Selling Out the British

This is quite remarkable, not to mention rather horrifying. What Theresa May’s government is doing in their negotiations is nothing less than selling the UK’s sovereignty to Brussels (and you can easily see Berlin’s hand running the puppet that is the EU.

Britain is, of course, the fourth or fifth largest economy in the world, depending on how you measure, and many believe it is the second most powerful country in the world, second only to the United States, and the only other one able to intervene anywhere around the world.

Amazing, isn’t it? The people voted clearly to leave the EU, and the government has used that as cover to give them a worse deal, a similar influence on how they do things, but without even the (mostly sham) vote. One could call it selling their sovereignty, but one would be wrong – they aren’t getting paid, well probably May and the Civil Service have some golden prospects for their treachery, but we don’t know that yet.

There is, of course, a backstory, of how it got that way. Peter Hitchens lays it out as clearly as I have seen.

Amazing story, isn’t it? I’m pretty much convinced that the overall point is true. I don’t agree with every point, although some of that may be my prejudices speaking, of course. Specifically, I do believe in the special relationship between the US and the UK, although I’m not sure the British really do. Still, overall, he makes an excellent case.

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Modems, Recruiting, and Beau (Fighter) Geste

Sorry about yesterday, if anyone noticed. It seems our cable modem died, and then the new one wasn’t optimized for anything but a simple computer with no protection, which doesn’t describe here, so It took some time. Seems, OK now, which is the main thing.

Recently the Washington Examiner held a symposium on what it means to be conservative in America today. Some of the participants couldn’t spell conservative, but overall, I agree with Ace on this one.

Larry Arnn’s piece is okay, Olsen’s piece is good, and Antle’s piece that the neocon plan — “Depose Trump and we get our phony-baloney jobs back!” — is a pipe dream is okay for that point, but it’s Mollie Hemingway who brings the hot fire:

MOLLIE HEMINGWAYOne of the ways that Vladimir Putin retains power in Russia is to permit a systemic, yet insincere opposition in the legislature. Technically, these individuals are in an opposing party, but they are generally fine with Putin’s government. Putin uses them to monitor his opposition and to create an illusion that there’s an outlet for contrary opinions.

For too long, the conservative movement in Washington, D.C., functioned as the systemic opposition to progressivism’s march through American institutions, public and private. Technically, they were opposed, and they’d make some sounds about opposing the growth of the administrative state and the cultural rot. But they were never terribly successful at returning the country to its first principles or constitutional order, despite the millions of supporters who put them in power and expected not just rhetoric but results.

Conservatism now is about rejecting this rigged system and taking the risk of working outside of it to advance its principles and policy objectives. The fact that conservatism had become a checklist of watered-down progressive policy prescriptions only served to hasten the demise of the old system.

What was conservatism’s last great accomplishment? The expansion of Medicare Part D? The failed efforts to spread democracy by force through the Middle East? Wasted years talking about the repeal and replacement of Obamacare? Sitting idly by while Silicon Valley tech oligarchs took control of our discourse and set the parameters for acceptable thoughts and speech?

There is a limit to how long people could ride the high of the Reagan years without successive accomplishments.

Conservatism today is properly understood as constitutionalism and a revisiting of first principles about securing the blessings of liberty. It’s a movement that demands meaningful free-trade agreements instead of just agreements based on the hope that someday China will play fair. It seeks hearty discussions about national sovereignty and meaningful borders. It acknowledges the limits, and costs, of military action. It recognizes that crouching cowardice in the face of cultural losses led the country to its current precipice, where people are terrified to speak freely and speak the truth.

And it doesn’t care one whit if it has to completely upset the existing political order.

You just can’t go wrong with Mollie!


It seems the British army has some new recruiting posters: From Samizdata.

Well, OK, I suppose, noting that we do need their skills, and perhaps their bodies if our experience is any guide. Still, the British army would no doubt do better in recruiting if the government tried at least a bit to stand behind their soldiers, instead of opening them up to prosecution based on things that happened clear back in the Troubles. Soldiering ain’t something that can be done in the ivory tower, its a dirty, messy business, and the troopers deserve better So, maybe it all right, but it surely is different from the one from a bit over a century ago that leads this article.

Also, I note with alarm that the US Army is having trouble meeting its recruitment goals, not surprisingly mostly in liberal areas. This ain’t current either, although it still spoke to us when I was young in the sixties.

As the author reminds us:

AFAIK, the case continues… What would Field Marshal the Earl (Horatio Herbert) Kitchener say were he spinning in his cold, watery grave? That Wing Cdr Ken Gatward DSO DFC* AE was named for him, and lived up to it, might give one pause for thought.

 

 

 

 

Syria: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

I haven’t picked up on this before because it requires some thinking, so not a bad time for a discussion of it on New Year’s Eve, when we are thinking about the future anyway.

Around 18 months ago, Sean Davis had some thoughts on the matter, which remain relevant.

There’s a pattern here, this is what we did in (and are doing) in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria, arguably even in Vietnam. We started something that for whatever reason we are not willing to finish.

Everybody, even Islamists, respects people who are willing to see the job through, but not those who come in rattle around for a while and hunker down, taking casualties for no purpose whatsoever, except perhaps the self-glory of politicians, military and civilian.

I think the most apt analogy may well be the British in India. It took them about 300 years to turn most of India from a feudal country into a semi-democratic democracy, note that time frame, 300 years, and they were only semi-successful. Afghanistan was part of the Raj, as well. We’ve been in Germany for 70 years, but we started there with a country that was not dissimilar from ours, and I don’t think the job is done there either.

Who succeeded in what is now Afghanistan? Not Alexander the Great, not the British, not the Russians. Who succeeded was Ghengis Kahn, and he did it by killing a large proportion of the population.

I wrote a series on Afghanistan back in 2012, you can find it here, here, and here. Nothing whatever has changed, except we’re doing the same thing in Syria, the applicable quote from the series comes from Mark Steyn:

In the last couple of months, two prominent politicians of different nations visiting their troops on the ground have used the same image to me for Western military bases: crusader forts. Behind the fortifications, a mini-West has been built in a cheerless land: There are Coke machines and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Safely back within the gates, a man can climb out of the full RoboCop and stop pretending he enjoys three cups of tea with the duplicitous warlords, drug barons, and pederasts who pass for Afghanistan’s ruling class. The visiting Western dignitary is cautiously shuttled through outer and inner perimeters, and reminded that even here there are areas he would be ill-advised to venture unaccompanied, and tries to banish memories of his first tour all those years ago when aides still twittered optimistically about the possibility of a photo op at a girls’ schoolroom in Jalalabad or an Internet start-up in Kabul.

The last crusader fort I visited was Kerak Castle in Jordan a few years ago. It was built in the 1140s, and still impresses today. I doubt there will be any remains of our latter-day fortresses a millennium hence. Six weeks after the last NATO soldier leaves Afghanistan, it will be as if we were never there. Before the election in 2010, the New York Post carried a picture of women registering to vote in Herat, all in identical top-to-toe bright blue burkas, just as they would have looked on September 10, 2001. We came, we saw, we left no trace. America’s longest war will leave nothing behind.

That’s what I saw then, and its what I see now. I’m not sure who exactly benefits from wasting these brave young Americans (and Britons and Aussies too) but I have my suspicions and suspect you do as well, and they probably match well.

Later that year I wrote another piece on the way General Sheridan pacified the Shenandoah, under General Grant’s orders, remember this was a war by Americans on Americans. We knew how to win once upon a time.

[…] so Grant gave Sheridan some famous orders, amongst other things he told him to take the valley apart so thoroughly that “a crow flying across it will have to carry rations” which Sheridan did, even as Sherman was about to do to Georgia. He also dealt quite sternly with partisans, what we call guerrillas today.

So eventually the war ended and in 1870 Sheridan was in Europe observing the Franco-Prussian war. For some reason he and Otto von Bismarck struck up a friendship and von Bismarck asked Sheridan how to deal with the French guerrillas behind German lines. This was Sheridan’s answer:

 “The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with after the war.” He advised that the insurgents be hanged, their villages burned and their lands laid waste until they begged for peace.

We simply are not going to win hearts and minds, either in Afghanistan or Syria, so it comes down to win or lose, and losing includes bleeding casualties for ‘a forever war’ that there is no profit (material or otherwise) in winning.

“In war, there is no substitute for victory.” There wasn’t when MacArthur said it, there wasn’t when his father won the Medal of Honor fighting for the Union, there isn’t now, and there never will be. Sadly, endless war can be profitable for some people, and those people put their profit ahead of America’s best interests.

Remember These Fighting, WWII, Hollywood Idols? “Hollywood’s greatest–Compare them to today’s simpletons.”

Well, you get another couple of days of short posts from my phone. This although a reasonably short article, highlights something we’ve spoken often of, as have our British counterparts. So enjoy, and I’ll find something for tomorrow, and see you Monday.

Remember These Fighting, WWII, Hollywood Idols? “Hollywood’s greatest–Compare them to today’s simpletons.” http://www.watcherofweasels.org/remember-these-fighting-wwii-hollywood-idols-hollywoods-greatest-compare-them-to-todays-simpletons/

The Bonhomme Richard

The British report they may have found the remains of the Bonhomme Richard, John Paul Jone’s flagship when he fought the Serapis, off Flamborough Head on the east coast of England.

This, of course, is the battle (and a hard-fought one) where he gave the Continental Navy, and all Americans down to this day, an ideal to live up to with his reply as to whether he had surrendered after his colors were shot away. He said.

“I have not yet begun to fight.”

Thus are traditions formed. From J. L. Bell of Boston 1775.

Last week the British press reported that marine archeologists announced the discovery of the wreck of the Bonhomme Richard, the French-built Continental Navy warship commanded by John Paul Jones during his most celebrated battle.

The Yorkshire Post reported:

Mystery has for decades surrounded the exact location of the wreck. It went down in flames during the American Revolutionary war, at the bloody Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779, in which Jones led a makeshift flotilla of French ships into the North Sea, harassing commercial shipping as far as Bridlington.In a deadly skirmish in which both sides claimed victory, Jones – who had fled his native Scotland to become one of the first commanders in the rebel service – took over the 50-gun British frigate HMS Serapis, and went to America a hero.

And where did Jones’s foundering flagship end up? The Post said:

Previously believed to be some six miles out to sea, explorers now say the site is walkable from the beach and visible from the cliffs above. . . .“You can walk out on to the wreck from the shore. You can literally go to the beach and look in the water and see where it is. And you can go on the cliffs and look down on it and see the shadow’s outline. . . . It’s not where everyone thought it was going to be. We have made a brand spanking new determination of where the wreck is actually located.”

It should be noted that Bell reminds us:

Another wrinkle to this story is that U.S. government would claim the wreckage, as it does any U.S. naval ship anywhere in the world. Back in 1779, of course, the British government didn’t recognize the U.S. of A. or its laws. But that was what all the fighting was about, wasn’t it?

So we’ll see, if it is, and if it becomes an attraction. It surely is a storied battle.

Houellebecq This

Illustration by Ricardo Martínez

Steven Hayward commented on PowerLine Saturday that about once in a generation Harpers publishes something worth reading. He is about correct.

That article, written by Michel Houellebecq, whom you may remember as the author of Submission a novel about the Muslim takeover of France, a frightening dystopic novel, that too many felt all too real and likely. Do read the full article In Harper’s, linked above.

In this article, he tells us why Trump is a good president, for us and for the world, while making just about everybody crazy. How fun! Yep, he does me as well.

In all sincerity, I like Americans a lot; I’ve met many lovely people in the United States, and I empathize with the shame many Americans (and not only “New York intellectuals”) feel at having such an appalling clown for a leader.

However, I have to ask—and I know what I’m requesting isn’t easy for you—that you consider things for a moment from a non-American point of view. I don’t mean “from a French point of view,” which would be asking too much; let’s say, “from the point of view of the rest of the world.”

On the numerous occasions when I’ve been questioned about Donald Trump’s election, I’ve replied that I don’t give a shit. France isn’t Wyoming or Arkansas. France is an independent country, more or less, and will become totally independent once again when the European Union is dissolved (the sooner, the better).

The United States of America is no longer the world’s leading power. It was for a long time, for almost the entire course of the twentieth century. It isn’t anymore.

It remains a major power, one among several.

This isn’t necessarily bad news for Americans.

It’s very good news for the rest of the world.

My response is a bit of an exaggeration. One has an ongoing obligation to take at least a modicum of interest in American political life. The United States is still the world’s leading military power and unfortunately has yet to break its habit of mounting interventions beyond its borders. I’m not a historian, and I don’t know much about ancient history—for example, I couldn’t say whether Kennedy or Johnson was more to blame for the dismal Vietnam affair—but I have the impression that it’s been a good long time since the United States last won a war, and that for at least fifty years its foreign military interventions, whether acknowledged or clandestine, have been nothing but a succession of disgraces culminating in failures.

See what I mean? The worst part is, he’s got a point, it’s not all that easy to argue with that view of the United States, is it. Here is why we are seeing the death of the Neocons, such as the Weekly Standard, that had the urge to spread ‘democracy’ all over the world, ready or not (mostly not, in fact), leading to trillions of dollars wasted, thousands of American casualties, and millions of civilians dead. What have we accomplished?

Trump is pursuing and amplifying the policy of disengagement initiated by Obama; this is very good news for the rest of the world.

The Americans are getting off our backs.

The Americans are letting us exist.

The Americans have stopped trying to spread democracy to the four corners of the globe. Besides, what democracy? Voting every four years to elect a head of state—is that democracy? In my view, there’s one country in the world (one country, not two) that enjoys partially democratic institutions, and that country isn’t the United States of America; it’s Switzerland. A country otherwise notable for its laudable policy of neutrality.

The Americans are no longer prepared to die for the freedom of the press. Besides, whatfreedom of the press? Ever since I was twelve years old, I’ve watched the range of opinions permissible in the press steadily shrinking (I write this shortly after a new hunting expedition has been launched in France against the notoriously anti-liberal writer Éric Zemmour).

The Americans are relying more and more on drones, which—if they knew how to use these weapons—could have allowed them to reduce the number of civilian casualties (but the fact is that Americans have always been incapable, practically since aviation began, of carrying out a proper bombing).

But what’s most remarkable about the new American policies is certainly the country’s position on trade, and there Trump has been like a healthy breath of fresh air; you’ve really done well to elect a president with origins in what is called “civil society.”

President Trump tears up treaties and trade agreements when he thinks it was wrong to sign them. He’s right about that; leaders must know how to use the cooling-off period and withdraw from bad deals.

You know, I find it difficult to disagree profoundly with him. Oh yes, my viewpoint as an American means my slant is different, but in many ways, he’s not far off my truth either. And yes, that is an indictment of the foreign policy that we have followed since the end of the Soviet Union. He ends the article with this.

Silicon Valley and, to a lesser degree, Hollywood will have to cope with the appearance of formidable competitors; but Silicon Valley, like Hollywood, will hang on to important sectors of the market.

China will scale back its overweening ambitions. This outcome will be the hardest to achieve, but in the end, China will limit its aspirations, and India will do the same. China has never been a global imperialist power, nor has India—unlike the United States, their military aims are local. Their economic aims, it’s true, are global. They have some economic revenge to take, they’re taking it at the moment, which is indeed a matter of some concern; Donald Trump is quite right to not let himself be pushed around. But in the end, their contentiousness will subside, their growth rate will subside.

All this will take place within one human lifetime.

You have to get used to the idea, worthy American people: in the final analysis, maybe Donald Trump will have been a necessary ordeal for you. And you’ll always be welcome as tourists.

And that’s not a bad outcome at all, in my mind.

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