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Right Way to Farm the Classics (A profile of Victor Davis Hanson)
The Los Angeles Times ^ | February 25, 2004 | Rone Tempest

Posted on 02/25/2004 2:30:05 PM PST by quidnunc

Victor Hanson, a fruit grower and expert on ancient Greek warfare, has won fans in the Bush White House by likening the U.S. to Athens.

Fresno – It was the first day of class in Victor Davis Hanson's final course at Cal State Fresno, where he has taught classical history, Greek and Latin for two decades.

The subject, Hanson told the 40 undergraduates, was the 431-404 BC Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. "It's a good time to talk about a war, because we are in a war," he said.

For Hanson, ancient reports on the Peloponnesian War are just as relevant today as recent Fox network newscasts on a suicide bombing of a Baghdad hotel. Both, Hanson believes, portray a do-or-die "referendum" on clashing cultures: the democratic republicanism of Athens versus the martial oligarchy of Sparta; the secular, "consensual" democracy of the West versus the theocratic dictatorship of militant Islam.

Hanson's moral parallels between the ancient Greeks' fight for democracy and our own struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq have endeared him to the Bush administration and changed his life.

Hanson, 50, recently signed a contract with Random House for a book on the Peloponnesian War, to be titled "A War Like No Other." His $500,000 writing advance is unprecedented for a work of classical scholarship and more than he received for his previous 14 books combined. Hanson will leave Cal State Fresno next summer as one of America's leading conservative writers, most prominently showcased in his weekly online column in the like-minded National Review.

In April, amid the early stages of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Hanson used his column to hail the American advance on Baghdad as "unprecedented in its speed and daring" and predicted that its "logistics will be studied for decades." Vice President Dick Cheney enthusiastically quoted Hanson in a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Hanson's absolute, unflinching belief in the cause and its ultimate success made him a favorite of Cheney, who urges Hanson's books on his staff and on reporters traveling with him for foreign trips.

It's not hard to understand how Hanson has become an intellectual bulwark of administration foreign policy, given his conviction that nothing less than the future of Western civilization depends on our cleareyed recognition of the menace posed by militant Islamic forces.

"We haven't had enemies this antithetical to the United States in a long, long time," Hanson said several days later over coffee in San Francisco, where he was a guest speaker at the Commonwealth Club. "Take your pick of the Western agenda. Women's rights? They want to go back to the Dark Ages. Homosexual rights? They want to kill them. Democracy? They don't believe in it. Religious tolerance? You're dead if you're not a Muslim. Technology? They don't like it."

Pentagon officials who like Hanson's broad grasp of history vie for his time. On a recent afternoon in Fresno, an Air Force colonel with the Defense Intelligence Agency huddled with Hanson for several hours in the historian's small office, which is decorated with a marble bust of Julius Caesar and a huge map, in German, of ancient Greece.

-snip-

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: vdh; victordavishanson

1 posted on 02/25/2004 2:30:05 PM PST by quidnunc
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To: quidnunc
Strange article - the author is evidently unacquainted until recently with Hanson's work. He should lurk at FR more often.
2 posted on 02/25/2004 2:33:38 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: Billthedrill
Strange that the LA Times would print such a profile.
3 posted on 02/25/2004 2:45:43 PM PST by maica (World Peace starts with W)
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To: quidnunc
It's great that VDH is getting the recognition he richly deserves, but...didn't Athens lose? Do we really want to focus on a conflict where an admittedly imperfect democracy is destroyed by a totally militarized society?

Now that I think about it, yes we do! It could be a useful warning for us, at least the conservatives among us. (The liberals are a lost cause as far as reason and logic are concerned).
4 posted on 02/25/2004 11:18:59 PM PST by DarthMaulrulesok (Islam is in a clash of civilizations with the West whether we like it or not.)
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To: quidnunc; seamole; Lando Lincoln; .cnI redruM; yonif; SJackson; dennisw; monkeyshine; Alouette; ...
We often ask around here a question if VDH has an ear in the Bush Administration. The article answers: YES!!

Victor Davis Hanson moral clarity huge BUMP  [please freepmail me if you want or don't want to be pinged to Victor Davis Hanson articles]

If you want to bookmark his articles discussed at FR: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/k-victordavishanson/browse

His NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp

5 posted on 02/26/2004 12:22:55 PM PST by Tolik
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EXCERPTS: [see Benador Associates website, at http://www.benadorassociates.com/article/2234]  We often ask around here a question if VDH has an ear in the Bush Administration. The article answers: YES!!

Hanson's moral parallels between the ancient Greeks' fight for democracy and our own struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq have endeared him to the Bush administration and changed his life.

....In April, amid the early stages of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Hanson used his column to hail the American advance on Baghdad as "unprecedented in its speed and daring" and predicted that its "logistics will be studied for decades." Vice President Dick Cheney enthusiastically quoted Hanson in a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

.....Hanson's absolute, unflinching belief in the cause and its ultimate success made him a favorite of Cheney, who urges Hanson's books on his staff and on reporters traveling with him for foreign trips.

"We haven't had enemies this antithetical to the United States in a long, long time," Hanson said several days later over coffee in San Francisco, where he was a guest speaker at the Commonwealth Club. "Take your pick of the Western agenda. Women's rights? They want to go back to the Dark Ages. Homosexual rights? They want to kill them. Democracy? They don't believe in it. Religious tolerance? You're dead if you're not a Muslim. Technology? They don't like it."

Pentagon officials who like Hanson's broad grasp of history vie for his time. On a recent afternoon in Fresno, an Air Force colonel with the Defense Intelligence Agency huddled with Hanson for several hours in the historian's small office, which is decorated with a marble bust of Julius Caesar and a huge map, in German, of ancient Greece.

....Hanson is also a regular consultant to the influential Pentagon Office of Net Assessment, which has emerged as a key administration intelligence gathering and planning agency under Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and his senior deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz. This week, Hanson was back in Washington to speak before the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution, the conservative Palo Alto think tank where Hanson is a resident fellow. His theme, "This War Is Not New," was the same as that of the Cal State Fresno class. Sharing the podium were Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Karl Rove, President Bush's main political advisor.

It is an enviable position for someone who never served in the military or trained in the science or tactics of warfare. Hanson's influence on the administration probably comes more in setting a tone or providing a historical justification for tough decisions than it does in the details of policy.

"Victor Hanson is a brilliant classicist with a real emotional insight into antiquity," said Stephen Peter Rosen, director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, who has attended Office of Net Assessment sessions at the Pentagon with Hanson.

"Hanson has definitely carved out a niche," said William M. Arkin, a military analyst who writes often for the Los Angeles Times opinion pages. "In an era where many in the Pentagon think that the sword of Damocles is being held over our heads, here's a guy who can actually tell you who Damocles was."

.......Hanson first surfaced as a commentator on current events during a C-SPAN interview, and soon after launched his weekly column for the National Review, which quickly attracted the Bush administration's attention.

...."In the list of 10 reasons to go to Iraq," Hanson said, "I think WMD was about the 10th. I've told the administration that they made a mistake placing too much emphasis on it."

At a White House Christmas gathering, Bush approached him, asking, "How'm I doing?" Before the flustered Hanson could fully respond, he said, the president had assured him, "I'm not finished yet," and walked on to other guests.

....In Hanson's opinion, expressed in his recent military history "Ripples of Battle," Bush, despite intellectual shortcomings ("he lacked his predecessor's encyclopedic knowledge of names, places and dates"), was the right leader at the right time in responding to Sept. 11.

"The terrorist war proved that he [Bush], like the Greek iambic poet Archilochus' hedgehog," Hanson wrote, "knew one thing, but a big one: how to galvanize his people and lead them into battle against an evil enemy in the hour of his country's great peril."

Hanson's new celebrity has taken him places he never dreamed of going, from the flight deck of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to a corner table at New York's trendy Alain Ducasse Restaurant, where he was recently treated to a $1,000 dinner by his literary agents.

 ...Hanson's courses are popular with students. But fellow professors at Cal State Fresno have been bruised by Hanson's uncompromising attacks on modern education, particularly ethnic and gender studies programs that Hanson terms "therapeutic curriculum" and feels should be ejected from the university.

"Being on the wrong side of Victor Hanson is not somewhere you want to be," said Western Washington University English professor Scott Stevens, who spent six years at Cal State Fresno and says Hanson drove him away. "Everyone talks about the power of the left on campus, but Hanson led a powerful clique of antifeminist traditionalists who would really like to see the university return to some pre-'60s stage."

..."In times of war, I find the wisdom of farmers to be greater than all the fancy academics I ever met. A farmer can sit on his Massey Ferguson tractor and say, 'Osama bin Laden is no damn good.' "


6 posted on 02/26/2004 12:23:24 PM PST by Tolik
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To: trajanus_red; AnnaZ
ping!
7 posted on 02/26/2004 12:25:39 PM PST by diotima
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To: Tolik
...Hanson led a powerful clique of antifeminist traditionalists who would really like to see the university return to some pre-'60s stage."

Implying, of course, that it shouldn't so return.

8 posted on 02/26/2004 12:29:58 PM PST by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: quidnunc
At a White House Christmas gathering, Bush approached him, asking, "How'm I doing?" Before the flustered Hanson could fully respond, he said, the president had assured him, "I'm not finished yet," and walked on to other guests. This pleased Hanson, whose historical heroes are decisive men ranging from the Athenian leader Pericles to Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, whose tactical brilliance at the Battle of Shiloh and brutal "March to the Sea" helped break the back of the Confederacy.

W, you da man!

9 posted on 02/26/2004 1:10:26 PM PST by metesky ("Brethren, leave us go amongst them." Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond- The Searchers)
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To: Molly Pitcher
VDH ping..
10 posted on 02/26/2004 1:12:10 PM PST by Dog (Bin Laden your account to America is past due......time to pay up.)
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To: quidnunc
BTTT
11 posted on 02/26/2004 2:35:16 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: quidnunc
BTTT
12 posted on 02/26/2004 2:35:18 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem
And tomorrow is his regular column in National Review, A twofer, week
13 posted on 02/26/2004 5:49:02 PM PST by dts32041 ( "Repeal the 16th and 17th amendments.")
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To: maica
Not surprising at all.

I read this with my morning coffee, and it's a hit piece. A subtle one, but a hit piece none the less.

The author gets a few gibes in at the President, and manages to take some jabs at VDH -- all under the guise of quotes from other sources.

If you can stand it, go read the whole thing. I may be all wet, but that's the way it read to me.
14 posted on 02/26/2004 8:02:40 PM PST by absalom01
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To: Heuristic Hiker
History ping
15 posted on 02/26/2004 8:21:20 PM PST by Utah Girl
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To: absalom01
I think the writer had no positive feeling for anyone who could put himself in the position of advisor to President Bush. Given the writer's prejudice against conservatism, the write-up of VDH was very informative.
16 posted on 02/26/2004 9:03:29 PM PST by maica (World Peace starts with W)
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To: Tolik
This article is designed to put a target on the back of a man I respect as much as anyone in America, but I am very happy for him as he's earned it!
17 posted on 02/26/2004 9:46:00 PM PST by Kryptonite
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To: Tolik
Thanks for the ping!
18 posted on 02/27/2004 2:23:42 AM PST by lainde (Heads up...We're coming and we've got tongue blades!!)
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To: quidnunc; All
Hanson first surfaced as a commentator on current events during a C-SPAN interview, and soon after launched his weekly column for the National Review, which quickly attracted the Bush administration's attention.

Mark your calendar! 07Mar04, 12:00 - 3:00 P.M. Eastern Time

In Depth: Victor Davis Hanson Live on C-SPAN2's BookTV

Description: Victor Davis Hanson is the guest on Book TV's March 7 In Depth program. Mr. Hanson is the author of numerous books, including "Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece," "The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece," "Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience," "The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization," "Fields Without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea," "Who Killed Homer? The Decline of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom," "The Soul of Battle," "The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer," "The Wars of the Ancient Greeks," Bonfire of the Humanities," Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power," "Ripples of Battle: Moments that Changed the Centuries, "An Autumn of War," "Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, " and his new book,"Between War and Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq." Victor Davis Hanson teaches classics at California State University, Fresno, and is also the Coordinator of the University's Classical Studies Program. He is a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University and writes a biweekly column about contemporary culture and military history for National Review Online. Call in during the show or e-mail your questions for Mr. Hanson to booktv@c-span.org.

19 posted on 02/27/2004 2:46:28 AM PST by leadpenny (What happens if you get scared half to death twice?)
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To: TaxRelief
PING
20 posted on 02/27/2004 7:17:11 AM PST by Huber (Individuality, liberty, property-this is man.These 3 gifts from God precede all legislation-Bastiat)
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To: quidnunc
BUMP!
21 posted on 04/02/2004 6:27:05 AM PST by BayouCoyote (In all, 561 Serb houses were set on fire and 35 Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries destroyed.)
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