Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

ISIS: More Than Just A Terrorist Organization

by Max Bootvia Military History in the News
Monday, February 23, 2015

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been dominating headlines for the past year and more. But what manner of organization is it? Is it a terrorist group, a guerrilla group, or something else? The answers to those questions, rooted in the study of military history, may hold the key to defeating the evil that is ISIS.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

No Need To Declare War Against Our Current Enemy

by Max Bootvia Military History in the News
Thursday, February 19, 2015

Congress is now debating President Obama’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Limited Military Force to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Yet the president’s request for this action from Congress comes more than six months after U.S. aircraft began bombing ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria...

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Taking Additional Steps to Counter Russian Ambitions

by Barry Strauss via Strategika
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vladimir Putin and the Russians more generally are practical people. They seize opportunities presented by their opponents’ weakness and they pull back from confrontation when enemy strength makes success unlikely.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Regional Tensions around China and the Role of the US in the Western Pacific

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Analysis
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

China’s endeavor to revive a grand “Chinese Dream” of past glory and preeminence in world affairs is the driving force in creating the current geopolitical tensions in the Asia Pacific region. The US Military superiority and American political hostility toward Chinese communism have been able to check and balance China’s age-old ambition of dominance in the region.

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Bolster U.S. Military Presence in Eastern Europe

by Williamson Murrayvia Strategika
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It is useless to talk about Europe taking any steps to counter Russian ambitions. For the British and French, Eastern Europe is too far away, and the problems of Russian aggrandizement too insignificant for those powers to take any steps that might have any impact on Vladimir Putin and his crew of former KGB thugs. In the case of the Germans, the situation is even more dismal.

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The Language of Power and Force

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Strategika
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Two and a half millennia ago during the ruinous conflict between Athens and Sparta, Thucydides recorded a conversation between Athenian negotiators and the representatives of the people of Melos, a Spartan colony that the Athenians wanted to bring into their orbit. In reply to Athenian demands, the Melians argued that justice demanded that the Athenians respect their right to remain neutral and at peace.

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Western Military Aid for Ukraine

by Frederick W. Kaganvia Strategika
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperialism has already brought inter-state warfare back to Europe for the first time since World War II. Its likely continuation threatens the existence of Ukraine, but is also the first traditional military test of the NATO alliance in Europe since the end of the Cold War. Western responses to Russia’s unprovoked and illegal aggressions in Georgia and Ukraine have been inadequate.

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Countering Russian Ambitions

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Any thought of countering Russian ambitions in Europe must be premised on the fact that Western Europeans’ interest in doing this is verbal at best. Absent Western Europe’s active cooperation, U.S. attempts to strengthen the front line states of the former Warsaw Pact and of the former Soviet Union would face formidable hurdles and perhaps invite Russia to test our seriousness.

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Inaction in Ukraine Sets a Dangerous Precedent

by Max Bootvia Strategika
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The U.S. and Europe have been slow and hesitant in countering Vladimir Putin’s outrageous land grab in Ukraine. If allowed to stand, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its ability to wrest the eastern part of the country from Kiev’s control will set a dangerous precedent that will encourage aggression by China and other states. A more serious counter to Russia’s actions is necessary.

Featured CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

To Restrain Russia, Drop The Ambiguity

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lack of means is no part of the reason why U.S. policy is failing to restrain Russia. Rather, that reason lies in the U.S. government’s simultaneous pursuit of self-contradictory objectives, what Henry Kissinger extolled as “creative ambiguity.” This has opened a fateful gap between words and deeds. Clear, univocal policy that unites words and deeds, ends and means, has ever been the prerequisite of seriousness.


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
Research Fellow / National Security Affairs Fellow 2008-2009
Milbank Family Senior Fellow
Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Davies Family Distinguished 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

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.