Part 2: The Second World Wars With Victor Davis Hanson

interview with Victor Davis Hanson
via Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Part 2: The Second World Wars with Victor Davis Hanson

Recorded on October 23, 2017

Could the Axis powers have won? What are the counterfactuals for World War II?  Find out in part two of this episode as military historian, editor of Strategika, and Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson joins Peter Robinson to discuss his latest book, The Second World Wars.

Victor Davis Hanson explains the counterfactuals of World War II, the “what-ifs” that easily could have changed the outcome of the war. If Hitler had not attacked Russia or the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor, the USSR would have never turned on Germany and the United States would have never entered the war. Hanson argues that the leaders of the Axis powers overreached in their strategies, which ultimately caused their downfall. Hanson also explores the counterfactual surrounding the American commanders and the “what-ifs” that could have prevented American success in the war.

Victor Davis Hanson also reflects on his own family history and connections to World War II and how it shaped him as both a person and a scholar in his life today. He talks about his motivations to write his latest book, The Second World Wars, and how his family history and the current political climate inspired him to write it. 

Watch both episodes to learn more about the history of World War II.

Didn’t see the first episode? Watch Part One here.

About the Guest:

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of classics emeritus at California State University, Fresno, a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services, host of the Classicist podcast, and the editor of the military history journal Strategika. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited twenty-four books, the latest of which is The Second World Wars. Read more about the guest here.

Additional Resources:

Peter Robinson: He farms 40 acres in the small town of Selma, California, and he's just published what may be the best history of the second world war that you will ever read. Victor Davis Hanson joining us today, Uncommon Knowledge, now. Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge, I'm Peter Robinson. A classicist and historian, Victor Davis Hanson is the author of many books, including the classic study of the Peloponnesian War, A War Like No Other. Dr. Hanson's newest book, The Second World Wars, How the First Global Conflict Was Fought And Won. Now, Victor and I continue our conversation about this magnificent new book. The Second World Wars, Victor, one of the many pleasures of this book is that you provide counterfactuals, sort of what-ifs. Let's take a couple of those. "The Second World Wars," I'm quoting, "Could the Axis powers have incorporated their winnings and dug in?" There was no reason why Hitler could not have reorganized Europe from the Atlantic to Moscow to ensure greater industrial production and conscripted armies as large as those of the Soviet Union. The Japanese-held Pacific and occupied Asia offered nearly as many natural resources and recruits as were available in North America and the British dominions." If Hitler had not attacked Russia, he could have consolidated position in Europe and dominated the continent for who knows how long, and likewise the Japanese, Mongolia, Southeast Asia ...

Victor Davis Hanson: Absolutely.

Peter Robinson: ... They didn't need to attack Pearl Harbor. Why didn't they consolidate?

Victor Davis Hanson: There were people who said just that. In the case of Germany, the general staff, there were people within the general staff who said, "You know what? Britain ... We may not be able to invade Britain, but Britain can't really do us damage, and the Americans will not intervene unless they're attacked." That was true. The Soviet Unions were supplying us with all sorts of oil and wheat and precious metals, and we won the war. They thought they won the war by April 1941.

Peter Robinson: They won the war for Europe.

Victor Davis Hanson: Yes, they did, and they had the resources of today's European Union. But human nature being what it is, Hitler's idea was, "Well, wait a minute. I overran France in six weeks. In World War I it took us four years and we only got 70 miles. Based on that calculus, six week will be three weeks in Russia, because Russia collapsed in two and a half years. France never did. I took the hardest ... I cracked the hardest nut first, and now Russia, like it was in 1917 and '18, we'll sue for peace in six weeks." Meaning half the time that it took me in World War I. He had this ratio in his head. Half of Russia is going to collapse in half the time that France did. France never did, so now France collapsed. He says, "Well, it's got to be three weeks, because it was six weeks." That was part of it, and part of it he had not been defeated.

Victor Davis Hanson: In the case of Japan, it boggles the mind, because here all the Pacific, we keep saying we provoked them with an oil embargo. Nuts. They had Shell Oil in Indonesia right in their back yard. They had all of the rice of Southeast Asia. All they have to do is they look at the map, and they did this in the beginning. They say Vichy, France ... France doesn't exist. Vietnam, Cambodia, it's ours. Holland ceased to exist. It's off the map. All of its colonies in Indonesia are ours. British ...

Peter Robinson: Including the oil operations.

Victor Davis Hanson: Exactly. They got some oil, but not enough because the Dutch had time to blow it up because of the war. I'm getting that ... Malaysia, rubber. All they had to do was do two things, do not touch the Philippines and do not touch Pearl Harbor, and they would have overran all the British, Dutch and French, and they would have had all the necessary population base and resources they needed. They had one problem, and that is their supreme leadership, as we discussed, lived in a world of fantasy. They thought they were invulnerable. Then they had all this idea in Italy of razza, the Franco idea that razza means that we're racially superior, or the volk, or the motto in Japan, whereas the Allies didn't quite have that idea, and they were more realistic.

Peter Robinson: Victor, these leaders, Mussolini, Hitler, Tojo and ... I guess Tojo wasn't a supreme leader in the same way, he had to work at it, it was more of a shared responsibility. Here they sit atop. Italy is a little more backward, but still it was a modern country. Certainly Hitler and Tojo and the War Cabinet in Japan, sit atop what were by the standards of the day, massive industrial, complicated states, and they control them. And yet they overreached.

Victor Davis Hanson: They overreached.

Peter Robinson: Were they nuts, or were they evil? What is their motive?

Victor Davis Hanson: They were both, and they had convinced themselves that the initial victories, in the case of Japan since '37, but the initial victories from '39, especially to '41 were such that they grew contemptuous of the resistance, and they said, "If the great French army collapsed, if the United States will watch London burn and do nothing, if the Chinese ... We have half of China, now. If the British can't even bolster Singapore ... If the Americans at Pearl Harbor only have three carriers," even though we had the second largest fleet in the world, they logically developed a contempt. The thing about deterrence is it doesn't really matter that the British fleet is the largest in the world and our is the second largest, or that we have a capability within three years to build a bigger fleet than all the fleets in the world combined, if you don't display that deterrence, and they thought, "Well, deterrence isn't really material. It's spirit, and we have elan and we've got a new paradigm, or modern fascism marshals the state. It's technologically superior." We didn't disabuse them of that. It's sort of like North Korea today telling us how powerful they are when they have no clue what they're getting into with the United States, because we're sophisticated, humane people and we don't want to display to North Korea what could happen. That's very dangerous because deterrence is also perceptions as well as actual strength.

Peter Robinson: One more counterfactual, fascinating counterfactual. Again, I'm quoting from The Second World Wars, quote, "American commanders," this takes a little bit to set up, but I think it's fascinating. "American commanders were indoctrinated in two tactical traditions." You traced them both to the Civil War. "One was made famous by Ulysses S. Grant emphasizing finding the enemy, then controlling and destroying him through overwhelming fire power. There was also a complementary tradition of mobility, envelopment and stripping an enemy's ability to make war by destroying his infrastructure and morale." That tradition is made famous by Sherman, and his march to the sea.

Peter Robinson: Okay, "had the US Army utilized its singular," I'm quoting you again, "Utilized its singular motorized mobility and tactical airpower in the manner that Patton's Third Army had used it to cover its flanks, and then adopted a Shermanesque attitude toward bypassing more resistance and conducting encirclements, the war in theory might well have ended before 1945." Patton is all about mobility and he drives to the south and could have gone through, could easily have taken Prague, could have gone up to Berlin and Eisenhower says, "No. We advance on a front, steadily, grinding, grinding, grinding."

Victor Davis Hanson: It's tragic, because ...

Peter Robinson: So how would ...

Victor Davis Hanson: George Patton, he had Trumpian characteristics. He was a blunderbuss, and he said things he shouldn't have said, and people confused that lack of discipline with a lack of talent. He was an authentic military genius, but we put him on ice, remember, from July of '43 to '44, where after the slapping incidents we didn't have those talents and the planning of Normandy. But once we actually did do Normandy and we gave him Third Army, he didn't advance according to the plan. He was the furthest from Germany, and yet he advanced the fastest. People said, "Well, there's gaps in our front. He's going too fast." He was begging them to see that airpower had changed that, with B-47s and B-38s he had an ability to protect his flanks, and the Sherman tank, the M-1. He had really a great deal of confidence in their durability, their ease of use and people were saying, "We're going to see a tiger one day." There's only 600 tigers. Who care about a tiger. We have airpower. He was way ahead of his time, and we tend to do that in the United States. If a person is not considered sober and judicious we equate that with a recklessness or a lack of discipline, with incompetence. He was absolutely competent, he was brilliant. He spoke French, he read German. He was an intellectual. That was something. In the Pacific we had people like Chester Nimitz, Spruance, Halsey that did the same thing as Sherman and Patton were doing. They skipped islands, they skipped Rabaul, they skipped over to Iwo Jima, into Okinawa, Tarawa, and they cut the entire Japanese empire off from its supplies without having to invade each on of these. MacArthur did, to a lesser extent, he probably should have bypassed the Philippines, but there was that tradition that you don't want to get head to head with a fanatical enemy like Grant did in the Summer of 1864, where Sherman went around the flank in Atlanta, then the march to the sea and into the Carolinas. There was great argument in the US military about hitting them head on versus the Shermanesque, Pattonesque, Nimitz approach where we have so much more capability, logistical and industrial, and we have more mobility. We have airpower, sea power. We can cut them off without having to fight them because they're 19th century in the way they fight, in the sense that they're very ferocious and they're extremely good soldiers.

Peter Robinson: You mentioned Patton, who could have swept around down to the south. Churchill, we have cables. Churchill begged Eisenhower, and then went over his head and he went straight to FDR, begged him to let Montgomery go across the north and get to Berlin, and part of Churchill's calculation, as I recall, was he wanted to get to Berlin before the Red Army did.

Victor Davis Hanson: Yes, he did. It was one of the tragedies of the Normandy placement of forces that the Allied armies, the quick shot into the Ruhr Valley, once you landed in the north beaches at Normandy, it was only 500 miles to get straight, less than that even, go right through the Netherlands into the Ruhr, and you had the sober, judicious, professional ... I don't want to say plodder, because Montgomery was a very good organizer, but he wasn't a cutter. He didn't ...

Peter Robinson: He wasn't passionate.

Victor Davis Hanson: Not a slasher. Then you had the person who had that ability and you put him to the south, not ... He was still northern and central France, but he had the longest 800, 900 miles, and that wasn't part of the plan. He was supposed to secure in the other direction, the Atlantic port. Had he been to the north, he would have got into the Ruhr very quickly.

Peter Robinson: One more on this counterfactual, "Had Roosevelt been as suspicious of Stalin's murderous gulag and expansionary plans as he was sometimes of Churchill's effort to preserve Britain's colonial possessions, the United States might have been better prepared for the Cold War." What might Roosevelt have done?

Victor Davis Hanson: Well, Roosevelt basically said to Stalin ... I shouldn't say Roosevelt, but his envoy said, "We don't approve of Communism, but we understand where you're coming from, that the imperial colonial world is over with and that we're going to support you full hearted" Churchill said, "It's not over with. We can decolonize if we have to, but we have a humanizing mission abroad, and people under British colonies are much different than the Soviet people under Soviet Communism." That didn't appeal to us. We were giving aid, and the British were giving aid. The British were thinking ...

Peter Robinson: To the Soviets?

Victor Davis Hanson: Yes. They were thinking, "What does this do when the German army disappeared?" The Americans, in typical American fashion were sort of, "Let's be Puritanical. How can you even think of that? The Soviets are our allies. We're fighting against this horrible fascism and Nazism. We don't want to think of the post-war ramification." Where Churchill was always saying ... He was looking at 500 years of history and saying when you destroy Germany, then you empower Russia. Germany is the continental buffer between western Europe and Russia. No matter what the political system is. The Americans thought that's an old game. We don't ... We're not going ...

Peter Robinson: Influence is passe...

Victor Davis Hanson: We're a new people, we're democratic. This is the future, the United Nations and we're all going to live in peace. The Soviets and the British and us, we'll police the world and we're going to run this on principles of quality and fairness. Stalin, to him that was ludicrous.

Peter Robinson: All right. The moral questions. The Allies sought not merely to end the war on useful terms but to demand that the Axis powers submit to unconditional surrender, which you call "a historically rare objective of most wars." Even today, you will hear it argued a lot, that if only we had not called for unconditional surrender, we could have reached terms with the Japanese much earlier. There were cables between ... I think this has been substantiated, but there are cables we picked up that the Japanese were looking for terms of surrender, that Hitler may be a different case. But even with Hitler, you could have come to some arrangement earlier, and that lives were lost needlessly because Roosevelt and Churchill, Stalin as well, but Roosevelt and Churchill, it was these two deeply humane men who decided in Casablanca, as you say ... Stalin wasn't at Casablanca. They decided to insist upon terms of unconditional surrender.

Victor Davis Hanson: We have to, as historians we have to look at what the world that they looked at, not as we look at post-facto, and they were looking at the Versailles Treaty. They said that combined the worst of both traits in human nature. We were punitive in these sense of oratorically we blamed Germany, but we did not divide Germany. We did not occupy it. We did not invade with occupation troops. We created the myth that they had been sold out by Jews or socialists, why they were in someone else's territory. This time around, we're not going to do that. Second thing is, they understood that every time Germany had made a peace agreement, whether it was the Franco-Prussian War, or the September Program, the design in World War I in September, they thought they were going to take France, or the Brest-Litovsk Treaty that knocked our Russia in World War I, or what they were envisioning after World War II when they won, they were pretty barbaric, and so they said, "You cannot deal with this fascist countries, and you can't have an armistice like we did with World War I. That was a green light to World War II. This time around we're going to defeat, we're going to humiliate, we're going to occupy and we're going to rebuild these countries into consensual societies." For all the effort that was involved, and we still have troops in all three countries ...

Peter Robinson: All these years later.

Victor Davis Hanson: ... By giving women the right to vote, to take one example in Japan, or land redistribution in Japan, we created peaceful, humane societies. I don't think that would have been possible with an armistice. But today, for all our criticisms of Japan and Germany and Italy, they were three of the most humane countries in the world, and they're strong US allies. That was a direct result of the vision of Roosevelt and Churchill. It came at a cost, and had we had an armistice we probably would have been able to cut a deal with Hitler and Tojo in 1943 or 1944, but we would have been at war with them in a cold peace in the '50s. I think it would have been like the first, second, third, Punic war, or what we see in the Middle East with the 48, 56, 67, 73, 2006 war. It's a bellum interuptum. They didn't want that, and they were willing to pay the extra ... They had societies that had been surprised attack and generations of American and British and Soviet citizens that were willing to pay that price.

Peter Robinson: Aerial bombing. You note that Britain and the United States dropped 30 times as much tonnage on Germany as Germany dropped on Britain, and with regard to Japan, "The March 9-10, 1945 napalm firebombing of Tokyo remains the most destructive single 24 hour period in military history." Then of course we have the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The argument is that the Allies violated one of the most fundamental tenets of just war theory by targeting civilians. Never, ever, ever is it permissible to target noncombatants. That is immoral in and of itself. To which Victor Davis Hanson answers ... ?

Victor Davis Hanson: Well, they had a point. Curtis LeMay said that if we'd lost the war, he was the architect of the fire raids, he would be tried and convicted as a war criminal by the victorious Japanese. But everything has a utilitarian foundation to the argument. We had developed the B-17 and the B-24 on a false premise. The fortress, the B-17 Flying Fortress could fly in formation, it could knock down fighters, it could go 1200 miles, 1000 miles into enemy territory. It could devastate. We found out by 1943 that that was not true. The Nordan bomb site was not that accurate. It was too cloudy over German. The best pilots and planes in the world were Focke-Wulfe 190s. We didn't have sufficient, and we were butchered, 40,000 people killed. The British ...

Peter Robinson: Fell out of the sky.

Victor Davis Hanson: ... Fell out of the sky. The great tragedy of World War II, from our point of view, the British learned that they weren't going to do that. They called it area bombing, and they used more nap- ... They didn't have napalm. We developed napalm, but they did have incendiary. They discovered after losing 40,000, even with great planes like the Lancaster, that they could not quite knock out Germany. So by 1944, this effort was in crisis. They had some dividends. They'd made Germany bring back 10,000 88 millimeter platforms from Russia that were anti-tank guns to use as flack guns, but nevertheless, they were in a stasis. They couldn't really know what to do. Then they hit upon the idea, we're going to get fighter escorts and we're going to area bomb transportation hubs, fuel depots ...

Peter Robinson: Go in low.

Victor Davis Hanson: Going lower, and same thing in Japan. Curtis LeMay said the B-29 is a $2 billion program, bigger than the Manhattan Project. It has got no results. It's too high, it's at 30,000 feet. There's a jet stream. It misses the target. I'm going to take them low at 5,000 feet and use the jet stream. They'll come in at 400 miles an hour, almost. They'll drop napalm. They don't have to be accurate. Same idea that had worked in Europe, and the idea was not quite that you're bombing civilians only, but you can't hit a target. You don't have the expertise and the prewar propaganda that you could drop a bomb into a pipe is completely fabricated.

Peter Robinson: Ridiculous.

Victor Davis Hanson: What we're going to do is we're going to burn everything to burn out the rail yard, or to burn out the coal to oil plant, or to burn out the zero factory. It was true, but they took a level of collateral damage that was astonishing. Now, they would say to us, "Give us the most optimistic number of Italian ..." I shouldn't say that word, it's an amoral term, but give us the most ... Your greatest estimate of civilians that were killed in Japan, Germany and Italy, and it would be somewhere between one million and one and a half million. They would say, "We were fighting a people that by 1945 were killing 20,000 people in Asia," the Japanese.

Peter Robinson: Twenty thousand people per ... ?

Victor Davis Hanson: Day. Per day, in places like ... The war itself, 27,000 people were killed every day of the six year war. Six million were killed Auschwitz. Then they would say, as Bomber Harris ...

Peter Robinson:                  The British general.

Victor Davis Hanson: Yes, Bomber Harris said they reaped the wind and they're going to sow the whirlwind, quoting biblical scripture. His point was they started the war, they surprise attacked us. They set up death camps. They're killing prisoners. The SS has an atrocious record in the Soviet Union. It's a little rich for them to say that we have to pinpoint targets when we know that we don't have that ability. What are you going to do when the Soviet Union is losing 10,000 men a day, and they say, "Where's the second front?" We say, "Well, North Africa, maybe Italy." "That's not enough. How are you going to stop 100 divisions coming and reinforcing? We said we'll start bombing. The idea was we were going to open a second front through bombing.

Peter Robinson: Second front in the air.

Victor Davis Hanson: When you talk to people today, if you talk to Chinese citizens, diplomats, consoles, or you talk to people in Indonesia, or Southeast Asia, and I have. I don't think I've ever ... I've read a lot of the literature. I don't think you ever see an argument that the United States was cruel and inhumane for bombing Japan. It's usually the other way around, "I wish they had bombed earlier." For myself, and you and Americans, it's something that, I will just end with this comment, that the fire raids were really much more destructive than the atomic bombs. We've got to remember that the war ended May 8th-9th in Europe. There was a largest bombing fleet in the world was in Europe, so we had about 10,000 idle B-17, B-24 and British Lancasters, which is a superb plane, plus two engine middle bombers, B-25s and 26. We had taken Okinawa and declared secure on July 2nd. Curtis LeMay was building 5,000 foot runways. We had 2,000 B-29s on order that were arriving to supplement the 2,000 from the Marianas. In LeMay's mind, I have a 10,000 plane four engine bombers, not three missions a week from the Marianas, 1600 miles away, two a day from Okinawa. My only problem is enough napalm. He would have burned down all of Japan. The actual atomic bomb saved, not so much an invasion, which LeMay said we wouldn't have done. We would have created a firestorm that I think we would be regretting today. The atomic bomb stopped that. We killed a lot of Japanese, 500,000, but we didn't invade the country and there were about seven million Japanese soldiers. There were 7,000 kamikaze planes, and we avoided that through airpower. There is an irony that Japan was not as willing in the post year wars to come to terms with its criminal behavior in World War II as was Germany and Italy, simply because we did not invade, and their territory was not fought over. It was reduced by airpower, and then the occupation was not a fought over, contested occupation. They had a little bit more leeway under the MacArthur Pro consulship than did Germany and Italy.

Peter Robinson: Victor, last questions here. You grew up, as you're writing the book, you grew up on your ranch, the family ranch in Selma, in the central valley of California, hearing first-hand accounts of the Second World War from your father and uncles. First of all, tell us why are you named Hanson?

Victor Davis Hanson: My father's first cousin, his mother died in childbirth and his father was blinded in a farming accident. He grew up with my father, and they were inseparable. They went to University Pacific under Alonzo Stagg and played as ends on the football team. They joined the Marine Corps. Family lore gets hazy here. Somebody hit a Marine officer. They were big Swedes, and one of them had to take the blame and the military said either you're going to get kicked out of the Marine Corp or we're going to fix you, Hanson. We're going to send you to this new B-29 program where everybody gets killed. We heard it's just the worst thing in the world, in Nebraska. They kind of decided that, I think my father was the one that hit the person, so my ... Victor went on the 6th Marine Division and ...

Peter Robinson: Victor's your uncle.

Victor Davis Hanson: Yes. He fought the atrocious battle in Okinawa, and he was killed on the last day of Sugar Loaf Hill. When I wrote a book once, Ripples of Battle, I was wondering what happened. One of the people who, in his 90s read the book and said, "I have his ring." He said when he was killed on the last day, he was a big Swede and we couldn't bring him down. His hand swelled, so we cut off the ring, and when I got back I called your grandfather and in broken Swedish he said, "I don't want to talk about it. It's on my mantle." He sent it to me.

Peter Robinson: Oh, my goodness.

Victor Davis Hanson: My father, the irony is that he went to the B-29 program, went over to Tinian and he flew 40 missions as a central fire control. Of the 15 planes in his squadron, I think all but two were shot down or engine failure, crashed, replacement crews. The person who was supposed to die lived, and the person who had a better chance of living died.

Peter Robinson: So your dad named you Victor.

Victor Davis Hanson: And he said ... I remember him saying to me, "You've got a real burden, because he was an all-star athlete and he was killed. I don't know if you can live up to it, but you've got to try."

Peter Robinson: Victor, you heard these stories from participants. My father was in the war as well, so i have some firsthand accounts. You have kids. Now you're a grandfather. How do you convey ... How do you make ... I don't know how to put the question, other than to put it this way. How do you make them believe? How do you make them understand that this happened?

Victor Davis Hanson: That's why I tried to write the book, because I asked myself that same day. When I go to downtown Palo Alto, or I go to New York, or I'm on my farm and I see the security, the prosperity, everything we have. I look at the world abroad and I see democratic government all over Europe and Asia, and all of these miracles going on. I say to myself, "None of this would happen if it wasn't for these people in the United States and their counterparts in Britain, Australia, Canada and the Soviet Union as well. I think, "Wow, they were willing to give up everything for some idea." I ask myself, in bouts of melancholy, "Was it worth it? If they came back and looked at our culture today, was this what it was all for? Is this what dying in Okinawa was for when you're 22, or getting blown up in a B-29 when you're 18?" I hope it was. I think we have to take a deep breath and stop looking at history as melodrama where we go back and look at the past, and use the value system of the present to pick winners and losers. History's tragedy, and we should really instead say, "Given the material constraints put upon them and given what they knew at the time, how they did what they did in World War II is a miracle, and we are indebted every day of our lives to them." We need to start, I think, honoring people of the past who did things, I'm afraid to say, I'm not sure I could do, and my generation could do. When I was 21 years old, I was in graduate school studying Greek. When my father was 21, he had ear infections, sinus infections and he was in a B-29 high above Japan and emergency landed in Iwo Jima, and almost everybody was killed. He got the highest medal of the Air Force, Distinguished Air Medal for taking a 500 pound napalm bomb with his hand. It was locked in the bomb bay and throwing it out, and I can't think of anything I've done in my entire life like that. I think that's true of our whole generation. Vietnam, people were very courageous as well, and Korea, but I think this generation owes a lot to the generations that came ... This is why I get so depressed with these contemporary controversies where people don't want to do this, or they don't think they have to honor the flag. They don't understand that somebody just handed them a country and what they think, "Wow, it's this ism, or this ology, and it's not good because it's not perfect." They don't understand what they started with. The alternative, that generation said "We just have to be better than the alternative." The alternative was Japanese Holocaust, German Holocaust, and what the Italians did in Africa, it was a Holocaust. Yet, we didn't do that. So we say, "Well, we weren't perfect, therefore we weren't." We were very good what we did in World War II, and we need to remember.

Peter Robinson: Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Second World Wars, thank you.

Victor Davis Hanson: Thank you for having me.

Peter Robinson: I'm Peter Robinson, for Uncommon Knowledge and the Hoover Institution, thank you.