Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Intelligence And Imagination

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Military historians tend to spend far too much time on the combat arena in which armies, navies, and air forces contend. Yet, underlying their performance is the organizational behavior of intelligence agencies which should be responsible for guiding and framing their actions and reactions. Nothing displays this more clearly than a comparison of the cultures of the British and German intelligence organizations during the Second World War. The latter was hierarchical, compartmentalized, and separated the military from the civilians. Within the German system, there was virtually no tolerance, much less interest in, passing opinions and original ideas up the chain of command. But perhaps the greatest weakness in German military culture was the general contempt for intelligence and its purveyors.

Who Carried the Burden in the Second World War?

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Over the past several decades, as historians have unraveled the archives of the Red Army after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the new narrative of the history of the Second World War that has emerged has emphasized the fighting on the Eastern Front as the crucial theater of the war in Europe. Certainly, the casualties that the Soviet peoples endured were far beyond the losses the Western Allies suffered, while the fighting on the Eastern Front contributed substantially to breaking German ground forces. Yet, an overemphasis on Soviet casualties, no matter how impressive, fundamentally distorts the extent of the effort that the Western Powers waged against the Third Reich.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

On the Eightieth Birthday Of WWII

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 16, 2019

Eighty years ago this month the most catastrophic war in history broke out. On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded her neighbor, Poland. From before dawn German shells and bombs fell across the breadth and width of the country. Despite the obvious buildup of military forces on the other side of the frontier, the Poles had not fully mobilized because British and French statesmen worried that such a mobilization might encourage Hitler to go to war—as if he needed any encouragement. In every sense, the German invasion of Poland proved to be a disaster for Poland, a disaster exacerbated by the willful policies of appeasement that the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had fostered over the previous two and a half years.

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How Civil War Ignites

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Monday, August 26, 2019

On August 10, 1932, General José Sanjurjo, commander of Spain’s army and former commander of its Civil Guard, declared rebellion against Prime Minister Manuel Azaña’s government. The General treated the Prime Minister as a Leftist enemy, and the Prime Minister treated the General as a monarchist enemy. Both were correct. Both were trying to use the government to harm their least favorite causes and people. The rebellion failed. The General was condemned to death, but only exiled. The level of mutual hate was yet insufficient for civil war. That changed.

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The Power Of Retreat

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Monday, August 19, 2019

On August 18, 1812, General Mikhail Kutuzov, 67 years old, took command of Russia’s army, which had been forced to retreat as Napoleon’s Grande Armée, the world’s best fighting force and three times its size, advanced into Russia. Destroying the Russian army was Napoleon’s objective. Preserving it had become the Russians’ proximate objective. 

Analysis and Commentary

Deus Vincit

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Friday, August 16, 2019

On August 6, 1682, the Ottoman Empire, at the height of its power, declared war on the Holy Roman Empire. Muslim domination of Europe extended from the Balkans northward through Hungary and reached into Poland. Westward, only Habsburg Vienna barred the way. Louis XIV, for his own reasons, preferred dealing with the Ottomans rather than with the Habsburgs. Were the Muslims to have been victorious, they might have ruled from the Mediterranean to the Baltic.

Analysis and Commentary

Poland: Caught In The Crosshairs

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

On August 1, 1944, the Polish Home Army rose against Warsaw’s German occupiers. The Soviet Red Army, in force on the Vistula’s eastern bank, had told the Poles that it would attack the Germans as soon as they rose. Instead, the Russians stood by as the Germans killed virtually all 16,000 Polish fighters along with some 200,000 civilians, and destroyed old Warsaw. Germans and Russians faced each other at that location consequent to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, in which the two had effectively jointly erased Poland from the map. 

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The 100th Anniversary Of The Treaty Of Versailles

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Friday, June 28, 2019

Today the world celebrates one of the final centenarian milestones of the Great War, the signing by the victorious Allied Powers and defeated Germany of the Treaty of Versailles, which brought to an end the First World War. Although U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had hoped to conclude a peace based on his “14 Points” speech to Congress delivered on January 8, 1918, the blood debt incurred by the allies made such an idealistic peace impossible. Allied politicians had to justify to their constituencies the slaughter of a generation of young men in the trenches. One way to do this, in their eyes, was to ensure German militarism would never rise again.

Operation Bagration And The Destruction Of The Army Group Center

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, June 24, 2019

Two and a half weeks ago the nations of Europe, the United States, and Canada joined together in commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, which initiated the Great Crusade—the liberation of western Europe from Hitler’s grip. This week marks the anniversary of another major event in World War II that, though it will be little noticed outside of Russia, was just as important a piece in the mosaic of Allied victory as was D-Day. Operation Bagration, the Red Army offensive into Byelorussia from June 23 to August 19, 1944, resulted in the destruction of 28 of 34 divisions of the German Third Panzer, Fourth, and Ninth Armies of Army Group Center. 

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The Six-Day War And The Golan Heights

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, June 10, 2019

Fifty-two years ago, Israel vanquished its Arab opponents in the Six-Day War, waged from June 5-10, 1967. Israeli victory led to its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, and Golan Heights. The war and its outcome had significant implications for the future of the Middle East, and its repercussions echo to this day.

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Chair
Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow
Member
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
Contributor
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.