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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When the West put a gun to its head and blew its brains out

World War One, that is. Here are three perspectives.

1. John Derbyshire calls it Europe's first suicide attempt. North African and Middle Eastern immigration, the second:
The poem was published in the London Times on September 2nd, 1914. Its opening lines go as follows:

For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The Hun is at the gate!

Seen in historical hindsight, Kipling's poem was somewhat overwrought. Germany in 1914 was, like Austria, a highly civilized nation — the most civilized of all nations, in the opinion of many, with the world's best universities and a prototype of the modern welfare state. They suffered from some insecurities about Russia's growing strength, and a corresponding mistrust of France, Russia's ally; but Germany meant Britain no harm, and had no known intentions against Britain or any of Britain's many possessions. Culturally and ethnically the Germans and the British were very close. The German emperor was first cousin to Britain's king — they were both grandsons of Queen Victoria.

Still, the British, who had some insecurities of their own, felt they were under existential threat, and Kipling's words caught their mood. The Hun is at the gate! … and for the rest of that war British polemicists referred to Germans as "the Hun."
... Kipling's lines came to mind when I saw Massimo Sestini's remarkable photographof an open boat carrying 227 illegal immigrants heading north across the Mediterranean.

2. David Stockman (via LewRockwell.com):
In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath—–a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money—-that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.

Unfortunately, modern historiography wants to keep the Great War sequestered in a four-year span of archival curiosities about battles, mustard gas and monuments to the fallen. But the opposite historiography is more nearly the truth. The assassins at Sarajevo triggered the very warp and woof of the hundred years which followed.

The Great War was self-evidently an epochal calamity, especially for the 20 million combatants and civilians who perished for no reason that is discernible in any fair reading of history, or even unfair one. Yet the far greater calamity is that Europe’s senseless fratricide of 1914-1918 gave birth to all the great evils of the 20th century— the Great Depression, totalitarian genocides, Keynesian economics, permanent warfare states, rampaging central banks and the exceptionalist-rooted follies of America’s global imperialism.

3. Ralph Raico, on the geopolitics of the time:
“The obligation to defend Belgian neutrality was incumbent on all the signatories to the 1839 treaty acting collectively, and this had been the view adopted by the [British] cabinet only a few days previously. But now Britain presented itself as Belgium’s sole guarantor” (emphasis added).[22] Ignoring (or perhaps ignorant of) the crucial precondition of collective action among the guarantors, and with the felicity of expression customary among German statesmen of his time, Bethmann Hollweg labeled the Belgian neutrality treaty “a scrap of paper.”[23] Grey, addressing the House of Commons, referred to the invasion of Belgium as “the direst crime that ever stained the pages of history.”[24]

The violation of non-belligerent Belgium’s territory, though deplorable, was scarcely unprecedented in the annals of great powers. In 1807, units of the British navy entered Copenhagen harbor, bombarded the city, and seized the Danish fleet. At the time, Britain was at peace with Denmark, which was a neutral in the Napoleonic wars. The British claimed that Napoleon was about to invade Denmark and seize the fleet himself. As they explained in a manifesto to the people of Copenhagen, Britain was acting not only for its own survival but for the freedom of all peoples.

As the German navy grew in strength, calls were heard in Britain “to Copenhagen” the German fleet, from Sir John Fischer, First Sea Lord, and even from Arthur Lee, First Lord of the Admiralty. They were rejected, and England took the path of outbuilding the Germans in the naval arms race. But the willingness of high British authorities to act without scruple on behalf of perceived vital national interests did not go unnoticed in Germany.[25] When the time came, the Germans acted harshly towards neutral Belgium, though sparing the Belgians lectures on the freedom of mankind. Ironically, by 1916, the king of Greece was protesting the seizure of Greek territories by the Allies; like Belgium, the neutrality of Corfu had been guaranteed by the powers. His protests went unheeded.[26]

The invasion of Belgium was merely a pretext for London.[27] This was clear to John Morley, as he witnessed the machinations of Grey and the war party in the cabinet. In the last act of authentic English liberalism, Lord Morley, biographer of Cobden and Gladstone and author of the tract, On Compromise, upholding moral principles in politics, handed in his resignation.[28]

Britain’s entry into the war was crucial. In more ways than one, it sealed the fate of the Central Powers. Without Britain in the war, the United States would never have gone in.
Raico is whitewashing what was apparently a fairly brutal German occupation of Belgium but, in retrospect, was the sanctity of Belgian borders pursuant to a 75-year old treaty, not to mention the destruction of the entire classical liberal order, actually worth a drop of British blood?

Fast forward to 1990 and, again, was it really that big a deal whether Saddam Hussein or the House of Sabah controlled Kuwait's oil deposits? In 1914, the Germans were accused of pitching Belgian babies on the ends of bayonets. In 1990, Iraqi troops were said to be dumping babies out of incubators. Time rolls on, and it's questionable whether even Belgians believe Belgium should exist, the British-French imperial construct known as Iraq is breaking apart in front of our eyes, and the Arabian "locals" on the peninsula are widely regarded as an inbred, crooked and debauched joke.

To his credit, Obama is not lashing out and ordering the mobilization of US infantry divisions in response to the fact that several new countries appear to be forming in the Middle East where the US had previously declared only one. Of course, we're still early in the game. The last place we sent in several hundred "advisers" we didn't leave until 58,000 dead later.

Speaking of Obama, in his career leading up to the US presidency, the man made a rather big deal of his blackness via his patrilineal line. Once in office though, his operational reality has been pretty unrelentingly white.





He's probably smart enough to realize this, away from his monoculture back in Chicago. I bet he's pretty baffled about current affairs as well. I don't think he has a framework for thinking about things other than his yuppified worldview of "America's structural racism."

Which leads me to, Republicans. If that's your hapless political enemy, why pile on with some contrived, stupid lawsuit? The litigation is going to grind away in the federal courts long after Obama has moved on to the speaker's circuit, and the whole world is liable to have blown up in this dilettantish, former adjunct law professor's face by then.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's something really, really deeply screwed up about the British Establishment.The Jimmy Savile scandal proves that:

http://thisdarknessmustend.blogspot.com/2013/03/jimmy-savile-who-was-protecting-him-for.html
When the Jimmy Savile scandal broke in late 2012, I wasn't particularly interested. A sleazy old DJ and TV presenter groping young girls - highly unpleasant, but not exactly big news as far as I could see.
But then all the pictures and stories started to emerge involving Savile and members of the Royal Family, as well as various prime ministers, and even the top Catholic clergyman in Britain.

He had Christmas dinner with Mrs. Thatcher and her husband eleven years in a row, we learned. There was the obvious question of why royalty and prime ministers would want to spend their time with this man, who by all accounts seems to have been quite transparently a self-serving, sociopathic bastard, hiding behind an "eccentric, fun loving" image which he successfully projected in the media (with the media's help!). No one who met him seems to have actually genuinely liked or befriended him, but we were fed this media line that he was some kind of selfless saint, so at the time of his death, his remarkable set of personal connections in royalty and politics seemed quite reasonable to most people. He did a lot of charity work, we all know about that... but these connections involved more than just a few promotional photo opportunities:

(...)

Anyone who gets that close to royalty and prime ministers (as well as holding a high-profile position in the BBC for fifty years) is thorougly checked out by the security services (MI5, etc.). That's exactly the kind of thing they're there for - "protecting the realm" includes protecting the sovereign and his/her family from contact with serial child rapists!

And anyone knighted by The Queen (which Savile was, in 1990) is thoroughly vetted to minimise the chance that disreputable behaviour won't come to light and embarrass the British monarchy by association.

So what happened? How much investigation, how much vetting went on? Did the British security services simply suffer from decades of incompetence? How did Savile get so close to the Royal Family? Were they not warned about him? If not, why? And if they were, why did they not shun him?

It now seems that any semi-competent detective could have learned that Savile was involved in some pretty sinister stuff - or at least could have established enough of a suspicion about him that he would have been kept at arms length rather than welcomed into the highest levels of the establishment. Consider:

They could have talked to just about anyone at the BBC about Savile (the rumours were rife for decades, we now learn, and any high-up BBC executives who claim they never heard them are quite clearly lying).


(...)

The latest revelations involve numerous cases of necrophilia in NHS hospitals. Prior to that there were several hundred accusations of sexual assault on victims of both sexes from ages five to seventy-five during a period spanning five decades.

Anonymous said...

It's so over-the-top it's truly mind-boggling:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Savile_sexual_abuse_scandal
In September and October 2012, almost a year after his death, claims were widely publicised that the English DJ and BBC television presenter Jimmy Savile had committed sexual abuse, his alleged victims ranging from prepubescent girls and boys to adults. By 11 October 2012 allegations had been made to 13 British police forces,[1] and this led to the setting-up of inquiries into practices at the BBC and within the National Health Service.

On 19 October the Metropolitan Police Service launched a formal criminal investigation, Operation Yewtree, into historic allegations of child sexual abuse by Savile and other people, some of whom were still living, over four decades. It stated that it was pursuing over 400 separate lines of inquiry, based on the claims of 200 witnesses, via 14 police forces across the UK. It described the alleged abuse as being "on an unprecedented scale", and the number of potential victims as "staggering".[2][3] By 19 December, eight people had been questioned as part of the investigation. The Metropolitan Police stated that the total number of alleged victims was 589, of whom 450 alleged abuse by Savile.[4][5]

The report of the investigations undertaken jointly by the police and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Giving Victims a Voice, was published on 11 January 2013. It reported allegations covering a period of fifty years, including 214 alleged acts by Savile which, though uncorroborated, have been formally recorded as crimes, some involving children as young as eight. The report states "within the recorded crimes there are 126 indecent acts and 34 rape/penetration offences."[6] Alleged offences took place at 13 hospitals as well as on BBC premises, according to the report.[7][8] In October 2013 it was announced that inquiries had been extended to other hospitals.[9] On 26 June 2014, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, reported on the findings of the investigations led by Kate Lampard. He said that Savile had sexually assaulted victims aged between five and 75 in NHS hospitals, and apologised to the victims.[10]

Much of Savile's career involved working with children and young people, including visiting schools and hospital wards. He spent 20 years presenting Top of the Pops before a teenage audience, and an overlapping 20 years presenting Jim'll Fix It, in which he helped the wishes of viewers, mainly children, come true.

(...)

annk said...

Another perspective is at gatesofvienna.net, "The War that Never Ended," posted by Baron Bodissey on June 28. He makes an excellent case.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

America's Imperial pretensions had become serious a good two decades before the outbreak of The War. That minor quibble aside, this is an excellent post.

chedolf said...

Which leads me to, Republicans. If that's your hapless political enemy, why pile on with some contrived, stupid lawsuit?

The GOP picks contrived, stupid fights with Obama purely to stir up the base and get them to donate/vote.