Justplainbill's Weblog

January 18, 2018

A Few Words About Words, by Col A Latorre USMC (ret)

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 8:07 pm

A Few Words About Words

Don’t know about you, but I have been somewhat amazed & amused by the outpouring of distress regarding the use of the vulgar word” shithole”. (Thanks to John Kerry, who brought the word back from extinction, shall we say kerfuffle?)

Now, as an Officer of Marines, I worked very hard at avoiding obscene verbiage, although admittedly some times without success. The avoidance of profane language was, in truth, a much greater challenge. With regard to vulgar terminology well let’s say I learned at the feet of the most talented and original users and creators of vulgar terminology: Marine Staff Non-Commissioned Officers!

The essential element in the deciphering of any language, be it orthodox or non-orthodox, is identifying to what does the word infer or refer. In the case of the word in question, shithole refers to a PLACE and not a person or a people. For one to refer in a vulgar manner to a person or a people, the appropriate term would be “shithead” or “dickhead” or better yet, the more popular “asshole”.

Typically, the word shithole would be used in two consecutive and highly dependent sentences: Jeez, what a “shithole”! followed immediately by Clean this shithole up!!. In neither sentence does the word shithole refer to its inhabitants, although there may be an asshole or two in the group.

No doubt Marines and our brethren Soldiers clearly comprehend this distinction. Air Force officers surely would not use such language, and besides, they have contract laborers to clean things up. Similarly, the use of the word would be beneath the dignity of a Navy officer; that’s why they have Chiefs and Swabbies.

Like many of you to whom this email is addressed, I have been to a shithole or two in my time. I believe I know of which I speak. Certainly, we have seen our share in SEA, but until you have stood in some wadi shithole in the Sudan or Somalia or Oman, well, you haven’t lived!

So, in the interest of enlightening the over-educated, yet blithely ignorant masses, you have my permission to disseminate the important distinction in the use of vulgar terminology I have attempted to illuminate.

Peace be with you. Semper Fidelis!

Tony Latorre

Col USMC (Ret)

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January 17, 2018

What I Learned in the Peace Corps in Africa: Trump is Right, by Karin McQuillan

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 11:30 pm

What I Learned in the Peace Corps in Africa: Trump Is Right

By Karin McQuillan

Three weeks after college, I flew to Senegal, West Africa, to run a community center in a rural town. Life was placid, with no danger, except to your health. That danger was considerable, because it was, in the words of the Peace Corps doctor, “a fecalized environment.”

In plain English: s— is everywhere. People defecate on the open ground, and the feces is blown with the dust – onto you, your clothes, your food, the water. He warned us the first day of training: do not even touch water. Human feces carries parasites that bore through your skin and cause organ failure.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a few decades later, liberals would be pushing the lie that Western civilization is no better than a third-world country. Or would teach two generations of our kids that loving your own culture and wanting to preserve it are racism.

Last time I was in Paris, I saw a beautiful African woman in a grand boubou have her child defecate on the sidewalk next to Notre Dame Cathedral. The French police officer, ten steps from her, turned his head not to see.

I have seen. I am not turning my head and pretending unpleasant things are not true.

Senegal was not a hellhole. Very poor people can lead happy, meaningful lives in their own cultures’ terms. But they are not our terms. The excrement is the least of it. Our basic ideas of human relations, right and wrong, are incompatible.

As a twenty-one-year-old starting out in the Peace Corps, I loved Senegal. In fact, I was euphoric. I quickly made friends and had an adopted family. I relished the feeling of the brotherhood of man. People were open, willing to share their lives and, after they knew you, their innermost thoughts.

The longer I lived there, the more I understood: it became blindingly obvious that the Senegalese are not the same as us. The truths we hold to be self-evident are not evident to the Senegalese. How could they be? Their reality is totally different. You can’t understand anything in Senegal using American terms.

Take something as basic as family. Family was a few hundred people, extending out to second and third cousins. All the men in one generation were called “father.” Senegalese are Muslim, with up to four wives. Girls had their clitorises cut off at puberty. (I witnessed this, at what I thought was going to be a nice coming-of-age ceremony, like a bat mitzvah or confirmation.) Sex, I was told, did not include kissing. Love and friendship in marriage were Western ideas. Fidelity was not a thing. Married women would have sex for a few cents to have cash for the market.

http://admin.americanthinker.com/images/bucket/2018-01/203589_5_.pngWhat I did witness every day was that women were worked half to death. Wives raised the food and fed their own children, did the heavy labor of walking miles to gather wood for the fire, drew water from the well or public faucet, pounded grain with heavy hand-held pestles, lived in their own huts, and had conjugal visits from their husbands on a rotating basis with their co-wives. Their husbands lazed in the shade of the trees.

Yet family was crucial to people there in a way Americans cannot comprehend.

The Ten Commandments were not disobeyed – they were unknown. The value system was the exact opposite. You were supposed to steal everything you can to give to your own relatives. There are some Westernized Africans who try to rebel against the system. They fail.

We hear a lot about the kleptocratic elites of Africa. The kleptocracy extends through the whole society. My town had a medical clinic donated by international agencies. The medicine was stolen by the medical workers and sold to the local store. If you were sick and didn’t have money, drop dead. That was normal.

So here in the States, when we discovered that my 98-year-old father’s Muslim health aide from Nigeria had stolen his clothes and wasn’t bathing him, I wasn’t surprised. It was familiar.

In Senegal, corruption ruled, from top to bottom. Go to the post office, and the clerk would name an outrageous price for a stamp. After paying the bribe, you still didn’t know it if it would be mailed or thrown out. That was normal.

One of my most vivid memories was from the clinic. One day, as the wait grew hotter in the 110-degree heat, an old woman two feet from the medical aides – who were chatting in the shade of a mango tree instead of working – collapsed to the ground. They turned their heads so as not to see her and kept talking. She lay there in the dirt. Callousness to the sick was normal.

Americans think it is a universal human instinct to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s not. It seems natural to us because we live in a Bible-based Judeo-Christian culture.

We think the Protestant work ethic is universal. It’s not. My town was full of young men doing nothing. They were waiting for a government job. There was no private enterprise. Private business was not illegal, just impossible, given the nightmare of a third-world bureaucratic kleptocracy. It is also incompatible with Senegalese insistence on taking care of relatives.

http://admin.americanthinker.com/images/bucket/2018-01/203590_5_.pngAll the little stores in Senegal were owned by Mauritanians. If a Senegalese wanted to run a little store, he’d go to another country. The reason? Your friends and relatives would ask you for stuff for free, and you would have to say yes. End of your business. You are not allowed to be a selfish individual and say no to relatives. The result: Everyone has nothing.

The more I worked there and visited government officials doing absolutely nothing, the more I realized that no one in Senegal had the idea that a job means work. A job is something given to you by a relative. It provides the place where you steal everything to give back to your family.

I couldn’t wait to get home. So why would I want to bring Africa here? Non-Westerners do not magically become American by arriving on our shores with a visa.

For the rest of my life, I enjoyed the greatest gift of the Peace Corps: I love and treasure America more than ever. I take seriously my responsibility to defend our culture and our country and pass on the American heritage to the next generation.

African problems are made worse by our aid efforts. Senegal is full of smart, capable people. They will eventually solve their own country’s problems. They will do it on their terms, not ours. The solution is not to bring Africans here.

We are lectured by Democrats that we must privilege third-world immigration by the hundred million with chain migration. They tell us we must end America as a white, Western, Judeo-Christian, capitalist nation – to prove we are not racist. I don’t need to prove a thing. Leftists want open borders because they resent whites, resent Western achievements, and hate America. They want to destroy America as we know it.

As President Trump asked, why would we do that?

We have the right to choose what kind of country to live in. I was happy to donate a year of my life as a young woman to help the poor Senegalese. I am not willing to donate my country.

January 16, 2018

Crudeness, Double Standard, Political Correctness, and “Truth”, by Capt John USN FBI

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 11:58 pm

Crudeness, Double Standard, Political Correctness, and “Truth”

By Capt Joseph R. John, January 16, 2018: Op Ed # 379

Once again we are exposed to the double standard of the misleading “radical left of center liberal media establishment”; ignoring what Obama said two short years ago in the attachment, what other elected politicians said listed below, and pouncing out of control on the “truth” President Trump may have uttered this week in the “privacy” of a closed White House meeting. The President, two Senators, and the Secretary of Homeland Security that were in the meeting said President Trump did not say what that squirrely, tattle tale, twofaced, weasel, Durbin leaked to the press in violation of what has come to be expected of a closed and private White House meeting—for the purposes of this Op Ed, I will assume President Trump did say what Durbin said, he said.

Elected politicians who used foul language in public, that the left of center liberal media is trying to cover up, so Americans would think that the one word that may have been uttered by President Trump in the privacy of a closed White House meeting, not in public, was so unbelievable for any elected politician to say, and it was not “Politically Correct”:

President Truman called General MacArthur —“a dumb son of a bitch”

President Kennedy called Canada Prime Minister Diefenbaker —“a dumb son of a bitch”

President Johnson said the difference between Senators and Congressmen—”is the difference between chicken salad and chicken s—-”

President Johnson when chiding Canada Prime Minster Pearson—“you pissed on my rug”

President Obama referred to Libya as a —“a Shit Show’

President Obama when referring to the BP Gulf oil spill wanted to know—“whose ass to kick”

President Obama referred to Kanye West as —“a jackass”

Vice President Garner, Roosevelt’s VP, said the job of VP—“was not worth a pitcher of warm piss”

Vice President Biden called Obama care—“a big f_______ deal”

Vice President Cheney shouted to Senator Leahy on the Senate floor—-“go f___ yourself”

Senator John Kerry on Iraq—“did I expect George Bush to f____ it up?”

Gov George W. Bush called NYT Reporter Clymer—“a major league asshole”

Certain countries are dangerous to even walk around in—I have been in many of them. They have corrupt governments, fail to educate their youth, refuse to take care of their sick and dying, fail to properly feed their citizens, have many bad ideas about governing, have false religions, have population involved in criminal activities with little concern about right or wrong, have broken cultures, have young males who don’t respect women & rape them, in some countries young boys are sexual slaves, in some cultures male adults are engage in sexual activities with barn yard animals, some local water system are full of communicable diseases, in some countries roadside ditches are used as community latrines, some countries have populations who support terrorism, some cultures have extremely poor sanitary & personal hygiene standards, some countries support and promote the drug culture, some countries do not inoculate their citizens to prevent diseases, some countries are full of rubbish on the streets and in the water, some countries have diseased flies and mosquitos repeatedly infecting the population, etc.

When refugees and illegal aliens arrive in the US they are not quarantined, which is required by US Federal Immigration Law and US Public Health Regulations, as immigrants once were at Ricker’s Island. Illegal Aliens have been introducing communicable diseases, that were once eliminated, back into the public school systems. Diseases that were once under control are being exposed to public school children, like ring worm, mumps, Scalia, polio, hepatitis, malaria, scarlet fever, typhus, small pox, yellow fever, etc. Illegal immigrants, without vaccinations, have not only infected school children, they have been infecting many US Border Patrolmen.

Law abiding and tax paying Americans would not want their children or grandchildren to spend every day in public school rooms with refugees and Illegal Aliens, who arrived from the above listed types of unprincipled and undiscipled countries, who have not been quarantined to detect and treat communicable diseases? The Progressives, elected members of Congress, the Washington elite, and the well-known TV anchors from the left of center liberal media establishment, send their children to private schools, they don’t have to worry about having their children get infected with communicable diseases, or to be held back in their education in very slow moving public schools classes because the illegal aliens and refugees can’t speak, write, or understand English.

The long term goal of the US Immigration System should be to have immigrants eventually help improving society. When considering and then approving the entry of foreigner immigrants into the USA, as immigrants have done for over 100 years, they should be required to renounce their loyalty to their countries of origin, and Pledge Allegiance to the United States. Those immigrants seeking to become new American citizens should be interviewed in advance to ensure that they have skills to support the economy of the US, would have the ability to learn skills to support themselves and the economy of the US, and have no ties to Radical Islamic Terrorists.

The US Immigration Service must ensure that future immigrants will not immediately go on welfare like the 900,000+ Middle East Muslim Refugees that Obama brought into the USA over an 8 year period, while he prevented the FBI from interviewing them to determine if they had terrorist ties. At the same time hundreds of thousands of Muslim Refugees were being brought into the US, for 8 years, Obama refused to let any of the 600,000 Middle East Christian Refugees, being housed and fed by the Greek Catholic Relief Society, from ever immigrating to the US.

The continued attempt to muzzle “Free Speech” and those who disagree with the radical left and progressive Saul Alinsky disciples, is not working for the first time in 8 years, ever since the election of President Donald Trump. The radical left and progressives Saul Alinsky disciples warnings to the public and students in schools & colleges, that certain “truths” spoken openly are not “Politically Correct”, is breaking down and is no longer working . That is driving the radical left, the progressives and the left of center liberal media establishment “insane”, they are coming apart at the seams and striking wildly at President Trump.

The press is now regularly openly vilifying and labeling the President of the United States with names that have never been used against any US President in 242 year—President Trump is the most vilified and attacked president in US History being called on the air and on TV such names as racist, Nazi, Hitler, insane, evil, mad, white supremist, a liar, a thug, a rapist, a moron, bigoted, dishonest, KKK, and so many more names.

The left of center liberal media establishment, the democratic party, the Hollywood elite, the radical leftists, progressives, Marxists, Communists, and Socialists are trying to force American citizens to be “Politically Correct” when referring to the flawed, broken, and illegal immigration policies of the Obama administration. Those policies were destroying the Patriotic fabric of the nation, permitting millions of foreign nationals to maintaining their loyalty to their nations of origin, raise Mexican flags over American public schools, illegally vote in elections, and degrade the Family Values of the Republic. To put it in that well known Obama goal, that he intoned on the day of his election “To fundamentally change the nation.”

Nothing scandalizes the radical left and progressives like the “truth”—the radical left and progressives Alinsky disciples feints being shocked by the “truth” spoken openly in public!! Just don’t do it!!! The radical left and progressives have tried to bully and force America’s youth in school and college to agree, that “truths” spoken openly are not “Politically Correct”—-the radical left, progressives, and now liberal professors in college have been trying to muzzle “Free Speech”, and by so doing, are opposing the US Constitution and the principles upon which the Republic was founded.

No one on the right tries to silence radical left speech, but the radical left, yet progressives, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube try to black list, “shadow ban”, demonize, ostracize, “fact check”, censor, and criminalize—-conservative speech, freedom of speech, support for Christianity, Patriotism, support for President Trump, support for the US Constitution, support for the US Armed Forces, support for the American Flag, and support for the government of the Republic

America does not want to become what Europe is becoming, because of the unbridled open borders and massive immigration of millions of refugees from predominately Muslim countries—-those refugees are mostly single young males, who have a multi-year track record of gang raping women in Germany, Sweden, England, Belgium, and France, and perpetrating Radical Islamic Terrorist attacks across Europe and have perpetrated the 9/11 attack and 215 Radical Islamic Terrorist attacks and attempted attacks in the US killing over 3109 and wounding many thousands of Americans on US soil, here in the United States.

When it comes to the great “Shithole” or “Shit Show” that both Obama and Trump intoned, Americans who support the President don’t particularly care—the “truth” may be viewed by the radical left and progressives as not being “Politically Correct”, but because Americans have a President who is not “Politically Correct”, and outspoken just like most hard working Americans, athletes, military personnel, and members of law enforcement. President Trump reminds them of Andrew Jackson, Winston Churchill, Admiral “Bull” Halsey, and/or General George Patton, he is unvarnished, straightforward, truthful, loves his country, is determined to support members of the military, and is doing his best to protect the lives of his fellow American citizens.

Americans look at the results of one year of the Trump administration, and despite the massive opposition President Trump has been faced with, on both sides of the aisle, he has created outstanding results—–on the battlefield against ISIS, in rebuilding the hollowed out US Military, in the economy with the stock market at record highs and 1.7 million new jobs, bringing unemployment down to 4.1 %(the lowest rate in 17 years), in reducing taxes for all Americans, with the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice and 73 US Federal Judges, in withdrawal from the job killing Paris Climate Accord, withdrawal from the massive open borders for millions of immigrants from 12 nations Trans-Pacific Partnership, in eliminating thousands of growth killing regulations saving the US $8,1 billion, expanding energy infrastructure and production, eliminating the tax penalty on all poor Americans who could not afford the cost of the failed Obamacare Insurance Plan, and so much more.

When looking at the options of having another 8 years of Obama’s failed policies, or of having the corrupt policies that would have been a Hillary Presidency, the majority of Americans will take President Trump, even with the “Shithole” comment, if he ever did say that. Americans will take the crude “truths” of President Jackson, President Truman, and President Trump, rather than the lies that continue to emanate daily from the Washington swamp, from the RINOs who have fought President Trump every step of the way, from the progressives who are Saul Alinsky disciples, and from the radical left of center liberal media establishment that no longer even know what the “truth” is at all; the radical left of center media establishment is now infected by the proponents of propaganda that the Russian Communist promoted for 70 years with their outright lies published in Pravda and Investya .

https://www.city-journal.org/html/crudeness-and-truth-15668.html

Copyright by Capt Joseph R. John. All Rights Reserved. The material can only posted on another Web site or distributed on the Internet by giving full credit to the author. It may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without the permission from the author

Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62

Capt USNR(Ret)/Former FBI

Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC

2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-184

San Diego, CA 92108

http://www.CombatVeteransForCongress.org

https://www.facebook.com/combatveteransforcongress?ref=hl

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

-Isaiah 6:8

January 10, 2018

From Resistance to Nullification to What Next? Victor D Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 5:01 pm

From Resistance to Nullification to What Next?
January 10, 2018 8:22 am / Leave a Comment / Victor Davis Hanson
By Victor Davis Hanson — National Review

Trump’s critics ratchet up to insurrection, but Trump’s tax reforms and our growing economy could derail their dreams.

George H. W. Bush gave up power quietly and turned to charity work and occasional ceremonial speaking after his reelection defeat in 1992. George W. Bush — like Jerry Ford in 1977 and Ronald Reagan in 1989 — did the same when Barack Obama assumed power in 2009.

Unending Presidencies

Recent Democrats emeriti — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama — apparently had a different vision of the post-presidency, unlike the quiet retirement of Lyndon Johnson back to his ranch in 1969. The three saw politics in more Manichean terms, as an existential struggle far too important to cease at the end of a presidential tenure.

Carter freelanced abroad for 30 years in successful quest for a Nobel Prize, but he often undercut presidential diplomacy. He regularly weighed in on the shortcomings of his successors — in a way he would have deeply resented had either Ford or Richard Nixon done the same.

No sooner had Bill Clinton left the presidency than he and Hillary Clinton began the grand plan for a return to the White House in 2009, and, after a setback, then again in 2017. Theirs was a two-decade long post-presidency of glad-handing, politicking, and, to use a euphemism, quid pro quo fund raising.

Barack Obama has already weighed in, including while overseas, on the shortcomings of his successor. His aides, led by Ben Rhodes, are at the forefront of the “Resistance” to thwart the Trump administration. Susan Rice and John Kerry comment regularly on supposed Trump foreign-policy blunders, as do James Clapper and John Brennan — usually in proactive fashion to deflect news accounts that may reflect poorly on their own past tenures.

Resistances

But all that said, we have never quite seen anything like the opposition of the so-called Resistance to the elected presidency that followed the Obama tenure.

There were the initial false charges that pro-Trump Russians had shut down power grids in Vermont. There were frivolous suits claiming that voting machines in three states were rigged. There was an organized, anti-constitutional effort to subvert the Electoral College so that it would not reflect the vote tallies of individual states. On Inauguration Day, there were congressional boycotts of the swearing-in ceremony. There were demonstrations at which, to take one example, Madonna envisioned blowing up the Trump White House.

An entire genre of assassination chic followed. Politicians, celebrities, actors, academics, and wannabees variously reenacted beheading Donald Trump, stabbing him to death, shooting him, torching him, hanging him, or, in the words of Robert DeNiro, dreaming of punching Trump in the face. Few in the media were bothered by the imagery or threats. Yet sometimes the hysteria became real violence — as when Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson’s shot prominent Republican politicians practicing for a charity baseball game, gravely wounding Republican House whip Steven Scalise, or when libertarian senator Rand Paul (present at the Scalise shooting) was attacked and injured by a disturbed neighbor and proponent of socialized medicine.

Formal efforts followed to impeach Trump in his first months of governance. Some evoked the emoluments clause of the Constitution, claiming that Trump had sought the presidency only to profit. Others sought recourse in the 25th Amendment, hoping that he could be removed because of senility, insanity, or debility. A Yale psychiatrist, who has never met Trump, was brought before Congress to confirm that the president was psychologically unfit to continue his office — and then wondered whether he might be physically restrained and forced to undergo examination (apparently unaware that she was getting quite close to advocating a coup d’état and also channeling the old Soviet remedy to political undesirables).

Deep-state bureaucrats and holdover Obama appointees refused to carry out presidential orders and became causes célèbres for violating their oaths of office. Justices were cherry-picked for stays of presidential directives on the basis on their liberal fides — until higher courts overturned their rulings. The Democratic congressional minority made wholescale effort to slow down confirmation of almost every presidential appointment.

Nonpartisan media research organizations found that 90 percent of all news stories concerning President Trump portrayed him negatively — an unprecedented negative rating. Late-night television morphed into 24/7 anti-Trump diatribes.

Journalists as diverse as the New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and Univision’s Jorge Ramos insisted that reporters could no longer be professionally disinterested in the age of Trump but must become activists to oppose the president and his agendas.

Indeed, the WikiLeaks trove revealed that marquee journalists such as the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush and the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank had actively colluded with the Clinton campaign to massage their news accounts and commentaries. The genre of “fake news” was born — ranging from the trivial of claiming in racist fashion that Trump had removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the West Wing to the mythologies of a purported Trump plan to invade Mexico. CNN’s journalists and employees were sometimes fired for inventing anti-Trump narratives, or caught on a hot mic wishing for the president’s jet to crash, or reduced to using scatology to express their hatred. The network achieved a 93 percent negative treatment of all Trump news.

Obama political appointments had sought FISA court orders to surveille Trump associates, then unmasked the names and leaked them to friendly journalists, first, to hamper the Trump campaign, later to subvert the Trump transition. A Clinton opposition dossier, based on paid and unnamed Russian sources, peddled false stories to the FBI and Obama-administration Justice Department officials. It may well have been used to obtain the FISA orders.

Career FBI officers used government communications to express their hatred for the new president. Such bias may have fueled their efforts to warp their investigations. The director of the FBI knowingly leaked confidential notes of his meetings with the president. He probably passed on at least one classified document to a friend, with the instruction that it then be passed to a friendly journalist. James Comey’s hope was to ensure an investigation of the president by a special counsel — a position soon to be filled by his close associate and friend.

The deep-state resistance of bureaucrats ranged from the petty and trivial of refusing to hang the picture of the current president in their offices to the more substantial move of slowing down or refusing outright to carry out presidential directives. America had not seen such opposition to an incoming president since 1861.

If any such resistance had faced an incoming Barack Obama, the cries of outrage, media fury, and legal recourse would have proved overwhelming and been framed as a constitutional crisis. But no such pushback occurred. Instead, in 2009, power was transferred peacefully if not amicably.

Yet, so far, the Resistance, despite helping to drive down presidential approval ratings to the low 40 percent range, has not stopped the Trump agenda. The Mueller investigation will likely settle for face-saving charges against a few Trump officials for crimes not envisioned under its original directives. Its own biases and the FBI’s involvement with the discredited Steele dossier may result in a number of successful appeals of those who confessed or acquittals of those charged.
Nullification

The frustrated Resistance is starting to morph into a more serious crisis of nullification, if not insurrection.

California has just declared itself, in antebellum South Carolina fashion, a sanctuary state. State law supposedly now transcends both local California municipalities that had chosen not to become sanctuary cities and federal immigration law itself. The law is the logical result of the governor’s and the popular culture’s pushback against Trump. Jerry Brown in the past had evoked God to cast aspersion on Trump’s morality: “I don’t think — President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility.” And Brown toured abroad as state commander in chief, as he assured foreign leaders that California was to be dealt with as a near-autonomous country.

One-third of state residents, according to polls, favor Calexit, or withdrawal from the United States. Central to California’s insurrectionist chic is the idea that it is unique and no other state had the moral courage or right to follow its example. California would probably go ballistic, after all, if during the Obama administration, the governor of West Virginia or Kentucky had visited China to cement coal-export agreements that countered Obama policies, or if Utah had declared the Endangered Species Act null and void within its environs, or if Mississippi had decided that federal gun-registration laws would not fully apply within its Second Amendment–sanctuary state.

California apparently has sensed that its nullification efforts are provoking federal officials, and it now scurries to assure Washington that it does not mean to fully oppose all federal immigration efforts. In theory, state officials who bar federal officials from their mandated duties would be subject to federal criminal charges of obstruction. In a more concrete vein, the quarter-built overpasses of the state’s already ossified high-speed rail project — increasingly dependent on federal funds for reactivation — are beginning to resemble an eerie Stonehenge.

Perhaps not by coincidence, the Congress just passed tax-reform legislation that does not allow local and state taxes above $10,000 to be deducted from federal tax returns. For a state that has among the highest sales taxes, the highest property tax assessments in the nation, and highest state-income-tax brackets (rising above 13 percent on the top brackets), the new law doubles the effective state tax rate.

Given that there are a number of low- or no-tax states in California’s neighborhood, and given that the California Democratic party is incapable of reducing the state income rate, the new law may encourage some affluent retirees to flee the state. It would not take many to undermine a key source of state revenue. Note that of some 40 million residents, only about 150,000 individual or household tax returns account for about half of all California income-tax revenue — itself nearly 40 percent of all state income. Note also that progressive California is understandably worried that its affluent tax-paying golden geese may be sacrificed, even while the vast majority of its population will receive sizable tax cuts from the new federal law.
Damning Salvation

In tit-for-tat fashion, will the state seek more nullification measures to push back against the federal government? Legislators are now dreaming of redefining state income tax as deductible “charitable contributions” in order to reinstate federal tax deductions. That pathetic gambit would land an individual filer in the IRS pokey.

Again, California legislators apparently do not realize that any other state could do the same and thereby nullify the entire federal tax system. If they persist, no doubt the Trump Department of Justice would have good grounds to seek indictments against state officials for conspiracy to commit federal income-tax fraud.

So will large blue states continue their defiance of federal laws, whether they involve immigration nullification or their own legalization of marijuana growing and selling? It depends.

Black and Hispanic unemployment rates are now at record lows. Wealthy California high-tech firms like Apple are eager to take advantage of new tax laws and plan to bring back billions of offshored capital that will enrich state coffers.

Declines in illegal immigration, along with an economy running at 3 percent GDP growth, are pushing up the compensation of low-skilled workers in a way that clumsy state-mandated raises in the minimum wage could not.

Ironically, mega-states such as California, Illinois, and New York were close to the brink of insolvency under the calcified Obama economy. But they may enjoy record growth in 2018 that for now mitigates their own regrettable financial decisions. In other words, an expanding economy could turn resistance and nullification into a mostly boutique symbolic enterprise, as thousands of blue-state officials ceremonially damn the policies that may alone offer them salvation.

November 26, 2017

The End of the Yankee Imperium, the Z Blog [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 11:11 pm

The End Of The Yankee Imperium
Posted on November 26, 2017

At the very beginning of the 19th century, the New England states were increasingly at odds with the the Southern states. One cause of the discontent was the sense that the slave states had too much power over the Federal government. Another was the decline in trade with Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. The Embargo Act of 1807 and the Non-Intercourse Act of 1809 sharply reduced trade with Britain and France. There was also the rivalry between the North and South, which dated to the founding the colonies.

Discontent with the War of 1812 brought things to a head. The Federalist Party in New England had been agitating for changes in the Constitution, like eliminating the three-fifths compromise. New England newspapers openly discussed secession. The Hartford Convention was a series of meetings among representatives from the New England states to discuss their grievances. The whole project collapsed with the wave of patriotism that resulted from Jackson’s victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans.

This episode in American history has largely been forgotten, mostly because the North won the Civil War fifty years later. The winners write the history books and this bit of history has never fit the narrative. It’s also why the The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina has been erased from the history books. Northern conservatives have made John Locke and the Scottish Enlightenment their base. The fact that Locke and Shaftesbury hoped to impose feudalism on the American South is inconvenient.

The point here is that Americans have been raised up on a history of the nation written by Yankeedom. The North won the Civil War so they became the dominant region both legally and economically. Through the 20th century, the North also came to dominate the nation culturally, writing the history books and defining the national narrative. That’s how we get nonsense about the Puritans seeking religious freedom and carving a nation out of the wilderness. Jamestown has been all but erased from the nation’s memory.

The dominance of the North over the rest of the country probably would have petered out in the 20th century, but world events changed the direction of America. Teddy Roosevelt badgered Woodrow Wilson into breaking with American tradition, with regards to getting involved in European affairs. The Yankee desire to dominate North America became a quest to dominate the world. Once the US chose to get into the Great War, the old traditional American conservatism was killed off forever. The Yankee Empire was born.

The aftermath of the Great War, the Depression, World War II and then the Cold War prevented any change in America’s domestic arrangements. These were great unifying events, in that they justified the suppression of anything challenging the established cultural order. The upheavals of the 60’s and 70’s were based in New England, the Upper Midwest and Northern California for a reason. American Conservatism was born at Yale and run out of Connecticut for the same reason. That where the ruling class lived.

All empires end eventually. Often it is from exhaustion, the cost of maintaining the empire having long ago exceeded the benefits. Other times the culture that built the empire runs its course. The empire remains as a brittle outer husk that eventually shatters. Other times, it is a slow, ad hoc retreat back to something resembling normalcy. The Soviet Empire is a good example of this. It’s not been an organized retreat, but it has been a fairly bloodless one. Russia is now back to something close to its historic norm.

America was never built to a be great crusading empire. Even after generations of cultural cleansing, Alabama is still a vastly different place than Vermont. Regionalism is still the defining feature of America. Having one region dominate the others was the fear of the Founders, which is why they struggled to craft a government after independence from the British. The solution was a small federal government that handled a narrow set of things, like war and trade, that could only be done by a central government.

America’s ruling class, especially over the last few decades, have gone to great lengths to explain why providence has ordained America as the world’s peace keeper. The usual suspect have twisted this into a foreign policy of keeping the world safe for the Jewish diaspora. The truth is, the American Empire was always built on serendipity. The total destruction of Europe and the technological backwardness of East Asia left a huge vacuum. The atom bomb locked in the gains of the victors, by locking out all challengers.

The world that birthed the American Empire is long gone. China is now taking up her historic role as the hegemonic power of Asia. Europe is fully recovered, in the material sense, from the 20th century. It is time for Europe to recover culturally and that can only happen when the Yankee Empire recedes. Whether or not the European people have the will to defend themselves from the barbarian hordes to their south, that’s not something that can be decided for them. Europe must live or die on its own.

Domestically, it is long past time for a return to normalcy. The Cold War has been over for 25 years. The rest of the country is economically and demographically in better shape than Yankeedom. The oldest and most sclerotic states in the nation are located in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. The election of Trump and the resulting chaos in Washington strongly suggest the rest of the nation is ready to step outside the shadow of Yankeedom. CalExit and similar rumblings from Progressives are another sign of change.

The fact is, America was never a singular nation. It was a hodgepodge of nations, thrown together with degrees of overlap. The regions of the country share a language and share some history, but they are significant different too. America, maybe even all of North America, is better run as a federation, like a continent sized version of Switzerland. The areas where there can be no agreement are delegated to the regions. The areas where the interests are shared are delegated to a Federal state.

That can only come with the end of the Yankee Imperium.

This post has already been linked to 1966 times!

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November 16, 2017

Song of the Open Road, by Walt Whitman [thank you, Volvo]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 1:48 am

Song of the Open Road
By Walt Whitman
Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose,

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune – I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road . . .

. . . From this hour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me . . .

. . . I inhale great draughts of space;
The East and the West and mine, and the North and the South are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me,
I would do the same to you.

I will recruit for myself and you as I go;
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go;
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.

November 15, 2017

Six boys, 13 Hands, thanks to JohnF for sending [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 3:03 pm

SIX BOYS, 13 HANDS – A TRUE STORY FROM A TEACHER

Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class from Clinton, WI where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation’s capital, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall’s trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history — that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II.

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, ‘Where are you guys from?’

I told him that we were from Wisconsin. ‘Hey, I’m a cheese head, too! Come gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story.’

(It was James Bradley) who just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to his dad, who had passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, DC, but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night.)

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. (Here are his words that night.)

‘My name is James Bradley and I’m from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I wrote a book called ‘Flags of Our Fathers’. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me.

‘Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game. A game called ‘War.’ But it didn’t turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don’t say that to gross you out, I say that because there are people who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old – and it was so hard that the ones who did make it home never even would talk to their families about it.

(He pointed to the statue) ‘You see this next guy? That’s Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene’s helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph…a photograph of his girlfriend Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared. He was 18 years old. It was just boys who won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.

‘The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank… (from Johnstown, PA). Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the ‘old man’ because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn’t say, ‘Let’s go kill some Japanese’ or ‘Let’s die for our country’ He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, ‘You do what I say, and I’ll get you home to your mothers.’

‘The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes was one of them who lived to walk off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad President Truman told him, ‘You’re a hero’ He told reporters, ‘How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?’

So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes carried the pain home with him and eventually died dead drunk, face down, drowned in a very shallow puddle, at the age of 32 (ten years after this picture was taken).

‘The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky. A fun-lovin’ hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, ‘Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn’t get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night.’ Yes, he was a fun-lovin’ hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother’s farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. Those neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

‘The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley, from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews.

When Walter Cronkite’s producers or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say ‘No, I’m sorry, sir, my dad’s not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don’t know when he is coming back.’ My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell’s soup. But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn’t want to talk to the press.

‘You see, like Ira Hayes, my dad didn’t see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, ’cause they are in a photo and on a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a combat caregiver. On Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died on Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed, without any medication or help with the pain.

‘When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, ‘I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back.’

‘So that’s the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time.’

Suddenly, the monument wasn’t just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that is not mentioned here is, that if you look at the statue very closely and count the number of ‘hands’ raising the flag, there are 13.. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.

Great story – worth your time – worth every American’s time. Please pass it on.

November 9, 2017

Donations, from John Fasb [c]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 1:48 pm

Let’s All THINK BEFORE WE DONATE!

Suits in shining armour..and who pays

You can and should check these statements with the charities mentioned before you give or withdraw giving.

A timely reminder before the Holidays and our generous spirits open up our wallets…

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOU MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS: As you open your pockets to do a good thing and make yourself feel good, please keep the following facts in mind:

The American Red Cross
President and CEO Marsha J. Evans’

salary for the year was $651,957 plus expenses

MARCH OF DIMES
It is called the March of Dimes because

Only a dime for every 1 dollar is given to the needy.

The United Way
President Brian Gallagher

receives a $375,000 base salary along with numerous expense benefits

UNICEF
CEO Caryl M. Stern receives

$1,200,000 per year (100k per month) plus all expenses including a ROLLS ROYCE.

Less than 5 cents of your donated dollar goes to the cause.

GOODWILL CEOand owner Mark Curran profits $2.3 million a year.
Goodwill is a very catchy name for his business.

You donate to his business and then he sells the items for PROFIT.
He pays nothing for his products and pays his workers minimum wage! Nice Guy.
$0.00 goes to help anyone!
Stop giving to this man.

Instead, give it to ANY OF THE FOLLOWING

GO “GREEN” AND PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE IT WILL DO SOME GOOD:

The Salvation Army
Commissioner, Todd Bassett receives a small salary of only

$13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization.

96 percent of donated dollars go to the cause.

The American Legion
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.
Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Veterans of Foreign Wars
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.

Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Disabled American Veterans
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.
Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Military Order of PurpleHearts
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.
Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Vietnam Veterans Association
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.

Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

Make a Wish: For children’s last wishes.

100% goes to funding trips or special wishes for a dying child.

St. Jude Research Hospital

100% goes towards funding and helping Children with Cancer who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay.

Ronald McDonald Houses

All monies go to running the houses for parents who have critically ill Children in the hospital.

100% goes to housing, and feeding the families.

Lions Club International

100% OF DONATIONS GO TO HELP THE BLIND, BUY HEARING AIDES, SUPPORT MEDICAL MISSIONS AROUND THE WORLD. THEIR LATEST UNDERTAKING

IS MEASLES VACCINATIONS (ONLY $1.00 PER SHOT).

Please share this with everyone you can.

[Re: The Red Cross

Most veterans do not give to The Red Cross because they charged us for coffee & donuts while in the field.

As far as Disaster relief is concerned, if you give to The Red Cross, money or blood, for a Declared National Emergency or Disaster, $0.00 goes to the disaster. Under The Stafford Act, that which authorizes FEMA, during a Declared National Emergency or Disaster, The Red Cross presents a bill to FEMA for ALL of its expenses and expenditures, and WE THE TAXPAYER pay The Red Cross 100% of the costs and expenditures!]

November 8, 2017

The Rhetoric of Illegal Immigration, by Dr. Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 4:25 pm

California, the Rhetoric of Illegal Immigration, and the Perils of Ignoring Thucydides’s Warning
November 7, 2017 3:41 pm / Leave a Comment / Victor Davis Hanson
By Victor Davis Hanson // Eureka

Vocabulary changes always reflect the agendas of a political debate.

The fight over illegal immigration plays out by altering words and their meanings. Take the traditional rubric “illegal alien.” The English has been clear and exact for nearly a century: illegal alien (cf. Latin alienus) was a descriptive term for any foreigner who crossed the US border without coming through customs to obtain proper legal sanction.

Illegal alien, then, was a politically neutral, exact, and descriptive term: one used by both the Supreme Court and Internal Revenue Service.

But open-borders advocates did not like the adjective and noun because they accurately emphasized both illegality and the foreignness of those arriving into the United States from another country.

What followed was a slow Orwellian devolution. Illegal alien initially was reinvented as “undocumented alien,” as if the violation became one of simply forgetting (rather than never having) one’s supposed legal documents at home. But the noun “alien” still implied arrivals were somehow separate from US citizens by virtue of their illegal resident status. So next the noun changed to immigrant, as if undocumented immigrant gave the impression that forgetful visitors had just strayed innocently across the border.

But why need a discriminating adjective at all?

So a mere immigrant has sometimes replaced an undocumented immigrant, as if there were now no real difference between coming into the United States legally or illegally. Being against illegal immigration was now seen as being against lawful immigration itself.

Finally, why prejudice the immigrant by suggesting that he or she came from another place into the United States–as if this individual were some sort of intruder who thought America was somehow preferable to Yucatan or Guatemala?

As a result, migrant is now used without any -in or -ex prefix denoting direction: 11–15 million illegal immigrants were perhaps just migrants who often came and went in both nonjudgmental directions in the manner of other travelers.

The deliberate inference is that the impediments of laws, borders, and walls were unnatural and illegal, not the travelers themselves who passed to and fro between. The fault then belongs to the host, who wrongly felt that his home was his own and guests subject to his invitation.

The vocabulary of illegal immigration has made other adjustments to suggest that it has little to do with supposedly outdated federal immigration law.

What does “sanctuary city” really imply other than a place where advocates of illegal immigration ignore and override federal law to allow illegal aliens to reside, often in violation of the local, state, and federal law?

Such no-go sanctuary zones are supposed to channel the idea of religious and political sanctuaries in time of civil war. Sanctuary suggests that bad people chase good people into safe places like churches or monasteries, where even overzealous law enforcement cannot force their noble guardians to seize them. The intent is to invoke something sympathetic and romantic, like Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the sanctuary provided to the hounded Esmeralda by the famous Gothic cathedral, as agents of the state close in on her.

Yet a more honest description of sanctuary cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles would be “secessionist cities.” They are, after all, defiant state-rights enclaves that argue, in Confederate fashion, that the federal government and our Constitution ultimately have no power over their states’rights pushback. They recall the insurrectionary manner in which South Carolina in 1861 defiantly declared that federal laws within its borders were null and void and so helped set off the Civil War.

An equally accurate description would be “amnesty cities,” places where the consequences of breaking federal immigration law—as well as other criminal statues—were ignored (but only in the case of illegal immigrants).

A sanctuary city like San Francisco or a sanctuary state like California does not believe that the principles of exemption should be extended to any other federal laws or to local or state jurisdictions other than their own.

Certainly Bay Area liberals would have a fit if Oklahoma City residents declared that federal gun registration rules did not apply inside their city and thus one could buy and carry a .45 pistol off the shelf. Californians would go ballistic should the entire state of Utah declare dozens of Byzantine workplace statutes to be null and void within its state borders.

“Dreamers” is another linguistic contortion that increasingly and by design does not reflect reality.

Originally the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) act was an executive order— most likely unconstitutional and illegal—issued by former president Barack Obama to exempt foreign national minors who were brought by their parents illegally into the United States from federal immigration law enforcement.

Previously Obama, at least until his reelection bid in 2012, on several occasions had reemphasized that he had no such executive power to override federal law. Indeed, he reminded Latino activist groups that tragically he could not by fiat (“I am not a king”) nullify a federal law.

Note that in 2009, when Obama enjoyed a supermajority in the Senate and a Democratic House, he also had chosen not to ram through legislative amnesties in the manner that he successfully would do with the Affordable Care Act.

Yet four years later, when Obama wished to galvanize his base of minority voters, he did what he previously said he could not legally and therefore issued amnesties for what were now called “Dreamers.”

The term was meant to be limited to children and preteens brought by their parents unknowingly and illegally, in most cases from Latin America and Mexico, and who had subsequently grown up not knowing any other country than the United States. Yet Dreamers soon became an ethical rather than legal term, implying that all such minors were on their way to becoming successful Americans and thus had worked hard, gone to college, and would become exemplary Americans. Some of the Dreamers have done just that and, in any proposed immigration grand bargain, could, with conditions, be issued green cards to achieve legal residence.

But most Dreamers are now believed to be somewhere in their mid- or late-twenties (the average age of a DACA recipient is twenty-five, the starting age for serving in Congress). They are hardly any longer unknowing children without access to legal counsel or knowledge of their ongoing illegal status.

Nor does anyone know the exact status of the estimated one to two million Dreamers who were included in the Obama DACA amnesty: How many have committed crimes, dropped out of school, gone onto public assistance, or simply just recently crossed the border in hopes of retroactively being classified as exempt Dreamers?

Apparently no federal agency wishes to find out. So in lieu of such data, we instead just utter the collective Dreamers and condemn anyone who would dare suggest that a particular Dreamer might have a criminal record or no work history.

The current overarching immigration enforcement agency, ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement), has linguistically superseded the old rubric Border Patrol and further diluted it with a division of US Customs and Border Protection—as if stopping illegal crossings is not necessarily connected to vigilant watching and constant patrolling along a clearly defined border but rather more a matter of monitoring commerce and vaguely protecting a border.

Apparently illegal immigration is no longer a simple question of breaking the law to cross the sovereign boundary of a foreign country but rather a technicality of not going through all the necessary and, apparently, discriminatory and mostly unnecessary documentary hoops. If there is a porous border, how could one literally patrol it? Thus the need for new terms arose for new hoped-for realities.

Anytime an idea or political agenda cannot achieve majority political support, its sponsors turn to euphemisms and linguistic gymnastics.

The historian Thucydides warned us 2,400 years ago during the horrific civil war on Corcyra how “words had to change their meanings” to mask the ill intent of particular unpopular political agendas. In George Orwell’s two chilling novels Animal Farm and 1984, the totalitarian state erodes the law by changing constantly the names of things as if language can remake reality.

In our age, we have witnessed how the Obama administration went to great lengths to downplay the threats of radical Islamic terrorism. Apparently he preferred new words that would not capture the reality that thousands of radical Muslims had terrorized innocent civilians. In fact terrorism during the Obama years became a man-caused disaster or workplace violence, as if there was either no human agency in the Tsarnaev brothers’ bombings during the Boston Marathon or that Major Hasan yelled out “allakbar,” as he mowed down thirteen of his fellow soldiers had little, if anything, to do with Hasan’s Wahhabi extremism.

Under Obama the effort to combat radical Islamic terrorism became the bland overseas contingencies operation, as if Russians or Chinese were blowing up civilians with equal frequency. The point to such obfuscation was to deny that global terrorism was commonplace, that it was in our age largely committed by young male Muslims often living in or originally from the Middle East, that it was aimed largely at Western targets and their allies, and that it spread not because of Western culpability but due to grievances in the Islamic world against modernism in general and Westernization and globalization in particular.

Similar is the Orwellian effort to recalibrate through language illegal immigration.

The public does not approve of open borders. It wants immigration law enforced. It believes there is at least a minority of those who crossed the border illegally that have either at some time broken more laws and have criminal records, relied on public assistance, or did not find a job and thus should be deported.

Most people further believe that illegal immigration erodes the cherished idea of legal immigration, given that illegal immigration ignores the law, is non-meritocratic, and is becoming less and less diverse. In part open borders reflect a political desire to recalibrate the demography of the American Southwest and thereby empower the Democratic Party and its progressive operatives in government, universities, and the media.

In sum the apparent agenda is to keep the border open when the vast majority wishes it closed to illegal immigration. That disconnect requires that language makes the necessary adjustments so that migrants and Dreamers, not illegal aliens, just wandered or were mysteriously brought en masse into America without real borders, certainly not illegally and certainly not at the expense of legal applicants from dozens of foreign countries who wait for years for legal permission to enter the United States.

October 8, 2017

Re-Transmittal of Op-Ed 371, by Joseph John [pls view links]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 2:05 pm

The Re-transmittal of Op Ed 371:

To ensure accuracy in reporting, we are modifying the original transmission of Op Ed 371 as originally sent in the below listed link:

“The National Anthem Protests — Do Facts Matter?”

http://combatveteransforcongress.org/story/national-anthem-protests-do-facts-matter

We originally stated: “Out of those 1696 players, 871 professional football players are convicted felons. “, we should have stated:

“Out of those 1696 professional football players in the NFL, 871 were arrested for felonies or misdemeanors (high priced attorneys may have pleaded some of those felonies down to misdemeanors). The arrest of those 871 professional football players did not engender respect toward Police Officers.”

By clicking on the below listed link, and reviewing the arrest record of the 871 professional football players, each recipient of this E-mail can make their own determination of whether the arrests were for felonies or misdemeanors:

https://www.usatoday.com/sports/nfl/arrests/

To engender the respect of Americans, toward professional football players who take a knee during playing of the National Anthem and their NFL Players Association/Union, we encourage them to click on the two below listed links to read the two articles:

Breaking! The NFL Players Association Was Caught Funneling Money to Nazi Collaborator George Soros

https://constitution.com/breaking-nfl-players-association-caught-funneling-money-george-soros/

NFL Players’ Union teamed up with Nazi Collaborator George Soros to fund leftist advocacy groups

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/oct/5/nfl-layers-union-teamed-george-soros-fund-leftist/

Most Patriotic Americans do not respect professional football players, who take a knee during the National Anthem, by doing so disrespect the American Flag, and whose actions further disrespects the memory of military personnel, thru the ages, who were returned to the US in flag draped caskets, after losing their lives while supporting the Republic.

Copyright by Capt Joseph R. John. All Rights Reserved. The material can only posted on another Web site or distributed on the Internet by giving full credit to the author. It may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without the permission from the author.

Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62

Capt USNR(Ret)/Former FBI

Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC

2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-184

San Diego, CA 92108

http://www.CombatVeteransForCongress.org

https://www.facebook.com/combatveteransforcongress?ref=hl

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
-Isaiah 6:8

October 5, 2017

Are Wars Caused by Accidents? by Victor Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 6:37 pm

Are Wars Caused by Accidents?
October 3, 2017 3:58 pm / Leave a Comment / victorhanson
by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

History shows that a lack of deterrence, not loose rhetoric, spurs aggression.

As tensions mount with North Korea, fears arise that President Trump’s tit-for-tat bellicose rhetoric with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un might lead to miscalculations — and thus an accidental war that could have been prevented.

Is there evidence in history that wars break out largely because of an accident or over a misplaced word? Seldom.

Enemies Fight, but Neutrals, Rivals, and Friends Rarely Do
The precise timing of particular outbreaks of war, of course, can depend on unique factors. A sudden perception of a loss of deterrence can cause an army to mobilize. So can almost anything, from the introduction of a new weapon to a change in government.

Yet the larger events that originally drove two sides to fight are rarely, if ever, accidental in the manner of car wrecks.

Enemies go to war; rivals, neutrals, and friends rarely do. There is little chance that an accidental foreign incursion across the Canadian or even the Mexican border will result in war. The apparently accidental, but quite lethal, 1967 Israeli air attack on the USS Liberty did not result in a U.S. retaliatory strike on Tel Aviv, much less escalate to a general war. Yet a similar Soviet strike might have.

In general, the best deterrent policy in dealing with multiple aggressors is Teddy Roosevelt’s dictum to speak softly and carry a big stick — because loud speech is sometimes misinterpreted as a compensatory effort to disguise military incapability, and thus paradoxically it can lead to a fatal loss of deterrence.

Next best perhaps is speaking loudly while carrying a big stick. Intemperate words are not fatal if ultimately reinforced by overwhelming force.

Most dangerous is speaking loudly (and especially sanctimoniously) while carrying a twig — basically what we have seen in the past eight years with Russia, Iran, and Syria.

Was World War I Really an Accident?
It is often said that accidents and extraneous forces — nearly automatic and mindless mobilization, fumbled diplomacy, greedy arms merchants, archaic alliances on autopilot, confused messaging, or bellicose strutting and rhetoric in August 1914 — triggered World War I, which otherwise might have been prevented.

But a continental war had come close to breaking out earlier in 1911 over Morocco and again in 1912–13 in the Balkans. A war would likely have broken out later, if not in 1914. Berlin by 1914 held views that were incompatible with peaceful resolution:

1) Germany felt cheated that its economic dynamism, population, and military power somehow had not resulted in what Germany thought it deserved: commensurate colonial expansion overseas and dominant influence on the Continent;

2) the German army since 1871 had felt that its size, and organizational and technological excellence, increasingly replicated in a rising and powerful navy, made it nearly unstoppable vis-à-vis other European rivals;

3) any sudden German strike in either the East or West could not be immediately deterred or stopped by the existing forces of Britain, France, or Russia.

The net result of these unchallenged assumptions was a likely German war of aggression sometime in the second or third decade of the 20th century.

Preventing World War I would have required far closer coordination and greater deterrent capability among Germany’s intended targets. Or the Germans would’ve needed to be far less aggressive, perhaps with a Kaiser more like Wilhelm II’s grandfather, Wilhelm I, who under the influence of Otto von Bismarck had realized that long-term German aspirations were achievable without a sudden and destructive European war.

Or a more interventionist United States would have had to intervene on the side of the democracies before, rather than after, the war — somewhat akin to America’s proactive Cold War leadership after 1945.

Just days after the war broke out, German professor and diplomatic analyst Kurt Riezler issued his Septemberprogramm draft of annexing much of Western Europe — a plan of aggression that only summarized long-held German agendas.

Indeed, since 1871, Germans had believed that their empire was destined to do as it wished in Europe, and, more immediately, that another border war would, as in 1870–71, be rather short and earn great dividends that were richly deserved at tolerable costs.

Appeasement, Not Accidents, Start Wars
If rising tensions are not to lead to war, the key factor in confronting aggressors is avoiding accidental impressions that cause a loss of deterrent power.

What will start a war with North Korea is not a bellicose tweet from Trump. Instead, a war will follow if North Korea does a cost-benefit analysis that leads it to conclude that an attack will produce more positive results than setbacks, or if it has the impression that its forces can inflict lots of damage without the regime’s destruction.

Again, mellifluous appeasement is far more dangerous even than sloppy, bellicose rhetoric. Of course, the latter should be avoided if not backed by force, but “fire and fury” words, ipsis factis, will not provoke to action an otherwise stationary aggressor. Rather the danger is that rhetoric alone can project a sense of weakness that invites aggression, on the theory that fiery but empty words are intended to mask military inability.

The last century of so-called accidental wars did not start over an unwise taunt or an accidental bombing. To the degree that there was a miscalculation during rising tensions, the culprit was most often a loss of deterrence, whether real or imagined:

Much of Europe and Britain weakly appeased Hitler’s serial aggressions in the 1930s rather than stopping them, persuading Hitler that his rather meager forces could nonetheless win a continental war against America, Britain, and the Soviet Union.
Japan wrongly surmised that U.S. isolationism in the 1930s and inaction from 1939 to 1941 would not lead to a muscular response after Pearl Harbor — and so Japan tried its luck.
Dean Acheson in 1950 suggested that South Korea was outside the U.S. protective shield; the miscue probably encouraged a North Korean invasion.
A series of unwise British actions in the early 1980s (from a parliamentarian’s occasional naïve reference to the Falklands as the “Malvinas” to the more serious tactic of withdrawing a small Royal Navy ship from the Falklands) suggested to the Argentine dictatorship that London did not see retaining the Falklands as worth a war.
April Glaspie sloppily remarked in 1990 that Arab border disputes were not of paramount interests to the U.S., which may have encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait.
The dismantling of supposed nuclear programs in Ukraine and Libya signaled that both had no deterrent against future big-power interventions, which eventually followed.

The Terrible Laboratory
War is a horrific laboratory experiment that confirms or rejects vague and inexact prewar guesses about relative strength or weakness.

The way, then, to prevent conflict from breaking out is to assure potential aggressors during peacetime that they are weaker than their targets and would lose catastrophically if they were foolish enough to test the obvious. Only in this way does war appear as a costly redundancy that is avoidable.

World Wars I and II were tragic and unnecessary demonstrations of what should have been obvious in 1914 and in 1939–41. In the former case, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Ottoman Turkey could never match the combined power of the eventual alliance of Britain and its Empire, France, Italy, Russia, and the United States.

In the latter war, Germany, Italy, and Japan had no business dreaming that their combined might could ever defeat the forces of the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the United States. But for a variety of reasons (in the case of World War II, British appeasement, Russian collaboration, and the isolationism of the United States), that reality from 1939 to 1941 was not made clear. The result was that the Axis started a series of wars on false impressions; the truth would have been obvious if their enemies had adopted wiser prewar deterrent policies and military preparation.

An Accident — or an Accident Waiting to Happen?

So too it is with North Korea. Even the sloppiest outburst from Kim Jong Un or promises of fiery retaliation from Donald Trump are not likely to prompt a second Korean War — at least until the conditions for it are nearly preordained by tragically false perceptions of relative strength.

Still, Trump should be careful what he says, largely because rhetoric at best is a shrinking asset that encourages adventurism when not reinforced by concrete action. At worst, tough talk can be wrongly interpreted as a surrogate for a quiet willingness to use force to deter enemies.

In contrast, a clear and firm statement about what will happen if North Korea attacks either U.S. bases or American soil or its allies, backed by demonstrations of deterrent force, will likely prevent a war.

As far as North Korea, a deterrent policy involves periodic shows of overwhelming force by our alliance, a concerted effort to implement missile defense, and diplomatic efforts to line up big powers such as China, the European Union, India, and Russia to apprise North Korea that it will face only global hostility if it starts a war against the overwhelming strength of the U.S. alliance.

A bombastic outburst may change the date of an inevitable war with North Korea, but it won’t in itself ensure a war. In contrast, an inadvertent or deliberate effort to assure North Korea that the U.S. will not respond in apocalyptic fashion to its aggression is a guarantee that war will follow.

The Fear That We Are Still Reptilian
Why do we ignore this lesson of history?

Pacifism and appeasement in the short term often postpone war and are achieved at little cost. Both win popular and elite acclaim for demonstrating sophisticated moderation and forbearance. In thinking that war is always irrational, only an accident can explain why otherwise sober people would launch such an atrocious enterprise.

In contrast, military preparation, deterrence, and a willingness to use superior force against aggressors is a de facto admission that humans are still Neanderthals — and in their limbic brains fear not so much starting a war as being utterly defeated in a war.

Deterrence is a hard sell for an affluent and leisured society convinced that its supposed success at evolving and improving human nature has made the tough lessons of the past seem prosaic and irrelevant.

Let us pray that we accept the bitter reality that the world is still full of reptiles and not college professors.

September 30, 2017

Angry Reader 29 Sep 17, from Victor Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 3:27 pm

September 29, 2017 2:52 pm / Leave a Comment / victorhanson
From An Angry Reader:

Dear Professor Hanson,

You are a hypocrite.

You endlessly, in your writings and talks, decry people who say ‘if it ain’t perfect it ain’t good’, and yet you constantly moan about Obama just because he ‘wasn’t perfect’ and did some crooked things. You, sir, are a hypocrite. You could at least admit that both parties stink and that all politicians are liars.

By the way, you need to stop moaning about how ‘the elite’ should do more ‘hands-on’ work (I will soon start calling you Victor ‘Hands-on’ to reflect your obsession). Have you ever thought that maybe nobody wants to do those grueling back-breaking jobs for a dollar an hour, and that maybe some people want to get away from that life? Do you really think Donald J Trump, your hero, ever did a single day of hard basically unpaid work like that? Who would want that life if they could get a decent wage—or better rich—without breaking their back? Do you really expect kids to aspire to be fruit-pickers when they could be lawyers earning 200k a year working 5 days a week? I call BS.

Maybe you’re right in principle, but nobody is as principled as you who could or would want to do that. Also, lots of people in inner cities want to do that kind of manual labor or farm-work, but have no access or ability to do it because unlike you they don’t have a farm of their own. How the h*ll can they do what you want them to do when they don’t even have the social mobility to have access to the countryside? Heck, most people struggle just to pay the rent in the inner cities nowadays; most people are slaves to the state. I would rather be a real slave than have the fake urban ‘freedom’ (i.e. prison) that modern scum politicians have created for us.

Dan Smith,

Miami

_________________________________________________
Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Dan Smith,

Calm down; your anger clouds all reason. Most politicians, but not all, are liars. While I agree that both parties lie, at this particular juncture in American history, nevertheless the two parties are not morally equivalent.

nstead they represent vastly different world views: identity politics versus the melting pot; illegal massive immigration vs. legal, measured, diverse, and meritocratic immigration; more taxes and larger government vs. lower taxes and less government; a therapeutic foreign policy vs. deterrence; less defense spending vs. more of it; curbs on expression vs. free speech. The antitheses are really quite endless.

Obama did not grow the economy (sluggish and always less than 3%). His rhetoric divided the nation. The world abroad fell into chaos. The debt doubled. Taxes rose. Health care deductibles, premiums, and copays skyrocketed. Programs like cash for clunkers, “shovel-ready” jobs, or Solyndra-like subsidies were embarrassing. The border was left open. Eric Holder was cited for contempt by Congress. Corruption—at the IRS, Secret Service, GSA, VA, and EPA—was commonplace. Reporters had their communications tapped. Unmasking and leaking were normative. Need I go on? Obama was an iconic president—fine; but there was no record of accomplishment and a great deal of deliberate polarization.

Donald Trump is not my hero; did I write that? He is a corrective to the Obama years. Few others were willing to take up that role.

Stopping illegal immigration and pro-growth policies might give entry-level workers clout with their employers, and allow wages to rise. The proponent of open borders is the proponent of low wages. “Fruit pickers” could once again be summer job seekers and entry level employment that soon led to higher paying and more skilled work, especially if labor is not cheap and accessible through illegal immigration. I think my writings have supported the idea that muscular labor should be more highly rewarded.

Do you not see that the opponent of illegal immigration wishes wages to rise and inner-city youth to be in demand as workers?

In a full-employment economy, employers could not ignore inner city youths, but would work with them to reenter the work force. I don’t see at all the morality of importing a half-million foreign nationals to work when we have millions of Americans who are not employed and have dropped permanently out of the work force.

Finally, no one is a perpetual victim. We all face constant pressures and personal tragedies. Claiming always of a stacked deck and blaming others or cosmic forces in general guarantee personal failure.

I’d like to engage your questions, but there are few coherent inquiries here.

Victor Hanson

Selma

Go Navy, from Jasiu [c]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 3:14 pm

GO NAVY !
This is the best piece of news that I have received in a long time and applaud the Navy.

GOODBYE PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS JANAYE ERVIN!

Article 92 of the U.C.M.J.

https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.google.com_url-3Fsa-3Di-26rct-3Dj-26q-3D-26esrc-3Ds-26source-3Dimages-26cd-3D-26cad-3Drja-26uact-3D8-26ved-3D0ahUKEwi23Nrkor3RAhXoyFQKHYGdA-5FMQjRwIBw-26url-3Dhttp-253A-252F-252Fwww.foxnews.com-252Fus-252F2016-252F09-252F28-252Fnavy-2Dlaunches-2Dinvestigation-2Dinto-2Dsailor-2Dwho-2Ddidnt-2Dstand-2Dfor-2Dnational-2Danthem.html-26psig-3DAFQjCNGIFQh8WwTdBvSeEqEWOOrOwNoEMw-26ust-3D1484333355596645&d=DQMFaQ&c=euGZstcaTDllvimEN8b7jXrwqOf-v5A_CdpgnVfiiMM&r=L7c3UQyrsc–Cc1lDgxy3des4s_eVm3Fa8XAngqpPnY&m=Pthpr2f-Rh93UrnNi-Ixo5IWkyKcozuGPnLnKEylRHg&s=Es0e8APLdlR98J67QRCCfeECsMFeAxby9QNQCTdTUD0&e=

Navy Sailor Refuses To Stand For National Anthem – IMMEDIATELY Regrets It.
WRITTEN BY DAVID MILLER

A former Navy intelligence specialist recently took a page out of Colin Kaepernick’s playbook and refused to stand for the national anthem during morning colors. However, she quickly learned she’d made a huge mistake.

Conservative Tribune reported that Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin was stripped of her security clearance and assigned to menial labor for a few days before she was forced to leave the Navy for disrespecting our country so blatantly.

It all started on September 19, when Ervin refused to stand for the anthem when she was on reserve duty at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. The International BusinessTimes reported that Ervin claimed she was trying to make a statement about blacks being persecuted in the United States by doing this. “I just didn’t want to stand at that moment,” Ervin said “I can’t stand for this song knowing that the song isn’t for me, being black. The song doesn’t represent me at all. To be honest, I never really thought about the flag my entire life, I had no reason to. It’s just a flag.”

The next day, Ervin’s superiors read her her rights and gave her a warning about potentially compromising her security clearance, which she needed for both her military and civilian job. One day after that, she was stripped of her security clearance and escorted out of the secure area where she was working.

Ervin is now claiming that she was never told which order she was violating, but this is clearly a lie since she violated the 10th General Order for Sentries, “…To salute all officers and colors and standards not cased…..” which is taught in Navy boot camp.

All members of the Navy are required to memorize all 11 general orders in bootcamp, and they are aware that violating any one of them is subject to Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and is subject to whatever punishment is decided by court-martial.

On September 21, Ervin took to Facebook to publicly whine about how “unfair” this has been for her. “The Navy has decided to punish me for defending the Constitution and has taken away my equipment I need to do my Naval job,” she wrote, according to PopularMilitary.com.

Hey, Janaye, the Navy did not take ANYTHING from you – you forfeited your own job when you knowingly violated a general order.

[Article I of the Constitution of the United States places the military outside of the protections of the constitution and under strict control of The Congress which passed the Uniform Code of Military Justice {UCMJ}. Thus, she is NOT protected by the First Amendment. Too bad these “activists” haven’t read the constitution.]

September 29, 2017

The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival, by Sir John B. Glubb [c]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 1:58 pm

[Should be read in conjunction with Thomas W. Chittum’s, Civil War 2 if you can get a copy. I looked on Amazon and CW 2 in readable form goes for ~$200.]

THE FATE OF EMPIRES
and
SEARCH FOR SURVIVAL
Sir John Glubb
John Bagot Glubb was born in 1897, his father being a regular officer in the Royal Engineers.
At the age of four he left England for Mauritius, where his father was posted for a three-year
tour of duty. At the age of ten he was sent to school for a year in Switzerland. These youthful
travels may have opened his mind to the outside world at an early age.
He entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in September 1914, and was
commissioned in the Royal Engineers in April 1915. He served throughout the first World War
in France and Belgium, being wounded three times and awarded the Military Cross. In 1920 he
volunteered for service in Iraq, as a regular officer, but in 1926 resigned his commission and
accepted an administrative post under the Iraq Government.
In 1930, however, he signed a contract to serve the Transjordan Government (now Jordan).
From 1939 to 1956 he commanded the famous Jordan Arab Legion, which was in reality the
Jordan Army. Since his retirement he has published seventeen books, chiefly on the Middle
East, and has lectured widely in Britain, the United States and Europe.
William Blackwood & Sons Ltd
32 Thistle Street
Edinburgh EH1 1HA
Scotland
© J. B. G. Ltd, 1976, 1977
ISBN 0 85158 127 7
Printed at the Press of the Publisher
Introduction
As we pass through life, we learn by
experience. We look back on our behaviour
when we were young and think how foolish
we were. In the same way our family, our
community and our town endeavour to avoid
the mistakes made by our predecessors.
The experiences of the human race have
been recorded, in more or less detail, for
some four thousand years. If we attempt to
study such a period of time in as many
countries as possible, we seem to discover
the same patterns constantly repeated under
widely differing conditions of climate,
culture and religion. Surely, we ask
ourselves, if we studied calmly and
impartially the history of human institutions
and development over these four thousand
years, should we not reach conclusions
which would assist to solve our problems
today? For everything that is occurring
around us has happened again and again
before.
No such conception ever appears to have
entered into the minds of our historians. In
general, historical teaching in schools is
limited to this small island. We endlessly
mull over the Tudors and the Stewarts, the
Battle of Crecy, and Guy Fawkes. Perhaps
this narrowness is due to our examination
system, which necessitates the careful
definition of a syllabus which all children
must observe.
I remember once visiting a school for
mentally handicapped children. “Our
children do not have to take examinations,”
the headmaster told me,” and so we are able
to teach them things which will be really
useful to them in life.”
However this may be, the thesis which I
wish to propound is that priceless lessons
could be learned if the history of the past
four thousand years could be thoroughly and
impartially studied. In these two articles,
which first appeared in Blackwood’s
Magazine, I have attempted briefly to sketch
some of the kinds of lessons which I believe
we could learn. My plea is that history
should be the history of the human race, not
of one small country or period.
The Fate of Empires
I Learning from history
‘The only thing we learn from history,’ it
has been said, ‘is that men never learn from
history’, a sweeping generalisation perhaps,
but one which the chaos in the world today
goes far to confirm. What then can be the
reason why, in a society which claims to
probe every problem, the bases of history are
still so completely unknown?
Several reasons for the futility of our
historical studies may be suggested.
First, our historical work is limited to short
periods—the history of our own country, or
that of some past age which, for some
reason, we hold in respect.
Second, even within these short periods,
the slant we give to our narrative is governed
by our own vanity rather than by objectivity.
If we are considering the history of our own
country, we write at length of the periods
when our ancestors were prosperous and
victorious, but we pass quickly over their
shortcomings or their defeats. Our people
are represented as patriotic heroes, their
enemies as grasping imperialists, or
subversive rebels. In other words, our
national histories are propaganda, not wellbalanced
investigations.
Third, in the sphere of world history, we
study certain short, usually unconnected,
periods, which fashion at certain epochs has
made popular. Greece 500 years before
Christ, and the Roman Republic and early
Roman Empire are cases in point. The
intervals between the ‘great periods’ are
neglected. Recently Greece and Rome have
become largely discredited, and history tends
to become increasingly the parochial history
of our own countries.
To derive any useful instruction from
history, it seems to me essential first of all to
grasp the principle that history, to be
meaningful, must be the history of the
human race. For history is a continuous
process, gradually developing, changing and
turning back, but in general moving forward
in a single mighty stream. Any useful lessons
to be derived must be learned by the study of
the whole flow of human development, not
by the selection of short periods here and
there in one country or another.
Every age and culture is derived from its
predecessors, adds some contribution of its
own, and passes it on to its successors. If we
boycott various periods of history, the
origins of the new cultures which succeeded
them cannot be explained.
_______________________________
Sir John Glubb, better known as Glubb
Pasha, was born in 1897, and served in
France in the First World War from 1915 to
1918. In 1926 he left the regular army to
serve the Iraq Government. From 1939 to
1956, he commanded the famous Jordan
Arab Legion. Since retirement, he has
published sixteen books, chiefly on the
Middle East, and has lectured widely.
The Fate of Empires
2
Physical science has expanded its knowledge
by building on the work of its predecessors,
and by making millions of careful experiments,
the results of which are meticulously
recorded. Such methods have not yet been
employed in the study of world history. Our
piecemeal historical work is still mainly
dominated by emotion and prejudice.
II The lives of empires
If we desire to ascertain the laws which
govern the rise and fall of empires, the
obvious course is to investigate the imperial
experiments recorded in history, and to
endeavour to deduce from them any lessons
which seem to be applicable to them all.
The word ‘empire’, by association with the
British Empire, is visualised by some people
as an organisation consisting of a homecountry
in Europe and ‘colonies’ in other
continents. In this essay, the term ‘empire’ is
used to signify a great power, often called
today a superpower. Most of the empires in
history have been large landblocks, almost
without overseas possessions.
We possess a considerable amount of
information on many empires recorded in
history, and of their vicissitudes and the
lengths of their lives, for example:
The nation Dates of rise and fall Duration in years
Assyria 859-612 B.C. 247
Persia 538-330 B.C. 208
(Cyrus and his descendants)
Greece 331-100 B.C. 231
(Alexander and his successors)
Roman Republic 260-27 B.C. 233
Roman Empire 27 B.C.-A.D. 180 207
Arab Empire A.D. 634-880 246
Mameluke Empire 1250-1517 267
Ottoman Empire 1320-1570 250
Spain 1500-1750 250
Romanov Russia 1682-1916 234
Britain 1700-1950 250
This list calls for certain comments.
(1) The present writer is exploring the facts,
not trying to prove anything. The dates given
are largely arbitrary. Empires do not usually
begin or end on a certain date. There is
normally a gradual period of expansion and
then a period of decline. The resemblance in
the duration of these great powers may be
queried. Human affairs are subject to many
chances, and it is not to be expected that they
The Fate of Empires
3
could be calculated with mathematical
accuracy.
(2) Nevertheless, it is suggested that there is
sufficient resemblance between the life
periods of these different empires to justify
further study.
(3) The division of Rome into two periods
may be thought unwarranted. The first, or
republican, period dates from the time when
Rome became the mistress of Italy, and ends
with the accession of Augustus. The imperial
period extends from the accession of
Augustus to the death of Marcus Aurelius. It
is true that the empire survived nominally
for more than a century after this date, but it
did so in constant confusion, rebellions, civil
wars and barbarian invasions.
(4) Not all empires endured for their full lifespan.
The Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar,
for example, was overthrown by
Cyrus, after a life duration of only some
seventy-four years.
(5) An interesting deduction from the figures
seems to be that the duration of empires
does not depend on the speed of travel or the
nature of weapons. The Assyrians marched
on foot and fought with spears and bow and
arrows. The British used artillery, railways
and ocean-going ships. Yet the two empires
lasted for approximately the same periods.
There is a tendency nowadays to say that
this is the jet-age, and consequently there is
nothing for us to learn from past empires.
Such an attitude seems to be erroneous.
(6) It is tempting to compare the lives of
empires with those of human beings. We
may choose a figure and say that the average
life of a human being is seventy years. Not all
human beings live exactly seventy years.
Some die in infancy, others are killed in
accidents in middle life, some survive to the
age of eighty or ninety. Nevertheless, in spite
of such exceptions, we are justified in saying
that seventy years is a fair estimate of the
average person’s expectation of life.
(7) We may perhaps at this stage be allowed
to draw certain conclusions:
(a) In spite of the accidents of fortune, and
the apparent circumstances of the human
race at different epochs, the periods of
duration of different empires at varied
epochs show a remarkable similarity.
(b) Immense changes in the technology of
transport or in methods of warfare do not
seem to affect the life-expectation of an
empire.
(c) The changes in the technology of transport
and of war have, however, affected the
shape of empires. The Assyrians, marching
on foot, could only conquer their neighbours,
who were accessible by land—the
Medes, the Babylonians, the Persians and
the Egyptians.
The British, making use of ocean-going
ships, conquered many countries and subcontinents,
which were accessible to them
by water—North America, India, South
Africa, Australia and New Zealand—but
they never succeeded in conquering their
neighbours, France, Germany and Spain.
But, although the shapes of the Assyrian
and the British Empires were entirely
different, both lasted about the same
length of time.
III The human yardstick
What then, we may ask, can have been the
factor which caused such an extraordinary
similarity in the duration of empires, under
such diverse conditions, and such utterly
different technological achievements?
The Fate of Empires
4
One of the very few units of measurement
which have not seriously changed since the
Assyrians is the human ‘generation’, a period
of about twenty-five years. Thus a period of
250 years would represent about ten generations
of people. A closer examination of the
characteristics of the rise and fall of great
nations may emphasise the possible significance
of the sequence of generations.
Let us then attempt to examine the stages
in the lives of such powerful nations.
IV Stage one. The outburst
Again and again in history we find a small
nation, treated as insignificant by its
contemporaries, suddenly emerging from its
homeland and overrunning large areas of the
world. Prior to Philip (359-336 B.C.), Macedon
had been an insignificant state to the
north of Greece. Persia was the great power
of the time, completely dominating the area
from Eastern Europe to India. Yet by 323
B.C., thirty-six years after the accession of
Philip, the Persian Empire had ceased to
exist, and the Macedonian Empire extended
from the Danube to India, including Egypt.
This amazing expansion may perhaps he
attributed to the genius of Alexander the
Great, but this cannot have been the sole
reason; for although after his death everything
went wrong—the Macedonian generals
fought one another and established rival
empires—Macedonian pre-eminence survived
for 231 years.
In the year A.D. 600, the world was divided
between two superpower groups as it has
been for the past fifty years between Soviet
Russia and the West. The two powers were
the eastern Roman Empire and the Persian
Empire. The Arabs were then the despised
and backward inhabitants of the Arabian
Peninsula. They consisted chiefly of wandering
tribes, and had no government, no
constitution and no army. Syria, Palestine,
Egypt and North Africa were Roman
provinces, Iraq was part of Persia.
The Prophet Mohammed preached in
Arabia from A.D. 613 to 632, when he died.
In 633, the Arabs burst out of their desert
peninsula, and simultaneously attacked the
two super-powers. Within twenty years, the
Persian Empire had ceased to exist. Seventy
years after the death of the Prophet, the
Arabs had established an empire extending
from the Atlantic to the plains of Northern
India and the frontiers of China.
At the beginning of the thirteenth century,
the Mongols were a group of savage tribes in
the steppes of Mongolia. In 1211, Genghis
Khan invaded China. By 1253, the Mongols
had established an empire extending from
Asia Minor to the China Sea, one of the
largest empires the world has ever known.
The Arabs ruled the greater part of Spain
for 780 years, from 712 A.D. to 1492. (780
years back in British history would take us to
1196 and King Richard Coeur de Lion.)
During these eight centuries, there had been
no Spanish nation, the petty kings of Aragon
and Castile alone holding on in the
mountains.
The agreement between Ferdinand and
Isabella and Christopher Columbus was
signed immediately after the fall of Granada,
the last Arab kingdom in Spain, in 1492.
Within fifty years, Cortez had conquered
Mexico, and Spain was the world’s greatest
empire.
Examples of the sudden outbursts by
which empires are born could be multiplied
indefinitely. These random illustrations must
suffice.
The Fate of Empires
5
V Characteristics of the outburst
These sudden outbursts are usually
characterised by an extraordinary display of
energy and courage. The new conquerors are
normally poor, hardy and enterprising and
above all aggressive. The decaying empires
which they overthrow are wealthy but
defensive-minded. In the time of Roman
greatness, the legions used to dig a ditch
round their camps at night to avoid surprise.
But the ditches were mere earthworks, and
between them wide spaces were left through
which the Romans could counter-attack. But
as Rome grew older, the earthworks became
high walls, through which access was given
only by narrow gates. Counterattacks were
no longer possible. The legions were now
passive defenders.
But the new nation is not only distinguished
by victory in battle, but by unresting
enterprise in every field. Men hack their way
through jungles, climb mountains, or brave
the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans in tiny
cockle-shells. The Arabs crossed the Straits
of Gibraltar in A.D. 711 with 12,000 men,
defeated a Gothic army of more than twice
their strength, marched straight over 250
miles of unknown enemy territory and seized
the Gothic capital of Toledo. At the same
stage in British history, Captain Cook discovered
Australia. Fearless initiative characterises
such periods.
Other peculiarities of the period of the
conquering pioneers are their readiness to
improvise and experiment. Untrammelled by
traditions, they will turn anything available
to their purpose. If one method fails, they try
something else. Uninhibited by textbooks or
book learning, action is their solution to
every problem.
Poor, hardy, often half-starved and ill-clad,
they abound in courage, energy and
initiative, overcome every obstacle and
always seem to be in control of the situation.
VI The causes of race outbursts
The modern instinct is to seek a reason for
everything, and to doubt the veracity of a
statement for which a reason cannot be
found. So many examples can be given of the
sudden eruption of an obscure race into a
nation of conquerors that the truth of the
phenomenon cannot be held to be doubtful.
To assign a cause is more difficult. Perhaps
the easiest explanation is to assume that the
poor and obscure race is tempted by the
wealth of the ancient civilisation, and there
would undoubtedly appear to be an element
of greed for loot in barbarian invasions.
Such a motivation may be divided into two
classes. The first is mere loot, plunder and
rape, as, for example, in the case of Attila
and the Huns, who ravaged a great part of
Europe from A.D. 450 to 453. However, when
Attila died in the latter year, his empire fell
apart and his tribes returned to Eastern
Europe.
Many of the barbarians who founded
dynasties in Western Europe on the ruins of
the Roman Empire, however, did so out of
admiration for Roman civilisation, and
themselves aspired to become Romans.
VII A providential turnover?
Whatever causes may be given for the
overthrow of great civilisations by
barbarians, we can sense certain resulting
benefits. Every race on earth has distinctive
characteristics. Some have been distinguished
in philosophy, some in administration,
some in romance, poetry or religion, some in
The Fate of Empires
6
their legal system. During the pre-eminence
of each culture, its distinctive characteristics
are carried by it far and wide across the
world.
If the same nation were to retain its
domination indefinitely, its peculiar qualities
would permanently characterise the whole
human race. Under the system of empires
each lasting for 250 years, the sovereign race
has time to spread its particular virtues far
and wide. Then, however, another people,
with entirely different peculiarities, takes its
place, and its virtues and accomplishments
are likewise disseminated. By this system,
each of the innumerable races of the world
enjoys a period of greatness, during which its
peculiar qualities are placed at the service of
mankind.
To those who believe in the existence of
God, as the Ruler and Director of human
affairs, such a system may appear as a
manifestation of divine wisdom, tending
towards the slow and ultimate perfection of
humanity.
VIII The course of empire
The first stage of the life of a great nation,
therefore, after its outburst, is a period of
amazing initiative, and almost incredible
enterprise, courage and hardihood. These
qualities, often in a very short time, produce
a new and formidable nation. These early
victories, however, are won chiefly by
reckless bravery and daring initiative.
The ancient civilisation thus attacked will
have defended itself by its sophisticated
weapons, and by its military organisation
and discipline. The barbarians quickly
appreciate the advantages of these military
methods and adopt them. As a result, the
second stage of expansion of the new empire
consists of more organised, disciplined and
professional campaigns.
In other fields, the daring initiative of the
original conquerors is maintained—in
geographical exploration, for example:
pioneering new countries, penetrating new
forests, climbing unexplored mountains, and
sailing uncharted seas. The new nation is
confident, optimistic and perhaps contemptuous
of the ‘decadent’ races which it has
subjugated.
The methods employed tend to be practical
and experimental, both in government and
in warfare, for they are not tied by centuries
of tradition, as happens in ancient empires.
Moreover, the leaders are free to use their
own improvisations, not having studied
politics or tactics in schools or in textbooks.
IX U.S.A. in the stage of the pioneers
In the case of the United States of America,
the pioneering period did not consist of a
barbarian conquest of an effete civilisation,
but of the conquest of barbarian peoples.
Thus, viewed from the outside, every
example seems to be different. But viewed
from the standpoint of the great nation,
every example seems to be similar.
The United States arose suddenly as a new
nation, and its period of pioneering was
spent in the conquest of a vast continent, not
an ancient empire. Yet the subsequent life
history of the United States has followed the
standard pattern which we shall attempt to
trace—the periods of the pioneers, of
commerce, of affluence, of intellectualism
and of decadence.
X Commercial expansion
The conquest of vast areas of land and
their subjection to one government
The Fate of Empires
7
automatically acts as a stimulant to commerce.
Both merchants and goods can be
exchanged over considerable distances.
Moreover, if the empire be an extensive one,
it will include a great variety of climates,
producing extremely varied products, which
the different areas will wish to exchange with
one another.
The speed of modern methods of transportation
tends to create in us the impresssion
that far-flung commerce is a modern
development, but this is not the case. Objects
made in Ireland, Scandinavia and China
have been found in the graves or the ruins of
the Middle East, dating from 1,000 years
before Christ. The means of transport were
slower, but, when a great empire was in
control, commerce was freed from the
innumerable shackles imposed upon it today
by passports, import permits, customs,
boycotts and political interference.
The Roman Empire extended from Britain
to Syria and Egypt, a distance, in a direct
line, of perhaps 2,700 miles. A Roman
official, transferred from Britain to Syria,
might spend six months on the journey. Yet,
throughout the whole distance, he would be
travelling in the same country, with the same
official language, the same laws, the same
currency and the same administrative
system. Today, some twenty independent
countries separate Britain from Syria, each
with its own government, its own laws,
politics, customs fees, passports and
currencies, making commercial co-operation
almost impossible. And this process of
disintegration is still continuing. Even within
the small areas of the modern European
nations, provincial movements demanding
secession or devolution tend further to
splinter the continent.
The present fashion for ‘independence’ has
produced great numbers of tiny states in the
world, some of them consisting of only one
city or of a small island. This system is an
insuperable obstacle to trade and cooperation.
The present European Economic
Community is an attempt to secure commercial
cooperation among small independent
states over a large area, but the plan meets
with many difficulties, due to the mutual
jealousies of so many nations.
Even savage and militaristic empires
promoted commerce, whether or not they
intended to do so. The Mongols were some of
the most brutal military conquerors in
history, massacring the entire populations of
cities. Yet, in the thirteenth century, when
their empire extended from Peking to
Hungary, the caravan trade between China
and Europe achieved a remarkable degree of
prosperity—the whole journey was in the
territory of one government.
In the eighth and ninth centuries, the
caliphs of Baghdad achieved fabulous wealth
owing to the immense extent of their
territories, which constituted a single trade
bloc. The empire of the caliphs is now
divided into some twenty-five separate
‘nations’.
XI The pros and cons of empires
In discussing the life-story of the typical
empire, we have digressed into a discussion
of whether empires are useful or injurious to
mankind. We seem to have discovered that
empires have certain advantages, particularly
in the field of commerce, and in the
establishment of peace and security in vast
areas of the globe. Perhaps we should also
include the spread of varied cultures to many
races. The present infatuation for indepenThe
Fate of Empires
8
dence for ever smaller and smaller units will
eventually doubtless be succeeded by new
international empires.
The present attempts to create a European
community may be regarded as a practical
endeavour to constitute a new super-power,
in spite of the fragmentation resulting from
the craze for independence. If it succeeds,
some of the local independencies will have to
be sacrificed. If it fails, the same result may
be attained by military conquest, or by the
partition of Europe between rival superpowers.
The inescapable conclusion seems,
however, to be that larger territorial units are
a benefit to commerce and to public stability,
whether the broader territory be achieved by
voluntary association or by military action.
XII Sea power
One of the more benevolent ways in which
a super-power can promote both peace and
commerce is by its command of the sea.
From Waterloo to 1914, the British Navy
commanded the seas of the world. Britain
grew rich, but she also made the Seas safe for
the commerce of all nations, and prevented
major wars for 100 years.
Curiously enough, the question of sea
power was never clearly distinguished, in
British politics during the last fifty years,
from the question of imperial rule over other
countries. In fact, the two subjects are
entirely distinct. Sea power does not offend
small countries, as does military occupation.
If Britain had maintained her navy, with a
few naval bases overseas in isolated islands,
and had given independence to colonies
which asked for it, the world might well be a
more stable place today. In fact, however, the
navy was swept away in the popular outcry
against imperialism.
XIII The Age of Commerce
Let us now, however, return to the lifestory
of our typical empire. We have already
considered the age of outburst, when a littleregarded
people suddenly bursts on to the
world stage with a wild courage and energy.
Let us call it the Age of the Pioneers.
Then we saw that these new conquerors
acquired the sophisticated weapons of the
old empires, and adopted their regular
systems of military organisation and
training. A great period of military expansion
ensued, which we may call the Age of
Conquests. The conquests resulted in the
acquisition of vast territories under one
government, thereby automatically giving
rise to commercial prosperity. We may call
this the Age of Commerce.
The Age of Conquests, of course, overlaps
the Age of Commerce. The proud military
traditions still hold sway and the great
armies guard the frontiers, but gradually the
desire to make money seems to gain hold of
the public. During the military period, glory
and honour were the principal objects of
ambition. To the merchant, such ideas are
but empty words, which add nothing to the
bank balance.
XIV Art and luxury
The wealth which seems, almost without
effort, to pour into the country enables the
commercial classes to grow immensely rich.
How to spend all this money becomes a
problem to the wealthy business community.
Art, architecture and luxury find rich
patrons. Splendid municipal buildings and
wide streets lend dignity and beauty to the
wealthy areas of great cities. The rich
merchants build themselves palaces, and
money is invested in communications,
The Fate of Empires
9
highways, bridges, railways or hotels,
according to the varied patterns of the ages.
The first half of the Age of Commerce
appears to be peculiarly splendid. The
ancient virtues of courage, patriotism and
devotion to duty are still in evidence. The
nation is proud, united and full of selfconfidence.
Boys are still required, first of all,
to be manly—to ride, to shoot straight and to
tell the truth. (It is remarkable what
emphasis is placed, at this stage, on the
manly virtue of truthfulness, for lying is
cowardice—the fear of facing up to the
situation.)
Boys’ schools are intentionally rough. Frugal
eating, hard living, breaking the ice to
have a bath and similar customs are aimed at
producing a strong, hardy and fearless breed
of men. Duty is the word constantly drummed
into the heads of young people.
The Age of Commerce is also marked by
great enterprise in the exploration for new
forms of wealth. Daring initiative is shown in
the search for profitable enterprises in far
corners of the earth, perpetuating to some
degree the adventurous courage of the Age of
Conquests.
XV The Age of Affluence
There does not appear to be any doubt that
money is the agent which causes the decline
of this strong, brave and self-confident
people. The decline in courage, enterprise
and a sense of duty is, however, gradual.
The first direction in which wealth injures
the nation is a moral one. Money replaces
honour and adventure as the objective of the
best young men. Moreover, men do not
normally seek to make money for their
country or their community, but for themselves.
Gradually, and almost imperceptibly,
the Age of Affluence silences the voice of
duty. The object of the young and the
ambitious is no longer fame, honour or
service, but cash.
Education undergoes the same gradual
transformation. No longer do schools aim at
producing brave patriots ready to serve their
country. Parents and students alike seek the
educational qualifications which will
command the highest salaries. The Arab
moralist, Ghazali (1058-1111), complains in
these very same words of the lowering of
objectives in the declining Arab world of his
time. Students, he says, no longer attend
college to acquire learning and virtue, but to
obtain those qualifications which will enable
them to grow rich. The same situation is
everywhere evident among us in the West
today.
XVI High Noon
That which we may call the High Noon of
the nation covers the period of transition
from the Age of Conquests to the Age of
Affluence: the age of Augustus in Rome, that
of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad, of Sulaiman
the Magnificent in the Ottoman Empire, or
of Queen Victoria in Britain. Perhaps we
might add the age of Woodrow Wilson in the
United States.
All these periods reveal the same
characteristics. The immense wealth accumulated
in the nation dazzles the onlookers.
Enough of the ancient virtues of courage,
energy and patriotism survive to enable the
state successfully to defend its frontiers. But,
beneath the surface, greed for money is
gradually replacing duty and public service.
Indeed the change might be summarised as
being from service to selfishness.
The Fate of Empires
10
XVII Defensiveness
Another outward change which invariably
marks the transition from the Age of
Conquests to the Age of Affluence is the
spread of defensiveness. The nation, immensely
rich, is no longer interested in glory or
duty, but is only anxious to retain its wealth
and its luxury. It is a period of defensiveness,
from the Great Wall of China, to Hadrian’s
Wall on the Scottish Border, to the Maginot
Line in France in 1939.
Money being in better supply than courage,
subsidies instead of weapons are employed
to buy off enemies. To justify this departure
from ancient tradition, the human mind
easily devises its own justification. Military
readiness, or aggressiveness, is denounced as
primitive and immoral. Civilised peoples are
too proud to fight. The conquest of one
nation by another is declared to be immoral.
Empires are wicked. This intellectual device
enables us to suppress our feeling of
inferiority, when we read of the heroism of
our ancestors, and then ruefully contemplate
our position today. ‘It is not that we are
afraid to fight,’ we say, ‘but we should
consider it immoral.’ This even enables us to
assume an attitude of moral superiority.
The weakness of pacifism is that there are
still many peoples in the world who are
aggressive. Nations who proclaim themselves
unwilling to fight are liable to be conquered
by peoples in the stage of militarism—
perhaps even to see themselves incorporated
into some new empire, with the status of
mere provinces or colonies.
When to be prepared to use force and when
to give way is a perpetual human problem,
which can only be solved, as best we can, in
each successive situation as it arises. In fact,
however, history seems to indicate that great
nations do not normally disarm from
motives of conscience, but owing to the
weakening of a sense of duty in the citizens,
and the increase in selfishness and the desire
for wealth and ease.
XVIII The Age of Intellect
We have now, perhaps arbitrarily, divided
the life-story of our great nation into four
ages. The Age of the Pioneers (or the
Outburst), the Age of Conquests, the Age of
Commerce, and the Age of Affluence. The
great wealth of the nation is no longer
needed to supply the mere necessities, or
even the luxuries of life. Ample funds are
available also for the pursuit of knowledge.
The merchant princes of the Age of
Commerce seek fame and praise, not only by
endowing works of art or patronising music
and literature. They also found and endow
colleges and universities. It is remarkable
with what regularity this phase follows on
that of wealth, in empire after empire,
divided by many centuries.
In the eleventh century, the former Arab
Empire, then in complete political decline,
was ruled by the Seljuk sultan, Malik Shah.
The Arabs, no longer soldiers, were still the
intellectual leaders of the world. During the
reign of Malik Shah, the building of
universities and colleges became a passion.
Whereas a small number of universities in
the great cities had sufficed the years of Arab
glory, now a university sprang up in every
town.
In our own lifetime, we have witnessed the
same phenomenon in the U.S.A. and Britain.
When these nations were at the height of
their glory, Harvard, Yale, Oxford and
Cambridge seemed to meet their needs. Now
almost every city has its university.
The Fate of Empires
11
The ambition of the young, once engaged
in the pursuit of adventure and military
glory, and then in the desire for the
accumulation of wealth, now turns to the
acquisition of academic honours.
It is useful here to take note that almost all
the pursuits followed with such passion
throughout the ages were in themselves
good. The manly cult of hardihood, frankness
and truthfulness, which characterised
the Age of Conquests, produced many really
splendid heroes.
The opening up of natural resources, and
the peaceful accumulation of wealth, which
marked the age of commercialism, appeared
to introduce new triumphs in civilisation, in
culture and in the arts. In the same way, the
vast expansion of the field of knowledge
achieved by the Age of Intellect seemed to
mark a new high-water mark of human
progress. We cannot say that any of these
changes were ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
The striking features in the pageant of
empire are:
(a) the extraordinary exactitude with which
these stages have followed one another, in
empire after empire, over centuries or even
millennia; and
(b) the fact that the successive changes
seem to represent mere changes in popular
fashion—new fads and fancies which sweep
away public opinion without logical reason.
At first, popular enthusiasm is devoted to
military glory, then to the accumulation of
wealth and later to the acquisition of
academic fame.
Why could not all these legitimate, and
indeed beneficent, activities be carried on
simultaneously, each of them in due moderation?
Yet this never seemed to happen.
XIX The effects of intellectualism
There are so many things in human life
which are not dreamt of in our popular
philosophy. The spread of knowledge seems
to be the most beneficial of human activities,
and yet every period of decline is characterrised
by this expansion of intellectual
activity. ‘All the Athenians and strangers
which were there spent their time in nothing
else, but either to tell or to hear some new
thing’ is the description given in the Acts of
the Apostles of the decline of Greek
intellectualism.
The Age of Intellect is accompanied by
surprising advances in natural science. In the
ninth century, for example, in the age of
Mamun, the Arabs measured the circumference
of the earth with remarkable
accuracy. Seven centuries were to pass
before Western Europe discovered that the
world was not flat. Less than fifty years after
the amazing scientific discoveries under
Mamun, the Arab Empire collapsed. Wonderful
and beneficent as was the progress of
science, it did not save the empire from
chaos.
The full flowering of Arab and Persian
intellectualism did not occur until after their
imperial and political collapse. Thereafter
the intellectuals attained fresh triumphs in
the academic field, but politically they
became the abject servants of the often
illiterate rulers. When the Mongols conquered
Persia in the thirteenth century, they
were themselves entirely uneducated and
were obliged to depend wholly on native
Persian officials to administer the country
and to collect the revenue. They retained as
wazeer, or Prime Minister, one Rashid al-
Din, a historian of international repute. Yet
The Fate of Empires
12
the Prime Minister, when speaking to the
Mongol II Khan, was obliged to remain
throughout the interview on his knees. At
state banquets, the Prime Minister stood
behind the Khan’s seat to wait upon him. If
the Khan were in a good mood, he
occasionally passed his wazeer a piece of
food over his shoulder.
As in the case of the Athenians,
intellectualism leads to discussion, debate
and argument, such as is typical of the
Western nations today. Debates in elected
assemblies or local committees, in articles in
the Press or in interviews on television—
endless and incessant talking.
Men are interminably different, and
intellectual arguments rarely lead to
agreement. Thus public affairs drift from bad
to worse, amid an unceasing cacophony of
argument. But this constant dedication to
discussion seems to destroy the power of
action. Amid a Babel of talk, the ship drifts
on to the rocks.
XX The inadequacy of intellect
Perhaps the most dangerous by-product of
the Age of Intellect is the unconscious
growth of the idea that the human brain can
solve the problems of the world. Even on the
low level of practical affairs this is patently
untrue. Any small human activity, the local
bowls club or the ladies’ luncheon club,
requires for its survival a measure of selfsacrifice
and service on the part of the
members. In a wider national sphere, the
survival of the nation depends basically on
the loyalty and self-sacrifice of the citizens.
The impression that the situation can be
saved by mental cleverness, without unselfishness
or human self-dedication, can only
lead to collapse.
Thus we see that the cultivation of the
human intellect seems to be a magnificent
ideal, but only on condition that it does not
weaken unselfishness and human dedication
to service. Yet this, judging by historical
precedent, seems to be exactly what it does
do. Perhaps it is not the intellectualism
which destroys the spirit of self-sacrifice—the
least we can say is that the two,
intellectualism and the loss of a sense of
duty, appear simultaneously in the life-story
of the nation.
Indeed it often appears in individuals, that
the head and the heart are natural rivals. The
brilliant but cynical intellectual appears at
the opposite end of the spectrum from the
emotional self-sacrifice of the hero or the
martyr. Yet there are times when the perhaps
unsophisticated self-dedication of the hero is
more essential than the sarcasms of the
clever.
XXI Civil dissensions
Another remarkable and unexpected
symptom of national decline is the intensification
of internal political hatreds. One
would have expected that, when the survival
of the nation became precarious, political
factions would drop their rivalry and stand
shoulder-to-shoulder to save their country.
In the fourteenth century, the weakening
empire of Byzantium was threatened, and
indeed dominated, by the Ottoman Turks.
The situation was so serious that one would
have expected every subject of Byzantium to
abandon his personal interests and to stand
with his compatriots in a last desperate
attempt to save the country. The reverse
occurred. The Byzantines spent the last fifty
years of their history in fighting one another
in repeated civil wars, until the Ottomans
The Fate of Empires
13
moved in and administered the coup de
grâce.
Britain has been governed by an elected
parliament for many centuries. In former
years, however, the rival parties observed
many unwritten laws. Neither party wished
to eliminate the other. All the members
referred to one another as honourable
gentlemen. But such courtesies have now
lapsed. Booing, shouting and loud noises
have undermined the dignity of the House,
and angry exchanges are more frequent. We
are fortunate if these rivalries are fought out
in Parliament, but sometimes such hatreds
are carried into the streets, or into industry
in the form of strikes, demonstrations,
boycotts and similar activities. True to the
normal course followed by nations in
decline, internal differences are not
reconciled in an attempt to save the nation.
On the contrary, internal rivalries become
more acute, as the nation becomes weaker.
XXII The influx of foreigners
One of the oft-repeated phenomena of
great empires is the influx of foreigners to
the capital city. Roman historians often
complain of the number of Asians and
Africans in Rome. Baghdad, in its prime in
the ninth century, was international in its
population—Persians, Turks, Arabs, Armenians,
Egyptians, Africans and Greeks
mingled in its streets.
In London today, Cypriots, Greeks,
Italians, Russians, Africans, Germans and
Indians jostle one another on the buses and
in the underground, so that it sometimes
seems difficult to find any British. The same
applies to New York, perhaps even more so.
This problem does not consist in any
inferiority of one race as compared with
another, but simply in the differences
between them.
In the age of the first outburst and the
subsequent Age of Conquests, the race is
normally ethnically more or less
homogeneous. This state of affairs facilitates
a feeling of solidarity and comradeship. But
in the Ages of Commerce and Affluence,
every type of foreigner floods into the great
city, the streets of which are reputed to be
paved with gold. As, in most cases, this great
city is also the capital of the empire, the
cosmopolitan crowd at the seat of empire
exercises a political influence greatly in
excess of its relative numbers.
Second- or third-generation foreign
immigrants may appear outwardly to be
entirely assimilated, but they often constitute
a weakness in two directions. First, their
basic human nature often differs from that of
the original imperial stock. If the earlier
imperial race was stubborn and slowmoving,
the immigrants might come from
more emotional races, thereby introducing
cracks and schisms into the national policies,
even if all were equally loyal.
Second, while the nation is still affluent, all
the diverse races may appear equally loyal.
But in an acute emergency, the immigrants
will often be less willing to sacrifice their
lives and their property than will be the
original descendants of the founder race.
Third, the immigrants are liable to form
communities of their own, protecting
primarily their own interests, and only in the
second degree that of the nation as a whole.
Fourth, many of the foreign immigrants
will probably belong to races originally
conquered by and absorbed into the empire.
While the empire is enjoying its High Noon
of prosperity, all these people are proud and
The Fate of Empires
14
glad to be imperial citizens. But when decline
sets in, it is extraordinary how the memory
of ancient wars, perhaps centuries before, is
suddenly revived, and local or provincial
movements appear demanding secession or
independence. Some day this phenomenon
will doubtless appear in the now apparently
monolithic and authoritarian Soviet empire.
It is amazing for how long such provincial
sentiments can survive.
Historical examples of this phenomenon
are scarcely needed. The idle and captious
Roman mob, with its endless appetite for
free distributions of food—bread and
games—is notorious, and utterly different
from that stern Roman spirit which we
associate with the wars of the early republic.
In Baghdad, in the golden days of Harun
al-Rashid, Arabs were a minority in the
imperial capital. Istanbul, in the great days
of Ottoman rule, was peopled by inhabitants
remarkably few of whom were descendants
of Turkish conquerors. In New York,
descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers are few
and far between.
This interesting phenomenon is largely
limited to great cities. The original conquering
race is often to be found in relative
purity in rural districts and on far frontiers.
It is the wealth of the great cities which
draws the immigrants. As, with the growth of
industry, cities nowadays achieve an ever
greater preponderance over the countryside,
so will the influence of foreigners increasingly
dominate old empires.
Once more it may be emphasised that I do
not wish to convey the impression that
immigrants are inferior to older stocks. They
are just different, and they thus tend to
introduce cracks and divisions.
XXIII Frivolity
As the nation declines in power and
wealth, a universal pessimism gradually
pervades the people, and itself hastens the
decline. There is nothing succeeds like
success, and, in the Ages of Conquest and
Commerce, the nation was carried
triumphantly onwards on the wave of its own
self-confidence. Republican Rome was
repeatedly on the verge of extinction—in 390
B.C. when the Gauls sacked the city and in
216 B.C. after the Battle of Cannae. But no
disasters could shake the resolution of the
early Romans. Yet, in the later stages of
Roman decline, the whole empire was deeply
pessimistic, thereby sapping its own
resolution.
Frivolity is the frequent companion of
pessimism. Let us eat, drink and be merry,
for tomorrow we die. The resemblance
between various declining nations in this
respect is truly surprising. The Roman mob,
we have seen, demanded free meals and
public games. Gladiatorial shows, chariot
races and athletic events were their passion.
In the Byzantine Empire the rivalries of the
Greens and the Blues in the hippodrome
attained the importance of a major crisis.
Judging by the time and space allotted to
them in the Press and television, football and
baseball are the activities which today chiefly
interest the public in Britain and the United
States respectively.
The heroes of declining nations are always
the same—the athlete, the singer or the
actor. The word ‘celebrity’ today is used to
designate a comedian or a football player,
not a statesman, a general, or a literary
genius.
The Fate of Empires
15
XXIV The Arab decline
In the first half of the ninth century,
Baghdad enjoyed its High Noon as the
greatest and the richest city in the world. In
861, however, the reigning Khalif (caliph),
Mutawakkil, was murdered by his Turkish
mercenaries, who set up a military dictatorship,
which lasted for some thirty years.
During this period the empire fell apart, the
various dominions and provinces each
assuming virtual independence and seeking
its own interests. Baghdad, lately the capital
of a vast empire, found its authority limited
to Iraq alone.
The works of the contemporary historians
of Baghdad in the early tenth century are still
available. They deeply deplored the
degeneracy of the times in which they lived,
emphasising particularly the indifference to
religion, the increasing materialism and the
laxity of sexual morals. They lamented also
the corruption of the officials of the
government and the fact that politicians
always seemed to amass large fortunes while
they were in office.
The historians commented bitterly on the
extraordinary influence acquired by popular
singers over young people, resulting in a
decline in sexual morality. The ‘pop’ singers
of Baghdad accompanied their erotic songs
on the lute, an instrument resembling the
modern guitar. In the second half of the
tenth century, as a result, much obscene
sexual language came increasingly into use,
such as would not have been tolerated in an
earlier age. Several khalifs issued orders
banning ‘pop’ singers from the capital, but
within a few years they always returned.
An increase in the influence of women in
public life has often been associated with national
decline. The later Romans complained
that, although Rome ruled the world, women
ruled Rome. In the tenth century, a similar
tendency was observable in the Arab Empire,
the women demanding admission to the
professions hitherto monopolised by men.
‘What,’ wrote the contemporary historian,
Ibn Bessam, ‘have the professions of clerk,
tax-collector or preacher to do with women?
These occupations have always been limited
to men alone.’ Many women practised law,
while others obtained posts as university
professors. There was an agitation for the
appointment of female judges, which,
however, does not appear to have succeeded.
Soon after this period, government and
public order collapsed, and foreign invaders
overran the country. The resulting increase
in confusion and violence made it unsafe for
women to move unescorted in the streets,
with the result that this feminist movement
collapsed.
The disorders following the military takeover
in 861, and the loss of the empire, had
played havoc with the economy. At such a
moment, it might have been expected that
everyone would redouble their efforts to save
the country from bankruptcy, but nothing of
the kind occurred. Instead, at this moment of
declining trade and financial stringency, the
people of Baghdad introduced a five-day
week.
When I first read these contemporary
descriptions of tenth-century Baghdad, I
could scarcely believe my eyes. I told myself
that this must be a joke! The descriptions
might have been taken out of The Times
today. The resemblance of all the details was
especially breathtaking—the break-up of the
empire, the abandonment of sexual morality,
the ‘pop’ singers with their guitars, the entry
of women into the professions, the five-day
The Fate of Empires
16
week. I would not venture to attempt an
explanation! There are so many mysteries
about human life which are far beyond our
comprehension.
XXV Political ideology
Today we attach immense importance to
the ideology of our internal politics. The
Press and public media in the U.S.A. and
Britain pour incessant scorn on any country
the political institutions of which differ in
any manner from our own idea of
democracy. It is, therefore, interesting to
note that the life-expectation of a great
nation does not appear to be in any way
affected by the nature of its institutions.
Past empires show almost every possible
variation of political system, but all go
through the same procedure from the Age of
Pioneers through Conquest, Commerce,
Affluence to decline and collapse.
XXVI The Mameluke Empire
The empire of the Mamelukes of Egypt
provides a case in point, for it was one of the
most exotic ever to be recorded in history. It
is also exceptional in that it began on one
fixed day and ended on another, leaving no
doubt of its precise duration, which was 267
years.
In the first part of the thirteenth century,
Egypt and Syria were ruled by the Ayoubid
sultans, the descendants of the family of
Saladin. Their army consisted of Mamelukes,
slaves imported as boys from the Steppes
and trained as professional soldiers. On 1st
May 1250, the Mamelukes mutinied,
murdered Turan Shah, the Ayoubid sultan,
and became the rulers of his empire.
The first fifty years of the Mameluke
Empire were marked by desperate fighting
with the hitherto invincible Mongols, the
descendants of Genghis Khan, who invaded
Syria. By defeating the Mongols and driving
them out of Syria, the Mamelukes saved the
Mediterranean from the terrible fate which
had overtaken Persia. In 1291, the Mamelukes
captured Acre, and put an end to the
Crusades.
From 1309 to 1341, the Mameluke Empire
was everywhere victorious and possessed the
finest army in the world. For the ensuing
hundred years the wealth of the Mameluke
Empire was fabulous, slowly leading to
luxury, the relaxation of discipline and to
decline, with ever more bitter internal
political rivalries. Finally the empire collapsed
in 1517, as the result of military defeat
by the Ottomans.
The Mameluke government appears to us
utterly illogical and fantastic. The ruling
class was entirely recruited from young boys,
born in what is now Southern Russia. Every
one of them was enlisted as a private soldier.
Even the sultans had begun life as private
soldiers and had risen from the ranks. Yet
this extraordinary political system resulted
in an empire which passed through all the
normal stages of conquest, commercialism,
affluence and decline and which lasted
approximately the usual period of time.
XXVII The master race
The people of the great nations of the past
seem normally to have imagined that their
pre-eminence would last for ever. Rome
appeared to its citizens to be destined to be
for all time the mistress of the world. The
Abbasid Khalifs of Baghdad declared that
God had appointed them to rule mankind
until the day of judgement. Seventy years
ago, many people in Britain believed that the
The Fate of Empires
17
empire would endure for ever. Although
Hitler failed to achieve his objective, he
declared that Germany would rule the world
for a thousand years. That sentiments like
these could be publicly expressed without
evoking derision shows that, in all ages, the
regular rise and fall of great nations has
passed unperceived. The simplest statistics
prove the steady rotation of one nation after
another at regular intervals.
The belief that their nation would rule the
world forever, naturally encouraged the
citizens of the leading nation of any period to
attribute their pre-eminence to hereditary
virtues. They carried in their blood, they
believed, qualities which constituted them a
race of supermen, an illusion which inclined
them to the employment of cheap foreign
labour (or slaves) to perform menial tasks
and to engage foreign mercenaries to fight
their battles or to sail their ships.
These poorer peoples were only too happy
to migrate to the wealthy cities of the empire,
and thereby, as we have seen, to adulterate
the close-knit, homogeneous character of the
conquering race. The latter unconsciously
assumed that they would always be the
leaders of mankind, relaxed their energies,
and spent an increasing part of their time in
leisure, amusement or sport.
In recent years, the idea has spread widely
in the West that ‘progress’ will be automatic
without effort, that everyone will continue to
grow richer and richer and that every year
will show a ‘rise in the standard of living’. We
have not drawn from history the obvious
conclusion that material success is the result
of courage, endurance and hard work—a
conclusion nevertheless obvious from the
history of the meteoric rise of our own
ancestors. This self-assurance of its own
superiority seems to go hand-in-hand with
the luxury resulting from wealth, in
undermining the character of the dominant
race.
XXVIII The welfare state
When the welfare state was first introduced
in Britain, it was hailed as a new high-water
mark in the history of human development.
History, however, seems to suggest that the
age of decline of a great nation is often a
period which shows a tendency to
philanthropy and to sympathy for other
races. This phase may not be contradictory
to the feeling described in the previous
paragraph, that the dominant race has the
right to rule the world. For the citizens of the
great nation enjoy the role of Lady Bountiful.
As long as it retains its status of leadership,
the imperial people are glad to be generous,
even if slightly condescending. The rights of
citizenship are generously bestowed on every
race, even those formerly subject, and the
equality of mankind is proclaimed. The
Roman Empire passed through this phase,
when equal citizenship was thrown open to
all peoples, such provincials even becoming
senators and emperors.
The Arab Empire of Baghdad was equally,
perhaps even more, generous. During the
Age of Conquests, pure-bred Arabs had
constituted a ruling class, but in the ninth
century the empire was completely
cosmopolitan.
State assistance to the young and the poor
was equally generous. University students
received government grants to cover their
expenses while they were receiving higher
education. The State likewise offered free
medical treatment to the poor. The first free
public hospital was opened in Baghdad in
The Fate of Empires
18
the reign of Harun al-Rashid (786-809), and
under his son, Mamun, free public hospitals
sprang up all over the Arab world from Spain
to what is now Pakistan.
The impression that it will always be
automatically rich causes the declining
empire to spend lavishly on its own
benevolence, until such time as the economy
collapses, the universities are closed and the
hospitals fall into ruin.
It may perhaps be incorrect to picture the
welfare state as the high-water mark of
human attainment. It may merely prove to
be one more regular milestone in the lifestory
of an ageing and decrepit empire.
XXIX Religion
Historians of periods of decadence often
refer to a decline in religion, but, if we
extend our investigation over a period
covering the Assyrians (859-612 B.C.) to our
own times, we have to interpret religion in a
very broad sense. Some such definition as
‘the human feeling that there is something,
some invisible Power, apart from material
objects, which controls human life and the
natural world’.
We are probably too narrow and
contemptuous in our interpretation of idol
worship. The people of ancient civilisations
were as sensible as we are, and would
scarcely have been so foolish as to worship
sticks and stones fashioned by their own
hands. The idol was for them merely a
symbol, and represented an unknown,
spiritual reality, which controlled the lives of
men and demanded human obedience to its
moral precepts.
We all know only too well that minor
differences in the human visualisation of this
Spirit frequently became the ostensible
reason for human wars, in which both sides
claimed to be fighting for the true God, but
the absurd narrowness of human
conceptions should not blind us to the fact
that, very often, both sides believed their
campaigns to have a moral background.
Genghis Khan, one of the most brutal of all
conquerors, claimed that God had delegated
him the duty to exterminate the decadent
races of the civilised world. Thus the Age of
Conquests often had some kind of religious
atmosphere, which implied heroic selfsacrifice
for the cause.
But this spirit of dedication was slowly
eroded in the Age of Commerce by the action
of money. People make money for
themselves, not for their country. Thus
periods of affluence gradually dissolved the
spirit of service, which had caused the rise of
the imperial races.
In due course, selfishness permeated the
community, the coherence of which was
weakened until disintegration was
threatened. Then, as we have seen, came the
period of pessimism with the accompanying
spirit of frivolity and sensual indulgence, byproducts
of despair. It was inevitable at such
times that men should look back yearningly
to the days of ‘religion’, when the spirit of
self-sacrifice was still strong enough to make
men ready to give and to serve, rather than
to snatch.
But while despair might permeate the
greater part of the nation, others achieved a
new realisation of the fact that only readiness
for self-sacrifice could enable a community
to survive. Some of the greatest saints in
history lived in times of national decadence,
raising the banner of duty and service
against the flood of depravity and despair.
The Fate of Empires
19
In this manner, at the height of vice and
frivolity the seeds of religious revival are
quietly sown. After, perhaps, several
generations (or even centuries) of suffering,
the impoverished nation has been purged of
its selfishness and its love of money, religion
regains its sway and a new era sets in. ‘It is
good for me that I have been afflicted,’ said
the psalmist, ‘that I might learn Thy
Statutes.’
XXX New combinations
We have traced the rise of an obscure race
to fame, through the stages of conquest,
commercialism, affluence, and intellectualism,
to disintegration, decadence and
despair. We suggested that the dominant
race at any given time imparts its leading
characteristics to the world around, being in
due course succeeded by another empire. By
this means, we speculated, many successive
races succeeded one another as superpowers,
and in turn bequeathed their
peculiar qualities to mankind at large.
But the objection may here be raised that
some day the time will come when all the
races of the world will in turn have enjoyed
their period of domination and have
collapsed again in decadence. When the
whole human race has reached the stage of
decadence, where will new energetic conquering
races be found?
The answer is at first partially obscured by
our modern habit of dividing the human race
into nations, which we seem to regard as
water-tight compartments, an error responsible
for innumerable misunderstandings.
In earlier times, warlike nomadic nations
invaded the territories of decadent peoples
and settled there. In due course, they
intermarried with the local population and a
new race resulted, though it sometimes
retained an old name. The barbarian
invasions of the Roman Empire probably
provide the example best known today in the
West. Others were the Arab conquests of
Spain, North Africa and Persia, the Turkish
conquests of the Ottoman Empire, or even
the Norman Conquest of England.
In all such cases, the conquered countries
were originally fully inhabited and the invaders
were armies, which ultimately settled
down and married, and produced new races.
In our times, there are few nomadic
conquerors left in the world, who could
invade more settled countries bringing their
tents and flocks with them. But ease of travel
has resulted in an equal, or probably an even
greater, intermixture of populations. The
extreme bitterness of modern internal political
struggles produces a constant flow of
migrants from their native countries to
others, where the social institutions suit
them better.
The vicissitudes of trade and business
similarly result in many persons moving to
other countries, at first intending to return,
but ultimately settling down in their new
countries.
The population of Britain has been
constantly changing, particularly in the last
sixty years, owing to the influx of immigrants
from Europe, Asia and Africa, and the exit of
British citizens to the Dominions and the
United States. The latter is, of course, the
most obvious example of the constant rise of
new nations, and of the transformation of
the ethnic content of old nations through this
modern nomadism.
The Fate of Empires
20
XXXI Decadence of a system
It is of interest to note that decadence is
the disintegration of a system, not of its
individual members. The habits of the
members of the community have been
corrupted by the enjoyment of too much
money and too much power for too long a
period. The result has been, in the
framework of their national life, to make
them selfish and idle. A community of selfish
and idle people declines, internal quarrels
develop in the division of its dwindling
wealth, and pessimism follows, which some
of them endeavour to drown in sensuality or
frivolity. In their own surroundings, they are
unable to redirect their thoughts and their
energies into new channels.
But when individual members of such a
society emigrate into entirely new surroundings,
they do not remain conspicuously
decadent, pessimistic or immoral among the
inhabitants of their new homeland. Once
enabled to break away from their old
channels of thought, and after a short period
of readjustment, they become normal
citizens of their adopted countries. Some of
them, in the second and third generations,
may attain pre-eminence and leadership in
their new communities.
This seems to prove that the decline of any
nation does not undermine the energies or
the basic character of its members. Nor does
the decadence of a number of such nations
permanently impoverish the human race.
Decadence is both mental and moral
deterioration, produced by the slow decline
of the community from which its members
cannot escape, as long as they remain in
their old surroundings. But, transported
elsewhere, they soon discard their decadent
ways of thought, and prove themselves equal
to the other citizens of their adopted country.
XXXII Decadence is not physical
Neither is decadence physical. The citizens
of nations in decline are sometimes
described as too physically emasculated to be
able to bear hardship or make great efforts.
This does not seem to be a true picture.
Citizens of great nations in decadence are
normally physically larger and stronger than
those of their barbarian invaders.
Moreover, as was proved in Britain in the
first World War, young men brought up in
luxury and wealth found little difficulty in
accustoming themselves to life in the frontline
trenches. The history of exploration
proves the same point. Men accustomed to
comfortable living in homes in Europe or
America were able to show as much
endurance as the natives in riding camels
across the desert or in hacking their way
through tropical forests.
Decadence is a moral and spiritual disease,
resulting from too long a period of wealth
and power, producing cynicism, decline of
religion, pessimism and frivolity. The
citizens of such a nation will no longer make
an effort to save themselves, because they
are not convinced that anything in life is
worth saving.
XXXII Human diversity
Generalisations are always dangerous.
Human beings are all different. The variety
in human life is endless. If this be the case
with individuals, it is much more so with
nations and cultures. No two societies, no
two peoples, no two cultures are exactly the
same. In these circumstances, it will be easy
The Fate of Empires
21
for critics to find many objections to what
has been said, and to point out exceptions to
the generalisations.
There is some value in comparing the lives
of nations to those of individuals. No two
persons in the world are identical. Moreover
their lives are often affected by accidents or
by illness, making the divergences even more
obvious. Yet, in fact, we can generalise about
human life from many different aspects. The
characteristics of childhood, adolescence,
youth, middle and old age are well known.
Some adolescents, it is true, are prematurely
wise and serious. Some persons in middle
age still seem to he young. But such
exceptions do not invalidate the general
character of human life from the cradle to
the grave.
I venture to submit that the lives of nations
follow a similar pattern. Superficially, all
seem to be completely different. Some years
ago, a suggestion was submitted to a certain
television corporation that a series of talks
on Arab history would form an interesting
sequence. The proposal was immediately
vetoed by the director of programmes with
the remark, “What earthly interest could the
history of medieval Arabs have for the
general public today?”
Yet, in fact, the history of the Arab imperial
age—from conquest through commercialism,
to affluence, intellectualism, science and
decadence—is an exact precursor of British
imperial history and lasted almost exactly
the same time.
If British historians, a century ago, had
devoted serious study to the Arab Empire,
they could have foreseen almost everything
that has happened in Britain down to 1976.
XXXIV A variety of falls
It has been shown that, normally, the rise
and fall of great nations are due to internal
reasons alone. Ten generations of human
beings suffice to transform the hardy and
enterprising pioneer into the captious citizen
of the welfare state. But whereas the life
histories of great nations show an unexpected
uniformity, the nature of their falls
depends largely on outside circumstances
and thus shows a high degree of diversity.
The Roman Republic, as we have seen, was
followed by the empire, which became a
super-state, in which all the natives of the
Mediterranean basin, regardless of race,
possessed equal rights. The name of Rome,
originally a city-state, passed from it to an
equalitarian international empire.
This empire broke in half, the western half
being overrun by northern barbarians, the
eastern half forming the East Roman or
Byzantine Empire.
The vast Arab Empire broke up in the
ninth century into many fragments, of which
one former colony, Moslem Spain, ran its
own 250-year course as an independent
empire. The homelands of Syria and Iraq,
however, were conquered by successive
waves of Turks to whom they remained
subject for 1,000 years.
The Mameluke Empire of Egypt and Syria,
on the other hand, was conquered in one
campaign by the Ottomans, the native
population merely suffering a change of
masters.
The Spanish Empire (1500-1750) endured
for the conventional 250 years, terminated
only by the loss of its colonies. The homeland
of Spain fell, indeed, from its high estate of a
The Fate of Empires
22
super-power, but remained as an independent
nation until today.
Romanov Russia (1682-1916) ran the
normal course, but was succeeded by the
Soviet Union.
It is unnecessary to labour the point, which
we may attempt to summarise briefly. Any
regime which attains great wealth and power
seems with remarkable regularity to decay
and fall apart in some ten generations. The
ultimate fate of its component parts,
however, does not depend on its internal
nature, but on the other organisations which
appear at the time of its collapse and succeed
in devouring its heritage. Thus the lives of
great powers are surprisingly uniform, but
the results of their falls are completely
diverse.
XXXV Inadequacy of our historical
studies
In fact, the modern nations of the West
have derived only limited value from their
historical studies, because they have never
made them big enough. For history to have
meaning, as we have already stated, it must
be the history of the human race.
Far from achieving such an ideal, our
historical studies are largely limited to the
history of our own country during the
lifetime of the present nation. Thus the timefactor
is too short to allow the longer
rhythms of the rise and fall of nations even to
be noticed. As the television director
indicated, it never even crosses our minds
that longer periods could be of any interest.
When we read the history of our own
nation, we find the actions of our ancestors
described as glorious, while those of other
peoples are depicted as mean, tyrannical or
cowardly. Thus our history is (intentionally)
not based on facts. We are emotionally
unwilling to accept that our forbears might
have been mean or cowardly.
Alternatively, there are ‘political’ schools of
history, slanted to discredit the actions of
our past leaders, in order to support modern
political movements. In all these cases,
history is not an attempt to ascertain the
truth, but a system of propaganda, devoted
to the furtherance of modern projects, or the
gratification of national vanity.
Men can scarcely be blamed for not
learning from the history they are taught.
There is nothing to learn from it, because it
is not true.
XXXVI Small nations
The word ‘empires’ has been used in this
essay to signify nations which achieve the
status of great powers, or super-powers, in
the jargon of today—nations which have
dominated the international scene for two or
three centuries. At any given time, however,
there are also smaller states which are more
or less self-contained. Do these live the same
‘lives’ as the great nations, and pass through
the same phases?
It seems impossible to generalise on this
issue. In general, decadence is the outcome
of too long a period of wealth and power. If
the small country has not shared in the
wealth and power, it will not share in the
decadence.
XXXVII The emerging pattern
In spite of the endless variety and the
infinite complications of human life, a
general pattern does seem to emerge from
these considerations. It reveals many
successive empires covering some 3,000
years, as having followed similar stages of
The Fate of Empires
23
development and decline, and as having, to a
surprising degree, ‘lived’ lives of very similar
length.
The life-expectation of a great nation, it
appears, commences with a violent, and
usually unforeseen, outburst of energy, and
ends in a lowering of moral standards,
cynicism, pessimism and frivolity.
If the present writer were a millionaire, he
would try to establish in some university or
other a department dedicated solely to the
study of the rhythm of the rise and fall of
powerful nations throughout the world.
History goes back only some 3,000 years,
because before that period writing was not
sufficiently widespread to allow of the
survival of detailed records. But within that
period, the number of empires available for
study is very great.
At the commencement of this essay, the
names of eleven such empires were listed,
but these included only the Middle East and
the modern nations of the West. India, China
and Southern America were not included,
because the writer knows nothing about
them. A school founded to study the rise and
fall of empires would probably find at least
twenty-four great powers available for
dissection and analysis.
The task would not be an easy one, if
indeed the net were cast so wide as to cover
virtually all the world’s great nations in 3,000
years. The knowledge of language alone, to
enable detailed investigations to be pursued,
would present a formidable obstacle.
XXXVIII Would it help?
It is pleasing to imagine that, from such
studies, a regular life-pattern of nations
would emerge, including an analysis of the
various changes which ultimately lead to
decline, decadence and collapse. It is
tempting to assume that measures could be
adopted to forestall the disastrous effects of
excessive wealth and power, and thence of
subsequent decadence. Perhaps some means
could be devised to prevent the activist Age
of Conquests and Commerce deteriorating
into the Age of Intellect, producing endless
talking but no action.
It is tempting to think so. Perhaps if the
pattern of the rise and fall of nations were
regularly taught in schools, the general
public would come to realise the truth, and
would support policies to maintain the spirit
of duty and self-sacrifice, and to forestall the
accumulation of excessive wealth by one
nation, leading to the demoralisation of that
nation.
Could not the sense of duty and the
initiative needed to give rise to action be
retained parallel with intellectual development
and the discoveries of natural science?
The answer is doubtful, though we could
but try. The weaknesses of human nature,
however, are so obvious, that we cannot be
too confident of success. Men bursting with
courage, energy and self-confidence cannot
easily be restrained from subduing their
neighbours, and men who see the prospect of
wealth open to them will not readily be
prevented from pursuing it.
Perhaps it is not in the real interest of
humanity that they should be so prevented,
for it is in periods of wealth that art,
architecture, music, science and literature
make the greatest progress.
Moreover, as we have seen where great
empires are concerned, their establishment
may give rise to wars and tragedies, but their
periods of power often bring peace, security
and prosperity to vast areas of territory. Our
The Fate of Empires
24
knowledge and our experience (perhaps our
basic human intellects) are inadequate to
pronounce whether or not the rise and fall of
great nations is the best system for the best
of all possible worlds.
These doubts, however, need not prevent
us from attempting to acquire more
knowledge on the rise and fall of great
powers, or from endeavouring, in the light of
such knowledge, to improve the moral
quality of human life.
Perhaps, in fact, we may reach the
conclusion that the successive rise and fall of
great nations is inevitable and, indeed, a
system divinely ordained. But even this
would be an immense gain. For we should
know where we stand in relation to our
human brothers and sisters. In our present
state of mental chaos on the subject, we
divide ourselves into nations, parties or
communities and fight, hate and vilify one
another over developments which may
perhaps be divinely ordained and which
seem to us, if we take a broader view,
completely uncontrollable and inevitable. If
we could accept these great movements as
beyond our control, there would be no
excuse for our hating one another because of
them.
However varied, confusing and contradictory
the religious history of the world may
appear, the noblest and most spiritual of the
devotees of all religions seem to reach the
conclusion that love is the key to human life.
Any expansion of our knowledge which may
lead to a reduction in our unjustified hates is
therefore surely well worth while.
XXXIX Summary
As numerous points of interest have arisen
in the course of this essay, I close with a brief
summary, to refresh the reader’s mind.
(a) We do not learn from history because
our studies are brief and prejudiced.
(b) In a surprising manner, 250 years
emerges as the average length of national
greatness.
(c) This average has not varied for 3,000
years. Does it represent ten generations?
(d) The stages of the rise and fall of great
nations seem to be:
The Age of Pioneers (outburst)
The Age of Conquests
The Age of Commerce
The Age of Affluence
The Age of Intellect
The Age of Decadence.
(e) Decadence is marked by:
Defensiveness
Pessimism
Materialism
Frivolity
An influx of foreigners
The Welfare State
A weakening of religion.
(f) Decadence is due to:
Too long a period of wealth and power
Selfishness
Love of money
The loss of a sense of duty.
(g) The life histories of great states are
amazingly similar, and are due to internal
factors.
(h) Their falls are diverse, because they are
largely the result of external causes.
(i) History should be taught as the history
of the human race, though of course with
emphasis on the history of the student’s own
country.

September 28, 2017

Donald Trump’s Principled Realism, VD Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 8:34 pm

Of Allies And Adversaries: Donald Trump’s Principled Realism
by Josef Joffe
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Image credit:
Poster Collection, US 06304, Hoover Institution Archives.

I. U.S. Doctrines from Washington to Obama

Foreign policy doctrines are as American as apple pie, and as old as the Republic. Start with George Washington’s Farewell Address: The “great rule” in dealing with other nations was to extend “our commercial relations” and “to have with them as little political connection as possible.” So stay out of Europe, and keep Europe away from us.

Echoing Washington, Thomas Jefferson promulgated the “no-entangling alliances” doctrine. John Quincy Adams decreed: “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” James Monroe told off the Europeans: Stay out, the Americas are for the Americans, North and South. Teddy Roosevelt doubled down by proclaiming the right to intervene in Latin America.

Harry S. Truman went global. The U.S. would support “free people who are resisting … subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” So did Dwight D. Eisenhower: He would commit U.S. forces “to secure and protect” all nations against “overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism.” John F. Kennedy famously declaimed: “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

LBJ built on Monroe and TR: The U.S. would intervene in the Western Hemisphere when “the establishment of a Communist dictatorship” threatened. The Nixon Doctrine pledged to shield each and all “if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or [one] whose survival we consider vital to our security.”

Jimmy Carter defined any “attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region “as an assault on the vital interests of the United States,” which “will be repelled by any means necessary.” Ronald Reagan would aid all those who “are risking their lives…on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua … to defy Soviet aggression.”

Bill Clinton promulgated obligation wrapped in realism. “We cannot, indeed, we should not, do everything or be everywhere. But where our values and our interests are at stake… we must be prepared to do so.” In particular, “genocide is … a national interest where we should act.”

The Bush Doctrine, enunciated during the “unipolar moment,” covered the whole waterfront. It was to be preventive war “before threats materialized.” Nations harboring terrorists would be a target of war. In global affairs, it was unilateralism. Plus, most ambitiously, regime change: “The defense of freedom requires the advance of freedom.”

Barack Obama is the odd man out. He rejected a “doctrinaire” approach to foreign policy. But when pressed, he replied: “The doctrine is we will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.” Translated: We will go low on force and resist sweeping ambitions. “Obama entered the White House bent on getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg reported after a series of conversations with the President; “he was not seeking new dragons to slay.”

According to Goldberg, Obama was loath to “place American soldiers at great risk in order to prevent humanitarian disasters, unless those disasters pose a direct security threat to the United States.” Instead of intervention, it was retraction. Obama confided that he would rather deal with “climate change,” which is an “existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.”

Obama’s angst was the overextension to which “almost every great power has succumbed.” Retrenchment and strategic reticence were the hallmarks of the (unarticulated) doctrine. He opposed “the idea that every time there is a problem, we send in our military to impose order. We just can’t do that.” (All quotes from “The Obama Doctrine,” The Atlantic, April 2016) What could and should we do? “Come home America,” George McGovern famously cried out in his 1972 campaign. Forty years later, Obama’s mantra ran: “It’s time for a little nation-building at home.”

II. Where Does Trump Fit In?

In Riyadh in May, Donald Trump explicitly defined his approach as “principled realism, rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense.” He continued:

Our friends will never question our support and our enemies will never doubt our determination. Our partnerships will advance security through stability, not through radical disruption. We will make decisions based on real world outcomes, not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms, not sudden intervention. We must seek partners, not perfection. And to make allies of all who share our goals.

These nicely balanced cadences could have been uttered by any postwar president. Trump hit all the classic notes. So what about the differences? Interestingly, “principled realism” was not so much directed against Barack Obama as against fellow-Republican George W. Bush. No more “radical disruption.” Gradual reforms must beat out “sudden intervention.” Unlike Obama, Trump would not to be choosy when recruiting allies. Hence, “we must seek partners, not perfection.”

Truman and Eisenhower, JFK and LBJ would have nodded. In the Cold War, none of them had any moral qualms when picking allies against the Soviet Union. As long as “our” strongmen demonstrated fealty to the U.S., they were all welcome: dictators in Spain and Portugal, potentates throughout the Middle East, and caudillos in Latin America. Like Obama, Trump will not be “doctrinaire.” Hence his emphasis on the “lessons of experience” and the rejection of “rigid thinking.” Who would want to quarrel?

Ironically, there is more continuity between Obama and Trump than meets the eye of the media. Obama had told UK prime minister David Cameron: Never mind the “special relationship,” “you have to pay your fair share.” Trump told a NATO summit: “Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying for their defense.” This is “not fair” and “many of these nations owe massive amounts of money.”

Who said: “Free riders aggravate me?” That was Obama, not Trump. Trump also could have tweeted this Obama line: “You could call me a realist in believing we can’t … relieve all the world’s misery.” The Founding Fathers and John Quincy Adams would applaud.

American presidential doctrines are tricky. In his 1916 campaign, Woodrow Wilson ran on a plank that proclaimed: “He kept us out of the war.” Six months after his re-election, he launched a war against Kaiser Bill to “make the world safe for democracy.” Obama reduced U.S. troops in Europe to 35,000. At the end of his second term, though, he started redeploying men and materiel. Given Trump’s anti-NATO rhetoric, one might have expected him to stop the flow. He did not. The deployment continued with the dispatch of a Stryker battalion to Poland as part of a multinational battle group.

Recall that No. 45 had previously denigrated NATO as “obsolete,” and the EU as a failing business (it “is gonna be hard to keep together”). Recall also that at the Brussels NATO summit in 2017, the president demonstratively declined to affirm Article 5 that commits all members to come to the aid of an attacked ally. Yet the heads of Defense and State, Jim Mattis and Rex Tillerson, went out of their way to praise NATO and underscore the U.S. security guarantee. The vice-president celebrated America’s “unwavering commitment” to the Alliance., while Jim Mattis affirmed “our enduring bond.”

Ironically, Art. 5 has been invoked only once—and then in favor of the U.S. after 9/11. If North Korea launched missiles against America, the U.S. again would be the beneficiary of Art. 5. “Obsolete” was yesterday, and suddenly Trump was “totally in favor” of the EU.

Trump has been fingered as an isolationist. “America first” seems to corroborate the point, and the “free rider” label would apply to both Europe and the Far East. So shape up, or we ship out. But reality bites. As North Korea stoked the fires of aggression, Trump tightened the alliance bonds with Japan and South Korea. THAAD, the Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, went to South Korea in May 2017 to signal to Pyongyang: The U.S. will defend Seoul against your missiles.

The administration also stepped up naval patrols in the Western Pacific to counter Beijing’s ambitions. In the Syrian War, it is “Obama-plus”: No overt boots-on-the-ground, but plenty of bombing against ISIS, which Obama had ridiculed as a “Jayvee Team.” Bombing runs against ISIS have substantially increased under Trump. Instead of vacating “red lines” in Syria, as Obama did, the U.S. launched missiles against a suspected chemical weapons facility.

It is also Obama-plus on Iran, the “plus” referring to Trump’s harsh rhetoric against Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. The bet, even odds, is that the U.S. will not abrogate the JCPOA, the deal that is to brake Iran’s nuclear effort. Nor does Trump divulge his strategy for dealing with the most urgent issue, the expansion of Iranian and Russian power across the Middle East. Ironically, the U.S. engagement against soon-to-be defunct ISIS has cleared the way for Russia and Iran to secure a permanent foothold in the Levant. Henry Kissinger, who expelled the Soviet Union from the Arab world half a century ago, would not approve.

III. What Then is “Principled Realism?”

As far as U.S. doctrines go, the Trump version owes more to Obama than to W. With his sweeping agenda, Bush was no realist because he ignored the difference between ambition and achievement as well as the gap between limited means and unbound ends, like implanting democracy in a barren Arab soil. Obama’s lodestar was the retraction of U.S. power; only at the end of his second term did he come to understand that great powers do not enjoy the choice of self-containment.

Trump, paradoxically, followed in Obama’s footsteps, denigrating humanitarian and regime-change intervention. Instead, he touted “America first,” an America that looks out for itself and flattens its profile in the world. Yet beware of doctrines and scrutinize actions. Trumpism does not spell the retrenchment of American power, but its re-assertion around the globe. Still, the weight of American strategy has definitely tilted from ideals to self-interest. “Reassert yourself big-time, but mind the risk and look for a deal with your rivals”—this might be the gist of a Trump Doctrine in the making.

In contrast to Trump’s overblown rhetoric, his behavior is actually quite restrained, as befits a great power that must constantly weigh risks against rewards. Nor does “America first” spell isolationism. Trump has reaffirmed alliance commitments and put his troops and missiles in harm’s way, in Europe as well as in the Pacific. His bluster belies his caution. He could almost quote Obama who famously proclaimed: “Don’t do stupid shit.”

What is the difference between Nos. 44 and 45? Obama did not believe in American power, Trump does; but he is not given to visions of omnipotence, as was George W. Bush. If there is a Trump Doctrine beyond the measured cadences of his Riyadh address, it is not “no-force,” but the “economy of force.” Balance means and ends, size up present and future costs, don’t go into open-ended wars, deter your enemies and protect your friends who might look like free riders, but actually amplify American power.

In his first year, No. 45 fails on rhetorical restraint, but gets decent grades on the real-life tests. It is as if there were two Trumps. One threatens South Korea with the abrogation of a free-trade pact in force since 2007. The other simultaneously deploys anti-missile systems to defend the South against an attack from the North. Trump One roars, Trump Two reassures.

While the Europeans have calmed down on their security fears, what with Trump retightening the Atlantic bond, they—and America’s Asian allies—still shiver when it comes to the international economy. Who will prevail? The bad Trump who is putting the axe to the liberal trading order the U.S. built and maintained for 70 years? Or the good Trump who understands that protectionism and trade war will damage America’s economic welfare along with the well-being of its allies.

One year into Obama’s first term, strategic retrenchment was already visible. But his administration was bullish on free trade, as exemplified by the pursuit of the Atlantic and Pacific free-trade pacts. Trump has nixed the latter, while allowing the Europeans to sink the former. If the prudent Trump prevails over the blustering one, realism and the sound calculation of U.S. interests may yet reassert themselves in the international economy—as they did in the arena of grand strategy.

A Lying Quartet, by Victor Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 2:34 pm

A Lying Quartet
September 27, 2017 12:18 pm / Leave a Comment / victorhanson
By Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Rarely has an intelligence apparatus engaged in systematic lying—and chronic deceit about its lying—both during and even after its tenure. Yet the Obama Administration’s four top security and intelligence officials time and again engaged in untruth, as if peddling lies was part of their job descriptions.

So far none have been held accountable.

Those exemptions are likely because, in hubristic fashion, all four assumed their service to progressive noble agendas would justify any odious means felt necessary to achieve them.

In part their liberal credentials were seen as guarantees that the media either would ignore or excuse their dissimulation. And in part, untruth was innate to them as lifelong and now seasoned Washington bureaucrats. Their reasons to be in Washington were largely a quest for media exposure, government sinecures, revolving door profiteering, and maintaining a host of subordinate toadies at their service. A harsh assessment, perhaps—but lying to the American people earns them such disdain.

Politically Correct Deception
Former Obama United Nations ambassador and National Security Advisor Susan Rice was rarely credible in any of her major public statements. Her dissimulation bordered on the pathological. Indeed, it went beyond even the demands put upon her for partisan spinning.

On five occasions, Rice lied to the media that the murder of Americans in Benghazi, Libya by al-Qaida affiliated-terrorists was a result of spontaneous rioting—in response to an obscure, rogue, and right-wing Coptic filmmaker. She later attributed such dissimulation to a lack of information, when we now know that the truth of Benghazi—and the larger landscape of events that ensured something like a Benghazi—were only too known. The video was a canard.

Rice assured the nation that the AWOL and traitorous Bowe Bergdahl was a hostage taken during combat and had served nobly (“with honor and distinction”). In fact, the renegade Bergdahl likely was exchanged for terrorist prisoners for two reasons: one, to diminish the number of terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility as promised by Obama during his campaign, and two, to highlight the humanitarian skills of Barack Obama in bringing home an American “hero,” especially defined as one who was so loudly aware of his own country’s foibles.

Rice also assured the nation that her administration, through its diplomatic brilliance, had eliminated Bashar Assad’s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical-weapons stockpile,” she lied. That supposed coup was worth the price of inviting in the Russians to the Middle East after a 40-year hiatus. In fact, almost immediately after entering office, President Trump was forced to bomb Assad’s WMD depots to prevent Syria’s air force from dropping more nerve gas on civilians.

Susan Rice

Once House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) announced that key administration officials illegally might have unmasked and leaked the names of U.S. citizens on government intercepts connected to the Trump campaign and transition team, Rice issued a blanket denial (“I know nothing about this”). That assertion predictably was untrue, as Rice herself was forced to concede when she altered narratives to later justify rather than deny her role in such improper leaking.

Rice assured the nation there were no hidden side-deals in the Iran Deal, such as a prisoner-swap concession. “And we were very specific about the need not to link their fate to that of the negotiations, because we had no idea for certain whether negotiations would succeed or fail. We didn’t want to give the Iranians a bargaining chip to use against us in the negotiations,” she fibbed. In response, Americans knew almost immediately by her disavowals that there were quid pro quo hostage-prisoner trades that put the United States at a disadvantage.

Rice displayed an eerie habit of broadcasting her lies by preemptive denial that she was about to lie. In her case, the privileged Rice sometimes fell back on the boilerplate victimhood defense of racism and sexism. More likely, as with many Obama officials, she felt certain she could deceive with impunity out of contempt for the American non-elite and, like her associate Ben Rhodes, with full confidence in the obsequiousness and incompetence of the “know-nothing” media.

Boy Scout Sanctimonious Deception
Former FBI Director James Comey long ago lost his carefully crafted Boy Scout image of a truth-teller, buffeted in a sea of Washington deception. Like Rice, when Comey signals he cannot lie or that others are lying, we know that his own duplicity is forthcoming. The list of his untruths and unprofessionalism is growing, as continuous disclosures cannot be synced with either his congressional testimony or his public statements.

Comey did not interview Hillary Clinton in his supposedly exhaustive investigation of her alleged crimes before he cleared her of any wrongdoing.

Comey did know of an FBI communications trail surrounding the stealthy June 2016 meeting of Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on a Phoenix tarmac.

Comey did accede to Lynch’s cover-up by altering the official nomenclature of the investigation to an innocuous “matter.”

Comey misled about the actual contents of Clinton confidante Huma Abedin’s email communications; the versions that he gave at various times and in different venues cannot be reconciled.

In his habitual lies of omission, Comey made no effort to correct a false public impression that he had helped foster and yet knew was a lie—namely that the FBI was investigating Trump on charges of Russian collusion at the very time he was assuring the president of just the opposite.

James Comey

Comey was not fully candid about the full extent of his selective note-taking of a confidential conversation with the president; his use of government time and resources in preparing his carefully crafted notes; and his deliberately leaking his notes to the press in violation both of FBI protocols and likely the law as well.

Comey had obfuscated or masked the FBI’s role in the acquisition and dissemination of the infamous Steele-Fusion fake dossier. He was likely less than honest as well about his full knowledge of Obama administration reverse targeting, unmasking, and leaking related to U.S. citizens—both before and after the election.

Whereas Rice lied to cover up Obama Administration incompetence and to advance left-wing agendas that otherwise without deception would be unpalatable to most Americans, Comey dissembled to retain his job and his image of being a sensitive moral soul.

Comey’s self-inflicted tragedy was that he never quite knew whether Obama trusted him to keep out of Hillary Clinton’s scandals and would reward him accordingly; whether Hillary Clinton would implode amid provable felonies or would survive to become president and conduct the necessary retaliations; or whether Trump could be cajoled by Comey’s charm—or might implode and be removed, or settle down and become a powerful president worth serving.

Rather than telling the truth and thereby gaining a reputation even among his enemies as transparent and honest, Comey simply told the perceived stronger party of the day what it wished to hear in hopes of careerist gratitude to come.

Apparatchik Deception
Similar was the serial lying of CIA Director John Brennan, before, during, and after his CIA tenure. Brennan had a weird habit of becoming outraged at any who quite accurately alleged that he was mendacious, such as when he deceived the Senate Intelligence Committee officials that he had never unlawfully surveilled the computers of particular U.S. senators and their staffs (e.g., “beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do”).

Brennan also misled Congress when he assured that U.S. drone strikes had not killed a single civilian—a preposterous claim that was widely and immediately recognized as deceptive before he was forced to backtrack and admit his untruth.

John O. Brennan

When the careerist George W. Bush-appointee Brennan sought to recalibrate for the incoming progressive Obama Administration, he ritually denounced what he had previously asserted under Bush.

Bush’s former National Counterterrorism Center Director Brennan almost immediately disowned his prior loud support for enhanced interrogation techniques once he saw a chance for continued employment with Obama.

Brennan also told a series of whoppers to establish his new politically correct bona fides, among them that jihad was “a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.” Tell that to the incinerated victims of self-proclaimed jihadist Mohammed Atta or those beheaded by ISIS.

In his third incarnation, as a postelection stalwart opponent to Donald Trump, the partisan former “nonpartisan” intelligence chief Brennan has both quite publicly denied that U.S. intelligence agencies ever improperly surveilled and unmasked the identities of Trump campaign and transition officials.

Even on his last day of office, Brennan was still busy reviewing intelligence surveillance of U.S. citizens and later deceiving Congress about it. His part in preparing the Benghazi talking points, and in the creation of the Russian collusion mythos, are still not known fully. Nor understood is his apparent background role in the rather strange and abrupt postelection resignation of his immediate predecessor David Petraeus.

Careerist Deception
It is hard to mention Brennan without bookending the similar careerist trajectory of Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Indeed, it is uncanny how Clapper emulated the Brennan model: the former Bush appointee reinventing himself as an Obama partisan after assuring the country that Saddam Hussein’s WMD depots were transferred to Syria; lying about the rise of ISIS and pressuring others in military intelligence to mimic his pre-planned deceptions; not being forthcoming about surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition; becoming a loud and partisan accuser of Trump’s supposed mendacities on cable television, while finding himself increasingly exposed at the center of the growing unmasking scandal.

If Brennan lied about surveilling U.S. senators and the drone program, Clapper, in turn, lied to Congress about the National Security Agency’s illegal monitoring of U.S. citizens.

If Brennan assured Americans that jihadism was not a violent effort to spread radical Islam, Clapper topped that by assuring Congress that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular.”

James Clapper

The deceptions of Comey, Brennan, and Clapper are perhaps far more disturbing than the partisan untruths of Susan Rice, a chronic political appointee who calibrated her national security fictions with Obama’s efforts to ensure reelection and later a presidential legacy.

But what extenuating excuse do the supposedly nonpartisan trio of intelligence and investigative directors offer?

They would like us to believe that only their nonpartisanship ensured subsequent tenures with the Obama Administration. In fact, their willingness to reinvent themselves and deceive were precisely why Obama retained and promoted them as sufficiently malleable and useful careerists—and why their post-government careers are today characteristically partisan and deceptive.

Of course, Trump, like Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, tells yarns and occasionally whoppers. But that character flaw is unfortunately the landscape of politics.

Government, bipartisan intelligence service, in contrast, was supposed to be an atoll of professionalism and honesty in a sea of political narrative fiction.

In truth, Obama used Rice as a political hatchet-woman masquerading as an elite thinker and strategist. Clapper, Brennan, and Comey were partisan careerists playacting as disinterested public servants sworn to put our security above politics.

Instead, they said what was necessary for their own agendas and so naturally too often what they peddled was simply untrue. And it is now not surprising that all three ended up orphaned and discredited—once their obsequious utility to their masters was exhausted.

August 27, 2017

The Fate of Empires, by Sir John Glubb, thanks to Butch [c]

THE FATE OF EMPIRES
and
SEARCH FOR SURVIVAL
Sir John Glubb
John Bagot Glubb was born in 1897, his father being a regular officer in the Royal Engineers.
At the age of four he left England for Mauritius, where his father was posted for a three-year
tour of duty. At the age of ten he was sent to school for a year in Switzerland. These youthful
travels may have opened his mind to the outside world at an early age.
He entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in September 1914, and was
commissioned in the Royal Engineers in April 1915. He served throughout the first World War
in France and Belgium, being wounded three times and awarded the Military Cross. In 1920 he
volunteered for service in Iraq, as a regular officer, but in 1926 resigned his commission and
accepted an administrative post under the Iraq Government.
In 1930, however, he signed a contract to serve the Transjordan Government (now Jordan).
From 1939 to 1956 he commanded the famous Jordan Arab Legion, which was in reality the
Jordan Army. Since his retirement he has published seventeen books, chiefly on the Middle
East, and has lectured widely in Britain, the United States and Europe.
William Blackwood & Sons Ltd
32 Thistle Street
Edinburgh EH1 1HA
Scotland
© J. B. G. Ltd, 1976, 1977
ISBN 0 85158 127 7
Printed at the Press of the Publisher
Introduction
As we pass through life, we learn by
experience. We look back on our behaviour
when we were young and think how foolish
we were. In the same way our family, our
community and our town endeavour to avoid
the mistakes made by our predecessors.
The experiences of the human race have
been recorded, in more or less detail, for
some four thousand years. If we attempt to
study such a period of time in as many
countries as possible, we seem to discover
the same patterns constantly repeated under
widely differing conditions of climate,
culture and religion. Surely, we ask
ourselves, if we studied calmly and
impartially the history of human institutions
and development over these four thousand
years, should we not reach conclusions
which would assist to solve our problems
today? For everything that is occurring
around us has happened again and again
before.
No such conception ever appears to have
entered into the minds of our historians. In
general, historical teaching in schools is
limited to this small island. We endlessly
mull over the Tudors and the Stewarts, the
Battle of Crecy, and Guy Fawkes. Perhaps
this narrowness is due to our examination
system, which necessitates the careful
definition of a syllabus which all children
must observe.
I remember once visiting a school for
mentally handicapped children. “Our
children do not have to take examinations,”
the headmaster told me,” and so we are able
to teach them things which will be really
useful to them in life.”
However this may be, the thesis which I
wish to propound is that priceless lessons
could be learned if the history of the past
four thousand years could be thoroughly and
impartially studied. In these two articles,
which first appeared in Blackwood’s
Magazine, I have attempted briefly to sketch
some of the kinds of lessons which I believe
we could learn. My plea is that history
should be the history of the human race, not
of one small country or period.
The Fate of Empires
I Learning from history
‘The only thing we learn from history,’ it
has been said, ‘is that men never learn from
history’, a sweeping generalisation perhaps,
but one which the chaos in the world today
goes far to confirm. What then can be the
reason why, in a society which claims to
probe every problem, the bases of history are
still so completely unknown?
Several reasons for the futility of our
historical studies may be suggested.
First, our historical work is limited to short
periods—the history of our own country, or
that of some past age which, for some
reason, we hold in respect.
Second, even within these short periods,
the slant we give to our narrative is governed
by our own vanity rather than by objectivity.
If we are considering the history of our own
country, we write at length of the periods
when our ancestors were prosperous and
victorious, but we pass quickly over their
shortcomings or their defeats. Our people
are represented as patriotic heroes, their
enemies as grasping imperialists, or
subversive rebels. In other words, our
national histories are propaganda, not wellbalanced
investigations.
Third, in the sphere of world history, we
study certain short, usually unconnected,
periods, which fashion at certain epochs has
made popular. Greece 500 years before
Christ, and the Roman Republic and early
Roman Empire are cases in point. The
intervals between the ‘great periods’ are
neglected. Recently Greece and Rome have
become largely discredited, and history tends
to become increasingly the parochial history
of our own countries.
To derive any useful instruction from
history, it seems to me essential first of all to
grasp the principle that history, to be
meaningful, must be the history of the
human race. For history is a continuous
process, gradually developing, changing and
turning back, but in general moving forward
in a single mighty stream. Any useful lessons
to be derived must be learned by the study of
the whole flow of human development, not
by the selection of short periods here and
there in one country or another.
Every age and culture is derived from its
predecessors, adds some contribution of its
own, and passes it on to its successors. If we
boycott various periods of history, the
origins of the new cultures which succeeded
them cannot be explained.
_______________________________
Sir John Glubb, better known as Glubb
Pasha, was born in 1897, and served in
France in the First World War from 1915 to
1918. In 1926 he left the regular army to
serve the Iraq Government. From 1939 to
1956, he commanded the famous Jordan
Arab Legion. Since retirement, he has
published sixteen books, chiefly on the
Middle East, and has lectured widely.
The Fate of Empires
2
Physical science has expanded its knowledge
by building on the work of its predecessors,
and by making millions of careful experiments,
the results of which are meticulously
recorded. Such methods have not yet been
employed in the study of world history. Our
piecemeal historical work is still mainly
dominated by emotion and prejudice.
II The lives of empires
If we desire to ascertain the laws which
govern the rise and fall of empires, the
obvious course is to investigate the imperial
experiments recorded in history, and to
endeavour to deduce from them any lessons
which seem to be applicable to them all.
The word ‘empire’, by association with the
British Empire, is visualised by some people
as an organisation consisting of a homecountry
in Europe and ‘colonies’ in other
continents. In this essay, the term ‘empire’ is
used to signify a great power, often called
today a superpower. Most of the empires in
history have been large landblocks, almost
without overseas possessions.
We possess a considerable amount of
information on many empires recorded in
history, and of their vicissitudes and the
lengths of their lives, for example:
The nation Dates of rise and fall Duration in years
Assyria 859-612 B.C. 247
Persia 538-330 B.C. 208
(Cyrus and his descendants)
Greece 331-100 B.C. 231
(Alexander and his successors)
Roman Republic 260-27 B.C. 233
Roman Empire 27 B.C.-A.D. 180 207
Arab Empire A.D. 634-880 246
Mameluke Empire 1250-1517 267
Ottoman Empire 1320-1570 250
Spain 1500-1750 250
Romanov Russia 1682-1916 234
Britain 1700-1950 250
This list calls for certain comments.
(1) The present writer is exploring the facts,
not trying to prove anything. The dates given
are largely arbitrary. Empires do not usually
begin or end on a certain date. There is
normally a gradual period of expansion and
then a period of decline. The resemblance in
the duration of these great powers may be
queried. Human affairs are subject to many
chances, and it is not to be expected that they
The Fate of Empires
3
could be calculated with mathematical
accuracy.
(2) Nevertheless, it is suggested that there is
sufficient resemblance between the life
periods of these different empires to justify
further study.
(3) The division of Rome into two periods
may be thought unwarranted. The first, or
republican, period dates from the time when
Rome became the mistress of Italy, and ends
with the accession of Augustus. The imperial
period extends from the accession of
Augustus to the death of Marcus Aurelius. It
is true that the empire survived nominally
for more than a century after this date, but it
did so in constant confusion, rebellions, civil
wars and barbarian invasions.
(4) Not all empires endured for their full lifespan.
The Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar,
for example, was overthrown by
Cyrus, after a life duration of only some
seventy-four years.
(5) An interesting deduction from the figures
seems to be that the duration of empires
does not depend on the speed of travel or the
nature of weapons. The Assyrians marched
on foot and fought with spears and bow and
arrows. The British used artillery, railways
and ocean-going ships. Yet the two empires
lasted for approximately the same periods.
There is a tendency nowadays to say that
this is the jet-age, and consequently there is
nothing for us to learn from past empires.
Such an attitude seems to be erroneous.
(6) It is tempting to compare the lives of
empires with those of human beings. We
may choose a figure and say that the average
life of a human being is seventy years. Not all
human beings live exactly seventy years.
Some die in infancy, others are killed in
accidents in middle life, some survive to the
age of eighty or ninety. Nevertheless, in spite
of such exceptions, we are justified in saying
that seventy years is a fair estimate of the
average person’s expectation of life.
(7) We may perhaps at this stage be allowed
to draw certain conclusions:
(a) In spite of the accidents of fortune, and
the apparent circumstances of the human
race at different epochs, the periods of
duration of different empires at varied
epochs show a remarkable similarity.
(b) Immense changes in the technology of
transport or in methods of warfare do not
seem to affect the life-expectation of an
empire.
(c) The changes in the technology of transport
and of war have, however, affected the
shape of empires. The Assyrians, marching
on foot, could only conquer their neighbours,
who were accessible by land—the
Medes, the Babylonians, the Persians and
the Egyptians.
The British, making use of ocean-going
ships, conquered many countries and subcontinents,
which were accessible to them
by water—North America, India, South
Africa, Australia and New Zealand—but
they never succeeded in conquering their
neighbours, France, Germany and Spain.
But, although the shapes of the Assyrian
and the British Empires were entirely
different, both lasted about the same
length of time.
III The human yardstick
What then, we may ask, can have been the
factor which caused such an extraordinary
similarity in the duration of empires, under
such diverse conditions, and such utterly
different technological achievements?
The Fate of Empires
4
One of the very few units of measurement
which have not seriously changed since the
Assyrians is the human ‘generation’, a period
of about twenty-five years. Thus a period of
250 years would represent about ten generations
of people. A closer examination of the
characteristics of the rise and fall of great
nations may emphasise the possible significance
of the sequence of generations.
Let us then attempt to examine the stages
in the lives of such powerful nations.
IV Stage one. The outburst
Again and again in history we find a small
nation, treated as insignificant by its
contemporaries, suddenly emerging from its
homeland and overrunning large areas of the
world. Prior to Philip (359-336 B.C.), Macedon
had been an insignificant state to the
north of Greece. Persia was the great power
of the time, completely dominating the area
from Eastern Europe to India. Yet by 323
B.C., thirty-six years after the accession of
Philip, the Persian Empire had ceased to
exist, and the Macedonian Empire extended
from the Danube to India, including Egypt.
This amazing expansion may perhaps he
attributed to the genius of Alexander the
Great, but this cannot have been the sole
reason; for although after his death everything
went wrong—the Macedonian generals
fought one another and established rival
empires—Macedonian pre-eminence survived
for 231 years.
In the year A.D. 600, the world was divided
between two superpower groups as it has
been for the past fifty years between Soviet
Russia and the West. The two powers were
the eastern Roman Empire and the Persian
Empire. The Arabs were then the despised
and backward inhabitants of the Arabian
Peninsula. They consisted chiefly of wandering
tribes, and had no government, no
constitution and no army. Syria, Palestine,
Egypt and North Africa were Roman
provinces, Iraq was part of Persia.
The Prophet Mohammed preached in
Arabia from A.D. 613 to 632, when he died.
In 633, the Arabs burst out of their desert
peninsula, and simultaneously attacked the
two super-powers. Within twenty years, the
Persian Empire had ceased to exist. Seventy
years after the death of the Prophet, the
Arabs had established an empire extending
from the Atlantic to the plains of Northern
India and the frontiers of China.
At the beginning of the thirteenth century,
the Mongols were a group of savage tribes in
the steppes of Mongolia. In 1211, Genghis
Khan invaded China. By 1253, the Mongols
had established an empire extending from
Asia Minor to the China Sea, one of the
largest empires the world has ever known.
The Arabs ruled the greater part of Spain
for 780 years, from 712 A.D. to 1492. (780
years back in British history would take us to
1196 and King Richard Coeur de Lion.)
During these eight centuries, there had been
no Spanish nation, the petty kings of Aragon
and Castile alone holding on in the
mountains.
The agreement between Ferdinand and
Isabella and Christopher Columbus was
signed immediately after the fall of Granada,
the last Arab kingdom in Spain, in 1492.
Within fifty years, Cortez had conquered
Mexico, and Spain was the world’s greatest
empire.
Examples of the sudden outbursts by
which empires are born could be multiplied
indefinitely. These random illustrations must
suffice.
The Fate of Empires
5
V Characteristics of the outburst
These sudden outbursts are usually
characterised by an extraordinary display of
energy and courage. The new conquerors are
normally poor, hardy and enterprising and
above all aggressive. The decaying empires
which they overthrow are wealthy but
defensive-minded. In the time of Roman
greatness, the legions used to dig a ditch
round their camps at night to avoid surprise.
But the ditches were mere earthworks, and
between them wide spaces were left through
which the Romans could counter-attack. But
as Rome grew older, the earthworks became
high walls, through which access was given
only by narrow gates. Counterattacks were
no longer possible. The legions were now
passive defenders.
But the new nation is not only distinguished
by victory in battle, but by unresting
enterprise in every field. Men hack their way
through jungles, climb mountains, or brave
the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans in tiny
cockle-shells. The Arabs crossed the Straits
of Gibraltar in A.D. 711 with 12,000 men,
defeated a Gothic army of more than twice
their strength, marched straight over 250
miles of unknown enemy territory and seized
the Gothic capital of Toledo. At the same
stage in British history, Captain Cook discovered
Australia. Fearless initiative characterises
such periods.
Other peculiarities of the period of the
conquering pioneers are their readiness to
improvise and experiment. Untrammelled by
traditions, they will turn anything available
to their purpose. If one method fails, they try
something else. Uninhibited by textbooks or
book learning, action is their solution to
every problem.
Poor, hardy, often half-starved and ill-clad,
they abound in courage, energy and
initiative, overcome every obstacle and
always seem to be in control of the situation.
VI The causes of race outbursts
The modern instinct is to seek a reason for
everything, and to doubt the veracity of a
statement for which a reason cannot be
found. So many examples can be given of the
sudden eruption of an obscure race into a
nation of conquerors that the truth of the
phenomenon cannot be held to be doubtful.
To assign a cause is more difficult. Perhaps
the easiest explanation is to assume that the
poor and obscure race is tempted by the
wealth of the ancient civilisation, and there
would undoubtedly appear to be an element
of greed for loot in barbarian invasions.
Such a motivation may be divided into two
classes. The first is mere loot, plunder and
rape, as, for example, in the case of Attila
and the Huns, who ravaged a great part of
Europe from A.D. 450 to 453. However, when
Attila died in the latter year, his empire fell
apart and his tribes returned to Eastern
Europe.
Many of the barbarians who founded
dynasties in Western Europe on the ruins of
the Roman Empire, however, did so out of
admiration for Roman civilisation, and
themselves aspired to become Romans.
VII A providential turnover?
Whatever causes may be given for the
overthrow of great civilisations by
barbarians, we can sense certain resulting
benefits. Every race on earth has distinctive
characteristics. Some have been distinguished
in philosophy, some in administration,
some in romance, poetry or religion, some in
The Fate of Empires
6
their legal system. During the pre-eminence
of each culture, its distinctive characteristics
are carried by it far and wide across the
world.
If the same nation were to retain its
domination indefinitely, its peculiar qualities
would permanently characterise the whole
human race. Under the system of empires
each lasting for 250 years, the sovereign race
has time to spread its particular virtues far
and wide. Then, however, another people,
with entirely different peculiarities, takes its
place, and its virtues and accomplishments
are likewise disseminated. By this system,
each of the innumerable races of the world
enjoys a period of greatness, during which its
peculiar qualities are placed at the service of
mankind.
To those who believe in the existence of
God, as the Ruler and Director of human
affairs, such a system may appear as a
manifestation of divine wisdom, tending
towards the slow and ultimate perfection of
humanity.
VIII The course of empire
The first stage of the life of a great nation,
therefore, after its outburst, is a period of
amazing initiative, and almost incredible
enterprise, courage and hardihood. These
qualities, often in a very short time, produce
a new and formidable nation. These early
victories, however, are won chiefly by
reckless bravery and daring initiative.
The ancient civilisation thus attacked will
have defended itself by its sophisticated
weapons, and by its military organisation
and discipline. The barbarians quickly
appreciate the advantages of these military
methods and adopt them. As a result, the
second stage of expansion of the new empire
consists of more organised, disciplined and
professional campaigns.
In other fields, the daring initiative of the
original conquerors is maintained—in
geographical exploration, for example:
pioneering new countries, penetrating new
forests, climbing unexplored mountains, and
sailing uncharted seas. The new nation is
confident, optimistic and perhaps contemptuous
of the ‘decadent’ races which it has
subjugated.
The methods employed tend to be practical
and experimental, both in government and
in warfare, for they are not tied by centuries
of tradition, as happens in ancient empires.
Moreover, the leaders are free to use their
own improvisations, not having studied
politics or tactics in schools or in textbooks.
IX U.S.A. in the stage of the pioneers
In the case of the United States of America,
the pioneering period did not consist of a
barbarian conquest of an effete civilisation,
but of the conquest of barbarian peoples.
Thus, viewed from the outside, every
example seems to be different. But viewed
from the standpoint of the great nation,
every example seems to be similar.
The United States arose suddenly as a new
nation, and its period of pioneering was
spent in the conquest of a vast continent, not
an ancient empire. Yet the subsequent life
history of the United States has followed the
standard pattern which we shall attempt to
trace—the periods of the pioneers, of
commerce, of affluence, of intellectualism
and of decadence.
X Commercial expansion
The conquest of vast areas of land and
their subjection to one government
The Fate of Empires
7
automatically acts as a stimulant to commerce.
Both merchants and goods can be
exchanged over considerable distances.
Moreover, if the empire be an extensive one,
it will include a great variety of climates,
producing extremely varied products, which
the different areas will wish to exchange with
one another.
The speed of modern methods of transportation
tends to create in us the impresssion
that far-flung commerce is a modern
development, but this is not the case. Objects
made in Ireland, Scandinavia and China
have been found in the graves or the ruins of
the Middle East, dating from 1,000 years
before Christ. The means of transport were
slower, but, when a great empire was in
control, commerce was freed from the
innumerable shackles imposed upon it today
by passports, import permits, customs,
boycotts and political interference.
The Roman Empire extended from Britain
to Syria and Egypt, a distance, in a direct
line, of perhaps 2,700 miles. A Roman
official, transferred from Britain to Syria,
might spend six months on the journey. Yet,
throughout the whole distance, he would be
travelling in the same country, with the same
official language, the same laws, the same
currency and the same administrative
system. Today, some twenty independent
countries separate Britain from Syria, each
with its own government, its own laws,
politics, customs fees, passports and
currencies, making commercial co-operation
almost impossible. And this process of
disintegration is still continuing. Even within
the small areas of the modern European
nations, provincial movements demanding
secession or devolution tend further to
splinter the continent.
The present fashion for ‘independence’ has
produced great numbers of tiny states in the
world, some of them consisting of only one
city or of a small island. This system is an
insuperable obstacle to trade and cooperation.
The present European Economic
Community is an attempt to secure commercial
cooperation among small independent
states over a large area, but the plan meets
with many difficulties, due to the mutual
jealousies of so many nations.
Even savage and militaristic empires
promoted commerce, whether or not they
intended to do so. The Mongols were some of
the most brutal military conquerors in
history, massacring the entire populations of
cities. Yet, in the thirteenth century, when
their empire extended from Peking to
Hungary, the caravan trade between China
and Europe achieved a remarkable degree of
prosperity—the whole journey was in the
territory of one government.
In the eighth and ninth centuries, the
caliphs of Baghdad achieved fabulous wealth
owing to the immense extent of their
territories, which constituted a single trade
bloc. The empire of the caliphs is now
divided into some twenty-five separate
‘nations’.
XI The pros and cons of empires
In discussing the life-story of the typical
empire, we have digressed into a discussion
of whether empires are useful or injurious to
mankind. We seem to have discovered that
empires have certain advantages, particularly
in the field of commerce, and in the
establishment of peace and security in vast
areas of the globe. Perhaps we should also
include the spread of varied cultures to many
races. The present infatuation for indepenThe
Fate of Empires
8
dence for ever smaller and smaller units will
eventually doubtless be succeeded by new
international empires.
The present attempts to create a European
community may be regarded as a practical
endeavour to constitute a new super-power,
in spite of the fragmentation resulting from
the craze for independence. If it succeeds,
some of the local independencies will have to
be sacrificed. If it fails, the same result may
be attained by military conquest, or by the
partition of Europe between rival superpowers.
The inescapable conclusion seems,
however, to be that larger territorial units are
a benefit to commerce and to public stability,
whether the broader territory be achieved by
voluntary association or by military action.
XII Sea power
One of the more benevolent ways in which
a super-power can promote both peace and
commerce is by its command of the sea.
From Waterloo to 1914, the British Navy
commanded the seas of the world. Britain
grew rich, but she also made the Seas safe for
the commerce of all nations, and prevented
major wars for 100 years.
Curiously enough, the question of sea
power was never clearly distinguished, in
British politics during the last fifty years,
from the question of imperial rule over other
countries. In fact, the two subjects are
entirely distinct. Sea power does not offend
small countries, as does military occupation.
If Britain had maintained her navy, with a
few naval bases overseas in isolated islands,
and had given independence to colonies
which asked for it, the world might well be a
more stable place today. In fact, however, the
navy was swept away in the popular outcry
against imperialism.
XIII The Age of Commerce
Let us now, however, return to the lifestory
of our typical empire. We have already
considered the age of outburst, when a littleregarded
people suddenly bursts on to the
world stage with a wild courage and energy.
Let us call it the Age of the Pioneers.
Then we saw that these new conquerors
acquired the sophisticated weapons of the
old empires, and adopted their regular
systems of military organisation and
training. A great period of military expansion
ensued, which we may call the Age of
Conquests. The conquests resulted in the
acquisition of vast territories under one
government, thereby automatically giving
rise to commercial prosperity. We may call
this the Age of Commerce.
The Age of Conquests, of course, overlaps
the Age of Commerce. The proud military
traditions still hold sway and the great
armies guard the frontiers, but gradually the
desire to make money seems to gain hold of
the public. During the military period, glory
and honour were the principal objects of
ambition. To the merchant, such ideas are
but empty words, which add nothing to the
bank balance.
XIV Art and luxury
The wealth which seems, almost without
effort, to pour into the country enables the
commercial classes to grow immensely rich.
How to spend all this money becomes a
problem to the wealthy business community.
Art, architecture and luxury find rich
patrons. Splendid municipal buildings and
wide streets lend dignity and beauty to the
wealthy areas of great cities. The rich
merchants build themselves palaces, and
money is invested in communications,
The Fate of Empires
9
highways, bridges, railways or hotels,
according to the varied patterns of the ages.
The first half of the Age of Commerce
appears to be peculiarly splendid. The
ancient virtues of courage, patriotism and
devotion to duty are still in evidence. The
nation is proud, united and full of selfconfidence.
Boys are still required, first of all,
to be manly—to ride, to shoot straight and to
tell the truth. (It is remarkable what
emphasis is placed, at this stage, on the
manly virtue of truthfulness, for lying is
cowardice—the fear of facing up to the
situation.)
Boys’ schools are intentionally rough. Frugal
eating, hard living, breaking the ice to
have a bath and similar customs are aimed at
producing a strong, hardy and fearless breed
of men. Duty is the word constantly drummed
into the heads of young people.
The Age of Commerce is also marked by
great enterprise in the exploration for new
forms of wealth. Daring initiative is shown in
the search for profitable enterprises in far
corners of the earth, perpetuating to some
degree the adventurous courage of the Age of
Conquests.
XV The Age of Affluence
There does not appear to be any doubt that
money is the agent which causes the decline
of this strong, brave and self-confident
people. The decline in courage, enterprise
and a sense of duty is, however, gradual.
The first direction in which wealth injures
the nation is a moral one. Money replaces
honour and adventure as the objective of the
best young men. Moreover, men do not
normally seek to make money for their
country or their community, but for themselves.
Gradually, and almost imperceptibly,
the Age of Affluence silences the voice of
duty. The object of the young and the
ambitious is no longer fame, honour or
service, but cash.
Education undergoes the same gradual
transformation. No longer do schools aim at
producing brave patriots ready to serve their
country. Parents and students alike seek the
educational qualifications which will
command the highest salaries. The Arab
moralist, Ghazali (1058-1111), complains in
these very same words of the lowering of
objectives in the declining Arab world of his
time. Students, he says, no longer attend
college to acquire learning and virtue, but to
obtain those qualifications which will enable
them to grow rich. The same situation is
everywhere evident among us in the West
today.
XVI High Noon
That which we may call the High Noon of
the nation covers the period of transition
from the Age of Conquests to the Age of
Affluence: the age of Augustus in Rome, that
of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad, of Sulaiman
the Magnificent in the Ottoman Empire, or
of Queen Victoria in Britain. Perhaps we
might add the age of Woodrow Wilson in the
United States.
All these periods reveal the same
characteristics. The immense wealth accumulated
in the nation dazzles the onlookers.
Enough of the ancient virtues of courage,
energy and patriotism survive to enable the
state successfully to defend its frontiers. But,
beneath the surface, greed for money is
gradually replacing duty and public service.
Indeed the change might be summarised as
being from service to selfishness.
The Fate of Empires
10
XVII Defensiveness
Another outward change which invariably
marks the transition from the Age of
Conquests to the Age of Affluence is the
spread of defensiveness. The nation, immensely
rich, is no longer interested in glory or
duty, but is only anxious to retain its wealth
and its luxury. It is a period of defensiveness,
from the Great Wall of China, to Hadrian’s
Wall on the Scottish Border, to the Maginot
Line in France in 1939.
Money being in better supply than courage,
subsidies instead of weapons are employed
to buy off enemies. To justify this departure
from ancient tradition, the human mind
easily devises its own justification. Military
readiness, or aggressiveness, is denounced as
primitive and immoral. Civilised peoples are
too proud to fight. The conquest of one
nation by another is declared to be immoral.
Empires are wicked. This intellectual device
enables us to suppress our feeling of
inferiority, when we read of the heroism of
our ancestors, and then ruefully contemplate
our position today. ‘It is not that we are
afraid to fight,’ we say, ‘but we should
consider it immoral.’ This even enables us to
assume an attitude of moral superiority.
The weakness of pacifism is that there are
still many peoples in the world who are
aggressive. Nations who proclaim themselves
unwilling to fight are liable to be conquered
by peoples in the stage of militarism—
perhaps even to see themselves incorporated
into some new empire, with the status of
mere provinces or colonies.
When to be prepared to use force and when
to give way is a perpetual human problem,
which can only be solved, as best we can, in
each successive situation as it arises. In fact,
however, history seems to indicate that great
nations do not normally disarm from
motives of conscience, but owing to the
weakening of a sense of duty in the citizens,
and the increase in selfishness and the desire
for wealth and ease.
XVIII The Age of Intellect
We have now, perhaps arbitrarily, divided
the life-story of our great nation into four
ages. The Age of the Pioneers (or the
Outburst), the Age of Conquests, the Age of
Commerce, and the Age of Affluence. The
great wealth of the nation is no longer
needed to supply the mere necessities, or
even the luxuries of life. Ample funds are
available also for the pursuit of knowledge.
The merchant princes of the Age of
Commerce seek fame and praise, not only by
endowing works of art or patronising music
and literature. They also found and endow
colleges and universities. It is remarkable
with what regularity this phase follows on
that of wealth, in empire after empire,
divided by many centuries.
In the eleventh century, the former Arab
Empire, then in complete political decline,
was ruled by the Seljuk sultan, Malik Shah.
The Arabs, no longer soldiers, were still the
intellectual leaders of the world. During the
reign of Malik Shah, the building of
universities and colleges became a passion.
Whereas a small number of universities in
the great cities had sufficed the years of Arab
glory, now a university sprang up in every
town.
In our own lifetime, we have witnessed the
same phenomenon in the U.S.A. and Britain.
When these nations were at the height of
their glory, Harvard, Yale, Oxford and
Cambridge seemed to meet their needs. Now
almost every city has its university.
The Fate of Empires
11
The ambition of the young, once engaged
in the pursuit of adventure and military
glory, and then in the desire for the
accumulation of wealth, now turns to the
acquisition of academic honours.
It is useful here to take note that almost all
the pursuits followed with such passion
throughout the ages were in themselves
good. The manly cult of hardihood, frankness
and truthfulness, which characterised
the Age of Conquests, produced many really
splendid heroes.
The opening up of natural resources, and
the peaceful accumulation of wealth, which
marked the age of commercialism, appeared
to introduce new triumphs in civilisation, in
culture and in the arts. In the same way, the
vast expansion of the field of knowledge
achieved by the Age of Intellect seemed to
mark a new high-water mark of human
progress. We cannot say that any of these
changes were ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
The striking features in the pageant of
empire are:
(a) the extraordinary exactitude with which
these stages have followed one another, in
empire after empire, over centuries or even
millennia; and
(b) the fact that the successive changes
seem to represent mere changes in popular
fashion—new fads and fancies which sweep
away public opinion without logical reason.
At first, popular enthusiasm is devoted to
military glory, then to the accumulation of
wealth and later to the acquisition of
academic fame.
Why could not all these legitimate, and
indeed beneficent, activities be carried on
simultaneously, each of them in due moderation?
Yet this never seemed to happen.
XIX The effects of intellectualism
There are so many things in human life
which are not dreamt of in our popular
philosophy. The spread of knowledge seems
to be the most beneficial of human activities,
and yet every period of decline is characterrised
by this expansion of intellectual
activity. ‘All the Athenians and strangers
which were there spent their time in nothing
else, but either to tell or to hear some new
thing’ is the description given in the Acts of
the Apostles of the decline of Greek
intellectualism.
The Age of Intellect is accompanied by
surprising advances in natural science. In the
ninth century, for example, in the age of
Mamun, the Arabs measured the circumference
of the earth with remarkable
accuracy. Seven centuries were to pass
before Western Europe discovered that the
world was not flat. Less than fifty years after
the amazing scientific discoveries under
Mamun, the Arab Empire collapsed. Wonderful
and beneficent as was the progress of
science, it did not save the empire from
chaos.
The full flowering of Arab and Persian
intellectualism did not occur until after their
imperial and political collapse. Thereafter
the intellectuals attained fresh triumphs in
the academic field, but politically they
became the abject servants of the often
illiterate rulers. When the Mongols conquered
Persia in the thirteenth century, they
were themselves entirely uneducated and
were obliged to depend wholly on native
Persian officials to administer the country
and to collect the revenue. They retained as
wazeer, or Prime Minister, one Rashid al-
Din, a historian of international repute. Yet
The Fate of Empires
12
the Prime Minister, when speaking to the
Mongol II Khan, was obliged to remain
throughout the interview on his knees. At
state banquets, the Prime Minister stood
behind the Khan’s seat to wait upon him. If
the Khan were in a good mood, he
occasionally passed his wazeer a piece of
food over his shoulder.
As in the case of the Athenians,
intellectualism leads to discussion, debate
and argument, such as is typical of the
Western nations today. Debates in elected
assemblies or local committees, in articles in
the Press or in interviews on television—
endless and incessant talking.
Men are interminably different, and
intellectual arguments rarely lead to
agreement. Thus public affairs drift from bad
to worse, amid an unceasing cacophony of
argument. But this constant dedication to
discussion seems to destroy the power of
action. Amid a Babel of talk, the ship drifts
on to the rocks.
XX The inadequacy of intellect
Perhaps the most dangerous by-product of
the Age of Intellect is the unconscious
growth of the idea that the human brain can
solve the problems of the world. Even on the
low level of practical affairs this is patently
untrue. Any small human activity, the local
bowls club or the ladies’ luncheon club,
requires for its survival a measure of selfsacrifice
and service on the part of the
members. In a wider national sphere, the
survival of the nation depends basically on
the loyalty and self-sacrifice of the citizens.
The impression that the situation can be
saved by mental cleverness, without unselfishness
or human self-dedication, can only
lead to collapse.
Thus we see that the cultivation of the
human intellect seems to be a magnificent
ideal, but only on condition that it does not
weaken unselfishness and human dedication
to service. Yet this, judging by historical
precedent, seems to be exactly what it does
do. Perhaps it is not the intellectualism
which destroys the spirit of self-sacrifice—the
least we can say is that the two,
intellectualism and the loss of a sense of
duty, appear simultaneously in the life-story
of the nation.
Indeed it often appears in individuals, that
the head and the heart are natural rivals. The
brilliant but cynical intellectual appears at
the opposite end of the spectrum from the
emotional self-sacrifice of the hero or the
martyr. Yet there are times when the perhaps
unsophisticated self-dedication of the hero is
more essential than the sarcasms of the
clever.
XXI Civil dissensions
Another remarkable and unexpected
symptom of national decline is the intensification
of internal political hatreds. One
would have expected that, when the survival
of the nation became precarious, political
factions would drop their rivalry and stand
shoulder-to-shoulder to save their country.
In the fourteenth century, the weakening
empire of Byzantium was threatened, and
indeed dominated, by the Ottoman Turks.
The situation was so serious that one would
have expected every subject of Byzantium to
abandon his personal interests and to stand
with his compatriots in a last desperate
attempt to save the country. The reverse
occurred. The Byzantines spent the last fifty
years of their history in fighting one another
in repeated civil wars, until the Ottomans
The Fate of Empires
13
moved in and administered the coup de
grâce.
Britain has been governed by an elected
parliament for many centuries. In former
years, however, the rival parties observed
many unwritten laws. Neither party wished
to eliminate the other. All the members
referred to one another as honourable
gentlemen. But such courtesies have now
lapsed. Booing, shouting and loud noises
have undermined the dignity of the House,
and angry exchanges are more frequent. We
are fortunate if these rivalries are fought out
in Parliament, but sometimes such hatreds
are carried into the streets, or into industry
in the form of strikes, demonstrations,
boycotts and similar activities. True to the
normal course followed by nations in
decline, internal differences are not
reconciled in an attempt to save the nation.
On the contrary, internal rivalries become
more acute, as the nation becomes weaker.
XXII The influx of foreigners
One of the oft-repeated phenomena of
great empires is the influx of foreigners to
the capital city. Roman historians often
complain of the number of Asians and
Africans in Rome. Baghdad, in its prime in
the ninth century, was international in its
population—Persians, Turks, Arabs, Armenians,
Egyptians, Africans and Greeks
mingled in its streets.
In London today, Cypriots, Greeks,
Italians, Russians, Africans, Germans and
Indians jostle one another on the buses and
in the underground, so that it sometimes
seems difficult to find any British. The same
applies to New York, perhaps even more so.
This problem does not consist in any
inferiority of one race as compared with
another, but simply in the differences
between them.
In the age of the first outburst and the
subsequent Age of Conquests, the race is
normally ethnically more or less
homogeneous. This state of affairs facilitates
a feeling of solidarity and comradeship. But
in the Ages of Commerce and Affluence,
every type of foreigner floods into the great
city, the streets of which are reputed to be
paved with gold. As, in most cases, this great
city is also the capital of the empire, the
cosmopolitan crowd at the seat of empire
exercises a political influence greatly in
excess of its relative numbers.
Second- or third-generation foreign
immigrants may appear outwardly to be
entirely assimilated, but they often constitute
a weakness in two directions. First, their
basic human nature often differs from that of
the original imperial stock. If the earlier
imperial race was stubborn and slowmoving,
the immigrants might come from
more emotional races, thereby introducing
cracks and schisms into the national policies,
even if all were equally loyal.
Second, while the nation is still affluent, all
the diverse races may appear equally loyal.
But in an acute emergency, the immigrants
will often be less willing to sacrifice their
lives and their property than will be the
original descendants of the founder race.
Third, the immigrants are liable to form
communities of their own, protecting
primarily their own interests, and only in the
second degree that of the nation as a whole.
Fourth, many of the foreign immigrants
will probably belong to races originally
conquered by and absorbed into the empire.
While the empire is enjoying its High Noon
of prosperity, all these people are proud and
The Fate of Empires
14
glad to be imperial citizens. But when decline
sets in, it is extraordinary how the memory
of ancient wars, perhaps centuries before, is
suddenly revived, and local or provincial
movements appear demanding secession or
independence. Some day this phenomenon
will doubtless appear in the now apparently
monolithic and authoritarian Soviet empire.
It is amazing for how long such provincial
sentiments can survive.
Historical examples of this phenomenon
are scarcely needed. The idle and captious
Roman mob, with its endless appetite for
free distributions of food—bread and
games—is notorious, and utterly different
from that stern Roman spirit which we
associate with the wars of the early republic.
In Baghdad, in the golden days of Harun
al-Rashid, Arabs were a minority in the
imperial capital. Istanbul, in the great days
of Ottoman rule, was peopled by inhabitants
remarkably few of whom were descendants
of Turkish conquerors. In New York,
descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers are few
and far between.
This interesting phenomenon is largely
limited to great cities. The original conquering
race is often to be found in relative
purity in rural districts and on far frontiers.
It is the wealth of the great cities which
draws the immigrants. As, with the growth of
industry, cities nowadays achieve an ever
greater preponderance over the countryside,
so will the influence of foreigners increasingly
dominate old empires.
Once more it may be emphasised that I do
not wish to convey the impression that
immigrants are inferior to older stocks. They
are just different, and they thus tend to
introduce cracks and divisions.
XXIII Frivolity
As the nation declines in power and
wealth, a universal pessimism gradually
pervades the people, and itself hastens the
decline. There is nothing succeeds like
success, and, in the Ages of Conquest and
Commerce, the nation was carried
triumphantly onwards on the wave of its own
self-confidence. Republican Rome was
repeatedly on the verge of extinction—in 390
B.C. when the Gauls sacked the city and in
216 B.C. after the Battle of Cannae. But no
disasters could shake the resolution of the
early Romans. Yet, in the later stages of
Roman decline, the whole empire was deeply
pessimistic, thereby sapping its own
resolution.
Frivolity is the frequent companion of
pessimism. Let us eat, drink and be merry,
for tomorrow we die. The resemblance
between various declining nations in this
respect is truly surprising. The Roman mob,
we have seen, demanded free meals and
public games. Gladiatorial shows, chariot
races and athletic events were their passion.
In the Byzantine Empire the rivalries of the
Greens and the Blues in the hippodrome
attained the importance of a major crisis.
Judging by the time and space allotted to
them in the Press and television, football and
baseball are the activities which today chiefly
interest the public in Britain and the United
States respectively.
The heroes of declining nations are always
the same—the athlete, the singer or the
actor. The word ‘celebrity’ today is used to
designate a comedian or a football player,
not a statesman, a general, or a literary
genius.
The Fate of Empires
15
XXIV The Arab decline
In the first half of the ninth century,
Baghdad enjoyed its High Noon as the
greatest and the richest city in the world. In
861, however, the reigning Khalif (caliph),
Mutawakkil, was murdered by his Turkish
mercenaries, who set up a military dictatorship,
which lasted for some thirty years.
During this period the empire fell apart, the
various dominions and provinces each
assuming virtual independence and seeking
its own interests. Baghdad, lately the capital
of a vast empire, found its authority limited
to Iraq alone.
The works of the contemporary historians
of Baghdad in the early tenth century are still
available. They deeply deplored the
degeneracy of the times in which they lived,
emphasising particularly the indifference to
religion, the increasing materialism and the
laxity of sexual morals. They lamented also
the corruption of the officials of the
government and the fact that politicians
always seemed to amass large fortunes while
they were in office.
The historians commented bitterly on the
extraordinary influence acquired by popular
singers over young people, resulting in a
decline in sexual morality. The ‘pop’ singers
of Baghdad accompanied their erotic songs
on the lute, an instrument resembling the
modern guitar. In the second half of the
tenth century, as a result, much obscene
sexual language came increasingly into use,
such as would not have been tolerated in an
earlier age. Several khalifs issued orders
banning ‘pop’ singers from the capital, but
within a few years they always returned.
An increase in the influence of women in
public life has often been associated with national
decline. The later Romans complained
that, although Rome ruled the world, women
ruled Rome. In the tenth century, a similar
tendency was observable in the Arab Empire,
the women demanding admission to the
professions hitherto monopolised by men.
‘What,’ wrote the contemporary historian,
Ibn Bessam, ‘have the professions of clerk,
tax-collector or preacher to do with women?
These occupations have always been limited
to men alone.’ Many women practised law,
while others obtained posts as university
professors. There was an agitation for the
appointment of female judges, which,
however, does not appear to have succeeded.
Soon after this period, government and
public order collapsed, and foreign invaders
overran the country. The resulting increase
in confusion and violence made it unsafe for
women to move unescorted in the streets,
with the result that this feminist movement
collapsed.
The disorders following the military takeover
in 861, and the loss of the empire, had
played havoc with the economy. At such a
moment, it might have been expected that
everyone would redouble their efforts to save
the country from bankruptcy, but nothing of
the kind occurred. Instead, at this moment of
declining trade and financial stringency, the
people of Baghdad introduced a five-day
week.
When I first read these contemporary
descriptions of tenth-century Baghdad, I
could scarcely believe my eyes. I told myself
that this must be a joke! The descriptions
might have been taken out of The Times
today. The resemblance of all the details was
especially breathtaking—the break-up of the
empire, the abandonment of sexual morality,
the ‘pop’ singers with their guitars, the entry
of women into the professions, the five-day
The Fate of Empires
16
week. I would not venture to attempt an
explanation! There are so many mysteries
about human life which are far beyond our
comprehension.
XXV Political ideology
Today we attach immense importance to
the ideology of our internal politics. The
Press and public media in the U.S.A. and
Britain pour incessant scorn on any country
the political institutions of which differ in
any manner from our own idea of
democracy. It is, therefore, interesting to
note that the life-expectation of a great
nation does not appear to be in any way
affected by the nature of its institutions.
Past empires show almost every possible
variation of political system, but all go
through the same procedure from the Age of
Pioneers through Conquest, Commerce,
Affluence to decline and collapse.
XXVI The Mameluke Empire
The empire of the Mamelukes of Egypt
provides a case in point, for it was one of the
most exotic ever to be recorded in history. It
is also exceptional in that it began on one
fixed day and ended on another, leaving no
doubt of its precise duration, which was 267
years.
In the first part of the thirteenth century,
Egypt and Syria were ruled by the Ayoubid
sultans, the descendants of the family of
Saladin. Their army consisted of Mamelukes,
slaves imported as boys from the Steppes
and trained as professional soldiers. On 1st
May 1250, the Mamelukes mutinied,
murdered Turan Shah, the Ayoubid sultan,
and became the rulers of his empire.
The first fifty years of the Mameluke
Empire were marked by desperate fighting
with the hitherto invincible Mongols, the
descendants of Genghis Khan, who invaded
Syria. By defeating the Mongols and driving
them out of Syria, the Mamelukes saved the
Mediterranean from the terrible fate which
had overtaken Persia. In 1291, the Mamelukes
captured Acre, and put an end to the
Crusades.
From 1309 to 1341, the Mameluke Empire
was everywhere victorious and possessed the
finest army in the world. For the ensuing
hundred years the wealth of the Mameluke
Empire was fabulous, slowly leading to
luxury, the relaxation of discipline and to
decline, with ever more bitter internal
political rivalries. Finally the empire collapsed
in 1517, as the result of military defeat
by the Ottomans.
The Mameluke government appears to us
utterly illogical and fantastic. The ruling
class was entirely recruited from young boys,
born in what is now Southern Russia. Every
one of them was enlisted as a private soldier.
Even the sultans had begun life as private
soldiers and had risen from the ranks. Yet
this extraordinary political system resulted
in an empire which passed through all the
normal stages of conquest, commercialism,
affluence and decline and which lasted
approximately the usual period of time.
XXVII The master race
The people of the great nations of the past
seem normally to have imagined that their
pre-eminence would last for ever. Rome
appeared to its citizens to be destined to be
for all time the mistress of the world. The
Abbasid Khalifs of Baghdad declared that
God had appointed them to rule mankind
until the day of judgement. Seventy years
ago, many people in Britain believed that the
The Fate of Empires
17
empire would endure for ever. Although
Hitler failed to achieve his objective, he
declared that Germany would rule the world
for a thousand years. That sentiments like
these could be publicly expressed without
evoking derision shows that, in all ages, the
regular rise and fall of great nations has
passed unperceived. The simplest statistics
prove the steady rotation of one nation after
another at regular intervals.
The belief that their nation would rule the
world forever, naturally encouraged the
citizens of the leading nation of any period to
attribute their pre-eminence to hereditary
virtues. They carried in their blood, they
believed, qualities which constituted them a
race of supermen, an illusion which inclined
them to the employment of cheap foreign
labour (or slaves) to perform menial tasks
and to engage foreign mercenaries to fight
their battles or to sail their ships.
These poorer peoples were only too happy
to migrate to the wealthy cities of the empire,
and thereby, as we have seen, to adulterate
the close-knit, homogeneous character of the
conquering race. The latter unconsciously
assumed that they would always be the
leaders of mankind, relaxed their energies,
and spent an increasing part of their time in
leisure, amusement or sport.
In recent years, the idea has spread widely
in the West that ‘progress’ will be automatic
without effort, that everyone will continue to
grow richer and richer and that every year
will show a ‘rise in the standard of living’. We
have not drawn from history the obvious
conclusion that material success is the result
of courage, endurance and hard work—a
conclusion nevertheless obvious from the
history of the meteoric rise of our own
ancestors. This self-assurance of its own
superiority seems to go hand-in-hand with
the luxury resulting from wealth, in
undermining the character of the dominant
race.
XXVIII The welfare state
When the welfare state was first introduced
in Britain, it was hailed as a new high-water
mark in the history of human development.
History, however, seems to suggest that the
age of decline of a great nation is often a
period which shows a tendency to
philanthropy and to sympathy for other
races. This phase may not be contradictory
to the feeling described in the previous
paragraph, that the dominant race has the
right to rule the world. For the citizens of the
great nation enjoy the role of Lady Bountiful.
As long as it retains its status of leadership,
the imperial people are glad to be generous,
even if slightly condescending. The rights of
citizenship are generously bestowed on every
race, even those formerly subject, and the
equality of mankind is proclaimed. The
Roman Empire passed through this phase,
when equal citizenship was thrown open to
all peoples, such provincials even becoming
senators and emperors.
The Arab Empire of Baghdad was equally,
perhaps even more, generous. During the
Age of Conquests, pure-bred Arabs had
constituted a ruling class, but in the ninth
century the empire was completely
cosmopolitan.
State assistance to the young and the poor
was equally generous. University students
received government grants to cover their
expenses while they were receiving higher
education. The State likewise offered free
medical treatment to the poor. The first free
public hospital was opened in Baghdad in
The Fate of Empires
18
the reign of Harun al-Rashid (786-809), and
under his son, Mamun, free public hospitals
sprang up all over the Arab world from Spain
to what is now Pakistan.
The impression that it will always be
automatically rich causes the declining
empire to spend lavishly on its own
benevolence, until such time as the economy
collapses, the universities are closed and the
hospitals fall into ruin.
It may perhaps be incorrect to picture the
welfare state as the high-water mark of
human attainment. It may merely prove to
be one more regular milestone in the lifestory
of an ageing and decrepit empire.
XXIX Religion
Historians of periods of decadence often
refer to a decline in religion, but, if we
extend our investigation over a period
covering the Assyrians (859-612 B.C.) to our
own times, we have to interpret religion in a
very broad sense. Some such definition as
‘the human feeling that there is something,
some invisible Power, apart from material
objects, which controls human life and the
natural world’.
We are probably too narrow and
contemptuous in our interpretation of idol
worship. The people of ancient civilisations
were as sensible as we are, and would
scarcely have been so foolish as to worship
sticks and stones fashioned by their own
hands. The idol was for them merely a
symbol, and represented an unknown,
spiritual reality, which controlled the lives of
men and demanded human obedience to its
moral precepts.
We all know only too well that minor
differences in the human visualisation of this
Spirit frequently became the ostensible
reason for human wars, in which both sides
claimed to be fighting for the true God, but
the absurd narrowness of human
conceptions should not blind us to the fact
that, very often, both sides believed their
campaigns to have a moral background.
Genghis Khan, one of the most brutal of all
conquerors, claimed that God had delegated
him the duty to exterminate the decadent
races of the civilised world. Thus the Age of
Conquests often had some kind of religious
atmosphere, which implied heroic selfsacrifice
for the cause.
But this spirit of dedication was slowly
eroded in the Age of Commerce by the action
of money. People make money for
themselves, not for their country. Thus
periods of affluence gradually dissolved the
spirit of service, which had caused the rise of
the imperial races.
In due course, selfishness permeated the
community, the coherence of which was
weakened until disintegration was
threatened. Then, as we have seen, came the
period of pessimism with the accompanying
spirit of frivolity and sensual indulgence, byproducts
of despair. It was inevitable at such
times that men should look back yearningly
to the days of ‘religion’, when the spirit of
self-sacrifice was still strong enough to make
men ready to give and to serve, rather than
to snatch.
But while despair might permeate the
greater part of the nation, others achieved a
new realisation of the fact that only readiness
for self-sacrifice could enable a community
to survive. Some of the greatest saints in
history lived in times of national decadence,
raising the banner of duty and service
against the flood of depravity and despair.
The Fate of Empires
19
In this manner, at the height of vice and
frivolity the seeds of religious revival are
quietly sown. After, perhaps, several
generations (or even centuries) of suffering,
the impoverished nation has been purged of
its selfishness and its love of money, religion
regains its sway and a new era sets in. ‘It is
good for me that I have been afflicted,’ said
the psalmist, ‘that I might learn Thy
Statutes.’
XXX New combinations
We have traced the rise of an obscure race
to fame, through the stages of conquest,
commercialism, affluence, and intellectualism,
to disintegration, decadence and
despair. We suggested that the dominant
race at any given time imparts its leading
characteristics to the world around, being in
due course succeeded by another empire. By
this means, we speculated, many successive
races succeeded one another as superpowers,
and in turn bequeathed their
peculiar qualities to mankind at large.
But the objection may here be raised that
some day the time will come when all the
races of the world will in turn have enjoyed
their period of domination and have
collapsed again in decadence. When the
whole human race has reached the stage of
decadence, where will new energetic conquering
races be found?
The answer is at first partially obscured by
our modern habit of dividing the human race
into nations, which we seem to regard as
water-tight compartments, an error responsible
for innumerable misunderstandings.
In earlier times, warlike nomadic nations
invaded the territories of decadent peoples
and settled there. In due course, they
intermarried with the local population and a
new race resulted, though it sometimes
retained an old name. The barbarian
invasions of the Roman Empire probably
provide the example best known today in the
West. Others were the Arab conquests of
Spain, North Africa and Persia, the Turkish
conquests of the Ottoman Empire, or even
the Norman Conquest of England.
In all such cases, the conquered countries
were originally fully inhabited and the invaders
were armies, which ultimately settled
down and married, and produced new races.
In our times, there are few nomadic
conquerors left in the world, who could
invade more settled countries bringing their
tents and flocks with them. But ease of travel
has resulted in an equal, or probably an even
greater, intermixture of populations. The
extreme bitterness of modern internal political
struggles produces a constant flow of
migrants from their native countries to
others, where the social institutions suit
them better.
The vicissitudes of trade and business
similarly result in many persons moving to
other countries, at first intending to return,
but ultimately settling down in their new
countries.
The population of Britain has been
constantly changing, particularly in the last
sixty years, owing to the influx of immigrants
from Europe, Asia and Africa, and the exit of
British citizens to the Dominions and the
United States. The latter is, of course, the
most obvious example of the constant rise of
new nations, and of the transformation of
the ethnic content of old nations through this
modern nomadism.
The Fate of Empires
20
XXXI Decadence of a system
It is of interest to note that decadence is
the disintegration of a system, not of its
individual members. The habits of the
members of the community have been
corrupted by the enjoyment of too much
money and too much power for too long a
period. The result has been, in the
framework of their national life, to make
them selfish and idle. A community of selfish
and idle people declines, internal quarrels
develop in the division of its dwindling
wealth, and pessimism follows, which some
of them endeavour to drown in sensuality or
frivolity. In their own surroundings, they are
unable to redirect their thoughts and their
energies into new channels.
But when individual members of such a
society emigrate into entirely new surroundings,
they do not remain conspicuously
decadent, pessimistic or immoral among the
inhabitants of their new homeland. Once
enabled to break away from their old
channels of thought, and after a short period
of readjustment, they become normal
citizens of their adopted countries. Some of
them, in the second and third generations,
may attain pre-eminence and leadership in
their new communities.
This seems to prove that the decline of any
nation does not undermine the energies or
the basic character of its members. Nor does
the decadence of a number of such nations
permanently impoverish the human race.
Decadence is both mental and moral
deterioration, produced by the slow decline
of the community from which its members
cannot escape, as long as they remain in
their old surroundings. But, transported
elsewhere, they soon discard their decadent
ways of thought, and prove themselves equal
to the other citizens of their adopted country.
XXXII Decadence is not physical
Neither is decadence physical. The citizens
of nations in decline are sometimes
described as too physically emasculated to be
able to bear hardship or make great efforts.
This does not seem to be a true picture.
Citizens of great nations in decadence are
normally physically larger and stronger than
those of their barbarian invaders.
Moreover, as was proved in Britain in the
first World War, young men brought up in
luxury and wealth found little difficulty in
accustoming themselves to life in the frontline
trenches. The history of exploration
proves the same point. Men accustomed to
comfortable living in homes in Europe or
America were able to show as much
endurance as the natives in riding camels
across the desert or in hacking their way
through tropical forests.
Decadence is a moral and spiritual disease,
resulting from too long a period of wealth
and power, producing cynicism, decline of
religion, pessimism and frivolity. The
citizens of such a nation will no longer make
an effort to save themselves, because they
are not convinced that anything in life is
worth saving.
XXXII Human diversity
Generalisations are always dangerous.
Human beings are all different. The variety
in human life is endless. If this be the case
with individuals, it is much more so with
nations and cultures. No two societies, no
two peoples, no two cultures are exactly the
same. In these circumstances, it will be easy
The Fate of Empires
21
for critics to find many objections to what
has been said, and to point out exceptions to
the generalisations.
There is some value in comparing the lives
of nations to those of individuals. No two
persons in the world are identical. Moreover
their lives are often affected by accidents or
by illness, making the divergences even more
obvious. Yet, in fact, we can generalise about
human life from many different aspects. The
characteristics of childhood, adolescence,
youth, middle and old age are well known.
Some adolescents, it is true, are prematurely
wise and serious. Some persons in middle
age still seem to he young. But such
exceptions do not invalidate the general
character of human life from the cradle to
the grave.
I venture to submit that the lives of nations
follow a similar pattern. Superficially, all
seem to be completely different. Some years
ago, a suggestion was submitted to a certain
television corporation that a series of talks
on Arab history would form an interesting
sequence. The proposal was immediately
vetoed by the director of programmes with
the remark, “What earthly interest could the
history of medieval Arabs have for the
general public today?”
Yet, in fact, the history of the Arab imperial
age—from conquest through commercialism,
to affluence, intellectualism, science and
decadence—is an exact precursor of British
imperial history and lasted almost exactly
the same time.
If British historians, a century ago, had
devoted serious study to the Arab Empire,
they could have foreseen almost everything
that has happened in Britain down to 1976.
XXXIV A variety of falls
It has been shown that, normally, the rise
and fall of great nations are due to internal
reasons alone. Ten generations of human
beings suffice to transform the hardy and
enterprising pioneer into the captious citizen
of the welfare state. But whereas the life
histories of great nations show an unexpected
uniformity, the nature of their falls
depends largely on outside circumstances
and thus shows a high degree of diversity.
The Roman Republic, as we have seen, was
followed by the empire, which became a
super-state, in which all the natives of the
Mediterranean basin, regardless of race,
possessed equal rights. The name of Rome,
originally a city-state, passed from it to an
equalitarian international empire.
This empire broke in half, the western half
being overrun by northern barbarians, the
eastern half forming the East Roman or
Byzantine Empire.
The vast Arab Empire broke up in the
ninth century into many fragments, of which
one former colony, Moslem Spain, ran its
own 250-year course as an independent
empire. The homelands of Syria and Iraq,
however, were conquered by successive
waves of Turks to whom they remained
subject for 1,000 years.
The Mameluke Empire of Egypt and Syria,
on the other hand, was conquered in one
campaign by the Ottomans, the native
population merely suffering a change of
masters.
The Spanish Empire (1500-1750) endured
for the conventional 250 years, terminated
only by the loss of its colonies. The homeland
of Spain fell, indeed, from its high estate of a
The Fate of Empires
22
super-power, but remained as an independent
nation until today.
Romanov Russia (1682-1916) ran the
normal course, but was succeeded by the
Soviet Union.
It is unnecessary to labour the point, which
we may attempt to summarise briefly. Any
regime which attains great wealth and power
seems with remarkable regularity to decay
and fall apart in some ten generations. The
ultimate fate of its component parts,
however, does not depend on its internal
nature, but on the other organisations which
appear at the time of its collapse and succeed
in devouring its heritage. Thus the lives of
great powers are surprisingly uniform, but
the results of their falls are completely
diverse.
XXXV Inadequacy of our historical
studies
In fact, the modern nations of the West
have derived only limited value from their
historical studies, because they have never
made them big enough. For history to have
meaning, as we have already stated, it must
be the history of the human race.
Far from achieving such an ideal, our
historical studies are largely limited to the
history of our own country during the
lifetime of the present nation. Thus the timefactor
is too short to allow the longer
rhythms of the rise and fall of nations even to
be noticed. As the television director
indicated, it never even crosses our minds
that longer periods could be of any interest.
When we read the history of our own
nation, we find the actions of our ancestors
described as glorious, while those of other
peoples are depicted as mean, tyrannical or
cowardly. Thus our history is (intentionally)
not based on facts. We are emotionally
unwilling to accept that our forbears might
have been mean or cowardly.
Alternatively, there are ‘political’ schools of
history, slanted to discredit the actions of
our past leaders, in order to support modern
political movements. In all these cases,
history is not an attempt to ascertain the
truth, but a system of propaganda, devoted
to the furtherance of modern projects, or the
gratification of national vanity.
Men can scarcely be blamed for not
learning from the history they are taught.
There is nothing to learn from it, because it
is not true.
XXXVI Small nations
The word ‘empires’ has been used in this
essay to signify nations which achieve the
status of great powers, or super-powers, in
the jargon of today—nations which have
dominated the international scene for two or
three centuries. At any given time, however,
there are also smaller states which are more
or less self-contained. Do these live the same
‘lives’ as the great nations, and pass through
the same phases?
It seems impossible to generalise on this
issue. In general, decadence is the outcome
of too long a period of wealth and power. If
the small country has not shared in the
wealth and power, it will not share in the
decadence.
XXXVII The emerging pattern
In spite of the endless variety and the
infinite complications of human life, a
general pattern does seem to emerge from
these considerations. It reveals many
successive empires covering some 3,000
years, as having followed similar stages of
The Fate of Empires
23
development and decline, and as having, to a
surprising degree, ‘lived’ lives of very similar
length.
The life-expectation of a great nation, it
appears, commences with a violent, and
usually unforeseen, outburst of energy, and
ends in a lowering of moral standards,
cynicism, pessimism and frivolity.
If the present writer were a millionaire, he
would try to establish in some university or
other a department dedicated solely to the
study of the rhythm of the rise and fall of
powerful nations throughout the world.
History goes back only some 3,000 years,
because before that period writing was not
sufficiently widespread to allow of the
survival of detailed records. But within that
period, the number of empires available for
study is very great.
At the commencement of this essay, the
names of eleven such empires were listed,
but these included only the Middle East and
the modern nations of the West. India, China
and Southern America were not included,
because the writer knows nothing about
them. A school founded to study the rise and
fall of empires would probably find at least
twenty-four great powers available for
dissection and analysis.
The task would not be an easy one, if
indeed the net were cast so wide as to cover
virtually all the world’s great nations in 3,000
years. The knowledge of language alone, to
enable detailed investigations to be pursued,
would present a formidable obstacle.
XXXVIII Would it help?
It is pleasing to imagine that, from such
studies, a regular life-pattern of nations
would emerge, including an analysis of the
various changes which ultimately lead to
decline, decadence and collapse. It is
tempting to assume that measures could be
adopted to forestall the disastrous effects of
excessive wealth and power, and thence of
subsequent decadence. Perhaps some means
could be devised to prevent the activist Age
of Conquests and Commerce deteriorating
into the Age of Intellect, producing endless
talking but no action.
It is tempting to think so. Perhaps if the
pattern of the rise and fall of nations were
regularly taught in schools, the general
public would come to realise the truth, and
would support policies to maintain the spirit
of duty and self-sacrifice, and to forestall the
accumulation of excessive wealth by one
nation, leading to the demoralisation of that
nation.
Could not the sense of duty and the
initiative needed to give rise to action be
retained parallel with intellectual development
and the discoveries of natural science?
The answer is doubtful, though we could
but try. The weaknesses of human nature,
however, are so obvious, that we cannot be
too confident of success. Men bursting with
courage, energy and self-confidence cannot
easily be restrained from subduing their
neighbours, and men who see the prospect of
wealth open to them will not readily be
prevented from pursuing it.
Perhaps it is not in the real interest of
humanity that they should be so prevented,
for it is in periods of wealth that art,
architecture, music, science and literature
make the greatest progress.
Moreover, as we have seen where great
empires are concerned, their establishment
may give rise to wars and tragedies, but their
periods of power often bring peace, security
and prosperity to vast areas of territory. Our
The Fate of Empires
24
knowledge and our experience (perhaps our
basic human intellects) are inadequate to
pronounce whether or not the rise and fall of
great nations is the best system for the best
of all possible worlds.
These doubts, however, need not prevent
us from attempting to acquire more
knowledge on the rise and fall of great
powers, or from endeavouring, in the light of
such knowledge, to improve the moral
quality of human life.
Perhaps, in fact, we may reach the
conclusion that the successive rise and fall of
great nations is inevitable and, indeed, a
system divinely ordained. But even this
would be an immense gain. For we should
know where we stand in relation to our
human brothers and sisters. In our present
state of mental chaos on the subject, we
divide ourselves into nations, parties or
communities and fight, hate and vilify one
another over developments which may
perhaps be divinely ordained and which
seem to us, if we take a broader view,
completely uncontrollable and inevitable. If
we could accept these great movements as
beyond our control, there would be no
excuse for our hating one another because of
them.
However varied, confusing and contradictory
the religious history of the world may
appear, the noblest and most spiritual of the
devotees of all religions seem to reach the
conclusion that love is the key to human life.
Any expansion of our knowledge which may
lead to a reduction in our unjustified hates is
therefore surely well worth while.
XXXIX Summary
As numerous points of interest have arisen
in the course of this essay, I close with a brief
summary, to refresh the reader’s mind.
(a) We do not learn from history because
our studies are brief and prejudiced.
(b) In a surprising manner, 250 years
emerges as the average length of national
greatness.
(c) This average has not varied for 3,000
years. Does it represent ten generations?
(d) The stages of the rise and fall of great
nations seem to be:
The Age of Pioneers (outburst)
The Age of Conquests
The Age of Commerce
The Age of Affluence
The Age of Intellect
The Age of Decadence.
(e) Decadence is marked by:
Defensiveness
Pessimism
Materialism
Frivolity
An influx of foreigners
The Welfare State
A weakening of religion.
(f) Decadence is due to:
Too long a period of wealth and power
Selfishness
Love of money
The loss of a sense of duty.
(g) The life histories of great states are
amazingly similar, and are due to internal
factors.
(h) Their falls are diverse, because they are
largely the result of external causes.
(i) History should be taught as the history
of the human race, though of course with
emphasis on the history of the student’s own
country.

[The Heartland Plan and the same section in The Albany Plan Re-Visited offer solution to some of these problems. Ex. the article creating a federal university from which the federal government must get its statistics and facts solves some of the problems listed above as does the Article on federal citizenship. Another example is the section that requires the death penalty for official corruption.

Along with this essay, should be read Chittum’s Civil War Two and Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed.]

August 25, 2017

Dr. Hanson’s response to Southern Poverty Law Center [c]

From An Angry Reader:

Angry Reader Southern Poverty Law Center:

Cf: (https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/22/american-freedom-alliance-event-blames-immigrants-california’s-destruction)

“They keynote speaker for the event was Victor Davis Hanson, a Hoover Institute (sic) fellow and author of Mexifornia, a book that romanticizes the California of old, when whites were a large majority of the state’s population. Davis Hanson (sic) talked about how in parts of California, you can go 10 miles in another direction and it ‘looks like you’re in a different country.’ Hanson also attacked California’s Democrats, saying:

We don’t want assimilation so we’re going to give you as much amnesty, sanctuary states, sanctuary cities, we’ll do whatever we can so you can remain tribal in your outlook. Your tribal racial and ethnic identity is essential, not irrelevant to your character.

Hanson also expounded upon the reconquista conspiracy theory promoted by anti-immigrant activists. It stems from the ‘Plan Espiritual de Aztlan,’ a document produced by MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) in the 1960s calling for Chicanos to reclaim land. It is not endorsed by any mainstream groups, but for nativists it serves as the genesis of a conspiracy theory claiming that Latinos want to take back American land for themselves.

Davis Hanson ended by saying, “The state is regressing into a Third-World country.” He also attacked undocumented immigrants, essentially claiming they are incapable of being law-abiding residents, stating, ‘When I came to the States, the first thing I did was break the law, so why would I follow the rules out of necessity now?’”

________________________
Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Southern Poverty Law Center,

A few preliminaries: Mexifornia, written nearly 15 years ago, was not a romance about “white” California, but a warning that if assimilation, intermarriage, and melting-pot integration continued to be caricatured and eroded, and if massive immigration continued to be illegal, non-diverse, and not based on ethnically blind meritocratic criteria, then one day California would be faced with ethnic polarization, given its various ethnic groups, large numbers of struggling newcomers without legality, English, or high school diplomas, and a state unable to meet its commitments to ensure first-rate public education, infrastructure, transportation, and safety for all its residents. I feel the book was prescient; if you disagree, find an argument instead of using the buzz word “white.”

You state that MEChA advocated “reclaiming” land for “Chicanos,” but then incoherently state that such a supposition is a “conspiracy theory claiming that Latinos want to take back American land for themselves.” Is it a fact or a “claim,” both or neither? And what are “mainstream groups,” given that MEChA for decades has had a sizable presence on most California and southwestern campuses and claims a number of prominent alumni.

When you write “essentially claiming” rather than quoting what I actually wrote in full, we know that “essentially” is a catalyst for more fiction to follow.

In general, I rarely have seen a puerile attack like this in which everything you have alleged is demonstrably false. Since there was an apparent video of my 30-minute speech on “Two Californias” (presented at a Los Angeles symposia on the crisis of California) about the inordinate wealth of the Pacific Coastal strip from La Jolla to Berkeley and the poverty of the state’s interior, you obviously choose not to quote from it accurately if much at all.

And it is easy to see why, since my argument did not serve your circular purposes of fabricating “hate” in turn to whip up hysterias in turn to raise money in turn to justify your comfortable existence in turn to fabricate more “hate.” In contrast, you found that reporting the truth—the lecture offered statistics on education, energy, health care, infrastructure, and taxes in suggesting that Californians are not receiving value for the inordinate taxes and regulations they endure, largely because of incompetent, one-party governance—would have been of utterly no value to your careerist and financial aims.

The lecture was not even on illegal immigration per se, but on the tripartite role of (a) Silicon Valley’s and coastal California’s vast wealth and (in the case of multibillion-dollar tech companies) corporate exemptions from traditional antitrust scrutiny, (b) the aggregate flight of nearly 4 million middle class Californians to no-tax or low-tax states, and (c) the aggregate effects of massive illegal immigration in which the traditional allegiance to melting pot assimilation, integration, and intermarriage has waned due to politics, sheer numbers, and illegality.

Let me detail your fabrications in the order you made them:

1) One truly can go 10 miles in one direction in California and see the radical change from affluence to dire poverty. And that abyss is, as I noted, because that 1/3 of all welfare recipients in the nation live in California, where 1/5 of the population lives below the poverty line, and a fourth of the residents were not born in the United States and in many cases do not have English facility or high school diplomas, critical in a competitive market economy.

I suggest the SPLC staff drive just 3 miles from Woodside or Atherton to Redwood City or East Palo Alto and see whether my assertion is flawed. The proposition rests, as I noted and you omitted, on the fact that California is both the wealthiest of states by a variety of measurements and also by some data the poorest. Or as I colloquially put it, California is a sort of weld of Massachusetts and Mississippi under single state governance.

I am writing this reply on an avenue in which there are numerous houses with inoperative trailers, shacks, and near lean-tos arranged around a single-family dwelling, compounds in which the poor live without proper zoning, in structures that do not meet building codes, and under conditions that would be empirically described as Third World.

Less than 4 miles away there are also 10,000 square-foot gated mansions. That dichotomy illustrates California culture, demography, and governance, in the medieval sense of two classes rather than the past three.

The contrast certainly does look like two different countries: again, in the sense that in the gated mansions English is spoken, there are all the accouterments of upward mobility, and gates keep others out; in the multifamily/trailer residences, Spanish only is spoken, residents are often here illegally, and poverty is endemic. The contrast reflects a vanishing middle class and a state politics designed to reward the connected hyper-wealthy and subsidize the poor and to ignore those in-between—which is why the latter may have fled in droves.

Your next assertion is a flat-out untruth: “Hanson also attacked California’s Democrats, saying: We don’t want assimilation so we’re going to give you as much amnesty, sanctuary states, sanctuary cities, we’ll do whatever we can so you can remain tribal in your outlook. Your tribal racial and ethnic identity is essential, not irrelevant to your character.”

I did not say what you are alleging, but made it very clear that the quote was a reflection of the mentality of the Democratic elite and the La Raza activist leadership. A simpleton in journalism can fathom that the collective “we” is not the person “I, Victor Hanson” but refers to progressive groups, as I carefully noted, who are not eager to see assimilation, integration, and intermarriage proceed in rapid fashion. Such a development might result in a fully integrated immigrant society (in the fashion of the 19th-century and early 20th-century trajectory of Italian-Americans), one that would be less helpful to Democratic tribal politics. Even with the quote out of context anyone can see through your childish effort to suggest the quote reflects my own sentiments rather than my views of the operating principles of progressive identity politics activists.

You allege: “Hanson also expounded upon the reconquistaconspiracy theory promoted by anti-immigrant activists. It stems from the “Plan Espiritual de Aztlan,” a document produced by MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) in the 1960s calling for Chicanos to reclaim land. It is not endorsed by any mainstream groups, but for nativists it serves as the genesis of a conspiracy theory claiming that Latinos want to take back American land for themselves.”

In fact, I did not discuss in detail Mexican nationals or Mexican-Americans seeking to “take back” land, nor did I even go into detail about the racist heritage of MEChA, which is becoming an embarrassment only because its racist sloganeering (e.g., “a bronze state for a bronze people” “everything for the race, nothing for the others”) was so egregious that it has been airbrushed off MEChA sites. What I did say was that La Raza was and is a racialist term (“the Race” [sc. Latin radix] and deliberately employed to resonate racial chauvinism—illustrative of an unfortunate effort to divide and polarize groups.

I added and you omitted that the 1960s rebirth of the term in popular usage was similar to Franco’s and Mussolini’s political use of Raza/Razza (Franco wrote a novel Raza), as a way of copy-catting Hitler’s racist use of the German Volk to denote race as the key criterion of citizenship and definition of one’s “essence.” Apparently, the National Council of La Raza (a key element of the Democratic Party coalition) was recently embarrassed into agreement. After the election of Donald Trump, it suddenly has changed its name to UnidosUS from the former “the race”, and that is a laudable improvement. (Note what Cesar Chavez once said about the La Raza movement: “Today it’s anti-gringo, tomorrow it will be anti-Negro. We had a stupid guy who just wanted to play politics with the union, and he began to whip up La Raza against the white volunteers, and even had some of the farm workers and the pickets and the organizers hung up on la raza.”)

What do you mean when you write “nativist”? Someone who objects to racist terminology, and supports melting-pot integration and assimilation—in contrast to ethnic bigots like those in MEChA and La Raza groups who insist that their race defines their personas to the exclusion of others? What an Orwellian mindset, in which integration is defined as nativism.

You end your slander by more untruths: “Davis Hanson ended by saying, ‘The state is regressing into a Third-World country.’ He also attacked undocumented immigrants, essentially claiming they are incapable of being law-abiding residents, stating, ‘When I came to the States, the first thing I did was break the law, so why would I follow the rules out of necessity now?’”

Would you quote from the transcript of the speech? If you would, you will see that I ended with a call for unity, adding that there had to be more integration between poor and rich, and the restoration of a middle class, given that the state cannot do well when there is such an abyss between classes and a shortage of revenue to address long neglected infrastructure.

I did not attack undocumented immigrants, but said that the restoration of law (such as the end of illegal sanctuary cities and the enforcement of existing immigration statutes) is essential, yet would be difficult when millions of immigrants have not just entered the country illegally, but have done so as their first choice when arriving at a new homeland—a decision that the host de facto unfortunately overlooks or perhaps even rewards. When one breaks the laws without consequences, it insidiously erodes all laws and chaos is the inevitable result.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been in the news recently as a recipient of millions of dollars of grants from large corporations and movie stars, so I am not denying that fictions like the present one are effective in more or less leveraging money through hysteria. Yet your methods are not justified by your ends; the former are reprehensible and the latter self-centered. A growing number of Americans are learning about your group and discovering that when it cannot uncover hate, it invents it—and finds the ensuing smears and slanders quite profitable, resulting ironically in short-term lucre, but in the long-term continued diminution of your reputation. For a fair account of the meeting and speech, see http://citizensjournal.us/afa-focuses-decline-ca/

Davis Hanson

[In various venues, I have had people use the SPLC as a source. It is not. As Dr. Hanson refutes its nonsense, I must point out to all who use it, that, like the ACLU, it is a Leftist agenda agency and not a reliable, non-biased, source.

This is especially directed toward those who criticize without doing extensive research, or at the least going beyond wikipedia, a notoriously inaccurate source.]

July 30, 2017

Trump, by Evan Sayet [c]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 12:28 am

July 14, 2017 by Evan Sayet

My Leftist friends (as well as many ardent #NeverTrumpers) constantly ask me if I’m not bothered by Donald Trump’s lack of decorum. They ask if I don’t think his tweets are “beneath the dignity of the office.” Here’s my answer:

We Right-thinking people have tried dignity. There could not have been a man of more quiet dignity than George W. Bush as he suffered the outrageous lies and politically motivated hatreds that undermined his presidency. We tried statesmanship. Could there be another human being on this earth who so desperately prized “collegiality” as John McCain? We tried propriety – has there been a nicer human being ever than Mitt Romney? And the results were always the same.

This is because, while we were playing by the rules of dignity, collegiality and propriety, the Left has been, for the past 60 years, engaged in a knife fight where the only rules are those of Saul Alinsky and the Chicago mob.

I don’t find anything “dignified,” “collegial” or “proper” about Barack Obama’s lying about what went down on the streets of Ferguson in order to ramp up racial hatreds because racial hatreds serve the Democratic Party. I don’t see anything “dignified” in lying about the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi and imprisoning an innocent filmmaker to cover your tracks. I don’t see anything “statesman-like” in weaponizing the IRS to be used to destroy your political opponents and any dissent. Yes, Obama was “articulate” and “polished” but in no way was he in the least bit “dignified,” “collegial” or “proper.”

The Left has been engaged in a war against America since the rise of the Children of the ‘60s. To them, it has been an all-out war where nothing is held sacred and nothing is seen as beyond the pale. It has been a war they’ve fought with violence, the threat of violence, demagoguery and lies from day one – the violent take-over of the universities – till today.

The problem is that, through these years, the Left has been the only side fighting this war. While the Left has been taking a knife to anyone who stands in their way, the Right has continued to act with dignity, collegiality and propriety.

With Donald Trump, this all has come to an end. Donald Trump is America’s first wartime president in the Culture War.

During wartime, things like “dignity” and “collegiality” simply aren’t the most essential qualities one looks for in their warriors. Ulysses Grant was a drunk whose behavior in peacetime might well have seen him drummed out of the Army for conduct unbecoming. Had Abraham Lincoln applied the peacetime rules of propriety and booted Grant, the Democrats might well still be holding their slaves today. Lincoln rightly recognized that, “I cannot spare this man. He fights.”

General George Patton was a vulgar-talking, son-of-a-bitch. In peacetime, this might have seen him stripped of rank. But, had Franklin Roosevelt applied the normal rules of decorum, then Hitler and the Socialists would barely be five decades into their thousand-year Reich.

Trump is fighting. And what’s particularly delicious is that, like Patton standing over the battlefield as his tanks obliterated Rommel’s, he’s shouting, “You magnificent bastards, I read your book!” That is just the icing on the cake, but it’s wonderful to see that not only is Trump fighting, he’s defeating the Left using their own tactics.

That book is Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals – a book so essential to the Liberals’ war against America that it is and was the playbook for the entire Obama administration and the subject of Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis. It is a book of such pure evil, that, just as the rest of us would dedicate our book to those we most love or those to whom we are most indebted, Alinsky dedicated his book to Lucifer.

Trump’s tweets may seem rash and unconsidered but, in reality, he is doing exactly what Alinsky suggested his followers do.

First, instead of going after “the fake media” – and they are so fake that they have literally gotten every single significant story of the past 60 years not just wrong, but diametrically opposed to the truth, from the Tet Offensive to Benghazi, to what really happened on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri – Trump isolated CNN. He made it personal. Then, just as Alinsky suggests, he employs ridicule which Alinsky described as “the most powerful weapon of all.”

Everyone gets that it’s not just CNN – in fact, in a world where Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof are people of influence and whose “reporting” is in no way significantly different than CNN’s – CNN is just a piker.

Most importantly, Trump’s tweets have put CNN in an untenable and unwinnable position. With Trump’s ability to go around them, they cannot simply stand pat. They need to respond. This leaves them with only two choices.

They can either “go high” (as Hillary would disingenuously declare of herself and the fake news would disingenuously report as the truth) and begin to honestly and accurately report the news or they can double-down on their usual tactics and hope to defeat Trump with twice their usual hysteria and demagoguery.

The problem for CNN (et al.) with the former is that, if they were to start honestly reporting the news, that would be the end of the Democratic Party they serve. It is nothing but the incessant use of fake news (read: propaganda) that keeps the Left alive.

Imagine, for example, if CNN had honestly and accurately reported then-candidate Barack Obama’s close ties to foreign terrorists (Rashid Khalidi), domestic terrorists (William Ayers), the mafia (Tony Rezko) or the true evils of his spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright’s, church.

Imagine if they had honestly and accurately conveyed the evils of the Obama administration’s weaponizing of the IRS to be used against their political opponents or his running of guns to the Mexican cartels or the truth about the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the Obama administration’s cover-up.

This makes “going high” a non-starter for CNN. This leaves them no other option but to ratchet up the fake news, conjuring up the next “nothing burger” and devoting 24 hours a day to hysterical rants about how it’s “worse than Nixon.”

This, obviously, is what CNN has chosen to do. The problem is that, as they become more and more hysterical, they become more and more obvious. Each new effort at even faker news than before and faker “outrage” only makes that much more clear to any objective observer that Trump is and always has been right about the fake news media.

And, by causing their hysteria, Trump has forced them into numerous, highly embarrassing and discrediting mistakes. Thus, in their desperation, they have lowered their standards even further and run with articles so clearly fake that, even with the liberal (lower case “l”) libel laws protecting the media, they’ve had to wholly retract and erase their stories repeatedly.

Their flailing at Trump has even seen them cross the line into criminality, with CNN using their vast corporate fortune to hunt down a private citizen for having made fun of them in an Internet meme. This threat to “dox” – release of personal information to encourage co-ideologists to visit violence upon him and his family — a political satirist was chilling in that it clearly wasn’t meant just for him. If it were, there would have been no reason for CNN to have made their “deal” with him public.

Instead, CNN – playing by “Chicago Rules” – was sending a message to any and all: dissent will not be tolerated.

This heavy-handed and hysterical response to a joke on the Internet has backfired on CNN, giving rise to only more righteous ridicule.

So, to my friends on the Left – and the #NeverTrumpers as well — do I wish we lived in a time when our president could be “collegial” and “dignified” and “proper”? Of course I do. These aren’t those times. This is war. And it’s a war that the Left has been fighting without opposition for the past 50 years.

So, say anything you want about this president – I get it, he can be vulgar, he can be crude, he can be undignified at times. I don’t care. I can’t spare this man. He fights.

[If you can find a copy, after reading this, read Thomas W. Chittum’s “Civil War II”.]

July 19, 2017

The Fifth American War, by Victor Hanson, [c]

The Fifth American War
July 18, 2017 11:05 am / Leave a Comment / victorhanson
by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

The country is coming apart, and the advocates of radical egalitarianism are winning.

The wars between Trump, the media, the deep state, and the progressive party — replete with charges and counter-charges of scandal, collusion, and corruption — are merely symptoms of a much larger fundamental and growing divide between Americans that is reaching a dangerous climax.

On four prior occasions in American history the country nearly split apart, as seemingly irreconcilable cultural, economic, political, social, geographical, and demographic fault lines opened a path to hatred and violence.

During the Jacksonian Revolution of the 1830s, factions nearly ripped the country apart over whether the East Coast Founders’ establishment of a half-century would relinquish its monopoly of political power to reflect the new demographic realties of an expanding frontier — and its populist champions often deemed unfit for self-governance. For the most part, the Jacksonians won.

Three decades later the nation divided over slavery, prompting the most lethal war in American history to end it and force the defeated Confederate southern states back into the Union.

The Great Depression, and the establishment’s inept responses to it, left a quarter of the country unemployed for nearly a decade — hungry and desperate to expand government even if it entailed curtailing liberty in a way never envisioned by the Founders. The result was eventually the redefinition of freedom as the right of the individual to have his daily needs guaranteed by the state.

In the 1960s, the hippie movement — fueled by furor over the Vietnam War, civil-rights protests, and environmental activism — turned holistic in a fashion rarely seen before. A quarter of the country went “hip,” grooming, dressing, talking, and acting in a way that reflected their disdain for the silent majority of “straight” or “irrelevant” traditional America. The hipsters lost the battle (most eventually cut their hair and outgrew their paisley tops to join the rat race) but won the war — as the universities, media, foundations, Hollywood, arts, and entertainment now echo the values of 1969 rather than those that preceded it.

Now we are engaged in yet a fifth revolutionary divide, similar to, but often unlike, prior upheavals. The consequences of globalization, the growth of the deep state, changing demographics, open borders, the rise of a geographic apartheid between blue and red states, and the institutionalization of a permanent coastal political and culture elite — and the reaction to all that — are tearing apart the country.

Despite its 21st-century veneer, the nature of the divide is often over ancient questions of politics and society.

The Deep State
Technological advances, the entrance of a billion Chinese into the global work force, and the huge growth in the administrative entitlement state have redefined material want. The poor today have access to appurtenances undreamed of just five decades ago by the upper middle classes: one or two dependable cars, big-screen televisions, designer sneakers and jeans, and an array of appliances from air conditioning to microwave ovens. The rub is not that a Kia has no stereo system but that it does not have the same model that’s in the rich man’s Lexus. Inequality does not mean starvation: Obesity is now a national epidemic among the nation’s poor; one in four Californians admitted for any reason to a hospital is found to suffer from diabetes or similar high-blood-sugar maladies due largely to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices.

In political terms, the conflict hinges on whether the powers of entrenched government will be used to ensure a rough equality of result — at the expense of personal liberty and free will. The old argument that a wealthy entrepreneurial class, if left free of burdensome and unnecessary government restrictions to create wealth, will enrich all Americans, is now largely discredited. Or rather it is stranger than that. The hyper wealthy — a Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, or Warren Buffett — by brilliant marketing and opportunistic politics are mostly immune from government audit, and from robber-baron and antitrust backlash. Instead, redistributive ire is aimed at the upper middle class, which lacks the influence and romance of the extremely wealthy and is shrinking because of higher taxes, ever-increasing regulations, and globalized trade.
It does not matter that the ossified European social model does not work and leads to collective decline in the standard of living. The world knows that from seeing the implosion of Venezuela and Cuba, or the gradual decline of the EU and the wreckage of its Mediterranean members, or the plight of blue states such as Illinois and California. Instead, it is the near-religious idea of egalitarianism that counts; on the global stage, it has all but won the war against liberty. We are all creatures of the Animal Farm barnyard now.

Indeed, if today’s student actually read Orwell’s short allegorical novel (perhaps unlikely because it was written by a white male heterosexual), he would miss the message and instead probably approve of the various machinations of the zealot pig Napoleon to do whatever he deemed necessary to end the old regime, even if it meant re-creating it under a new correct veneer.

The conservative effort to roll back the entitlement, bureaucratic, and redistributionist state has so far mostly failed. That today, coming off sequestration, we are on target to run up a $700 billion annual deficit, on top of a $20 trillion national debt, goes largely unnoticed. Eighteen trillion dollars in national debt later, Ronald Reagan’s idea of cutting taxes to “starve the beast’ of federal spending has been superseded by “gorge the beast” to ensure that taxes rise on the upper classes. To the degree that there is a residual war over entitlements, it is not over cutting back such unsustainable programs, but instead about modestly pruning the level of annual increases.

The government necessary to ensure such continued state borrowing and spending is now nearly autonomous and transcends politics — and is eager to use its formidable powers against any who threaten it.

Identity Politics
On a second front, there is a veritable civil war over race, ethnicity, gender, and identity. Massive immigration, the rise of opportunistic identity politics, and a new tribalism have replaced the old melting pot of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage with salad-bowl separatism. The only obstacle to the tribal state is that there may soon be too many victims with too many claims on too few oppressors.

There are too many incentives — from political spoils and university admissions, to government employment and popular cultural acceptance — to identify with one’s tribe rather than simply as an American.

The problems with such tribal fissuring are threefold. One, the rhetorical disdain for traditional majority culture and values operates in a landscape in which the critic adopts the tropes and lifestyles of all that he demonizes. From what traditions do the Claremont or Berkeley students believe their rights of protest derive? Where do they get their expectations of clean campus water or capital to drop out of the economy for four years of college? Was the technology behind the iPhone a result of a patriarchal, nativist, male culture — and does that therefore make the device tainted and unsuitable for use?

Second, if red-state, traditional America is constantly assaulted with various charges of –isms and —ologies, why would any foreigner wish to enter the United States, or upon entering live in such wretched places as red-state Arizona, Texas, Florida, or Utah? Is schizophrenia thus required: Concretely use and enjoy the legacies of a demonized culture while abstractly damning them?

Third, when tribalism supersedes the individual, then all criteria of merit, character, and ethics recede into identity: Race, gender, and ethnicity replace merit and we begin to have black NASA engineers, white nuclear-plant operators, or brown jet pilots rather than missiles, power, and flights that are overseen and operated by the most skilled among us. When a society operates on a tribal basis — we see it often in Africa and the Middle East — everything from tap water to IVs are a luxury.

In short, will America remain a multiracial nation united in one culture in which superficial physical appearance becomes largely irrelevant (and indeed one’s racial DNA pedigree soon becomes almost undefinable), or will it go the tribal route that ultimately leads to something like the Balkans, Rwanda, Iraq — or Evergreen State, Ferguson, and Middlebury?

Finally, there is a growing rejection of the founding principles of the United States, its traditional Christian-based values, and the old idea of American exceptionalism. Federalism and the idea of a republic, after all, do not necessarily lead to radical egalitarianism or a society of absolute equals. Yet the modern progressive mind is wedded to two principles: that 51 percent of the population at any given moment should have the final say in governance only if it reflects correct progressive principles; and if the population is “fooled” and votes incorrectly, then an elite in government, the courts, and the media will intervene to set in place what hoi polloi should have done to properly advance the correct agendas.

In practical terms, will universities still teach the inductive method and fact-based knowledge, or deductive social activism? Will our past be seen as noble and at times tragic, or melodramatically as exploitive? And will progressives abide by occasional political setbacks in elections, the courts, and popular referenda, or seek to subvert those institutions as unacceptable impediments to their radically egalitarian agendas?

So who is winning this fifth American conflict, and why?

Progressivism.
It has an insidious appeal to human nature, offering contexts and arguments for dependency — which is defined as the consequence of some sort of prior unethical exploitation (rather than chance, bad luck, or personal pathology, perhaps in addition to exploitation) and therefore deserving of proper recompense. Progressivism promises a transcendence over nature’s limitations through superior education, proper training, and correct reasoning, as if poverty, illness, and inequality were not innate to human nature but results of selfishness and ignorance and so rather easily remedied. It confuses technological progress with a credo that human nature itself evolves in predictably progressive ways, thereby supposedly making obsolete institutions and protocols (from the Constitution itself to ancient ideas such as deterrence) that were once time-honored.

Virtue-signaling among elites who are critical of the very protocols that led to their own success serves as a psychological mechanism to alleviate guilt about privilege. And when an elite deprecates its own culture, the ripple effects widen upon reaching the masses. The combination of market capitalism and personal freedom can enervate a population, misleading people into thinking that their bounty is unending and natural, and giving them the latitude for cynicism, skepticism, and nihilism about the sources of their privilege. In the West, a narcissism follows that oddly manifests itself in thinking that human sins are almost exclusively Westerners’ own.

These age-old observations often led to depressions among Western philosophers who grasped the Western paradox that the success of market capitalism and constitutional government might undermine the ancient virtues essential to their continuance.

In this latest arena of civil dissent, Donald Trump, the renegade liberal and most unlikely traditionalist, squares off against the elite that despises his very being not only for reasons of class and culture, but mostly for attempting to restore a traditional regime of citizenship, individualism, assimilation, territorial sovereignty, recognized borders, strong defense, deterrence abroad, and free-market capitalism.

In sum, behind the daily hysterias over collusions, recusals, obstructions, and nullifications, there is an ongoing, often vicious war over the very nature and future of Western culture in general and America in particular.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/449594/fifth-american-war-blue-state-vs-red-elites-vs-populists-egalitarianism-vs-liberty

[25 years behind the prophetic Thomas W. Chittum’ “Civil War II”. Frequently I recommend outside reading to Dr. Hanson’s columns.

1. Thomas W. Chittum; “Civil War II”;
2. Thomas Sowell; “The Vision of the Anointed”; &
3. William S. Klocek; “The Albany Plan Re-Visited”.

#3 offers a section for a complete reorganization of the Federal Government and a section, with underlying reasons as to why & how, on a new constitution. It also, for those recalcitrants opposed to a new constitution but willing to amend the current one, a section of amendments and even one of proposed legislation.]

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