Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Trump’s History Conference

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

President Trump’s remarks about the need to “restore patriotic education” at the White House Conference on American History have provoked a flurry of defenses and counterattacks from academic historians. The defenders dispute the notion that their teaching undermines patriotism, contending that any criticisms they might make of the United States are intended to improve the United States, not destroy it. The counterattackers denounce the President for threatening their academic freedom and advancing a version of history that ignores racism and pays too much attention to dead white males.

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The Military-Industrial Complex

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Thursday, September 17, 2020

President Donald Trump’s recent warning about the influence of the defense industry has sparked comparisons to Dwight Eisenhower’s assertion that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” When Eisenhower spoke those words in his 1961 farewell address, he believed that the massive growth of America’s peacetime armed forces had given them and the defense industry enough power that they could “endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

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Supporting Our Troops?

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Jeffrey Goldberg’s allegation that President Trump derided American troops has injected much-needed adrenaline into Joe Biden’s supporters. The unwillingness of Goldberg’s sources to identify themselves and the holes poked in the story by named witnesses have done little to stem the flood of articles and Tweets characterizing the episode as the latest proof of Trump’s depravity. The badmouthing of the military is said to be a “new low.”

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The Army Marches Into The Future

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Thursday, September 3, 2020

During a public speech last week, Army Chief of Staff General James C. McConville called for rapid transformation of the U.S. Army to deal with new domains of warfare, particularly the electronic, cyberspace, and space domains. The Army has been seeking to adapt to “multi-domain operations” for several years, but McConville and others are dissatisfied with the rate of progress. With the outbreak of war possible at any time, they argue, the transformation has to take place at breakneck pace.

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Cleopatra Sails Again

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Thursday, August 27, 2020

September 2 marks 2050 years since the Battle of Actium (31 B.C.), the naval engagement that made Imperial Rome and shaped the future of western civilization. The anniversary reminds us that navies have had a massive impact on the history of the Mediterranean. That, in turn, throws a spotlight on the ominous rise in naval tensions in the region today.

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A Small Island And Perhaps A Big Conflict

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

What do Cleopatra, the man who blew up the Parthenon, Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis, and Turkey’s President Erdoğan have in common? A shared interest in a tiny Mediterranean island. Kastellorizo, population 500, is only 4.6 square miles in area but it has the unlikely official name of The Biggest (Megisti), which it is, compared to the smaller islands beside it. Although photogenic enough to be the site of the delightful film Mediterraneo (1991), Kastellorizo is coveted for its geostrategic importance.

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The Guns Of August

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

In 1962, Barbara Tuchman published The Guns of August, a book about the negotiations among the Great Powers that led to the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. Her thesis was that bungled diplomacy caused the war. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and is said to have influenced President John F. Kennedy in his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis later that year.

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Hagia Sophia Becomes A Mosque Once Again

by Barry Straussvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

On Friday, July 24, Hagia Sophia was reopened as a mosque, after about a century as a museum. About 1,000 people attended Friday prayers there. The date, July 24, was not chosen at random, but marks a significant moment in military history.

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The “Miracle” Of Dunkirk

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

For those of us stuck in social isolation, which would be just about everyone these days, binge watching TV and cable series has turned from an occasional weekend activity to a national pastime. Stuck in a post-“Game of Thrones” void, I asked my students for suggestions on what to watch. They turned me on to “The Man in the High Castle,” a four-season drama about a dystopian alternate universe in which the Axis powers win World War II and establish puppet states in North America. 

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Space—The Final Military Frontier?

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, May 18, 2020

Late last week defense leaders presented the flag of the newly created U.S. Space Force to President Donald Trump in a ceremony in the Oval Office. The new Space Force emblem, eerily reminiscent of the logo for Starfleet Command in the Star Trek sci-fi series, now takes its place alongside those of the five other U.S. armed services. 


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.