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Monday, September 20, 2021

Victor Davis Hanson’s Blinkered View of Western Warfare

“This book attempts to explain why that is all so, why Westerners have been so adept at using their civilization to kill others—at warring so brutally, so often without being killed.” ~ Victor Davis Hanson in Carnage and Culture. This is such a sadistic sentence. Only a sadist would brag about the lands that his civilization had invaded, the brutal tactics that they used to subjugate the natives, and the ease with which they slaughtered the natives.

Why did a disproportionate amount of territory, wealth, and power go to the West during the Age of Imperialism? The irony is that Hanson glorifies invasion and carnage (as long as the West is doing it) while professing a religious belief in liberty, democracy, and culture. If the Western side is committing the invasion and carnage, then people like Hanson will brag about it and justify it as the progress of “liberty, democracy, and good culture.”

To make the case that Western military power is the best, Hanson describes nine battles: Salamis (480 BC); Gaugamela (331 BC); Cannae (216 BC); Poitiers (732); Tenochtitlan (1521); Lepanto (1571); Rorke’s Drift (1879); Midway (1942); and Tet (1968). He presents only the Western account on these battles and ignores the account of the non-Western side. It is disconcerting to read the false claims that he makes to glorify his side, and the innuendoes, outright lies, and biased analysis that he uses to tarnish the record of the non-Western side.

Using one-sided analysis of just nine battles to prove that the “West is the best” is such a naive approach. Anyone with knowledge of history can quickly develop a counter-list of battles and do his own one-sided analysis of these battles to prove that some other civilization is the best. Perhaps I should write a book on the following twelve battles to prove that the Western armies fail to make headway against determined non-Western armies:

1. Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC): Persians versus Athenians. The Persians managed to evict 7000 well-entrenched Athenians in just four days. After that their way to Athens was wide open.

2. Athenian War in Egypt (460 BC): Egyptians (backed by Persians) versus Athenians. The Egyptians and Persians defeated the Athenians. The Athenians lost most of the army and navy that they had sent to invade Egypt.

3. Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BC): Carthaginians versus Romans. The Carthaginians wiped out an entire Roman Army numbering of around 25000 soldiers. The Romans were also defeated at the Battle of the Trebia (218 BC), and in the Battle of Cannae (216 BC). 

4. Battle of Carrhae (53 BC): Parthians versus Romans. The Parthian army of just 10,000 soldiers wiped out a Roman army of 50,000 soldiers led by the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus. Crassus and his son were among those who were killed.

5. Battle of Adrianople (378 AD): Goths versus Romans. An army of 20,000 soldiers led by Roman Emperor Valens was destroyed by a Gothic army of 15,000 soldiers. Valens was killed.

6.Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (451 AD): Huns versus Romans. The Roman army consisting of Visigoths and the Alans could not defeat the Hun army led by Attila. The battle ended in a draw.

7. Battle of Guadalete (711 AD): Arabs versus Spanish. The Umayyad Caliphate’s army of 2000 Arab soldiers conquered a large part of Spain after defeating the army of the Visigothic King. The Islamic movements would rule Spain till 1492.

8. Battle of Manzikert: (1071 AD): Seljuk Turks versus Romans. The army led by Byzantine Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes was defeated by the Seljuk Turks. Diogenes was captured.

9. Battle of Hattin (1187 AD): Saladin versus Crusaders. The Islamic army of Saladin defeated the crusader army and took control of Palestine, including the city of Jerusalem.

10. Battle of Mansurah (1249 AD): Mamluks versus Crusaders. The crusader army led by Louis IX of France was defeated by Egypt's Mamluk army. Louis IX and most of his soldiers were captured. They had to pay a ransom for their release.

11. Battle of Constantinople (1453 AD): Ottomans versus Romans. The Ottomans conquered the last bastion of the Byzantine Empire after a fifty-three day siege.

12. The Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922): Turks versus Greeks. Despite the fact that the Ottomans lost the First World War, the Turks decisively defeated the Greek forces and imposed their sovereignty over Anatolia, Istanbul, and Eastern Thrace. They created the nation of Turkey.

There are other battles in which Western armies have been defeated by non-Western armies. After 1950, the USA has failed to win a decisive victory in most battles. The USA lost in Vietnam and Cambodia. It got bogged down in South Korea and the Middle Eastern conflicts. Its interventions in South America and Africa have failed. Recently, the USA had to retreat from Afghanistan.

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