Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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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.”


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.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

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.

Autobiography & Memoir

Jean Hanoteau, ed., Memoirs of General de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza (1935)

by Andrew Robertsvia Classics of Military History
Monday, January 21, 2019

Armand Augustin Louis de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza and Master of the Horse to Napoleon, came from an ancient Picardy family and was the son of a general. He was a sixteen-year-old soldier when the French Revolution broke out, but survived despite his noble background. He saw active service under General Hoche, but was recognized as being well-suited to diplomacy, and was sent on a mission to St Petersburg in 1801 by the French foreign minister, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, before becoming one of Napoleon’s aides-camps. 

Battle History

John H. Gill, With Eagles to Glory: Napoleon and his German Allies in the 1809 Campaign (2nd ed. 2011)

by Andrew Robertsvia Classics of Military History
Monday, January 21, 2019

The acknowledged world expert on Napoleon’s 1809 campaign against Austria is the American historian John “Jack” H. Gill, author of the great Thunder on the Danube trilogy, which was published between 2008 and 2010. Sixteen years earlier, however, Gill had published his groundbreaking With Eagles to Glory, which utterly revolutionized the way historians viewed the campaign, putting Napoleon’s German contingents center stage in the struggle against the Hapsburgs and subsequently the repression of popular rebellions in the Austrian Empire.

Period Military History

Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943-1944 (1959)

by Andrew Robertsvia Classics of Military History
Monday, January 21, 2019

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Pentagon published its official history of the U.S. Army in World War Two under the general editorship of Kent Greenfield, of which the sixth volume was Maurice Matloff’s masterful Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare 1943-1944. In his Foreword written in April 1958, Major General R. W. Stephens, who had the splendid title of “Chief of Military History,” wrote, “Within a generation the attitude and policy of the United States toward alliances have undergone a revolutionary reversal.

Period Military History

Michael Howard, Grand Strategy, Volume IV: August 1942–September 1943 (1972)

by Andrew Robertsvia Classics of Military History
Monday, January 21, 2019

In the 1960s and 1970s, the British Government published its official history of the Second World War, edited by Sir James Butler. The fourth volume, covering the period from August 1942 to September 1943, was written by Professor Sir Michael Howard, then a Fellow of All Souls, Oxford. It is a stupendous work of scholarship, the product of ten years working in what he called “the catacombs of Whitehall.” 

Related CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

The European Alliance That Never Was

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Thursday, January 17, 2019

The notion of an Atlantic alliance consisting of Europeans and Americans as full partners was once a useful fiction. Today it is a dysfunctional one, an obstacle to all sides’ understanding of what useful cooperation may yet be possible.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Remembering The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

by Andrew Robertsvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Simcha Rotem, one of the last-known surviving fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April-May 1943, died in Jerusalem on December 23, 2018, aged 94. His death prompted a good deal of global coverage, since the story of the Ghetto Uprising—not to be confused with the Warsaw Home Army Uprising of August-October 1944—is an integral one to the story of Jewish resistance to the Nazis during the Second World War.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Brexit’s Losers

by Giselle Donnellyvia Military History in the News
Thursday, December 20, 2018

“Fog in the Channel,” headlined the October 22, 1957 Times of London, “Continent cut off.” This famous-but-perhaps-apocryphal bit of journalism is particularly apropos of the dank “Brexit” shroud that has settled over northwest Europe. With 100 days to go until the supposed March 29 deadline for Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the fog is only getting thicker. No proposed solution seems palatable to all parties, Prime Minister Theresa May has a tenuous hold on power and no grip whatsoever on policy, and the continentals are blithely but foolishly relishing Britain’s distress.


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.