Category Archives: V.D.Hanson

Don’t know much about history

Bloodthirsty historian Victor Davis Hanson might be familiar to some who read this blog. It turns out that in addition to being a rather sloppy thinker, he’s also a downright crappy historian. What makes a good historian? Mastery of facts.

For instance:

>Because this is my wrap-up essay, I must apologize for the disjointed nature of some of the material I am bringing up now. We have already noted how, when writing about his own period of specialization, the Classicist Victor Davis Hanson is both sloppy and inconsistent. (Mixing up, for example, the Eastern Roman Emperor Valens, who died at Adrianople in 378 AD, with Emperor Valerian, who was captured by the Sassanids in 260 AD. This is akin to confusing the current conflict we are in with the Spanish-American war because, you know, they’re pretty close in time.) But mistakes like these do not really annoy me as much as another problem, the lack of documentation in Carnage and Culture.

The whole thing, as well as previous installments, is well worth the read. Makes one wonder whether we ought to have a special category for Hoover Institution Scholars.

Let’s get cynical

V.D.Hanson sees right through your pro-immigration stance, university perseffers:

>Most cynical of all, however, are the moralistic pundits, academics and journalists who deplore the “nativism” of Americans they consider to be less-educated yokels. Yet their own jobs of writing, commenting, reporting and teaching are rarely threatened by cheaper illegal workers.

>Few of these well-paid and highly educated people live in communities altered by huge influxes of illegal aliens. In general, such elites don’t use emergency rooms in the inner cities and rural counties overcrowded by illegal aliens. They don’t drive on country roads frequented by those without licenses, registration and insurance. And their children don’t struggle with school curricula altered to the needs of students who speak only Spanish.

Teaching. Cynical.

But perhaps Hanson is on to something, not eve the jobs of the California Republican Party are safe from foreigners.

Someone with patience

To comment on every problem in a recent Victor Hanson piece. Hanson writes:

>Yet American Cassandras are old stuff. Grim Charles Lindberg in the late 1930s lectured a Depression-era America that Hitler’s new order in Germany could only be appeased, never opposed.

Sadly, No! responds:

>Oop. Oh well.

>It should be noted that:

>a.) You spelled “Lindbergh” wrong.
>b.) Lindbergh was a conservative who had sympathies with hardcore nationalist ideologies, while modern liberals don’t.
>c.) After Saddam was ousted from Kuwait in the ’90s, he never invaded another country again; not exactly the stuff Hitlers are made of. Iran hasn’t exactly been bowling over Poland and France either, y’know.
>d.) The WWII analogies are tired and boring. Look for some new ones. May I suggest my own brilliant essays on the Left’s failure to learn the lessons of Cola Wars and the Punic Wars?

It’s just a word

Last Sunday the Washington Post published a poorly argued op-ed critique of Zbignew Brzezinski’s claim that the “war on terror” is anything but. Now the Hoover Institute’s V.D.Hanson shows that he can do Chertoff one better. He can claim that those who reject the term or the metaphor for the war on terror want thereby to abandon the efforts against terrorists. He writes:

> Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, goes further, assuring us that we are terrorized mostly by the false idea of a war on terror — not the jihadists themselves.

>Even one-time neo-conservative Francis Fukuyama, who called for the preemptive removal of Saddam Hussein in 1998, believes “war” is the “wrong metaphor” for our struggle against terrorists.

>Others point out that motley Islamic terrorists lack the resources of the Nazi Wehrmacht or the Soviet Union.

>This thinking may seem understandable given the ineffectiveness of Al Qaeda to kill many Americans after Sept. 11. Or it may also reflect hopes that if we only leave Iraq, radical Islam would wither away. But it is dead wrong for a number of reasons.

>First, Islamic terrorists plotting attacks are arrested periodically in Europe and the United States. Last week, a leaked British report detailed Al Qaeda’s plans for future “large-scale” operations. We shouldn’t be blamed for being alarmist when our alarmism has resulted in our safety at home for the past five years.

How stupid is that? If we have learned anything–which we obviously haven’t–terrorists are not dissuaded by firey rhetoric and Churchillian war metaphors. One might even argue that they are inspired by the privilege of waging war with us. Perhaps we should just let them be the criminal thugs they are and let the police deal with them.

Crazy talk

If I’m not mistaken, the last time we undid a regime it didn’t turn out so well. Never mind, though, the cheerleaders of that fiasco have a new idea:

>It is undeniable that the U.S., without either invading or suffering many casualties, could use its air power to send the Iranian economy and military back to the mullahs’ cherished 7th Century. But there is no need to do so.

>Instead, if the EU would cease all its trade with Iran, and if the West would divest entirely from the country — that is, boycott all companies that do any business with Tehran — the theocracy would face bankruptcy within months.

>Even if further escalation were warranted, we could at some future date enforce a naval blockade of the Iranian coast that alone would determine what goods would be allowed into this outlaw regime.

>But bomb Iran?

>For now, we should try as hard to avoid it as these desperate clerics seem to want it.

Economic sanctions strengthened Saddam’s grip on power, and, invading his country in order to punish him succeeded in eliminating him, but greatly strengthened Iran. The last conclusion one could draw from these indisputable facts is that we should seek further antagonism.

Tu quoque Yogi Berra

There must be something in the water at the venerable Hoover Institution. Just last week, we visited a piece, wherein one of their fellows leveled that most traveled of ad hominem attacks, the tu quoque at former VP Al Gore. This week, as Uncle Yogi once said, is “déjà vu all over again.” V.D. Hanson is concerned, folks—concerned that we, the people, only focus on the failings of right wing politicians, pundits, and politico-religious types. He means to remedy the situation. He says, >But moralist Republicans don't have the market cornered on hypocrisy. If giving into excess embarrasses some of them, for a number of Democrats–supposedly the party of the people–hypocrisy arises from enjoying elite privileges while alleging that America bestows favors unduly on the few. I suppose it’s fun to argue against a position no one has held or even implied. I haven’t heard anyone pretend that Mark Foley’s failings whitewash Ted Kennedy’s. Moreover, it has no bearing whatsoever, as Hanson implies it does, on the populist programs of those prominent Democrats he indicts. Hanson gives us a litany of hypocrisies perpetrated by the left and then pretends that it makes their period as the party in power somehow moot because all politicos are cut from the same cloth. Ye gods. There’s a stark distinction between the duplicity that lead to a war that has cost 3,000+ U.S. lives, along with the lives of untold thousands of Iraqis and the global warming activist who uses the quickest form of transport available to disseminate information. Hanson simply glosses this distinction, because, you know, they’re all crooks and liars, right? >For both liberals and conservatives, the days of the simple-living Harry Truman and clean-living Dwight Eisenhower are apparently long gone–and for two reasons. >First, the country has changed. Globalization, high technology and billions in borrowed money have made Americans in general materially wealthy beyond our parents' wildest imagination. >… >Second, in our world of celebrity sound bites and media saturation, talk, not reality, is what counts. Multimillionaires lecture us about fairness, while sinners rail about sin. Ah, yes—the good old days. Regardless of the fact Pound, err…Hanson, has a point here—we are a society of consumers, more importantly of irresponsible, uncouth consumers and that’s not a good thing—the point is out of place here. Unless we can now impeach all politicos as the very root of avarice and greed, all we’re left with is the conclusion that we’re all just a bunch of hypocrites, in spite of our high ideals. Great story. Really. Compelling and rich. Hanson regroups, however, to deliver another kick to this equine carcass: >The political leaders of this country are essentially too often homogeneous. Republicans may represent constituents of traditional values; Democrats may champion the underprivileged. But their similar lifestyles reflect more a political class' shared privilege than the inherent differences of their respective constituents' beliefs. National figures may talk conservative or liberal, but they both are more likely to act like libertines. Indicting all politicos as hypocritical and wrong adds nothing. In fact, it’s rather banal. Still worse is that Hanson hasn’t argued so as to support the conclusion that the analogous evils of both conservatives and liberals have some bearing on their legislative activity. Beyond his dazzling pithiness, the problems here are evident: one, Hanson assumes, incorrectly, that some causal link exists between how one lives and how one performs in the political arena. Secondly, even if that were the case, he so muddies the waters that it is unclear how the hypocritical similarities between politicos have any bearing on anything. Look who’s pithy now. -pm

See it now

VD Hanson writes:

>Given all of this country’s past wars involving intelligence failures, tactical and strategic blunders, congressional fights and popular anger at the president, Iraq and the rising furor over it are hardly unusual.

No kidding. No one disputes that claim. Then he offers a series of uncontroversial examples and concludes:

>The high-stakes war to stabilize the fragile democracy in Iraq is a serious, costly and controversial business. But so have been most conflicts in American history. We need a little more humility and knowledge of our past–and a lot less hysteria, name-calling and obsession with our present selves.

I would argue it’s too serious for arguments like this whose conclusions incoherently diminish the seriousness of the “serious, costly and controversial business” we have bungled ourselves into. The problem, contrary to what Hanson concludes, is a serious one. And it’s seriousness consists in its happening now and into the near or far future. Our having failed in the past even more miserably, in other words, doesn’t diminish our current responsibility not to fail in the future.

You’re kidding, right?

In the years prior to September 11th, how many 9/11-style terror attacks were there? At what frequency? I ask because some continue to suggest that the absence of such attacks in the wake of 9/11 is an achievement:

>For more than three years, partisan opponents of the Bush administration have made two arguments against its conduct of the “global war on terror.”

>First, they’ve argued, the absence of another Sept. 11-like attack has not been the result of anything our government has done, here or overseas. Remember, after conditions in Iraq began to worsen, they began to say we were in even more jeopardy at home than we were five years ago.

Sorry Dr.Hanson, but absence of evidence is not evidence. Though a panicky media and government believed 9/11 was but the first of many attacks, experts suggested otherwise. Besides, terror attacks of the al Qaeda variety have taken place in both London and Madrid. Remember, the terrorists make no distinction among infidels (as we make no distinction among the terrorists and those who harbor them–except when we do).

This argument ought to be put to bed. The editors of the newspaper ought to delete it as they would a dangling participle.

Quo status?

It’s hard to have a debate when the people who want to participate don’t know what the debate is about. We mentioned this the other week–we took election week off–with Jonah Goldberg’s discussion of the border fence. And again in the past few days the my way or the status quo meme has reappeared:

>Increased border patrol, a 700-mile fence to stop the easiest access routes (something President Bush signed into law two weeks ago), employer sanctions and encouragement of one official language can all help solve the crisis. But once the debate is renewed, congressional reformers will be blitzed by advocates of the failed status quo with a series of false assumptions concerning the issue.

That’s V.D.Hanson, a man quickly becoming a Nonsequitur star. The problem here is that no one seriously advocates the status quo. It’s tiresome to point this out, but take a look at the following:

>Take, for example, the shared self-interest argument–that the benefits to both the U.S. and Mexico of leaving our borders open trumps the need for enforcement of existing laws and outweighs the costs to U.S. taxpayers that result from massive influxes of poor illegal aliens.

Take also for example the argument for turning the elderly into soylent green. “Leaving the borders open” is rather different from “tolerating illegal immigration as it stands.” I don’t think even these cold-hearted people would advocate the current system of institutionalized illegality. And so for the rest.

The grand delusion

It’s too much fun watching you guys battle it out. So in the interest of maintaining the high level of discourse on this site, read this and do the same. Here’s a sample quote:

>On college campuses, the old leftist intolerance of unwelcome free speech is back with a fury. A guest spokesman for the Minutemen immigration reform group was shouted down at a recent Columbia University lecture. Earlier, Harvard’s liberal president Lawrence Summers was forced out after timidly questioning academic orthodoxy about the role of women in science and engineering.

And so it goes.