Category Archives: Favorites

My Interview with John David Lewis


First published in American Thinker on September 22, 2011.

Nothing Less Than VictoryDr. John David Lewis is a visiting associate professor in the philosophy, politics, and economics program at Duke University, a contributing editor to The Objective Standard, and the author of the book Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton University Press).

Joshua Lipana: First off, what was it that made you decide to write Nothing Less Than Victory?

John David Lewis: When I began university teaching in 2001, I was looking for courses that could tie the ancient world to the modern, in order to bring out similarities and differences.  I also wanted good reason to have my students read classical texts.  A comparative course — “Warfare Ancient and Modern” — fit the bill.  I decided to spend time on several events in history rather than trying to do a shallow survey.  So we read Thucydides on the Peloponnesian War, Froissart on the Hundred Years War, Churchill on WWII, and the like.

The book grew out of the class.  In the wake of the 9/11 attacks I realized that the single most important factor — the will to fight in America’s enemies, and the ideology fueling it — was precisely what was being evaded by our leaders, and in the media and the universities.  So I decided to write up several of these events, with a view to understanding why the attacks began, and how they were ended.

My original approach was strategic, thinking that I could find a pattern of attacks and responses that could explain how wars could be ended and long-term peace established.  I almost immediately realized that the real action was in the ideas — especially moral ideas — that fueled aggressors and defenders.  So I changed my approach to one that focused on policy and the ideas behind a nation’s goals.  How to end the ideological, social, and political support for a war became the central question that a defender must answer.  Strategy and tactics must be designed to end that support.

JL: In chapter one (“To Look Without Flinching”), you describe the Persian desire to conquer the Greeks as “motivated not primarily by strategic concerns — calculations of relative power, for instance, or the need for material resources or taxes — but rather by the ideology of magnificent dominance, and that this ideology, not strategy, would dictate the size, organization, and use of military forces.”  It’s funny, because the Persians seem to be singing this tune again in Iran.  Do you see any parallels between the Iranians of today and their ancestors?

JDL: Yes.  There are deep cultural issues involved here.  Islam itself was grafted onto Persian culture, which had deep affinities for ancient Zoroastrianism.  The Persian king, for instance, saw the world as divided between the areas under his rule (the world of light, of truth, and of order) versus the world not yet under his rule (the world of darkness, lies, and war).  This is very similar to many Islamists today, who see the world of Islam in conflict with the world outside of Islam.

For other parallels, see my article “Notes on the Near Eastern Legacy of Islam” in Capitalism Magazine, June 4, 2006.

JL: In chapter three (“I Will Have My Opponent”), which is written brilliantly and is my favorite chapter, you chronicle how the Roman general Scipio defeated the brilliant Hannibal and Carthage in the Second Punic War.  You also contrast him and his style with that of another prominent Roman, Fabius, and his now-immortalized “Fabian Strategy of Delay.”  What do you think is the biggest lesson from Scipio’s victory that America and its allies should consider?

JDL: There may be a time to hold back from engaging with the enemy — for instance, if one is caught unawares and must regroup and rearm — but to end a war permanently, one must ultimately confront the political and cultural center of an aggressor.  Fabius’ strategy may have saved the Republic from defeat — by preventing massive losses in pitched battles, and thus preventing the secession of many Italian cities from alliance with Rome — but his plan could not win the war.

JL: In the same chapter, you say, “The Romans argued about how to fight back, not whether to do so.”  Although I think this spirit is still strong in America, it seems that other places are on shaky ground.  Do you think Europe and some of America’s allies still have this resolve in the face of a seemingly unyielding enemy?

JDL: I don’t know.  I am pessimistic overall.  I think the American people could defend themselves if, in the face of another attack, their leaders properly defined the enemy and set out a plan to actually win.  But we are in dire trouble if we sit here waiting for another horrific attack and then depend on leaders of the sort we have today to take us to war.

JL: Thanks so much for your time, Dr. Lewis.  And thank you also for writing such an excellent book.

JDL: Thank you for speaking to me, and for your interest in my book.  Never, ever surrender.  Accept nothing less than victory!


Dr. Lewis E-mailed me—and I am boasting—that this was one of his best interviews.

Dr. John David Lewis passed away on January 3, 2012. He was a brilliant and benevolent man. He was always so full of life, as if I could see him smiling through an E-mail. John, thank you, Nothing Less Than Victory, always.

See tributes:


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Teddy Locsin: “Pray Tell What Might That Lesson Be”

The following is an excellent video editorial by former statesman, Teddy Locsin Jr. regarding the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s war on the Philippines. If you could only watch one video about this war, make it this one.

Watch the video. The excerpt below and the transcript does not do justice to the video.

400 MILF ambushed 100 of our soldiers. 19 of our boys were killed, 6 killed in captivity, like the Marines captured and castrated two years ago, screaming their suffering into microphones held by the MILF to their mouths so their agony would carry. Their commander-in-chief, our president, castigated the survivors and the dead. “Hadn’t they learned from the past?” He said.

Pray tell what lesson was it our fallen soldiers failed to learn? That we have been at peace with those who are at war? That our soldiers are ambushed, tortured and killed in a time of truce against the laws of war? That our enemies can amass to outnumber our troops because we cannot look if they are making ready for trouble?

We tell our troops to stand easy; do nothing to upset the negotiations. Our soldiers are not standing easy. They are sitting ducks… 

Thank you Mr. Locsin. This needed to be said.

See also my reports on the issue:

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Honored: Assistant Editor, TOS Blog

2011-spring-smI am thrilled and honored to say that I am now the Assistant Editor for The Objective Standard Blog.

The Objective Standard is an amazing publication filled with timeless works and inspiration. I give my sincerest thanks to Craig Biddle for giving me this opportunity.

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Anne Hathaway on Atlas Shrugged

I’ve always liked her. I like her even more now.

Chelsea Handler: …I know you’re an Ayn Rand fan, right?

Anne Hathaway: Yeah, I am.

Handler: What’s your favorite Ayn Rand book?

Hathaway: Atlas Shrugged.  

Handler: Did you like that better than The Fountainhead?

Hathaway: I did. When I began Atlas Shrugged, I was really excited, because Ayn Rand said that The Fountainhead was the overture to Atlas Shrugged. I was like, “Ooh! What am I getting into?” Whether or not you agree with Ayn Rand-and I have certain issues with some of her beliefs-the woman can tell a story. I mean, the novel as an art form is just in full florid bloom in Atlas Shrugged. It’s an unbelievable story. The characters are so compelling, and what she’s saying is mind-expanding. I really enjoyed that book, and it was kind of prophetic. I read that book for the first time during the Bush Administration and I was like, “People are governing with their feelings as opposed to their intellect. This is happening.” And she wrote this how many years ago?”


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Cheers to Big Tobacco for Defending Itself

By Joshua Lipana

First published in The Objective Standard Blog. reports that four of the five biggest U.S tobacco companies are suing the federal government to stop it from forcing them to use “new graphic cigarette labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs.” 

They are right to do so: The government’s proposed regulation is an obscene attack on the tobacco industry.

U.S. tobacco companies make their profits through voluntary exchange; they do not force anyone to smoke. And everyone today is well aware of the risks of smoking—just as everyone is aware of the risks of driving, flying, eating Twinkies, and drinking beer. The government’s constant assault on tobacco companies is a violation of their rights and is contrary to the government’s proper function of protecting rights.

Kudos to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. for leading this lawsuit; kudos also to Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc. for joining the fray in defense of their rights. More businessmen should follow their example and stand up to improper government force.

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Made my Night!/michellemalkin/status/104184793331281920

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My First Article in The Objective Standard

I am honored to say that I have been published in my favorite magazine: The Objective Standard

My article’s title is “The Communist War against the Philippines and Why It Rages On.” Alan Germani and Craig Biddle were integral to the high quality result of the article. I thank them both for all their assistance in its creation.

Here’s an excerpt from my article:

“Prosperity is the result of production, and because communism destroys those who produce by stealing what they produce, communism is at odds with prosperity. Communism denies man’s right to live for himself and profit from his own labor. It severs him from what keeps him alive. And when a man’s right to live for himself is denied, only slavery or death can follow.”

Here’s the link: Around the World: “The Communist War against the Philippines and Why It Rages On”

The entire thing is only available for The Objective Standard subscribers. So, subscribe!

While you’re at it check out this excellent article by Gretchen Thomas about Walt Disney: Walt Disney’s EPCOT: The City of Tomorrow that Might Have Been


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