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Putin And Patton In Syria

by Ralph Petersvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The term “culminating point” in military operations describes the stage of an offensive at which the heretofore successful attacker is about to outrun his advantages, whether in numbers, materiel or psychological leverage on the defender.

Guantanamo And The History Of Military Commissions

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Obama administration’s release of its plan to close the facility at Guantanamo Bay and bring the detainees to the United States has rekindled an intense political debate regarding the best way to deal with captured illegal combatants who lack allegiance to a nation-state. 

Women And The Draft

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Two months ago Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that all combat specialties in the armed forces would be opened to qualified females. This decision reopened the question of whether or not women should be required to register for Selective Service. In Rostker vs. Goldberg in 1981, the Supreme Court ruled that since the main purpose of the draft is to provide manpower for combat forces, the government’s exclusion of women did not violate the due process clause of the 5th Amendment. Since women can now serve in the combat arms, a legal challenge to the exclusion of women from the draft might very well succeed.

Return Of U.S. Forces To Europe: Back To The Future

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Russian bear is waking up from hibernation and looking for neighbors to eat. Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea and his support for insurgents in eastern Ukraine have other Eastern European countries—primarily the Baltic States and Poland—worried. Putin would like to see the North Atlantic Treaty Organization humiliated for the cardinal sin in his eyes of poaching countries in the Russian sphere of influence after the collapse of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1991.

The Predictable Failure Of The Syrian Peace Talks

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Military History in the News
Monday, February 8, 2016

The failure, ahem, suspension this week of United Nations sponsored talks in Geneva aimed at stopping the carnage in Syria was all too predictable. The talks were initially delayed by the inability of Syrian opposition groups to agree on who should get a seat at the table. Then after just five days of negotiations, the negotiators realized what should have been apparent from the start—an end to the Syrian civil war is highly unlikely absent conditions on the battlefield conducive to a negotiated settlement. What are those conditions?

China’s Ascendance To The Position Of Chief Adversary

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Friday, January 29, 2016

A significant portion of our national security establishment, painstakingly built up during the Cold War, has accepted the assumption that when it comes to threats from sovereign states, Russia, not China, is America’s leading adversary. We routinely hear our national leaders speak of Vladimir Putin’s bad behavior in places such as Ukraine and Syria, which further enhances the notion that the most formidable challenge to the preeminence of the U.S. in a post-Cold War world is Moscow, not Beijing.

Abraham Lincoln And The Taiwan Election

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Last Saturday’s boisterous, civil, transparent, and efficient election in Taiwan marks yet another triumph of the first true democracy in a Chinese society. This election, which resulted in a landslide victory for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party [DPP]’s Tsai Ing-wen over the incumbent Nationalist Party [KMT]’s Eric Chu, is the sixth open and direct election in Taiwan and the third peaceful transition of power from one political party to another.

China's Strategic Calculations And North Korea's Nuclear Gambit

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Within hours of North Korea’s January 6 nuclear test, President Park Geun-hye of South Korea picked up the phone and called President Barack Obama in the White House and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo to discuss a joint response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear gambit. Both leaders gave President Park unequivocal and resolute support for taking retaliatory action. Meanwhile, defense ministers and top foreign affairs officials of the three nations also held urgent telephone conferences to coordinate responses.

What Do China’s Cyclical Military Reforms Tell Us?

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

President Xi Jinping of China is conducting a far-reaching military reform. Yet, like the proverbial cyclical nature of dynastic changes in China’s long imperial past, the Chinese communist armed forces, collectively known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has gone through five cycles of similar military reforms since the founding of the communist state in 1949. This cyclical nature can tell us a lot about the current reshuffle.

Taliban Tactics Hinder Special Operations Forces

by Mark Moyarvia Military History in the News
Thursday, January 7, 2016

In response to deteriorating security conditions in southern Afghanistan, the United States recently deployed special operations forces (SOF) to Helmand province. On Tuesday, one of them was killed, and two others were wounded, raising new questions about the ongoing war and America’s role in it.


Wars, terrorism, and revolution are the daily fare of our globalized world, interconnected by instantaneous electronic news.

Military History in the News is a weekly column from the Hoover Institution that reflects on how the study of the past alone allows us to make sense of the often baffling daily violence, not by offering exact parallels from history, but rather by providing contexts of similarity and difference that foster perspective and insight—and reassurance that nothing is ever quite new.