Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Will America or China Prevail in the Trade War?

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Friday, November 30, 2018

While the Constitution vests in the Congress the power to declare war, American presidents wield great discretion in initiating hostilities. Lyndon B. Johnson dribbled troops into combat in Vietnam in a series of halfway measures that led to disaster. After taking care to build a broad alliance, George H. W. Bush ordered the assault that threw the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in 1991. His son, George W. Bush, orchestrated the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, after gaining the support of Congress. And recently, without involving the Congress, President Donald Trump has shifted the field of battle to economics by declaring a trade war against China.

Defending the Nation: Resources

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It is unremarkable to observe that America will fight a future war against an enemy much stronger than Islamist terrorists. War continues to be a central feature of world history due to the immutable nature of the human being. Understanding this, the leaders of all nations maintain armies to protect their nation states.

Featured CommentaryFeatured

Seeking Stability In The Structure of Power

by Seth Cropseyvia Strategika
Thursday, November 15, 2018

The global strategic landscape is moving away from the primacy that America achieved over the last century. New terrain includes the possibility of great power competition, a return to the bipolarity that policy-makers in the immediate post-Cold War said must never happen again. Current sentiment in the U.S. illustrates that there are worse possibilities than bipolarity.

Period Military History

Ricarda Huch, Der Dreißigjährige Krieg (The Thirty Years War) (1937)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This is the most important portrayal of war that remains untranslated into English. A profound study of how military behavior, values, and entire societies degenerate under the stress of extended warfare, this is a book that shaped the reviewer’s thinking for the past forty years.

Period Military History

Bruce W. Menning, Bayonets Before Bullets: The Imperial Russian Army, 1861-1914 (1992)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This unique book has never gotten the broad recognition it deserves. The finest available study of the late-czarist Russian army as an institution, it analyzes bureaucratic and cultural problems that continue to afflict Russian forces today. 

Military Fiction

James Jones, From Here to Eternity (1951)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

.Yes, it’s a novel, but this is the finest book, fiction or non-fiction, ever written about the United States Army. Regulations have changed, as have accepted behaviors, technologies, uniforms, rations…yet, today’s soldiers remain these soldiers.

Period Military History

John Julius Norwich, Byzantium, The Early Centuries, The Apogee, and The Decline and Fall (1989, 1992, 1995)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This classic work in three volumes fills a crippling gap in the knowledge of Euro-American strategists. Edward Gibbon’s irrational vilification of the Byzantines has obscured the empire’s glory and importance for English-speaking readers, as well as neglecting the military challenges and triumphs of commanders too often starved of funds as the empire fell into its long decline. 


Jasper Ridley, Garibaldi (1974)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A massive study of a magnificent soldier—and sailor—this relentlessly fascinating biography finally does justice in English to a brilliant campaigner (from Latin America to Italy) unaccountably slighted by military historians.

Period Military History

A. J. R. Russell-Wood, The Portuguese Empire, 1415-1808: A World on the Move (1998)

by Ralph Petersvia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This authoritative book on Europe’s first great overseas empire (which also would be the last to leave its remaining outposts) is eerily timely. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Fighting To Leave: The Devolution Of The American War Aims In Afghanistan

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

In early winter of 2001, an invading force of fewer than 10,000 American soldiers, Marines, Special Forces, and CIA operatives stampeded the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces across Afghanistan. A punitive campaign of historic brevity and one-sided casualties was about to end. Then our most senior officials made two disastrous decisions. First, General Tommy Franks, the commander of the invasion, refused to employ American forces to seal off the al-Qaeda remnants, including Osama bin Laden, hiding in the Tora Bora mountains. Instead, General Franks handed the fight over to unreliable Afghan warlords, who let bin Laden and al-Qaeda escape into Afghanistan.


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
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.