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Victor Davis Hanson On The State Of The World Under Obama’s Foreign Policy, And Future Predictions

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HH: I know that many of you are complaining that the Hillsdale hour is on hiatus. Well, Dr. Larry Arnn and his colleagues at Hillsdale need a little break as well, and so it will resume shortly. But I thought into the gap, I would summon up a man with a great deal of affection for and affiliation with Hillsdale College. That is the historian and classicist, Victor Davis Hanson, who joins me today from the Central Valley of California, Dr. Hanson, welcome back, it’s great to talk to you.

VDH: Great to talk to you, Hugh.

HH: And I prepared for this, I thought back that since 9/11, this show has periodically checked in with you as sort of someone who’s used to studying very long wars like the Peloponnesian War of 27years for your sense of where we are. And with IS ascendant in Western Iraq, and a genocide of sorts underway, and Australian 7 year olds holding up the heads of beheaded people, good time to check in with VDH on where he thinks we are in this war. So just open with that. Where are we in this war?

VDH: Well, I think after five years of the Obama administration’s sort of neo-isolationism, various people around the globe have thought there’s only two and a half years of it, and it’s time to take advantage. And that would mean that Putin has moved, he moved in Georgia, and then when we punished him, when we reset that punishment, he went into Crimea. Now he’s on the verge of war in Ukraine. China’s doing the same thing with Japan over disputed islands. South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan are sort of watching who’s going to win. If you look at Iran, I don’t think anybody believes this administration’s going to stop them from getting a bomb. Then we look at the so-called Arab Spring. We’ve got a Mogadishu on the Mediterranean in Libya, Benghazi, flip-flop-flip in Egypt, I don’t know what the red lines were in Syria, but we missed an opportunity to back, I think, the only pro-Western insurgency in the area, and we missed that. Now we’ve got ISIS as a result, taking out every single troop as if we would have got out of Iraq as if we would have pulled everybody out of Korea in 1955 and thought that it would have ever existed as it is today. I could go on with Afghanistan, but I think there’s a common thread there that bad actors or regional hegemonies feel that they can make adjustments either in borders or in relative power vis-à-vis other nations, or in their attitude toward the United States, and there won’t be consequences. So we’ve lost the sense of deterrence, and it’s going to be very painful, I think, and costly to get it back.

HH: Victor Hanson, what you just described is what I described as the four-sided front, which is Sunni Islamism, Shia extremism in Tehran, Russia and the PRC. I’ve never added, actually, North Korea in as a separate front. They’re sort of like having the mafia around, right? They’ll sell their evil goods to anyone. But I supposed they are an independent threat that’s got to…it’s not impossible to manage a four or a five front war. In fact, Churchill and FDR managed a 20 front war. It depends on what you count as a front, but this isn’t impossible to manage and to win, is it?

VDH: No. What causes war, I think, Hugh, is that when you lose deterrence, people who are actually weaker become stronger, or at least they think they’re stronger. And then wars are the remedy. It reminds everybody who was weak and who was strong all along after a tragic loss of manpower and capital and human lives. So right now, all of these countries that you and I have talked about are weaker than the United States. China’s weaker, Russia’s weaker, the Hezbollah-Iranian-Hamas axis is weaker. The Sunni extremists are weaker, but after five years, they don’t believe they’re weaker anymore. So they are doing things that are not wise, they’re stupid. They’re going to try to do things, and then they’re going to have to be corrected or deterred or stopped, and then we’ll have peace again. But it didn’t have to happen this way. In other words, if you have four or five, ten, fifteen fronts, they all quiet down when you send a signal that you won’t allow certain things to happen when weaker nations try to take on stronger ones, especially when they’re the aggressor. So I think that we’ve just sort of forgot who’s strong and who’s weak. And the United States is very, very strong, and China doesn’t believe that, and Russia doesn’t believe that, and Hamas doesn’t believe that, and Hezbollah doesn’t believe that, and Iran doesn’t believe that, and ISIS doesn’t believe that. So they’re doing things they otherwise wouldn’t do. And then we’re going to have a conflict, and then people are going to be taught who was strong and who was weak all along.

HH: At this very hour, we’re not certain of what’s going on, on the eastern border of Ukraine, but Ukraine says it used artillery to destroy a Russian convoy, which is as warlike an event or guns of August sort of event one can imagine, Victor Davis Hanson. So as Putin thinks through his response, are you saying that he looks at Martha’s Vineyard and calculates no matter what I do, that fellow’s not going to do anything?

VDH: I think he’s doing that. I don’t think he’s even, I think that’s a given. All he’s thinking about is, is it worth taking the entire Ukraine, or formally annexing Eastern Ukraine versus economic damage or problems with the imports and exports. And he’ll probably think it is value, it is worth it. So he’s not worried about what we’re going to do, because we’re not going to do anything. I think everybody accepts that. We’re not going to do anything with ISIS, and I think everybody accepts that. If Japan gets in a shooting war, I don’t think we’re going to do much for Japan.

HH: What?

VDH: Israel…

HH: Really?

VDH: Do you believe that we’re going to go and intervene on the side of Japan in a war with a nuclear China?

HH: We’ve got the George Washington in the straits between Korea and Japan routinely. I think it’s deployed as we speak. And I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t respond to an attack on Japanese islands. I mean Victor, I’m shocked.

VDH: I didn’t believe that we would sort of play games with Israeli munitions and military supplies.

HH: True.

VDH: We’re doing that, as you and I speak.

HH: True.

VDH: I didn’t think that this administration would come in office and suddenly sort of side with Erdogan and the Turkish Islamicism over Israel, and we did. I didn’t think they were going to stop sanctions that were just about to strangle the Iranian regime and then give them a green light. I didn’t think that we were going to get rid of Mubarak and then embrace the Muslim Brotherhood, and then flip back over with Sisi. I didn’t think they’d actually tell people that American personnel were killed because of a video maker and then tell the parents of the deceased it was a video maker when they knew that was untrue.

HH: Now they did use air strikes against IS, and if you read between the lines, our special forces are operating out of Kurdistan against IS to open the corridor and to kill some Islamist terrorists. So clearly, the President has felt obliged to do something. And that, Japan is a different order of Kurdistan of ally. I mean, it’s one of our big four.

VDH: I don’t know, but see, I think we’re in a revolutionary era right now.

HH: Wow.

VDH: I think that everything’s up for grabs. It’s sort of like right after World War II when we hadn’t really crafted the Cold War. I don’t think people in the world know what side the United States is on. I think if you go throughout the Middle East and say to people in Gaza or the Palestinian Authority area, you think the United States is on the side of Israel or on the Palestinians, I think if you ask people in Turkey, do you think that the United States is an ally of Greece and NATO, or do you think it’s more Erdogan, I don’t think people know. I don’t think people in South America, if you and I went down to Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Bolivia and we ask, and Argentina, and we said do you think the United States is on your side or Chile’s? And I don’t think they know.

HH: Wow. Now I began the show today with Karl Rove, and I asked him this question, which I’ll ask you to conclude our first of four segments. Is the President doing this by design, or because he is over his head to such a degree that he’s paralyzed?

VDH: I don’t think the two are antithetical. I think he just has the general idea that the United States unduly enjoys a global position of influence and power, and it would be better for everybody to dial it back a bit, and then he can sort of golf and go to Martha’s Vineyard and let things take the course and not have to do anything. So it’s sort of, if you don’t, if you’re not, it’s like rust. If you don’t scrape it off, or mushrooms growing on your lawn after a rain, if you don’t actively work for peace and deterrence and military strength, you don’t really have to do anything. If you just relax, then your agenda will come to fruition. And his agenda is to tell the world the United States has crafted a global order that he has serious doubts about its moral nature, its, the undue influence of the United States, and maybe these regional hegemonies have a valid reason to take over the vacuum of a departing United States.

HH: Wow, yesterday on this program, Joe Scarborough said President Obama is facing 30 years of memoirs that ridicule him. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s it, from insiders in the administration who will mock his capacity and his decision making. Do you agree with that, or…

VDH: I don’t think I do. I think that there’s a minority of the country, maybe 20-30% of the populace, who agrees with this, just like there was before World War II. And I think most of the media are, have no problem with his foreign policy. I think most of the left wing think tanks have no problem. I don’t think that the major Senatorial luminaries of the Democratic Party have any problem with it. I don’t think John Kerry has a problem with it.

HH: Even as the Yazidis get mowed down? I mean, America’s revulsion at the Australian jihadi seven year old with the head in his hand, doesn’t that tell us that they’re way off compass in the White House if they believe that that’s not a significant event?

VDH: Well, I think they just think that it’s been blown out of proportion by the right wing media, and that these things happen in the world. The United States can’t react to all of them, and the United States does what it can, but it usually makes things worse. Or they look at, they don’t think Saddam Hussein was a threat worth addressing. They don’t think that saving Kuwait in ’91 was worth it. In their way of thinking, the world would be better off if the United States just stayed out of it.

— – — – –

HH: Victor, I could spend a lot of time talking to you about Ferguson. I could spend a lot of time on any of the particular issues of the foreign policy we talked about in the first segment. But it really comes down to the central question on which I’m interested in your gut reaction. Are we spent as a civilization? Are we out of energy? And…or are we in a period of time when we’re waking up to what happens when we turn it over to people who wish that we were spent?

VDH: I think it’s the latter. I mean, if you look at any civilization and assess its strengths or weaknesses, there’s about five criteria. One is energy. We’ve never had a brighter energy future. You know that. Gas and oil, we’re going to be independent. We’re going to be the largest gas and oil producer in the world pretty soon. Nobody anticipated that a decade ago. If you look at agriculture, we, they were saying 15 years ago we would be importing food, a net food importer. We’re the biggest food exporter in the world. We’ve never made so much money from food. If you look at education, the Times educational supplement said out of the top 20 universities in the world, 17 of them were in the United States, five of them were in California, which had more university research excellence according to these surveys than any other single nation except the United States. If you look at demography and compare it to our competitors – China or Russia or Europe, we’re right about 2.0, 2.1. They’re all about 1.2, 1.3, 1.4. If you look at, I know we had the problem in Ferguson, but we’re not, to go to Europe today is to encounter a strike. And China can’t square the circle of capitalism and constitutional government. So there’s a lot of positives there. But I think that this particular administration feels that the United States has undue influence, and we really didn’t earn it. We’re sort of like the 1% that he so castigates at home. We’re the 1% abroad that didn’t build that influence. It was given to us by a series of isms and ologies. And we have to, he’s going to correct us and then take us down a notch, and then the world will revert to a more natural peaceful order. I think I’m fair in summing up his worldview.

HH: I think you are fair as well. My question is whether or not that worldview leads us inevitably towards a change of government, of structure, meaning that the Roman revolution went on for what, 80 or 90 years? You’re the historian.

VDH: Yeah.

HH: And it was a series of exaggerated responses to exaggerated…and it spiraled into eventually getting hit often enough that the organization crumbled, and it had to be replaced with a new…right now, I think IS is sitting around figuring out how to strike the United States. Do you agree with me, by the way, on that?

VDH: Yeah, I do. I think they think that they’re the logical follow-up to al Qaeda, and al Qaeda did something that the Nazis and the Kaiser and the imperial Japanese and Italian fascists and the Vietnamese and the Koreans never did. They burned 16 acres in downtown Manhattan. And they feel they’re much stronger than al Qaeda, and they benefit from the wisdom that accrued since 9/11, and they can do something similar.

HH: And if Abu Bakr, I can’t say his name, al-Baghdadi…

VDH: Yes.

HH: …wants to assume the mantle of Osama bin Laden, he has to do a spectacular, right?

VDH: Absolutely. And I think he’ll, we can think of thousands of ways he could do certain things. But if he were to get some plutonium or some dirty bomb material and sneak it across the Southern border and blow it up in downtown Manhattan, it would be comparable to 9/11, or if he took down an airliner with a shoulder-fired missile, it would be comparable, or took three or four of them down. So I think it’s, that they have the will and they have the experience to do it. And it’s just a question of two things. In an era where a workplace violence and overseas contingency operations, and the chief mission of NASA is a Muslim outreach, and what crazy Mr. Brennan has said about the Muslim Brotherhood or jihad, have we given a sense that the United States either can’t or won’t act preemptively or preventatively, and if they were to do something, are they afraid that the response would be so overwhelming, it would be an existential destruction of everything they know. And if the answer is no, then they’re going to do something.

HH: Well see, that is the $1,000 dollar question. And for the next two years, I think they could reliably say this guy is not going to do anything, no matter what we do, because Assad gassed children and he didn’t do anything. And so if we hit the United States, and we have even plausible deniability, or we make it too hard to pin it on a particular place or person, he won’t move. In fact, I worry about Putin helping IS do this, because he’s so sinister. Nevertheless, if that happened, and if there was another terrible attack on American soil, what do you think the basic American reaction would be?

VDH: Well, I think Americans, the grassroots would be very angry. But I don’t think Obama would do much. I think he’d say it was problematic or it was complex, or it’s an issue that we just can’t jump to conclusions. I mean, he is able to do certain things like Trayvon Martin and Ferguson or the Skip Gates examples where he rushes in, he makes snap judgments. He’s willing to court controversy, but not in the interests of the United States abroad. So I think people understand that. I think when ISIS three months ago was stealing equipment and it was out on the plains, if he had sent 15 B-52’s and just blanketed them with napalm, I think now people would think we were a little crazy, and it’s not a wise thing to do that. But not now.

HH: But instead, they’ve got the idea that even if they slaughter hundreds or thousands of Yazidis, and they threaten Kurdistan, we’ll do, what? We’re drop, we’ll air lift water bottles, and we’ll send a few F-18’s to open a humanitarian corridor.

VDH: You can see that in the media. For 13 years, we were told that whatever your view was on Iraq, the one stellar achievement was an independent constitutional stable Kurdistan, and that 6 million people deserved a state and a semi-autonomous province. We gave it to them. We protected them. And even critics of the Iraqi war said you know what? That was worth it. they’re wonderful people, they’re pro-U.S., and yet now when you read the media, it’s not just criticism that Obama’s not doing anything to help Kurdistan, but it’s actually the Peshmerga are overrated, Kurdistan’s really not quite as constitutional as we think, we overestimated their military prowess, and maybe they’re a little bit less constitution and less democratic than we actually think. That’s, I’m reading, I’m quoting right out of the New Republic’s latest issue. So…

HH: What?

VDH: Yeah.

HH: You see, that’s so stunning to me. I’m used to finding young journalists who don’t know anything.

VDH: Yeah.

HH: I did an interview with a Huffington Post reporter about a month ago in which it was painfully obvious they didn’t know anything. But the New Republic prides itself on actually knowing the way the world works. And Kurdistan, the late Christopher Hitchens, your friend and mine…

VDH: Yes.

HH: …was a huge ally of Kurdistan, urged everyone to take their holidays there, that this was a freedom…

VDH: I think the article was the Peshmerga, Not So Fast, or Kurdistan Not So Fast, meaning they’re not quite what we think they are. And what I’m getting at, Hugh, is that when you start seeing that in the liberal media, it’s sort of prepping the battlefield so that when Kurdistan is overrun, or Kurdistan can’t defend itself, then we say well, you know what, we hyped their military ability. They were too dependent on us. Or you know what, they’re not really as democratic as we thought. And that just, every time Obama hesitates, or you get the feeling that he’s not going to do something, you start to look at the liberal media and they’ve sort of contextualizes the problem, the challenge. And we’ve seen it again and again and again with Syria. We’ve seen it with the lifting of the sanctions again Iran. We’ve seen it…

HH: In non-response to Russia as well.

VDH: Yeah, yeah.

— – – —

HH: Victor, I had on Charles Krauthammer a week ago today, and he said, the President was “strategically clueless.” And I had Vice President Cheney on earlier this week, and he wondered aloud whether the President was reading his intelligence briefings. And this is the, we’re circling back to where we began. Is he in fact lazy? Or is he so ideological that he will not allow information to penetrate the inner layer? And Scarborough, I referenced earlier, has the opinion that he’s completely sequestered by yes men and Valerie Jarrett. So I know they’re not antithetical to each other, but one of those predominates. And I tend to believe he doesn’t have the capacity for this job.

VDH: Oh, I disagree with all of you. I think if you ask Barack Obama, he said that basically in his most recent press conference, what’s the world like today, and he said it’s pretty good. He said two weeks ago, it’s one of the safest, most secure periods in the history of civilization. That’s what he said. And he looks around the world today, and he says you know what, Vladimir Putin has certain territorial interests in the Ukraine, Crimea. It’s natural that he would want to reclaim the Soviet Union. We lived with the Soviet Union. What’s the big deal? We have a nuclear Pakistan, so we can have a nuclear Iran. China has certain interest with Japan, Taiwan, and it’s inevitable that they’re going to do to the South China Sea what we do in the Caribbean. And I think that’s how, and he thinks you know what, Palestinians have legitimate grievances against Israelis. Maybe Israel should stand on its own a little bit more.

HH: At which point, then, at what point do the allies – Tony Abbott in Australia, I mentioned the big four, and here’s I’m talking about Abbott and New Zealand, I’m talking about the Brits, the Israelis and our friends in Japan. And you know, Canada is just us.

VDH: Well, this is interesting, because except for Israel, they were all pro-Obama. And they felt that George Bush and people, even Clinton, were interventionists and didn’t consult. We heard all that, and that Obama had mass appeal to their populations. And so they sort of got what they wanted. And now they’re thinking you know what, why did they take us seriously in our verbiage, because we sort of like to make fun of the United States and ankle bit it while it kept up with the 70 year post-war world order. And now they took us seriously. So I think they’re kind of embarrassed about it, but they’re also quite frightened.

HH: Yeah, that’s it. When do they announce that they’re frightened, because eventually…

VDH: Well I think they are, because I think Japan is seriously considering going nuclear in the next ten years. And if they go nuclear, I think Taiwan will, and so will South Korea, because I don’t think they believe anymore that San Francisco or Los Angeles is put up in the nuclear poker on their behalf. In other words, we used to pledge our homeland as protection for South Korea. So if China went into Japan, or North Korea when into South Korea, we would say stop. And if they had nuclear weapons, we’d say still stop. I don’t think they believe that anymore. I think they…

HH: So what, to reclaim that ground, which I think is essential to international order and the future of the United States and our children and grandchildren, and generations thereafter, what ought, and I know that the transcript of this will go far and wide, and will be read especially by, if not the presidential candidates themselves, although I know some will, by their staffs. What ought our side to be saying at this moment about American power and American…

VDH: I think the first thing we would say is we are not going to negotiate a strategic arms limitation agreement with Russia or anybody else. We have certain responsibilities – Japan, Europe, South Korea, Taiwan, that transcend all the other countries. And we need more deployable nuclear weapons, and we’re not going to negotiate them with anybody. And if we want to have an anti-ballistic missile system, we’ve seen what Israel did with theirs, we’re going to go ahead and do it. And we’re sorry, but we’re not going to be shackled in an arms agreement with a thug like Putin. That’s number one we should do. And then number two, we need to sit down with the Europeans and say how far are you willing to go on sanctions, boycotts, embargoes with Putin? And if you’re willing to go hand in hand, we’re going to lead you. Here’s where we’re going to go. But if you’re not, then we’re going to have to decide where we draw the ring around Putin. And I think it’s somewhere in the Western Ukraine and the Baltics. And we’re going to have to tell Putin if you go into Estonia, you’re going to regret it. and we don’t have to say that publicly, but we have to say that privately. If you go into Kiev, you’re going to regret it. And we have way to make you regret it. We’re going to have to tell radical Islam that certain things are going to happen. And I think we should have gone into the Balad Air Base and put 10,000 troops back into Iraq to control the airspace, and to provide air support for the Iraqi Army, and the Kurdish Army. I think we should, we’re going to have to say that if we keep delaying these sanctions and these discussions, and everything with Iran, at some point, we’re going to have to put all of the sanctions back on.

— – – – –

HH: Victor, on Monday, I asked Vice President Cheney first of all would he consider running for the presidency because his heart’s pretty good, and it would be a wonderful thing to have him on the stage when these debates took place. And he blew that off, and not going to do that. But then I asked him if anybody is out there that’s impressing him, and he said that’s what he’s looking for. He’s waiting to hear someone talk seriously about the world. Have you heard any of our side talking seriously about the world?

VDH: I don’t think so, but you know, it’s not rocket science, because what I just told you at the very beginning, we didn’t get into the details about other things. It’s not unique or innovative. It’s what basically bipartisan Democratic and Republican post-war policy was for 70 years with one exception, and that was 1977-78 with Jimmy Carter, and then he corrected. He increased the Defense budget I think up to 5% of GDP. He had the Carter doctrine, and he confessed that he was completely naïve about the Soviet Union, radical Islam, et cetera, et cetera. So this is the aberration, Hugh, and what we need to do is, when I say that we need to be firm with our nuclear arsenal, and we need to be firm with Iran, everybody had, before Obama, agreed with that. I think even Clinton agreed with it, both Bushes agreed with it, Reagan, we always had a sort of consistent foreign policy. But what we’re seeing in the White House is unique. We have not had a president since Jimmy Carter’s first two years who really did have serious moral, ethical doubts about the primacy of the United States. We’ve had candidates – Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern from the Democratic left that have run, but they’ve always been soundly rejected by the voters for the reasons that are obvious. This is new. We’re in new ground, and I think that we’re going to have to contain Obama. And that’s very important in November that he loses the Senate, and then the Senate and the House will have to de facto act as a shadow government.

HH: Now it’s interesting, during that long period of Roman Republic history that I referred to, the Roman Revolution, the other side would win, and they’d come in and they’d use all of the innovations, all of the expansions of authority that the, you know, whether it’s patrician or plebes, that the other side used. When the Republicans get control, ought they to play President Obama’s game in asserting presidential authority, for example, vis-à-vis immigrants, to a limit never seen before? John Eastman came up with this idea. Hey, just simply declare you’re not going to enforce a personal income tax above 15%. You’re just not going to prosecute anyone. Effectively, you’ve cut taxes. That would be legitimate in President Obama’s worldview. That’s what the precedent…should the Republicans back away from the Constitutionally disfiguring precedents? Or should they double down?

VDH: Well, I think they should go back to a Constitutional system. And I know it’s going to be short term, there’s going to be political fallout from that, but in the long term, they’re going to have to, otherwise we’re going to have a complete rogue presidency. And so I think that in the Senate, they’ve more or less dismantled the filibuster. That’s going to be, that’s something different. That’s valuable for the Republicans. And the Democrats are going to rue that day very soon. But as far as the president, we don’t want a president with an executive order that can change immigrant policy one way or the other. The problem I think we’re going to have is the media. All of a sudden, in 2017, we’re going to learn that playing golf is an aristocratic waste of time that white, wealthy people do.

HH: You know what, Victor, I think I disagree with you. I don’t think you can fool the American people three times. They fooled them about Bush, they fooled them about Obama. I don’t think they can fool them about post-Obama.

VDH: I think they fooled us twice with Obama. I don’t know. We’ll see, but I do think the media will, I would think they’re going to be so embarrassed, I mean, AP, IRS, Benghazi, VA, all of these scandals, that I think that it’s not going to make much effect. What we really need is a Republican conservative movement that doesn’t get arrogant or hubristic, but goes back in and says financial discipline, balanced budgets, strong Defense.

HH: Strong Defense. Big Defense, little government.

VDH: Big Defense, and start to freeze spending on entitlements before we go broke. And I think most of the American, if it’s done in a certain way by an executive, somebody with executive experience, a Scott Walker or a Mitch Daniels, somebody of that type, I think it’ll be an effective message, and that they’ll be successful. I don’t think we want a conservative version of a Barack Obama, somebody who pushes a particular romantic buttons with two or three years in the Senate. It’s just not a formula for success.

HH: That sounded like a rebuke to Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. Was it intended?

VDH: Well, I think Marco Rubio would be a good vice president candidate, vice presidential, but not a presidential…I think Rand Paul is very disturbing. There’s some things he likes, but he’s very demagogic. He just jumped into the Missouri problem before he knew the facts, before we knew this person was a robbery suspect, and he started blaming…

HH: But is that demagogic, or is that simply playing politics effectively in the media age in which we live?

VDH: It’s both, but it is demagogic. When he mentioned the Iraq War, he suggested that Dick Cheney was for it because of Halliburton profits. And he sort of likes to tweak the conservative Republican base in sort of a libertarian, or his father, Ron Paul, fashion. I just think he’s a neo-isolationist that doesn’t have a serious plan for a foreign policy, and he causes a lot of mischief. I think if he were to be nominated, you would have a revolt in the Republican Party.

HH: Oh, that’s clearly a question I’d like to ask him if he ever comes back on. He stopped appearing on the show, and I think it’s because I ask him international affairs questions.

VDH: I know that I wouldn’t vote for him.

HH: What about, would you vote for Hillary Clinton over Rand Paul?

VDH: No, I wouldn’t, but I wouldn’t vote for Rand Paul.

HH: But that’s effectively a Hillary Clinton vote, isn’t it?

VDH: I don’t know if you could look at it that way, but I really feel that Rand Paul A) doesn’t have the experience. There’s nothing in his record that shows that he’s got any executive experience. And after what we saw with Obama, that would be a disaster. And he says things off the cuff that are entirely irresponsible, and I just don’t think that I, he would be a sober or trustworthy chief executive.

HH: Would you welcome a return to the list of Mitt Romney?

VDH: Yeah, absolutely. If Mitt Romney were to run, I would be a wholehearted supporter. He would have made a great president. He ran a lousy campaign, but I’m not sure it was entirely his fault.

HH: What about Paul Ryan, because I’ve just gotten Paul Ryan’s new book. It just arrived on my desk. I’ll be reading it…

VDH: I think Paul Ryan would be a solid candidate. You know, the thing is compared to 2012, they have so many stronger candidates, Republicans do, than they have in the past. It seems to me they do. All of them, the only one that I have any reservation is Rand Paul, and that’s mostly because of his foreign policy.

HH: Well, that’s fascinating. So you are not a pessimist. We have 30 seconds. You’re not a pessimist.

VDH: No, I’m not. I think the United States is, this is an aberration. Again, this Obama is a blip in the radar. It’s an attempt, a revolutionary attempt to hijack U.S. foreign policy of 70 years, and to make us a neutral or even irrelevant, and I don’t think it’s going to work. It’s going to be very dangerous, Hugh, in the next two and a half years. We have to get through this. And then I think we’ll be okay, and there’ll be a reaction against it, and the Democratic Party will not, probably not nominate an Elizabeth Warren or somebody like that.

HH: I hope you are so right, Victor Davis Hanson. Thanks for spending an hour with us in the Hillsdale Hour this week. Everything that Victor writes available at Follow him on Twitter as well. (@VDHanson)

End of interview.


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