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.

“Bois de la Brigade de Marine”

Neptune/Overlord captures our imagination because of its scale and its mission of liberation, but the 6th of June is one of those days fraught with history.

Only twenty-six years before the Normandy landing one of the most remarkable actions in American arms happened.

The British made an attack early that year that was thrown back, and the French made one that nearly broke their army, and finally, as the Germans counterattacked the 3d US Infantry division was thrown in. Here is where it won its sobriquet “Rock of the Marne”, as Paris only a few miles away was saved.

Then it was time to counterattack, This fell to the 2d US infantry, and its 4th (Marine) brigade was tasked to attack into the Belleau Wood. It is interesting that the 2d Infantry Division would come ashore 26 years later on Omaha Beach on D+1, and would be the first unit dispatched to Korea from the US in 1950. The Indianhead hasn’t missed much in the last century.

As they formed up, the French told them it was impossible, to retreat, and got the reply from Marine Capt. Lloyd Williams who replied, “Retreat, Hell, we just got here.” This is the only Army formation to have ever been commanded by a Marine officer, Major General John A. Lejeune later the Commandant, and for whom Camp Lejeune is named.

One of the NCOs leading the charge was two time Medal of Honor winner (there are only 19 in history) Sgt. Major Daniel Joseph “Dan” Daly. One in the defense of the American consulate in Peking in 1900, and one in Haiti in 1915. He would be cited for a third here but would receive the Navy Cross. This was the man who called to his people, “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” Now carved in stone at the Marine Corps museum near Quantico, VA.

It took them three weeks to clear the woods, and 9000 casualties, more casualties than the Marines had taken in their entire history. The battle foreshadowed if anything the battles they would fight such as Peleliu in the Pacific a few years later.

This is where the Marines won one of their favorite descriptors, allegedly from the German Kaiser himself as Teufel Hunden (Devil Dogs). The German commanders rated them as a Stormtroop, they had nothing higher.

That offensive would go on for six months, ending on 11 November 1918, when the Germans surrendered.

In a failure of censorship, they were mentioned by name in the States thus leading to almost all heroic exploits being credited to them. A bit unfair but one can see how it happened. But it rather soured relations between the Army and the Marines for a generation, MacArthur always seemed to suffer from it, as did a young Artillery captain in the 2d Infantry Division himself, named Harry Truman. Eventually, they got over it, mostly.

On the other hand, General Pershing said this, “The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle.”

Belleau Wood no longer exists, it is the “Bois de la Brigade de Marine”, the Wood of the Marine Brigade.

The 5th and 6th Regiments won the French Croix de Guerre in the fight. They would win it twice more before the end of the war. And so the current members of the units and its organizational parts (including Marines and by special order their naval medical personnel) are authorized to wear the fourragère.

If you were to visit Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, you would find that it is laid out in a T shape, with a lane leading to the chapel. The chapel is built on the 4th Brigades trenches.

Not something we should be forgetting, in fact, a centenary we should be celebrating, as American arms took on the best in the world, for nearly the first time, and won.

Deplorable, Contemptible, and Winning

Caroline Glick has written an excellent article in Frontpage Magazine. She postulates that the two common thread running through the election cycles in the western world today is the contempt of the globalists for the people, and the reciprocal determination of the common people to retain their local characteristics.

The triumph of Nigel Farage and his Brexit party in Britain’s European parliamentary elections tells us two stories at the same time.

The first story is a local British story. The Brexit Party’s victory effectively ends the Conservative party’s monopoly on Britain’s political right for the first time in two hundred years. The Conservatives will respond to the trouncing in one of two ways. They can disintegrate completely by doubling down on outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s soft Brexit – with or without a second referendum — or they can start listening to their voters.

The second story encapsulated in Brexit’s victory — and that of Marine Le Pen’s triumph in France and Matteo Salvini’s in Italy — is the now familiar tale of the rise of the populist/nationalist/ideological right throughout the Western world against the conventional wisdom of the traditional progressive and center-right elitist establishment, and more often than not, in defiance of the polls.

In Britain itself, the rise of Brexit is a fitting bookend to Prime Minister Theresa May’s stunning betrayal of her voters. May came to power after her predecessor David Cameron resigned office in response to the Brexit vote. As she entered office, May pledged to embrace the will of the voters and shepherd Britain out of the European Union.

Indeed, one can make the case that this is the worst defeat that the Tories have taken since the 1620s, about 400 years and before the Civil War – The English Civil War. That’s what  I call a historic defeat!! And a deserved one.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s victory earlier this month over his challenger, Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, has largely been attributed to Shorten’s radical economic agenda. […]

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a fifth term in office last month by running on a record of diplomatic and economic success that the leftist parties were unable to discredit.

Trump’s victory is widely attributed to Hillary Clinton’s failure to rally the Democratic base in the Rust Belt and to counter Trump’s message of industrial renewal.

But one underlying issue is common in all of the elections. And until the progressive left and the establishment center right reconcile themselves to it, and find a respectful means to contend with it, they will continue to see populist forces grow stronger and win elections.

That issue is contempt. Throughout the Western world, beyond the economic issues and even beyond specific social issues like gay marriage or abortion rights, voters are motivated to vote for the populist, nationalist right in part due to their anger at the left and center-right’s undisguised contempt for them.

In the United States, the left’s snobbery reached its height with Hillary Clinton’s castigation of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.” But her assertion wasn’t made in isolation. It was made in the midst of a general atmosphere in which Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi and establishment Republicans felt comfortable putting down Americans who aren’t part of their club. Obama infamouslyreferred to Clinton’s “deplorables” as “bitter” people in small towns who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

And now, I often see Englishmen and women refer to themselves as a “Deplorable”, it has become a badge of honor. The mark of the person who believes in his homeland, that is the one characteristic that joins us all.

I would probably add Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to the list. There too we see the outlines of a nationalistic party lining up against the corrupt ruling class. Always there are differences, between the countries, that is as it should be, it’s the globalists that are the ‘Anywheres‘ that David Goodhart wrote about. The Somewheres are always going to have local issues. That’s why we’re ”Somewheres’.

The most potent message that crosses the world each day and empowers populists and nationalist conservatives is one of exasperation and anger at the transnational elites’ solidarity in their contempt for their people. From Jerusalem to Budapest to Birmingham to Cincinnati, the spurned citizens have understood that the only way to force their contemptuous elites to heel is to vote them out of power.

For European Unionists and British Remainers, for the Israeli elite and the American establishment, the globalization of their values and agendas has brought them to believe that democracy means fixing the rules of the game. Through judicial activism and bureaucratic regulations, through intellectual terror and public shaming, these elites seek to render election results inconsequential. Ballot boxes, in their view, are no match for the combined forces of the elite media and academia and the bureaucracy. They determine norms. They determine policies – in the name of Democracy.

But throughout the West, the “deplorables” are listening to one another and rediscovering their power and voices at the ballot boxes. They realize that democracy is a means for the people to determine their course in the world. The elite may control the discourse, but the people decide who will run their countries.

And that is one reason that it is up to American conservatives to maintain freedom of speech, not only for us but for our compatriots around the world. This is the time-honored American mission, as recognized by Edmund Burke in 1775.

In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole: and as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable, whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies probably than in any other people of the earth; and this from a great variety of powerful causes; which, to understand the true temper of their minds, and the direction which this spirit takes, it will not be amiss to lay open somewhat more largely.

First, the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation, which still I hope respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favourite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness.

Some things change very little.

The Return of the Sovereign Nation

Seventy-five years ago next week, the United States and Great Britain, along with the Empire (soon to be Commonwealth) burst into Europe in Normandy to destroy the European Empire led by Germany. It’s happening again, this time not by tank and infantryman, but by leadership.  Sumantra Maitra wrote yesterday on The Federalist.

“The one system that absolutely does not work and never will is ersatz democracy,” Tucker Carlson writes in his book, “Ship of Fools,” adding that, “If you tell people they’re in charge, but then act as if they’re not, you’ll infuriate them. It’s too dishonest. They’ll go crazy. Oligarchies posing as democracies will always be overthrown in the end. You can vote all you want, but voting is a charade. Your leaders don’t care what you think. Shut up and obey.”

For a while, analysts on both sides of the Atlantic after 2016 would have given anyone the idea that everything that had happened was a dream, and a rotten one at that: an aberration, a short deviation from the inevitable progressive arc of history. Brexit was treated as simpleton Brits making a mistake. Donald Trump as president was considered even worse. And most Americans had no idea what was brewing in Europe, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel disastrously carried on her country’s tradition of deciding finance, military, and demographic issues for Europe and inviting a backlash.

Well, what a backlash it has been. The latest round of European elections was a total meltdown for the managerial and technocratic center-left and center-right parties. It is hard to put in words how broken the European landscape is, but to put it simply, the center no longer exists.

Do read the article, it goes into Europe more than I do here.

Again we see the old form, Britain holds the line, as in 1940, but along comes the Americans, late as usual, but a powerful presence. In showing how it’s done, not in coercing anyone.

The most decisive is in Britain, where Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, only six weeks old, and drawing everything from left-Marxist Labourites to lifelong Conservatives, roared up the charts, throwing Trump style rallies, which looked like just as much fun as the original. Six weeks old and the party pretty much destroyed the Tories (42% –> 9%) and Labour (40% –> 14%). Look at the last column, TBP at 32% outperformed the Tories and Labour combined (23%).

And caused the Prime Minister to give notice of her intention to resign even before the votes were counted. Well, maybe, she ain’t gone yet, see also Merkel.

The game isn’t over though because the Parliamentary parties haven’t figured it out yet, they still think they can rule without the people. They have a surprise coming.

And that is true all through Europe, the French electoral map looked like the 2016 US one. Macron carried a few cities, Le Pen took the rest.

Remember, nobody at all in Europe (including Britain) is as conservative as American conservatives, nor do any of them have the creedal underpinning we do. A radical right winger in Europe is about a RINO here, maybe a Yellow Dog. There are valid historical reasons for that, and it is unlikely to change.

But they are moving our way, and are well underway with destroying the EU, It’s been obvious for a long time that the only way to Unify Europe is by force, and that applied ruthlessly, and even that isn’t guaranteed, especially not when the ring is held by the United States. The EU wants to be an empire and to take over the UK armed forces, which are the only viable forces in Europe. That too drove the revolt.

And it drove a lot of Britons back to their friends – us. I have heard more British praise of President Trump in the last year than I have of America in a decade. Why? For the same reason, many of us have come to support him. He fights his (our) corner, They are smart enough to know that if he Makes America Great Again, that allows them to Make Britain Great Again. All the European nations sense this, I think. And so there is a leadership possibility here. All we have to do is be Americans. That’s something we are really good at.

A Woman’s Place

My friend Brandon Christensen over at Notes on Liberty each night publishes a few links under the title Nightcap. I often enjoy them and sometimes they form the basis of a post here. Two of them connect into today’s.

First, we have one from Notes on Liberty’s Rick Weber titled Why do we teach girls that it’s cute to be scared?  It starts this way:

I just came across this fantastic op-ed while listening to the author being interviewed.

The author points out that our culture teaches girls to be afraid. Girls are warned to be careful at the playground while boys are expected… to be boys. Over time we’re left with a huge plurality of our population hobbled.

It’s clear that this is a costly feature of our culture. So why do we teach girls to be scared? Is there an alternative? This cultural meme may have made sense long ago, but society wouldn’t collapse if it were to disappear.

Culture is a way of passing knowledge from generation to generation. It’s not as precise as science (another way of passing on knowledge), but it’s indispensable. Over time a cultural repertoire changes and develops in response to the conditions of the people in that group. Routines, including attitudes, that help the group succeed and that are incentive-compatible with those people will persist. When groups are competing for resources, these routines may turn out to be very important.

A couple questions arise. Do we, in fact, teach girls to be afraid? And if we do, is there a reason we do, and is it still valid? I don’t know the answers, so feel free to discuss.

Another article via Notes may have some of the answers. William Buckner recently wrote on Quillette on A Girl’s Place in the World.

Anthropologist Thomas Gregor’s first introduction to the men’s house was given to him by a Mehinaku man, who informed him that, “You are in the house of the spirit Kauka. Those are his sacred flutes. Women may not see anything in here. If a woman comes in, then all the men take her into the woods and she is raped. It has always been that way.” Itsanakwalu, a young Mehinaku woman in her early twenties later would tell Gregor personally that, “I don’t want to see the sacred flutes. The men would rape me. I would die. Do you know what happened to the Waura woman who saw it? All the men raped her. She died later.”

While the punishments enacted by these men’s cults are extreme, they reflect larger, cross-culturally common efforts—individually or collectively—by males to constrain female autonomy and control their sexuality.

In his work examining ethnographic evidence from 190 hunter-gatherer societies, evolutionary psychologist Menlaos Apostolou notes the prevalence of arranged marriages, writing that across these societies “the institution of marriage is regulated by parents and close kin. Parents are able to influence the mating decisions of both sons and daughters, but stronger control is exercised with regard to daughters; male parents have more say in selecting in-laws than their female counterparts.” As anthropologist Janice Stockard writes of !Kung hunter-gatherer populations in southern Africa, “Traditionally in the !Kung San, marriage is a relationship among a husband and wife and the wife’s father and is at the outset firmly based on compatibility between the two men.”

He goes on to note that this is pretty much normal all across primitive societies from the beginning of social grouping amongst humans, and even other closely related apes. He ends with this.

[…]Yet in 2019 women make up 25% of senators and 23.4% of the members of the House of Representatives. Goldberg found a trend and turned it into a rule, believing it to be a law.

As we can see, some patterns have changed considerably in recent decades. As Hrdy recognizes, modern advances toward sex equality reside on a “unique foundation of historical conditions, values, economic opportunities, heroism on the part of women who fought for suffrage, and perhaps especially technological developments which led to birth control and labor-saving devices and hence minimized physical differences between the sexes.”

Having learned from Goldberg’s mistake, I would caution against attempting to predict what the future holds based on these historical patterns, or, conversely, overly extrapolating from the more recent changes identified by Hrdy. Our evolutionary history continues to leave its mark, yet the socioecological and cultural forces that contribute to human variation can act in unpredictable ways.”

OK, but do we really think that government headed by Angela Merkel or Theresa May are the way of the future? If so, I doubt we have much future at least as free people. Just how effective (at anything but useless screaming) is the 20+% female US Congress, led by Nancy Pelosi? Maybe there is a reason for what has always been, everywhere, or is that too conservative for you?

 

NATO at 70: What Is It Good For?

Frank Hawkins has an excellent article at American Thinker entitled NATO in Crisis. Let’s have a look.

In 1949, with the debris of WWII still clogging German cities, Western nations led by the United States and Great Britain formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The primary purpose of the alliance was to provide a multinational shield  against Soviet aggression.

Today the alliance itself is threatened, with President Trump rightly accusing Germany and other members of not living up to their pledges to support the pact. Of the 28 members of NATO, only seven are paying the required 2% of GDP to support the alliance. The United States weighs in with a hefty 3.39% while Germany, the second largest economy in the alliance, is only contributing 1.36%.

After being called out by Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised that Germany would begin increasing its defense contributions reaching an initial plateau of 1.5% by 2024.

But it’s not working out that way. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz threw the target into doubt with the new German federal budget that suggests their percentage is actually going to shrink to 1.23%.  What’s going on?

In a recent issue of Foreign Affairs, Robert Kagan addressed the issue in an article titled, “The New German Question, What Happens When Europe Comes Apart?

Kagan’s article opens as a thoughtful overview until it becomes obvious he’s just another ideological #NeverTrumper. He covers the grand sweep of German history and the country’s historic position in Europe before dissolving into shameless Trump bashing.

There has always been something ironic about the American complaint that Europeans don’t spend enough on defense. They don’t because the world seems relatively peaceful and secure to them. When the world is no longer peaceful and secure, they probably will rearm, but not in ways that will benefit Americans. If one were devising a formula to drive Europe and Germany back to some new version of their past, one could hardly do a better job than what U.S. President Donald Trump is doing now.

Trump bashing seems a bit strong here to me. Kagan plainly doesn’t like what he sees Trump doing, but his description of it is not that different than mine. Nor, does Kagan appear to like Trump, but few establishment Europeans do. I pretty much agree with Trump, however, I see little point anymore for NATO, unless it is there as a check on the EU, which is increasingly plausible. The main trouble with that is that it is the Americans v. everyone and his Slavic cousin. Don’t forget it was Leonid Brezhnev who commented in the 1990s that it was like the Soviet Union had relocated to Brussels.

From where I sit (and I think Trumps sees it similarly) the main threat to freedom today in Europe is the European Union, itself.

The basic problem in western Europe is that Germany tends to dominate it the way the US does North America. While the US is a reasonable partner and neighbor, and especially Canada has a reasonably similar background, none of that is true with regards to Germany and Europe. The only real competitor is the United Kingdom, which of course has much to do with the US involvement as well. That also explains why the US is quite firmly in the Brexit camp, and his alignment with the EU explains Obama’s willingness to interfere with the referendum. (That holds for both Clinton and both Bushes, as well.)

And there is this, for the US, Europe is becoming a sideshow. Russia is a commercial competitor, not an enemy, and no one else perhaps excepting the UK is particularly important to our interests these days.

Those interests are first Israel, and Europe is a very poor ally in this area, other than some in the Visegrad area.

But the main US interest for the foreseeable future will be China, a physically and militarily aggressive competitor verging on an enemy, who will soak up much of our interest and available force.

Do read Hawkin’s excellent article, and Kagan’s, which is linked in the quote is also quite good.

But in short, Europe needs to grow up, America has some work to do elsewhere.

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