The View From Olympus: The Most Important Thing

The election of Donald Trump opens the door to change and reform in many areas. The most important, in terms of our country’s future, is grand strategy and foreign policy (the latter, understood correctly, is a subset of the former). The United States needs a grand strategy aimed at preserving the state system.

Our present grand strategy was conceived in a world of states in conflict with each other. Its purpose is to make America dominant over all other states. The U.S. is not the first state to attempt this. Like its predecessors, it is failing. No state has ever been powerful enough to establish the “universal monarchy”, as it was once known. Attempts to do so have always resulted in overreach, then fall. Remember, Portugal once ruled half the world.

But the most important thing is not that we reduce our goals to match our power in the world of conflict between states. The most important thing is that we realize Fourth Generation war poses so serious a threat to the whole state system that conflict between states has become obsolete. We need an alliance of all states against Fourth Generation entities. If we and other Great Powers, especially Russia and China, continue to squabble among ourselves, the 21st century is likely to witness the end of the whole state system. Mere anarchy will be loosed upon the world.

President-elect Donald Trump has already spoken with the leaders of Russia and China, telling them he wants better relations with both. That is a promising start. An alliance of all states should begin with a Triple Alliance of the three strongest Great Powers. Britain and France will probably join. Those five (who conveniently make up the permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council) should be the policy-makers. Any more and decisions will become impossible.

I do not know whether President-elect Trump or his advisors understand the context within which we need a new Triple Alliance or Quintuple Alliance, and here as so often in grand strategy context is important. It is, again, the need for all states to work together against Fourth Generation, non-state entities that wage war. The alliance is a means, not an end.

The end is that whenever 4GW manifests itself, wherever it does so, all states work together to defeat it. The power of Fourth Generation entities, or at least some of them, at the moral level of war is so great that, even with all the states in the world against them, beating them will not be easy. Let me say it once more: what is at stake in the 21st century is the state system itself. If events remain on their current course, by the year 2100 the state will probably be just a memory (a fond one, as in Syria, Libya, and Iraq) in much of the world. States have never played for bigger stakes.

A corollary of a grand strategy that unites all states against violent non-state entities is that war between states must disappear. Too often, the losing state will disintegrate, creating a new petri dish of 4GW entities that is a far worse threat than the old state could ever be.

Therefore, the new alliance of all states will work assiduously to avoid and prevent wars between states. Any state that appears to be moving toward war with another state will find the whole world in its path yelling “Stop!” Ironically, this Realpolitik may do more to prevent interstate conflict than have all the “peace movements” led by idealists.

Some may ask, what about Iran, North Korea, and other “rogue” states? Do we want them in this alliance? Yes. “All states” means just that. Iran faces 4GW threats from non-Persians within her borders. North Korea does not face a 4GW threat, but she could be a useful ally, and we do not want her providing arms and expertise to non-state entities because of a desperate need for cash. A peace treaty with North Korea, followed by the removal of U.S. troops from South Korea, is just the kind of deal President Trump should be good at making.

I hope the Trump White House will take a serious look at revamping America’s grand strategy so it fits a century where the most dangerous threat will be Fourth Generation war. There is at least a chance it will do so. Under Hillary, or any other Establishment president of either party, there would be no chance at all.

The Transition: The Way Ahead

The most important outcome of the election was not the victory of Donald Trump, important though that is. The most important outcome was that ordinary Americans discovered they can take their country back. Regardless of where the Trump administration goes, they will not forget they have that power. On the contrary, they will use it again and again. Nothing the Left can do will change that.

During and shortly after the election, I was traveling in the old Confederacy. There was a real sense of joy at Trump’s success. A black cloud, the cloud of political correctness, had long weighed Dixie down. On November 9 it lifted. Southerners saw and talked about the difference. Retailers told me business picked up sharply after the vote. Cultural pessimism had been replaced with optimism. The future was no longer fated to be a slow death by drowning in the sludge of cultural Marxism.

Conservatives need to remind ourselves that we do not know what we voted in. Hillary was a guarantee of more of the same. Trump represents the possibility of change and the possibility of the right changes. But at the moment that is all we have: possibilities.

The Republican Establishment is attempting to reverse its defeat by infiltrating its people into the Trump administration. Occasionally that makes sense. Reince Priebus may be a good choice for White House chief of staff if his job is working with Congress. He is a poor choice if he is expected to recommend policies. Stephen Bannon is a superb choice; hopefully he will be the top policy person. General Mike Flynn is ideal for National Security Advisor; he has written about Fourth Generation war. The idea of John Bolton as Secretary of State is appalling, as he is a leading neo-con.

Some of Trump’s policies, as laid out during the campaign, should change. The deal with Iran is the best we could get. Tearing it up would put us on the course for a war with Iran, which would undermine the essence of Trump’s appeal on foreign policy, i.e., no more stupid wars. On the other hand, Trump has done as he promised and reached out to Russia and China. We need both as allies against Fourth Generation forces everywhere.

It is too early to know whether the Establishment’s attempt to win by infiltration will succeed. The people closest to Trump seem aware the attempt is being made. To defeat it, they will have to turn to talent from outside the beltway, as Trump promised to do during his campaign. That may see some unconventional choices for high offices. So much the better. The Establishment regards all high offices as its birthright. It is time it learned otherwise.

What may be the most important task facing President Donald Trump receives little attention. That task is taking over the Republican Party and remaking it into a genuine conservative party; Old Right, not Establishment Right. If Trump does that and couples it with an anti-Establishment policy agenda, his victory could usher in a permanent Republican majority.

But if he fails on either or both counts, his victory will remain immensely important because traditional Americans have learned they can win elections. That potential, which was proved against all the advice and predictions of the political class, will not end with Trump. It will draw other leaders, leaders who will succeed in redrawing the political map. Both here and in Europe, where the dominance of a Globalist, culturally Marxist New Class seemed inevitable, politics have come alive with possibilities. We live in interesting times.

Military Reform

The military Reform Movement of the 1980s, in which I participated, at one point included the Congressional Military Reform Caucus with more than 100 Members of Congress from both parties. Unusually, it was made up of both liberals and conservatives; in its early years, its two most active members were Senator Gary Hart of Colorado and Congressman Newt Gingrich of Georgia. The focus of military reform was improving our armed forces’ ability to win, i.e., effectiveness, not efficiency. But military reform had and still has the potential to save many billions of dollars as well.

The reform movement’s most basic message was that, if we want to have a winning military, people are most important, ideas come second, and hardware is only third. That is a reversal of current priorities. In personnel policy, the reformers promoted three major changes with regard to the officer corps. First, they recommended ending the up-or-out policy which forces officers to continually rise in rank or leave the service. Up-or-out rewards toadyism and careerism and penalizes combat leaders who show strong character. Related to ending up-or-out were reforms to end all-or-nothing retirement after twenty years, replacing it with vesting after twelve years, and cutting the size of the officer corps above the company grades by at least fifty percent. An over-sized officer corps robs field commanders of authority and initiative by centralizing and bureaucratizing decision-making. 

Two other personnel reforms, reaching beyond the officer corps, were important components of the reform agenda. The first was strengthening unit cohesion by stabilizing personnel for three-year intervals. The present policy of having individuals constantly arriving or leaving a unit undermines cohesion, which is the basis of why men fight. It also makes advanced training impossible and costs a great deal of money. The second personnel reform affecting a whole service was greatly raising the ratio of “teeth”, men who fight, to “tail”, people in support functions. At present, we use a large majority of our very expensive military manpower in jobs with no contact with the enemy and, often, little apparent role in giving our few fighters what they need.

That brings us to ideas, because our poor tooth-to-tail ratio is largely a product of outdated military doctrine. The present American way of war, derived from French practice during World War I, assumes that at any given time, most units are in contact with the enemy. Each combat unit therefore requires its own large logistical pipeline, or “tail”, for support. Modern maneuver warfare doctrine, in contrast, assumes that at any given time, most units are in reserve waiting to maneuver. In that situation their logistical needs are small, and a much smaller overall “tail” can be funneled to the few units in contact.

Promoting maneuver warfare doctrine was one of the reform movement’s most basic issues, and also one of its successes: the United States Marine Corps adopted maneuver doctrine in the early 1990s. In the meantime, the firepower/attrition doctrine practiced by the Army and Air Force have failed repeatedly in combat against non-state opponents, despite overwhelming physical superiority. Bringing maneuver doctrine to all our services, not just on paper but in terms of how they actually fight (a transition the Marine Corps is still attempting, holds the promise of much greater military effectiveness from services that can be smaller overall.

Hardware was third in the military reformers’ priorities because very few wars have been decided by technical advantage. However, next to manpower, it is in hardware that the greatest monetary savings are to be found—while increasing our weapons’ effectiveness. The reformers understood that good design yields simplicity, not complexity. Simplicity, in turn, improves reliability under the stresses and strains of combat and also improves affordability, allowing us to acquire the numbers of ships, planes, and tanks we need.

To obtain well-designed, affordable weapons, the reform movement argued that almost all weapons should be chosen through competitive prototyping, the prototypes being used for competitive shoot-offs and fly-offs. When this was done for combat aircraft, for the first time since World War II we obtained aircraft that performed better and cost less than their predecessors (the F-16 and the A-10). A second key reform in acquisition is insisting on independent operational test and evaluation, with no procurement until operational tests are successfully passed. One of the Reform Caucus’s successes was establishing an independent Operational Testing and Evaluation office in the Defense Department. It is of central importance that this office’s director not be beholden to any of the armed services or defense industry (thankfully, that is the case with the current director).

During the 1980s, America’s grand strategy was dictated by the Cold War: containment. The reform movement of those years therefore did not address questions of strategy. Obviously, that situation has changed, and a revived military reform movement should include a change in grand strategy among its objectives. Financially, this is where the greatest savings are to be found.

Regrettably, the Washington Establishment threw away the fruit of America’s victory in the Cold War. With the Soviet Union gone, many people expected America would return to her historic (and successful) grand strategy, in which she defended her own territory and citizens but did not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. Instead, the Establishment adopted an offensive grand strategy, in which America attempted to dictate to the rest of the world and impose her ways on them. The result has been disaster: a series of failed wars that killed and wounded tens of thousands of young Americans and cost trillions of dollars. As Russell Kirk wrote, there is no surfer way of making someone your enemy than telling him you are going to re-make him in your image for his own good.

A renewed reform movement would place returning to our historic defensive grand strategy at the top of the agenda. For what such a strategy would look like, see my cover story in the November, 2004 issue of The American Conservative, “Strategic Defense Initiative”. But in terms of what it would mean for our armed services and the defense budget, we would largely replace the active-duty Army with the National Guard, we would turn the Air Force’s non-nuclear missions over to the Air Guard and Reserve, we would maintain a Navy strong enough to control the seas but greatly reduce our capability for power projection, and we would retain a strong Marine Corps to respond quickly and effectively to attacks, especially by non-state entities, from overseas.

Put together, these reforms could certainly save at least half of the current “National Defense Function”, or about $500 billion annually. That may be an underestimate. Of equal importance, we would avoid wars our offensive grand strategy will end up creating and we would enhance our chances of victory if war is forced upon us. The obstacle to reform is now what it was in the 1980s: the Washington Establishment, which feeds richly from the trough our current defense policies have created. For an anti-Establishment administration, military reform continues to hold great promise.

The Election: Trump Wins

Donald Trump has already won the 2016 election. The only question is how he wins it.

I think he is going to win it on election day, in a landslide over Hillary Clinton, a.k.a. Lady MacBeth. Why? Because millions of ordinary Americans have figured out that by voting for Trump, they can vote against the whole Washington/Wall Street Establishment. A vote for Trump is a vote against political correctness, against exporting more middle-class jobs, against flooding our country with third-world immigrants, against Big Money, against everything that holds middle America in contempt.

We have the Democrats and the mainstream media to thank for this epiphany. All their attacks on Donald Trump have preached a subtext message they failed to see. That message is, “We, the Establishment, really, really hate this man.” To the majority of American voters, who hate the Establishment, this message has translated as “vote for Trump.” And that is what they are going to do.

But if I am wrong and we end up with Hillary, Trump will still have won. This election will show that tens of millions of Americans are almost desperately eager to vote against the Establishment and its ideology of cultural Marxism. Individuals more politically skilled than Mr. Trump, who is after all not a politician, will see this potential. They will tap into it, get nominated as Trump did, and run a campaign with sufficient skill to attract votes beyond those cast by Mr. Trump’s base.

For Republicans, there will be no other way to win a Presidential contest. Trump’s supporters will not forget how Establishment Republicans did their best to sabotage Trump’s campaign. They are, on the whole, not a forgiving lot. They will never again fall for the old Republican bait-and-switch of talking like real conservatives at election time, then doing the Establishment’s bidding once in office. Paul Ryan and his ilk will not be the future of the Republican Party, at least not nationally. Trump has already beaten them, once and for all.

So either way, Trump wins. If he wins as the ballots are counted on November 7, the Establishment will be reduced to political zombies, the walking dead. Their time will be over. That will be true not only in the Republican Party but among Democrats as well. There is no more Establishment a figure than Hillary Clinton, and her defeat will allow the anti-Establishment forces on the Left, represented in this go-around by Bernie Sanders, to take over. That’s fine by me; I regard the Establishment as more of a threat to this country’s future than anti-Establishment forces Left or Right.

November 9, 2016 may be a very interesting day.

The Next Conservatism: New Urbanism

Some conservatives seem to think we can let cities die while their surrounding suburbs live on happily. That is not the case. If the city that functions as a region’s center dies, the region dies too.

The next conservatism wants America to have living, healthy cities that are good places to live and work. Fortunately, there is a national movement that knows how to bring that about. It is called the New Urbanism. We’re all for it.

Despite the fact that the architecture profession is dominated by leftists, at least in the architecture schools, New Urbanism is profoundly conservative. In our book The Next Conservatism Paul Weyrich, and I wrote,

The New Urbanism seeks to build new neighborhoods, villages, and towns similar to those we built through most of America’s history, up until World War II. It wants to revitalize our inner cities as well, again by returning them to the way they used to be. While New Urbanism does not always demand traditional architecture, it usually favors it. New Urbanism offers a Retroculture alternative to post-war sprawl suburbs, where everything looks the same and you cannot do anything without driving.

Traditional neighborhood design helps create something conservatives value highly, namely community. (Note that community and the Left’s value of “diversity” are in tension; the more diverse a place’s population, the less easy it is for community to  form.) We value community because people who live in communities care what their neighbors think of them. That in turn generates peer pressure, which is the most effective force upholding proper morals and manners. People behave well because if they don’t, they may find themselves excluded from the community. Conservatives favor peer pressure and, when necessary, exclusion, because they are both more effective and less dangerous than law and the power of the state in leading people to behave themselves.

I have been involved with New Urbanism almost from its beginning. I attended the third Congress on the New Urbanism and many thereafter. I know New Urbanism’s founder, Andres Duany; in fact, Andres, Paul Weyrich, and I co-authored a monograph, Conservatives and the New Urbanism: Do We Have Some Things in Common?, copies of which may still be available from CNU. As a conservative, I recognize that just as New Urbanism offers something conservatives should want, namely physical settings that help create community, so conservatism offers New Urbanism something important as well: a free market mechanism that can help New Urbanism spread.

Some libertarian critics of New Urbanism like to pretend that sprawl represents a free market choice. It does not. Sprawl was mandated by government in the building codes local governments adopted after World War II. For the first time in history, anywhere on earth, government mandated that where you live, where you work, and where you shop must be separated by distances too great to walk. Those codes remain in force today. Sprawl is a product of government regulation, not the free market.

Where New Urbanist developments have been allowed to compete with sprawl, they have done very well. The same floor space usually sells for a substantial premium over surrounding sprawl. The problem is, the codes make it very expensive for developers to offer traditional neighborhood design, where you can walk to school, to work, to shop, and to church. One developer told me that to build one small TND development, he had to obtain more that 120 variances, each of which cost him time and money.

So here’s a free market, conservative proposal: let’s adopt dual codes. Developers would be free to build under either the current sprawl code or a New Urbanist, TND code. That would create a level playing field for New Urbanism. Let it succeed, or fail, in the marketplace. Libertarians are supposed to be free marketeers. How about it, guys?

The New Urbanism represents the core of the next conservatism, Retroculture. In the design of the places we live as in so many other things, what we had was better than what we have now. We need to turn back to what worked. Our old towns and cities, where they survive, are often beautiful. No one ever called a strip mall that.

 

P.S. The future of the next conservatism, and so much else, depends on Donald Trump winning this election. Trump represents a possibility for change. Under the Establishment, no change is possible in anything. Make sure every Trump voter you know gets to the polls on election day, even if you have to take them there yourself.

The Election: How Trump Can Win–Or Lose

The Establishment now says that Trump has almost certainly lost the election. Its polls show Clinton with a widening lead. Its pundits, who discuss Trump and his supporters in terms that suggest Der Stürmer talking about Jews (Charles M. Blow’s op ed in the October 3 New York Times is titled, “Donald Trump: Terroristic Man-Toddler”), are increasingly confident Trump is doomed. Paul Krugman, the Times’ kept Keynesian, sums up the Establishment view at the outset of his column in the October 3 edition of the paper:

Donald Trump has just had an extraordinarily bad week, and Hillary Clinton an extraordinarily good one; betting markets now put Mrs. Clinton’s odds of winning almost as high as they were just after the Democratic convention.

The reason for Trump’s supposed loss of support is that he commits “gaffes”. In Establishment terminology, “gaffe” means committing truth, the worst possible sin for an Establishment politician. If the truth also involves breaking one of the rules laid down by “Political Correctness”, a.k.a. cultural Marxism, the politician is doomed. Even if he crawls and grovels before whichever of the PC “victims groups” he has offended, his career is probably over.

If this were a conventional election, the Establishment’s analysis might be right. But it is not a conventional election, and I think the Establishment is in for a surprise on election day. I think Trump can win in a landslide.

What Donald Trump says or does from here to November will have little if any impact on the election’s outcome. Millions of people are going to vote for Trump for one reason: doing so is a powerful way to thumb their noses at the whole Establishment–not just the political Establishment, but Wall Street (which owns Hillary), Third World immigrants, black leaders who blame all blacks’ problems on whites, big corporations that move good-paying jobs overseas, universities that tell their white students they are inherently evil because they are white, the whole greedy, rotten, culturally Marxist bunch.

These millions of Americans are not telling anyone how they are going to vote. They are not contacted by pollsters. They are beneath the Establishment’s notice. In Hillary’s view, they are “deplorables”. But thanks to the secret ballot, on election day they can strike back at those who hold them in contempt. And they are going to do just that, by voting for Donald Trump.

Most of these millions do not usually vote. That is one reason why the Establishment’s analysis misses them. People who do not usually vote were behind Brexit’s win in Britain and the defeat suffered by Merkel’s party in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the German state she comes from. The same thing is going to happen here.

Or at least it can happen. I worked for more than twenty years with Paul Weyrich, who was one the the Right’s masters of political mechanics. One of the things I learned from him is that a candidate or an issue can have the votes to win but still lose because his supporters did not actually go to the polls and vote.

Winning requires what master mechanics like Paul call “voter ID and turnout”. Turning a potential win into a real one means identifying your supporters, making sure they are registered and then getting them to the polls on election day. You cannot rely on them to do this on their own. Many will not “get around to it”. You have to have an organization that hand-holds them all the way to the voting booth.

Does the Trump campaign have a voter ID and turnout operation in place? I have not seen one. They may be relying on the Republican Party to do that job. In many places it will, because its other candidates need it. But many Establishment Republicans are not happy with their party’s nominee. Will they do much for him? Maybe not.

If the Trump campaign does voter ID and turnout right, he will win and win big. The votes are there, angry votes by the folks out in flyover country. Without such an operation, it’s much more of a crap shoot. I hope someone at Trump campaign headquarters is not just starting to think about voter ID and turnout now. If Trump loses, the Establishment will rig the system so the American people never again get a chance to vote for an anti-Establishment candidate.

Barren Metal, a Book Review

barren-metal

Having read E. Michael Jones’ work Libido Dominandi, where he exposes how global elites have used sexual “liberation” as a tool for political enslavement, a brilliant book, I was looking forward to reading Barren Metal which is a history of usury.  Sadly I was disappointed. This work is inferior to Libido Dominandi. I will first discuss the positive elements I found in the book and conclude with where I thought it failed.

The basic premise of the Barren Metal is that usury is the extraction of surplus value from the laborer and that capitalism is state sponsored usury. Jones here is a bit confusing as he distinguishes between two kinds of capitalism (1) free-enterprise and entrepreneurship  and (2) state sponsored usury. When most people of think of capitalism, at least on the political right, they think of definition one. What he calls state sponsored usury I really don’t think is capitalism. Obviously we have state sponsored usury in the ancient world under Greece and Rome and yet nothing like the dynamic markets of modern capitalism was seen.

This over simplification mars the book. Jones has a penchant for reductionist thinking; capitalism is usury, Protestantism is a looting operation of the Catholic Church, etc.

Jones begins his work by challenging the Weberian thesis that capitalism arose not out of Protestantism, but out of Catholic Renaissance Italy. He then spends the better part of 1000 pages blaming Protestantism for capitalism and only at the end of the book does he return to his original position. This kind of confusing and contradictory view is a major weakness of the book.

Prior to the Reformation/Renassiance, the Catholic church in the Benedictine Order valued labor over alchemy/usury in producing wealth. Together with the civil arm of the Holy Roman Empire, the German-Catholic order of anti-usury pro-labor was maintained. From here on out the basic narrative of the book is that the rise of pagan thought in the renaissance in Catholic Italy coupled with the great Schism brought on by Protestantism destroyed the Church’s ‘policy power’ to enforce laws against usury. For Jones the Protestant looting of Church property in England, in order to get the initial startup capital for economic development, was the original sin of capitalism. He argues that the rise of liberalism and its grounding of morals in human sentiments was the perfect justification for the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist elite. This breach made by English capitalism and the Reformation was compounded by Napoleon and his emancipation of the Jews. The German rationalists were the one bright spot in this period. From Kant to Hegel the Germans developed a new economic outlook based on the national economy rather than pure individual interest. This view of economics he sees carried into the Catholic social teaching of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This German-Catholic fusion is his alternative to Jewish capitalism.  The Jews and the English Protestants conspired to spread capitalism, ergo usury, throughout the world. He ends his work by discussing the implications of usury in the great 2008 economic crisis.

Jone’s critique of Empiricism is decidedly excellent. His account of the Jews bears repeating. He argues that the Jews, a diasporic people, treated gentiles as aliens and that is why they extracted usury from them. When capitalism internalized this Jewish practice it made each individual an alien to the other, destroying social cohesion. He argues that capitalism and communism are two sides of the same Jewish coin. He argues that Marx rendered the working class as a rootless cosmopolitan force, just like the Jews. The Marxist solution of abolishing property was worse than the problem of usury.

Jones’ argument is hampered by his clear ignorance of the Reformation. He argues that the Anabaptists were Lutherans, and even states later in the work that they invaded churches and smashed images. With the noticeable exception of Munster the Anabaptists were pacifists and such a bizarre falsehood seriously damages Jones’ credibility on this issue. His monomania with Protestantism is also flawed since Protestant Scandinavia and Germany did not develop the radical individualistic capitalism he condemns, ergo something other than Protestantism was the driving cause, thereby discrediting his narrative.

Jones acts as if the Catholic church would have had an alternative to Capitalism; he is quite favorable of the Jesuit Experiment in Quebec and Paraguay. Yet he never demonstrates that there was a viable Catholic alternative. The Catholic kingdoms of Portugal, Spain, France, and Austria were all as debt and usury ridden as the England he so condemns. The fact is that usury ran apace in Catholic as well as Protestant nations.

His anti-Protestant monomania is further compound by his monomaniacal fixation on Henry VIII’s nationalization of the monasteries. This, for Jones, is the original sin of capitalism; the confiscation of a thousand years of accumulated value and his justification for reducing the Reformation to merely a looting scheme. This of course is absurd. I could just as easily say the Reformation was the Roman Catholic chickens coming home to roost. During the 4th century the Catholics running the Roman Empire destroyed Pagan images and confiscated pagan temples, not unlike what Henry VIII would do 1100 years later. Given that the Catholic church was built on the accumulation of a 1000 years of classical labor it was nothing more than a looting operation. This double standard is further highlighted when he complains that English pirates, such as Sir Francis Drake, were raiding Spanish galleons, without even so much as a mention of the massive looting of Mexico and Peru, probably one of the greatest looting operations in history and far grander than Henry VIII’s. We see that in the 4th and 16th centuries the Catholic church was built on loot and plunder of an unimaginable scale, but it would be absurd to conclude from that the Catholic Church was merely a looting operation of pagan goods, as Jones implies with the Reformation.

In short Barren Metal is a deeply flawed though expansive work that leaves much to be desired.

The View From Olympus: Syria Again

The pathetic performance of the U.S. State Department with regard to Syria makes America appear an international naif. Secretary Kerry bleats about starving women and children, Russia agrees to another ceasefire, and events go on as before. So disconnected from reality is the American Establishment that it seems to have lost even the most basic understanding of how wars are fought. The front page of the September 26 New York Times offers an example. It began a story on Syria saying,

Make life intolerable and death likely. Open an escape route, or offer a deal to those who leave or surrender. Let people trickle out. Kill whoever stays. Repeat until a deserted cityscape is yours.

That sounds to me like a normal description of how sieges work. But the Times is horrified. We have become the equivalent of the sort of stringy-haired, horse-faced, post-menopausal woman who goes to peace marches.

A realistic policy on Syria would begin with the understanding that cease-fires and the like only work when all the participants in a war are exhausted. We seem to be a long way from that point in Syria. Instead we are in the early stages of the Middle East’s Thirty Years’ War, with Syria playing the role of Bohemia.

There is one difference, and it is an important one: whereas the Thirty Years’ War began as a war of religion and ended up a war between states, the Middle East’s Thirty Years’ War began as a war between states and has turned into a war of religion. That in turn is part of the decline of the state and the rise of competing non-state primary loyalties.

Were the United States to do as Donald Trump has suggested and regard Russia as an ally instead of a competitor, we might be able to lower the temperature of the Syrian War. More is not possible; the decline of the state in the Middle East and the consequences flowing from it will continue. Local, partial success is the farthest reachable goal.

The key to that goal is an agreement among the Powers, exactly the thing Bismarck would have sought. One such agreement would see the U.S. join Russia in realizing that the best chance of re-establishing a Syrian state is to back what remains of that state, in the form of the Syrian government. With all the Powers supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, western Syria, where most of the population lives, could probably be united and pacified. In time, the government’s control could spread eastwards, although I think reuniting all of Syria is unlikely.

Were we to further ask ourselves that all important foreign policy question, “What would Bismarck do?”, a larger and potentially more stable solution might be possible, with the Powers acting together. Recognizing that the Sunnis in both Syria and Iraq are unlikely to accept Shiite rule, we would make a deal with the real ISIS to establish an independent Sunnistan carved out of eastern Syria and western Iraq.

The real ISIS? What is that? The Baath. The religious crazies do not run ISIS. They provide the front men and the cannon fodder. ISIS is actually controlled and enabled to function by senior Iraqi Baathists, formerly members of Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq. They know how to make things work. The religious fanatics do not.

The Baath is secular and rational. You can make deals with it. The deal would be, they get a Baathist Sunnistan and in return they cut the throats of the Islamist fanatics. That is, after all, what Saddam’s Iraq did. The Baathists and the jihadis despise each other. Theirs is entirely an alliance of necessity, brought about by George W. Bush’s insane and disastrous invasion of Iraq. Give the Baathists what they want and they will be happy once again to become our useful allies. With Hillary running for President as a “foreign policy expert”, it is useful to remember that when Saddam offered us an alliance against al Qaeda and the like during the Clinton administration, the White House refused to even consider it. Bright move, “experts”. When W. overthrew Saddam, al Qaeda applauded.

The reason many Americans, myself included, are supporting Donald Trump for president is that he offers at least a chance of a return to reality as a basis for policy at home and abroad. With Hillary and the rest of the Establishment (of both parties), that chance is zero.

Donald Trump, Peace Candidate

In what may seem an odd role-reversal, in this election the Democrat is the war hawk and the Republican is the peace candidate. Donald Trump has laid out his vision for a non-interventionist foreign policy, while Hillary Clinton believes in “humanitarian intervention”, i.e., making war for peace. Trump has rightly called George W. Bush’s Iraq war a disaster, while Clinton still defends the intervention in Libya that destroyed the Libyan state.

In fact, this represents a return to historic patterns. There is an old saying, forgotten in recent decades, that goes, “Vote for a Republican and you get a depression, vote for a Democrat and you get a war.” America’s worst president ever, the Democrat Woodrow Wilson, won re-election in 1916 with the slogan, “He kept us out of war,” then took us into World War I within a month of his second inauguration. He thereby gave the world the Versailles Diktat, Hitler, Stalin, and World War II.

After that war began in September, 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt, another Democrat, was desperate to get the U.S. involved. Whether he facilitated the Pearl Harbor attack is uncertain, but he welcomed it, along with Hitler’s subsequent stupid declaration of war on the United States.

Democrat Harry Truman gave us the Korean War; Republican Dwight Eisenhower ended it. The sainted JFK gave us the Vietnam War, Democrat Lyndon Johnson kept it going, and Republican Richard Nixon ended it. Ronal Reagan undertook a few minor military actions in places such as Lebanon and Grenada, but was careful not to threaten Russia as Communism there fell. Republicans did not become the war party until the incompetent Bush dynasty came to power and brought the neo-cons with them under W.

It is no surprise that the leading neo-con and war criminal (one charge against the German generals at Nuremberg was “planning aggressive war”) Paul Wolfowitz recently endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. The neo-cons are nothing if not flexible where party and ideology are concerned. Whoever will give them an opportunity to pursue their Trotskyite “world revolution” is their friend, and that is not Donald Trump. Trump grasps the reality that American power has its limits. Hillary lives in a dream world where we can dictate to everyone else.

So disconnected are the neo-cons from reality that their latest plot is to push the U.S. into war with Russia. Some of them have publicly called for such a war. The same geniuses who though we would be welcomed with flowers in Iraq now think we can defeat Russia in a war in her own backyard, in central and eastern Europe. To put such a war in perspective, in World War II the eastern front took about 300 German divisions and 5o0 Russian. At the most, we could send a force of…two divisions? Putin could just call the police and have them arrested.

And have the neo-cons and the Democrats forgotten why both the United States and the Soviet Union were careful not to engage each other’s armed forces directly throughout the decades of the Cold War? Nuclear weapons made doing so too dangerous. Whichever country found itself losing conventionally would face a tremendous temptation to escalate to the nuclear level. Russia still has most of the Soviet Union’s arsenal. She can reduce the U.S. to a pile of ashes in half an hour, at the expense of suffering the same fate herself. Russia made a choice almost as suicidal in 1914. Can Paul Wolfowitz guarantee she will not do so again?

Donald Trump, to his credit, has said he will work to improve our relations with Russia. He knows we have a common interest in defeating Islamic 4GW organizations that threaten both countries. Hopefully, he will go on from there to work for the alliance of all states we need to face the rise of non-state entities that can fight and defeat states.

Hillary remains trapped in an outdated paradigm where we must see other states as our enemies. Nothing could be of more benefit to ISIS, al Qaeda, and the rest of the Fourth Generation. She, and the idiot neo-cons she will probably invite back to the White House, are 4GW’s best friends. Her vaunted foreign policy expertise is just one more lie.

So give the peace sign if you want as you enter the voting booth to cast a ballot for Donald Trump. As was true through most of the 20th century, the Republican is the peace candidate. And only damn fools and neo-cons want war.

The Next Conservatism: Stuff and Nonsense

Some people think conservatism is just about stuff: materialism and consumerism. Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

That is not the conservatism of Russell Kirk, nor is it the next conservatism. Conservatives have seldom admired the “lifestyle” of the nouveau riche. It is understandable that the generation which grew up in the Great Depression of the 1930s was focused on accumulation. But the younger generations of today, who grew up in perhaps too much abundance, are not attracted to materialism. Neither are we.

In our book, The Next Conservatism, Paul Weyrich and I suggest conservatives adopt an intensive rather than extensive valuation of material things, i.e., that they put quality over quantity. A small number of beautiful things, made by hand by craftsmen and passed generation to generation, have meaning that cheap store-bought stuff (often made overseas) intended to wear out quickly and be thrown away can never have.

Does this conflict with the present notion of basing our economy on consumerism? Yes. Conservatives value saving over spending. We believe it wise for families to accumulate wealth over generations (which is why we oppose inheritance taxes). Often, “old money” fortunes built that way yield dividends to society as a whole, in beautiful buildings, patronage of art and music, and philanthropy. One need only think of the libraries Andrew Carnegie built all over America to see what wealth can do.

This leads the next conservatism to embrace author and writer for The American Conservative magazine Rod Dreher’s “Crunchy Cons Manifesto”. Some of its main points are:

  • Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff.
  • Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
  • Culture is more important than politics and economics.
  • Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
  • Beauty is more important than efficiency. (We would add that efficiency has never been a conservative virtue.)
  • The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our sense to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
  • We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.”

The next conservatism amplifies Dreher’s warning about popular culture. It is now so destructive of everything true, everything good, and everything beautiful that it may have become the greatest threat to our civilization. It succeeds commercially by pandering to the worst human instincts in a downward spiral that must accelerate to retain its market. Violence, pervese sex, and human degradation in every form are its staples. It rivals and in some ways surpasses the horrors of the Roman arena.

Popular culture also injects messages into its victims, those who allow it into their lives. The most powerful is instant gratification. It could be argued that delayed gratification is the first requirement of civilization, which suggests instant gratification is civilization’s worst enemy. We need only look at the black inner city to see what a culture of instant gratification does to communities. The white lower class is now following the same road, as the death rates from heroin and other dangerous drugs show.

The next conservatism’s answer to all this is simple: return to the old ways. The old ways worked, the new ways that emerged from the 1960s do not work. Teach and practice delayed gratification. Spend less than you earn. Value the old and handmade over the new and mass produced. Want only what you have.

Previous generations knew these things and lived by them. The challenge of our time is to recover them, teach them to our children, and re-create the good world we had and have lost.