On March 24, 2003, Victor Davis Hanson wrote of the American soldiers advancing on Baghdad:
“How do such men and women do such things, against such material, cultural, military, and psychological odds? I don’t know. But in the last year all those who have bet against the Americans now riding into the desert elite journalists, out-of-touch academics, and self-satisfied Europeans have been consistently wrong in their shrill predictions that we were either incompetent or amoral or would fail.
Why is this so? It is not merely that so many are so ignorant of history, or that most who are degreed and certified are glib and swarmy but not educated. No, the better explanation is that they rarely work among, know, see, or care about the type of Americans now barrelling to Baghdad who are still a different and, I think, a better sort of people.
And now thousands of them ride on to Baghdad.”
Victor Davis Hanson, Between War and Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq, New York: Random House, 2004.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and military historian. Between War and Peace is his second collection of National Review Online articles to be published since September 11, 2001.
Like the first collection, An Autumn of War, Between War and Peace is valuable both for the light it sheds on recent history and the way ahead.
The complexities of Panama, the Gulf War, Kosovo and Bosnia, Afghanistan, and the Iraqi War involved not just military challenges but post war reconstruction and global opinion-making as well. In part, our problem arises from our very success and the intrinsic power of the American military. We can take out rogue regimes within a matter of days or weeks without inflicting the level of pain, injury, and humiliation on enemy forces that traditionally rids opponents of any lingering doubts about the end of the old order and the onset of the new. In short, we win so quickly that some of the losers inevitably do not quite concede that they were really defeated
Hanson proposes that the U.S. military establish its first Peacekeeping Division who would be the true shock and awe corps, restoring order…after the dissolution of enemy forces.
Throughout the book, Hanson is engaging and thought-provoking. To stay abreast of where we are, and what steps we might next take, he is required reading.