Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Lest We Forget Lithuania

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Friday, November 18, 2016

“Russia is not a superpower, it’s a super problem,” the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevičius, said on November 18, ten days after Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States. “As a child I still remember the sound of the tanks rolling through the streets of Vilnius, so even my generation—and I’m 34—still remembers when the Russians were here as a Soviet army. But they were Russian troops and they were invading us, so the last thing we are on this subject is naïve.”

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Russia’s Meddling In The U.S. Elections

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The 2016 American presidential election, which has just produced the greatest political upset in living memory, is hard to find precedents for in recent history, but that is not true of the intervention in the American political process by Russia. The decision taken at the highest levels of Moscow’s decision-making apparatus first to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s emails and then to make the spoils public via WikiLeaks, was a deliberate attempt to interfere in domestic American politics.

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NATO, Brexit, And America’s Security

by Bruce Thorntonvia Hoover Institution Press
Monday, October 31, 2016

The Brexit, along with Donald Trump’s criticisms of NATO, have raised questions about what a dissolution of these two multinational institutions might mean for the security and interests of the U.S. Despite justified criticisms of European NATO members’ failure to meet their financial obligations, NATO is unlikely to unravel. The British departure from the EU is more portentous. Longstanding problems with the EU reflect structural deficiencies that may not be amenable to further policy adjustments. A breakdown of the EU, however, could free up European nations to craft defense pacts and increase defense spending that would benefit America’s security.

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EU And NATO: Obsolete Or Obstinate?

by Josef Joffevia Hoover Institution Press
Monday, October 31, 2016

Could the European Union fall apart? Would that end NATO, too? Or will the EU’s troubles lead to a more robust defense? “No” to all of the above. To begin, Brexit will not unleash mass defection because a) the 27 remaining nations are far more deeply integrated, and b) they regard the benefit-cost ratio far more favorably than does Britain. At heart an American alliance, NATO will endure, as it has for 70 years, as long as the U.S. guarantee holds. Precisely for that reason, the Europeans will not move toward an autonomous defense. Yet if the U.S. withdraws its umbrella, it is just as likely that Europe would seek safety in accommodating Russia.

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Leading From Below

by Thomas Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Friday, September 23, 2016

Complaining about the weaknesses of European military forces has long been a favorite sport of American politicians, defense officials and pundits; this is one issue on which populists and the Establishment agree. Indeed, presidential candidate Donald Trump’s threats to withdraw from NATO unless European members pay up are really only different in quantity than in quality than Barack Obama’s “free-rider” rhetoric. Many of these complaints have merit; the failure to meet the defense-spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product is to fall before a pretty low hurdle.

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Cold Water For A Rekindled Flame

by Thomas Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Friday, September 16, 2016

The principal purpose of Operation “Enduring Freedom,” (OEF) as the Pentagon dubbed its response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, was to strike at the core of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. However, OEF quickly reproduced itself in several other countries, reflecting the fact that, while al-Qaeda’s headquarters might have been in the Hindu Kush, it was in fact a global organization.

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The Ghosts Of Saigon And Baghdad

by Thomas Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 12, 2016

The deck of the aircraft carrier Intrepid was an ironically perfect setting for the September 7 “Commander-in-Chief Forum” debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What was originally a World War II flattop is now a museum, and hovering in the background of the set was a Vietnam-era A-4 jet, and a good deal of the discussion was framed by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Trump and Clinton are almost certainly the final “Baby Boomer” presidential candidates, and the ghosts of the generation haunted the evening.

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Turkey And The Kurds

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Friday, August 26, 2016

On Wednesday, August 24, Turkish forces launched a major ground assault into Syria, spearheaded by a battalion of Leopard tanks and Special Forces troops and supported by U.S. airpower. The attack was aimed at the town of Jarablus, astride the Euphrates River. The town was speedily liberated from militants of the Islamic State, who had held it for nearly two and a half years. 

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Changes Of Command

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, August 22, 2016

The Iraqi Army, Kurdish Peshmerga, and perhaps a few Shi’ite militias are preparing for the largest battle in the war against the Islamic State: the seizure of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. They will be supported in this difficult endeavor by a U.S.-led coalition featuring combat advisers and a lethal mix of manned and unmanned aircraft ready to launch salvos of precision guided munitions onto the enemy below.

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Peace Through Predominance

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew C. Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay with four ships to deliver a letter from U.S. President Millard Fillmore proposing peaceful commercial relations. The Japanese refused to accept the letter, until Perry made it clear that this would result in a cannonade from his ships that would have devastated downtown Tokyo.


Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow
Payson J. Treat 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.