NATO at 70, Uncivil Serpents, and Doing the Right Thing

So, this week looks like it will be about foreign affairs – until something changes, I reckon. But that’s where we start.

The North Atlantic signatories are meeting today and tomorrow in Britain. There is a lot of noise, between the president’s concern about European funding, which is certainly justified, French (which has not been a military member since the 1960s) carping about this and that. Macron is only staying for one day, he has other problems. There is a general strike coming in France on 5 December, that will pretty much shut the joint down. Not to mention the shouting matches between Macron and Erdoğan of Turkey.

In a sense, this looks to me like an alliance looking for a purpose. 70 years ago when it was formed under US and UK leadership it clearly was a counterpoint to the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. That war ended 30 years ago, and it seems to me that NATO doesn’t have a real mission anymore. It’s protected by deep state practitioners in all the allied countries, a fair number of whom seem to have not gotten the memo that the cold war is over.

Rule 5 is the heart of the whole thing. It is the provision that an attack on one is an attack on all, and lead to the American assertion (in the bad old days) that America’s eastern border was the Elbe River. That was good sense and admirable clarity. But now what? Some vague line in the middle of Ukraine, the Turkish, Syrian border. Really? Do we want to commit American boys and girls to fight for those things?

In many ways, Europe for the United States, and perhaps for Russia as well, has become a backwater, and its stultifying economy and penchant for internecine dispute and internal imperialism strengthens that notion. So the real question is Quo Vadis.

More here and here.

So in the middle of an election campaign, this is the team that Boris Johnson will attempt to harness this week. Good luck with that, he’ll need a barge load, I suspect.

When we talk about the deep state, we are referring to the same thing as the cousins call the Civil Service (actually most of my friends refer to them as uncivil serpents, for cause). It happens in all bureaucracies, people get aligned with something and no matter what the politicians do, there they stand.

One of the worst cases was in Neville Chamberlin’s tenure in Downing Street. Adrian Phillips wrote the book on Sir Horace Wilson. He published an excerpt on History News Network this weekend, and it looks fascinating. A paragraph or so:

In 1941, as his time in office drew to a close, the head of the British Civil Service, Sir Horace Wilson, sat down to write an account of the government policy with which he had been most closely associated. It was also the defining policy of Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister whom Wilson had served as his closest adviser throughout his time in office. It had brought Chamberlain immense prestige, but this had been followed very shortly afterwards by near-universal criticism. Under the title ‘Munich, 1938’, Wilson gave his version of the events leading up to the Munich conference of 30 September 1938, which had prevented – or, as proved to be the case, delayed – the outbreak of another world war at the cost of the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. By then the word ‘appeasement’ had acquired a thoroughly derogatory meaning. Chamberlain had died in 1940, leaving Wilson to defend their joint reputation. Both men had been driven by the highest of motivations: the desire to prevent war. Both had been completely convinced that their policy was the correct one at the time and neither ever admitted afterwards that they might have been wrong.

The book has joined my list, which you’ll not be surprised, is long, but this looks very good. It also appears to bear on much of what we have talked about today.

Churchill apparently never said that “Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.”  But it’s a fair bet that he thought it pretty often, and pretty often it is true. But we do most often get around to doing the right thing.

As we did with the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. It’s not something we can credibly go to war about, as I said back on 15 June, this is likely to be a replay of Hungary in 1956, where we simply cannot physically support our friends.

But we eventually found a way, that will hurt China if they suppress the Hong Kongers without a direct military challenge. But look again at the picture that accompanied the article in June (pretty close to the beginning of the protests). Who are they looking to for help? Right, the British, after all, Hong Kong is a former Crown Colony. But that soon changes as the Hong Kongers realized that Britain wasn’t going to be there for them, and so the flags changed, from flags with the Union Flag, or the Union Flag itself, to the American flag. That change was important, for the US does have a habit of as John Kennedy said.

 We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

  Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

And so we found a way, a no doubt an imperfect way, but the American people first, and then the US government moved to align ourselves once again with freedom, and against tyranny.

The sad part is that Britain should have been on the rampart with us, but was MIA when it counted, whether they were too preoccupied with Brexit, or too in hock to their Chinese paymasters (as some say), or still another reason, doesn’t really matter. When it mattered, they, like Achille, were skulking in their tent. A sad commentary.

What wasn’t sad all, was that these polite protestors, brought out their flags, and even the new poster of our President, and sang our National Anthem by way of saying “Thank You”. I’d trade our leftists for these brave people anytime. What great Americans they’d make!

70 years after Operation Vittles

Yesterday, although few noticed, was the 70th anniversary of something that in time would lead eastern Europe to freedom. It marked the last flight of the US Air Force in Operation Vittles, the Berlin Airlift.

For almost a year the USAF and the Royal Air Force had supplied everything that the western sectors of Berlin had required to survive, from food to coal. The Soviets had cut off all land communication with the city, and while some thought we should simply run an armored force up the road, cooler (and perhaps wiser) head prevailed. The parallels to the Cuban Missile crisis are striking.

For the first time since World War II, American bombers were stationed in East Anglia, England, reoccupying some of the bases that had been used to attack Germany. This time they were B-29 Superfortresses capable of carrying atomic weapons to Moscow.

Caroline D’Agati at The Federalist has some thoughts, as well.

After its devastating defeat in the Second World War, Germany was on the precipice of doom. Its cities were in ruin, the people were demoralized, and its enemies were at the gates. The nation was divided into four sectors, controlled respectively by the victorious Allies: France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.  […]

By then, U.S. President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill [By the way, that is incorrect, Clement Atlee was the Prime Minister, although Sir Winston undoubtedly agreed. Neo] believed Stalin and the intellectual contagion of Communism presented a far greater threat than resurgent German fascism. The Western Allies knew that a stable, democratic German republic would be an essential barrier to halting the spread of Communism into Western Europe.

On the other hand, Stalin knew that poverty and chaos would only make the German people more open to Russia’s proxy or outright rule. An unstable world, still reeling from the agonies of two world wars, was up for grabs to whichever ideology offered people their best chance for stability and peace. By the spring of 1948, the stage for the first battle of the Cold War had been set. [….]

Hoping to get the Germany economy back on its feet, the Western Allies introduced a new currency—the Deutschmark—to the Western-controlled sectors of Germany and Berlin. Rightfully, Stalin saw this as a challenge to his power. In protest, on June 24, 1948, he launched a blockade on land, sea, and rail, denying all supplies to the still-devastated city of Berlin.

With the bombed-out capital still in ruins and a bitter winter approaching, Berliners needed food, clothing, and, above all, coal to heat homes and power rebounding German industry. Americans like Dionne, the British, and the French were going to make sure they got it. “Operation Vittles,” which later became known as the Berlin Airlift, was under way.

With Berlin 110 miles deep into the Soviet sector, the Airlift posed an enormous logistical challenge. The C-54 aircraft that Dionne worked on required constant maintenance due to the Airlift’s round-the-clock flights with heavy cargo.

“The heavy loads of landing after landing just seared the tires,” Dionne explained to the audience. We had to change the tires all the time.” It’s no wonder. At the peak of the Airlift, on April 16, 1949, 1,398 flights carrying more than 12,940 tons were flown to Berlin within just 24 hours. That’s an average of one flight every 62 seconds.

American Airlift pilot Col. Gail Halvorsen even took it upon himself to drop candy in little parachutes to the children of Berlin as a token of friendship and affection. Born into chaos, most children didn’t even know what candy was; many were so poor they didn’t have shoes. This gesture encouraged the people of Berlin that the Western Allies were sincere in their desire to re-build Germany as a free, self-sufficient republic.

Think about that for a while, nearly one flight a minute for eleven months, by the heaviest transport aircraft our countries possessed. And yes, the French provided airfields, seaports, logistical support, and air traffic control. It was an allied effort, and the commitment of the western allies saved Berlin and perhaps Germany as well.

The next test would be halfway around the world, in Korea, we weren’t as successful, but there too, we held the line.

The Minefield Called Nationalism

I think most of you are familiar with Steven Hayward. He’s one of the principals at the PowerLine Blog that we refer to often I’d call it nearly essential, even though I don’t always agree with it, the reasoning is almost always impeccable. Here, he is writing for Law and Liberty and it is superb.

Like “America First,” another term that has elbowed its way back into our politics, the word “nationalism” has a lot of baggage that one might have hoped the airline of history would have lost in transit by now. The noted political theorist John Dunn called it “the starkest political shame of the twentieth century, the deepest, most intractable and yet most unanticipated blot on the political history of the world since 1900.” At the same time it is, said Dunn, “the very tissue of modern political sentiment, the most widespread, the most unthinking and the most immediate political disposition of all, at least among the literate populations of the modern world.”

Every government’s primary obligation is to protect the interests of its citizens first before anyone else’s, so “America First” ought to be unobjectionable in the abstract.

As Steven says, “America First” got a bad name from our isolationists in the days leading up to our involvement in the Second World War. While I can understand and sympathize with their thought, they were wrong, our conception of the world depended on the victory of the Anglophone powers.

The “German Question”

First, let us finish the historical picture. Is it possible for an entire continent to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? Or, to put the matter more directly, is the twitchiness about nationalism partly a proxy for what might otherwise be recognized historically as “the German question”?

When, after 1989, it became possible to reunite the communism-sundered East Germany and West Germany, European nervousness about this was accompanied by the qualms of Germans themselves about their national identity. I observed many times in classrooms with European students that, when asked whether individual students regarded themselves as citizens of “Europe” or citizens of their native country, it was always the German students who were the most likely—sometimes the only—ones who tended to identify as “citizens of Europe” first.

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Germany’s lingering war guilt acted, and still acts, as a drag on the mood of the entire Continent. Remember what Sir Humphrey Appleby, in the old British television series Yes, Minister, quipped: Germany went into the European Union “to cleanse themselves of genocide and reapply for admission to the human race.” (Or you might prefer the parallel joke, that the purpose of NATO was to keep the Americans in, the Soviets out, and the Germans down.)

An aside is that Sir Humphrey has become an astute guide to European and British politics in the last few years. Thus what we all thought was comedy becomes real life, or at least, black comedy.

There is some evidence that the trauma of the world wars and the Holocaust contribute to a higher degree of general risk-aversion among Europeans than Americans. Europe is where, after all, “genetically modified organisms” meet consumer trepidation that is off the chart as compared to the response in, say, the United States or Canada. Invoking “nationalism” among Europeans is as scary as trying to introduce GMOs in their supermarkets. (Would that Europeans had just as much skepticism of the risks of NGOs as they do of GMOs.) [Amen, Neo]

Europe’s culture of risk-aversion would be insufficient, though, to explain the Europeans’ anti-nationalist unease absent a much more powerful and insidious factor: what Sir Roger Scruton calls the Western Left’s “culture of repudiation”—or, in Pascal Bruckner’s useful label, “the tyranny of guilt.” There can be no sensible or benign nationalism when wide swaths of the intelligentsia of Europe—its universities, its media, and politicians like Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel—are embarrassed by or hostile to historic European civilization as a whole. (It should go without saying that same applies to the American intelligentsia.)

This is all very true, and it is why Europe is badly underperforming its potential, to the point that to many of us it looks suicidal. Britain is somewhat better, but only somewhat, to expect any initiative for much of anything from Europe has become a fool’s errand. The Brits did, on the other hand, manage to vote for Brexit, and appear to be staying the course, even against the opposition of their pusillanimous so-called elite.

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.” The meaning here is unmistakable. While natural rights might be universal, securing them requires the nation-state—a “separate” nation-state, as the clause after that one says. And you can’t have distinctive nation-states without some kind of nationalist self-definition. The Declaration implicitly acknowledges that even universal rights will require, in practice, particular regimes that will be the product of history as much as reason. There is nothing to fear from a prudential understanding of this essential point.

And that is why Britain so badly needs the support of the United States at this time. A friend wrote years ago that we are the only ones still willing to go out into the world to address evil. Her words have become settled truth, but still, we too have our elites, who think their European counterparts are correct.

Read his article, I’ve not done it even close to justice here.

But Steven also reminds us that a few years ago one of the great nationalistic slogans was coined here:

We have nothing to fear but fear itself

Glancing over the Parapet

The British government and elites (BIRM) attempt to judicially murder Tommy Robinson continues, he was assaulted in prison last week. No surprise there.


The gilets Jaunes protests in France continue, with some violence every weekend, which the media is unlikely to cover. Russia Today does cover them, speaking of the world turned upside down.


Via Weasel Zippers.

The insanity is getting worse.

Via Daily Caller:

Twitter reportedly suspended the account of Mary Ann Mendoza, an angel mom who lost her son to an illegal alien in 2014, for criticizing Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Twitter suspended the account of the mother after she made a series of tweets that were critical of Harris’ stance on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities, according to Breitbart News.

No big surprise, you simply can trust Jack to support the violent left, and no one else.


Via The Right Scoop.

Around 4 a.m., officials said in a press release, around 50 individuals rushed the Customs and Border Protection at Pharr International Bridge and clashed with agents. The group attempted to overwhelm officials by organizing into three “waves” for the rush attack.

“Ignoring commands to stop, the group suddenly rushed the temporary barricades, bent metal poles and disabled the concertina wire affixed to the barrier,” said Customs and Border Protection in the release.

CBS-4 in Harlingen, near Brownsville (about 45 miles away from the bridge), reports:

Several males in the group physically pushed through the barriers and, when confronted by CBP, the individuals began assaulting officers and attempted to grab the officers’ protective devices.

Agents deployed tear gas and pepperball launching systems in efforts to stop the group.

The result? A temporary closing of one of the busiest points of access in the whole dang country. Smart move, dummies.

It’s a crisis. An emergency. Not merely because of conditions at detention facilities that are overwhelmed by the mass illegal immigration, but because of the emboldened, increasingly defiant and entitled “migrant” population that watch the news and hear Democrats telling them they have the right to be here, without document, without entering legally, and without restriction.

Yup, it is.


From the BBC, so the source is suspect, but it seems to be true.

Tens of thousands of people are marching in Hong Kong amid tight security, in the latest protest organised by pro-democracy groups.

Mass protests have been held for weeks, initially over an extradition deal with mainland China but now covering other issues on democracy in Hong Kong.

Protesters on Sunday have ignored the designated finish line, continuing on to China’s central government building.

Many protesters are now involved in a stand-off with police. […]

Also from the Beeb, there are reports that the Triads, a Chinese mafia-type crime organization in Hong Kong attacked some of the protesters, some on public transit. There are rumors that they are in league with the Hong Kong and/or the Chinese government, which wouldn’t surprise me at all.

And from the Banned in Britain file:

How ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Nottingham?


Well, Sgt. Mom over at Chicagoboyz has some thought about society and Kipling. They’re very good thoughts, I think.

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

I have often jokingly wished that some kind of secret sign existed, like a Masonic emblem or peculiar handshake by which those of us conservatives who do not go about openly advertising our political affiliations to all and sundry might discretely identify a kindred spirit.[…]

They were not easily moved,
They were icy — willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

But the Kipling verse that keeps coming to my mind more and more frequently over the last few weeks is The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon. As Casey Kasem used to say, in producing American Top 40 – the hits just keep on coming. The Betsy Ross flag carried by Washington’s Continental Army – now it’s considered racist. Tear down statues of Civil War generals, paint over murals of George Washinton! The Gadsden rattlesnake banner – white supremacist!

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddenly bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.
– Rudyard Kipling

Indeed so. It runs through my mind constantly these days as well. As the author says, one of the hidden tells of a conservative is a familiarity with Kipling, and it is fairly obvious that he speaks for us, often, and especially here, especially those of us with a common-law heritage. Well if the left wants to make a lumpy bed, they’ll be sleeping in it for a long time, because it is as President Coolidge says in the sidebar here. “If all men are created equal, that is final.” The only way from that is regressive.


But in perhaps good news, Boris Johnson will be the next PM of Britain.

And Looking Across the Ditch

Yesterday we took a look at the status of Brexit, since that post the worst candidate for Tory leader has dropped out, which seems like a good thing. But let’s take a look at Europe.

The European Parliament elections have put an end to the “far right.” From now on, the EU’s ministers and bureaucrats will have a new nationalist right complicating their machinations. The attempt to identify elite preferences with majority rule under the false rubric of centrism has failed. For the first time, the center-left Socialists & Democrats and the center-right European People’s Party have failed to win a majority. Instead, an anti-EU bloc has emerged in the European Parliament, the very institution intended to fix the famous democratic deficit of the EU while sanctioning “centrism” continent-wide.

This immoderate centrism will no longer be able to label populists as undemocratic. These so-called populists in several countries now control the government. They achieved this by democratic decision in free and fair elections: think here of Poland, Hungary, and Italy. Populism is a popular choice for the European Parliament: England, France, and Italy bear this out. Unless elites propose to elect another people, as Bertold Brecht joked, they’ll just have to stop calling it “far right.” […]

We are experiencing a politics of maneuvering between elites that still hold the highest offices in the EU and counter-elites hoping to replace them, change the structure of the EU, and even destroy some EU powers. The command of the high EU offices is still powerful enough to exclude the nationalists from EU coalitions, since there are alternatives on the center and left, but that will expose the center as its own faction or what Pierre Manent has referred to as the “immoderate middle.” Expect the nationalists to make this conflict worse by undermining the legitimacy of the European Parliament. They will work to subvert the European institutional consensus—to expose entrenched corruption and to expose the technocratic consensus as partisan, and to defend each other from Article VII sanctions (loss of voting rights) which the European Parliament threatened against Hungary in 2018.

This is a good moment for the nationalists to size up their adversaries’ ideas about the situation Europe now faces, adrift somewhere between America and China. Europe has neither the economic growth nor the technology to compete with either of the two, but EU officials keep saying they want to be independent of NATO on security and foreign policy even as China is buying its way into the EU and introducing new technologies over which it has a near-monopoly, such as 5G infrastructure. Before the 2008 financial crisis, the EU was not only the future of Europe, but political alternatives were inconceivable—they had no expression. EU politicians and their compliant press applied the epithet Eurosceptic to such views. But the failure to deal with the financial crisis, among other crises, has mainstreamed opposition to the EU on a number of levels in Europe—and it’s now storming into the European Parliament itself.

What champion of the EU consensus will fight it? The self-appointed leader of Europe is French President Emmanuel Macron. His presidency has not exactly been met with great success. The French people in many ways have given him their own vote of no-confidence, from months of street protests (“yellow vests” movement) to the victory of Marine Le Pen in the European Parliament elections, his own party coming in a close second, with only 22% of the votes. His great unpopularity, which plagued both his single-term predecessors, portends problems for the Fifth Republic. But Macron is still an elected president with very considerable powers.

There is quite a lot more, read it all at The European Union and the Fate of Nations.

I think that is true, once again (albeit by quite different means) Great Britain is moving to prevent a single power from dominating Europe. This time, not the government, but the people. It’s a wise move, even though continental Europe is becoming irrelevant, as both China and the United States move well beyond it. It needs Britain far more than it thinks. That I suspect is part of the trouble with Germany and France. Remainers often chide Brexiteer as ‘Little Englanders’. But like so much with the left, it is projection. What I see is little Europe and global Britain.

Britain isn’t the largest power in Europe, nor has it ever been. But, like, and perhaps even more than, the United States, it has a cachet for the rest of the world. It is the foremost font of ‘soft power’ because of who and what it has been in the modern world. I commented last weekend at the Hong Kong demonstrations and the number of the old colonial flag, Union Jack in the canton, and royal arms in the field, 20 years after the colony was ceded back to China. That’s no accident.

Nor is it an accident that all the countries that promote freedom share the Union Jack. Britain, of course, and Australia, and New Zealand, But the old flag of Singapore also does, as does Canada’s Red Ensign. The US also has a historic flag featuring the Union Flag in the canton. In fact, that was the flag raised in Philadelphia on 4 July 1776.

That’s a lot of places that remember the heritage of the British, show me the comparable heritage of the French, or the Germans.

Titus Techera ends his article with this:

As soon as he won the vote in Italy, Salvini moved to talk to other populist victors, having already formed a new European party for nationalists. Is it even possible for nationalists to have an alliance across borders? On what principle of justice? They will invariably have competing, contradictory claims and no institutional arrangements where leaders can pledge their loyalties and arrange to defend each other from the institutional claims of the EU, much less from the enormous influence of the German economy. Whether national politics or the continent-wide arrangement of institutions and economic interests wins will go a long way to deciding the future of Europe.

I’m inclined to say, of course, they can, if they are mature enough to do it. Like the US, Britain, and Canada will give way on minor gripes to each other, so can these countries. Whether they will is a different question.

To conclude, what the nationalists can do is shake the confidence of the centrists and mount a minority assault on decisions in the various EU institutions, since they cannot control EU offices. We will find out whether the various EU institutions are weaker or stronger than they have hitherto seemed. But we will also learn how aggressive the shift from the political center to the Greens and Liberals will make the majority. There is no tranquility or common purpose in sight.

And it is even possible, although unlikely on their own, that they shake the whole edifice down and allow Europe once again to be a group of independent nations trying to look out for their people.

Sunday Funnies: D-Day 75

D-Day 75, The President and the Queen, The beat goes on.

Meanwhile

Women in Stem

And, of course

 

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