America: What Others See

Sometimes we should back off on our concerns and see what others think of us. Two “others” have written about America this week. I think we should take note.

The first is Nikola Kedhi writing on The Federalist. Most of the people we quote here are pretty well-known and we don’t elaborate, but here we should. According to his bio at The Federalist, he is:

Nikola hails from Albania and studied International Economics, Management, and Finance at Bocconi University in Milan. He obtained his Master’s in Finance from Carlos III University in Madrid. Currently, he works as an Associate at Deloitte in Albania, one of the Big 4 consultancy firms.

So no close ties to America other than perhaps, his job. Let’s see what he says.

America is much more than a country. It is much more than a land or a group of people that came together to form a nation. Ultimately, the United States is a symbol. It is the world’s fullest and greatest embodiment of capitalism, democracy, and freedom. It is the land of the free, the home of the brave, a source of hope, and a defender of justice.

Many may not understand the significance of America as an ideal. Some in the United States and Europe have lived comfortably for decades, never been invaded, never lost their land or property, nor their freedom to think or speak. As a result, they can’t value what they already have. It’s an unfortunate reality that you often have to lose something to fully understand its worth.

My country, Albania, is small today, but in the past, the ancestral lands of my people once spread throughout the Balkans. We had the first queen in Europe, gave the Vatican four popes, provided emperors who shaped history and survived through the strong men and women who died for their country, their traditions, and their families.

Nevertheless, neighboring countries with the help of larger empires and states in Europe slowly took our territories and forced into flight large parts of our population. More than 100 years ago, only one country stood up for us, fought for our territorial integrity, and helped us retain the borders we have today: the United States of America.

One doesn’t need to travel further back in time than a few generations to find Albania at the mercy of the red terror known as communism. […]

Despite 45 years of propaganda demonizing the United States, the Albanian people never forgot what President Reagan often referred to as the “shining city on a hill.” Indeed, no matter the torture and the brainwashing the regime tried, it could never remove the desire for freedom. The desire for freedom, meritocracy, and justice are deeply ingrained in the human soul. […]

Still, hope remains. I see it every day and not just in America. President Trump stands in front of the advance of the radical leftists in the United States and he inspires others to follow his example in Europe. He has vowed that America will never be a socialist country. The history of America is filled with inspiring stories of those who stood up, never gave up hope, and resolutely worked for a better future. A strong and prosperous United States means a safer and better world.

Read it all. Then there is this from The Spectator, by Robert Taylor who is based in London.

At a time of crisis, we need hope more than ever. We need positivity and optimism. We need the American Dream. What is the American Dream exactly? Being a Brit, I didn’t really know, though I had a foggy notion of a can-do, anyone-can-make-it, over-the-rainbow sort of spirit. So I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it turns out I wasn’t too far wrong. To summarize, the American Dream is a national ethos that fosters prosperity and success on the basis of social mobility and rewards for hard work and enterprise.

That sounds good and noble to me. But I’d suggest it should apply, especially now, not just to America, but far beyond its shores, to all those willing to embrace it. {…}

To repair the massive damage, to dust ourselves down, recover from the shock, and get back up on our feet, we need cooperation between leading states in terms of economic intervention and health resilience.

And who can lead this cooperation? Well, let’s think. The UN? No way — too many competing interests. China? Nope. There’s no trust, especially since this whole thing appears to have started in or near some filthy live- animal market in Wuhan, followed by weeks of obfuscation and denial.

The EU? Are you kidding? Once the coronavirus hit, the sham that is the European Union was rapidly laid bare to anyone who cared to look. […]

No. Just as in 1945, with the establishment of Bretton Woods as a basis for the global economy and international security, only the USA can lead us out of this crisis. The American Dream must become an international reality. […]

Dare I say that there are few nations that trust each other more, and have a stronger recent history of standing side by side, than the U.S. and UK? […]

For years, a range of academics, economists, and politicians across the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, recognizing their common language, history, cultural understanding, head of state, and deep- rooted, intertwined identities, have advocated closer cooperation between their respective nations in the CANZUK movement (it’s an acronym — get it?). While Britain has been pulling away from the EU, it has quietly been moving towards its English-speaking brethren.

The U.S. is the logical fifth, and most important, partner in this movement. Can these five countries work together now, not just for mutual benefit but to lead the world towards a new global order? Of course they can. […]

Maybe I’m an idealist, but I see a massive opportunity from this crisis for old friends, pulled apart by a decades-long narrative that encouraged crude, regional trading blocs while derisively snorting at the nation state and historic trading links, to come together once again.

Read this one too. I agree completely with both of them. When we say that if the US goes down, there is no place to run to, this is what we mean. It is true for us and it is true for all those who love freedom and liberty, not to mention a chance to get ahead in this life. We are the last ditch in defense of that city on the hill with its beacon burning bright. Others will follow, and help but we must lead. Because we are “The Keepers of the Flame”.

Whatever must be done, and I think many of us have some knowledge of that, must be done.

Some things are worth living for, and they are the things worth dying for

Those sunlit uplands that Churchill dreamed of still beckon, and the journey may be tough but it will be worth it.

Is It Time to Panic?

A pretty famous redhead, because why not?

Are you panicked by the coronavirus yet? Seems like we are supposed to be. For me, the answer is no. There are several reasons for that. First and foremost, I don’t do crowds, I like my own company, my books, and my friends in gray boxes. Second, I tend to get plenty of rest – four hours a night is what they recommend, right? But mostly, I’ve learned that it’s a waste of time and energy. What will be, will be. If I’m going to die of the flu (in any of its forms), I won’t die in a car wreck. So my advice is, take it one day at a time, do what seems right, and just keep on. One of the advantages of being older is that one learns that everybody, even including Christ himself, dies someday. So why borrow tomorrow’s troubles. Today’s are plenty.

Stacy McCain wrote about this the other day as well, saying:

Trump spoke to the nation at a fearful moment, when the rhythms of everyday American life are starting to shut down — with schools closing, the NBA suspended, hospitals on high alert and movie icon Tom Hanks saying he and his wife have the disease.

Well, you’ll have plenty of time to worry, what with the Power 5 basketball conferences canceled, the big dance itself being played in front of only families and whatnot. Still, these are probably the right things to be doing, crowds are the best method one can think of to spread disease. And sports fans are called fans (which comes from fanatics) for a reason, many would take an ambulance on their deathbed to a game.

Trump’s big announcement for keeping the virus at bay — what he said was a 30-day ban on travel to the US by Europeans and restrictions on cargo — was immediately engulfed in confusion.
The President later rushed to clarify on Twitter that he was stopping travel and not trans-Atlantic trade in goods, and officials said his plan did not apply to Americans or US permanent residents — though such travelers would face mandatory quarantines.

I like that phrase, “engulfed in confusion” — the media cause confusion, and then pretend to report objectively on the confusion they caused.

And that is the proper action as well. I looked at the dashboard I linked yesterday this morning, we have about 1760 cases while France has almost 2900. The EU is not doing well, although the UK is doing better, which is probably no surprise. That’s why the ban on the Schengen Zone, of course.

In comments yesterday, I noted that it was time to ‘Buy American’ in medical consumables (face masks et. al.) so yesterday I read that there is an Executive Order coming that says that exact thing. We’ve seen too much chasing of the quarterly bottom line in recent years, it’s time to put America First.

The Federalist picked up an article from CapX about life these days in Milan. It’s pretty interesting.

“What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest — health, integrity, purity (if you like) — is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention.” – Albert Camus, “The Plague”

Introduction: The Miracle

Of course Albert Camus is absolutely right: society—and all that comes with it—is the miracle. This is a thought absolutely none of us have in a normal, day-to-day sort of way, as we have been blessed to live in a time that has spared us the calamity of World Wars and Great Depressions. We have walked between the raindrops, avoiding the sort of world historical calamities that force people and societies to know, to the marrow of their bones, that all that is good man has painstakingly built since the age of Athens. That is, until now.

I find myself in something approaching full quarantine from the coronavirus in my adopted city of Milan. The first thing you notice is the deathly silence of the usual frenetic and creative place, the New York of Italy. Instead, as I walk the ghostly five minutes between my apartment and that of my fiancée, I feel like an extra from the television series, Chernobyl. There are no people moving about on what would normally be a bustling Thursday.

Sounds very bizarre, doesn’t it? I suspect we are going to see that repeated in a fair part of the world this year. One point he makes is very valid, there will be economic consequences, and they will be far worse in Europe and Asia than they will be here. While we’ve been booming since almost the day we elected Trump. Europe, especially Germany and France have been teetering on the edge of recession, and all of a sudden China’s foundations are shaking, which doesn’t surprise me, I suspect that just like the Soviet Union, we believed the lies the Chinese told each other.

Nothing like living in interesting times, is there?

Europe – With Whose Military?

From the blog of the United States Naval Institute by CDR Salamander.

Those who have served in NATO, especially those involved in the force generation process, are very familiar with the default response for the extra hard bits or blank spots in the CJSOR; “The Americans will fill it.”

Though it can be difficult to appreciate when the USA finally had enough, for me I can point to one decisive point that brought a macro-shift in feelings towards our European allies. The growing frustration with this habit reached a turning point almost 13-yrs ago in the summer of 2007 when NATO failed fill the rotary wing requirements in Regional Command (RC) South, and the USA finally jumped through hoops to make the aviation bridging force happen.

Combined with the Dutch and Canadians removing their maneuver forces from Uruzgan & Kandahar, it was clear that the USA needed to take back the keys after a few years of NATO being the primary force in all but RC-East. NATO had culminated.

With each passing year, the frustrations grew. You could hear it in the speeches by both General Craddock and SECDEF Gates from the Bush43 and the Obama administration, and finally bore fruit with the Trump Administration’s regular drumbeat about NATO nations increasing spending to at least 2% of GDP and a desire to have the USA to say “no.”

With the clear message out that the USA will be a hard sell on any operation under a NATO flag that would expect Uncle Sam to bear most of the effort, our Continental European allies are looking towards the EU as a venue.

The rhetoric out of Continental Europe continues to seem as if they have not quite gotten hold of the degree of their weakness and lack of capability that the USA complains about directly translates in to EU military weakness and lack of capability.

When you read what they are putting out, you keep wondering, “You and what army, air force, or Navy?” Are they aware of the lessons identified from the Libyan operations when it comes to European militaries?

First, let’s go to my friends the Dutch via Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Pardon the imperfect translation;

…first small step must be about safety and trust. For the civilian population in Idlib; the care providers; but also for the parties that are directly involved in the military. Let us all take one step back now and at least free the airspace above Idlib from bombing. No more Syrian fighter aircraft and helicopters. So: a no-fly zone for Assad above Idlib.

So Assad has no choice anymore and keeps his air force on the ground. The closure of the airspace above Idlib must then be monitored internationally. And if an air strike nevertheless takes place in Idlib, then at least we know who is responsible for it.

The monitoring of the closure of airspace is preferably carried out with a mandate from the UN Security Council. Unfortunately, he has been paralyzed for years about Syria, but we have a duty to try to break this stalemate. If that mandate does not come about, monitoring will have to be organized in a more creative way, for example by sharing information, accessing information from local organizations or performing remote monitoring. All with the aim of stopping the violence and identifying the perpetrators who use the violence and calling them to account.

If I knew how to laugh in Russian, I would.

These are wonderful words and ideas, but have the European nations invested in a military to do this? How much credibility do nations lose when their diplomats put things on the table their nations simply cannot do?

Read it all, of course. And realize this, I and many other Americans are Anglophiles, we are not Europhiles. Great Britain is, and has been for almost a century, an ally, in fact, our greatest ally. In contrast, most of Europe started as our enemies and now are at best, our dependants.

Thus the statement, that many of us truly believe, that Europeans are willing to fight to the last American.

Here is one of the underlying reasons why so many of us support Brexit. We sense that Britain is becoming just another cash (and blood) cow to the self-appointed elite of the Vierte Reich in Brussels and that this will increase as America increasingly becomes a hard sell on these usually stupid ventures. Instead of the old jibe that ISAF means ‘I Saw Americans Fighting’, it is likely to become ‘I saw Britons fighting’ as Brussels attempts to make Britain the barbarians to their Rome. Hewer of wood, carrier of water, and shedder of blood. All without thanks or reward of course. Like Americans in Paris in the late forties, they will be swindled and laughed at on the streets.

Except that the British people are too smart to sit down and shut up. Like the American people, they are waking up and making it known to their so-called elites that this is not acceptable to them.

More power to their elbow. We come back to the question for the Europeans. With ““You and what army, air force, or Navy?”. Be a shame if Europe fomented a war and neither Britain nor America came. Or would it?

A Turning Point?

In The Telegraph the other day, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote about the watershed that Brexit is for Britain.

None of Europe’s underlying pathologies have been tackled. It is a spectator as America and China battle for technological supremacy in the 21st Century. Not a single one of the world’s 20 most valuable tech companies is European.

The reasons lie in the EU’s legal ethos, in its slow, rigid, regulatory system, and in 190,000 pages of Acquis Communautaire that is nigh impossible to repeal – the very rules that Britain must supposedly accept in perpetuity to conduct routine trade.

“We have a cultural problem in Europe: you cannot embrace new technology unless you accept risk, and the EU is afraid of risk,” I was told once by Emma Marcegaglia, then head of BusinessEurope.

How very true that is, as we all know, “No risk, no gain”. But in many ways that is the corporatist (and the EU is the most corporatist entity in the world) vision of heaven. Protected for all time by their lackeys in government from innovation and change, their future is assured. Or is it?

The precautionary principle was frozen into EU jurisprudence with the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997 – which is roughly when the EU started going into economic decline, though this is hard to separate from the parallel euro experiment.

The US cleaves instead to the ‘innovation principle’, the doctrine of cost-benefit analysis based on hard science. American tradition is trial-and-error, policed by lawsuits for abusers.

Behind this is the spirit of English Common Law: crudely, anything is allowed unless explicitly forbidden; so far removed from the Napoleonic Code that curtails all until explicitly authorised. Anglo-Saxon law is why the US ran away with the internet age while Europe never left the starting line.

The UK has been caught on the wrong side of the cultural divide within the EU. The risk-aversion culture has been a headwind for British biotech and its tech “unicorns” (private start-ups worth a $1bn), third in the world behind the US and China, with most of Europe straggling far behind.

And it has been getting nothing but worse for Britain, who we Americans should remember, invented many of the things that we developed into world-beating things and technologies, and that includes the computer and the internet. This, if Boris does it right is the promise of Brexit. For most of our history, Britain has been the great inventor, and we have been the great developer. It the partnership that has made the world modern.

So how did Britain come to join the EEC/EU? Conservative Home in an article by Joe Baron sheds some light.

During World War Two, the contradiction immanent in Britain’s fight for freedom against Nazi imperialism whilst presiding over the largest seaborne empire in history was necessarily ignored. After victory, however, this was no longer possible. It had to be confronted.

The British empire had become morally unjustifiable and consequently unsustainable, as well as, after the financial strain of the war, economically unviable to boot. In 1947, the jewel in Britain’s imperial crown was granted independence and violently partitioned into Pakistan and India; Ghana gained independence in 1957 and Nigeria in 1960; indeed, throughout the 1950s and 60s, Britain’s imperial possessions fell, like dominoes, into the hands of charismatic, indigenous leaders armed with the language of liberty devised by the British themselves.

Britain had become a shadow of its former glory. Britannia no longer bestraddled the world, mistress of the seas, trident in hand; instead, she sat passively, seeking handouts from her new creditor and master on the other side of the Atlantic – an ocean once dominated by the imposing guns of her navy. In 1956, in a final coup de grace, her master and patron chased her out of Suez with a swift, humiliating reproach. Britain’s hegemony was at an end.

We, in America, never realized how deeply Suez hurt our cousins, to have a President, who they thought their friend, so summarily to tell them to back off, rankled deeply, especially after all the other things that had been going bad.

This is the prelude to joining the EU and indeed one of the underlying causes of that which some of us, even here, remember as the British Disease. Truly could Dean Acheson say, “Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role”. It was a very low period for the cousins, and just about everything seemed to be going to hell in a handcart for them. But things started changing in the 80s.

However, Thatcher changed everything. Her radical reforms, unapologetic patriotism, uncompromising will and remarkable character lifted the nation out of its post-war torpor and restored its self-confidence. The unions were tamed, fiscal profligacy was replaced by fiscal restraint, markets were liberalised, inefficient nationalised industries privatised, inflation was controlled and, consequently, annual growth exceeded four per cent during the late 1980s.

A British ‘economic miracle’ was being enviously mooted on the continent – a truly remarkable turnaround from the stagnation and misery afflicting the nation just 10 years earlier. Successive governments, even Labour ones, refused to reverse the Iron Lady’s reforms and, in 2015, Britain became the fifth largest economy in the world, largely thanks to her courageous endeavours – wisely left to bear fruit by her successors.

Most important, though, was the national pride restored by Thatcher’s indomitable spirit and sense of moral purpose. Along with Ronald Reagan, she led the free world’s fight against the inhumanity of Soviet communism; in 1982, she ignored her doubters and successfully dispatched a task force to wrestle back the Falkland Islands from Argentina’s military junta; and in 1990, just before her downfall, she encouraged George Bush senior, then American president, to dispense with the wobbling and stand firm against Saddam Hussein after his unprovoked attack on Kuwait. Like Britannia, Thatcher bestrode the global stage, handbag in hand, and gave Britain back its pride and self-confidence.

That this national revival led to rising public disaffection with the EU cannot be gainsaid. Why should a wealthy, self-confident country like Britain sacrifice its sovereignty to a sclerotic, unresponsive, undemocratic, supranational and meddlesome bureaucracy like the European Union? On 23rd June 2016, the answer was clear: it shouldn’t – a decision that, after three and  a half years, was reaffirmed by Johnson’s election victory.

If Britain joined what was to become the EU in a moment of disorientation and self-doubt, it voted out as a confident, self-assured, optimistic, outward-looking and independent nation state. For this, we have Thatcher to thank. And as a delicious accompaniment, she posthumously drove a stake through the heart of her vampiric nemesis, Michael Heseltine. Victory has never been sweeter.

And like here in America, it was done not by the elites and what we call Wall Street. It was done by the people themselves, what in America is Main Steet and in Britain is High Street. It amounts to a counter-revolution on both sides of the Atlantic, in which we are feeding off of and celebrating each other’s victories. The special relationship hasn’t been this strong since World War II, and as then it is a bond between our peoples, both sets of which Hillary would call thick Deplorables. For her class, she was correct, but not for our peoples

Do read the links, there’s lots of very good information there.

DC Whispers has a very thinly sourced story up that President Trump and Queen Elizabeth are now working together to defeat the swamp which is deep in both countries.

And helping in that particular endeavor is none other than the Queen who is said to have taken a keen interest in pushing for a more full disclosure of the part some high-ranking British officials played in the before and after manipulations that ran rampant around America’s 2016 presidential election.

Great Britain, with the full consent of the Queen, now prepares to save Western Civilization on the European continent while President Trump works to do the same here in the United States. Neither battle will be easy. The enemies of both the Queen and President Trump are more volatile / agitated than ever.

Is it true? I have no idea. But it would be a most formidable team. But it is not impossible, HMQ is, of course, the very last world leader who learned directly from that great Anglo-American, Sir Winston Churchill. One hopes it is true. Reminds me of a bit of lesser-known Kipling.

“This is the State above the Law.
    The State exists for the State alone.”
[This is a gland at the back of the jaw,
    And an answering lump by the collar-bone.]
Some die shouting in gas or fire;
    Some die silent, by shell and shot.
Some die desperate, caught on the wire;
    Some die suddenly. This will not.
“Regis suprema voluntas Lex”
    [It will follow the regular course of—throats.]
Some die pinned by the broken decks,
    Some die sobbing between the boats.
Some die eloquent, pressed to death
    By the sliding trench as their friends can hear.
Some die wholly in half a breath.
    Some—give trouble for half a year.
“There is neither Evil nor Good in life.
    Except as the needs of the State ordain.”
[Since it is rather too late for the knife,
    All we can do is mask the pain.]
From A Death Bed.

Sunday Funnies; Brexibration, Shampeachment, and Still More

A busy but good week!

It’s Spreading

 

And, of course, but a special. She’s a Republican running for Congress in Florida.

And an updated bonus video (Language warning though)

 

They really should have listened, vindicated again.

 

A Good Weekend

The Senate has voted to not call new witnesses. The incredibly weak, flawed, and partisan House plan will have to stand on its merits if it has any, which is doubtful. The Senate, being its normal lazy self has postponed that vote till next Wednesday. Mustn’t interfere with a long Super Bowl weekend, one presumes. Still, the right thing done late is better than the wrong thing. They say they have the votes to defeat it, just not today.

The British agree. Yesterday at 5 pm central time (11 pm British time) the United Kingdom left the European Union. An excellent result, also much delayed by self-important politicians.

 

A pretty low key celebration on Parliament Square, Full disclosure, I haven’t watched all four hours.

 

See! Good things do come to those who wait!

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