Finally, a Rational Foreign Policy

So, are you having trouble figuring out Trump’s foreign policy? Yeah, it’s different than we are used to. Bookworm had an article the other day, that made a fair amount of sense.

When the Great War (now known as World War I) erupted in 1914, dragging Europe from the pinnacle of civilization into an abyss of mindless killing, President Woodrow Wilson was resolute: America would not enter into this foreign war.

Americans themselves had no desire to be drawn into the war, although the country quickly divided into camps supporting the two sides in the battle. Those supporting England, France, Belgium, and Russia (the Allies) only slightly outnumbered the huge German-American population that put its moral weight behind Germany, Austro-Hungary, and a few other central European nations (the Central Powers).

Traditional American foreign policy there, essentially none of our business, root for the side that you like, and do business with all comers. Book notices and she’s right, the Allies bought an awful lot more stuff than the Germans and bought a lot of it on borrowed American money. It got to the point that the Allies losing would likely have caused a depression in the US. (So did the Allies winning eventually, in 1921, but Coolidge’s policies were so good, that it was a blip, except, maybe for farmers.)

That more than anything else is what forced America into the war, it was decidedly in the American interest for Britain and France to win. It’s not unique in American history, either, the British blockade of Napoleonic France is one of the causes of the War of 1812. In both cases, there were other reasons as well, but these stand out. Don’t forget, we had a little quasi-war with France earlier, again cause by interference in trade. For that matter, if Lincoln hadn’t had a cool head on his shoulders, things like the CSS Alabama could have drawn Britain into the Civil War.

But Wilson wasn’t about to go to war for American trade. Wilson was a lot of things, almost none of them good.

Faced with an unspeakable reason for entering the war, Wilson instead came up with a high-flown moral doctrine justifying America’s entry into the war. And so the Wilson doctrine was born (emphasis mine):

We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.

Which is essentially lovely…bullshit. We went into the Great War for perfectly good reasons, but England wasn’t all that much more democratic than Imperial Germany. It became so, of course, but much of that was the result of the war.

Biggest trouble was that Wilson believed it, and because he did, he got shunted aside at the peace conference after the armistice, and very little of his program happened, and what did, was the parts that would lead to trouble, like the Balkans.

And as Book says, almost every war we’ve stumbled into in the last century, except World War II, has been because we have believed this myth, that we were fighting to make ‘the world safe for democracy’. And World War II, itself, was likely caused because of the vindictive treaty that ended the Great War, where Wilson was shunted to the side, even if he was the representative of the most powerful country there. It’s been true, all the way to Iraq II.

Obama held a different belief, almost a mirror image. As near as I can tell he saw his mission to make the world safe from America. He’s a true believer in the revisionist school, that the US (and the UK) have never done anything that was good for anybody but themselves. Well, we’ve disproved that plenty, but that is what they’re still teaching in the schools.

But what is Trump’s principle? I think it’s the traditional 19th-century American foreign policy, updated for the times. He’s not likely to go about regime-changing without really good cause, nor does he believe, I suspect, in the stupid ‘Pottery Barn Rule’. No more Iraqs are likely.

But he’s not afraid to use the military, as we saw in Syria when somebody does something that threatens America. And yes, chemical weapons do threaten America, especially in a country overrun with every sort of Islamic terrorist there is. The same is true for North Korea, threatening to nuke the US, or our allies, is enough to get you in trouble, and Trump doesn’t appear to pull his punches.

The key thing for America, as it is for Britain, as it has been since Good Queen Bess was on the throne, is freedom of the seas. We are trading nations, and these are our highways, and if they keep it up, sooner or later the PRC is going to run afoul of that, but they are smarter than the average bear, so maybe they’ll figure it out. See also my Sea Lines of Communication.

In short, Trump’s foreign policy looks very much like traditional American (and British) foreign policy, not looking for trouble, but it’s unwise to poke lions and eagles, you just might get hurt.

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Lafayette, nous voilà!

Crowds cheer US general John Pershing in Paris in 1917 as it is announced that America will join the conflict Photo: GETTY

Today is an anniversary, for a hundred years ago today, 6 April 1917, the United States declared war on Imperial Germany. This marked our entrance into what was called until at least 1940, The Great War. But more it marks the beginning of what has come to be called the American century.

The title of the piece is what General Pershing is supposed to have said later that summer when amidst the adoring French crowd, he stood at Marquis de Lafayette’s grave. More likely it was his aide Charles E. Stanton. It marks the point when the Republic for the first time raised its standard for the freedom of other people rather than directly for Americans.

Winston Churchill said that the Great War and World War II constituted another Thirty Years war. He has a point, but others contend that the two wars and the Cold War constitute what they like to call “The Long War”. That too has merit, for all of these conflicts, spanning around 75 years, constitute an almost constant conflict to keep Europe free. One could argue that it still continues.

For those of us that read history, two (or more) wars this close together tend to be interesting. We can trace the junior leaders of one, as the senior commanders of the next. General Marshal was on Pershing’s staff, General Patton led the first armored force in American history, General MacArthur commanded an Infantry Division. One of the pictures I’ve carried in my mind for years is one I cannot find, it showed MacArthur and Patton standing erect in no man’s land conferring with each other. One can almost hear Bill Mauldin yelling back from World War Two, telling then to lie down, they’re likely to draw fire and get somebody hurt! We saw the same thing with Captain Grant and Colonel Lee (and many others) in the Mexican War.

So many things come from the Great War. Phrases such as “Over the Top”, which referred to mounting an attack out of the trenches, and the western revulsion towards chemical weapons. This was when the Marines got their sobriquet of Devil Dogs, bestowed by the Emperor of Germany, Kaiser Bill, himself, which is why we often write it Teufel Hunden. It is also when Belleau Wood lost its name, it is now  “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in honor of the 5th and 6th Regiments of Marines. You can read about it here, even if a then obscure Army Artillery captain thought the damned Marines got entirely too much publicity, That captain was Harry Truman.

Here is the first glimmering of American air power, first in the Lafayette Escadrille, and later in the Air Service, which would grow and in 1948 turn into the United States Air Force.

This is when the First Infantry Division became the “Rock of the Marne”. And on and on. And yet we don’t really study this war much. We were heavily involved but not for all that long, and our casualties were pretty low by the standards of the other participants. It also fits between the two biggest wars in American history, our Civil War and World War II, in both of which we had a much more major role, although one tends to think we were decisive in winning the first war as well.

But the results were decisive, indeed. When we entered the war, Britain was nearly starving, and the financial center of the world had moved from London to New York. France was worn out, Russia was making a separate peace. We didn’t win the peace though, the European allies forced through a victor’s peace on Germany, which would nearly guarantee the rematch. The solution of the end of the Ottoman Empire in the middle east has repercussions to this day, China was unhappy that Japan got some territory from it at Versaille.

This war marks the point where America assumed the leadership of what we call the Free World and started Europe on the downward slope we still see today. It may be a causal factor, because of the casualties that the Europeans incurred, especially in the young leaders.

As early as the fall of 1914, Germany simply couldn’t afford to lose, but they couldn’t win either. France and Britain weren’t in much better shape, only America was left to influence the outcome, just as in 1941, although it is close to risible to claim that Britain and France were actually fighting for democracy, although they were probably closer to it than Germany was. But, you know, both did become much more democratic because of the war, even if it was an unintended consequence.

A hundred years ago, today, we can see the first vague outline of the world we live in today, the one that America built on the shoulders of the British Empire.

Today was the day that Congress sent the word, and that word changed the world.

Very good article here in the £ Telegraph

 

Sapphires and Duty

Queen Elizabeth II waves to well wishers from a open top Range Rover in Windsor, Berkshire, as she celebrates her 90th birthday.

Queen Elizabeth II waves to well-wishers from an open top Range Rover in Windsor, Berkshire, as she celebrates her 90th birthday.

Yesterday was the sixty-fifth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. By all reports, she spent it quietly at Sandringham, in Norfolk, where her father, the King died 65 years ago. She is now the longest reigning monarch in British History. And the only one to have parachuted into the Olympics!

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith wrote about it in the Catholic Herald. He makes a couple of points, I want to emphasize.

The second thing about the Queen that comes to mind is her unshowy devotion to duty. It really is not about her at all, but about the nation, and of course, the Commonwealth. She serves us, not the other way around. In 65 years she has never failed in her duty. This makes her not simply the most remarkable and admirable woman in the country, but perhaps in the world. Her style is in marked contrast to the celebrity culture that is all around us.

How rare that is amongst our people these days. To stick to your duty all your life, even as a quite young woman in the Second World War we could see that. In fact, for her, it is a family trait evident in both of her parents throughout their lives. We try, she flat did it. And a most difficult duty as well. She has done, no that is incorrect, she is doing it admirably. And that is instructive. Her job is one that pretty much denies her any privacy, or even a chance to ever do as she pleases, and yet she has serenely done that duty for sixty-five years, ever since a girl in a Kenyan tree became Queen of England (and all the rest).

He continues

Fourthly, and perhaps the most important of all, as is clear to anyone who has been listening to her Christmas broadcasts over the years, the Queen is a Christian. She is a particular type of Christian, a Low Church Anglican, of the sort who makes little outward show of her faith. But it is certainly there, and it has sustained her over these 65 years. The way she has acted over the last six-and-a-half decades is a tribute to that faith.

via On her Sapphire Jubilee, the Queen remains a wonderful inspiration to all – CatholicHerald.co.uk

Important? Yes. And perhaps it is the most remarkable of all. The queen has kept her faith (and the faith) for her entire reign while so-called progress has stormed about her, and many of her storm-tossed subjects have had theirs rocked, and sometimes lost. In fact, she is on her fifth Archbishop of Canterbury, and Eisenhower had just become the US president when she became Queen.

It’s been at best a turbulent 65 years, and nobody has shown us better what we can be, should be, and yes, must be, if we are to continue what we started those long years ago at the court of Alfred the Great of Wessex, and yes, in Philadelphia City some 241 years ago, as well. For we Yanks too, find in her a steadying point, one who has been there and done that, although probably not so vulgar as to have bought the T-shirt. Indeed the champion of Western Civilization, itself.

God Save the Queen

Remembrance Sunday

I wrote this morning on All along the Watchtower, this is part of that article.

Poppy_wreath_stockwell

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

 

A WOMAN’S TRIBUTE

The Message of the Double Line of Khaki; From the London Times, October 18, 1921

In Westminster Abbey, yesterday, General Pershing laid the American Medal of Honour upon the grave of the Unknown Soldier of Britain. The bright sunlight streamed through the high stained-glass windows in long shafts of light that fell warm upon the grey stone of the Gothic arches, upon the quiet people in the Nave, and around the flower-strewn tomb, and that lay in a cloth of scarlet on the flag above the body of the Unknown Dead.

A thousand years of great history stood silent within those old walls. Close by are the tombs of Norman, Plantagenet, Tudor, and Stuart Kings and Queens, of the priests, and soldiers and the sailors, of the poets and statesmen that have made England great.

As the organ filled the sunlit spaces of the ancient church with its deep volume of sound, there marched up the aisle, with bared heads, a detachment of British soldiers from the Guard’s regiments. As they formed a line facing the centre, an equal number of American soldiers, bare-headed, marched up the other side, and turning, stood facing the British soldiers across the narrow aisle.

Both lines of khaki, both lines of straight and young and clear-eyed boys, both lines of men of Anglo-Saxon blood, of the same standards and of the same ideals they stood there in the sunlight in that shrine of a thousand years of memory, looking straight into each other’s eyes.

Between them, up the aisle, marched the choir in their scarlet vestments with their bright cross on high, the generals, the admirals, and the Ministers of the Empire, and the Ambassador and the Commanding General of the Great Republic but in all that they represented, and in all that was said in the ceremonies that followed, there was no such potent symbol as those two lines of khaki- clad boys, with the sun shining on their bared heads, their brave young faces, and their strong young bodies, looking each other straight in the face.Between them lay, not the narrow aisle, but a thousand leagues of sea, the building of a new world, the birth of a new destiny for man. But as they stood there where they could have touched hands in the old Abbey which was a shrine for their common ancestors, they were so amazingly alike in bearing and appearance that they ceased to be a detachment of soldiers from two different countries, and they became a symbol of the illimitable potentiality of a common heritage that heritage of which the ancient Abbey was a shrine the heritage of the ideals of freedom, of order, of self-discipline, of self-respect.

If any words spoken in the Abbey could have conveyed a hundredth part of what that double line of clear- eyed boys said in utter silence the world would have been a happier place to-day. The old strength and the new force of a common heritage stood in khaki in the aisle of Westminster Abbey bare-headed, to honour the symbol of supreme sacrifice to those ideals in the Cross of Christ and in the body of an Unknown Soldier.

The service included this.

It has been a very long century since that last quiet August weekend of the Edwardian Age. It has been filled far too often with the roar of the guns, and the rattle of musketry followed by the sounding of the Last Post. But the mission has been maintained, it will never be won, although we can and should pray that it will be less horrific going forward. But all around the world, freedom-loving people have learned of the steadfast valor even unto death of English-speaking soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. We are proud of our part, yes. But we are equally proud to be your allies and friends.

Has it been worth it? The citizen of Ypres, Belgium seem to think so. Every night at 8:00pm since 2 July 1928, except during the German occupation in World War II, they have executed this ceremony, and when the Polish forces liberated them in 1944, they resumed, while heavy fighting was still going on in the city. While under occupation in World War II the ceremony took place at Brookwood Military Cemetery, in Surrey, England.

EVERY NIGHT

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

 

56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

2014-06-05-robertmitchumlongestday-thumb

Then there is this attempt to denigrate the movie The Longest Day recounting the Overlord operation to liberate Europe.

The Longest Day, which was made in black and white, features a large ensemble cast including John Wayne, Kenneth More,Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Rod Steiger, Leo Genn, Gert Fröbe, Irina Demick, Bourvil, Curt Jürgens, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka and Arletty.

Many of these actors played roles that were virtually cameo appearances and several cast members such as Fonda, Genn, More, Steiger and Todd saw action as servicemen during the war, with Todd being among the first British officers to land in Normandy in Operation Overlord and participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge. So just for some fun here are some of the movie mistakes – we expect you spotted most of them anyway 🙂

When the ships are about to begin bombarding the beaches you see a group of planes fly by the camera these are Douglas Sky Raiders which did not see service until the late 1940s.

The currency notes in Schultz’s winnings are of a later issue than was in circulation in 1944.

Features LCM-8s, which weren’t built until 1954.

German General Max Pemsel says: “Wir haben starke RADAR-störungen” (We have strong radar interference). The word “radar” was not used, perhaps even not known in Germany in 1944. They used a somewhat similar system, but called it “Funkmeßgeräte” (radio measuring equipment).

General Gavin is wearing a Senior Parachutist badge in 1944.The Parachutist Badge was formally approved on 10 March 1941. The senior and master parachutists badges were authorized by Headquarters, Department of the Army in 1949 and were announced by Change 4, Army Regulation 600-70, dated 24 January 1950.

During the go/no go sequence, a jet can be heard flying overhead as the naval representative is speaking.

During a very early scene in France, the back end of a Citroen 2CV can be seen parked at the side of the street as the German soldiers march down it.

via 56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

And so on for three pages. Yes, it’s interesting and very likely true. But you know, it doesn’t matter a damn. Like the John Ford Trilogy, the story is the thing, and these warriors of America, Canada, Great Britain, France, Poland, and still others did something so heroic here, that all of these relatively picayune mistakes, while regrettable, just don’t matter. This is not a technical documentary, this is a commemoration of one of the greatest days in history, one of the first to try to be fair to all the participants.

I couldn’t find the whole movie on YouTube for you, but if you run the playlist in autoplay, it’ll be kind of like watching it on TV, which is where I fist saw it, long ago and far away. 🙂

Hullo, Mummy. Welcome to the Revolution!

World US

How Americans see Europe

Over here, we’ve long viewed the United Kindom as the mother country. After all, we based our freedom on English practice, as we did our law, our trade practices, and even our treatment of each other. In fact, that was so strong that our founders referred to the Revolution, not the rebellion. That is because we were completing the revolution, restoring our rights as Englishmen, not rebelling against lawful authority. That is most of the reason that after the unpleasantness in 1812-1815, it became pretty easy for us to resume our friendship.

And you know, the revolution is completing yet again, as the United Kingdom itself finds itself in exactly the same position as we did 240 years ago, being ruled by another power, without representation, in their case, Brussels and the European Union. Mark Twain said history rhymes, but this is almost as close as history ever comes to repeating.

Robert Tracinski over at The Federalist has also noticed this phenomenon:

[Recently at Colonial Williamsburg] Oh yes, and we also got together in a mob outside Raleigh Tavern and hanged Lord North in effigy. […] Most of you, I suspect, will not know who Lord North was or why we were (symbolically) hanging him. But it’s entirely relevant today.

w1056 (1)Lord North was His Majesty’s Prime Minister during the crucial years of the American Revolution, from 1770 to 1782. The specific infractions for which he was subjected to mock trial and hanging in effigy were the Intolerable Acts, a series of punitive measures against Boston that were widely interpreted as a declaration of war against colonial America.

Today, we tend to think of the American Revolution as a war against King George III. But it was just as much a war against the British Parliament and its leadership, which was increasingly regarded by Americans as a “foreign” body that did not represent them. We already had our own, long-established legislatures (Virginia’s General Assembly, for example, will soon celebrate its 400th anniversary and is one of the oldest in the world), and we considered them to be our proper representatives, solely authorized to approve legislation on our behalf.

[and] The key issue — the breaking point — is the European Union’s practice of seeking to validate its authority through popular referendums then ignoring them when they don’t get the result they wanted.

The EU crossed a fatal line when it smuggled through the Treaty of Lisbon, by executive cabal, after the text had already been rejected by French and Dutch voters in its earlier guise. It is one thing to advance the Project by stealth and the Monnet method, it is another to call a plebiscite and then to override the outcome.

[…] And when you think of it, we were just following the British example. Britain had faced its own conflicts between the authority of Parliament and the overreaching ambitions of its kings, and they had already set the example of removing the king to preserve the power of Parliament. Before we did it in the 18th century, they did it in the 17th century — twice. Britain itself had established the precedents of the rule of law and the consent of the governed. I don’t know why they would want to throw that away now.

via Brexit: Welcome, Britain, To Our Revolution

You know he is exactly right. We took those (God-given) rights that the English had taken back for themselves, and enforced that they could not be removed from the people, as the English had done over the centuries. That is really how the Amerexit from the first empire came about. Now it’s up to the British to take back Britain for themselves, with Brexit. If you think you need justification, how about John Locke, who said this:

The people alone can appoint the form of the commonwealth, which is by constituting the legislative, and appointing in whose hands that shall be. And when the people have said, We will submit to rules, and be governed by laws made by such men, and in such forms, no body else can say other men shall make laws for them; nor can the people be bound by any laws, but such as are enacted by those whom they have chosen, and authorized to make laws for them. The power of the legislative[,] being derived from the people by a positive voluntary grant and institution, can be no other than what that positive grant conveyed, which being only to make laws, and not to make legislators, the legislative can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws, and place it in other hands.

He was hardly alone, he was supported in Parliament (the only time it happened) by both William Pitt the Elder, and Charles James Fox, who took to wearing the blue and buff of the Continental Army in Parliament itself.

John Adams chimed in with this:

The fundamental article of my political creed is that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor. Equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical.

Yes, we’ve talked about this before, that article is here.

One of the things that America has preserved is the written history of liberty, it is probably harder with the government in Parliament, and that problem is why our founders organized these United States as they did. We’re an originalist bunch, basing ourselves on rights hard won by Englishmen and Americans alike.

UKIP has a very cute video out as well.

Come on out, the sun is shining and there’s corn, and most of all, there’s freedom.

Something I rarely do, but I think you should also read this:

 http://www.libertylawsite.org/2016/06/21/this-realm-this-england/

 

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