Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

Explore Research

Filter By:




Enter comma-separated ID numbers for authors

Support the Hoover Institution

Join the Hoover Institution's community of supporters in advancing ideas defining a free society.

Support Hoover

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Star Wars 2.0

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, July 6, 2021

In 1983 U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which was nicknamed by some as “Star Wars.” SDI was meant to protect the United States from intercontinental ballistic missiles by the use of defensive weapons on both earth and in space. Lasers would play a key role in the technology of destroying incoming missiles. The technology didn’t exist yet, but Reagan proposed that the nation devote itself to developing it.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

The Military’s Perilous Experiment

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

In war, the moral is to the physical as three is to one. The American military, the most powerful martial force in the world, has consistently preached and followed that dictum. In 2017, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis declared that the fundamental criterion by which to judge key actions in the Department of Defense was clear: Does the action enhance the lethality of the force?

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary


by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Friday, May 28, 2021

When does a powerful nation lose its spirit? And after a country’s sense of self goes adrift, can it be recovered? In the twentieth century, the gold standard of drift followed by recovery was Great Britain. More than 700,000 British soldiers were killed during WWI, roughly ten percent of all who served. Following the Treaty of Versailles, the British thought they had put war behind them. Certainly, when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, it seemed to signify that Great Britain has lost its grit.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

World War III In Novels

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Like hurricanes and volcanoes, most wars are not predictable even months before the event. In this regard, national intelligence estimates are no more soothsaying than novels. But unlike estimates by bureaucrats, novels are stories about human nature that entertain and often enlighten or remind us about the complexity called human nature. Consider these five novels about World War III.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

A Vietnam Retrospective

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 12, 2021

President Biden has promised that by 2022, the residual American military forces will leave Afghanistan. When that happens, it will complete the trifecta of American failure in its three major wars in the last half century: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam. Having spent years in Vietnam, when I look back, several causes for our failure there stand out.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

The History Of Killing

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 30, 2021

During the week in which this column was drafted, renewed fighting, replete with atrocities, spread in Darfur; in Mozambique, Islamist fanatics continued to kill fellow Muslims; in Chad, the ethno-religious conflict worsened; the Chinese government continued to torture Uighurs; the Taliban welcomed the prospect of an American withdrawal with fresh attacks; and deadly eruptions pocked the Middle East.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Kabul, Vietnam

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 23, 2021

A British military jibe maintains that “Experience is the ability to recognize a mistake the second time you make it.” Can we recognize that, in Afghanistan, we made the identical two grand mistakes we made in Vietnam—then added a third to guarantee our failure?

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Killer Of Armies: Microbes And The Military

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Friday, April 16, 2021

As COVID-19 wages war on the world with its constantly mutating arsenal, this pandemic is a relatively gentle reminder of the effects of plagues on history—not least, upon armies and their operations. We live in an age of medical miracles, yet, faced with death or long-term disability on a global scale, we cannot readily grasp the most-insidious effects of this virus.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

The New Old Frontier Of Islamist Terror

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Monday, April 5, 2021

Largely ignored for years, the hyper-violent Islamist terror in northern Mozambique has begun to receive international attention—now that Western oil and gas projects are threatened.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

The Next Great Plague

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, March 30, 2021

During the past year, the globe has gone through a time that to most of its people, at least in the developed world, has appeared to be an entirely new experience. A plague of considerable virulence has rippled across the world and resulted in the deaths of millions as well as untold damage to national economies.


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
Corliss Page Dean Visiting Fellow
Research Fellow
Robert Alexander Mercer Visting 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.