The Immortal Memory

The Battle of Trafalgar by J. M. W. Turner (oi...

Image via Wikipedia

The British Empire got its start as a Tudor Enterprise as Henry VIII established the Royal Navy and as men increasingly saw how England could challenge Spain on the sea. Britain was well placed for this as an island off the coast of Europe. And so St Vincent made the now famous remark: “I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea.” And so it has always proved. And part of that was one of the Earl of St. Vincent’s protegé. This is his story.

I referred several times to President Jefferson’s open letter regarding the return of Louisiana to France from Spain, where he commented that “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and people”, and later commented “that from that day forward France shall end at her low water mark”. This is the day that France (and Spain) would forever lose control of the sea to Great Britain.

Today is the anniversary of a battle to rank with Salamis, with Waterloo, and with Yorktown. For today the English-speaking peoples with their concepts of individual liberty and rights took control of the sea. We have never relinquished it.

That battle is Trafalgar. The battle was fought off of the southwest coast of Spain between the British Squadron with 27 Ships-of-the-Line and the combined French and Spanish fleets with 33.

The Franco-Spanish fleet was under orders to sail for Brest to help accomplish the invasion of England, which was, by far, Napoleons most steadfast enemy.

Remember these were sailing ships, completely dependent on the wind. and at Trafalgar, there was very little. The French and especially the Spanish were short-handed and had to fill their ship’s companies with soldiers. The British, on the other hand, had been blockading the coast for years and had been drilled mercilessly. Their commander, himself, had not been off the flagship for more than two years.

Alfred Thayer Mahan in his classic The Influence of Sea Power upon History puts it this way: “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.

And so today, in 1805, the battle was joined. The British had the weather gage and a very unusual plan. Because of the light wind, they would divide their battle line in two, with each squadron approaching the Franco-Spanish line at an acute angle. With a well-trained enemy, this would have been nearly suicidal but, under these conditions it allowed the British to engage the entire fleet and win the battle in a single day.

The British were under the command of a man who had had his introduction to naval war in the American Revolution, he fought in several minor battles off Toulon, was integral in the capture of Corsica, was captain of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. At the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm, he won a decisive victory over the French at The Battle of the Nile and against the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.

At Trafalgar the British fleet went into battle with this signal flying from the flagship:

That flagship is, of course, the HMS Victory, which is now the oldest naval ship in regular commission in the world.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory , HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Admiral in command is Horatio, Lord Nelson.

Or to give him his full name:

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim

as it is inscribed on his coffin in St. Paul’s cathedral, for he was killed by a French marine during the battle.

The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.

King George III, upon receiving the news, is reported to have said, in tears, “We have lost more than we have won”.

And the Times reported:

We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.

And so tonight in the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth navies, and at least in some places in the United States Navy and even in other navies and places will be drunk the one naval toast that is drunk in total silence:

The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him”

The traditional music to follow the toast is Rule Britannia.

In a remarkable coincidence, the other remaining warship of the period USS Constitution was christened on this day in 1797 at the Boston Navy Yard. While HMS Victory is the oldest ship in commission, USS Constitution (nicknamed “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest warship still afloat and able to sail on its own. Victory is in permanent drydock.

4 Reasons Globalism Won’t Retreat Anytime Soon

holocaust-e1459342376327Rachel Lu brings a whole load of common sense for us to ponder…

Globalism is in full-on retreat, or so I’ve been given to understand. Cosmopolitans, your name is mud. This is the year when conservatives start thumbing their noses at soft borders, interventionist foreign policy, and even free trade. We’re sick of liberals and their snooty multiculturalism. Up with nationalism, localism, boosterism, protectionism, and mom’s apple pie! It’s a big world, after all.

Why is this happening? If you’ve paid even a modicum of attention to recent discussions of Brexit, Trumpism, and related cultural currents, you’ve fully grasped by now that the common man is feeling alienated and marginalized, and doesn’t intend to take it anymore. That prompts a further question, however. To what extent can globalism really retreat?

People have been tilting against this particular windmill since the end of the Cold War. (Remember the ’90s and the protests against the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and other international organizations?) Conservatives have traditionally held (with our pinkies prominently elevated) that there are fundamental truths about our globalized world that are bound to resurface however we try to bury them. Even conservatives, though, have started flooding the anti-globalization bandwagon in this election year.

Peering through the murk, what we see in our current political memes is a noisy celebration of half-truths and half-baked ideas. Yes, there are some real insights to glean from the currents of this tumultuous year.

Read it all at: 4 Reasons Globalism Won’t Retreat Anytime Soon

I don’t have all that much to add to what she says since I pretty much agree. I do want to emphasize that no matter what, and no matter how much I (or you) want the 50s and 60s to return, they aren’t going to. We, like each generation, have our own challenges, which we have to solve to the best of our ability. The past can be a useful guide, but it still depends on us to find the right answers for our time. Some things are eternal, but most aren’t. Nick today at All along the Watchtower speaks of how we were created in the image of God. He’s right, we are, but part of that is that He left us to figure out most things for ourselves, using our God-given intelligence. So we’d best get on with it, and quit kicking cans down the road.

While you’re pondering all this, also think about this. The poorest person in America or the UK today, is amongst the 1% of people that have ever lived. We never had it so good. I wonder if that isn’t the problem, we have so much time to bitch because the living is so easy.

Freedom of the Seas

We are the world’s most prolific trading nation, we inherited this title someplace in the late 19th century from Britain, the traditional “Nation of Shopkeepers” Why is this, how did it occur and what does it mean?

Note that my title does not refer to the UN Law of the Sea or anything other than the traditional meaning.

We all know that the Britain we rebelled against was a mercantilist nation, whose ruling class believed that colonies existed for the benefit of the motherland, hence duties on sugar and tea and most of the articles of domestic life. It also led to a ban on manufacturing in the colonies. That all well and good, for the motherland, anyway. The American colonists weren’t particularly happy about it, however, seeing as they believed (as it said in their charters) that they were Englishmen with all the rights and duties pertaining to that status.

A side note that we should make in these times is that those colonies were almost all corporations. Yes, they were, from Virginia and Massachusetts Bay on down to Georgia. Free associations of people banding together for a common purpose. And you thought America wasn’t grounded in business, what could be more American than that, the very founding of the 13 colonies was by business. The Empire in India came about similarly, most of the conquering was done by the British  East India Company, the government took over later.

Anyway, the mercantilist vision wasn’t working all that well. First, the Americans revolted and made it stick, then they screwed up the triangular trade with the ban on the import of slaves after 1800, and then they were taking a lot of the trade in British bottoms away, too.

It was time for a rethink. A goodly part of the British upper class (as with America) had read their Adam Smith and were beginning to think about capitalism instead of corporatism. Obviously, it wasn’t anywhere near this clear-cut. We can’t say that on 2 February 1809 Britain abandoned mercantilism, it was a gradual shifting of view and traces of mercantilism remain to this day, that’s part of what tariffs and VAT taxes are about.

But by the time the Napoleonic Wars had ended, Britain looked around and found that they made far better profits by trading with everyone from Andorra to Zimbabwe, and ruling only enough to keep their shipping (and Navy) supplied. They also found that with other maritime powers in the world (The United States, the Dutch, and maybe the French) while their profit was lower (per item) but there were many more items.

From this came a new doctrine: Freedom of the Seas. Essentially this doctrine was pretty much the American position leading up to the War of 1812. International waters are free for the passage of all upon their peaceful pursuits. It has always been modified in time of war. The blockades of the Confederacy in the Civil War, of Germany (and England via the U-Boats) in World Wars 1 & 2, and of Japan in World War 2. They are still being used as sanctions against such countries as Syria and Libya today.

By 1815 Great Britain had found that the free republics of South and Central America had become quite large trading partners as had the United States (which had no small maritime fleet either, up till the Civil War when the Confederate raiders made insurance too expensive, the US was usually rated second only to Great Britain itself).

You may recall that I have referred to the War on the Barbary Coast (where Marine Officers got their sword), this was all about freedom of the seas, the Barbary coast pirates (an early form of state sponsored terrorism) were in the habit of demanding tribute for passage through the Mediterranean and often got it. When the USS Philadelphia went aground off the Tripoli Harbor, was captured and the crew enslaved the United States got fed up. Here’s a short story from Wikipedia.

Burning of the USS Philadelphia

Burning of the USS Philadelphia, via Wikipedia

She cruised off Tripoli until October 31, 1803, when she ran aground on an uncharted reef off Tripoli Harbor. Under fire from shore batteries and Tripolitan gunboats all efforts to refloat her failed, and she surrendered; her officers and men were made slaves of the Pasha.

The Philadelphia was too great a prize to be allowed to remain in the hands of the Tripolitans, so a decision was made to recapture or destroy her. Under the guise of a ship in distress in need of a place to tie up after having lost all anchors in a storm, on 16 February 1804 a volunteer assaulting party of officers and men under LieutenantStephen Decatur, Jr. boarded her from the ketch Intrepidand burned her where she lay in Tripoli Harbor. Horatio Nelson, known as a man of action and bravery, is said to have called this “the most bold and daring act of the age.”

Eventually, the Pirates learned that American ships were formidable fighters and pretty much left them alone after a regime change or two.

Meantime after the defeat of Napoleon, Great Britain had become anti-slavery and acting (again in consort with the United States) had forbidden the slave trade to the new world. They also provided the muscle to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, because their trade with Latin America was too great to risk losing. They also opposed the annexation of Texas by the US for the same reason.

Bases for the fleet in anticipation of the Panama Canal was one of the unstated reasons for the Spanish-American War, where we flirted for the first (and thankfully) last time with an Empire. We gained Puerto Rico, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Philippines (temporarily) from that conflict.

During the last half of the 19th Century, while we weren’t paying much attention to it, we became the largest trading nation in history, first as an importer and then as our industrial revolution went on as an exporter. This was also the era when the American harvest became an important thing worldwide. We had begun to feed the world and do it better than it had ever been done before.

By World War 1 we had become indispensable, although nobody really knew it yet. But the U-boat campaign nearly starved Great Britain, and the Allies nearly bankrupted themselves buying from such companies as Colt and Winchester. (And you thought the 2d Amendment was about politics, it’s about freedom, all over the world.)

At the end of the war, in the Washington Naval Conference, Great Britain ceded to the United States naval parity, knowing that it would turn into superiority. Here begins Britain descent into the second rank of powers, and the American duty of freedom of the seas.

It took a while for Americans to realize it of course, until 7 December 1941 to be exact. Since then we have never looked back, the paramount fleet in the world has been supplemented with both the paramount Army and Air Force. Is there really anybody in the free or quasi-free world that would have it any other way. Do we, or the Australians, or the South Koreans, or even the Indians, really want control of the seas to reside, even partially, with the Chinese?

Freedom of the Seas mostly kept the peace for most of the 19th Century with the Royal Navy in charge, and for the last 65 years with the United States in charge, those two periods have witnessed the largest growth in living standards all across the world ever seen. And it has averted many wars, including the unthinkable: a thermonuclear war between the United States and Soviet Russia in October of 1962, when the maritime exclusion zone was instituted (selectively, to be sure) around Cuba. Control of and freedom of the seas has been America’s first line of defense as long as there has been America.

Here’s John F. Kennedy’s take:

“Events of October 1962 indicated, as they had all through history, that control of the sea means security. Control of the seas can mean peace. Control of the seas can mean victory. The United States must control the seas if it is to protect your security….”

President John F. Kennedy, 6 June 1963, on board USS Kitty Hawk.

We seem to be seeing a resurgence of the isolationism that we had before the Second World War, their shortsightedness led to the Second World War. As much as we need to change the paradigm in Washington D.C., and we really, really do. I don’t think we want to risk World War Three, either.

First published on 13 December 2011.

I Hear There’s Going to be a Debate…

w1056atonight. Will I watch? Perhaps. Will I change my mind? Unlikely. Still, if you’re undecided you should watch, and carefully. Part of the reason I’m unexcited are the candidates. Yes, one is worse, maybe much worse than the other. But to be honest, my vote doesn’t matter a damn. If Nebraska three went for anybody without an R behind his name by less than 60-40 it would shake down the thunder. I don’t see that happening, whatever Ben Sasse says.

That doesn’t mean it’s unimportant, though. I think the following, although long, lays out the stakes quite well.

Read the newspapers or listen to the network news and you would believe that Donald Trump’s appeal is restricted to reprobates and morons, racists and xenophobes, uneducated and unclassed, rejects and retards, unsavory degenerates and that is being kinder than PBS talks about Trump supporters. They will tell their liberal audiences that the Trump supporters do not read or listen to the news and have little or no understanding of the realities of the world and Trump supporters are simply supporting Trump because they hated President Obama because he is black and well educated and the Trump fools are jealous of those who are their betters and want to put one of their own in the White House. It’s the same old story in the media, if there exists support for anybody not leftist, socialist, one worlder then they are not worthy of standing on the stage in the debate, let alone be elected to the most important job in the world. Coverage like that is simply more of the every day in and day out coverage of Democrats good, Republicans evil; our side educated and wonderful, that other side ignorant and disgusting. So, what is driving the support for Trump? That is the question which is seldom answered by the mainstream media because they do not recognize what Trump is selling or what his supporters desire and see as him capable of delivering.

Trump’s slogan of make America great again resonates and his plain language strikes them as honesty and his level of excitement is contagious and he works the crowd well. What they want is the country they believe America should be and what they feel they have had stolen from them. They want an economy which provides decent jobs with better pay which comes with a healthy economy. They do not understand the jobs overseas as much as they understand the jobs simply drying up. They understand that a near doubling of the minimum wage will only drive away jobs and prices up because many have seen what rising minimum wages has done. They remember days when things were better and the unions protected them and that the Democrats promised they would protect the unions but that did not work out as well as promised. Many of Trump’s supporters have voted for the Democrats out of loyalty, out of belief they really were for them, that the Democrats loved the same America they did and that the Democrats were delivering on their promises. The news media have one thing correct, many of these voters really have problems with President Obama but not because he is black but because he really meant that he would fundamentally change America and found what President Obama did not like and wanted to bury about America was the America they loved. It was the policies and broken dreams that lie shattered in the wake of President Obama and his policies and his hatred of their America. Now they believe that in Trump they can have their America back again. They just want what they had, what was before Obamacare, before President Obama bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia and apologized for their country all over the world and deferred to the Iranians and basically acted in what they always thought to be un-American. Now they just want to set things back right and believe the Donald will do that. Whether their faith is misplaced or whether Donald Trump is exactly what they believe him to be, well, unless he becomes President Trump we will never know. This is the one type of Trump supporter that the media elites really do not like as most are not Ivy League educated or even anything beyond possibly Community College or Trade School educated or even simply high school or drop out and are what they think of as the great unwashed.


There is another group of Trump supporters which the media dislikes even more because they cannot scare or cajole these voters into ever supporting Hillary Clinton. These are unlike the Never Trump voters because there is a good chance the Never Trump voters will go third party or stay home, they will never likely vote for Hillary Clinton and be able to look themselves in the mirror should she win. It will not matter if they live in a redder than red or bluer than blue state such that their vote never really mattered because they have consciences which would always prevent their sleeping well the entire four or eight years Hillary Clinton spent as President. The voters who are either tired of Hillary Clinton’s corruption or Hillary Clinton’s lies or simply tired of Hillary Clinton period will vote for Donald Trump by a large percentage because they are not really voting for Trump but will do what it takes to prevent a President Hillary Clinton. These same people will also vote for Donald Trump again if he delivers on what he has bragged he will do. This is close to what the United States and the American voters faced in the 1980 elections with many crossover voters electing President Reagan because they did not want any more of President Carter. President Reagan delivered and I know this because my lifetime Democrat father who voted for the reelection of Jimmy Carter against Ronald Reagan voted four years later for the first time since President Eisenhower for a Republican candidate and was quite overjoyed and proud for voting for President Reagan and supporting his second term. Oh, and about President Eisenhower, didn’t almost every World War II veteran vote for the Commander of the Allied forces in the European Theater, even if they served in Burma in the British Army against the Japanese and the vultures, snakes and other dangers of the Burmese jungles. He will be voting for Hillary though this time around as Trump never did serve, let alone command forces in any war as doing so might have destroyed his manicure.

via On What is Donald Trump’s Appeal Being Based? | Beyond the Cusp Read the whole thing.™

My favorite candidate this cycle, as most of you know, was Ted Cruz. That’s mostly because he sounded like he really believed in the Constitution, and that’s my bedrock to decide on. But he was also right when he said to vote your conscience, and like him, I will. You should as well.

More Whittle Sharpshooting

Are Trump and Putin worrying you? Here are Bill and the gang with their take on it.

This has been kicking around for a bit. It’s still valid though, and I suspect there are lessons here for us as well.

Of Danegeld and Iranians

s749518301978605088_c4_i3_w640From Fortune Magazine

The controversial $400 million payment that the U.S. sent to Iran in January, just as four American hostages were released—a planeload of Euros, Swiss Francs and other currencies—was only the first of three American cash deliveries to the country, the Obama administration reportedly told lawmakers on Tuesday.

During the 19 days following the first shipment, the U.S. sent two more planeloads of cash, totaling $1.3 billion, to Tehran, reports The Wall Street Journal. The two planeloads, which passed through Europe on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5, followed the same route as the earlier payment, a congressional aide who was briefed told the Journal. In the first payment, an Iranian cargo plane picked up the money in Geneva.

via TREASON: Obama admits he really payed 1.7 BILLION to the Iranians – The Right Scoop

Ralph Peters called it a bribe, and the post that I took that quote from calls it Jizya. In neither case do I think they are exactly wrong, but I think it something else.

When we combine it with the continuing naval harassment in the gulf, it reminds me of something.

We all know that Obama is not fond of the Anglo-Saxon part of his heritage, or indeed of England/Great Britain/ the United Kingdom, many would add the United States to the list. That’s as may be, but it begs the question, has he learned the lessons that came down in that heritage? We learned many years ago about this.

More than a century ago Rudyard Kipling brought our attention to our ancient wisdom, when he wrote


A.D. 980-1016
It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: —
“We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: —
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: —

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!”

And that is why Saxon silver was found all over the Viking world, they hadn’t learned that yet, and that is also why at the end of the Viking age, we find the King of Norway and the Duke of Normandy contesting the Danish heir to the English throne.

Anyone who was bullied as a child knows the answer, though. When confronted on the schoolyard, win or lose, one must stand up to the bully, or the bullying will continue. Too bad that our PC Administration never learned that lesson. Even Thomas Jefferson learned; that’s how the USMC got their sword, right in that neighborhood, in Lybia to be exact.

And as we are relearning to our sorrow, nobody respects the man who pays the Danegeld.

Reminded me of this, as well

They used to say that you don’t have to worry about that angering the United States because they might drop a couple of hundred bombs on you. You have to worry about angering the United States because they might drop two bombs on you.

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