Through a Glass Darkly

One of the most reliably astute observers of the world is Victor Davis Hanson, one of those rare people known by their initials: VDH, nearly universally. But even he varies some in the quality of his observations, from excellent to outstanding. This may be as good as anything I’ve read from anyone, anywhere.

The Post-War Order Is Over

Empirically speaking, neo-Ottoman Turkey is a NATO ally in name only. By any standard of behavior — Ankara just withdrew its ambassador from the U.S. — Turkey is a de facto enemy of the United States. It supports radical Islamic movements, is increasingly hostile to U.S. allies such as Greece, the Kurds, and Israel, and opposes almost every foreign-policy initiative that Washington has adopted over the last decade. At some point, some child is going to scream that the emperor has no clothes: Just because Turkey says it is a NATO ally does not mean that it is, much less that it will be one in the future.

Instead, Turkey is analogous to Pakistan, a country whose occasional usefulness to the U.S. does not suggest that it is either an ally or even usually friendly.

And, perhaps, as a new sense of realism invades Washington, the actions of the US may begin to match that reality.

There is nothing much left of the old canard that only by appeasing China’s mercantilism can there be a new affluent Chinese middle class that will then inevitably adopt democracy and then will partner with the West and become a model global nation. China is by design a chronic international trade cheater. Trade violations have been its road to affluence. And it seeks to use its cash as leverage to re-create something like the old imperial Japanese Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere. U.S. trade appeasement of Beijing over the last decades no more brought stability to Asia than did nodding to Tokyo in the 1930s.

There is also nothing sacred about the European Union. It certainly is not the blueprint for any continental-wide democratic civilization — any more than Bonaparte’s rigged “continental system” (to which the EU is on occasion strangely and favorably compared to by its proponents). The often-crude imposition of a democratic socialism, pacifism, and multiculturalism, under the auspices of anti-democratic elites, from the Atlantic to the Russian border, is spreading, not curbing, chaos. The EU utopian mindset has altered European demography, immigration policy, energy production, and defense. The result is that there are already four sorts of antithetical EUs: a renegade and departing United Kingdom, an estranged Eastern European bloc worried over open borders, an insolvent South bitter over front-line illegal immigration and fiscal austerity, and the old core of Western Europe (a euphemism now for German hegemony).

Interesting to watch the EU, isn’t it? The original conception was indeed a United States of Europe, consisting mostly of (The New) Germany and France, with England fully allied to the United States (not a vassal state by any means, a partner). If I understand what I read, that was Churchill’s conception. But!

As for Germany, it is no longer the “new” model West Germany of the post-war order, but a familiar old Germany that now pushes around its neighbors on matters of illegal immigration, financial bailouts, Brexit, Russian energy, and NATO contributions, much as it used to seek to expand Prussia and the Sudetenland. German unification now channels more the spirit of 1871 than of 1989. Call the new German attitude “Prussian postmodernism” — a sort of green and politically correct intimidation. Likewise, in terms of the treatment of German Jews, Germany seems more back in the pre-war than in the post-war world.

As far as the U.S., Germany has redefined its post-war relationship with the America on something like the following three assumptions: 1) Germany’ right to renege on its promise to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense in order to meet its NATO promises is not negotiable; 2) its annual $65 billion surplus with the U.S. is not negotiable; 3) its world-record-busting account surplus of $280 billion is not negotiable. Corollaries to the above assumptions are Germany’s insistence that NATO in its traditional form is immutable and that the present “free” trade system is inviolable.

Soon, some naïf is going to reexamine German–American relations and exclaim “there is no there.”

I think some naif just did, and in his exclamation was the words, It is unfair for the United States to subsidize the welfare state of these Prussians, and so tariffs to export to the United States will increase until they are equitable.

And that’s important, the Germans need to export that steel, and be defended by the US (and British) Army far more than either country needs to import Mercedes. There is only one outcome for Europe, the only declining market in the world, in a trade war with the United States: They lose, probably badly.

The West Bank’s rich Arab patrons now fear Iran more than they do Israel. The next Middle East war will be between Israel and Iran, not the Palestinians and their Arab sponsors and Tel Aviv — and the Sunni Arab world will be rooting for Israel to defeat Islamic Iran.

And I notice that in the last week, Russia is starting to tell Iran to pull back from the Israeli border, before Russia gets engulfed as well. Iran’s economy is essentially as bad as Venezuela’s, and sanctions haven’t even been reapplied yet. The Iranian truckers, taxi drivers, teachers and probably others are on strikes, the nationwide protest continues, and calls for a revolution have started.

Finally, we’re seeing the end of the old truism that the U.S. was either psychologically or economically so strong that it could easily take on the burdens of global leadership — taking trade hits for newly ascendant capitalist nations that ignored trade rules, subsidizing the Continental defense of an affluent Europe, rubber-stamping international institutions on the premise that they adhered to Western liberalism and tolerance, and opening its borders either to assuage guilt or to recalibrate a supposedly culpable demography.

Historic forces have made post-war thinking obsolete and thereby left many reactionary “experts” wedded to the past and in denial about the often-dangerous reality before their eyes. Worse is the autopilot railing for the nth time that Donald Trump threatens the post-war order, undermines NATO, is clueless about the EU, or ignores the sophisticated institutions that hold the world together.

About the only metaphor that works is that Trump threw a pebble at a global glass house. But that is not a morality tale about the power of pebbles, but rather about the easy shattering of cracked glass.

There’s quite a lot more at the link above, you should read it.

That is pretty much what I see as well. All is in flux as it hasn’t been since 1940, where it ends is hard to see, maybe impossible. But you know, I’m inclined to think that the American people, in electing Trump, have found the leader who sees a way to lead his people into the next epoch, whatever it brings, successfully.

If I’m right, it’s a good time to be a friend of America, if I’m wrong, there is likely a new dark age approaching. Yeah, its a time for Churchillian terms.


Ataturk vs Erdogan

Seen this?

The following is from 3 June Daily Mail (UK)

The unrest initially erupted on Friday when trees were torn down at a park in Istanbul’s main Taksim Square under government plans to redevelop the area. But they have widened into a broad show of defiance against the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the main secular opposition party for inciting the crowds, and said the protests were aimed at depriving his ruling AK Party of votes as elections begin next year.

Erdogan said the plans to remake the square, long an iconic rallying point for mass demonstrations, would go ahead, including the construction of a new mosque and the rebuilding of a replica Ottoman-era barracks.

TURKEY: Mangled vehicles on the streets following two nights of…

 And he said the protests – which were started by a small group of environmental campaigners but mushroomed when police used force to eject them from the park on Taksim Square – had nothing to do with the plans.

‘It’s entirely ideological,’ he told Turkish television. The demonstrations have since drawn in a wide range of people of all ages from across the political and social spectrum.

Protests yesterday were not as violent as the previous two days but police used tear gas to try to disperse hundreds of people in Ankara’s main Kizilay Square. There were similar clashes in Izmir and Adana, Turkey’s third and fourth-biggest cities.

In Taksim Square, the atmosphere was more festive with some chanting for Erdogan to resign and others singing and dancing. There were later clashes between police and protesters near Erdogan’s office in a former Ottoman palace in the city.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) denied orchestrating the unrest.

‘Today the people on the street across Turkey are not exclusively from the CHP, but from all ideologies and from all parties,’ senior party member Mehmet Akif Hamzacebi said.

Culture Clash (Ataturk vs Erdogan) – Britons warned to steer clear of Turkey – Daily Mail Re-Blog.

And this is from the Telegraph UK last night

The governor of Istanbul went on television to declare that police operations would continue day and night until the square, focus of demonstrations against Prime Minister Erdogan, was cleared.

Police fired volleys of tear gas canisters into a crowd of thousands – people in office clothes as well as youths in masks who had fought skirmishes throughout the day – scattering them into side streets and nearby hotels. Water cannon swept across the square targeting stone-throwers in masks.

The protesters, who accuse Mr Erdogan of overreaching his authority after 10 years in power and three election victories, thronged the steep narrow lanes that lead down to the Bosporus waterway. Gradually, many began drifting back into the square as police withdrew, and gathered around a bonfire of rubbish.

Mr Erdogan had earlier called on protesters to stay out of Taksim, the centre of demonstrations triggered by a heavy-handed police crackdown on a rally against development of the small Gezi Park abutting the square.

Gezi Park has been turned into a ramshackle settlement of tents by leftists, environmentalists, liberals, students and professionals who see the development plan as symptomatic of overbearing government.

It looks like there are several things going on here. I think the most interesting is that the young people thing that Erdogan is becoming increasingly Islamist, and they are not interested in going there. Turkey since the days of Ataturk in the early twentieth century has been a secular society, and has integrated quite well into Europe. In fact, it is a provisional member of the European Community and has been a member of NATO more or less forever. As usual, the unrest is led by the young people, it always is, but in this case you are seeing a fair number of people in business clothing and a lot of women. Who have a lot to lose if Turkey goes Islamist, if you don’t believe that find some pictures of Afghanistan in the 1960s.

Some people are starting to think that Obama and company are midwifing the rebirth of the Ottoman Empire. I think that might be giving them more credit (or blame) than is their due, but intentions don’t count, and that is sort of what is happening.

NEW YORK – Is Obama helping advance a grand plan by Turkey, with the support of Germany, to restore the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic caliphate that controlled much of southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa for more than six centuries?

That is a question posed by historian Robert E. Kaplan in an article titled “The U.S. Helps Reconstruct the Ottoman Empire,” published this week by the international policy council and think tank Gatestone Institute.

Kaplan, a historian with a doctorate from Cornell University, specializing in modern Europe, says history suggests a possible partnership between Turkey and Germany, which has seen influence over Turkey as a means of influencing Muslims worldwide for its own interests.

He asks why the U.S. government “would actively promote German aims,” including the destruction of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the re-creation of the Ottoman Empire through the “Arab Spring.”

Kaplan points to Obama’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ultimate victor in the “Arab Spring”; the U.S. backing of radical Islamic “rebel” groups in Libya with ties to al-Qaida; and current support for similarly constituted radical Islamic “rebel” groups in Syria aligned with al-Qaida.

Each of these U.S. military interventions occurred in areas that were under the Ottoman Empire.

Bring back the Ottoman Empire?

Kaplan sees a similarity between the Clinton-era attacks against the Serbs and the Obama administration hostility to well-established regimes in Libya and Syria.

He writes:

Since the mid-1990s the United States has intervened militarily in several internal armed conflicts in Europe and the Middle East: bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of Izetbegovic’s Moslem Regime in Bosnia in 1995, bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of KLA Moslems of Kosovo in 1999, bombing Libya’s Gaddafi regime in support of rebels in 2010. Each intervention was justified to Americans as motivated by humanitarian concerns: to protect Bosnian Moslems from genocidal Serbs, to protect Kosovo Moslems from genocidal Serbs, and to protect Libyans from their murderous dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Kaplan observes that neither President Clinton nor President Obama ever mentioned the reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire as a justification for U.S. military intervention.

The U.S. offered other reasons for intervening in Serbia, including a desire to gain a strategic foothold in the Balkans, to defeat communism in Yugoslavia, to demonstrate to the world’s Muslims that the U.S. is not anti-Muslim, and to redefine the role of NATO in the post-Cold War era.

Recurring pattern

At its height in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Ottoman Empire stretched from its capital in Turkey, through the Muslim-populated areas of North Africa, Iraq, the costal regions of the Arabian Peninsula and parts of the Balkans.

Kaplan points out that since the 1990s, “each European and Middle Eastern country that experienced American military intervention in an internal military conflict or an ‘Arab Spring’ has ended up with a government dominated by Islamists of the Moslem Brotherhood or al-Qaida variety fits nicely with the idea that these events represent a return to Ottoman rule.”

In these conflicts, Kaplan sees recurring patterns employed by Clinton and Obama to justify U.S. military intervention:

Each U. S. military action in Europe and the Middle East since 1990, however, with the exception of Iraq, has followed an overt pattern: First there is an armed conflict within the country where the intervention will take place. American news media heavily report this conflict. The “good guys” in the story are the rebels. The “bad guys,” to be attacked by American military force, are brutally anti-democratic, and committers of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Prestigious public figures, NGOs, judicial and quasi-judicial bodies and international organizations call for supporting the rebels and attacking the regime. Next, the American president orders American logistical support and arms supplies for the rebels. Finally the American president orders military attack under the auspices of NATO in support of the rebels. The attack usually consists of aerial bombing, today’s equivalent of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ gunboat which could attack coastal cities of militarily weak countries without fear of retaliation. The ultimate outcome of each American intervention is the replacement of a secular government with an Islamist regime in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire.

Kaplan cites a recent report published by John Rosenthal in the online Asian Times that discloses reports prepared by the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, attributing the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla on May 25, 2012, to the Syrian government.


Frankly I don’t know enough about this area to even have a valid opinion. But like I said intentions don’t really matter, and this (at least broadly) is about what appears to be happening. I think it

Bad for America and Western Civilization


St. George’s Day

St George's Cross - the flag of England.

St George’s Cross – the flag of England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So it’s the feast day of the saint who may be the most famous of the dragonslayers. Nobody really seems to know much about him but, he’s a busy saint. he does seem to have been a Roman soldier and Eusebius wrote about him, maybe.


Here’s what the Catholic Herald UK had to say


St George is patron saint not merely of England, but of Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal and Russia. It is just a shame that nothing certain is known about him.

The tale of a distinguished soldier in the Roman army, who was tortured and martyred after tearing up the edict which instituted the Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of 303, is first found in Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History (c 325).
Eusebius, though, never accorded a name to this martyr, describing him simply as “a man of no mean origin”. It is pure conjecture to hazard that he might have been referring to St George.

During Constantine’s reign (306-337) a church was built at Lydda, in Palestine, and dedicated to “a man of the highest distinction”. This important personage was subsequently identified as St George; once more, however, faith had outrun proof.
All that can be safely established is that the cult of St George originated in Palestine and during the fourth century spread into the Eastern Empire, from where it seeped gradually westwards.

In 494 Pope Gelasius I included George among those “whose names are rightly reverenced among us, but whose actions are known only to God”.

The first reference to St George in England is found in the Martyrology of the Venerable Bede, who died in 735. The earliest church dedication to St George in this country, certainly no later than the ninth century, was at Fordington, near Dorchester.

The story of St George and the Dragon was first discovered in Turkey and Georgia, during the 11th century. This legend was probably brought to England by Crusaders returning from the Holy Land. It gained immensely in popularity after it was included in Voragine’s Golden Legend (c 1270), which Caxton published in 1483.

Well before that, however, Richard I (1189-99) had solicited St George’s aid on Crusade, and seems to have adopted the flag with the red cross of the martyr. Edward III (1327-77) made George patron of the Knights of the Garter; and after the saint had been successfully invoked at the battle of Agincourt (1415) Archbishop Chichele ordered that St George’s Day should be observed on the same scale as Christmas Day.


Continue reading  St. George, the Soldier Saint


And so:


Advance banners in the name of St. George and England



Fascinating News: 13th Century Byzantine Chapel Found

From the NY Times a very fascinating story, via the Anchoress

Myra-Andriake Excavations

DEMRE, Turkey — In the fourth century A.D., a bishop named Nicholas transformed the city of Myra, on the Mediterranean coast of what is now Turkey, into a Christian capital.

Myra-Andriake Excavations

One wall of the chapel has a cross-shaped window that, when sunlit, beams its shape onto an altar table.

Myra-Andriake Excavations

A vibrant fresco that is unusual for Turkey was perfectly preserved.

Nicholas was later canonized, becoming the St. Nicholas of Christmas fame. Myra had a much unhappier fate.

After some 800 years as an important pilgrimage site in the Byzantine Empire it vanished — buried under 18 feet of mud from the rampaging Myros River. All that remained was the Church of St. Nicholas, parts of a Roman amphitheater and tombs cut into the rocky hills.

But now, 700 years later, Myra is reappearing.

Archaeologists first detected the ancient city in 2009 using ground-penetrating radar that revealed anomalies whose shape and size suggested walls and buildings. Over the next two years they excavated a small, stunning 13th-century chapel sealed in an uncanny state of preservation. Carved out of one wall is a cross that, when sunlit, beams its shape onto the altar. Inside is a vibrant fresco that is highly unusual for Turkey.

The chapel’s structural integrity suggests that Myra may be largely intact underground. “This means we can find the original city, like Pompeii,” said Nevzat Cevik, an archaeologist at Akdeniz University who is director of the excavations at Myra, beneath the modern town of Demre.

Mark Jackson, a Byzantine archaeologist at Newcastle University in England, who was not involved in the research, called the site “fantastic,” and added,“This level of preservation under such deep layers of mud suggests an extremely well-preserved archive of information.”

Occupied since at least the fourth century B.C., Myra was one of the most powerful cities in Lycia, with a native culture that had roots in the Bronze Age. It was invaded by Persians, Hellenized by Greeks, and eventually controlled by Romans.

Fascinating stuff


Poppies, a symbol of remembrance

Poppies, a symbol of remembrance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

97 years ago today the ANZAC Corp landed at Gallipoli. It was supposed to be a daring thrust to take Constantinople (Istanbul) but it bogged down almost immediately becoming a slugging match that lasted until 9 January 1916. It was a decisive defeat for the Allies and had many repercussions. Including for the First Sea Lord, Winston Churchill. It was also very important to the Turks in founding the Turkish Republic under Ataturk who was one of the commanders.

It is often said that this campaign marked the beginning of national consciousness for Australia and New Zealand, much as the War of 1812 did for us Americans. It is the main memorial holiday in both countries, surpassing Remembrance Day, much as Memorial Day surpasses Veterans Day for us.

It is also commemorated in England, Canada, the United States, Thailand, India, France, Turkey, and several other countries.

And so we should take a moment today to remember those heroes who have stood with us in Europe (twice), in the Pacific campaign, in Korea, in Vietnam,in the cold war,  in Iraq (twice) and in Afghanistan, and probably elsewhere that I’ve forgotten as well.

Here is what Atatürk himself had to say in 1934.

“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.”

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


ANZAC Day service in Portsmouth.


Civilians scale the 14 foot wall of the US embassy in Saigon; Courtesy of the Chicago Reader

Yesterday I mentioned George III of England weeping at the death of an Admiral. This will be different.

I don’t know how many of you remember the picture above but, this is what happens if you are a small nation that trusts American Politicians. This is the US Embassy in Saigon in 1975.  This happened then because of Congress, after Nixon managed with a great deal of trouble to withdraw American forces from the war. Yes there was a lot of doubt that we should have ever gotten involved but once you take on a mission you need to complete it. Both Johnson and Nixon, who were World War II veterans, by the way, understood this. Of course, Congress didn’t, and cut off supplies to South Vietnam in the middle of a war. What you see above is what happened. Not to mention 58,272 dead Americans. For absolutely nothing.

We will be undoubtedly be seeing similar pictures soon from Baghdad. Today it was announced that all American service people will be gone from Iraq by Christmas. How wonderful, the troops will be home for the holidays. Actually that part is. BUT, how about those 4465 plus 179 Brits and 139 from other coalition members who will never return. What did they give their lives for. So Obama could retain the leftist vote?

You see, Iraq is not stable, at best it will devolve into civil war between the Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds, who have been our best allies and will have a two front war to fight since I believe I heard that Turkey is mobilizing a couple of divisions to fight their segment of the Kurds. Sure does pay to be a friend of America, doesn’t it? At worst Iraq will devolve into a failed state and be taken over by Iran. That will be really wonderful to be the land bridge between Iran and Syria.

And we all thought the Arab Spring might be destabilizing.

One of the unspoken reasons for Iraqi Freedom was to establish a stable base within striking range of Iran. That’s gone too.

The official reason for this is that we couldn’t reach a satisfactory Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government. So our Department of State is so pusillanimous that it can’t get an agreement with a government that owes its existence each and every day to the United States. If that’s the truth,  every employee from SecState to janitor need to be fired. But, of course that’s not true. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton says, and I agree although with little evidence, that Obama decided this was the way to withdraw, on his timetable, either before or shortly after he was elected.

OK, how’s middle east policy going. Egypt is an army dictatorship slipping farther to the Muslim Brotherhood each week, with free access to Gaza for terrorists. Libya is in the hands of rebels who seem to have al Qaeda tendencies, not to mention uncivilized tendencies to their enemies. Syria’s a dog’s breakfast tending towards civil war. Pakistan is coming apart and Afghanistan is, I don’t know what, but it’s not particularly pro-American. Oh, and the Saudi Crown Prince died today too, the new heir to the throne (the King is ill) is the hardliner running the interior ministry, you know, where the fashion police and such work from.

George Bush wasn’t the greatest of Presidents but, at least he knew that when he committed American blood and treasure to a mission he owed it to the troops to do his damnedest to win. And that’s a lot more than this scumbag administration ever thought of. Me, me, me, whine, whine, whine.

I have the greatest admiration in the world for the US military, as you know, but if I met one of them tomorrow, I would be ashamed to tell them I was an American. But at least I could truthfully tell them that I didn’t vote for this poltroon.

Welcome to the new world order, where the United States is the biggest pussy on the block.


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