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Wednesday night, the Hoover Institution put on the best show in town with a preview of the new film The Price of Peace from Free to Choose Media and a discussion between our own Peter Robinson and Victor Davis Hanson. While I can’t do justice to the event here, hopefully, this report gives everyone some incentive to see the film, get to the next event in person, or even catch an empty U-haul truck on its return and move to Palo Alto where I will buy you a beer. I’ll also apologize to all involved for any mistakes in my recollection of the events.
The film discusses “the lesson of deterrence,” a point of critical interest to strategists in all fields:
The lesson of deterrence is one which is hard-learned time and time again. In this one-hour program, the insights of military historian and National Review columnist Victor Davis Hanson guide our investigation of the United States’ successful deterrence of enemy aggression in the past and the efforts to sustain it in an era of rogue nations and nuclear proliferation.
We’re told that the film is coming to PBS, and it features an all-star team of faculty from Hoover/Stanford and other fine institutions around the world. The preview was outstanding, so I look forward to the full movie. Peter followed with an “Uncommon Knowledge”-like interview of Victor on subjects ranging from foreign policy engagement with China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea to unruly neighbors in Selma, CA (similar to North Korean dictators).
When confronted with Peter’s question as to whether our American path parallels that of the Roman Republic and Empire as has been so often suggested, Victor noted that we may now be in an American Renaissance rather on a trajectory of decline. He told the audience that he is an optimist.
A question from the crowd inquired as to how to balance the nation’s interests and its principles in foreign affairs, pointing out that a recent lecture here by Secretary of State Tillerson mentioned that we must act at the intersection of the two.Victor pointed out that this question is the central issue in US foreign policy, and went on to suggest that we can sometimes act on values alone but if we do we must be committed to winning. He pointed out that supporting the Kurds today may be such a situation.
Victor also stated that our team of Pompeo, Mattis, McMaster, and Haley is “a great team.” The line drawing most applause, however, may have been Victor’s statement that he “doesn’t listen to the media.” Peter pointed out that “if we’ve learned nothing else, it’s to be nice to Victor’s dogs.”