Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime, by Eliot Cohen (2002)

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The relationship between statesmen and military leaders in democracies is rarely smooth, often contentious, but absolutely vital to the success of grand strategy in peace and war. In Supreme Command, Eliot Cohen examines four supreme commanders in several pivotal conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, French Premier Georges Clemenceau during World War I, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II, and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

U.S. Ground Forces: Not Ready For A Big War

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Monday, March 21, 2016

This past week, we heard from multiple service chiefs that key components of our military, particularly our land forces, may not be ready for a “big war” of the sort we’d face with China or Russia—or for a combination-play conflict against two second-tier foes, such as Iran and North Korea.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Killing The Neighbors: 101 Years Of Genocide In Conflict

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Monday, March 14, 2016

The genocide against Middle-Eastern Christians approaches its endgame, while Western leaders look away as resolutely as they ignored the Holocaust when it was happening. In time, there will be crocodile tears and, perhaps, a museum designed by an in-demand architect. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Why Can’t America Win Its Wars?

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, March 10, 2016

America’s military is like Germany’s in the twentieth century—a tactically and operationally brilliant force that cannot think strategically.

Weapons & Technology

Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, by Henry A. Kissinger (1957)

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

This book is the template of U.S. nuclear weapons policy since the Kennedy Administration, as well as of how the U.S. government has conducted war since Vietnam. Published by the Council on Foreign Relations as the report of a high level working group, it was the Democratic Party’s intellectual attack on the Eisenhower Administration’s policy of responding to Soviet aggression “by means and at places of our choosing.”

Weapons & Technology

On Thermonuclear War, by Herman Kahn (1960)

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

By the late 1950s, the notion that nuclear war would extinguish mankind, dramatized in Nevil Shute’s best selling On The Beach and the subsequent movie, or kill hundreds of millions of Americans at the very least, had become prevalent. 

Weapons & Technology

The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order, by Bernard Brodie (1946)

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

It is no exaggeration that, for seventy years, the mainstream of American thought on nuclear war has been a gloss on this volume’s essays, written within weeks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From the fact that two bombs had destroyed two cities, the book extrapolates a full-grown doctrine of war in the nuclear age. 

Autobiography & Memoir

The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, by Ulysses S. Grant (1994 [orig. published 1885-1886])

by Williamson Murrayvia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mark Twain once described Grant’s memoirs as the finest piece of literature written in the English literature in the nineteenth century. It was an apt description. In the last years of his life in an extraordinary piece of courage, because he was dying of throat cancer at the time, Grant wrote his memoirs.

Military FictionAnalysis and Commentary

The Iliad, by Homer (various translations and editions)

by Williamson Murrayvia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The first great literary work in the Western literary canon, the Illiad, has gradually declined in its use in American university and college courses, undoubtedly because it is about the murderous sharp end of war and makes no bones about the fact that it regards its heroes as representing the height in human achievement. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Putin And Patton In Syria

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The term “culminating point” in military operations describes the stage of an offensive at which the heretofore successful attacker is about to outrun his advantages, whether in numbers, materiel or psychological leverage on the defender.


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.