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)

Why America Can't Win Its Wars

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Analysis
Thursday, December 10, 2015

Poor strategic decision making since 2001 has involved the United States in messy civil wars that will take years, if not decades, to resolve. In Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, regime change has come easily, but a limited commitment to stabilizing those nations has resulted in messy, bloody, and expensive aftermaths. Those wars show that military success alone cannot ensure a stable post-conflict outcome. Only the presence of US military forces, economic aid, and a long-term political commitment from US policy makers to rebuild and restore defeated nations can ensure enduring peace.

Blank Section (Placeholder)

The White House’s Seven Deadly Errors

by Mark Moyarvia Analysis
Thursday, December 10, 2015

Seven broad errors account for America’s recent inability to turn tactical successes into strategic victories. In every instance, responsibility for the error has belonged to the White House. Excessive confidence in democratization and poor choices of allies left sustainment of strategic gains to governments incapable of preserving domestic order. Attempts to defeat insurgencies on the cheap, by speeding up counterinsurgency or relying on surgical strikes, allowed insurgencies to survive. Refusal to commit or maintain US ground forces undercut American efforts to assist and stabilize allies. By conveying intentions of military withdrawal, the United States encouraged opportunists to side with its enemies.

Blank Section (Placeholder)

How We Fight in the Twenty-First Century: Winning Battles While Losing Wars

by Bing West via Analysis
Thursday, December 10, 2015

The intent of this essay is to shed light upon why the United States is performing so poorly in twenty-first-century warfare. War is the act of relentlessly destroying and killing until the enemy is broken physically and morally, and no longer resists the advancement of our policy objectives. By that definition, President Obama eschews war. Plus, our generals have imposed rules of engagement that prevent the application of our relative advantages in air and precision firepower. Our enemies do not fear us and our friends do not trust us. Sensible steps can turn that around, but that depends upon the next commander in chief. Our beloved nation does not have a martial spirit, and perhaps does not need one. It does need a military inculcated with a warrior spirit.

Poster Collection, US 7445 Hoover Institution Archives.
Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

When The Cards Are Stacked Against You

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

On November 5, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln replaced General George McClellan with the bellicose General Ambrose Burnside as the head of the Army of the Potomac.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Technology And War: The Revolution That Never Arrived

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Friday, October 30, 2015

In the 1990s, as a result of the overwhelming victory that U.S. military forces and those of their allies achieved over Saddam’s army in the war over Kuwait, a number of military pundits argued that a revolution in military affairs had occurred.

Nuclear bomb's tell-tale mushroom cloud
Related CommentaryFeatured

Meet The Missile Challenge With The Anti-Missile Response

by Bruce Thorntonvia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

Challenge and response has been the dynamic of warfare since the beginning of civilization.

Featured CommentaryFeatured

It’s Mad To Forgo Missile Defense

by Frederick W. Kaganvia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

American thinking about missile defense has been incoherent from the very beginning. The issue is superficially simple: the Soviet Union threatened the American people with nuclear missiles, so the U.S. should naturally have tried to defend them against those missiles.

Featured CommentaryFeatured

The Pragmatics Of Missile Defense

by Victor Davis Hansonvia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defense, as originally conceived in the 1950s and 1960s, was a Cold War era answer to the nightmare of Mutually Assured Destruction, the linchpin of Soviet and American deterrence.

Background EssayFeatured

Missile Defense: Past, Present, And Future

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

A new era of modern warfare began when German V-2 missiles hit London in September 1944. Within the next few years, the U.S. military was issuing reports on how to proceed in the development of defensive counters to ballistic missiles.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

The Ignorance Of Intelligence Agencies

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, October 27, 2015

At the start of the Second World War, Great Britain’s intelligence agencies were anything but impressive. Their analytic capabilities overestimated the Third Reich’s military potential through 1938. And then in 1939, they changed views and failed to see that the Germans were actually making effective preparations to that would enable them to wreck the European balance of power.


From left to right: Bing West, Peter Mansoor, Ralph Peters, Victor Davis Hanson

Military History Working Group meets at Hoover

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict met for a workshop during October 7 and 8 to chart its long-term objectives and review its new online journal, Strategika.


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.