Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Asymmetrical Warfare: What We All Missed

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Thursday, April 25, 2019

Twenty-five years ago, I published an essay, “The New Warrior Class,” arguing that our military’s most-frequent opponents in the coming decades would be irregular forces, such as guerrillas, terrorists, militias, pirates, and even criminal networks. Hostile, nuclear-armed states would remain the paramount threat to our existence, but it would be the “all-others” who kept us busy. We needed to prepare for changing battlefields and tenacious, if lesser, enemies.

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“Hail Caesar!” Again And Again

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 19, 2019

By his own account, Julius Caesar was a brilliant soldier, and his masterful prose obscures his later misrule. Brutus didn’t draw his dagger because he was having a bad-toga day. In his time, Caesar set the pattern for repeated—all but countless—military moves against the Roman state and, consequently, rule by ill-suited emperors, with here and there a blood-sustained triumvirate or a doomed duopoly inserted between one-man reigns. The Roman Empire was not destroyed by barbarians, but by soldiers determined to fix it.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Political Correctness And History: In Defense Of Churchill

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Thursday, February 28, 2019

In October of this past year, the astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted a famous quote from Winston Churchill: “in victory, magnanimity.” For his troubles he received a host of outraged tweets from the politically correct crowd that Churchill was a racist, responsible for the 1943 famine in Bengal, and numerous other supposed atrocities as Britain’s leader during the Second World War. The tweets are a remarkable tribute to the widespread ignorance of the past among those who so delightedly cast their fury at the past.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Preparing For The Future

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The use of history to think about the present and the future is always difficult for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important difficulty is that to use it successfully one has to have read deeply and widely in it, and even then, its potential lessons are ambiguous and uncertain. 

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On Grand Strategy And China

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Friday, February 22, 2019

Whether one talks about grand strategy or military strategy, one must recognize both the crucial importance of means–end analysis, and also of geography. Not surprisingly, given the contempt the German military displayed towards strategic thinking in the two world wars they fought and lost, the Reich’s naval leaders and the Kaiser ignored those two crucial elements in developing the High Seas Fleet in the period before the Second World War.

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On Grand Strategy And Russia

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Vladimir Putin has proven himself a masterful tactician, who, as all tacticians do, maneuvers in the present with little regard for the future. He has managed to attack Georgia for its arrogance in daring to consider joining NATO, seize the Crimea, cause a nasty struggle in eastern Ukraine, and while destabilizing that state, launch a massive cyberattack on Estonia, assassinate various Russian defectors in the United Kingdom through the use of radioactive materials, and interfere in the 2016 elections in the United States along with other crimes and misdemeanors inflicted on his own people.

Military Fiction

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (1929)

by John Yoovia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Upon its publication in 1929, All Quiet on the Western Front became a landmark of antiwar literature. It sparked a literary sensation almost overnight. Within a year of publication, it had been translated into twenty languages, including Chinese, and by April 1930, sales for twelve of the twenty editions stood at 2.5 million. Author Erich Maria Remarque was reputed to have the largest readership in the world.

Philosophy

Hugo Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacis (1625)

by John Yoovia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hugo Grotius’s De Jure Belli ac Pacis (1625) exerts a vast influence on international law and politics. Yet Grotius, known widely as the father of international law, is difficult to interpret. Philosopher Michael Walzer claims that Grotius “incorporated just war theory into international law.” Philosopher Richard Tuck, however, argues that Grotius “reminded his audience that he was still an enthusiast for war around the globe.”

Philosophy

Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (1977)

by John Yoovia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Almost immediately upon its 1977 publication, Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars became the most influential modern work on the laws of war. Though written by an avowed anti-war activist who opposed Vietnam, the work won popularity and praise because it rejected both amoral realism and pacifism and sought to resuscitate the tradition of just war.

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Scrap Medal

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Readers of The Times (of London) this month were surprised to read the headline “The British Heroes Honoured by Adolf Hitler.” Was some terrible, nationally-humiliating scandal breaking about Britons who were secretly working for the Nazis during World War Two? In fact. it was an interesting military history story that casts light on an often forgotten aspect of the Spanish Civil War: the naval side.

Pages

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
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.