Eighty Years On

Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of the Munich agreement, where Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of the UK essentially ceded the Sudetenland, a German heritage area (and vital to the defense of Czechoslovakia) to Adolph Hitler.

I have more sympathy for Chamberlin than most do. My analysis says that if Britain (and France) had gone to war in 1938, they would have lost. The British rearmament was just gearing up, and the things that would save Britain in 1939 were not available in 1938.

What has come down to us though, is that it is always unwise to appease a totalitarian. That is often true. It probably was in the case of Gulf War 1, the second Iraq war is not nearly as clear.

There are cases coming up, mostly in the intersections between Russia, China, and Iran in the Eurasian landmass, where like trying to save Czechoslovakia, it might be clearly an overstretch for the United States to interfere.

That does not mean that we must sit back and allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, or colonize a goodly chunk of the near east.

We too have our vital interests, centering on keeping the maritime trade routes open, and our allies, most of whom, other than Israel are parts of Oceania. One can even make this case for Britain, itself, although what we would have in times past called Christendom, roughly western Europe, is also a vital American interest.

There’s an interesting discussion of this here.

But our own, overriding vital interest is the freedom and liberty of Americans, nothing at all may be allowed to interfere with this interest. Compared to this, all other interests are secondary

In a sense, America holds the ring, keeping the Eurasian conflict confined to Eurasia.

We need to see clearly what is, and what is not, in our vital interest. As Russia and China also recognize, nuclear war is in nobody’s interest, the problem arises with rogue states like Iran and North Korea, who may not understand that calculus, which is why we need to stop them from obtaining nuclear weapons because it is not a given that deterrence will work with them. That is one of America’s most vital interests.

Perhaps these or similar thoughts inspired my friend, the Administrator of All along the Watchtower (and inactive editor here) Chalcedon 451 to recall to us (in a Tweet) a post of his, which has much relevance for us.

[…]In the end, politics is a second order activity. As the third Marquis of Salisbury once said: ‘God is love and the world is what it is. Explain that?’ The answer is that we are a fallen species. At best we can produce Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and St. Francis; at worse, we produce Attila, Alexander Borgia and Hitler. We have the instincts of angels, and of demons. St Paul knew, as our faith knows, that left to ourselves we will veer off and like the dog return to its vomit. Original Sin is the one dogma that can be proven from our own experience of ourselves.

Politics can cure relatively few of our ills. At best there are some good people there who wish to make a difference to the lives of their fellows; the problem comes when they take the short cut of using the resources of others to fulfil that purpose. The intention is good, but the State is not a person and it is generally a mistake to allow its cold charity to replace the instincts of the human heart. It is best if politicians remember they are merely instruments in God’s hand and do not imagine they are that hand, or even God himself. In an era when faith in God is less, it was replaced by faith in politicians and the State; we are coming to the end of the short era in which that appeared to be a viable option to even the politicians.

People want to be told things are going to be all right in the end; children always want a good night story which ends well. That is not how life is. It is easy, tempting and inevitable that I should end by saying we need a Churchill. But we ought to recall that for the whole of the 1930s he was ignored and in the wilderness. The new democracy did not wish to be lectured or told that all was not going to be well. It wanted to believe that there would be ‘peace in our time’; it wanted to believe that Hitler was not evil in human form; it wanted, and got, its good night story. It also reaped the whirlwind.

‘Blood, toils, tears and sweat’, that was what Churchill promised us in 1940. That same democracy which had wanted pretty lies, woke up and took the truth on the chin. Our politicians are wrong to underestimate our capacity for hearing the truth spoken; as they are to underestimate our need for fairy stories.

From Conservatism, and you should read the rest even though I have presumed to grab more than I should.

There is a lot packed into those short paragraphs, and they are valid for us all. As we reflect on what the last eighty years have taught us, I think Chalcedon’s message strikes quite close to the heart of several of history’s messages to us.

The Psalmist reminds us:

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:

That is good advice for us all.

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Trumping the UN, and Cutting Our Own Throats

If you haven’t seen President Trump’s excellent speech at the UN, here it is.

There are quite a few highlights, but the only one I’ll put here is this:

We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America,” and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. Just can’t do it.

Long ago, like Lou Aguilar at The American Spectator, I saw the 1953 movie The War of the Worlds. I remember it much the way he does, especially this:

The setup comes soon after the A-bomb fail. A desperate general tells physicist Gene Barry (in a superb stoic performance) that there’s nothing more his military can do against the Martian war machine, and the last best hope for Earth is for Barry’s band of scientists to develop some sort of chemical weapon. They drive trucks full of scientific equipment into the last city standing, Los Angeles, only to have its panicked residents manhandle Barry, smash his equipment, and seize the truck in a suicidal attempt to flee the Martians. “They cut their own throats!” declares the shaken Barry to his colleagues.

The image of a berserk crowd destroying its best long-term bet for illusory gain could be a metaphor for the upcoming midterm elections. Under the management of Donald Trump and the Republicans, this country has seldom been in finer shape. It enjoys record-high employment, consumer confidence, stock value, and rising wages. Two nuclear threats have been reduced, and a terrorist caliphate dissolved to attain that most elusive balance of peace and prosperity. And none are benefiting more from this condition than the three pillars of progressive identity politics — blacks, Hispanics, and women. Black, Latino, and female unemployment have never been lower.

He is exactly correct. These are by almost any measure, the good old days, and they are improving by the week. But what are we seeing? A slow moving soft coup in the government, a revolt of the opposition party who is putting their thugs into the streets, just as the Blackshirts and Brownshirts were in Italy and Germany in the 20s and 30s. Not to mention the spectacle of one of the best judges in the country dragged through the mud (not of his creation) for partisan political purposes. The whole garish spectacle has become sickening, and must be tamped down, or we will see violence in the streets.

This is all quite literally insane. It threatens the freedom of the United States, and cannot be tolerated. Jefferson wrote in The Declaration of Independence, and we all believe that: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Surely, one does not throw prudence to the wind when things are going well for almost everyone. Only a deluded fool or an ideologue (often the same thing) would even think of such a thing. But that is where the United States is.

Well, in just a few weeks we will have an election, the projections run from a blue wave to a red tide, with the blue wave getting more press (given the press’ bias, that should surprise no one) but even conservative pollsters are warning of such a thing

But Lou’s last paragraph is spot on so it will end my post as well.

It really is a War of the Worlds, between the real world and a fantasy one. Right now, the fantasists are leading. If people vote them into power this November, they will be cutting their own throats.

“Well Roared, Paper Tiger “

And so the EU has passed a law prohibiting European companies from following the US sanctions on Iran. They’re so cute sometimes.

The sanctions target the use of US dollars in any transactions, as well as autos, civil aviation, coal, industrial software, and metals. The ones scheduled for November are more far-reaching.

According to Soeren Kern

In a joint statement, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK openly admitted that for the EU the Iran deal is all about money and vowed to protect European companies from US penalties:

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council resolution 2231. This is why the European Union’s updated Blocking Statute enters into force on 7 August to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions.

“The remaining parties to the JCPOA have committed to work on, inter alia, the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas. On these, as on other topics, our work continues, including with third countries [China and Russia] interested in supporting the JCPOA and maintaining economic relations with Iran.”

Well, as an aside, that’s a goodly share of the problem with the EU generally, it’s all about money, just listen to project fear in the UK compared to the love of Britain coming from leave. Greed is not the most important thing in the world. In any case, Most European businesses aren’t buying this horse dung.

The document, riddled with EU jargon, states:

“The Blocking Statute allows EU [economic] operators to recover damages arising from the extra-territorial sanctions within its scope from the persons causing them and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court rulings based on them. It also forbids EU persons from complying with those sanctions, unless exceptionally authorized to do so by the [European] Commission in case non-compliance seriously damages their interests or the interests of the Union.”

In other words, the EU is prohibiting EU citizens and companies from complying with US sanctions and is authorizing EU companies hit by US sanctions to sue the US government for compensation in European courts.

In addition, European companies that do pull out of Iran without approval from the European Commission face the threat of being sued by EU member states.

Even the European press isn’t buying this nonsense. It’s a vanity project to show themselves they aren’t dependant on the US and guarantee their legacy. Well, Obama tried that, how did it work out?

Radio France Internationale (RFI), a French public radio service, said that the effects of the Blocking Statute would be “more symbolic than economic.” It added:

“The law would be more effective for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) doing business in Iran. For large corporations, the solution lies in negotiating waivers or exemptions with the United States. But such requests from France, Germany and the United Kingdom have already been rejected by Washington.”

La Croix wrote:

“Suffice to say that the implementation of this blocking law remains very hypothetical, as it goes into uncertain legal territories.

“Total, Maersk and Peugeot have already decided to leave Iran. Moreover, companies investing in Iran do not seem to believe much in the effectiveness of the regulation. The oil group Total, the ship-owner Maersk or the automaker Peugeot have already decided to leave. German group Daimler announced its withdrawal from Iran yesterday. These groups are more afraid of the US’s ability to implement sanctions than the EU’s wrath.”

In Germany, the public broadcaster ARD published an opinion article by Brussels correspondent Samuel Jackisch titled, “Well Roared, Paper Tiger — EU Defenseless against US Sanctions.” He said that the EU’s new policy was “logical, but largely meaningless,” and an attempt by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to “defend her political legacy.” He added:

“The EU can try to turn the tables on transatlantic relations, but in the end the US still comes out on top.

“The German export industry’s business with Iran may not be small at around three billion euros. However, the bottom line is that the same companies export 35 times as much to the USA. The EU is demanding that its largest corporations risk the entire cake for a few more crumbs.”

German public broadcaster ZDF wrote:

“The peculiar construction of the EU Blocking Statute remains: Ordinarily, regulations and laws prohibit something. For example, an anti-dumping law prohibits companies from price dumping in order to force competitors out of the market. But the EU Blocking Statute is a call to action: Do trade with Iran and do not let threats from the US president dissuade you!

The newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung quoted the Chief Executive of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), Martin von Wansleben, who described the EU’s measure as a “helpless political reaction.” He said that its purpose was to show that the EU does not bow to US sanctions. For individual companies, he said, the blocking regulation has “no relevance.”

In Austria, Der Standard wrote:

“The Blocking Regulation is not an effective antidote to US sanctions, as the historical example suggests…. Although Washington should refrain from extraterritorial sanctions, the US market is too important for corporations to expose themselves.”

In Italy, Südtirol News quoted stock market expert Robert Halver of Baader Bank:

“Due to the US sanctions against Iran, German industry will not touch Iran. If you realize that German industry is doing a hundredfold business in America, you will not do business with Iran, because then sanctions against German companies will exist. Therefore, Iran is certainly going to bleed very heavily at the moment.”

As John Bolton noted:

“Now there may be some small European companies that continue to do business, but they will be insignificant,” John Bolton said during an interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday. “Russia and China may continue to do business, but I don’t think they’re enthusiastic about this. They’re not going to be stepping up their efforts.”

Who’s out? These folks, for a start. Some familiar names there.

Daimler follows similar decisions by: Adidas (Germany); Allianz (Germany); AP Moller-Maersk (Denmark); Ciech (Poland); Citroen (France); CMA CGM(France); DZ Bank (Germany); Engie (France); ENI (Italy); Lloyds (UK); Lukoil (Russia); Maersk Tankers (Denmark); Oberbank (Austria); Opel(Germany); Peugeot (France); PGNiG (Poland), Renault (France); Scania(Sweden); Siemens (Germany); Swiss Re (Switzerland); and Total (France).

In other words, as both Bolton and the President have noted, you can trade with the US or you can trade with Iran. You can no longer trade with both. Pick one.

In one corner is a failed state, the world’s largest promoter of terrorism, and a country that appears to be on the verge of a revolution.

In the other corner is the world’s largest economy backed by the world largest military, which has guaranteed your freedom and security for generations.

You choose. Choose wisely.

 

A Summit, Hysteria, and Bovine Excrement

Well, Putin and Trump had a meeting yesterday in Helsinki. Afterwards, Trump said some things that bothered the left. In other words, it was a day ending in Y. I wasn’t all that fond of them, either, really. But then, I never thought Trump was God and never made mistakes. Hannity is as good as anybody on it.

Frankly, I can’t decide whether the left’s goal is to destroy Trump at any cost whatsoever. Or maybe it is to destroy Russia for throwing the communists out, and the United States for winning the cold war. Or both. Apparently, they think a nuclear war is just the way to do that.

I can’t see any particular reason to trust the US Intelligence Community, all my life they’ve always been wrong, from Vietnam to the cold war (whose end they failed to see coming) to Iraq and Afghanistan. And that doesn’t even mention the crap they got up to in the last few years. Now they seem to be in bed with a faction that is at best committing sedition, coming very close to treason itself. On the other hand, there is absolutely no reason to trust the Russians.

So put your earplugs in, it ain’t gonna get much better. Personally, I think we need more streetlights on Constitution Ave, and a whole lot of ¾ in manila rope, yes, some assembly required. Not that anybody asked me. So take an even strain, the adults are in charge but keep your powder dry in any case.

In the meantime, Scott Adams and Dave Rubin.

And VDH on the FBI, Trump, and Russia.

Busy Week Ahead

So NATO meets next week, right after the Supreme Court nomination, and then Trump will visit Britain meeting with May and the Queen, then spending the weekend in Scotland before going to Helsinki to meet Putin. Quite the schedule isn’t it?

I’d love to be a fly on the wall at the NATO meeting. Just as much to hear what is not said as what is. NATO is unraveling, because Europe will not pay for its own defense, even a fraction of it, preferring to let Uncle Sugar do it.

Well, that is not so true for Eastern Europe, who mostly are trying, but Germany and France are simply useless these days, couldn’t mount a decent parade.

There is a report that the British government has forbidden President Trump from meeting with Nigel Farage, now that is cheeky, and if I was Trump, I’d make damned sure I did, but it’s a small thing.

What is not a small thing is Iran, Melanie Phillips has that story.

Britain and the EU regard the Iranian fanatics as people with whom they can to do business – both diplomatic and economic. But the only reasonable, moral and self-defense position is to regard them as a regime beyond the pale which must be destroyed.

No one wants war; the aim should be to prevent the terrible war that is almost inevitable unless the Iranian regime is removed. The best and most likely way to achieve this is for the people of Iran to rise up against it. […]

The result is popular demand for an end to the regime itself. In stark contrast to uprisings that have erupted in the Arab world, the Iranian demonstrators support Israel and the West. The Iranian regime regularly pronounces “Death to Israel.”

The protesters have been shouting instead “Death to Palestine” and demanding that the regime stops funding Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria’s President Assad and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Suddenly, what seemed impossible is now being talked about as a distinct possibility: that a regime which until now has been strutting across the region imposing increasing control may in fact collapse.

So what’s changed? In two words: President Trump. By withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal, he has changed the entire power dynamic within Iran and in the region. Now sanctions have been reimposed and are about to bite far more severely.

With tacit backing by both the US and Russia, Israel has been attacking Iranian military assets across Syria.

The game is now afoot to achieve what until now no one contemplated as a serious possibility: to pry Russia away from Iran and squeeze Iran out of Syria, thus smashing the fulcrum of Iranian power in the region. […]

Clearly, much remains murky and alarming about such a complex dance of deterrence.

America’s ultimate strategic goal, however, is clear: to weaken, stymie and ultimately destroy the Islamic regime in Iran.

Yet, incredibly, Britain and Europe are still attempting to support it. This weekend, the five powers still party to the nuclear deal – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – are meeting Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in Vienna to discuss how it might continue without US support.

This, even though earlier this week, six people were arrested in Belgium, France and Germany, including an Iranian diplomat posted to Vienna, over an alleged Iranian terrorist plot to attack an Iranian-opposition rally in a Paris suburb this weekend.

Britain, France and Germany may realize very soon that they will need to choose between trading with Iran and trading with the US. The State Department has threatened to punish sanctions violators, while major European companies such as Peugeot, Siemens and Total are reportedly preparing to halt their dealings with Tehran.

Both Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have made a point of telling the Iranian people that they have American and Israeli support and that the fight by the US and Israel is merely against the regime that oppresses them.

Quite. There is a real chance here, like the one that Obama ignored to rid the world of Iran’s odious government, and Europe is attempting to sabotage it. With allies like this, who needs enemies?

Melanie thinks much of this is down to anti-Semitism. It may be so, I don’t know, nor does it matter, really. It exists, and it must be dealt with.

I pay more attention to Britain than the continent as all know. It’s an unbelievably dark landscape these days, dissidents in jail for political speech, the will of the people subverted by the government with regard to Brexit, the government conspiring to demonstrate against the President of the United States, and divers horrid things.

American ideas about rights and responsibilities which we celebrated this week, almost all came from (no longer great) Britain, but they have been evicted from the ancestral home, no doubt for Muslim immigrants.

An entire century ago American troops were attacking Imperial German troops in France. Three times in the last hundred years we have kept Europe free. It’s a fool’s errand, they have no inclination to keep themselves free. Time to move to the east, or come home.

The time may well have come to write off Western Europe, including the United Kingdom. And yet, we often said much the same about Obama’s America. And you know, there are the same stirrings going on in May’s England as there were in Obama’s America.

Once again it was true here, as Kipling said

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.

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

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.

It was the undoing of Kaiser Bill, Hitler, Tojo, and the Soviet Union, and the Radical American left and I hear it stirring today in England. Or one hopes, anyway.

And so, in Iran

Pictured: The Iranian city of Mashhad, enveloped in a haze of air pollution. Of the 500 most polluted cities of the world, Iran with 19 cities comes fifth. (Image source: Tasnim/Wikimedia Commons)

There’s an article, a quote really, over at Oyia Brownthat caught my eye. It is from a quite long article from Gatestone, comparing contemporary Iran to East Germany. It’s well worth your time, Here’s the quote:

On December 28, 2017, major protests against the Iranian regime broke out in Mashhad and quickly spread to numerous other urban centers. Mostly merely noisy at first, some turned violent and eventually the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) suppressed the phenomenon, killing some and arresting thousands of others. Protests have continued, but news about them is scanty. How are they to be evaluated?

There are interesting parallels with the twilight of the East German regime. By a coincidence, the Iranian regime is in its fortieth year and the East German regime suddenly collapsed just after its leaders had held a large-scale pompous celebration of its fortieth anniversary in the capital, East Berlin.

At its downfall, the government and security apparatus of the so-called “German Democratic Republic” appeared to be, as always, thoroughly in control, yet it took only a few chance events to start a domino effect that swept it away. There was the swell of holidaymakers who drove their polluting “Trabis” into Hungary or Czechoslovakia and thence via Austria into West Germany, because those East European countries had stopped preventing them. Beginning on September 4, 1989, there were the Monday marches that set out after the morning “Prayer for Peace” in Leipzig’s St. Nicholas Church.

The fortieth anniversary celebration took place on October 6. On October 9, the morning march in Leipzig encompassed 70,000. In a fateful turning point, the local leaders of the regime decided not to send in the police for fear of mass casualties. Thereafter the marches knew no limits and not just in Leipzig. On November 9, a government spokesman, trying to placate the citizens with a minor concession, issued a mumbled announcement about making it easier to get permits to visit West Germany. East Berliners misunderstood him to mean that the border was now open and rushed to the checkpoints to West Berlin. The guards, equally confused, let them through. Where a hundred thousand had marched to celebrate the regime on October 6, now tens of thousands began to stream through daily in both directions.

Do read it all. If you’re as slow as me, several times.

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