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Video: Dr. John David Lewis on His Book Nothing Less Than Victory

Dr. John David Lewis talks about his book Nothing Less Than Victory.

Dr. Lewis is a visiting associate professor in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Duke University. He holds a PhD in classics from the University of Cambridge, has taught at the University of London. He has been a senior research scholar in history and classics at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University, and a fellow of the Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship. He has published in journals such as Journal of Business Ethics, Social Philosophy and Policy, Polis, Dike, and Bryn Mawr Classical Review, and has lectured on classics, military history, and contemporary political issues at numerous universities and for private groups. His research interests are in ancient Greek and Roman thought, military history, and their connections to the modern day. His books are Solon the Thinker: Political Thought in Archaic Athens (Duckworth, 2006), Early Greek Lawgivers (Bristol Classical Press, August, 2007), and Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton, 2010). His website is www.JohnDavidLewis.com.

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Scott Holleran Interview with John David Lewis

From Scott Holleran’s blog:

The goal of a war is to defeat an enemy’s will to fight. So argues the author of Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton University Press, 2010), who makes the case that a strong military offense can win a war and establish lasting peace while playing defense often leads to destruction. This study of six major wars, from the Second Punic War to World War 2, by historian John David Lewis, contrasts the use of overwhelming force, such as the Greek victory over Xerxes’ army and navy, with a lack of reason, purpose, and commitment to fight. On the eve of the 10th year since the worst attack in American history, I turned to my friend John Lewis, a visiting associate professor of philosophy, politics, and economics at Duke University and teacher at Objectivist Conferences (OCON), to discuss today’s war from an historical perspective. Dr. Lewis is the author of Solon the Thinker: Political Thought in Archaic Athens and Early Greek Lawgivers.

Scott Holleran: What is the theme of Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History?

John David Lewis: That wars are driven and caused by people’s decisions to fight and that those decisions are based on the ideas they hold. This has enormous implications for what victory means, because it means discrediting the ideas we’re trying to defeat. For example, one could never explain Germany’s massive attacks [against other countries] or Japan’s massive attack on America, in which they launched into intercontinental warfare, without understanding the ideals that they held. The theme of Nothing Less Than Victory is that one must defeat the enemy by discrediting his ideas.

Scott Holleran: How was Nothing Less Than Victory suggested by your students?

John David Lewis: I was teaching a class on ancient and modern warfare and it became clear that a comparative history would be useful. My students posed good questions.

Scott Holleran: While writing about the rise of the Nazis, did The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America by Leonard Peikoff help your understanding?

John David Lewis: Yes, because it’s the only book I know of that places philosophical ideas as the lesson of history. It’s not only an explanation of Nazi Germany in terms of ideas but, much more deeply and widely, it demonstrates how ideas move history.

Scott Holleran: The current administration supports military involvements in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as other underreported incursions in nations such as Yemen and Pakistan, with something other than, or less than, a purpose let alone a victory. The Oxford English Dictionary defines warmonger as “a person who seeks to bring about or promote war.” As a commander-in-chief who supports and initiates militarism with no purpose or end, is President Obama a warmonger?

John David Lewis: I think he’s incompetent but I don’t think Obama is a warmonger. He inherited those wars but he’s simply unable to bring those wars… [Read the rest at Scott Holleran's blog.]

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Remembering Elian Gonzalez

Remembering Elian Gonzalez | Scott Holleran | 22 April 2003
I met Elian Gonzalez during a visit to the Miami house which had become the flashpoint for a profound philosophical conflict–days before his pre-dawn seizure on Saturday, April 22, 2000.

A Sin to Deport Elián | Leonard Peikoff | 20 January 2000
In the name not of Cuban nationalism, but of Americanism in its original and deepest philosophical meaning, Elián Gonzalez must be allowed to remain here. Let this poor boy have a chance to live a human life. If “compassion” is one of our politicians’ chief values, as they keep telling us, can’t they show him any of it?

The Rights of Elián Gonzales |Peter Schwartz | 14 January 2000
Is communism physically harmful to human life? That should be the fundamental question in the Elián Gonzalez case.

The Life of Six Year Old Elián Gonzales is in Bill Clinton’s hands |Mark Da Cunha | 13 January 2000
The fundamental issue is not about “Florida’s large and politically powerful anti-Castro Cuban community” versus the “bond between parent and child” as one commentator insinuated (USA Today 7 Jan 2000). There is something far more important than the “parental bond” between Elián’s father and “the dignity of the Cuban people” as Elián’s father referred to his son in a Castro sponsored rally (observe that even Elián’s father admits that his son is first and foremost a political tool). That something is Elián’s inalienable right to his own life — in Cuba that inalienable right does not legally exist.

Speech on Elián Gonzalez in Washington, D.C., Part 1 | Edwin Locke | 5 May 2000
On July 4, 1776 America’s Founding Fathers identified the fundamental moral principle on which our country was based. This principle was that every individual possessed the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Founding Fathers also identified the proper role of government; it was to protect individual rights — specifically, to protect individuals from the initiation of force by other people, including the government itself.

Speech on Elián Gonzalez in Washington, D.C., Part 2 |Edwin Locke | 8 May 2000
The difference between Cuba and America is not just a matter of lifestyle, as some have claimed. It is not a difference like that between Republicans and Democrats.

Speech on Elián Gonzalez in Washington, D.C., Part 3 |Edwin Locke | 10 May 2000
Let us address a deeper question: why do Clinton and Reno want Elián back in Cuba?

Why Was Elian Gonzalez Less Worthy Than Giselle Cordova? | Scott Holleran | 12 July 2001
Giselle’s father, Dr. Leonel Cordova, defected to the United States last year after escaping from a Cuban medical mission in Africa. Tragically, on June 17, 4-year-old Giselle’s mother was killed in a motorcycle crash in Cuba. Like Elian Gonzalez, Giselle’s father demanded that his child be sent to live with him. But, unlike Elian in America, Giselle was at the mercy of a dictator. Castro refused to release the girl.

A Firsthand Account Of Child Abuse, Castro Style | Armando Valladares | 16 May 2000
I was in solitary confinement in Fidel Castro’s tropical gulag — where I spent 22 years for refusing to pledge allegiance to the Communist regime — when I heard a child’s voice whimpering. “Get me out of here! Get me out of here! I want to see my mommy!” I thought my senses were failing me. I could not believe that they had imprisoned a child in those dungeons.

Elián: Supreme Court Upholds Slavery Over Freedom | Chris Wolski | 1 July 2000
Wednesday’s decision by Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, refusing to hear an appeal that would have kept Elián Gonzalez in the United States, should have every American hanging their head in shame.

Elian Gonzalez: The Day America Lost its Soul | Nicholas Provenzo | 24 April 2005
Life under a communist dictatorship is abuse and in the Elian Gonzalez case, our government erred in falling to acknowledge it.

“Life” in Cuba for Elián | Jose Alvarino | 3 June 2000
I’d like to share some thoughts regarding life in Communist Cuba, important to know and understand prior to formulating an opinion on the Elián Gonzalez case, or life in the Island.

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Salsman: The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again

Richard Salsman holds nothing back in his gripping editorial The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again over at Forbes:

Evidence grows with each passing week that in Libya the U.S. government and its allies are providing air cover and arms directly to its avowed enemies–including thugs from al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and Taliban–those who’ve devoted the past decade to slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Worse, top U.S. and U.K. officials now acknowledge this and condone it.

[...] Who exactly are the “rebels” and why are the U.S. and its allies so eager to help them? In Iran in early 1979 the Carter administration couldn’t care less about the philosophy or aims of the Ayatollah Khomeini, but only that the pro-Western Shah of Iran be deposed; by March a “referendum” established an Islamic republic; by April scores of prominent Iranians were executed; by December the ruling mullahs declared Khomeini to be absolute ruler for life. Ever since, Iran has been a major sponsor of world-wide terrorism.

In Afghanistan in the 1980s the Reagan administration and a CIA (then led by today’s Pentagon chief, Robert Gates) helped finance and train al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in their fight against the invading Soviets (who withdrew in 1989). The U.S. also backed Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran, which failed, yet emboldened Saddam Hussein, and the U.S. fought him later. In the 1990s Afghanistan became a haven for terrorism, which led to the devastation of Sept. 11. In the decade since the U.S. has spent thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars ensuring “regime change” in Iraq and Afghanistan, which now have Islamic constitutions and are far closer in theocracy and practice to Iran than ever before.

[...] Rebellion is applauded for its own sake. Western cheerleaders claim anything is better than the status quo. Hope! Change! Democracy! The voice of the People is the voice of … Allah! The grim facts become clearer after the dust settles and new leaders and rules take irreversible hold–more fundamentally Islamic than before, closer to Iran than before, more anti-American than before–with the help of the U.S. government.

Thanks solely to the U.S., Iraq’s constitution ensures a “democratic, federal, representative, parliamentary republic” where “Islam is the state religion and a basic foundation for the country’s laws” and “no law may contradict the established provisions of Islam.” Is this why Americans must go to war in the Middle East? The official name of Afghanistan, where the U.S. has fought for a decade, like the failed Soviets, and Obama has boosted U.S. troops to 130,000, is” “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” Is this why Americans must fight in the region? [The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again - Richard M. Salsman - The Capitalist - Forbes]

Read the rest here.

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Audio Lecture: The Morality of Exchange in the Ancient World

On Friday, January 12, 2011, Dr. John Lewis — at the invitation of Professor Michael Munger and the support of the Thomas W. Smith Foundation — gave a lecture for the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Duke University: “The Morality of Exchange in the Ancient World.”

You can listen to this lecture online here: http://michaelmunger.com/Lewis1-21-11.mp3

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