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.

American Leadership

OK, gang, no Kavanaugh from me today. I’m tired of it, and no matter how many leftist hacks err women claim he looked at them sideways while drunk and disorderly, I simply don’t believe them, not least because they can’t keep their story straight. It’s appropriate that ‘Creepy Porn Lawyer’ is horning in on the racket- it’s all on about his level.

But, still, I have a post to write. What should we talk about? Rosenstein? Nah – see above. How about Donald Trump’s diplomacy, after all, he’s at the UN this week. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

And Bob Barr over at The American Spectator had some stuff to say about it.

[S]peaking to a large gathering at Rice University stadium in September 1962, President John Kennedy challenged his countrymen to place a man on the surface of the moon and return him safely to the earth. At the time, many of those countrymen thought his dream unattainable, at least within the timeframe of a single decade as the President suggested. Yet, in less than seven years, a team of scientists and engineers accomplished exactly what Kennedy envisioned.

Late in his presidency, Ronald Reagan challenged his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “tear down” the Berlin Wall; a structure that had stood for more than a quarter century as a seeming permanent monument to the strength of the communist system. His critics, and even some in his own political Party, sloughed off Reagan’s challenge as nothing more than a catchy soundbite delivered by an eloquent but elderly president. A mere two years later, the Berlin Wall and the totalitarian regimes it personified, began crumbling.

Early this year, President Trump publicly broached the likelihood of a personal meeting with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un, who just weeks before Trump had ridiculed as “Little Rocket Man.” Unsurprisingly, pundits were highly skeptical that a meeting between the two leaders would take place, and even if it did, that any meaningful substantive results would follow. But here we are, just three months after the Singapore Summit, and the leaders of the two Koreas — split apart and still technically in a state of war since 1950 — expressing optimism that the four nations directly involved in that oft-forgotten war (including China and the United States) will sign a peace treaty before the end of this year.

To perhaps a majority of decision-makers in Washington, New York, and elsewhere, believing such a scenario not only possible but likely would itself be deemed delusional. Democrats — who saw their last President, Barack Obama, constantly showered with praise as a visionary world leader throughout his eight years in office (including receiving the Nobel Peace Prize during his very first year as President) — scoff at the notion that Trump is capable of accomplishing something truly noteworthy in international affairs.

Read the rest, he makes some excellent points.

Bob speaks of these Presidents as thinking outside the box, and he’s not wrong, but there is more there, they all reflect the words of George Bernard Shaw, who said, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

There is, in American leadership at its best, epitomized by these three an appealing sense that nothing is impossible. I think it is a very American thing, that comes from being such a young country that has accomplished so very much, through hard work and dedication. From Teddy Roosevelt on, if there is a great cause happening (and often a ridiculously naive one, to be sure), one can be sure that there is an American in it. Maybe it is our special gift, to think outside the box, to find a new perspective, to challenge ourselves, and the world, to be better than we think we are.

 

Video Monday

Well, I don’t know, how about some Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to start the week off right. Sounds good to me.

Making fools out of Senators, of course that is low hanging fruit.

 

When he resigned as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson prettyymuch took apart Theresa May’s government with very faint praise. Here it is.

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My friends over at The Conservative Woman found this a couple of weeks ago

It’s pretty good, although long. But I do agree with Fionn when he says:

Sam Harris is one of the ‘four horsemen of atheism’ with Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins.

Jordan Peterson has a more ambivalent view of Christianity, talking about its wisdom and the necessary meaning it provides. However, he adopts a Jungian, metaphorical view and seems to believe there is truth, but not that it is the Truth.

Douglas Murray holds a similar view, concluding that Christianity is the best bulwark against Islamism and the progressive madness. Murray made a similar comment to the one I made here, that new religions are being formed by the day as we enter a new era of paganism and what will come may be worse than what was.

Heartening as it is to hear brilliant minds speak highly of Christianity, such an instrumental view of the faith will not survive. We cannot have Christianity without Christ, a religion founded on our (justifiable) hatred and fear of some things – nihilism, Islamism and progressivism – rather than our love of God.

Have a good Monday.

Hell in a Handcart

Steven Hayward over at PowerLine posted yesterday on how Europe is falling apart.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is hanging on by her fingernails in Germany right now, as the backlash against migrants reached a critical mass in recent weeks. The cabinet minister who confronted Merkel and forced immigration concessions, Horst Seehofer of the “conservative” CSU party based chiefly in Bavaria, has seen his own poll ratings collapse in the aftermath of the political crisis. But this is just as likely to be the result of his not having gone far enough with his attempts to get Merkel to reverse course on her disastrous immigration policy. The supposedly Trumpian “Alternative for Germany” party is now expected to rack up big gains in upcoming regional elections. Merkel’s chances for survival in office don’t look very good at the moment.

Indeed so, and Britain is just as bad, as we spoke of yesterday. The Visegrad countries are in almost open revolt against Brussels, and this:

Meanwhile, this story from The Express in London:

‘Italy has caused a MELTDOWN’ 700,000 migrants waiting to cross into Europe from Libya

A BOTTLENECK of 700,000 migrants is waiting in Libya to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, the National Crime Agency has said. The number – greater than the population of Leicester – highlights the difficulties facing the EU in controlling migrants seeking a new life in Europe.

Senior members of the NCA, dubbed Britain’s FBI, revealed the figures as they detailed the increasingly tough battle they face to stop people smugglers. NCA directors warned of a sharp rise in attempted illegal sea crossings from Africa to Europe this year, with 300 people drowning last week.

Migrants are then crossing Europe and using increasingly devious ways to evade detection, including hiding in “coffin-sized” secret compartments in vehicles. . .

Tom Dowdall, NCA deputy director of organised immigration crime, said the problem was growing. Attempted crossings to Greece and Turkey are up by 47 per cent on last year, with those to Spain and Italy up by 75 per cent. They have not reached the peak levels of 2015, caused after Mrs Merkel made a controversial decision to open Germany’s borders and allow a million refugees in.

And the ‘Deep State’ is still attempting its coup against Donald Trump in the US. And as Steve notes, you’ve read almost nothing of this in this in the papers, which carry more propaganda that than the Völkischer Beobachter would have ever dared to. So what is going on?

Here what it looks like to me. The ‘New World Order’ is real. Oh, it may not be really organized, although parts may be, it’s a group of people with the same aim and methods, working to the same goals.

It’s the Deep State, the fake news media, the Democratic Party, the corporatist big businesses, and probably more in the US. It’s all the center-left parties, including the Tories, in Britain along with their media. The same across Europe.

But I think they’ve already lost. Brexit and Trump defeated them. Not on the battlefield, but because they brought to the fore men and women who will fearlessly tell the truth.

Men like President Trump, whose election forced them to move perhaps a generation early, and the rowdy Americans stifled the movement, with many thanks to the Constitution.

And men like Tommy Robinson, a hero who stands for the indigenous people of Britain, and quite a few others, in all our countries.

Where the Americans lead, others take heart, and follow. And thus, in one state after another, all across Europe, we see nationalists taking heart and defending against this new threat.

Well, it’s not really a new threat, it’s really the old order, one variety of feudalism or another.

Will we win? That remains to be seen. I’m reminded that the main character of Herman Wouk’s World War II romance, War and Remembrance, was at the Army-Navy club for the New Year’s Eve party on 31 December 1942. When asked how the war was going his comment was, “Plenty of hell behind us, and plenty more ahead of us.”

Churchill called the El Alamein, Midway, Guadalcanal, Stalingrad axis of victories The End of the Beginning. He was correct. Before we never won a battle, after these we never lost one. This is like that. What we have done so far is to identify (most of) the enemies of freedom and independence for all of us, now it remains to destroy them for another generation.

If you wondered why Trump commented that of his meetings in Europe this week, Putin may be the easiest, this is why. Putin puts Russia first, not some nebulous group like the EU. He’s a nationalist, as is Trump. That means that rational negotiations are possible. His goals are not our goals, but they are rational. Which is something that cannot be said of most of our opposition.

So, once again, perhaps exceptional America, allied with Britannia, our traditional, stubborn, quiet, Anglo-Saxon partner, may lead Europe to the broad sunlit uplands of freedom. The only promise is that we will give it our best shot. Otherwise, Yeats will be the herald of a new dark age.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, 
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

A Summit and a Communique

So we have a joint communique. It reads well, it says things that need to happen, and probably its covered in fine leather, the best. What does it mean?

Everything or maybe nothing at all. It’s much too early to tell. On July 5, 1776, Tom Jefferson’s Declaration was mostly a list of people George III thought should be hanged. Its high flown and moving words meant very little until made good in Patriot (and British) blood.

It’s a good start, and you can’t reach the finish if you don’t start. It starts from the fact that last year, the whole nuclear thing became real for Kim, and he got scared right out of his mind when he saw a glimpse of the real power of the United States, sword unsheathed, coming at him, with a president who really would let slip the dogs of war. And to fight through to victory, not some measly little-limited war.

Call it a near-death experience, cause that is pretty much what it was, those change people. Maybe it has here too, he’s a young man, long time left to enjoy life.

Melanie Phillips has as good a write up as I’ve seen.

As Trump himself has said, however, this is merely the start of a process. It has been suggested that his strategy is to reel Kim in over time like a big fish on a line, with every step towards denuclearisation being rewarded by another step in relieving sanctions. And that may be so.

Certainly, Trump’s over-the-top gushing over Kim should not be taken at face value. This was just part of the choreography for his grand theatre of negotiation. Nor do I think it credible that either he or his hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or even more hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton could have failed to factor in the need for robust verification of the de-nuclearisation process and the difficulties in achieving that.

I was most interested by the body language between the two men, and also by something Kim said. Trump’s bombastic bonhomie seemed to me to signify the biggest beast in the jungle beating his chest to demonstrate his dominance; the more effusive the compliments, the louder the message that Trump could afford to be generous because the other guy had lost. It was not designed to make Kim look his equal. It was designed to humiliate.

That’s true, and I doubt it has much to do with Trump’s feelings (or lack thereof) for Kim. It’s a warning, to the Ayatollahs, to China, to the G7, to Putin, to all and sundry that the sheriff is watching them, and limited nonsense will be tolerated.

The only thing that has reduced American dominance in my lifetime is American non-leadership. America is still the worlds most powerful economy coupled with the worlds most powerful military just as it was in 1944. One is well advised to pay attention when such a one speaks.

And Trump is also right on Europe, there is very little support in America for continuing to support Europe, either militarily or economically. The Europeans have grown too arrogant, too sure of their entitlement, too lazy to defend themselves, and the people of America have noticed. Uncle Sugar is retiring. We’ll defend our friends, mostly the ones we restored from communism, and don’t want to go back, but that is close to the limit, and it just might be as anti-German as anti-Russian.

Melanie ends with this, and I think it a fair assessment.

The American strategy towards North Korea cannot be viewed in isolation from its strategy of isolating, weakening and ultimately destroying the Iranian regime. Tehran will be sweating that the outsourcing to Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons programme is not disrupted by the Trump/Kim negotiating process.

It cannot be sure. Trump’s policy of isolating Iran is already working. From being the unrivalled grandmasters of geopolitical chess, the Iranian regime now finds that the board and its pieces have been thrown up into the air by a vandal against the international order whose behaviour it cannot predict. And both China and Russia have already moved as a result to accommodate him.

Who knows where this will end? We cannot at present tell whether Trump will succeed or fail. But one thing seems indisputable: the assistance previously given by the US to the forces of utmost evil in the world has been stopped in its tracks. And only the most unhinged haters of this most extraordinary US President can deny that achievement.

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