Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Analysis and Commentary

Reliving The 1930s

by Victor Davis Hansonvia Tribune Media Services
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

World War II was the most destructive war in history. What caused it?

Related Commentary

American Leadership, Commitment, and Perseverance in the Middle East

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Strategika
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

U.S. disengagement from Middle Eastern affairs, highlighted by the Obama administration’s withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, its failure to lead an international stability force in Libya after the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime, and its unwillingness to enforce self-proclaimed red lines in Syria, has reduced U.S. influence in the region to an all-time low.

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Interest, Fear, and Honor

by Thomas Donnellyvia Analysis
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

For both structural and cultural reasons, it seems likely that China’s rise as a global great power will provoke conflict with neighboring states and even farther abroad. Rising powers throughout history have sought to reshape the international balance of power to their liking, and the particular East Asian order that China wishes to restructure–led by the United States but with a hub-and-spoke design that is problematic for collective deterrence and defense –is inherently vulnerable and made more so by the seeming weakness of current US policy.

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Is Iran an Ally or Enemy?

by Bing Westvia Analysis
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

In Syria, the besieged government of the Assad regime clings to about half of the territory, while Sunni factions fight over the other half. In Iraq, the Shiites control the south, the Kurds control the northeast, and the Sunnis in the northwest are controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Sykes-Picot division of Mesopotamia no longer exists, except in the minds of Obama White House operatives who will leave a full-scale disaster to the next administration.

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Realism about Allies: What the U.S. Can Expect from Middle Eastern Partners

by Frederick W. Kaganvia Analysis
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Americans must be realistic about what they expect from allies. We rightly prefer to engage on a multilateral basis and with as broad a coalition as possible. But too often we find ourselves surprised, offended, and alienated when our partners, especially regional states, seem to pursue their own interests at the expense of what we see as the common good.

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Friends, Enemies, and 'Frenemies'

by Max Bootvia Analysis
Monday, February 9, 2015

The United States has few stalwart friends in the greater Middle East; even nominally allied states such as Qatar, Turkey, and Pakistan play a double game. The United States needs to make clear to them the costs of flirting with Islamists while trying to broaden the coalition to include substate actors such as the Sunni tribes of Iraq.

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War From On High

by Max Bootvia Military History in the News
Monday, February 9, 2015

President Obama has adopted a “light footprint” approach to battling the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and other terrorist groups. Essentially this means putting few if any American “boots on the ground,” and instead relying on training and arming proxy forces such as the Yemeni, Pakistani, or the Iraqi military while staging air strikes to eliminate terrorist leaders. How well has this approach worked historically?

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Terror Now

by Ralph Petersvia Analysis
Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Although we have become much more capable at detecting terror threats to the homeland, our enemies are determined and ingenious. The most-frequent threats we will face are lone-wolf or small-group terrorists inspired by notions of jihad but acting in relative autonomy; however, Islamist fanatics will not stop attempting to stage dramatic large-scale strikes against the United States.

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ISIS: A Threat?

by Williamson Murrayvia Analysis
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The past suggests that for the short term ISIS does not represent a significant threat to the strategic security of the First World’s homelands. A few returnees may slip though the intelligence net, but it is unlikely that they will cause anything other than local mayhem. Such acts may cause similar overreactions among the security fanatics, as was the case after 9/11, and undoubtedly will excite the media enormously; but the damage they might inflict will remain limited.

Poster Collection, UK 3307, Hoover Institution Archives.
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American Sniper, American Marines, Iraqi Army

by Max Bootvia Military History in the News
Monday, February 2, 2015

Clint Eastwood’s film American Sniper has become a popular if controversial sensation. Critics accuse it of glamorizing Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, while many have rushed to Kyle’s and the movie’s defense. But one aspect of the debate has gone largely unexamined: How historically accurate is the film?


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.