanctions on Iran as an effort to force Tehran to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the 2015 “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” meant to delay the Islamic Republic’s development of nuclear weapons. 

Featured CommentaryFeatured

Do Economic Sanctions Work?

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Thursday, March 29, 2018

Economic strictures are acts of war. Throughout history, the starvation and disease they have caused have killed more people than all other instruments of war. But like all other instruments, their effectiveness depends on the circumstances in which they are used and on the policies of which they are part.

Background EssayAnalysis and Commentary

Sanctions: The Record And The Rewards

by Josef Joffevia Strategika
Thursday, March 29, 2018

Why are sanctions so popular? Because “there is nothing else between words and military action to bring pressure upon a government,” explains Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s long-term ambassador at the UN. It is bloodless—warfare on the cheap. Nonlethal means are the main attraction for democracies loath to go to war in remote places against states that do not pose an existential threat.

Battle HistoryAnalysis and Commentary

David L. Preston, Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution (2015)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Thursday, March 29, 2018

Deservedly a winner of the Guggenheim–Lehrman Prize for Military History, this magnificent book is an instant classic. The author’s innovative research, ranging from French, British, and colonial records through Indian accounts and lengthy canoe trips down French logistics routes, resulted in a vivid account of a disaster that has sharp lessons for today’s military.

Autobiography & MemoirAnalysis and Commentary

John Masters, Bugles And A Tiger (1956) And The Road Past Mandalay (1961)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

These two autobiographical volumes from a former (British) Indian Army officer begin by capturing a lost world, that of the Raj in the years before World War II, in the grand imperial twilight (punishing Afghan tribes, downing gin, and shooting tigers), then move into the desperate war years that doomed the British Empire. Masters’ account of fighting in Burma is an even-rawer version of George MacDonald Fraser’s superb memoir, Quartered Safe Out Here.

Period Military HistoryAnalysis and Commentary

Lesley Blanch, The Sabres Of Paradise: Conquest And Vengeance In The Caucasus (1960)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

For those who only know the Caucasus from recent conflicts—in Chechnya, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabagh and elsewhere—this book offers a vital historical perspective. Although Orthodox Russia battled Islamic powers on and off for centuries, Russia’s longest war, waged against hardline Islamists, lasted a full generation in the nineteenth century.

Period Military HistoryAnalysis and Commentary

Steven Runciman, A History Of The Crusades (Three Volumes, 1951-54)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Crusades are often invoked, but rarely understood. Runciman’s modern classic remains the benchmark for its objectivity, clarity and literary merit. Of immediate value for military officers and civilian analysts, this work explodes pernicious current myths, while reporting human valor and folly, treachery and brilliance with enthralling narrative style.


Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow
Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia
Research Fellow
Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Milbank Family Senior Fellow
Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Fellow
Robert and Marion Oster Distinguished Military Fellow
W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow
Visiting Fellow
Research Fellow
Research Fellow / National Security Affairs Fellow 2008-2009

The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict examines how knowledge of past military operations can influence contemporary public policy decisions concerning current conflicts. 

As the very name of Hoover Institution attests, military history lies at the very core of our dedication to the study of "War, Revolution, and Peace." Indeed, the precise mission statement of the Hoover Institution includes the following promise: "The overall mission of this Institution is, from its records, to recall the voice of experience against the making of war, and by the study of these records and their publication, to recall man's endeavors to make and preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the American way of life." From its origins as a library and archive, the Hoover Institution has evolved into one of the foremost research centers in the world for policy formation and pragmatic analysis. It is with this tradition in mind, that the "Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict" has set its agenda—reaffirming the Hoover Institution's dedication to historical research in light of contemporary challenges, and in particular, reinvigorating the national study of military history as an asset to foster and enhance our national security. By bringing together a diverse group of distinguished military historians, security analysts, and military veterans and practitioners, the working group seeks to examine the conflicts of the past as critical lessons for the present.

Victor Davis Hanson on War in the Contemporary World — WATCH

The careful study of military history offers a way of analyzing modern war and peace that is often underappreciated in this age of technological determinism. Yet the result leads to a more in-depth and dispassionate understanding of contemporary wars, one that explains how particular military successes and failures of the past can be often germane, sometimes misunderstood, or occasionally irrelevant in the context of the present.

The working group is chaired by Victor Davis Hanson with counsel from Bruce S. Thornton and David L. Berkey, along with collaboration form the group’s distinguished scholars, military historians, analysts, journalists, and military officers.