Puritans, Constantinople, and Oak Apple Day

My close friend Chalcedon has a post up at All along the Watchtower on Oak Apple day. Before we get to that, I must say how much it pleases me to see posts there again. Last winter in his absence it became unmanageable, without administration and with an influx of that mostly British phenomenon of hatefully aggressive atheists. Many here will know that for years, AATW was my second internet home, where I am a contributor and both Jessica who founded it and Chalcedon himself are contributors here, as well. Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah. In any case here is part of what he says about Oak Apple Day, which I suspect many Americans have never heard of.

Until 1859, the Church of England marked 29 May as “Oak Apple Day,” marking the day that the Monarchy, and with it, the Church of England, was restored after the interlude of the Commonwealth under Cromwell. As Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary:

Parliament had ordered the 29th of May, the King’s birthday, to be forever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King’s return to his Government, he returning to London that day.

The “oak tree” commemorated the fact that after the Royalist defeat at Worcester in 1651, the young Prince of Wales (later Charles II) had hidden in one whilst the Rounheads sought him. The English like a good story, and a good party, and Restoration Day provided both.

The Church of England had good reason to commemorate the day, and the decision to abolish its official memorial in 1859 was, along with the decision to drop the service for Guy Fawkes’ day, a sign that parliament wanted to take a less censorious line towards Nonconformists and Catholics, which whilst welcome in itself, should not lead us not to celebrate the day on which the Monarchy was restored.

History and identity are important to a nation, and as one commentator has shrewdly suggested:

“Against a joyless Puritan commerical republic, the Restoration symbolised the renewal of convivality, balance, memory, locality, a deeper, more joyful vision of communal flourishing than the Puritan republic could envisage or allow.”

That’s something we see with our new puritans too, isn’t it? A reduction of people to politically correct economic unit automatons. Well, Americans love a party perhaps even more than the English, and a good story always works as well, so I think we need a similar story and reason for a party.

But yesterday is also the anniversary of a calamity of the first order for Christianity, for as Raymond Ibrahim tells us in American Thinker, in 1453 Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmet. And thus the last living link with the Roman Empire itself was sundered. Here’s some of what he writes.

Today in history, on May 29, 1453, the sword of Islam conquered Constantinople.  Of all Islam’s conquests of Christian territory, this was by far the most symbolically significant.  Not only was Constantinople a living and direct extension of the old Roman Empire and contemporary capital of the Christian Roman Empire (or Byzantium), but its cyclopean walls had prevented Islam from entering Europe through its eastern doorway for the previous seven centuries, beginning with the First Arab Siege of Constantinople (674–678).  Indeed, as Byzantine historian John Julius Norwich puts it, “[h]ad the Saracens captured Constantinople in the seventh century rather than the fifteenth, all Europe — and America — might be Muslim today.”

When Muslim forces failed again in the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople (717–718), conquering the ancient Christian capital became something of an obsession for a succession of caliphates and sultanates.  However, it was only with the rise of the Ottoman sultanate — so named after its eponymous Turkic founder, Osman (b. 1258) — that conquering the city, which was arguably better fortified than any other in the world, became a possibility, not least thanks to the concomitant spread of gunpowder and cannons from China to Eurasia.  By 1400, his descendants had managed to invade and conquer a significant portion of the southern Balkans — thereby isolating and essentially turning Constantinople into a Christian island in an Islamic sea.

Thus an end to a 2000 year history, since Romulus and Remus burst forth onto the stage of history. And so soon came King John  Sobieski and the siege of Vienna and the naval battle of Lepanto, as Christendom again stopped the advance of Islam for another 500 years. But now I’m reminded as the psalmist had it:

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

It’s also my oldest nieces birthday, and I can remember when she got a birthday card from the President of the United States, John Kennedy, who shared it.

 

The Middle of What?

Victor Davis Hanson has a question, “What Is the Middle East In the Middle Of Anymore?” As usual, it’s a good one. Let’s see what he has to say.

Since World War II, the United States has been involved in a series of crises and wars in the Middle East on the premise of protecting U.S., Western, or global interests, or purportedly all three combined. Since antiquity, the Middle East has been the hub of three continents, and of three great religions, and the maritime intersection between East and West.

In modern times American strategic concerns in no particular order were usually the following:

1) Guaranteeing reliable oil supplies for the U.S. economy.

2) Ensuring that no hostile power—most notably the Soviet Union between 1946-1989 and local Arab or Iranian strongmen thereafter—gained control of the Middle East and used its wealth and oil power to disrupt the economies and security of the Western world, Europe in particular.

3) Preventing radical Islamic terrorists from carving out sanctuaries and bases of operations to attack the United States or its close allies.

4) Aiding Israel to survive in a hostile neighborhood.

5) Keeping shipping lanes in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Persian Gulf open and accessible to world commerce at the historical nexus of three continents.

6) To the extent we could articulate our interests, U.S. policy was reductionist and simply deterred any other major power for any reason from dominating the quite distant region.

7) Occasionally the United States sought to limit or stop the endemic bloodletting of the region.

Those various reasons explain why we tended to intervene in nasty places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and Syria. Yet despite the sometimes humanitarian pretenses about our inventions in the Middle East, we should remember that we most certainly did not go commensurately into central Africa or South America to prevent mass killings, genocides, or gruesome civil wars.

But two questions now arise in the 21st century: to what degree do strategic reasons remain for a strong U.S. ground presence in the Middle East and, in terms of cost-benefit analyses, how much material, human, and psychic U.S. investment is necessary to protect our interests to the extent they still matter in the region?

One of the basic things that have changed is that we (and Russia, for that matter) do not need middle eastern oil. Europe does, and China does, but both depend on the United States to make sure they get it, just as Europe depends on Russia for natural gas.

Maybe it remains in our interest for middle eastern oil to flow at reasonable prices, but maybe we should look at that again.

VDH comments that no one has ever done well trying to control the middle east. He’s right. We’ve done OK, better than most, but do we really care anymore, or is it time to let it fall back to the 11th century, with somewhat better weaponry?

Israel still matters to us, but it can (especially with its local allies) pretty much take care of itself, and we can, of course, continue our commerce and alliance with her.

Commerce is shifting to the Indian and Pacific ocean areas, and that too includes Israel who (for the first time) last year participated in a Pacific Fleet exercise. China, and India, are the future, and I doubt either are going to make too many Arab friends.

And VDH touches on war-weariness in the US (probably the UK as well). It’s real enough but is it really war weariness or simply being weary of never winning, and then get a bunch of gimmiegrants who exploit the system for our trouble.

VDH’s final words will do for me as well.

In other words, the United States is trying to square a circle, remaining strong and deterring our dangerous elements, but to do so for U.S. interests—interests that increasingly seem to be fewer and fewer in the Middle East.

Or in simpler terms, what exactly is the Middle East in the middle of anymore?

Read it all at the link above.

What’s Going On in Iran?

Have you been following the (mostly non-) news from Iran? Interesting isn’t it? China and Hong Kong, Iran and the Iranian people, plus the Iraqis and the Lebanese, it’s almost like people like being free. The best I’ve seen is Michael Ledeen in FrontPage Magazine.

The country is on fire. All classes, all tribes from the Persians to the Kurds are fighting the security forces and the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and an increasingly divided Hezbollah. The leaders of the regime are unrestrained in their crackdown. In order to keep their actions as far as possible from public view, the leaders have killed off the internet links with the outside world, and despite American boasts that Washington can turn on the internet at will, the regime has kept communications with Iranians at historic minima.

The proximate cause of these demonstrations was an overnight increase in the cost of gasoline. I say “proximate cause” because the anti-regime outbursts had been ongoing for months, if not years. The increased price for gasoline was significant, but not decisive. So far as I can determine, the crowds of demonstrators chanted political slogans, not economic ones. They wanted an end to the Islamic Republic, not lower prices for gas.

The Iranian eruption is only one of many in the region, as Lebanese and Iraqis also joined the protest against Tehran. Iraqis, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, called for an end to the Hezbollah domination of the country as part of a general demand for a thoroughgoing political transformation.

The most radical demand is the downfall of the whole sectarian, political Islamist system. This is the first and most important demand in Tahrir Square — they want a separation of religion and politics. This demand includes the government resigning, especially Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the prime minister.

Now mind, these guys aren’t asking for American boots, they want to be free, but on their terms, which are unlikely to be anything acceptable to Washington, let alone the heartland. But it’s their countries and their people. We can, perhaps, aid and abet a bit, but it’s up to them, to structure their lives as they see fit.

Because make no mistake, Iran under its present rulers is an implacable foe of the United States and keeps us from doing other things in the region that we should be doing. But this isn’t something, like Hong Kong, where one side is demanding democracy on the Anglo-American model.

Why that warning? Morris Ayek witing in en.qantara.de may have that answer.

Here, too, the distinctiveness of Arabic – although it has the same meaning in other languages – is useful in looking at Arab civil wars as wars between social entities. Non-Arab civil wars such as the Russian, the French, the Spanish, the Greek and so forth were between citizens. Groups that identify themselves through modern ideologies and institutions aim at the triumph of these ideologies. Indeed, they may be seen as a concomitant struggle in transition.

Arab civil wars, on the other hand, are wars between kinsfolk, however they may appear in their early stages. The social group becomes partisan, whether sectarian, tribal, party political or ethnic. The key difference between the two types of conflicts is that Arab civil wars have no end. In the non-Arab world, it is the ideology which is defeated, whilst with us Arabs, there can be no end. The Sunni, the Shia, the Alawite and the Christian will remain, like the Arab, the Kurd and the South Sudanese.

Social ties are the true driver

The only point of Arab civil wars is dominion, which is characterised by warlords who live by perpetuating war as a source of wealth, subjugating and plundering. They differ from other civil wars, in which each warring party has sought to build an economy with which to replenish resources and to guarantee victory. Ironically, this revenue-generating model is similar to the normal workings of an Arab economy.

Quite a lot more at the link, and I think it summarized pretty well why Anglo-American style democracy is not going to break out any time soon in the Middle East.

 

Sunday Funnies, Zero Bark Thirty

Well, another week, and we should all be an hour’s worth better rested. We’ve had worse weeks, but we’ve had better too. Life is like that.

 

 

 

From the Babylon Bee, of course

 

 

 

Worth Remembering

And, of course

The Week, mostly on Twitter

From Breitbart:

The House held hearings on reparations the other day. I doubt the Democrats liked what Super Bowl Champion Safety Burgess Owens had to say. But I do and I suspect many of you will as well.

Pretty much a nuclear truth bomb – delivered from orbit.


Senator Tom Cotton is not pleased that so many corporations are explicitly pushing liberal dogma, especially infanticide abortion on their employees and the rest of us. Here’s why: [via Ace].

I’m very rapidly turning into a huge fan of Senator Cotton. I just ordered his book on his tour with the 3d Infantry (the Old Guard) as well.

His points here are welcome ones. Too often we in business forget there are many things more important than the bottom line, especially the quarterly one, which is the one a lot of libertarians and finance types think is the be all and end all.

Floppy Joe Biden inserted his foot in his mouth the other day (yes, I know, a regular occurrence) about getting along with segregationists (not to mention racists) in the old days. Senator Cotton had something to add to that, as well. [via The Right Scoop]

Yes, indeed. It is long past time that we call the Demonrats out every time they try to shift the scumbags off on us. Good on both of you Senator and Mr. Trump.

Speaking of Trump, President Trump in this case, his campaign kickoff the other night was amazingly good.

John Hinderaker at PowerLine calls him a force of nature. I agree, and in so being he makes America one once again. And I note that CNN couldn’t stand the heat and cut off the broadcast as soon as he started talking about them and the rest of the fake news media. Typical. They spent a fair amount of time wingeing, but then they made their bed and they can damned well lie in it. With luck, it will be their deathbed.

And along that line, you’ll know that Iran shot down an American drone the other night. Apparently, the return strike was aborted at about T-30 seconds. Nobody knows why the President so decided, but the Mullahs would be very wise to consider it a final warning.


I hear we are going to start mass deportations of illegal immigrants next week, starting, I trust with lawbreakers and troublemakers. Not everybody is pleased.

So, it’s pretty obvious if Senator Harris thinks that removing these illegal immigrants, who are forbidden to vote in federal elections is changing the electorate, it follows that Senator Harris’ party has been attempting to change the electorate by using illegal immigration and also by committing vote fraud which is a felony.

Probably shouldn’t have said that for the record, Senator, but few have accused you of intelligence, most people who sleep their way to a better job aren’t too bright after all.

Making Sense of American Conservatism

And so, time to start trying to make sense of the world again, I guess, Matthew Continetti has a long piece up at The Washington Free Beacon called Making Sense of the New American Right. It’s a valiant effort at a nearly impossible subject. Let’s look.

The story goes that, for many years, American conservatives adhered to a consensus known as “fusionism.” Economic and social conservatives put aside their differences. Freedom, they decided, was necessary for the exercise of virtue. The struggle against and ultimate defeat of the Soviet Union was more important than domestic politics or intramural disagreements. Conservative intellectuals eager to privilege either freedom or virtue like to attack this consensus, which they often describe as “zombie Reaganism.” The truth is that the strength of fusionism always has been exaggerated. The conservative intellectual movement has been and continues to be fractious, contentious, combustible, and less of a force than most assume.

Episodes of division and strife are far more common than moments of unity and peace. The more you study the history of American conservatism, the less willing you are to describe it in monolithic terms. There isn’t one American right, there are multitudes, every one of them competing for the attention of politicians and policymakers. The most prominent and politically salient varieties, as expressed in William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review, Irving Kristol’s Public Interest, Norman Podhoretz’s Commentary, and William Kristol’s Weekly Standard, have weakened or disappeared altogether. One of the reasons the intra-conservative argument has become so personal and acrimonious is that nothing has replaced them.

Indeed, the situation today is awfully similar to that which confronted conservatives in the 1970s. Then, the Buckley consensus had to find a modus vivendi with neoconservatives as well as with the Catholic integralists around Triumph magazine, against the background of a populist revolt that called out failing elites while relying on racial and ethnic appeals that sometimes crossed the border of decency.

Indeed, that consensus is what many of us to today deride as ‘cocktail party conservatism’. It is one of the things that Donald Trump blew up on his way to the White House, with the willing help of many of us. We also tend to believe these are the people who gave us never-ending wars, mostly to enrich their friends, while denigrating our troops.

The rise of Donald Trump, Brexit, and nation-state populism throughout the world certainly suggest that something has changed in global politics. American conservatism ought to investigate, recognize, and assimilate the empirical reality before it. The trouble is that no one has concluded definitively what that reality is.

Not for lack of trying. Beginning in 2016, intellectuals who favored Trump have been searching for a new touchstone for conservative thought and politics. These writers are often described as populists, but that label is hard to define. Broadly speaking, they have adopted the banner of nationalism. They believe the nation-state is the core unit of geopolitics and that national sovereignty and independence are more important than global flows of capital, labor, and commodities. They are all, in different ways, reacting to perceived failures, whether of Buckley conservatism, George W. Bush’s presidency, or the inability of the conservative movement to stop same-sex marriage and the growth of the administrative state. And they have turned away from libertarian arguments and economistic thinking. Not everything, these thinkers believe, can be reduced to gross domestic product.

And that is an important concept. Too many, whom some call the ‘Chamber of Commerce’ Republicans do believe it is all about the GDP. And what is even worse, they tend to believe the best GDP is taken from the quarterly balance sheet. This very short term thinking has led to the deindustrialization of the US (and Britain and some other nations). There is nothing wrong in profit-seeking, but there is in putting short term profit ahead of the firms long term best interest. And that is what I see all too often.

That is rather the foundation of what we are going to be talking about, there is a lot out there, both in the linked article and some others. So much that there is at least one but probably two (maybe more) articles in it to talk about, since I write articles and not books here. So let’s discuss this much and we’ll continue, hopefully, tomorrow, if the creek doesn’t rise too much.

%d bloggers like this: