The Study of Military History

The topic as been purged from US university curricula at our peril.
From remarks by Lewis E. Lehrmanat the New-York Historical Society on March 23, when the $50,000 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History was awarded to Alexander Watson’s “Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I” (Basic Books, 2014):

The study of military history has in fact been purged from many of the faculties and curriculums of the universities of the Western world. How did this happen? Perhaps it is explicable by some form of political correctness; or, parochial specialization; or, the armchair unrealism of the faculty lounge; even ivory tower snobbery—among other related social diseases. . . .

From the emergence of Homo sapiens in northeast Africa about 75,000 years ago, the DNA historians and population geneticists now teach us that there have been only three perennial institutions of human society—War, Trade, and Religion. Mister Churchill, long ago, reminded us that few of the major unresolved issues arising between nations, have been settled by little else than war—and by its consequences in victory or defeat. None has made the point so well as President Lincoln in his last war message to Congress of December 6, 1864. Between the rebels and the Union the unresolved issue “is distinct, simple, and inflexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war, and decided by victory.” This is what President Lincoln said. And this is what he meant.

In a word, the world we inhabit is inscrutable without military history in its deepest and largest understanding.


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