Friday, March 31, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson: Chickenhawk Supreme!

Victor Davis Hanson certainly admires our military. The prominent Hoover Institution (Stanford Univ., CA) think tank-ist contributes to National Review, the Wall Street Journal, City Journal, Commentary and many, many other publications; he also farms near the town of Selma (CA). As one of our nation's preeminent military historians, Hanson just can't stop thinking about our troops; he takes as his model the citizen-soldier, a humble creature of the land who puts down his hoe and takes up the rifle in a proud tradition carried on by America alone.

There’s an element in this country that is unchanged in the last 200 years,” he says. “It cannot be defined by race or religion. They are the people who made this country unique and retain a tragic sense. They gravitate to the military or live in rural America or work with their hands. If you talk to captains or lieutenants in Iraq, you won’t find anything in them that is different from their equivalents in World War II.”

Note the key word "or." [emphasis added]

As a student of military history, Hanson believes there is only one way to wage the war against militant Islam—ferociously and single-mindedly, in the tradition of Patton, Sherman, and the Theban general Epaminondas. The result of his political shift is a worldview that looks back to the ancient virtues even as it defends the most modern of wars and the controversial Bush Doctrine, thus reconciling the two major strains of the conservative movement.

The mother of two American soldier sons asked Hanson whether the U.S. should stay in Iraq. Here's how Hanson responded:

I can understand your anguish. But everything that is written about food over in Iraq remarks on the American ability to offer safe, plentiful and relatively tasty meals, at least inside fortified bases, in a very inhospitable environment, something I can attest from my visit as well. Accidents are another story; over the past two decades about 1200 U.S. military personnel have died on average each year to accidents. And even in the present war, more American soldiers died through accidents from 2001-2006 than in Afghanistan and Iraq. Young men, stress, weapons, and isolation can often lead to tragic accidents as anyone knows who has raised teen-aged sons.

Yes, he actually starts off talking about the food inside the fortified bases, i.e., not MREs carried on patrol (you know, where the action is). Of course Hanson's official biography mentions no military service. To our knowledge, never in any of his columns has he ever encouraged real Americans eligible to serve (healthy heterosexuals under 40) to consider enlisting. Of course, he may have just enough journalistic credibility to avoid that subject, as he doesn't appear to have encouraged his own now-adult sons to do the same thing. So much for "ferociously and single-mindedly," indeed.

Hanson’s great villain is the effete, left-wing urbanite—the relativist, the poseur, the spoiled gadabout who has ignorantly embraced fashionable opinions. But doesn't that describe Hanson himself?

Ask him here.


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