The Best Victor Davis Hanson Quotes Of 2004

ality will earn us the parlor disdain of the French and Germans. The terrorists are assured that the Western press is obsessed with Abu Ghraib, but not at all with Saddam’s necropolis or their own slaughter of innocents. They suspect that those who endured Omaha and Utah or scaled Suribachi are long sleeping in their graves, and that a few thousand creeps in Fallujah scare us more than a quarter million in the Bulge did our parents.”

“…There is no secret way to pacify Iraq other than to kill the killers, humiliate their cause through defeat, and give the credit of the victory, along with material aid and the promise of autonomous freedom, to moderate Iraqis. Victory on the battlefield ‘ not the mysterious diplomacy of “wise men,” or German and French sanction, or Arab League support ‘ alone will allow Iraq an opportunity for humane government.”

“Everyone Michael Moore has ever endorsed has lost, and he should have been avoided like the kiss of political death he is. His supporters find him useful but only mildly amusing, while his detractors are vehement in their dislike and impart guilt by association to any who come within his toxic orbit. That his lecture fees, lifestyle, and gratuitous slurs are at odds with the old Democratic image of a Happy Warrior only accents the mistake of welcoming him into the fold.”

“We can no more reason with the Islamic fascists than we could sympathize with the Nazis’ demands over supposedly exploited Germans in Czechoslovakia or the problem of Tojo’s Japan’s not getting its timely scrap-metal shipments from Roosevelt’s America. Their pouts and gripes are not intended to be adjudicated as much as to weaken the resolve of many in the United States who find the entire “war against terror” too big, or the wrong kind, of a nuisance.”

“Yet leaving unilaterally from Iraq would be a tragic mistake. We have already done something like that before ‘ many times. What rippled out afterwards was not pretty. American helicopters flying off the embassy roof in Saigon in 1975 gave us the climate for the Soviets in Afghanistan, Communists in Central America, and embassy hostage-taking in Tehran. Ignoring murders in Lebanon, New York, East Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, or lobbing an occasional cruise missile as tit-for-tat payback when terrorists harvested one too many expendable Americans abroad, ensured us September 11. In our loony world, losing credible deterrence (and we would) is an invitation for disaster ‘ as bin Laden himself illustrated when he logically thought that the toppling of the World Trade Center would be followed by another Black Hawk Down American pullback.”

“If we used to argue in the 1940s about whether millions of dollars in U.S. grain aid really did any good in feeding the starving of China and India, we can all agree now that American liberality in letting consumer goods in and jobs out has done more for the world’s hungry millions than a century of American gift-giving.”

“Hitler, like bin Laden and his epigones, was the problem, not us. The only difference is that our grandparents knew that and we don’t.”

“There is no legitimate complaint of the Arab world against the United States ‘ any more than Hitler had a right to Czechoslovakia or the Japanese to Manchuria. Just because the Japanese whined that the cutting-off of U.S. petroleum forced them to bomb Pearl Harbor didn’t make it true.”

About this time 60 years ago, six weeks after the Normandy beach landings, Americans were dying in droves in France. We think of the 76-day Normandy campaign of summer and autumn 1944 as an astounding American success ‘ and indeed it was, as Anglo-American forces cleared much of France of its Nazi occupiers in less than three months. But the outcome was not at all preordained, and more often was the stuff of great tragedy. Blunders were daily occurrences ‘ resulting in 2,500 Allied casualties a day. In any average three-day period, more were killed, wounded, or missing than there have been in over a year in Iraq.”

“The Arab League hates us not because we are going to lose or install strongmen if we prevail, but because they are terrified we will win and sponsor consensual governments of the type that would put such ossified functionaries with blood on their hands out to pasture.”

“It was moving to commemorate the Normandy invasion on its 60th anniversary, but politely left unsaid amid the French-hosted celebrations was the real story of 1944 and 1945. We owe it to the dead, not just the living, to remember it with some integrity and honesty. Most of the Nazis’ own European subjects did little to stop their mass murdering. There was no popular civilian uprising inside Germany or out. Most Germans were hostile to the onslaught of American armies in their country, preferring Hitler and the Nazis even by 1945 to so-called American liberators. When they did slur the Fuhrer it was because he brought them ruin, not the blood of millions on their hands. When they did stop fighting the Americans, it was because the thought of surrendering to the Russians was far worse. Most Frenchmen either refused to resolutely fight the Germans or passively collaborated. The idea of a broad resistance was mostly a postwar Gallic nationalist myth. Those who spearheaded a few attacks on German occupiers were more likely led by Communists than by allied sympathizers, and thus fought in hope more of an eventual Soviet victory over the Nazis than an American one.”

“The only thing worse than the amoral use of force is the failure to act when it is the only right and moral thing to do. In short, I think our sole serious mistake in this war is that we have forgotten the lessons of history, the essence of human nature, and what constitutes real morality. Small armies, whether those of Caesar, Alexander, or Hernan Cort’s can defeat enormous enemies and hold vast amounts of territory ‘ but only if they are used audaciously and establish the immediate reputation that they are lethal and dangerous to confront. Deterrence, not numbers, creates tranquility and the two are not always synonymous.”

“What are the values for which hundreds of Americans have now fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq? They are not new or hard to fathom, nor are they the easily caricatured images of American popular culture. Rather they are the same principles for which Americans died at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, and Pusan: the guarantee of free association and expression, the tolerance of different ideas, a respect for the rule of law, and the right to enjoy equality under the aegis of consensual government. So this is what we believe in and this is what we have made it our mission to preserve.”

One does not have to go back to ancient Athens ‘ in 507 or 403 B.C. ‘ to grasp the depressing fact that most authoritarians do not surrender power voluntarily. There would be no democracy today in Japan, South Korea, Italy, or Germany without the Americans’ defeat of fascists and Communists. Democracies in France and most of Western Europe were born from Anglo-American liberation; European resistance to German occupation was an utter failure. Panama, Granada, Serbia, and Afghanistan would have had no chance of a future without the intervention of American troops. All of Eastern Europe is free today only because of American deterrence and decades of military opposition to Communism. Very rarely in the modern age do democratic reforms emerge spontaneously and indigenously (ask the North Koreans, Cubans, or North Vietnamese). Tragically, positive change almost always appears after a war in which authoritarians lose or are discredited (Argentina or Greece), bow to economic or cultural coercion (South Africa), or are forced to hold elections (Nicaragua).”

“The Palestinians will, in fact, get their de facto state, though one that may be now cut off entirely from Israeli commerce and cultural intercourse. This is an apparently terrifying thought: Palestinian men can no longer blow up Jews on Monday, seek dialysis from them on Tuesday, get an Israeli paycheck on Wednesday, demonstrate to CNN cameras about the injustice of it all on Thursday ‘ and then go back to tunneling under Gaza and three-hour, all-male, conspiracy-mongering sessions in coffee-houses on Friday. Beware of getting what you bomb for.”

“Appeasement of (Islamic) fundamentalists is not appreciated as magnanimity, but ridiculed as weakness ‘ and, in fact, encourages further killing.”

“If there is any similarity between Vietnam and the current war, it is not 1963, when his late brother convinced us to commit troops to stop Communist aggression. A better year for comparison is 1974, when Kennedy and other senators began to cut off funding for air support promised to enforce the Paris peace accords, resulting in the collapse of South Vietnam, mass murder in Southeast Asia, and over a million boat people, with more still sent to the Communist reeducation camps.”

“If (Europe) spends about a fourth as much on defense as the United States, such relative budgetary comparisons are still a misleading barometer of European military weakness. The United States Marine Corps is larger than any single continental European army. One of America’s twelve carrier groups is far more potent than all of Europe’s naval forces combined. When we examine comparative research and development, field experience, recent combat history, army organization, and public attitude, the military gap only widens.”

“The fact is, beneath the hype, Iraqis will soon appreciate American help and idealism far more than French perfidy. It is never wrong to be on the side of freedom ‘ never.”

“Sorry, a few thousand troops in Afghanistan doesn’t cut it from a continent with a larger population than that of the United States, which in turn does the dirty work to ensure Europe’s security. Unilateral, multilateral, U.N., no U.N., Balkans, Iraq ‘ it doesn’t matter: The Europeans are never going to risk lives and treasure for much of anything. The predictable NATO rule: The stationing of troops is to be determined in direct proportion to the absence of both need and danger.”

“The United States is waking up from a serious malady. Once upon a time state-supported terrorism was seen as a criminal problem, not war, requiring yellow police tape, not GPS bombs. Afghanistan was turned into an anti-American terrorist base. Saddam Hussein required never-ending patrols to “box” him in. Osama bin Laden was too “hot” to be apprehended when offered up by potential captors. Pakistan and North Korea went nuclear ‘ the greatest failure of many of the Clinton administration. Iran and Libya bought arsenals with impunity. Yasser Arafat systematically destroyed twenty years of economic progress on the West Bank and violated every accord he signed. Anti-Americanism grew in Europe without rejoinder or consequences. Saudi Arabia expected protection while our own female soldiers on patrol there hid their faces and arms ‘ and promised not to drive. Terrorist funds flowed freely throughout the globe, as anti-Semitism and Islamicist-inspired hatred of Israel became the new pillar of trendy left-wing thought. All that has at least been recognized, checked, and is well on the way to being stopped.”

“Despite the current vogue of questionable and therapeutic ideas like “zero tolerance” and “moral equivalence” that punish all who use force ‘ whether in kindergarten or in the Middle East ‘ striking first is a morally neutral concept. It takes on its ethical character from the landscape in which it takes place ‘ the Israelis bombing the Iraqi reactor to avoid being blackmailed by a soon-to-be nuclear Saddam Hussein, or the French going into the Ivory Coast last year, despite the fact that that chaotic country posed no immediate danger to Paris. The thing to keep in mind is that the real aggressor, by his past acts, has already invited war and will do so again ‘ should he be allowed to choose his own time and place of assault.”

“We were fooled by Japan in 1941 and had no idea that its enormous fleet was a few hundred miles off Hawaii. The Soviet absorption of Eastern Europe caught utopians off guard in 1945-6. Everyone underestimated Mao’s resilience (“Who lost China?”). MacArthur’s “infiltrators” across the Yalu River turned out to be several Chinese armies. We know only now that the Soviets cheated on several major arms agreements ‘ and had WMD arsenals far beyond what was disclosed. Its nuclear accidents and WMD catastrophes are still clouded in mysteries. Remember the Missile Gap of the 1960 election that helped to elect John Kennedy? Yet Cuba, we now learn, had more ready nukes than even Curtis LeMay imagined. The British surely had no warning about the Falklands invasion. An American ambassador gave the wrong message to Saddam Hussein in summer 1990, precisely because the CIA had no clue that Saddam Hussein was gearing up to invade Kuwait. Libya and Iran were further along with their nuclear programs than the CIA dared to imagine. Ditto North Korea. Who knew that Pakistan has been running a nuclear clearinghouse? The point is not to excuse faulty intelligence, but rather to understand that knowing exactly what the enemy is up to is difficult and yet almost never acknowledged to be so.”

“Apart from the model of our forefathers who crushed and then lifted up the Germans and Japanese, we could find no better guide in this war than William Tecumseh Sherman and Abraham Lincoln ‘ in that order. The former would remind us that our enemies traffic in pride and thus first must be disabused of it through defeat and humiliation. The latter (who turned Sherman and Grant lose) would maintain that we are a forgiving sort, who prefer restored rather than beaten people as our friends.”

“Thirty years ago, during the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, most of the Europeans of the NATO alliance refused over-flight rights to the United States. We had only hours in which to aid Israel from a multifaceted surprise attack and were desperately ferrying tons of supplies to save it from literal extinction. In contrast, many of these same allies allowed the Soviet Union ‘ the supposed common enemy from which thousands of Americans were based in Europe to protect Europeans ‘ to fly over NATO airspace to ensure the Syrians sufficient material to launch and sustain their surprise attack on the Golan. American “unilateralism” in those days meant acting alone not to let Israel perish. Had we gone “multilateral” and listened to our NATO allies ‘ Germany, France, Greece, and Turkey all prohibited American planes from flying supplies in their space in transit to Tel-Aviv ‘ there would be no Israel today at all.”

“Instead, the elite Westerner talks about ‘occupied lands’ from which Israel has been attacked four times in the last 60 years ‘ in a manner that Germans do not talk about an occupied West they coughed up to France or an occupied East annexed by Poland. Russia lectures about Jenin, but rarely its grab of Japanese islands. Turkey is worried about the West Bank, but not its swallowing much of Cyprus. China weighs in about Palestinian sovereignty but not the entire culture of Tibet; some British aristocrats bemoan Sharon’s supposed land grab, but not Gibraltar. All these foreign territories that were acquired through blood and iron and held on to by reasons of ‘national security’ are somehow different matters when Jews are not involved.”

“There are plenty of third-world revolutionaries today, but very few who wave the hammer and sickle. Again, it is not that mankind ceased being na’ve or duped, and woke up to the absurdities of Marxism and the mass murder that typically followed its implementation. Rather, very few wished to be associated with a losing ideology that offered no arms, patrons, or money ‘ but a lot of misery, humiliation, and ridicule. This war against the Islamofascists and autocrats of the Middle East is no different.”

“The Arab street knows full well that we give billions to Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinians ‘ and are probably baffled that we don’t cut it out. They also know we have just as frequently fought Christians on their behalf as Muslims; they know ‘ if their voting feet tell them anything ‘ that no place is more tolerant of their religion or more open to immigration than the United States. Yes, (Radical) Islamists all know that opening a mosque in Detroit is one thing, and opening a church in Saudi Arabia is quite another. Hitler wasn’t interested in Wilson’s 14 Points or how nicely Germans lived in the U.S. ‘ he cared only that we “cowboys” would not or could not stop what he was up to.”

You can read the best Victor Davis Hanson quotes of 2003: here: and VDH’s National Review column by clicking: here.

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