America • Defense of the West • Germany • History • Hollywood • military • Movies • Post

Remembering the Patton Speech That Helped Win the War

World War II history is rich with some of the finest, most historically significant speeches of the 20th century. President Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech the day after the Pearl Harbor attacks; General Dwight Eisenhower’s ordering of the D-Day Normandy invasion; and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Never Surrender” address to Parliament’s House of Commons.

There was another, however: General George Patton’s speech to the Third Army—an address that I believe sits atop the greatest military speeches in American history.

Memorialized by George C. Scott in the opening scene of the 1970 film “Patton,” its eloquence was its imagery of brutality—its urgency in its promise that the soldiers were guaranteed to witness death in war.

The film featured a PG-13 rated version of the general’s original speech, given numerous times in the months leading up to D-Day. The speech, in its mostly original form, can be found here.

World War II officially ended in the Summer of 1945, but Europe was won Christmastime 1944. Speeches don’t win wars, but they are crucial to the morale of soldiers and their sense of duty. This singular, motivational oration embodied Patton’s strategic genius, as well as his unrelenting rejection of neutrality and excuse-making.

Words Into Action
Here are excerpts, as written for the biopic (toot-my-own-horn brag here: I can cite the speech verbatim, by memory):

I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.

Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooters, the fastest runners, big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.

This is the moment Patton links the American soldiers to our Revolutionary Army—whose efforts and sacrifices brought forth the greatest nation in world historyand he linked them, as well, to the other great American armies that came before World War II.  

. . . Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.

Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating.

As strong an individual personality as Patton was, he had an innate grasp of the truth that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. He knew that every man was responsible not only for himself but for all others in his unit.   

Now there’s another thing I want you to remember: I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We’re not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold onto him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the ass. We’re going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we’re going to go through him like crap through a goose.

Patton had earned the nickname “Old Blood and Guts,” because he produced more results in less time and with the fewest casualties of any other general, Allied or Axis, during the war, according to Patton biographer Alan Axelrod. As the general had once remarked, “nobody ever defended anything successfully; there is only attack and attack and attack some more.”

All right, now, you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel. Oh . . . I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere.

His men knew he would fight to his death, alongside them on the battlefield.

Winning the War
Nine days before Christmas 1944, the Wehrmacht launched a last-ditch military offensive, at the Battle of the Bulge, and it was effective, killing thousands and trapping another 6,000 in the area of Bastogne, Belgium.

Patton’s proposed campaign of leading the Third Army into Bastogne over the course of just 48 hours was met with looks of incredulity from his fellow generals and commanders. Patton never underestimated the Nazi’s will to win; the blitzkrieg of the Bulge was largely influenced by Germany’s desperation, and Patton understood that a desperate enemy was a dangerous enemy.

Patton had long respected the prowess of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, his contemporary of the Third Reich, and acknowledged that the Allies, severely battered and depleted from the Bulge, could still lose the war on the European front. Old Blood and Guts knew death or capture was guaranteed for the 6,000 Allied soldiers if he and his men didn’t arrive in time. Imagine the pressure Patton and his men must have felt; they faced uncertainty as to whether they could relieve, and if they didn’t relieve in time, they themselves faced certain death or capture. No Hollywood film can replicate the real-life—and understandable—fear those men must have felt.

But despite—or, maybe, in spite of—the apprehension and unpredictability, the general and our boys did it. They spent their Christmas holiday moving 100 miles across France, over two days, to relieve Bastogne—just as Patton had said would happen. It was the most ground covered in the shortest period of time up to that point in our military history.

The victory ensconced General Patton, in my humble opinion, as great an American as any who has ever lived. Could General Douglas MacArthur, who commanded the Southwest Pacific during Bastogne, or General George Marshall, who led operations in the Pacific and elsewhere throughout Europe, have led the Third Army to victory? Certainly. This moment, however, was Patton’s destiny, and his moment of redemption, since he had developed a reputation for lacking discipline, due to a 1943 incident in which he slapped and mocked shell-shocked Allied soldiers.

The Nazi armed forces were the most vicious and sophisticated our military had ever faced. Had the Bastogne relief occurred a day or two late—even, perhaps, an hour or two late—it is very possible that the Allied forces would have been forced into surrender. At that moment in our history, in the West’s history—in world history—the side that outfought the other side would reign supreme.

Defeat was never an option for Patton. I’ve never served in our military, and I only know war to be Hell from history and stories from veterans I know and admire. Conversely, though, that kind of Hell seems to conjure almost superhuman intrepidity within our fighting men and women. We Americans enjoy our many freedoms because of these heroes and heroines, and we owe it to all of them to fight to preserve the liberties they risked—and gave—their lives to defend.

Americans, as General Patton said, love to fight. And fight we will to maintain American greatness and exceptionalism.

Photo credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Elections • Foreign Policy • Germany • Immigration • Post

Auf Wiedersehen, Angela!

It seems every time European elites get a good laugh out of a presidential tweet, sooner rather than later, the joke is on them.

In June, President Trump, though without the caps-lock and employing just one exclamation mark, tweeted that “the people of Germany are turning against their leadership,” as Merkel’s open-borders policy smashed on the rocks of reality.  

President Trump continued. Making the most of Twitter’s ineffable decision to double the helping of drivel its inmates can lavish upon the rest of us, he tweeted: “Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

First, there was predictable outrage. Textbook. And then the faux-laughs. Against Merkel? Liberal Germany cried tears of rage at the Bad Orange Man.

But it turns out Trump was right—again. Merkel is off. Well, she is stepping down in 2021. And her decision to open arms to 1.5 million Syrian refugees is what killed her.

The final nail was Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) on Sunday flouncing to its worst showing in the Western state election of Hesse since 1966. Both the CDU and its coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), sunk 10 points since last time.

Just weeks ago, her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) got trounced in state parliament elections, dislodging its absolute and decades-long majority. Trump’s truculence turned out to be the truth.

It was once the sleepiest job in Europe. Germany, until recently, the bastion of liberal centrism. But Merkel’s decision to throw open the borders to 1.5 million people frayed the obsessive tolerance of German citizens, even leading to the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) forming the official opposition.

Trump in June read the public mood better than those busy screenshotting his hyperactive tweets for their friends to gawp at. He tweeted:

Merkel’s demise has been on the boil for some time. And no doubt, President Trump will paint the news as vindication of his tough immigration stance.

After all, immigration killed Merkel. Opening the door to 1.5 million refugees since 2015 turned out to be a colossal miscalculation and a lurid example populist parties of all stripes have used as a case study in what utopian policies look like in reality.

Indeed, Trump also said in July that Merkel was once “unbeatable,” proclaiming her a fallen “superstar” before soothsaying her current predicament.

Merkel’s departure plays into Trump’s hands. The thousands-strong caravans snaking from Central America toward the southern U.S. border provide the president with near-perfect optics for his tough immigration talk. His spiritual nemesis in Berlin is undone, albeit slowly, and there are one-and-a-half million reasons why. Trump has won.

And perhaps he will tweet himself giddy. Immigration, in Europe and the United States, is the issue. Immigration hardliners now control swathes of the continent—Italy, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary. Populists almost won in Sweden. The historically-noisome Front National scooped up one-third of the French vote. Immigration, no matter what skittish British commentators may claim, won Brexit.

Indeed, Merkel’s self-flagellation serves succor for what is billed as Trump’s tub-thumping immigration “hardline.” Well, it may be branded as such, but most Americans agree with the president’s immigration stance. And 75 percent of Republican voters recently told pollsters that illegal immigration is a “very important issue.”

Adding to that, immigration is the top concern of voters in every country in the European Union. It really is the immigration, stupid.

That’s why Democrats are terrified of the images of thousands of Central Americans inviting themselves to the southern border playing out on TV screens between now and the midterms—when uncontrolled immigration is front and center Democrats are clamped to a corpse.

Given the gift of Merkel’s malady, President Trump can now steer minds back toward the caravan. Indeed, U.S. officials announced Tuesday the deployment of 5,000 troops to the southern border. Barring a disaster no one of sound mind would welcome, the optics should fire Republicans over the midterms finish line as independents and moderates consider the idea of a nation with borders to be a sensible and necessary one.

Democrats, meanwhile, are doped up on the Merkel Malady, telling pollsters that illegal immigration was the least of their top 18 concerns for the country.

We can only guess what will happen when the Democrats’ blue wave turns into a risible dribble. They should take a quick look at Ms. Merkel.

Photo credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

America • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Europe • Germany • NATO • Post

NATO’s Challenge Is Germany, Not America

During the recent NATO summit meeting, a rumbustious Donald Trump tore off a thin scab of niceties to reveal a deep and old NATO wound—one that has predated Trump by nearly 30 years and goes back to the end of the Cold War.

In an era when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact are now ancient history, everyone praises NATO as “indispensable” and “essential” to Western solidarity and European security. But few feel any need to explain how and why that could still be so.

Does NATO still protect the West? Does it prevent destructive European feuding? Does it ensure the postwar global order of free trade, commerce, travel, and communications? And is NATO—or the United States and its leadership of NATO—the real reason there has not been a World War III or a return to global tribalism and chaos?

NATO’s post-Cold War expansion to 29 nations and to the border of Russia meant the alliance became more expansive at the very time the old existential Soviet threat disappeared. Larger membership tended to weaken common ties, even as common dangers disappeared.

The result was that the idea of NATO membership became more important to the countries that are part of it than the reality and responsibility of actual military readiness.

Polls show that in most NATO countries, the idea of fighting on behalf of another country receives scant public support. The notion that the Dutch would march into Estonia to save its capital, Tallinn, from Russia is a cruel joke.

NATO’s 21st-century problem is not the United States, which provides a large percentage of its wherewithal, but Germany. As the most populous and most affluent of European nations, Germany still insidiously dominates Europe as it has since its inception in 1871.

Berlin sends ultimatums to the indebted Southern European nations. Berlin alone tries to dictate immigration policy for the European Union. Berlin establishes the tough conditions under which the United Kingdom can exit the European Union. And when Berlin decides it will not pony up the promised 2 percent of GDP for its NATO contribution, other laggard countries follow its example. Only six of the 29 NATO members (other than the United States) so far have met their promised assessments.

Germany’s combination of affluence and military stinginess is surreal. Germany has piled up the largest trade surplus in the world at around $300 billion, including a trade surplus of some $64 billion with its military benefactor, the United States, yet it is poorly equipped in terms of tanks and fighter aircraft.

Ostensibly, NATO still protects Europe from Vladimir Putin’s Russia, just as it once kept the Soviet Red Army out of West Germany. But over the objections of its Baltic neighbors and the Ukraine, Germany just cut a gas pipeline deal with Russia—the purported threat for which its needs U.S.-subsidized security.

Stranger still is Germany’s growing animosity toward the United States. At the end of the Obama Administration, 57 percent of Germans expressed a positive view of America in a Pew poll. That figure dropped to 35 percent in the first year of the Trump Administration. A recent poll reveals that Germans see Putin’s Russia as more trustworthy than the United States.

Why is Germany the most anti-American of NATO members?

Germany started and lost two world wars—and was defeated due in part to the late entrance of the United States. The unification of Germany brought millions of East Germans into the west, many of them raised under a communist system that blamed America for the world’s ills.

When Russia will be providing more than half of Germany’s natural gas instead of threatening to fire tactical nuclear missiles at Berlin, the U.S. military is no longer deemed so important to German security.

Add up all these disparate realities and the real crisis of NATO becomes clearer. The alliance’s most affluent and dominant European member sets a pernicious example by failing to meet its alliance obligations.

Germany demands that the United States continue to be the largest funder of NATO and yet has an unfavorable view of America—and an increasingly favorable view of NATO’s supposed common threat, Russia.

Other fearful European NATO nations are used to being dominated by Germany and either keep quiet or follow its lead.

This is the NATO that Trump inherited and that he tried to shake up with his customary art-of-the-deal antics. Trump may be loud and uncouth, but his argument that NATO countries need to pay more money for their shared alliance’s self-defense is sound. If successful, it would lead to a stronger NATO.

In contrast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel sounds customarily professional and diplomatic as she continues to weaken the alliance and pursue German commercial and financial interests at the expense of fellow NATO members.


America • Americanism • China • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • Middle East • NATO • Post • Trade

Reciprocity Is the Method to Trump’s Madness

Critics of Donald Trump claim there is no rhyme or reason to his foreign policy. But if there is a consistency, it might be called reciprocity.

Trump tries to force other countries to treat the United States as it treats them. In “don’t tread on me” style, he also warns enemies that any aggressive act will be replied to in kind.

The underlying principle of Trump commercial reciprocity is that the United States is no longer powerful or wealthy enough to alone underwrite the security of the West. It can no longer assume sole enforcement of the rules and protocols of the postwar global order.

This year there have been none of the usual Iranian provocations—frequent during the Obama Administration—of harassing American ships in the Persian Gulf. Apparently, the Iranians now realize that anything they do to an American ship will be replied to with overwhelming force.

Ditto North Korea. After lots of threats from Kim Jong Un about using his new ballistic missiles against the United States, Trump warned that he would use America’s far greater arsenal to eliminate North Korea’s arsenal for good.

Trump is said to be undermining NATO by questioning its usefulness some 69 years after its founding. Yet unlike 1948, Germany is no longer down. The United States is always in. And Russia is hardly out, but instead cutting energy deals with the Europeans.

More importantly, most NATO countries have failed to keep their promises to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

Yet the vast majority of the 29 alliance members are far closer than the United States to the dangers of Middle East terrorism and supposed Russian bullying.

Why does Germany by design run up a $65 billion annual trade surplus with the United States? Why does such a wealthy country spend only 1.2 percent of its GDP on defense? And if Germany has entered into energy agreements with a supposedly dangerous Vladimir Putin, why does it still need to have its security subsidized by the American military?

Trump approaches NAFTA in the same reductionist way. The 24-year-old treaty was supposed to stabilize, if not equalize, all trade, immigration, and commerce between the three supposed North American allies.

It never quite happened that way. Unequal tariffs remained. Both Canada and Mexico have substantial trade surpluses with the United States. In Mexico’s case, it enjoys a $71 billion surplus, the largest of U.S. trading partners with the exception of China.

Canada never honored its NATO security commitment. It spends only 1 percent of its GDP on defense, rightly assuming that the U.S. will continue to underwrite its security.

During the lifetime of NAFTA, Mexico has encouraged millions of its citizens to enter the U.S. illegally. Mexico’s selfish immigration policy is designed to avoid internal reform, to earn some $30 billion in annual expatriate remittances, and to influence U.S. politics.

Yet after more than two decades of NAFTA, Mexico is more unstable than ever. Cartels run entire states. Murders are at a record high. Entire towns in southern Mexico have been denuded of their young males, who crossed the U.S. border illegally.

The United States runs a huge trade deficit with China. The red ink is predicated on Chinese dumping, patent and copyright infringement, and outright cheating. Beijing illegally occupies neutral islands in the South China Sea, militarizes them and bullies its neighbors.

All of the above has become the “normal” globalized world.

But in 2016, red-state America rebelled at the asymmetry. The other half of the country demonized the red-staters as protectionists, nativists, isolationists, populists, and nationalists.

However, if China, Europe, and other U.S. trading partners had simply followed global trading rules, there would have been no Trump pushback—and probably no Trump presidency at all.

Had NATO members and NAFTA partners just kept their commitments, and had Mexico not encouraged millions of its citizens to crash the U.S. border, there would now be little tension between allies.

Instead, what had become abnormal was branded the new normal of the postwar world.

Again, a rich and powerful United States was supposed to subsidize world trade, take in more immigrants than all the nations of the world combined, protect the West, and ensure safe global communications, travel, and commerce.

After 70 years, the effort had hollowed out the interior of America, creating two separate nations of coastal winners and heartland losers.

Trump’s entire foreign policy can be summed up as a demand for symmetry from all partners and allies, and tit-for-tat replies to would-be enemies.

Did Trump have to be so loud and often crude in his effort to bully America back to reciprocity?

Who knows?

But it seems impossible to imagine that globalist John McCain, internationalist Barack Obama or gentlemanly Mitt Romney would ever have called Europe, NATO, Mexico, and Canada to account, or warned Iran or North Korea that tit would be met by tat.


America • Book Reviews • Donald Trump • Europe • Germany • History • Post • self-government • statesmanship • Trump White House

The Great Junker: Bismarck’s Lessons for Today

We Germans fear God but otherwise nothing else in the world and that fear of God causes us to love peace and cultivate it.” — Otto von Bismarck, 1888

A review of Bismarck: A Life,  by Jonathan Steinberg (Oxford University Press, 592 pages, $21.95 [paper])

Bismarck: A Life, Jonathan Steinberg’s best-selling biography of the great 19th century statesman, is more than a full birth-to-death story. It delivers on a manageable scale the key events in the life of the unmanageably scaled Otto von Bismarck. Steinberg supports his narrative extensively with firsthand quotes, allowing the reader to judge for himself, even where Steinberg lays it on thick. Reading Bismarck, A Life one cannot miss the magnitude of the man’s genius at the “art of the possible.”

Steinberg strings his Bismarck on an unusual thread of the “sovereign self,” a concept Steinberg has invented. But this tends to conceal rather than reveal Bismarck. Steinberg’s “sovereign self” deemphasizes Bismarck the benefactor of a king, an emperor, and a people, and presents Bismarck as a flawed, selfish, megalomaniacal force of will.

Steinberg seems not to grasp what Bismarck did for Prussia and then Germany, and why it was such a high act of statesmanship. One suspects Steinberg cannot fully evaluate Germany of the 19th century because of what happened in Germany during the 20th.

Yet if the life of Bismarck is to be instructive in the 21st century, we ought to try to understand it for what it was.

A Tyrannical Personality?
No European statesman, other than perhaps the Tudor giant, Queen Elizabeth I, has so successfully unified his country and built its prosperity. Elizabeth’s Britain was in a near constant condition of aggression with Catholic Spain. And scholars do not blame Elizabeth for the English Civil War. Why then is Bismarck uniquely responsible for events occurring after his dismissal and death?

Steinberg’s approach uses Bismarck’s combative behavior to suggest Bismarck is best understood as a tyrannical personality. The reader cannot escape Steinberg’s suggestion—a rather conventional one—that Bismarck represents an anticipation of the German will-to-power madness of the 20th century. The charge, however, appears itself more like an act of will than a serious accusation, as the facts in Bismarck make their own case, res ipsa loquitor.

Rather than arrogating all power to himself, Bismarck answered to a sovereign king and emperor, as an American president answers to the sovereign American people. Bismarck ensured the subordination of the ministers and civil service, including himself, to the Hohenzollern monarchy, as he defended it against Napoleonic revolutionaries and later radical socialists. As he did so, Bismarck continually contended with parliamentary maneuvers in the Bundesrat and Reichstag and with the vicissitudes of public opinion (important even in an absolute Hohenzollern monarchy).

Bismarck did such a thorough job of loyally defending the rights of his sovereign that in 1890 a childish Wilhelm II could simply dismiss—without ceremony—the immensely popular Bismarck. Bismarck immediately and quietly accepted the Hohenzollern authority, though he continued to poke at Wilhelm II until his death.

Attributing to Bismarck German failures that came after 1890, in a particularly stinging chapter, Steinberg ties Bismarck to the rise of German anti-Semitism. But here again the facts Steinberg presents make another case. Bismarck appears to have treated his political enemies with equal aggression, regardless of whether they were Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish, and he treated his friends, while they lasted, equally solicitously.

Bismarck’s Jewish Problem
One reads with regret that Bismarck did on a variety of occasions disparage political enemies using anti-Semitic obloquies. And early in his career, Bismarck argued against Jewish participation in Junker dominated politics, blocking the sale of landed titles on the ground that the ruling structure of Prussia would become commoditized—and therefore disloyal—if it could be bought and sold.

This early political act reflected Bismarck’s dedication to the ancient Prussian system of little princes whose rights were microcosms of the monarch’s absolute power. The monarch rights were in turn a microcosm of Pietist notions of the divine. God’s authority over man was absolute, and direct, on account of the “priesthood of all believers,” derived from Luther’s Address to the Nobility of the German Nation (1520).

Yet Bismarck’s enormous intellect craved Jewish talent, alliance, and friendship. Bismarck’s Jewish personal banker, Gerson von Bleichroeder, was Bismarck’s political ally and personal intimate who aided Bismarck in digging Prussia out of the debts the impoverished state had amassed in the wars that precipitated German unification. It is clear that Bismarck, in addition to his friendship, understood Bleichroeder’s contribution as a Prussian and German citizen to the creation and success of the German Empire. Bleichroeder was ennobled in 1872.

Steinberg also acknowledges an event which he says “calls into question the depths of Bismarck’s anti-Semitism.” In response to the death of Ferdinand LaSalle, a Jewish socialist politician and the indirect founder of the German social democrats (SDP), Bismarck spontaneously remarked:

What he had was something that attracted me extraordinarily as a private person. He was one of the cleverest and most charming men whom I have known. He was ambitious in grand style … Lassalle was an energetic and witty man with whom it was very instructive to talk. Our conversations lasted for hours and I always regretted when they were over.

Steinberg relies on quotes from Richard Wagner (a ward of Bavaria’s intensely Catholic and possibly insane king, Ludwig II) to press his charge that Bismarck fostered rising German antisemitism in the late 19th century. But then later Steinberg casually observes that Bismarck did not care for or even listen to Wagner. An un-evolving Junker, Bismarck preferred Beethoven. Why smear Bismarck with Wagner’s hatred of Jews?

German antisemitism is revolting.

Steinberg strains too hard to lay this evil at Bismarck’s feet. The ennobling of Bleichroeder and a private remark may not be Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation but the thesis of Bismarck’s responsibility for German antisemitism is weak up to, if not past, the point of being unfair.

Patriotism vs. Vanity

But not all indictments of Bismarck are unfair. Bismarck lived as a mighty oak of German politics, and fault can be found there. Bismarck’s hyper-potent practical intellect cast a shadow over the new growth of other statesmen who might have succeeded him. Bismarck failed to anticipate an accumulating succession problem. Wilhelm I’s longevity taxed the monarchical structure and caused it to skip a beat at a critical moment. Frederick III, well prepared for the job, was on the throne for only a few months before succumbing to cancer, and the young and unteachable Wilhelm II ascended.

Steinberg makes too little of the pathological, deformed, and genuinely antisemitic runt, Wilhelm II, as the cause of the unravelling of the German Empire. The Hohenzollern stock had run dry and the super-state that Bismarck had assembled fell victim to the defect of hereditary monarchy: the arrival on the throne of “an ass for a lion.”

Wilhelm II’s vanity would not brook Bismarck’s towering character, and Bismarck admitted privately the certainty—given the new kaiser’s conceits—of his dismissal in 1890. What distinguished Bismarck as a statesman, however, is that he towered loyally—thinking always of the rights of his sovereign and his country. Bismarck offered the same loyalty to Wilhelm II he had offered Wilhelm I, and Wilhelm II viciously spurned it.

The virtue of Steinberg’s biography is, despite its theme of selfishness, in its fidelity to events it cannot help but show how Bismarck worked toward, and achieved, a singular political goal: A unified, Lutheran-dominated, Hohenzollern Germany, economically powerful, militarily secure, and most importantly, at peace.

Bismarck found Prussia, poor, weak, and threatened and made it rich, strong, and secure. His vision far exceeded that of any other single statesman of his age. Even the great Queen Victoria had both Gladstone and Disraeli. Two heads are better than one.

Bismarck characteristically saw events around corners. In a meeting in 1862, Bismarck foretold in detail to a shocked Disraeli how he intended to unify Germany. Bismarck had recognized the necessity of eliminating Austria from a German imperium, and of conflict with France as the unifying event. Bismarck played in the permutations of politics like no one else. Over eight years, three short wars, and great uncertainty, what Bismarck had foretold to Disraeli came to pass.

Following the birth of the German Empire, Bismarck turned his attention to a complex series of treaties with Russia and Austria. Bismarck forged domestic solidarity through legislative maneuvering that zigged and zagged from Kulturkampf to universal pension insurance. The tranquility Bismarck constructed lasted 44 years, including 24 years under Wilhelm II. This peace lasted arguably longer than any peace the United States has seen in its 242-year history. Yet Steinberg reflexively paints Bismarck a warmonger.

Perhaps this reflex can be traced to Disraeli. The English instinct—really policy—is to deem the top continental power, whether France or Germany, a threat. Disraeli remarked sourly on unification, saying the German “revolution” is war with France. For Disraeli, just as conservation and renewal of the French republic meant the violent export of revolution, the German “revolution” would be conserved and renewed with war.

Maybe so, maybe not. The “mystic chords of memory” of the German Empire would indeed include three wars that led to its founding. But it would also include Bismarck’s Pietist love of peace. And there was a practical matter to consider. Germany as the land in the middle could not afford war. Bismarck’s genius, aggressive as it was, worked sedulously to avoid it.

Juxtaposing Bismarck and Churchill
Wilhelm II threw away the fruit of Bismarck’s statesmanship, and blame for this should fall on the runt and not the great man. If Bismarck failed beyond neglecting to groom a successor, it was in that he bore responsibility for the German Empire’s written constitution. It had no default mode—no ambition to counter ambition—through which it could function without an enlightened statesman.

In fairness, however, German precision would not easily tolerate a constitution which muddled the origin of its sovereignty in the manner that English polysemy allows the English constitution to be a monarchy when seen from one side and a democracy when seen from the other. The characteristic exactness of Germans inclined against such duality, and the check on absolute monarchy of the Hohenzollerns was left to the character of the Hohenzollerns.

If Bismarck had built in checks and balances, such political mechanics would have had rely on the Junker class. But there lies a difficulty. The Junker ethos of absolute loyalty—which had served tiny Prussia so well in war—limited Junker taste for asserting rights against monarchical power. A statesman has to work with the matter he is given, and rigid loyalty is at once the virtue and vice of the German stuff.

America’s (and my own) favorite foreign statesman is Winston Churchill. Juxtaposing Churchill and Bismarck makes for an interesting contrast. Churchill is similar to Bismarck in political longevity, and in reputation for unusual and bellicose behavior. Churchill saved his country from perverted Prussian militarism that had fallen into the wrong hands, this time not through the defect of monarchy but through the defect of democracy: its tendency to collapse into demagogic tyranny.

Churchill saved Britain from the moral annihilation of capitulation to Hitler because Churchill, like Bismarck, saw around corners. Churchill spied the dimly lit path of chances leading away from physical annihilation, a path that would be well lit once Russia and the United States were in the war. Nonetheless, Churchill entered office in a Britain that was wealthy and powerful; when he left office Britain was poor and spiraling downward, a liquidating socialist state.

Bismarck, on the other hand, found Prussia weak and left it strong. In the 31 uninterrupted years during which Bismarck was in high office, Prussia grew into the greatest European power, maintaining peace, while other nations warred and took on the burdens of foreign imperialism. When Bismarck left office, the German Empire abroad—in contrast to the empires of England, France, and Russia—was immaterially small, having fewer than 6,000 colonists in East Africa.

The half-American Churchill themed his statesmanship on “great democracies” and Bismarck was devoted to a different—an unAmerican—sort of regime. That’s why Churchill is much easier for an American to appreciate. Still, is it intrinsically wrong to support the principle of a regime if it presents the best way forward to the safety and happiness of a people? “Prudence, indeed, will dictate . . .” reads the Declaration of Independence; there are conservative claims to preserve an imperfect and long-established form of government. Democracy is, as Churchill pointed out, the worst form of government, until you consider all the others.

Losing Sight of Peaceable Aims—And Learning Lessons
Bismarck worked within one of the others, which suited the inordinately loyal and conservative Junker class. Whether this was the right thing to do is a complex question that goes well beyond a “Tastes great! Less filling!” debate over democracy or monarchy, a discussion bound and gagged by filial devotion to the regime in which the discussion takes place, i.e., serious discussion in a particular regime type of another regime type is never fully permitted. Thus the answer to the question “Was Bismarck right in his support of an absolute Hohenzollern monarchy?” is, like for so many things, “It depends.”

Bismarck opposed revolutionaries and socialists and supported the monarchy because of the advantages of the latter for Prussia and for Germany, including an ability to respond to threats from East and West and the character of the Prussian and German people. With that peace, domestic and foreign, secured Germany became the best educated and in arts, science, and technology the most sophisticated country in the world. Germany from 1870 until World War I lived well, to use the Aristotelian description of the object of statesmanship.

But the monarchy failed. It lost sight of Bismarck’s peaceable aims, instigated a pointless naval rivalry with Britain, ventured abroad, went to war and collapsed thoroughly, despite having fought the entire war on foreign soil and almost never suffering greater losses in battle than did its enemies.

With an American form of government things might have been different. But that would have required flexible, practically minded Americans and the favorable American geopolitical situation. Perhaps this is why the following quote is often attributed to Bismarck: “There is a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.”

Bismarck’s manipulations of the sovereign Hohenzollern household and Reichstag politics, and the piratical way he sometimes did it, remind one of our current politics, substituting for a vacillating sovereign monarch the many minds of a sovereign people, including a mind to abdicate their sovereignty. The tweets, the feints with the public and legislature, the contests of wills with individuals and the press, and the political inconsistencies remind one vaguely of Bismarck’s incessant maneuvering, his insistence in a rule-oriented, Kantian society of playing chess as if all sixty-four squares were unoccupied.

Bismarck had a way of at once hating and loving and being hated and loved. One thing the loyal Bismarck hated most was any rebuke from the throne. It cut him to the core of his faithfully monarchical character. And as a practical matter, Bismarck knew if he could not control the kaiser, he could not implement coherent policy for his country. The kaiser half-hated Bismarck because his better half, Empress Augusta, fully hated Bismarck. Crown Prince Frederick William did not like Bismarck because bien pensant attitudes increasingly demanded gradual accommodation of liberalism as the right side of History.

So Bismarck maneuvered intrusively within the Hohenzollern family to get what he needed for the German Empire. The family despised the divisiveness until they loved the results. The American public—which stands in the position of sovereign in revolutionary America—may well end up feeling the same way about Donald Trump.

America • Defense of the West • EU • Europe • Germany • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • Progressivism • The Culture

Ms. Merkel’s Malady: Migration

Germans like to apologize. During a brief trip to Munich last year, tensions between locals and newly arrived migrants often flared into fizzing commotions of swinging fists, splatting saliva, and the kind of primal chest-beating one cravenly enjoys from the safety of a Barcalounger and in high-definition on a screen, but rarely relishes up close and personal.

These little flare-ups were often followed by an apology from one of the bystanders. With misty eyes, they would insist with pure conviction that such violent incursions were rare. Yet the mea culpas always seemed artificial—almost rehearsed.

That’s not to judge an entire country on the witness of a few days. Anyone having visited Germany will remark on the conviviality of its people. Their dehydrated sense of humor. And their seeming genetic need to apologize for their part in the great staining of Western, and indeed, human history.

That stain is why Angela Merkel has opened the door to more than 1.5 million refugees since 2015. That stain is why Merkel is clinging to what was the sleepiest job in Europe.

Merkel’s Götterdämmerung means her 13-year tenure could end just months after securing, albeit desperately, her fourth term. Such a grandiloquent virtue-signal also led to the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) gaining 13 percent of the vote before forming the official opposition. In Germany, this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

But she clings on. An uncharacteristic spat with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer over the power to send back border-bestriding migrants already registered in other European Union states, dissolved into a belligerent simmer. Merkel now has two weeks to regroup.

The skirmish has rumbled the decades-old alliance between Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), led by Seehofer. Without his support, Merkel’s threadbare coalition will fall apart.

More pressing is October’s Bavarian elections, polling of which suggests the CSU could lose its majority, with defectors heading to the immigration hardliners of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The alleged murder of a 14-year-old German girl at the hands of an Iraqi refugee has only turned up the burners.

Across the continent, the immigration issue plays kingmaker. Populists now helm Italy, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Not to mention the historically toxic Front National winning a third of the French vote, and Geert Wilders making big gains in liberal Holland. And don’t forget Brexit.

Adding to that, immigration, and terrorism, are now the top two concerns of voters in every country in the European Union.

What Border Blowback?
So when President Trump defended his zero-tolerance border stance in a tweet-attack on Angela Merkel this week, it is fair to say he had a point. Despite the relentlessly negative optics, this week’s controversy has no doubt played to the president’s favor.

Think of it. After luxuriating in their confected outrage, Democrats are now sobering up and having to hangover through an immigration debate thrust front and center. Their demands that the president “do something” are somewhat blunted after they refused to pitch in.

Trump gets that. Far from the “Katrina moment” media soothsayers have been predicting since he first rode down that escalator, the president has again played politics with surgical precision, deftly stretching the tensile strain to maximum, drawing Democrats into a fight they cannot win.  

After all, the president repeatedly said that he didn’t want families separated. He also said the United States isn’t a refugee camp—and the majority agrees. Having neutered the issue with an executive order, it’s advantage Trump.  

Democrats would rather keep it all schtum. And with good reason. A recent poll found 72 percent of Americans want legal immigration slashed.

Of course, the vast majority of Americans opposed the now-scotched policy of parent-child separation. The motivation to send one’s children trekking into a sandy searing heat could thaw the coldest heart. But “desperate” would be a charitable adjective.

Thousands of parents deem this journey one of necessity, and more importantly—reward.  President Obama’s 2012 decision to halt deportations of minor-aged illegals doubled (40,000 a year) the number arriving the next year as the incentive beamed above the Rio Grande twilight.   

Under President Trump, numbers taking the risk collapsed until word got around that tough rhetoric didn’t translate into action. But Trump isn’t Obama, so the longstanding reality of southern border chaos found a new film of enmity.   

Open Borders Would Be Catastrophic
If immigration policy is to be effective, it must—at a minimum—deter those who fancy their chances of bypassing America’s glutinous legal immigration system. After all, who doesn’t want to live in the United States of America?   

If the door were declared open, effectively infinite numbers would pass through its jamb. The result,  quite literally, would be devastating. Amidst the flak, Trump kept nailing this point.

Such a notion, however corrosive to cruel reality, animates Democrats and fills them with glee. Why beslime oneself with the rubes of the Rust Belt when new voters streaming across the border can be puttied into party lifers, with their own dependency-cage to boot?   

Images of distraught children in “cages” don’t sit well with anyone. But this ruthless truth is not new. Such chaos festering on the southern U.S. border has been ignored by both Republicans and Democrats since the 1990s. The former are happy to connive with their donors, and the latter happy to intrigue their evaporating base. One counts the votes, the other weighs the greenbacks.   

It would have been no different if Hillary Clinton was president. Yet, those “cages” would be described as “comfort enclosures,” if the media bothered at all.  Alas, Democratic tears would not well so indulgently if those arrivals were ready-made Republicans.

I suspect Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is privately disappointed this febrile saga was cut short by President Trump. Indeed, Democrats wouldn’t put their hands to a Senate measure to end this latest outrage because the self-indulgent optics is what they really care about.

Much like their March rejection of the president’s offer to triple the number of DACA recipients given amnesty, it turns out that action matters little. Syrupy sentimentality matters more.

Having abandoned the Bills and Betties of Fishtown, Democrats are held hostage by their open-borders radical base. Bedraggled with flawed fantasies of an emerging Democratic majority, they have no choice but to embrace a position crushing the larynx of their European cousins.  

That’s a lesson from which Democrats have learned less than zero. In Europe, the immigration issue decides who wins what. With 58 percent of Americans recently admitting illegal immigration worried them either a “great deal” or a “fair amount,” Democrats have shambled into a minefield.  

Perhaps it is too late for them to turn back. But, if they want to know where they’re headed, they should ask Angela Merkel. She’s driving.

2016 Election • America • civic culture/friendship • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Elections • EU • Europe • Germany • History • Immigration • Law and Order • military • NATO • political philosophy • Post • self-government • The Culture • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

The Trans-Atlantic Class Struggle

At the recent G7 summit, President Trump differed with the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Canada on a host of issues. But the real reason why he and the leaders of longtime allied countries treated one another as enemies is that they belong to socio-political classes engaged in a cold war.

Since World War II, a remarkably uniform ruling class has grown throughout Western Europe as well as in the United States and Canada. It now occupies government bureaucracies, the media, education, big business, and international institutions as well as traditional political parties. Rebellious voters are besieging that class on both sides of the Atlantic. Prime Ministers Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, and Justin Trudeau represent that class. Their political forces have experienced narrow electoral escapes.

President Donald Trump and Italy’s newly installed PM Giuseppe Conte represent rebellious voters who have brought wholesale rejection of that class to their countries’ top office. Within these countries, the old ruling class refuses to accept electoral defeat. In waging this resistance, they find solidarity with their homologues from the Bering Straits to the Oder. What happened at the G7 was one instance of that struggle.

Herewith, an explanation of this dynamic.

As the size of the Western world’s economy has grown nearly nine-fold, the size of government more than doubled. By the hiring, regulations, contracts, and contacts through which they have steered trillions of dollars—even more successfully than they might have done through laws—the people in charge of Western governments have shaped their societies according to their preferences, foremost of which has been to accommodate and advance people like themselves.

In Europe and in America, as more and more activities, educational, commercial, etc. have come under government’s aegis, the boundary between public and private has faded. Already in his 1960 farewell, President Dwight Eisenhower thought it necessary to warn that connection to government was superseding even criteria of scientific truth.

In Europe even more than in America, politicians of the right and of the left gradually have grown into co-managers of a complex that is the writ-large version of themselves. These rulers’ principal feature is social, intellectual, and moral contempt for the ruled, national boundaries notwithstanding. A German bureaucrat or big business executive is likelier to think better of a Briton or an American in a similar position than of a fellow citizen of a station he views as inferior. The ruling class’s censorious identity and attitude is especially lethal to its leftist parties, which had relied on the votes of humble people.

In recent memory, Western societies (European far more than American) were divided into economic classes. But today, the growth of government and the effective merging of traditional parties has divided them all equally into the trans-nationally favored “ins” and the deplored “outs.”

Different party and electoral systems notwithstanding, revolt and resistance have followed parallel courses throughout the West. America’s looser system saw the first revolts: Barry Goldwater’s 1964 call for “a choice, not an echo” and George Wallace’s 1968 taunt that “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference” between the Republican and Democratic parties. Except for Ronald Reagan, he was right. Europe’s first attempt at revolt happened in Italy in 1994. A petitioned referendum had killed the traditional parties. But, led by Silvio Berlusconi, mainstream politicians’ common socio-political culture reasserted itself. By 2008 however, the ruling class’s handling of the financial crisis and of mass illegal migration, along with its dismissal of traditional cultural concerns, definitively alienated it from the voters on both sides of the Atlantic and spurred them to find ways of saying NO.

In the U.S. voters gave Republicans big majorities in House and Senate as well as in most state governments, while letting them know that they were on short leashes. In 2016 they pulled the leash, defied both parties’ establishments, the media, etc. and elected Donald Trump because he was the most undeniably anti-establishment candidate out there.

In Europe, almost contemporaneously, the British people defied the same class and voted to leave the European Union. In France the establishment candidate in the presidential elections’ first round, Macron, got less than one percent of the vote more than Marine Le Pen, against whom all its forces were directed. In Germany, the members of Merkel’ coalition were reduced to historic lows. In all cases, voters’ distrust for the establishment has continued to rise. In Italy, where collusion between traditional right and left had thwarted election results, the five-star party got 32% on the slogan “vaffanculo,” and the Center-Right Alliance, led by the Northern League got 37%. They formed the government that sent Giuseppe Conte to the G-7 meeting, where he found himself on the same side as Donald Trump.

Tangential to our discussion of the G-7 but essential to our general point is that the countries of Eastern Europe—principally, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic—have voted out of office their local versions of the Euro-American ruling class for the same reasons that class is being opposed throughout the West: their regulations, emanating from the EU,  deprive the people of self government and do more harm than good, their cultural influences rob the people of their past while, their patronage of Third World migrants robs the people of a future. The ruling class’s resistance to the Eastern countries’ electoral choices differs in the tools but is essentially the same as what it deploys against those who voted for Brexit, for Trump, in Italy’s latest election, and those who, soon, might throw out Mrs. Merkel and others like her.

That resistance refuses to acknowledge that “the people” have really rejected the ruling class. Rejecting them for any rational principle, they say, is impossible. Voters were deceived. Maybe by the Russians. Certainly by appeals to the worst of sentiments by the worst of people. Hence this rejection violates democracy, liberal principles, and the rule of law. We who are the guardians of all the above cannot and will not accept this. We who hold positions of authority  will not recognize these election results as legitimate, and will treat those elected as usurpers.The rule of law is rule by institutions. We control them, and will use them to deny the usurpers’ legitimacy.

We predict that attempts to reject us will have harsh consequences, and we will do our best to mete out those consequences. If the usurpers (by which, remember, they mean the majority of the people) try to unseat us, we will charge despotism, and try to convince the voters they made a mistake. We recognize that the voters are not qualified to judge us, and that it is problematic for us to denigrate them while asking for their votes. But we rely on our dominance of the media and state institutions to square this circle by intimidating first the people whom the voters elect, and then the voters themselves.

All of the above is why Donald Trump’s dismissive attitude toward May, Macron, Merkel, and Trudeau at the G-7 meeting frightened them far more than his vague references to tariffs. He and Mr. Conte, not being intimidated, thus encouraged their publics—and the British, French, German, and Canadian as well—to further disrespect the trans-Atlantic ruling class.

Photo credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Asia • China • Donald Trump • Economy • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Post • The Media • Trade

Trump is Right: G7 Needs a Wake-Up Call on Trade

The recent meeting of the G7 leaders in La Malbaie, Quebec ended dramatically, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau harshly criticizing U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and threatening to retaliate. President Trump then instructed U.S. negotiators not to sign the communique that group members issued at the conclusion of the summit.

Predictably, global elitists have reacted with the usual horror, and expressed their customary disdain for Trump. According to the New York Times, we are witnessing a “slow-rolling collapse” of our “fragile alliances.” Trump is frivolously up-ending the global order, we are told, and alienating countries that traditionally have been our closest friends and partners. The talking heads may have backed off on their threats of apocalyptic “trade wars” (perhaps because strong economic growth rates and the ongoing buoyancy of the stock market make their predictions of doom seem laughable), but they are still clutching at the idea that we are witnessing a “fundamental” shift in the prestige and influence of the United States, and a steady worsening of our relationships with almost all civilized countries. There is even talk that the G7 has become the “G6+1” as America goes it alone.

The problem is these arguments are entirely self-serving, insofar as the global elite always chafes at the effrontery of populists like President Trump, and it invariably seeks to defend its own privileges and prerogatives by labeling all criticism of the established international economic order “protectionist” or “isolationist.” In fact, seldom do the elitists even bother to address the substantive complaints made by Trump (and others like him) about the unfairness of existing trade dealsthey simply wag their collective finger at anyone boorish enough to question the present regime of “free trade.”

Trading relationships should be susceptible to criticism and revision, however, and when the people of a sovereign state vote to empower a new leader who embodies such criticism and reformist zeal, his election should have consequences. The elite talks as if the vicissitudes of something as shabby as democracy should be divorced from our sacred trade agreements. Nonsense!

Turns out, G7 members are targeting their retaliatory tariffs against U.S. industries and enterprises concentrated in states that voted for Donald Trump. In other words, they seek to manipulate democracy itself and foster political headaches for those who dare to question the world order. So much for Russians trying to influence our elections. In reality, we have more to worry about from the French and the Canadians! This is simply outrageous, and it ought to raise the hackles of any American patriot.

Doing a Service
The idea that President Trump is doing permanent damage to our relations with our traditional allies flies in the face of the mountain of evidence that Trump has formed productive, respectful working relationships with numerous world leaders, from President Emmanuel Macron of France to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Moreover, we should keep in mind that our ties with other powerful, wealthy nations are always troubled by tensions and disagreements, and, in the post-World War II era as a whole, many of these differences of opinion have been far more serious and dangerous than the current spat over trade barriers. Lest we forget, Messrs. Trump and Trudeau are duking it out largely over the price of milk. It seems unlikely that U.S.-Canada relations will be scarred permanently by so trivial a dispute.

Lastly, the critique of Trump’s performance at the G7 summit is misplaced because Trump is actually doing both the American people and the citizens of all the G7 nations a great service: he is drawing attention to the deficiencies of past trade agreements—deficiencies that have in many cases cost jobs, shuttered factories, and abetted many a populist backlash against elitist economic manipulation. Trump does so not because he wishes to curtail trade, but in order to build it on a sounder basis. Trump has made it abundantly clear that he supports free trade, but not biased trade deals that require openness on the part of some and allow tariff and non-tariff barriers for others.

How About Real Free Trade?
The truth is that the leaders of the international economic order have long lived a lie: they pantomime unfailing devotion to “free trade,” while at the same time overtly and covertly carving out exceptions for their preferred industries. The result is a half-hearted form of free trade that rewards sly negotiation and punishes naïve idealism. As Trump suggests, all too often it is the United States that has been the most naïve, accepting a trading regime that imposes massive trade deficits and costs millions of jobs.

In 2014, the United States had a $142 billion trade deficit with the countries of the European Union, and a $35 billion deficit with Canada. Essentially no one believes that this is because American companies can’t compete with their overseas rivals—it is instead manipulative, predatory trade practices that explain the imbalance. Why, then, should the United States not try to re-balance this equation in its own interests?

More broadly, though, will it not benefit all the nations concerned if we find a new formula for trade that limits job losses and de-industrialization, and that finds favor with voters anxious about their economic futures?

To achieve such a trading rapprochement, the United States even should be willing to make concessions of its own. After all, we too are sometimes guilty of using subsidies and non-tariff barriers to insulate our industries from foreign competition. If G7 countries believe their own rhetoric about free trade, surely they will be willing to meet us halfway and cooperate in the elimination of surviving trade barriers . . . unless, that is, they prefer to thumb their noses at Donald Trump on principle. Some principle, though!

The Choice Before the Globalists
In the end, for seeking the amelioration of a broken trading system, Trump should not be seen as an enemy of the established order, but rather as its would-be savior. His suggestion to his fellow leaders in Quebec that ideally he would like to see the elimination of all tariffs throughout the G7 economies is a testament to his dedication to the principle of free trade, and his belief in the transformative power of capitalist competition and development. The fact that Trump is clear-eyed about the pressing need for reform in our trading relationships makes him a realist, yes, but not the protectionist boogeyman that the mainstream media, and its international fellow-travelers, portray.

The truth is that the global economic elite faces a choice: take Trump (and the tens of millions of voters he represents) seriously, and repair and refit the damaged infrastructure of “free trade,” or mock and ignore him, ensuring that the wave of economic resentment and protectionist sentiment that seemingly has been cresting for years now will build into a true tsunami.

In that case, the global bigwigs may someday look back and say, “Donald Trump? He was the least of our problems.”

Photo credit: China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Economy • Germany • History • political philosophy • Post • taxes • The Left • Trade

Karl Marx, Free Trader

What do David Ricardo, Ben Shapiro, and Karl Marx have in common? They’re all free traders.

No, this is not a tongue-in-cheek jab designed to smear Ricardo or Marx. I’m serious. Karl Marx—the father of Communism, and intellectual progenitor of the horror-show that is postmodern relativism—was a free trader. Why?

Marx believed that international free trade, or perhaps more accurately, Ricardian economic globalization, would pave the way for a glorious proletarian revolution. Specifically, Marx thought that free trade would increase wealth inequality and reduce wages for the majority of people, and that this tension inevitably would lead to conflict.

While I hate to admit it, Marx is broadly right on this point. International free trade has indeed increased wealth inequality and reduced wages for the majority of Americans. In fact, the median American household was richer in the 1980s than today (better technology aside). Part of this is explained by the recent influx of low-wage immigrants and decreasing household sizes—but even so, globalization remains the single largest contributing factor.

Likewise, Marx was correct that increasing inequality degrades social cohesion, setting the stage for violence and revolution. As it turns out, people are not hyper-rational automatons like economists assume: jealousy is real, and most people would rather lose money than see someone else get rich relative to them, even if they would themselves get (slightly) richer.

A Tale of Two Speeches
The primary historical documents showing that Marx supported international free trade are two renderings of a speech he delivered to the Democratic Association of Brussels in 1848—ironically, the “Year of Revolutions.” Although the two versions make basically the same point, they are distinct enough to warrant separate investigations.

The first rendering was published in German by Joseph Weydemeyer, a friend of Marx and Friedrich Engels. This version is probably the more historically accurate and is traditionally appended to The Poverty of Philosophy, which was first published in 1885.

After speaking at length about the injustices of capitalism (to be expected), Marx turns to the question of free trade. He argues in favor of international free trade because he believes it will exacerbate the “antagonism between industrial capitalists and wage workers.” This antagonism (manifested in growing economic inequality) will hasten the worker’s revolution and the final installation of a communist utopia.

Basically, Marx thinks things must get worse before they get better—and free trade will make them worse.

This is consistent with Marx’s teleological (goal-oriented) understanding of history. Marx sees history as a series of clashes between the rich and poor, and each clash brings us closer to the end of history—a communist utopia where such distinctions are erased. For example, ancient Greco-Roman slavery, medieval feudalism, and modern capitalism are all just different versions of this underlying conflict, and each is a necessary step towards Communism. For Marx, history is not simply a chain of causality dangling in empty space: it’s a bridge to a known destination, and this bridge is built by revolution. This teleology is why Marxists are so keen to sow discord whenever possible—conflict is a means to an end.

But it’s not just about economics. Marx sums up his case for free trade with the following passage:

. . .in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade systems hastens social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.

The key phrase here is “breaks up old nationalities.” Remember, Marx does not see Communism as simply an economic system—it’s an entirely new social, political, and economic order that must be wrought on a global scale. Communism is all or nothing. Thus, nationalism is a major roadblock because it unifies and divides people on a dimension other than wealth. In the end, there can be no proletarian revolution unless people see themselves as proletariats—not as Englishmen or Americans—first.

On the whole, this speech reveals that Marx supports global free trade for two reasons. First, by increasing inequality is sows the seeds of revolution. Second, economic integration undermines nationalism and replaces it with a global (proletarian) culture.

Flesh on the Bone
The second version of Marx’s speech on trade (this time from 1847) was published by his friend and patron Engels in The Northern Star, a British journal. What makes this (otherwise inferior) version of the speech interesting is that it contains a direct refutation of David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage.

The theory of comparative advantage states that countries should trade things they are relatively good at making in exchange for things they relatively bad at making—even if they are better at making all things in absolute terms. This ensures that labor is divided efficiently, and thus the maximum number of things are made. While comparative advantage sounds good on paper, the theory (like so many other academic speculations) collapses when applied to the real world.

Marx’s refutation turns Ricardo against himself. To begin, Marx assumes that comparative advantage works as Ricardo describes. Next, he states, “labour is a commodity as well as any other commodity.” That is, the price of labor is subject to the law of supply and demand—just like the price of apples or oil. Finally, Marx puts two-and-two together:

We accept everything that has been said of the advantages of Free Trade. The powers of production will increase, the tax imposed upon the country by protective duties will disappear, all commodities will be sold at a cheaper price. And what, again, says Ricardo? “That labour being equally a commodity, will equally sell at a cheaper price”—that you will have it for very little money indeed, just as you will have pepper and salt.

Essentially: if free trade decreases the price of goods, it will also decrease the price of labor. But if this is true, then who actually benefits from free trade? After all, costs are always measured relative to income—if the price of bread halves, but so does your wage, you’re no better off than if nothing changed.

To his credit, Ricardo was actually aware of this problem and proposed that capital immobility would prevent the hypothesized collapse of labor prices. However, in today’s world (and, to some degree, Marx’s), capital is mobile, and therefore comparative advantage doesn’t work. This is one of the rare occasions that Marx was right.

A Hill to Die On
Milton Friedman and Karl Marx both support free trade but for very different reasons. In his book Free to Choose, Friedman argues vociferously that free trade is the key to enriching everyone. Meanwhile, Marx supports free trade for precisely the opposite reason: free trade impoverishes people so badly that they’d rather fight and die in a bloody revolution than live with its consequences.

Who’s right?

As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. There is no doubt that America has benefited from elements of economic globalization. For example, everyone likes buying fresh strawberries year-round. Likewise, many American industries undoubtedly profit from higher trade volumes—primarily American exporters and financial markets.

The problem is that not everyone benefits. In fact, the vast majority of Americans have seen their wages stagnate—real median wages actually peaked in 1973—and their quality of life deteriorate (better technology aside). Likewise, large swaths of the nation have been turned into ruined, rusting husks, a consequence of deindustrialization. Millions of Americans are chronically unemployed, and millions more have turned to drugs, crime, and suicide.

Free trade is to blame. Or more specifically, Ricardian economic globalization and its ugly stepchild, offshoring. Both the economic logic and historical data bear this out.

If America does not soon redress its trade imbalances, things will only get worse for the common man—inequality will continue to increase, and nations will continue to grow ever more economically (and thus legally) integrated. Do we really want to put the rest of Marx’s thesis to the test?

Photo credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Defense of the West • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Immigration • Middle East • Post • statesmanship • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

For European Action on Iran, Look Beyond Berlin

Mainstream views of European politics very rarely look past the Franco-German motor. President Trump’s verdict on the European Union as “basically a vehicle for Germany” accepts this common view among Western policymakers. But a resurgent European periphery offers Trump’s administration a chance to reshape the power dynamic in Brussels to Washington’s advantage.

Major foreign policy positions are set at the European Council, where the foreign ministers of the 28 member states meet under articles 21-46 of the Treaty of the European Union to decide what their common position will be. Though this high-level decision-making committee usually requires a unanimous consensus, provisions exist for a majority of countries (15 out of 28) or a qualified (two-thirds) majority of the population of Europe—voting shares representing about 300 million of Europe’s roughly 500 million citizens—to call the shots. Faced with a strong enough bloc supporting their ally in Washington, it is unlikely that even the strongest holdouts will isolate themselves against the majority.

Certain green shoots of this budding consensus have already come to the fore. Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar of the ruling center-right party penned an op-ed calling for unified Western action on Iran. NATO stalwarts in Northern and Eastern Europe are leading insurgencies against the German-led consensus on various issues would relish the chance to rack up points on the board in this new era of European politics.

And then there is Italy, an aircraft-carrier wielding a G7 economy with 60 million European citizens maligned by Brussels on migration, finance, and sovereignty over the last decade. Having just elected a throng of insurgent populist parties who have promised to coalesce under an anti-federalist “dream team,” the natural leader (and target of lobbying by the United States) emerges: Rome.

After the 2008 financial crisis, emergency procedures were enacted at the federal level, like a rule for maximum deficit spending. These reforms were mainly aimed at restructuring the public sectors of profligate southern European countries, Italy especially, given the systemic importance of their economy. Ideologically reflecting the governing German Christian Democrats’ conservative fiscal policy, the rising star of Merkel’s leadership put down roots. Germany was expected to play a new role: leader of Europe. There is no reason to expect Berlin to hold this baton forever.

As Europe moved from the financial crisis to more traditional foreign policy concerns, the role chafed. Instability of the eastern border (Ukraine), managing massive flows of refugees, and replacing the Italian government with a Brussels-appointed technocracy were met with timidity in Berlin. Chancellor Merkel’s prevalence has waned as the war of attrition between her and the hardline factions within her party forced her to renege on her own positions.

Indeed, the story of the last decade in Europe can largely be told in terms of Berlin and Rome. Idealistic Brussels bureaucrats, having secured assurances that the migrants wouldn’t be turned back, hoped to house every refugee in border countries like Italy, Greece and Malta. They were thwarted when Berlusconi threatened to hand out Italian passports to every arrival, fully aware they’d be on their way to Northern Europe within hours. Berlusconi himself would end up forced out by Brussels during the height of Merkel’s power—but can now legally be the prime minister again, an ominous development for European federalists well aware that he’s been keeping grudges.

Eventually, Italy signed a bilateral deal with Libya, a slap in the face to the whole European project. Multilateralism was supposed to offer better solutions than unilateral or bilateral action. Yet after almost a decade of multilateral failure to deal with the migrant flows from Libya, Rome solved the problem by itself, a damning indictment of the EU’s claims to legitimacy.

The main caucus arguing against the White House position on the Iran deal is the powerful Franco-German business sector, thirstily looking at the Iranian market. Given the strong links between the White House and insurgent leaders in Europe, outmaneuvering one constituency in one European country should not be too challenging. The White House’s strategy to unify the allies against Tehran runs through capitals like Rome, Madrid, Warsaw, Vienna, Copenhagen and The Hague.

As National Security Adviser John Bolton outlined, nobody should have been surprised by President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal, least of all Berlin and Paris. The notion that a major campaign promise could be put to rest with a quick bit of diplomatic legwork by the Europeans belies a self-righteous presumption that should be put to rest.

Given that Berlin is on the verge of joining #TheResistance, it may be no bad thing for transatlantic relations, in the long run, to give them a black eye on Iran before things get worse.

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Economy • Elections • EU • Europe • Germany • Immigration • Political Parties • Post • self-government

‘Vaffanculo!’ What Americans Can Learn from Italy’s Election

Italian populists, whose slogan suggests that their opponents to go and fornicate elsewhere, are set to form a government with the Mediterranean edition of President Trump. Liberals the world over should be bawling into their Himalayan goat saliva smoothies anytime now.

After months of wrangling, Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement, whose “vaffanculo!” war cry suggests they’re more than a bit miffed by sclerotic Italian politics, is set to congeal with Matteo Salvini’s nationalist-conservative Lega, lighting tinder beneath Rome’s famously cosy politic and causing more heartburn for the European Union.

Establishment commentators have called the Left-Right populist marriage a “nightmare scenario.”

It’s all rather lamentable, if you’re of the persuasion convinced each day of the inevitable return to “normality” when the ruling class decided what’s best for itself, and its special-interest friends and told everybody else to “vaffanculo!”

If Five Star and Lega reach a deal, Italy would be the first Western European country with an unabashed populist government, following Austria’s rightward turn late last year with a conservative-nationalist taking the helm.

The two parties are reported to be working through the final details, with it yet unclear who will become prime minister, although smarter money is heading toward Lega’s Salvinithe kind of Trump stand-in who country club Republicans would have little problem getting behind.

Italy’s Big Shift
A strange union indeed, but the two parties are united on the key issues. Italians, having swept away the handiwork of their last four unelected prime ministers, are demanding an end to streams of African and Middle Eastern migrants arriving mainly from the Libyan route, and for their new suitors to fight back against punishing EU budget rules along with the Euro currency itself—the introduction of which sparked almost 20 years of economic stagnation.

Italy, after all, is a petri dish of elite mismanagement. And it serves as a perfect example of what happens when those who insist their lettered credentials bestow upon them the right to rule without regard for those over whom they rule.

You know the kind. The unfashionable, deplorable, racist and intellectually dense. Those who cannot grasp the finer points of Markets Uber Alles.

What on earth has happened? Well, the populist rage of 2016 has swelled across Great Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Austria, and now Italy. Rather than dissolve comfortably, as willed by political commentators, the dirty bomb of Brexit now infects the continent’s fourth-largest economy.

The Italians can hardly be blamed. Since 2000, the economy has demonstrated the guile of an emphysemic sloth, with virtually no growth worth mentioning since. Some economists, treading carefully, have rightly called the period a depression. Corruption plays a part, tooItaly is on par with Romania in that dubious honor.

Of course, what ails the Italians is not dissimilar to what large chunks of the United States are experiencing, as traditional manufacturing is hammered by cheaper overseas competitors. Those who’d finally called time on this monstrous reality deserted their center-left champions Partito Democratico and pulled the lever for Salvini, or Five Star. The trend continues across Europe and the United States, with traditional left parties deserting working-class voters for their metropolitan base.

Both parties know the recipe for the invigorating hell-broth derided by anti-democratic types on both the Right and the Left as “populism.”  By and large, the same message resounds and clatters liberal ears. If a party is strong on immigration, skeptical of elite bromidesespecially on tradeand doesn’t call them stupid, they’ll lend them a vote.

Reasons for Concern
What should be most concerning to the liberal-minded is the depth of Italy’s populist fervor. Five Star is a strange brew of left-wing and anarchic policies dreamt up by its tens of thousands of members. Lega takes on a more traditional conservatism, yet is skeptical of big business and elite consensus.

What should worry the European Union, and its slavish followers, is this coalition’s strident opposition to mass immigration, the beggarly Euro currency, and the European project itself. Italy, after all, is the second most indebted nation in the EU, after Greece, which Angela Merkel forced into financial servitude a few years back.

Not that Italian voters worried much about that. The rub of populism is that it is . . . popular. Italy hasn’t been stormed by fascists, no matter how the New York Times tries to paint that picture.

Indeed, polls in Italy, and across Europe, show strong support for immigration controls, and a preference for country-first policies. A survey late last year found that 60 percent of Italians wanted tough border restrictionsin line with most polls across Europe, and Great Britain, where immigration won Brexit.

Like much of Europe, the pro-establishment liberalssoi-disant citizens of nowherehave been mangled into lameness, much like their American cheerleaders pom-pomming a mythical blue wave that might not blot a side of A4 paper.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the arrogance lubricating the moving parts of the liberal Zeppelin hovering over Europe and the American coasts. Every day, we lesser-types are assured that the populist wave is ebbing, that “normality” is to be restored—despite supporting evidence.

Alas, the fawning of President Macron following his fake-populist win in France last year was heralded as the beginning of the end for voters endowed with the temerity to break ranks from those who know better. But the squall rages on, drowning elite consensus with it.

Perhaps President Trump could adopt a similar slogan to “vaffanculo!” for his 2020 campaign. Then again, his salt-mining tweets are more than enough to chew on.

Americanism • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Germany • Greatness Agenda • Intelligence Community • Middle East • military • North Korea • Post • Russia • The Media • Trump White House

Is Trump Now Bad Cop or Good Cop?

During his first 15 months as president, Donald Trump has postured as the bad cop.

He railed about NATO members welching on their promised contributions to the alliance. Trump rhetorically reduced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to “short and fat” and “rocket man.” He ordered the dropping of a huge bomb on the Taliban and twice hit Syrian chemical weapons sites. He talked of trade wars and hitting back at China.

Through all the bombast and follow-ups, Trump’s supposedly more sober and judicious appointees—especially former National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary James Mattis—played good cops against the outnumbered lone-wolf Trump.

This script was well known from the days of Richard Nixon and his national security adviser and then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. Nixon often postured as if he were eager to bomb the North Vietnamese to smithereens, to go to Dr. Strangelove levels to stand down the Soviets, or to unleash Israel to do whatever it took to defeat its enemies.

Then Kissinger was sent over to reassure both troubled allies and tense enemies. He pleaded for modest concessions to ward off what might be far worse. He confided to leaders that Nixon was a madman who terrified Kissinger as much as he did the world abroad.

The net effect was to gain compromises and advantages that otherwise would have been impossible.

Remember how in the old cop movies, arrested suspects were worn out and scared by unpredictable and brutal police interrogators? Once softened up, they were then handed over to make their confessions to a new shift of kindly detectives who brought out the good-cop gifts of cigarettes, coffee, and donuts while they badmouthed their colleagues’ harsh interrogation methods.

No one knows whether these simplistic stereotypes are even half true in the Trump administration. But what is certain is that new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, along with strengthened U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, are more likely to question the status quo and to take some risks in restoring U.S. strategic deterrence.

Will Trump now reverse roles and become the good cop?

Instead of worrying the Europeans, frightening the North Koreans, and assailing the Russians and Chinese, will he more calmly express his fears that he can scarcely control the righteous anger of his new foreign policy team?

There might be lots of advantages for a new good-cop Trump, compared with his past bad-cop role.

First, playing the skeptic with foreign interventions puts him more in tune with his swing-state, blue-collar supporters. Remember that Trump ran on avoiding entangling overseas interventions. Now, he can emphasize that role as he winks and nods to Pompeo, Bolton, and Haley to ratchet up the pressure as he publicly tries to calm them down.

Second, Trump’s art-of-the-deal style has been to play the mediator who claims that there must be some way to find common ground between two adversaries. As a good cop, he can say to the Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and others, “Let’s make a deal so I don’t have to call in the tough guys, who are starting to scare me as much as they scare you.”

Third, Trump has a special affinity for Mattis. But in the past, Mattis was stereotyped as a good cop trying to talk Trump out of straight-arming NATO allies or walking away from past U.S. deals. Now, however, Trump can join Mattis in a good cop role, as the two pose abroad as unified voices of caution who want agreements rather than confrontations.

Even in role-playing. it is wise to have Mattis and Trump on the same side. One reason Trump has a special affinity for Mattis is that his caution and reluctance to intervene abroad fit Trump’s own campaign sloganeering.

There was always a paradox with Trump’s Jacksonian foreign policy. How was he to restore deterrence abroad without another costly intervention? How does he bomb ISIS into oblivion without worrying about the innocent refugees living among the ashes and an eventual return of ISIS infiltrators?

Trump now can outsource his lone-wolf hawkishness to new hard-liners Bolton and Pompeo, and remind enemies that his art-of-the-deal comprising is their last chance at an agreement.

In sum, the tough reputations of the highly regarded Pompeo and Bolton now allow Trump to be what he always was—a dealmaker.


Photo credit: Ron Sachs (Pool)/Getty Images

America • Americanism • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • EU • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Middle East • NATO • Post • Russia • the Presidency • Trade

Trump Gives Merkel Some Tough Love

On the heels of the near love fest between French President Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump, the White House hosted a meeting with a rather frigid German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump publicly (and appropriately) lambasted Germany for its unwillingness to live up to its NATO commitments. The president also beautifully ripped into Merkel for the massive trade deficit between the United States and the European Union.

Trump was right and Merkel knew it.

Germany is a great country. Since losing two world wars and then surviving as a bifurcated frontline state in the Cold War, Germany has risen to be the dominant power in Europe. In fact, today, the European Union essentially is the German Union. After its disastrous experience in the 20th century, Germany opted to trade military might for economic preeminence.  Today, Germany possesses the fifth strongest economy in the world, with a gross domestic product of more than $3 trillion. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, “In Germany, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD $33,652” which is higher than the OECD average (America’s is slightly higher at $44,049).

Oh, and the German people rarely have to concern themselves with the messy business of national defense. This has gone on for decades at our expense.

And that’s a big part of the problem. Judging from Germany’s actions since the end of the Cold War, they certainly do seek dominance in Europe. Unfortunately, they still wish to be viewed by Washington, D.C. (as they have been up till now) as the helpless ward of the United States. Germany calculated that it was a very simple tradeoff: they rely on America’s military to defend them and the money that the German republic saves is then channeled into their welfare state.

This must end.

For all of her globalist rhetoric, Merkel is one of the stingiest practitioners of classical geopolitics in the modern age. For instance, in case the Trump Administration missed it, the recent Franco-American state visit (chock full of fawning rhetoric, awkward kisses, and the classic French slap at the end) was not what it appeared to be. Despite possessing the most advanced, nuclear-armed military in continental Europe, France is deeply indebted to Germany. Also, France forms part of an axis of anti-American European resistance, which includes Germany and, yes, Russia. It has existed in some form since the 1990s, but solidified over these countries’ opposition to the Iraq War of 2003.

Despite its military power, France’s turgid economy makes it the weakest of the three members of this European axis of resistance. Macron came to the United States not out of friendship to the United States but as Merkel’s errand boy. The new European order is easy to understand: the French military is subordinated to German economic dominance, and both are dependent (or were) on cheap Russian energy.

Germany needs the United States to maintain its commitment to the pathetic Iran nuclear deal that the Obama Administration crafted in 2015 (as does France and much of the rest of Europe). All of these countries are deeply committed to trade with Iran. If the United States were to withdraw from the deal, the Europeans would take a significant economic hit. Given the anemic economic situation in Europe, countries like Germany and France need every boost they can get. When it became clear that the Trump Administration was averse to recertifying the Iran nuclear agreement, Macron went to Congress and lambasted the American president. The French left in a huff, and a few days thereafter, the Teutonic Merkel came to Washington to badger the president.

But Merkel’s brinkmanship didn’t work. If anything, it had the opposite of the intended effect.

President Trump knows that the status quo has to change. We have to start giving our allies some tough love so that they stand on their own and give us relief for a change. What Trump did in his meeting with Merkel was necessary. No, he did not kill NATO, as his critics insist. Instead, he reinvigorated it by insisting NATO become a more European endeavor (in other words, a more German and French-powered alliance). Trump made clear his intention to protect American interests—and taxpayer dollars—with at least as much zeal as Merkel and Macron protect their interests and money.

Going back to the 1990s, French and German policymakers have sought to create a world where there were many powers to rein in America’s perceived “hyperpuissance.” Well, they have may have finally succeeded in crafting that multipolar world.

Be careful what you wish for, Frau.

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Photo credit:  by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Defense of the West • Europe • Free Speech • Germany • History • Poetry • Post • Russia • The Culture • the family • The Media

The Music Maids

I know an elderly gentleman in San Antonio who, though he has spent decades working in America as a surveyor and cartographer, has never lost his Russian accent. In 1941, his chances of living a long and happy life were very slim, but here he is, an American paterfamilias. His is a war story, as Oliver North would say, that deserves to be told.

He grew up in a small city in southwestern Russia and was still a boy when the Nazis invaded. He says his town welcomed the German army in the traditional Russian manner, with bread and salt, for the people hoped its arrival would mean the end of the miseries they had suffered under the Bolsheviks. But they soon learned otherwise.

My friend’s wartime ordeal began right after the German occupation did, when his father came home with a very worried look on his face. Asked what was the matter, the man told his family that he and the other town officials had been summoned to a meeting with the German commander, who told them, “There has been a lot of talk here about how we have come as liberators. Let me clear that up. We are not here to liberate you. We are your conquerors, and you will do exactly what you are told, or you will be liquidated!”

I had learned from history books how the Nazis cut their own throats in Russia, throwing away the potential support of the common people who were sick of Stalin’s oppression, but I never knew how self-aware, how deliberate, this Teutonic version of hara-kiri was. I wonder if, in retrospect, German war veterans have ever kicked themselves for scorning to be liberators, scorning to be like the GIs who were showered with hugs and kisses from ecstatic French girls while marching through Paris.

Of course, had they been seeking such love from their neighbors, they wouldn’t have invaded Russia to begin with, or Poland, or Czechoslovakia, either. The Nazis were just not in the liberation business. They couldn’t help being their own worst enemy. My San Antonio friend—whose father managed to get the family away from danger, first into one of the Axis-aligned Slavic countries outside Russia and then out to the West as the victorious Red Army swept over the rubble—was lucky to escape with his life from the cataclysm the Nazis brought upon themselves and on all of Europe.

From Civilization to Savagery via Darwin and Nietzsche
One thing that has long puzzled me is how the Germans, who were such avid music lovers, could ever have set themselves up as superior to the Russians, who had produced 
Glinka,Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, or superior to the Jews, who had produced Mendelssohn and Mahler and had adorned Europe with an array of maestros who would flee to America: Otto Klemperer to Los Angeles, Eugene Ormandy to Philadelphia, George Szell to Cleveland, Bruno Walter to New York, Chicago, NBC and Columbia. The Germans’ loss was our gain.

In much of the Western world since the mid-19th century, it has been a custom to open a wedding ceremony with Wagner’s bridal chorus (“Here Comes the Bride”) and close it with Mendelssohn’s wedding march. Both songs were used at the wedding of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter to a Prussian prince in 1858. Not so in Naziland. Wagner was more than OK, but Mendelssohn was verboten. In fact, according to Maria Trapp’s memoirs, overtly Christian music (almost all of Bach, for instance) was frowned upon, too.

So the Nazis loved conquest more than music. But where did they get this mania to rule the world? Not from Hitler. Germany had already caught the conquest bug when he was still a lowly corporal. They got it from Nietzsche, who got it from Charles Darwin.

What most of us know about the controversy surrounding Darwin comes through the lens of “Inherit the Wind,” a fictionalized depiction of the Scopes “monkey trial” that, as anyone who has read Edward J. Larson’s Pulitzer-winning study Summer for the Gods knows, is a very cracked lens indeed. The 1925 Scopes trial wasn’t about monkeys at all, and the Darwin critic William Jennings Bryan was far from the ignorant, vindictive buffoon portrayed in the movie.

According to biographer Robert W. Cherny, Bryan based his beef with Darwin on “the concept of the survival of the fittest, ‘the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak,’ referring to it as ‘the law of hate.’ For Bryan, Christian love was the law by which the human race had progressed and developed.”

Professor Cherny writes further that “another factor in Bryan’s increasing antagonism toward evolution derived from his conviction that it had laid ‘the foundation for the bloodiest war in history.’ Darwinism, he thought, had produced Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings, in which Bryan discerned ‘a defense, made in advance, of all the cruelties and atrocities practiced by the militarists of Germany.’”

Bryan got that last point from two books: The Science of Power, in which philosopher Benjamin Kidd examined Darwin’s influence on Nietzsche, and Headquarters Nights, in which (as Larson tells us) “the renowned Stanford University zoologist Vernon Kellogg, who went to Europe as a peace worker, recounted his conversations with German military leaders. ‘Natural selection based on violent and fatal competitive struggle is the gospel of the German intellectuals,’ he reported, and served as their justification ‘why, for the good of the world, there should be this war.’ ”

Even with the Great War over, Bryan held that “survival of the fittest” was driving society “into a life-and-death struggle from which sympathy and the spirit of brotherhood are eliminated. It is transforming the industrial world into a slaughterhouse.”

That “slaughterhouse” warning was given before tens of millions of people died in Europe and Asia at the hands of regimes whose “scientific,” “survival of the fittest” mentality left no room for the Christian love Bryan held dear.

A Musical Revival
The good news is that in some corners of the world at least, we seem to be coming out of it. And there is a musical witness to that revival.

Let’s turn back to Russia, and to the point of this whole essay. For seven years now some young women calling themselves Beloe Zlato (White Gold) have been setting hearts a-flutter across the Internet. The picture above shows them performing Russian folk songs in front of an icon of Czar Nicholas II. (Though a poor ruler, Nicholas is known to have been a good-hearted man and devout Christian. He was canonized along with his family by the Russian Orthodox church for facing death at the hands of the Bolsheviks in a Christ-like manner.)

The Beloe Zlato videos have been viewed millions of times and have drawn thousands of admiring comments. If you scan the comments, you’ll find the girls have evoked expressions of “sympathy and the spirit of brotherhood” from all over Europe—including Germany—as well as from other places including Israel, India, China, Latin America, and, of course, the United States. Many of the U.S. comments have a bit of a leer to them, running along the lines of “Oh, baby, you can collude with me any time!” One guy wrote: “This is our enemy? Damn, I surrender!!!” But most of the comments, worldwide, are simple appreciations of the beauty of the music and the happiness and simplicity of its presentation.

Without question, the Beloe Zlato singers are goodwill ambassadors for their country. One commenter even praised Vladimir Putin on account of them. (That man obviously has never heard Putin slaughtering “Blueberry Hill.”)

“Music has charms” and all that, but it’s also true that music can stir the martial spirit. Scottish clans marched into battle with bagpipes in the lead. Nazi radio announced every Wehrmacht triumph by first playing the dramatic climax of Liszt’s “Les Preludes.” Americans geared up to whip the Axis on both sides of the world to the tunes of George Gershwin, Glenn Miller, and other Swing-era greats. I think especially of the 1964 film Zulu, about the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift, in which Zulu warriors turn directly from a musically resplendent mass wedding to a brutal struggle against British troops, a fight in which the opposing sides end up singing to each other amid the carnage.

Some of the Beloe Zlato comments lament the fact that folk songs, and the love of heritage and tradition that goes with them, don’t hold as much sway in the commenter’s own country as they seem to do in Russia. Many urge the Russians to keep their tradition alive, and not become corrupted like everyone else. One American commenter complimented the Russian girls on their lack of twerking, another on their lack of tattoos. But we Americans have kept our own folk music alive, if just barely. In 2000, the Coen brothers devoted a hit movie to it. And other countries are no lost cause, either.

The Zulu musical tradition, which was so impressive in that 1964 battle epic, lives on in groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and, after a little cultural appropriation and Tin Pan Alley tinkering, in the worldwide popularity of a Top-40 ditty called “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” And the style of singing that gave birth to that tune—a style described by music historian Mark Steyn as “a high-voiced lead over four-part bass-heavy harmony”—lives on not only in South Africa but in America as well. It is the essence of doo-wop, an immensely appealing musical genre which will lighten people’s hearts long after today’s “hip hop” has been forgotten.

In 1914, soldiers of England, France, and Germany sang carols together during a widespread Christmas truce only a few months into the Great War. It didn’t do much to hold back the tide of blood engulfing Europe, and it lives in memory only as a bittersweet glimpse of what might have been. But in 1958, in the middle of the Cold War, America’s Van Cliburn kindled a little “sympathy and the spirit of brotherhood” between two nuclear-armed adversaries by playing Tchaikovsky in Moscow. Did this respite from the tensions of that time have any restraining effect during the Cuban Missile Crisis four years later? Could be. It’s certain, at least, that neither side pushed the button on the other, and humanity thus dodged the ultimate bullet.

Let’s hope people like the singers of Beloe Zlato manage to soothe the savage breast in all of us, and help keep everyone’s fingers off the button this time around, too.

Photo credits: Edward Steichen/Conde Nast via Getty Images (top); YouTube (middle)

America • China • Defense of the West • EU • Europe • Germany • Immigration • Israel • Law and Order • Middle East • Post • Progressivism • Religion of Peace • Russia • Terrorism

Restoring the Sanctity of Sovereign National Borders

What can a government do if millions of unarmed people just keep walking towards your national border? Is it considered migration or invasion?

The question that Europe has been facing since 2015, after Angela Merkel’s siren call, will now be faced by the United States, as thousands from Central and South America are marching through Mexico to the U.S. border.

In an earlier era, Mexico would have been seen as complicit in an invasion of the United States and it would be considered an act of war. This is the same problem Israel faced when African migrants moved into Israel. And soon, all great powers, which are economically successful will face this tactic—unless a strong precedent is set. More importantly, identifying the sources within the country, which favors such large-scale social engineering is important. The EU and Italy have identified ideological NGOs actively helping mass migration to Europe as a form of subversion. But since it is the EU, not much has been done.

So far, the reactions have been varied. Sovereign borders were considered sacrosanct due to the Westphalian concept. Globalization and liberal borderless utopia notions destroyed and hollowed out the idea that nation states are the biggest and most formidable units of international order. Add to this the repeated interventions from the West in the name of human rights, which further destroyed the idea that a country is sovereign and master of its own destiny.

Naturally, with the Middle East exploding, and Europe constantly preaching internationalism, it had no option but to start accepting millions of people. The problem then started as those millions of people didn’t consist of refugees, or women, the infirm, and children, but of unarmed, military-age men, looking for jobs. When one accepts millions of fit military age single men from completely different cultures, they add on to social strife and disharmony, crime surges, and society breaks down.

It is happening in Europe, and what we are seeing now is a spread to other parts of the world. There are vast numbers of frustrated people who have simply decided not only that they should migrate and go seek fortune in countries which are better, but that they have every right to be welcomed, accepted, and celebrated without offering anything in return. It is a dangerous precedent.

Consider the evidence. At least a million sub-Saharan Africans moved to Europe. Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Africa stand out. Meanwhile, Afghans, Syrians, and Iraqis are flocking to Europe, too. The majority of these people have decided that there’s simply no way they could continue to live in their own countries.

And how do countries respond? Those which are guarded by oceans and seas are comparatively safe. Australia deports anyone who manages to cross the ocean. The United Kingdom voted for Brexit. But other powers are not so lucky. Europe is seeing a natural backlash and the rise of the far-right movement.

America, which is protected from overwhelming amounts of migration on the east and west by high seas, is still connected to the south by land. That is where the bulk of migration to the United States originates, and that has led to the rise of Trump and to other forms of backlash. Israel, another land power, just planned to throw out all African asylum seekers after backtracking from a United Nations deal. Russia is dealing with migration from the Caucasus as well as Central Asia. China and India are relatively safe, due to natural frontiers and boundaries, but not for long. During the crisis in Myanmar, India point blank refused to take in any migrants, and Indian right-wing political parties are particularly opposed to any further migration.

There are other forces at play as well. Social services in Europe are breaking down. Genuine law-abiding migrants are being discriminated against for their race. An example is Asian migrants in the United States, people from Korea, China, and India facing massive discrimination in universities which, in order to provide parity to the selection process, privileges some from Hispanic and African-American backgrounds. None of these are good developments for social harmony, and since none of these are meritocratic, they will not result in social progress.

It has military implications, too. How to stop rogue terrorists from moving in with the peaceful crowd? How does anyone know who is coming here with bad intentions or if the majority have good intentions? How can hundreds of thousands of men assimilate in a completely different culture within one lifetime? And if they don’t, it is for a lack of better word, a ticking time bomb? Finally, what if tomorrow observant foes purposefully use this tactic as a mode of invasion? What if rival great powers just throng the borders of each other with unarmed men posing as refugees?

These are important and urgent questions. The sanctity of borders must be restored, and if that needs multilateral great power discussions and debates, so be it. It is urgent that this problem of mass migration be addressed, or violence surely will come.

Photo credit: Jonatan Rosas/Getty Images

Americanism • China • Economy • Europe • Foreign Policy • Germany • Post • Silicon Valley • Technology • Trade

The Baguette Shop: A Parable About Trade

You own an artisanal bakery that makes the best $2 baguettes in town. Business is booming. In fact, business is so good that a German bakery opens up across the street. You’re not worried: their $3 baguettes are good, but not that good. You’re sure you can outcompete them in good ol’ American fashion—and let’s be honest, who’s ever heard of German baguettes?

A month later you notice baguette sales are down. Why? You walk across the street to compare sales with the German bakery, and you see a sign: “Baguettes Now $1.” How could they possibly afford to bake such cheap baguettes? The lederhosen-clad owner tells you that the government is now paying for his flour—that’s why his baguettes only cost $1. “That’s not fair!” you exclaim. He just shrugs and says, “What can I say?”

A few months pass. Baguette sales are down, and you’ve done everything you can to cut costs: you’ve switched flour providers, fired staff, and worked longer hours. But the cheapest baguette you can bake still costs $1.50—it’s cheap, but not that cheap. No matter what you do, you cannot compete with the German bakery. The government’s pockets are too deep. Reluctantly, you close shop.

A few months later you’re buying a baguette at the German bakery. You see a sign: “Baguette’s Now $3.” Excuse me, what happened to the cheap baguettes? The owner says that since there’s no competition, he can raise prices and make big profits.

Later that night you tell your family what happened over dinner. Your son, an economics student at Harvard, advises you to reopen your bakery. You wince—as if you hadn’t thought of that. “I can’t,” you say, “I don’t have enough savings to reopen the bakery. It’s too expensive to start from scratch.”

Your son smiles and shrugs, “That’s the free market, Pop. Don’t you know what’s good for you?”

The Butcher, the Baker, the State-Backed German Candlestick Maker
Like all good stories, this one has a moral—and no, it’s not something trite like the government should not pick winners and losers. In fact, it’s precisely the opposite: the American government has an economic, political, and moral duty to ensure American businesses triumph over foreign rivals.

In our story, you represent America’s businesses, who produce high-quality goods at reasonable prices—the best $2 baguettes in town, as well as the best cars, computers, and airplanes. In fact, data from the Brookings Institute show that America’s advanced industries (aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, information technologies, etc.) are the second most productive on earth, behind only Norway’s. Further, they are fully 50 to 70 percent more efficient than their primary competitors in Western Europe. This is important because these industries generate the majority of America’s economic growth.

The takeaway: America makes the best stuff at the best price.

Back to our story. You bake the best $2 baguette, while it costs the German bakery $3 to bake an equivalent baguette. In a fair world, you would outcompete the German bakery, and steal their customers. But life’s not fair. The government stepped in and bought the German baker’s flour, so he could make baguettes for $1. The government tipped the scales, making it impossible for you to compete. As a result, you were forced to close shop.

Essentially, this is what happens when America trades with foreign nations: American businesses compete against foreign, state-backed businesses and inevitably lose—regardless of whether they are more efficient or produce better products. Remember, efficient American factories are the ones moving to China, not relatively inefficient German factories.

Trade asymmetries destroy American industries. Consider that Chinese firms can operate in America, but American firms cannot generally operate in China unless they partner with a Chinese firm. This is exceedingly common in the IT industry, where American technology companies trade technology for access to Chinese consumers—only to face insurmountable competition from Chinese copycat companies months later. Tied to this is the fact that Chinese companies (with the government’s tacit blessing), steal more than $500 billion worth of American intellectual property every year.

How can American businesses compete against China’s monolithic government? They can’t. Those who demand free international trade must recognize that tariffs are not the only impediment—different legal structures, business models, and economic philosophies preclude free trade and guarantee that liberal “free traders” will get screwed.

The Ol’ Switcheroo
At the end of our story baguettes cost $3, and you cannot afford to reopen your bakery. Everyone loses—everyone except the German baker. There are two lessons worth mentioning here.

First, monopolies are bad for consumers because they increase prices. That’s why everyone except monopolists hates monopolies. We must remember, however, that monopolies are good for producers. In a domestic market, the harm to consumers often outweighs the benefits to producers—but this is not always true in a global context. Net-exporters of a product (whether good or service) unequivocally benefit from high prices.

For example, oil-exporting nations like Saudi Arabia benefit far more from high oil prices than their domestic consumers are hurt by them. As a result, it is in Saudi Arabia’s best interests to monopolize oil production as much as possible, so as to ensure prices are high. Likewise, high potash prices help Canadian potash producers far more than Canadian consumers are hurt by high potash prices—it all depends on the balance of trade. Because of this, monopolies are often desirable in global markets.

Once you understand this, China’s push to monopolize global semiconductor production makes sense: they don’t want to give the world cheap semiconductors, they want to monopolize the industry, and then leverage their market power into higher prices. They are likewise doing this in other high-value industries. Further, we have already seen China do this with various industries in South America and Africa: they kill domestic industries by dumping cheap products, then jack-up prices in the aftermath.

Our story’s second lesson is that once an industry is dead, it’s dead. In the same way that you cannot simply reopen your bakery, it is very difficult to rebuild an industry once it has been completely offshored. This flies in the face of what liberal economists and political parrots like Ben Shapiro claim. They say that magical “free market” will open the door for American competition if foreign monopolists raise prices too high. This simply isn’t true. There are three reasons why.

First, because economic development is path-dependent, nations often lose the human capital to resurrect an industry. Specifically, after about a decade (or less, depending on the industry), not enough skilled workers remain to rebuild the industry—and those who do will likely have outdated knowledge.

Can you imagine if all of America’s aerospace industry moved abroad? Do you really think that two decades from now we would be able to design and manufacture cutting-edge aircraft? Of course not. We’d become like Iran: at best we’d be able to build outdated aircraft, and we certainly wouldn’t be at the cutting edge of innovation. It takes decades, sometimes centuries to play catch-up. This is why it’s better never to leave the race—no matter how “inefficient” it seems at the time.

Second, building an industry from scratch is prohibitively expensive, and recreating the vanished supply lines is almost impossible. The economy is a complex system, much like a coral reef: just as removing the wrong coral may harm the whole reef, so too may offshoring the wrong industry harm the whole economy. We don’t know how all the pieces fit together, and we cannot assume that relocating a particular industry to China will not have adverse unforeseen consequences—how badly will ancillary industries be disrupted? Can they survive without their anchor industry?

The Brookings Institute notes that every advanced industrial job supports roughly two other jobs in an asymmetrical, yet symbiotic relationship. The advanced industry is the coral in our reef, upon which the anemones and fish (supply chains and the service sector) depend. Remove the coral, and the reef dies. So, too, with the anchor industries.

For example, offshoring America’s automobile factories (the anchor) will likely kill America’s automobile engine, tire, and windshield manufactures, too. All the service jobs that depended upon the industrial jobs would collapse as well. The ramifications would be felt by accountants, hairdressers, lawyers, artists—everyone. This is basically what happened in the Rustbelt, and the results have been disastrous: joblessness led to socialism, hopelessness led to drug addiction, poverty led to urban decay.

Re-building an industry from scratch is so difficult that the developmental economist Mehdi Shafaeddin notes that no country has ever industrialized without government investment or protection. The input costs are simply too high.

This ties into the third reason why American producers could be locked out of our own market: manufacturing is subject to increasing returns on investment, rather than diminishing returns. The more product a factory produces, the cheaper each unit of production becomes. This is the opposite of what many classical economic models assume, and it’s part of the reason that the Austrian School of economics is wrong about global free trade. Consider the ramifications: if China can outcompete American industries that are subject to increasing returns (manufacturing), then they need not jack-up prices to reap monopolist profits (although they could) since their profit margins will naturally improve as they grow in scale. This locks out new competitors, who lack the scale to compete with lower prices.

The free market is not God, and worshipping it will not make Americans prosperous. Instead, we need to abandon our ideological presumptions and re-examine the evidence with new eyes—only then will we be able to truly make America great again.

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The Space Race: Savants of Human Space Exploration

Commercial and military space exploitation never want for a motive. Like the bronze and silver lower classes of Plato’s Republic, most space exploitation thrives on common motives of profit and security. But human space exploration, like the gold class of Plato’s Republic, requires a higher impulse: the desire to know.

Part one of a two-part series.

The great problem of space exploration is the limits of chemical energy. Until this problem is solved—with a nuclear rocket or space elevator—the equation between the mass you want to lift and the fuel you need to lift it with will continue to expand geometrically.

To address this, for commercial and military space exploitation, engineering investment tends toward miniaturization. Research dollars are better spent reducing the size and weight of the payloads than on increasing size and power of rockets. Inconveniently, these rules do not apply to human space exploration. Human beings cannot be miniaturized, and human space exploration requires the development of larger and more spectacular rockets.

The two great savants of human spaceflight of the past are Sergei Korolev and Wernher von Braun. Sergei Korolev was a Soviet Russian engineer. Not merely a brilliant engineer, Korolev was a managerial and political genius. Korolev used this genius to steer the Soviet Union into leadership in human space exploration in spite of itself.

The first Soviet hydrogen bomb capable of delivery on an intercontinental ballistic missile weighed six tons. To meet the demands of hurling this mass to another continent, Korolev’s design bureau manufactured an over-built liquid oxygen and kerosene rocket. Delivered in 1957, the rocket consisted of a central core, powered by one main turbo pump and four main combustion chambers, and four strap-on boosters, each also powered by one main turbo pump and four chambers. Designated the R-7, the missile would launch from an above ground pad constructed in the open at Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan in a configuration still used today.

The Russian Soyuz TMA-15 rocket.

Almost certainly it was Korolev’s intention that the R-7 would be more than meets the eye. It had far more potential lifting capacity than the six tons required and would serve as an excellent base platform for human space exploration. The R-7—with several series of modifications and improvements none of which altered its basic design—launched Sputnik, the first dog in space, the first man in space, the first woman in space, the Soviet unmanned missions to Mars, Venus, and the moon, and ferried cosmonauts to low earth orbit (LEO) space stations Salyut and Mir. It remains in service today—with over 1,700 cumulative launches—as the unparalleled workhorse of LEO. Its direct descendant, Suyoz is the only remaining means of manned travel to the International Space Station.

German rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun likewise began dreaming about human space exploration. The development of rockets required enormous capital outlays and von Braun found his willing backer in Nazi Germany, which provided the enormous facility at Peenemunde for the development and production of the V-2 rocket.

At the end of the war, von Braun was captured by the Americans, and under Operation Paperclip von Braun, along with other lesser German engineers, was shipped to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama to develop ballistic missiles. In 1958, after Sputnik flew on a modified R-7 rocket, the United States formed a dedicated civilian space exploration agency, NASA, to compete with Soviet space exploration.

Von Braun had promoted human space exploration in published writings starting in 1950 and was the logical candidate for director of NASA in 1960, a position he took on the condition that he be permitted to develop Saturn. When Kennedy endorsed the goal of placing a man on the moon within a decade, the president was merely parroting the ideas that von Braun’s remarkable managerial and political abilities had planted in his adopted country, giving birth to the program that would build the heavy-lift rocket, capable of placing 310,000 pounds into low-earth orbit, that would deliver six manned moon landings.

After the moon landings, the American public would lose interest in space exploration beyond LEO, and after three decades (from 1981-2011) the United States, mired in an unending series of insurgent wars, would abandon all serious will for human space exploration, retiring the inspired—but ultimately flawed—Space Shuttle without a replacement program, thus ceding a monopoly on manned space flight to Russia. Without a visionary who could manipulate the state to spend the enormous amounts of capital needed for human space exploration, U.S. space exploration simply died, as human space exploration gave way to the horribly confused priorities of identity politics under Barack Obama.

Photo credits: Oxford Science Archive/Print Collector/Getty Images (Top); Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images (Middle)

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It’s Hard Out Here for a World Leader

It’s not easy being the leader of the free world. You get no respect. Even the countries that benefit from your leadership begrudge you your position and think you need to be taken down a peg or two. When you suffer an embarrassment, they smirk. You had it coming, they think.

The United States was in this position until Barack Obama became president. Then the world gave us all the love it had previously withheld. So great a leader was Obama perceived to be, ab initio, that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize less than nine months into his presidency. Like the prevenient grace of which some early Puritan sects believed they were the recipients, this honor didn’t depend on anything he actually did.

These Puritans believed they were the elect, and they called each other “saints” while they were still alive. Keep this in mind when you read Milton’s Sonnet 23: “Methought I saw my late espoused saint/Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave.”

Obama was cast in the role of a saint, and people bought it. Remember all those photos where he seemed to have a halo? An editorial in Denmark’s largest publication even opined that Obama was greater than Jesus. You get the point.

Obama’s idea of leadership was to lead from behind. This policy put him in a position where his face ran smack dab into Putin’s ass, and there it stayed. Nothing could dislodge it. Neither Putin’s annexation of Crimea, nor his interference in Ukraine. Not his deployment of advanced missile systems to his bases in Syria. He didn’t move a muscle even when Obama’s intelligence agencies told him that Putin was planning to interfere in our 2016 elections.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel is now experiencing some of the hatred that can be heaped upon a world leader. She was awarded this mantle when Trump assumed the presidency of the United States. The world perceived a power vacuum was created, and Mutti Merkel was anointed to fill it.

Merkel is finding out how crummy a position that is. Europeans are starting to grumble against her. Britain is picking up its toys and exiting the European Union.

When Merkel opened Germany’s borders to anyone who had a mind to make it there and the wherewithal to hire the human smugglers needed to help, a flood of third world “children,”—some in their 40s, who were unacquainted with the strictures of legal systems, or respect for private property and unshrouded women—came pouring in. Merkel was, in effect, opening the doors to all of the 26 countries that had abolished their internal borders under the Schengen Agreement.

Some countries are not amused by the prospect of supporting the newcomers while neglecting their own citizens. This is especially true in the eastern European countries that only recently have gained their independence from the Soviet Union. Having begun to rediscover their respective national identities, they can’t understand why they’re being asked to give them up again by taking in people who don’t share their culture, language, traditions, or religion. Their brand of blood and soil nationalism was never conducive to welcoming strangers, and they’re especially upset by strangers who see themselves as replacing the native population rather than integrating into it.

Then there are the countries that, having enjoyed the years of liquidity that came with the Euro, now feel put upon by Merkel’s austerity program. The Euro allowed them to run up enormous debts, which they’re not accustomed to repaying. Why, they wonder, can’t the EU simply print more money? That’s the way these folks have dealt with debt in the past, right?

Finally, there’s the problem of who gets to make the important decisions that affect all of them. If every country in the United Nations, even the shitholes and hellholes among them, has an equal vote, why not every country in the EU? Why shouldn’t Poland, for example, who is the greatest beneficiary of EU aid, have as much say in running things as Germany, the largest contributor?

It’s things like this that niggle at one, and that stir up old grievances. And when grievances of any kind are stirred up, Europeans do what they always have done. They blame the Jews. It will help them now as little as it has in the past. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Under Merkel’s leadership, Germany has become the most powerful country in Europe, maybe even the world. As a tourist, you can’t go anywhere in Europe and not hear people speaking German. Some say that she’s achieved peacefully that which Hitler was unable to achieve with military might—control of Europe. At the same time, by opening Germany’s borders to self-styled refugees, she may well be the catalyst that destroys the EU.

And that’s the infinite jest. Obama wasn’t a leader, and Merkel has turned out not to be a savior. The rise of populism in Europe and America wasn’t created by Donald Trump. His presidency is an effect rather than its cause. The cause is the rise of a class of global elites whose policies have benefitted only themselves and eroded the trust of the people they rule.

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Triumph of the Shills

Let’s begin with Godwin and get it out of the way.

Imagine for a moment that Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister for the Third Reich, was an amicable fellow (which he was not), smiled often (which he didn’t), and decided to go on a goodwill tour of the West, with the cutest cheerleaders from the Hitler Youth in tow.

Imagine further that the Western media, knowing the scale of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, focused all its coverage on how cute the kids were and how well put-together Goebbels was—such a dashing fellow with his bespoke Hugo Boss suits, Italian shoes, and perfectly coiffed hair. Never mind his regime’s death camps, or its military ambitions, or its summary executions.

Sadly, over the past few days, this contrafactual seems far less far-fetched as Western media took on the role of Leni Riefenstahl—glamorizing and spreading propaganda for the murderous rogue regime of North Korea, all the while trivializing its human rights abuses.

North Korea sent Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un and the nation’s director of “Propaganda and Agitation,” on a “charm offensive” to South Korea over the weekend. With cheerleaders and pop-stars in tow, her mission was to help rehabilitate North Korea’s image and shift focus away from the regime’s human rights abuses and away from the fact that the Hermit Kingdom, essentially, is a giant prison. The Western media was all too happy to report on Kim’s sense of style, her shoes, her hair, and lack of makeup—to the exclusion of the moaning, emaciated elephant in the room.

Malicious, Lazy, or Both?

There could be many reasons for this embarrassing spectacle—ranging from outright complicity, to political malice, to plain old laziness. Most likely it’s that pre-existing biases and journalistic laziness are creating a witch’s brew that threatens to glamorize evil.

Western journalists are so blinded by disdain for the Trump Administration that any chance to embarrass the president and hurt his agenda is seen as a welcome opportunity. Reporting on the superficial North Korean overtures as though they were genuine while noting Mike Pence’s reluctance to engage those attempts is creating a moral equivalency between a vice president they don’t like with a murderess. Yes, this may hurt Trump politically, but at the cost of “normalizing” (to use a popular term these days) one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The desire to hurt Trump mixes easily with an increasingly lazy cadre of journalists, whose tendency to treat politics as an extension of the celebrity gossip pages plays up the superficial—shoes, smiles, memes, and cheerleaders—at the expense of the important—concentration camps, starvation, and summary executions. The media seems to apply TMZ journalistic standards to the coverage of politics, a trend that is increasingly tragic and dangerous.

I get it. I really do. It’s low hanging fruit, an easy story—the Greta Garbo of evil dictatorships finally goes out in public, takes off her sunglasses and lets you photograph her. But we’re not discussing a reclusive entertainment figure here. Kim Yo-jong helps oversee the mechanisms by which millions are enslaved, starved, and murdered. This conflation of the political with the theatrical, where coverage of the political is merely an extension of entertainment, is no joke. It has dangerous long-term and overarching consequences for how people view political dialogue and politicians. But, in the immediate case, it also turns the American “fourth estate” into an extension of Pyongyang’s propaganda machine.

“We’re Excited, So You Must Be, Too . . .”

In covering the actions of a propaganda minister the way they would Kim Kardashian’s glute implants, the media misses an important opportunity to bring into focus the immense suffering this woman oversees and, as a result, they become complicit in her crimes.

The press knowingly trivializes world events for clicks, selling headlines that ultimately serve to obscure and draw attention away from the institutionalized suffering caused by this woman and the regime she helps run. In turning naked North Korean propaganda into entertainment fluff pieces, the U.S. media debases itself as it denigrates the suffering of untold millions by taking the light off North Korean human rights abuses in favor of stories about cute cheerleaders, clothing, and shoes.

They’re doing exactly what the North Korean propaganda minister wants.  

It’s one thing to report on North Korea’s attempt to charm the world through the media. It’s another thing to fall for it and lead with stories that North Korea is “stealing the show” at the Winter Olympics. By fawning over the North Korean “Army of Beauties” and their leader, the American media essentially became captain of the cheerleading squad.

The media seems to have missed the fact that the bulk of those that the North Koreans seem to be charming are the reporters themselves, who are driving most of the story and, in turn, are helping sell the idea of a genial North Korea accepted by everyone. CNN writes: “In Pyeongchang, her presence is a major story line for reporters and the buzz on the street, with some in South Korea curious and accepting, while others are skeptical, if not downright cynical.”

Being the ambivalent “buzz on the street” is hardly “winning the charm offensive.” What the media seem unable or unwilling to grasp is that theynot the populace at largeare the target of the North Korean the “charm offensive.” To then turn around and try to convince all of us that North Korea is actually charming anyone other than the reporters themselves, despite evidence to the contrary, moves the press dangerously close to Walter Duranty territory.

She’s Not Just a Smile and a Pretty Face

How ironic, that in the midst of the #MeToo movement and the media’s preoccupation with pussy hats and fighting the patriarchy, institutional journalistic sexism plays into this blindness and fawning over a state where, incidentally, rape is so accepted and prevalent, that female soldiers stop getting their periods as a result. Instead of wearing pussy hats, they have to settle for reusing sanitary napkins when they do menstruate.

The media’s focus on Kim Yo-jong’s looks to the exclusion of deep reportage of the real world consequences of her political actions, the power she wields, and the mechanisms of state she oversees in her country is straight up sexism. Women can be tyrants, too! I have yet to see many standalone reports about Mike Pence’s haircut or choice of wardrobe for the day. North Korea’s propaganda ministry, run by the woman who, as far as the Western media is concerned, is only worth noticing for her looks and smile, is all too happy to capitalize on this.

It’s amazing to see the American press fall so easily for such brazen manipulation. Such is the media’s malice toward Trump. How else to explain it? Trump is a “madman” who would risk the lives of millions to stoke his own ego—or so the narrative goes. Compared to that, who wouldn’t fall for a pretty face? Not the public. But the press has happily stepped up to play the role of head cheerleader for North Korea’s diplomatic efforts. Useful idiots come in many shapes and sizes, but they never seem to go away.

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ICE Troubles With Terrorism

An audit by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is facing a variety of challenges, particularly with implementing the Known or Suspected Terrorist Encounter Protocol (KSTEP). KSTEP allows a myriad of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to coordinate and streamline the “protocol for identifying and processing aliens who are known or suspected terrorists.”

ICE can only screen immigrants while they are in custody. As of June 2017, just 33,701 of 2.4 million—about 1.4 percent—of all immigrants actively monitored by ICE and Immigration Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) were subject to KSTEP screening for connections to known or suspected terrorists. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that “some law enforcement agencies will not honor ICE immigration detainer requests,” thereby preventing ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) from taking custody of criminal aliens for KSTEP screening.

From January 2014 through May 2017, approximately 675 jurisdictions nationwide refused to honor more than 29,269 ICE immigration detainer requests. When a state or local law enforcement agency declines to transfer custody of a removable criminal alien to ICE, the released alien may put the public and ERO personnel at risk and it then requires significantly more resources to bring the individual into ICE custody.

California denied 11 ICE detainer requests, the majority for immigrants convicted of violent crimes, between January and February 2017, taking the cake for most detainer requests declined, 3,348, between 2015 and 2017. So-called “Sanctuary Cities,” having been specifically designed to limit or prohibit immigration authorities, were the worst offenders.

The DHS audit found that in a sampling of 40 case files of detained immigrants identified as known or suspected terrorists, “all had at least one instance of noncompliance with KSTEP policy.” Noncompliance with KSTEP included failures inappropriate application of background checks or outright failure to utilize them, inadequately confirming or denying aliens as known or suspected terrorists, and failure to appropriately document and report “aliens confirmed as known or suspected terrorists.”

While still a senator, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly warned former President Obama of critical weaknesses in United States interior security. On at least three occasions, the Obama administration refused “to provide details on the immigration histories of terrorists convicted in the United States.” In a letter obtained by Fox News, Senators Sessions and Ted Cruz implored Obama to cooperate with immigration authorities. Sessions said:

[T]hese data make clear that the United States not only lacks the ability to properly screen individuals prior to their arrival but also that our nation has an unprecedented assimilation problem.

Sessions’ Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest revealed that between September 2001 and December 2014, 580 people were convicted of terrorism in the United States—the vast majority of which were foreign-born. Between 2009 and 2014, the United States rewarded green cards to approximately 832,000 individuals from Muslim-majority countries, including 3,887 Syrian refugees in 2016—of whom only 23 were not Muslim—to say nothing of persecuted Syrian Christians in dire need of aid.

Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are all experiencing the same security concerns as the United States over the growing problem of domestic terrorism. Despite the objections of organizations dependant on identity politics for their existence, like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, national security concerns are not rooted in bigotry. Such objections are supported by stories like that of the New York City woman who claimed men on a subway train shouted “Trump,” “terrorist,” and “Go back to your country” at her. The only problem is that her story, like so many of its kind, turned out to be a hoax, Fox News Insider reported:

Further investigation brought authorities to the conclusion that Yasmin Seweid fabricated the encounter and they subsequently charged her with filing a false report and obstructing government administration.

Yasmin Seweid admitted she made up the story because she did not want to be in trouble with her family for staying out late, Abby Huntsman reported.

The Trump administration has its work cut out for it but appears to be on the right track by acknowledging national security concerns and taking steps to address them.