Column #450      April 12, 2024Victor David Hanson

History doesn’t repeat exactly, but the past can certainly rhyme with the future. So, when one of the world’s most respected historians compares the fall of great civilizations with what may befall us if we ignore history, I’d say he’s worth listening to.

Larry P. Arnn, president of private Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, says “Victor Davis Hanson (VDH) is one of the top ten most cited classical scholars in the world today.” Dr. Arnn, an educator, is certainly no slouch himself. When the two of them are together their conversation is most meaningful. On February 20, 2024, Arrn interviewed VDH. The following is the teaser for the video.

In this episode of The Larry Arnn Show, Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn interviews classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson. The two discuss Hanson’s life growing up on his family farm, how he began to study the classics, and his insight into the works of Aristophanes and Thucydides. Later, Hanson speaks on the nature of warfare, the death of citizenship, and his prescription for getting America out of its current mess.1

Nearly a year ago, May 11, 2023, on his farm in Selma, California, VDH was interviewed in a Hoover Institution production by Peter Robinson of Uncommon Knowledge. This interview covered additional ground that, when coupled with the more recent video, gives us a chilling reminder of how leadership can make or break a nation.

Here’s the teaser for that video.

In this second and final installment of our conversation with Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson, we cover his writing process for his books and columns, examine how “World War II” has earned that name, and preview his upcoming book, The End of Everything: How War Becomes Armageddon, which offers four cases studies of civilizations that collapsed. Additionally, Professor Hanson discusses why Silicon Valley may be the most powerful political force the world has ever seen, outlines the future of the Republican Party and the Conservative movement, and explains how Donald Trump has changed both institutions forever. Finally, Victor (as he insists we call him), looks at the 2024 presidential race as well as US immigration and makes some surprising observations about his own life and career.2

A discussion about some of the events in VDH’s upcoming book, “The End of Everything: How War Becomes Armageddon,” was quite disturbing. That’s because it was about civilizations that collapsed totally such as the Byzantine Empire that existed for more than a thousand years until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. Sixty-eight years later the hundred-year-old Aztec nation, in what is now Mexico, was wiped out. There the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés overthrew the Aztec Empire by force and captured Tenochtitlan in 1521, bringing an end to Mesoamerica’s last great native civilization. In both cases where there was once a great civilization both were totally wiped off the face of the earth.3 4 5

VDH believes that wars teach us many things. In some cases it’s that pacifism based on a revulsion for barbaric warfare doesn’t work unless your opponents are on the same page. Therefore, wars are often based on ignorance. It can happen when a stronger country may not advertise its capabilities and lessor countries misread that as weakness and eventually takes on the former to discover their adversary is far stronger and ruthless than anticipated.

A year ago, VDH said that he had counted “19 instances of Russian high-ranking officials saying they want to use nuclear weapons to end the rouge state of Ukraine.” Yet what those officials said then, and are repeating today, is being ignored as our country continues to pressure Russia with more support for Ukraine and even declaring that soon Ukraine will be a NATO member. Russia has already drawn lines in the sand involving Ukraine that it will not back down from. Yet in its Ukraine proxy war, the United States continues to ignore Russia’s promises.

Instead of preparing for an expanded war against Russia, China, and North Korea the United States has nearly exhausted its surplus military resources by dribbling them into Ukraine and more recently Israel. Instead of unequivocally backing Israel in their war against groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and antagonistic countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and others, Biden is demanding that Israel sign a peace treaty one week and then promising Israel “ironclad” support against Iran the next. This is not a picture of strength. In fact, it can be read as indecisive weakness due to confused leadership.6

As a nation, the United States has spent itself into near bankruptcy. Its currency has lost about 99% of it’s purchasing power in less than 100 years. The leadership and the people spend a lot of energy bickering over ridiculous matters. We discount the threats of our enemies and argue about race, pronouns, DEI, climate, spending, politics, price inflation, abortion, election integrity, our open border, and a lack of participation in the popular culture. The industry that is our best, richest, and what “may be the most powerful political force the world has ever seen” is the tech industry founded in Silicon Valley. It is focused on marketing to the entire world and no longer considers the United States a critical market. In fact it outsources much of its manufacturing requirements. Consequently, many of our country’s current problems are self-inflicted!7

Our divisiveness is preventing us from having a unified front. Our trade policies have made us dependant on foreign suppliers, many who are not our friends. DEI has weakened our military while our government appears very weak on the national stage. Our open border policy has allowed unknown numbers of military-aged men to enter our country which has made us vulnerable to terrorist attacks at a level that has never existed in the past.

Our diplomatic front has ignored what Russia has been saying for several decades which caused Russia to invade Ukraine. Recently our country had to close a record number of embassies. Our stance behind Israel remains ambiguous. We are not taking seriously the threat of a nuclear war in either the Mideast or Ukraine. China is still talking tough regarding Taiwan. Quite possibly not being concerned about the twin threats of nuclear war or China’s ambitions isn’t properly recognizing the capabilities of our enemies.

VDH explains how societies from ancient Greece to the modern era chose to utterly destroy their foes, and warns those tactics are still possible today. Wars settle disputes most often when one combatant has destroyed the other to the point where their political systems, cultures, and epochs no longer exist. Are we going to take VDH’s warning to heart that modern societies are still fully capable of barbarism and the obliteration of their enemies?

Ineffective and ignorant leaders have a history of blundering headlong into major catastrophes. In terms of foreign policy, Biden is famous for being on the wrong side of history 100% of the time during all the years—of his government “service.”

It’s time for Americans to pull together and get on the same page. This is no time for divisiveness and internal bickering.

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

For additional reading:

1. Farming, Warfare, and a Classical Life by Larry P. Arnn interviews Victor Davis Hanson

2. Victor Davis Hanson, Part II: The Contrarian Agrarian from Uncommon Knowledge Jun 26, 2023

3. The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation Hardcover—May 7, 2024 by Victor Davis Hanson at Amazon

4. Byzantine Empire by Editors

5. Aztecs by Editors

6. China's Xi Meets With Russian Foreign Minister In Show Of Solidarity Against West by Dorothy Li via The Epoch Times

7. Silicon Valley’s Moral Bankruptcy by Victor Davis Hanson from The New Criterion