Why Study War?
Victor Davis Hanson
In case anybody doesn’t know Victor Davis Hanson, he’s a military historian and classicist; former Prof. of Classics at California State U., Fresno; farmer; current Fellow of the Hoover Institution; and essayist, columnist, pundit. He’s very highly regarded over here as a military historian.
The essay is longish (but only one page), and ends with an armload of books for beginners to read.
…[T]he sixties had ushered in a utopian view of society antithetical to serious thinking about war. Government, the military, business, religion, and the family had conspired, the new Rousseauians believed, to warp the naturally peace-loving individual. Conformity and coercion smothered our innately pacifist selves.
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Military history is as often the story of appeasement as of warmongering.
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Military history teaches us, contrary to popular belief these days, that wars aren’t necessarily the most costly of human calamities. The first Gulf War took few lives in getting Saddam out of Kuwait; doing nothing in Rwanda allowed savage gangs and militias to murder hundreds of thousands with impunity. Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin killed far more off the battlefield than on it.
I think most everyone will find at least one paragraph to argue with, but I also think on the whole the piece is sound.