Hillsdale College opened its new Center for Military History and Grand Strategy with a two-day launch event on Sept. 9 and 10. The event, which was hosted on Hillsdale’s campus, featured talks by historians Victor Davis Hanson, Ian Johnson, and Sean McMeekin.
“Preparedness,” said Assistant Professor of History Edward Gutiérrez, the director of the new center. “That’s really what we’re striving to do here. That’s the vision of the center to continue to try to grow and be that kind of beacon and bastion for a serious study and learning about war and how to best prepare for it. I think that’s really the key.”
The launch event opened with comments by the Center’s founding faculty: Hillsdale College professors Edward Gutiérrez, Mark Moyar, Paul Rahe, and David Stewart.
“Hillsdale is in a unique position to become a center of military history,” Professor of History Paul Rahe said. “One of the focuses of this institution and the focus of our graduate program is statesmanship. Statesmanship focuses mainly on domestic matters, but you can’t focus on domestic matters unless the nation is secure.”
After introductions, a reception, and dinner, Victor Davis Hanson, the Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History at Hillsdale College, spoke on the importance of studying military history and grand strategy.
“It’s the citizen’s choice to decide when to go to war, if to go to war, how long to go to war, and how to resolve a war,” Hanson said. “To make those choices, they should be acquainted with how wars begin and what they’re caused by, how they progress or regress, if they end, when and do they resolve anything. Social science cannot provide those answers. They are only found through history.”
The following day featured talks by Sean McMeekin of Bard College and Ian Johnson of the University of Notre Dame on the Soviet Union, its strategies in the Second World War, and the consequences of those strategies today.
“British historian Max Hastings concluded in a recent op-ed that the best way to avoid conflict is to study it, and that clearly we’re not studying it, at least in the United States,” said Johnson “That’s why I want to conclude just by noting again how thrilled I am that Hillsdale has set up the Center for Military History and Grand Strategy, and I really look forward to many more conversations here in years to come.”
The Center is “committed to the study and teaching of military history and the principal themes of strategy and national security” so that it might “bolster sound historical scholarship, engaged citizenship, and prudent leadership” across the country. It will do so through its undergraduate curriculum, scholarly publications, and public events.