Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

March Routes, Trade Routes, Plague Routes

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, February 4, 2020

War and trade have been the great abettors of epidemic disease throughout history. Despite remarkable advances in public health practices, sanitation, medicine, and awareness over the past century and a half, the old patterns persist, if—for now—on a less-lethal scale. Just a decade ago, United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal carried cholera to Haiti. Thousands died. As you read this, a multi-sided conflict in eastern Congo and its vicinity challenges health workers struggling to fight Ebola.

Featured Commentary

Europe’s Mediterranean Frontier

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Friday, December 27, 2019

The Mediterranean abruptly separates Europe’s civilization from those of Africa and the Middle East. On one side, reaching North to Scandinavia and East to the Bering Strait, some seven hundred million mostly prosperous people live according to principles derived from Judeo-Christianity, Greek philosophy, and Roman law. Their number is shrinking. 

Featured CommentaryAnalysis and CommentaryNational Security

The Wrong Side Of The Pillars Of Hercules: The Mediterranean Just Doesn’t Matter Much Anymore

by Ralph Petersvia Strategika
Friday, December 27, 2019

The United States is an Atlantic and Pacific power by virtue of geography, strategic necessity, and economic opportunity. A forward defense of the far littorals—Europe and the East-Asian barrier states facing China—is the essential requirement for our security. All else is not only secondary or tertiary, but often an ill-advised and grossly costly drain on our resources.

Background EssayAnalysis and CommentaryNational Security

Is The Mediterranean Still Geo-Strategically Essential?

by Barry Strauss via Strategika
Friday, December 27, 2019

The Mediterranean Sea is today, as it has always been, a crossroads. The name itself testifies to that, as it means “the sea in the middle of the earth,” a Latin term reflecting an earlier Greek belief. We know better, or do we? From Syria to Libya and on the high seas, and with outside players including China, Iran, Russia, and the United States, the Mediterranean has re-emerged of late as a cockpit of conflict. 

Thanksgiving Redux

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

In describing the first Thanksgiving in 1621, the prominent Pilgrim farmer Edward Winslow wrote, “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together…many of the Indians coming amongst us…by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” About half of the small Pilgrim party had perished since landing at Plymouth the preceding year. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

American Naval Initiative—The Next Time Around

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

In November of 1942, the U.S. Navy wrested the warfighting initiative from imperial Japan and set the course toward victory. Less than a year after Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and proclaimed that all of Asia belonged to Emperor Hirohito, American successes in two naval battles permanently altered the course of the war. In the words of the Naval War College, the “operational initiative” lay with the American Navy.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Comrade, Can You Spare a Swine?

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Military History in the News
Friday, November 8, 2019

As the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) takeover of mainland China recede into recent history, a look at the Communists’ heritage suggests that for all its foreign-exchange reserves and tech manufacturing know-how, and despite its military hardware and far-flung infrastructure investment portfolio, China may not have come that far.

Period Military History

Lt. General William G. Pagonis (U.S. Army, Ret.), Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War” (1992).

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Classics of Military History
Monday, November 4, 2019

Consider the 3x5 card. In all the video and still images of the Gulf War—lines of tanks and armored personnel carriers stretching to the dusty horizon, ships unloading supplies and ordnance, aircraft delivering a weeks-long bombardment before the ground invasion—there was no sign of what the author calls the “humble little cards” that played a crucial role in the logistics operations that underpinned the planning and execution of the conflict and the post-combat redeployment.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Marshalling The Troops: The Proliferation Of Defense Cooperation Agreements In The Age Of Alliances

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The announcement that the United States had signed a new security agreement with Greece in early October highlights the increasing use of bilateral “defense cooperation agreements,” or DCAs, during an era of multilateral security alliances covering large geographic regions and numerous countries.

Weapons & Technology

Sextus Julius Frontinus, Stratagems (after 84 A.D.) & The Aqueducts of Rome (97–98 A.D.), Loeb Classical Library 174 (Mary B. McElwain, ed.; Charles E. Bennett, trans.)

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Roman Empire flourished in large measure because it built logistics infrastructure to support civil administration of conquered territories. Roman roads enabled commodities and other goods from interior estates to be transported to coastal ports for shipment to the capital, and also provided an efficient network for moving its legions among the growing roster of provincial seats. But those provincial cities, often in arid areas, could not have grown beyond the size of military garrisons without the water supplied by Roman aqueducts.

Pages

Chair
Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow
Participants
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.