Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fred Thompson Promotes Teaching History of Warfare

Saw this last night on ABCRadio and want to post it today. I couldn't agree more with what Thompson says. It's the same thing that Victor Davis Hanson has been writing and saying for years: We need to remember history more than ever, and learn from past mistakes and victories. I print this here in its entirety. Fred and I have the same alma mater. Think if he and I both stop giving at the same time, our good ole university will cave?!

(Here's to military history being taught again at Vanderbilt. And oh by the way, did ya know their baseball team is first in the nation! Going to a game tonight.)

Those Who Cannot Remember the Past, by Fred Dalton Thompson:

"If you went to college in the sixties, like I did, you might not know how much higher education has changed since then. Universities today are different places. At Vanderbilt, where I got my law degree, I hear you can take courses in third wave feminism or colonial governmentality.
Your guess is as good as mine.

On the other hand, some of the courses that we took for granted aren't around at all. One area of study that's almost disappeared from universities today is military history -- the history of warfare.

I was reminded of this recently, reading a piece in The New Republic by historian David Bell. He's certainly not the only person to mourn this change, though. One of my favorite historians, Victor Davis Hanson, wrote on the same subject several years ago in National Review.

There are a number of reasons that military history is no longer taught. Partly, it has to do with the ideological shift in university faculties over the past few decades. The post-Vietnam anti-war movement tends to see all wars as mutual mistakes -- with both sides in a conflict equally wrong. Some of these folks think war can be avoided by refusing to have anything to do with it.
Hansen thinks it also has something to do with the spread of nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

In an age with intercontinental ballistic missiles, the old subjects of strategy and tactics can seem obsolete. The importance of battles at Valley Forge or the Alamo might not be evident if you're thinking of warfare in terms only of pushing big red buttons.

The enemies of civilization, though, have adapted -- as they always do. Nuclear deterrence won't protect you if the other side thinks they win if we all die together. Furthermore, they've learned to hide among the innocent. Iran's missiles, nestled among civilian neighborhoods and UN outposts in Lebanon, were fired into Israel -- but Iran was never hit back. The British and the Spanish have discovered, through terrorist attacks on bus and train lines, that the enemy is studying us daily. They learn our every weakness by living and working among us – but our schools have stopped offering courses that would help us meet their challenge.

All of this means that if there were ever a time to put our best minds to the study of warfare, it is now. I know that, for many people, it's an unpleasant topic they would just as soon avoid -- but history that ignores the importance of warfare is not history. There is a reason that both sides in the Civil War studied Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” – though it was written in the 5th or 6th Century BC.

Hansen writes, "The hundred years of talking about slavery was not as important as two days at Gettysburg. The success or failure of Normandy affected Hitler more in an hour than had years of pleading with him in the 1930s."

If for no other reason than that we want to avoid war whenever we can, universities should at least offer the option of studying it. We know that students would sign up for the classes, because books on the subject are always reliable sellers. Television programmers have also responded to the sizable hunger for military history.

These alternate sources of information are important, but they don't replace the need for serious scholarship in our universities. If you agree, I have a suggestion.

One thing we know for sure about colleges, they're better than bill collectors at tracking you down. If you ever took a single class, you'll be asked for contributions the rest of your life. Next time you get one of those calls, ask that student fundraiser to pass on the message that you'd probably give more money to the old alma mater if the school were offering more classes in military history. It's worth a try, anyway."


JTam said...

I guess I like Fred Thompson, but don’t like his closeness to John McCain on campaign finance.

Overall, and this is very pessimistic, I’m not very optimistic about any of these guys. The simple truth to me is that they’ll all ultimately disappoint us. The positive side to this is that we only get true change when things are really bad. Chamberlin gave England Churchill, and Heath/Callaghan gave England Thatcher. The disastrous presidencies of Nixon/Ford/Carter gave us Reagan and real change. In times of relative prosperity we get average people who won’t accomplish much, and will often disappoint. Maybe that’s for the best. After the disappointment that has been Bush, I’m just not very optimistic about any of these guys.

Tennis Anyone? said...

I look at the conservatives and then at the Democratic candidates. The Republicans still might win simply because the other party’s candidates are so bad across the board. And this is the other problem. Figure the best way to become a good tennis player is to hit with someone better. That the Democrats are so bad and bereft of ideas serves to drive down the quality of Republicans who get flabby for lack of competition. The Republicans’ biggest problem is arguably the ineptitude of the Democrats.

MizzE said...

Nothing like the sound of pocket books snapping shut to get their attention.

Ladies, can I get a witness?

Webutante said...

Amen, sister.

John said...

If you read the "news" with any sort of close attention you will find that there is a whole gamut of terrible things and very real possibilities "in the works" everywhere and right now. These include the pandemic of negative global competitiveness, dissociative warrior-nationalisms, the "sport" of strategic war-making, the everywhere aggressive search for global dominance by corporations and traditional institutions, and all the over-whelming changes now progressing in the natural domain, including global warming and climate change, the global epidemics of disease and poverty, the global depletion of natural resources, the global pervasiveness of toxic wastes, the global dependence on archaic practical and political and social and human-resource technologies and methods, and so on, and on.

The humankind-culture of this "late-time" is the global drama of dis-united nations, or the competitive nations of the world.. Such is a kind of deadly absurd global gladiatorial contest which if allowed to continue to its "logical" conclusion will destroy both humankind and quite possibly the Earth itself.

he national and institutional and otherwise corporate leaderships all over the world are, at the present time, merely playing off one another like adolescent goons, as if the world is all a meaningless game of gross consumption and excessive waste, and winner takes all.

Therefore,those "in power" must be everywhere awkened to right responsibility.

To play absurd games(including adolescent gladiatorial games of "glory") with the human and natural world is, now and forever hereafter, simply not acceptable. Time is up. Such nonsense must be given no more space and time. All of that is the "TV of Narcissus" and is utterly obnoxious and passe.

And the signs in the world all prove it is far too late in the human course for humankind to be going on with that nonsense anymore. All of that simply MUST stop.

Calvin said...

Big Fred is playing this game perfectly. He is keeping his name in the news but at the same time not yet declaring himself a "candidate".

This way he is teasing those of us who hope that he will make a serious run, and yet the once-a-day-news-watchers can’t say that they are "tired" of him (yet).

Yes, I am speaking of those who also claim to be "tired" of this crucial war in Iraq. Oh, poor things, they are so “tired” of all the bad news from Iraq. But why don’t we EVER hear any good news? Could it be part of an overall liberal strategy? But I digress…..

Freddie T is quite correct about many things, but I will only comment on two of them right now….

1. Michael Moore and those who believe his propaganda do need electroshock therapy.

2. Notable Quotations from George Santayana - 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense, Scribner's, 1905, page 284"

Those people who are so “tired” of this war must not remember the bloodbath that followed after we failed to unleash our military and win the war in Vietnam. And they have already forgotten that even the “Iraq Surrender Group” has predicted dire consequences if we leave Iraq before that government is able to defend, govern and sustain itself.

If they would actually listen to the WORDS of Al Qaeda, they would know that Al Qaeda’s (and Iran’s) goal is to win the Iraq war by causing us to lose our will. And the democrat party is doing as much as they can to help this enemy win this war, regardless of the consequences.

“Talking to Iran about Iraq is like talking to the fox about the henhouse”.
Calvin A. Hart 2007

nova said...

"Freddie T is quite correct about many things, but I will only comment on two of them right now….

1. Michael Moore and those who believe his propaganda do need electroshock therapy."

Wow. Another Republican in favor of torture. For lack of a better word, "shocking".

Maybe y'all can start electro-shocking the 9/11 first responders from Michael Moore's new movie. You know, the ones who didn't and couldn't get the type of medical coverage in the states that they required. Communist agitators is what they are.

Next you could move on to the Fox movie reviewers who said the movie is "brilliant and uplifting",2933,273875,00.html

Typical hollywood America hating liberal terrorist lovers at Fox.

Bob said...

Fred Thompson sounds very good to me.