The View From Olympus 28: Interests

A realistic foreign policy is based not on Santa’s list of who is naughty or nice, but on interests. What are America’s interests in the Crimea or in all of Ukraine for that matter? It has only one: maintaining a good relationship with Russia.

It matters not a fig to America who controls the Crimea or Ukraine. These are local issues, of concern only to the locals. We should no more be preparing to take action over what Russia does there than Russia took action over our invasions of Grenada or Panama. Those places were in our sphere; Crimea and the Ukraine are in Russia’s.

In contrast, it is important to our interests to have a good working relationship with Russia. We need Russian help in other parts of the world, most of which we should not be involved in but nonetheless are. Russia is a major exporter of oil; a sudden tightening of the oil market could wreak havoc on our economy. The most important interest at stake in our relations to Russia, and it is a very important one indeed, is the fact that Russia holds Christendom’s vast flank that stretches from the Black Sea to Vladivostok. Islam, our common and deadly enemy, is pressing north along much of that flank. We need to make sure it holds, which means Russia merits our friendship and support, not “sanctions”.

Russia, America, and Europe share a common interest in ensuring that events in Ukraine do not generate ripples. While the likelihood of a 1914-style ladder of escalation appears small, all three parties need to work to keep it small. How fortunate America is to have the prudent, conservative (in foreign policy) Mr. Obama in office instead of a howler for war such as the senator from Hell, Mr. McCain, or his faithful Tonto the senator from Heck, Mr. Graham. The situation demands similar prudence on the part of President Putin and Chancellor Merkel.

The latter has regrettably been showing signs of forgetting a basic rule of central European diplomacy, namely that when Russia and Germany are allied both do well and when they are in opposition both do badly. The realism that seems to occupy the Russian Foreign Ministry might hit on a way to compel Frau Merkel to take a moderate course: compensation. Compensation is what traditional diplomacy would have offered Germany, as the primary European power. In return for absorbing the Crimea (and Russia should not try to take more, at least at present), Russia should offer Russian-held East Prussia to Germany. The Kaliningrad Oblast is a strategic liability to Russia, and offering it to Germany would put Frau Merkel in an interesting position, especially since many Germans who vote for the CDU would very much like to have Königsberg again. It would also royally sock it to the Poles.

A traditional, realistic Great Power approach appears to offer America’s interests, and Russia’s and Germany’s, the best protection in the Ukrainian crisis. However, it still falls short of the orientation all three Powers should share. That is the realization that in the face of the threat of Fourth Generation war to the state system as a whole, all three, and every other state too, should be setting aside the competition among states in favor of unity in defense of the state system. From that perspective, the current situation does echo 1914, where three monarchies that clung to an outdated paradigm, that of dynastic competition, doomed each other. The power of 4GW, vastly underestimated in all foreign ministries, is such that states that refuse to unite against it may similarly doom themselves. It may not look like that at the moment, but at the beginning of a paradigm shift, it never does.

The View From Olympus 27: TTPs

An Army officer recently called me from the Fatherland with an important question: from a maneuver warfare (3GW) perspective, what are the differences between tactics, techniques, and procedures?

The U.S. military lumps all three together as “TTPs”. That is unfortunate, because tactics are not only different from techniques and procedures, they are opposite in nature. Combining opposites not only leads to confusion, in this case it has caused tactics to be subsumed by techniques, which from a maneuver warfare perspective is disastrous.

It is easiest to lay out the differences among the three by starting at the other end of the list, with procedures. A procedure is something done by recipe or formula that does not make contact with the enemy. An example is the procedure for clearing a jam in a certain type of machine gun. Once established, that procedure is valid for as long as that model of machine gun remains in service. It does not matter if the enemy figures it out, because he cannot take advantage of the knowledge. The procedure is focused entirely inward, on our machine gun. The enemy is irrelevant (beyond the fact that the gun usually jams at the worst moment in a firefight, as they all seem to do).

Techniques are like procedures in that they are done by recipe or formula. How to set up an L-shaped ambush, how to emplace a minefield, how to move through an enemy-held building or neighborhood, are all techniques. Troops (usually small units) learn them by rote and get good at them by repetition. However, unlike procedures, techniques do make contact with the enemy. Because the enemy learns (something all sides tend to overlook), he eventually figures your techniques out and comes up with ways to negate them or even turn them against you. That means techniques, unlike procedures, have relatively short shelf-lives.

Therefore, it is not enough to be good at techniques (though that is important). You also have to be good at inventing new techniques. Here the TTP spectrum begins to shift from science to art. This is also a point at which Second Generation militaries, with their inward-focused culture, tend to fail. They have little room for initiative or innovation, or for creative individuals. Often, they continue using techniques the enemy figured out long ago, which contributes to their defeat.

Tactics is the art of selecting the right techniques for a given situation, “right” meaning techniques that bring a decisive result at the lowest possible cost in causalities and time (those two can be in tension, although more often speed reduces casualties). Tactics is an art, and must never be done by recipe or formula. Every situation is unique and the commander must see it as such (what I call “the Zen of tactics”, which requires strong mental discipline). He must be able to think militarily, to look at a particular situation and quickly decide what to do. Regrettably, to my knowledge this is not taught in any American military school or college, with the exception of the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officers School.

Why? Because the Second Generation U.S. military has reduced tactics to techniques, hence “TTPs”. At this point, U.S. Ground forces essentially have no tactics. They just wander around until they bump into an enemy, then call for supporting arms. We are formulaic and predictable, which plays no small role in our continuing defeats.

Aggregating dissimilar things as if they shared a common nature is a serious error in logic. It is also a serious error in tactics. Modern, Third Generation tactics were fully developed by the German Army by 1918. If anyone knows the arguments as to why and how we benefit from being almost 100 years out of date, I would like to hear them.

The View From Olympus 26: The New Great Game

With Russia’s retaking of the Crimea (and soon perhaps part of Ukraine proper), we find ourselves facing a new great game. While the great game of the 19th century focused on northern India and Afghanistan, the new great game is a much greater game. Its playing field is the globe, and the contenders are globalist internationalism and national sovereignty.

Washington is the leader of globalist internationalism, with the European Union playing Sancho Panza. The globalists seek to bring about “one world,” where the state has withered away and its replacement is world government.

Earlier generations of internationalists desired an official world government, in the form of the League of Nations or the United Nations. Today’s globalists, more clever, realize they are more likely to attain their ambition if they leave the form of the state in place but transfer its authority to larger entities. This might be called the “European Union model.” The real basis of world government becomes the globalist, internationalist elite that rules in every country and has more in common with its counterparts elsewhere than with its own people. This man behind the curtain is seen whenever a people elects a national government not made up of globalist internationalists. The globalists refuse to recognize its legitimacy, as we saw recently in Ukraine and some years ago when Hamas won in the Gaza strip. On the contrary, the globalists pull every lever to bring a non-globalist government down, elections be damned.

The two Great Powers that reject globalist internationalism and adhere to national sovereignty are Russia and China. It is not surprising that Washington has tense relations with both. The new great game will determine not only which player wins, but which survives. A victory by globalist internationalism will bring the extinction of the state as anything more than a hollow form. But if state sovereignty is able to reassert itself, it is difficult to see globalist internationalism surviving. It will be a superhero that has lost its powers.

The current front in the new great game is Ukraine. As of this writing, state sovereignty is winning—not that of Ukraine, which is an artificial state, but that of Russia. Russia is playing by the rules of the 19th century: policy reflects raison d’etat, and both threats and opportunities often call for the threat or use of force. Globalists loathe a policy based on national interests and use force only against those too weak to resist them. Russia is not in that category, so Washington is left to wring its hands and bleat.

The drawbacks of an international system based on state sovereignty can be expressed in one number: 1914. But conservatives should remember that war was not inevitable in 1914, and a system of state sovereignty had largely kept the peace in Europe since 1814, when a coalition of states stuffed an earlier internationalism, that coming out of the French Revolution, back into Pandora’s box.

Globalist internationalism, on the other hand, is Tolkien’s “one ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.” It represents Huxley’s Brave New World coupled with the ideology of cultural Marxism. The Globalist internationalists intend to ram both down the throats of everyone on earth.

Between the two contenders, conservatives must favor state sovereignty. A victory for globalist internationalism would mean the extinction of conservatism and everything it believes in. Russell Kirk’s “Old Night” would descend everywhere, as all variety was replaced by a gray uniformity, the Left’s “equality” achieved by the abolition of man.

So in Ukraine, I say “two cheers for Moscow.” Not three, because Moscow is taking a high-risk road, where a few blunders there and in Washington could create a 1914-like situation. But Russia represents state sovereignty that fights back, unwilling to bow before the dictates of the globalist internationalists. A victory of state sovereignty is a conservative victory. In the new great game, conservative must recognize which side we are on.

The View From Olympus 25: Another Crimean War?

It may be that the winter Olympics in Sochi will have yet another, even more spectacular closing ceremony. What might that be? Russia retaking the Crimea.

Among the manifold disasters that engulfed Russia in the late 20th century, few were more painful than losing the Crimea to a newly independent Ukraine. The Crimea includes Sevastopol, the base of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. The fleet is still based there under an agreement with Ukraine, but Ukraine can change its mind. Russia has no Black Sea port on its own territory that can replace Sevastopol, even if it had the rubles to rebuild Sevastopol’s extensive facilities, which it does not.

My bet is that the Crimea is topic number one in the Kremlin. I further suspect troop movements are already underway to position forces for a coup de main in the Crimea, perhaps as part of a broader mission to support the Russian population in eastern Ukraine.

The harsh fact is, Ukraine as presently constituted is not a viable country. As he did with the Poles, Prussians, and Silesians, Stalin pushed the Ukrainian population west (or starved them), and filled the resulting vacuum with Russians. East and west Ukraine were different to start with, in part because far western Ukraine had not even been part of the Russian Empire. To its great good fortune, it belonged to Austria-Hungary. The city now called Lviv was then Austrian Lemberg, and Austrian Ukrainians were known as Ruthenians. Once again in today’s events we see how much central Europe needs an Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The tension between Russian-majority eastern Ukraine and western Ukraine has been evident since Ukraine became independent. Political power in Kiev has alternated between the two, with the current legal (he was elected) Ukrainian president, Mr. Viktor Yanukovych, representing eastern Ukraine and the Russians. The revolt against him began when, reflecting the interests of eastern Ukraine, he opted for closer relations with Russia instead of the EU. Western Ukraine wants the opposite, so it rebelled.

Trying to keep eastern and western Ukraine united in one unhappy country is a losing proposition. The new government in Kiev has promptly demonstrated this fact. Instead of seeking to conciliate the Russians in eastern Ukraine, it has made them its target. Among its first acts was de-recognizing Russian as an official language and disallowing Russian in the state schools. These actions were declarations of war on Ukraine’s Russian population, a point not missed in Moscow.

It is easy to see how events might play out. Russian leaders in eastern Ukraine are already meeting to coordinate their response to the new government in Kiev. Mr. Yanukovych is probably safe in Russian hands. Authorities in eastern Ukraine petition Russia for help to protect them against Kiev’s anti-Russian actions. Mr. Yanukovych, as legal President of Ukraine, asks Russia for the assistance of Russian forces. Moscow announces that in response to these requests, Russian forces will enter eastern Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians whose rights are being violated. A coup de main, which Russians traditionally do well, seizes first Sevastopol and then all of Crimea. Ukraine’s armed forces are not strong enough to resist Russia, especially in majority-Russian areas where Russian troops are welcomed. Resistance by guerrilla warfare is not possible there because the anti-Russian guerrillas would not have a base among the population.

Instead, spontaneous violence in both eastern and western Ukraine results in a population exchange. Ethnic Russians leave western for eastern Ukraine, while ethnic Ukrainians in eastern Ukraine head west. Eastern Ukraine sets up a “Ukrainian” government under President Yanukovych, which Moscow promptly recognizes. Sooner or later eastern Ukraine, including the Crimea, asks to join the Russian Federation and is accepted. Russia has the Crimea back, with the Black Sea Fleet’s now-secure base.

What should the United States and the EU do in response to such a scenario? Accept reality. Again, Ukraine as presently constituted is not viable. It is two mutually hostile peoples in the embrace of a shotgun marriage. Each will go on trying to slip a dagger into the other’s back so long as they are forced together.

Peace will only come when each side is allowed to do as it wishes. For eastern Ukraine, that means coming home to Russia. Where the EU can help is with western Ukraine. Brussels should put western Ukraine on a fast track for EU membership. Washington can join in an effort to provide the massive financial assistance western Ukraine needs, while avoiding the depression that the IMF forces on any country it rescues. Western Ukraine will soon enough say “good riddance” to eastern Ukraine if its reward is joining, or for the Austrian parts, rejoining, Europe. And to their great good fortune, all parties will have avoided what none needs, a second Crimean War.

The View From Olympus 24: The Navy Commits Intellectual Seppuku

The December, 2013 issue of the Naval Institute’s Proceedings contains an article, “Don’t Say Goodbye to Intellectual Diversity” by Lt. Alexander P. Smith, that should receive wide attention but probably won’t. It warns of a policy change in Navy officer recruiting that adds up to intellectual suicide. Lt. Smith writes, “Starting next year, the vast majority of all NROTC graduates will be STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with minimal studies in the humanities … As a result of the new policy, a high school senior’s best chance of obtaining a Navy scholarship is to apply for Tiers 1 and 2 (engineering, hard sciences, and math), since CNO guidance specifies that not less than 85 percent of incoming officers will come from this restricted pool.”

Lt. Smith rightly bemoans this loss of intellectual diversity, the only diversity that has real importance. But the problem is much worse than that. An armed service dominated by engineers and other science types will not be able to think militarily.

The engineering way of thinking and the military way of thinking are not merely different. They are opposites. Engineering, math, and other sciences depend on analysis of hard data. Before you make a decision, you are careful to gather all the facts, however long that may take. The facts are then carefully analyzed, again without much regard for the time required. Multiple actors check and re-check each others’ work. Lowest-common-denominator, committee-consensus decisions are usually the safest course. Anything that is not hard data is rejected. Hunches have no place in designing a bridge.

Making military decisions in time of war could not be more different. Intuition, educated guessing, hunches, and the like are major players. Hard facts are few; most information is incomplete and ambiguous, and part of it is always wrong, but the decision-maker cannot know how much or which parts. Creativity is more important than analysis. So is synthesis: putting parts together in new ways. Committee-consensus, lowest-common-denominator decisions are usually the worst options. Time is precious, and a less-than-optimal decision now often produces better results than a better decision later. Decisions made by one or two people are often preferable to those with many participants. There is good reason why Clausewitz warned against councils of war.

There is a direct correlation between the type of education an officer receives and his ability to think militarily. An education in the humanities, especially history and literature, is the best preparation for thinking militarily. An education in engineering, math, and hard science is the worst. Are there engineers who can think creatively? Yes. But there aren’t many.

The problem has yet another layer. Engineering, math, and science tend to draw certain types of people. Humanities draw different types. The first are inward-focused, rule-bound, risk-averse, and bureaucratic. The outward-focused, improvisational risk-takers who hate bureaucracy and embrace Verantwortungsfreudigkeit—joy in making decisions and taking responsibility—are usually drawn to the humanities. Von Moltke is only one of many historical examples. He painted, he wrote poetry, he was deeply interested in antiquities, touring the Middle East to see them, and, as the saying at the time went, he knew how to be silent in six languages.

An anecdote: In the 1970s, I had the privilege of having dinner with General Hermann Balck, a truly great commander, one of the few German generals who really had Fingerspitzengefuhl (the Allies had fewer). John Boyd was also at the dinner table. At one point, Boyd said to General Balck, “You know, General, with your very quick reactions, you would have been a great fighter pilot.” Balck’s instant response was “Ich bin kein Techniker”—“I am not a technician.” It was the only time I saw Boyd get shot down.

The navy has suffered for decades from too many technicians and too few tacticians (and strategists), thanks to Rickover’s baleful influence on the Naval Academy. He wanted nuclear engineers, so he made Annapolis into even more of an engineering school than it already was (all the service academies are biased toward engineering). This was counterbalanced by Naval ROTC graduates, more of whom came out of the humanities. Now, that pipeline will be shut.

The result will be a Navy that does splendidly in peacetime. It may be able to do well enough in war, so long as events unfold slowly and the enemy offers up few surprises. But if a U.S. Navy completely controlled by engineers ever faces a competent opponent, one who frequently does the unexpected and drives events at a rapid tempo, it will come apart, the same way the strong, technically skilled French Army of 1940 came apart. Like that French Army, the U.S. Navy will be revealed as militarily incompetent.

It won’t be necessary for China or anyone else to destroy our Navy some time in the future. It is committing intellectual seppuku now.

The View From Olympus 23: The Iranian Bomb

Several weeks ago I wrote about a clear and present danger to America’s security, a U.S. Senate Bill entitled The Nuclear Free Iran Act of 2013. Not only would the bill endanger the current negotiations with Iran by applying new sanctions, it would pre-commit the U.S. to war with Iran if Israel attacks that country. You read that right: we would be in not if Iran attacks Israel, but if Israel attacks Iran. In effect, the bill hands Bibi Netanyahu a legal right to declare war on behalf of the United States.

Fortunately, the bill appears to be losing support in the Senate. Senators are facing the fact that their constituents do not want America to fight another war anytime soon.

But some analysis of Iran’s nuclear program may also point to reasons why we should not go to war over it. Does Iran want nuclear weapons? Undoubtedly it does, if they can be had at not too high a price. But it also appears—and this is the conclusion of our intelligence agencies, for whatever that is worth—Iran has decided the price is too high, at least for the foreseeable future. So instead of building a bomb, Iran has decided to learn how to build a bomb as well as delivery systems for it. Then it will halt its nuclear program, beyond what it needs for civilian purposes, mostly power generation. Under international law, Iran has the right to civilian uses of nuclear energy.

All this is fairly well known. Where most current analysis falls short is in its assumptions as to why Iran wants a bomb. It is assumed the purposes of an Iranian bomb are to deter an attack by the United States and either to deter the same from the Israelis or to launch a bolt-from-the-blue nuclear attack on Israel.

These assumptions are open to question. Not being blind to American politics, the Iranians surely know the only thing that would bring an American attack is getting a bomb. There is zero chance that an American president could ape George Bush and launch an all-out invasion of Iran to achieve “regime change.” The American people would quickly let Congress know what they thought about such an adventure, as we saw when President Obama made noises about attacking Syria. The American people have had it with wars of choice on the other side of the world that send their kids home in body bags or crippled for life and cost trillions of dollars we don’t have. So an Iranian bomb, instead of reducing the danger of an American attack, would create it.

Similarly, were Iran to lob a nuke on Tel Aviv, it would commit suicide. Israel not only has about 500 nuclear weapons, plus delivery systems that would survive an Iranian attack, the Israeli mind-set is such that its retaliation for an Iranian nuclear strike would be annihilating. 3000 years of Persian history and culture would be wiped off the map and out of history. Americans may not be much aware of Persian history and culture, but Iranians very much are. And, as in the case of the U.S., Iran acquiring nuclear weapons would raise both the likelihood and the legitimacy of an Israeli attack on Iran. So once again, building a bomb would reduce Iran’s security, not enhance it.

So why would Iran want a bomb? Because Pakistan has one.

From an Iranian perspective, Iran’s principle threat today is neither the U.S. nor Israel, but Sunni Islam. Iran, as the leading Shiite state, is at war with the Sunnis—real shooting war, not metaphorical war. That is Tehran’s top priority, and it is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni. Shiites are regularly murdered in Pakistan. Sunni suicide bombers sometimes blow themselves up in Shiite mosques in Pakistan in the middle of worship services. Sunnis, many of them, regard Shiites as “worse than infidels,” because they claim to be Muslims but, from Sunni perspective, are heretics. Wars inside a religion can be even more brutal than wars between religions.

And Sunni Pakistan has the bomb. In fact, it has several hundred nuclear weapons, with sophisticated delivery systems for them. From an Iranian perspective, letting the Sunnis have a bomb while the Shiites don’t is a problem. It may be a far bigger problem to them than either Israel or the United States.

I have heard this analysis from area specialists, but it never seems to make it into the American debate about an Iranian bomb. If it is correct, it puts the question of an American attack on Iran in a very different light. Do we need, or want, to involve ourselves in the Islamic civil war between Sunnis and Shiites? To pose the question is to answer it: obviously not. Let them fight each other until doomsday, preferably with vast casualties on both sides. The energy they expend fighting each other is energy they do not have to attack us.

Were the Senate to consider this argument, I think there is little chance it would vote to give Mr. Netanyahu a blank check to take the United States to war with Iran. Is your Senator aware of it? You might want to send him a copy of this column.

The View From Olympus 22: His Majesty’s Birthday

January 27 is the birthday of my liege lord and reporting senior, Kaiser Wilhelm II, so as usual I telephoned him to offer my felicitations. Frequently I find him just returned from some madcap adventure. This year was different.

“Happy birthday, Hoheit. I trust you have been celebrating in good form. A ride in a Zeppelin-Staaken R-7, perhaps?”

“Thank you. Actually, you find me in the Garnisonkirche here in Potsdam. They called me to the Fernsprecher in the rector’s office. As I’m sure you know, in Heaven all churches are Anglican.”

“Well, of course they are. In Heaven everyone’s upper class. What other church could they possibly attend? But may I enquire why you are in church on your birthday?”

“I find myself spending a good deal of time in church now. This year marks the hundredth anniversary of that vast civilizational catastrophe you know as World War I. Our culture, Western culture, in effect put a gun to its head and blew its brains out. Everything since has merely been the twitching of the corpse.”

“If I may ask a somewhat delicate question of Your Majesty, how much responsibility do you, in hindsight, bear for that disaster?”

“Your President Wilson’s closest advisor, Colonel House, spent a great deal of time with me in 1914. As he subsequently wrote to Wilson, in 1914 I neither wanted war nor expected war. I was know derisively in Germany as the “Peace Kaiser” because in one crisis after another I insisted Germany back down to preserve peace. My error in 1914 was not insisting Austria back down, even though she was in the right. Germany was encircled with enemies at that point, and my advisors were terrified that if we did not support Vienna we would lose our last ally. My instinct was to overrule them, but I didn’t. That was my error all too often, before and during the war.”

“If I may say so, Your Majesty was almost always wiser than your advisors.”

“Thank you, but that means I wasn’t stupid, but weak. That may be a fair verdict. I was no Frederick the Great. But remember, he was an absolute monarch, and I was a constitutional monarch. Often, my cabinet simply ignored me.”

“Your Majesty will be pleased to hear that according to a piece in the January 18 Financial Times, the German public no longer accepts the canard, invented by the Versailles Treaty, that Germany caused World War I.”

“Heaven rejoices that the German people are beginning, just beginning, to rediscover the truth about the history of their country. Except for the thirteen short years of the Third Reich, Germany was a normal country. Germans have as much right to be proud of their history, and the history of their military, as any other people. It is shameful the way the Bundeswehr is forbidden virtually the whole history of the German armed forces, except the few short years of the War of National Liberation from Napoleon. This is due in large part to the influence of the Frankfurt School, as you well know.”

“Indeed. Cultural Marxism is even stronger in Germany than in the United States. But let me ask, if I may, about another influence, that of the Fischer Thesis. What is your response to Fischer’s charge that World War I was the inevitable culmination of a German plan to become a world power?”

“The Fischer Thesis is an example of ideological history. Ideology dictated the conclusion, that the Second Reich was merely a forerunner of the Third—utter nonsense—and then Fischer erected a sand castle of evidence to prove it. That sand castle all stood on one event, a single late-night tabagie where I and some of my senior advisors, especially some General Staff officers, got drunk on anxiety, hubris, and perhaps a few other things as well. As you have observed with the U.S. military, a roomful of officers can late at night turn into a room full of twelve-year-old boys. The discussion had no effect whatsoever on policy. It dissolved in the next morning’s light. The Fischer Thesis dissolves with it. Germany had no master plan to conquer the world. It is pure invention, by a German Left that wants to teach Germans to hate Germany.”

“I can happily inform Your Majesty that the German people are beginning to reject the Left’s version of German history. Financial Times reported that only 19% of Germans now believe Germany bore ‘chief responsibility’ for World War I. 58% said each of the Powers was to blame.”

“That 58% is right. My cousin Nicky was yesterday lamenting the role he played in July 1914. Like me, he could have stopped it but didn’t.”

“What does your other cousin, King George of Great Britain, say about it?”

“I don’t know. He’s not here. He was something of a rotter, you know.”

“He and Winston both.”

“Winston’s not here, either. Oh, I think he’ll get here, eventually. But he has to spend some time in the servants’ hall first. In fact, now that you’ve made me think of him, I’ll ring and have him bring me up a pot of good English tea.”

“A suitable beverage for celebrating your birthday in this penitential year. I thank Your Majesty for his time and insight. I always suspected Fischer conjured up his facts. Now we know. Until next year, Hoch Hohenzollern!”

Deutschland hoch in Ehre, dann und jetzt! May the German people ever so regard it. Goodbye!”

The View From Olympus 21: Terrorist Attack

One of the more obvious facts about our country’s situation is that we cannot afford another war. We cannot afford it financially. Another massive explosion of debt (the Iraq war cost three trillion, including veteran’s care, and Afghanistan is on its way to two trillion) could bring about the collapse of American government paper, and with it the dollar. The consequences of that would be far more dire than the actions of any foreign “threats.”

We cannot afford another war militarily either, because our recent record suggests we will probably lose. Unless someone is foolish enough to take us on in Second Generation war, our Second Generation military will suffer another defeat. Like other Second Generation armed services, it cannot beat the Third Generation without overwhelming material superiority. It cannot defeat Fourth Generation opponents even with huge material superiority. Since more and more wars are Fourth Generation, our only rational option is to stay out of them, at least until we either reform our obsolescent services or simply send them home and save some money.

For several years, the most likely new war facing us has been a war with Iran. Such a war might begin as a Second Generation air and sea war, which we would win. But a defeated Iran would be likely to come apart as a state, facing us with yet another region of stateless disorder. Regardless whether or not we intervened on the ground at that point, the forces of 4GW would have another win.

It should therefore not be too great a reach in logic, even for Congress, to grasp the fact that we need to avoid war with Iran. The Obama administration has grasped it, and is currently doing an admirable job of war-avoidance. There is a genuine prospect of not only a nuclear agreement with Iran, but of a whole new strategic relationship, one that would push an Iranian war completely off the table.

Now comes the curious part: a bi-partisan coalition of senators and congressmen is doing everything in its power to sabotage the deal with Iran and put us back on the course to war. A 52-page Senate bill (that’s a short one), the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, would impose a whole new set of economic sanctions on Iran. Its passage would run a strong risk of killing the negotiations. Iran could only remain at the table if it agreed to swallow a major and public humiliation. The Iranian government may not do that; it may be politically unable to do that even if it wants to.

And oh, by the way, the Senate bill requires the United States to provide military support to Israel if it attacks Iran. Not if Israel is attacked by Iran; we are in another Mideast war if Israel itself is the attacker. And they say Kaiser Wilhelm II gave a “blank check” to Vienna in 1914…

This provision of the Senate bill points to the most important fact about it: it was de facto written in Tel Aviv. It was sponsored by Israel’s Likud government, it serves that foreign government, and it threatens to take the United States to war for the interests of Israel against our own interests.

How could such a thing happen? Because almost all members of Congress live in mortal terror of the Israeli lobby. Every Senator or Representative who has dared to take the lobby on has lost his seat. It pours enormous amounts of money into funding his opposition, and he loses. The Israeli lobby owns Congress like a kid owns a yo-yo, and it plays with it in the same way.

Given the multitude of disasters involvement in another war would probably bring to this country, the Israeli lobby’s push for the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 is nothing less than a terrorist attack. Its weapons are money and votes, not bombs, but the effects could easily be the same: thousands of Americans dead and billions (or trillions) of money lost. The damage to our economy could be fatal. And in the end, the Fourth Generation would win another victory.

Lose-lose is seldom wise policy. Is there a chance the American people could wake up on this one, the way they did to stop an attack in Syria?

The Rights of Men or the “Rights of Man?”

In the comic book version of history promoted by the left, all Europe groaned under the weight of tyrannical absolute monarchs, who could do whatever they pleased, until the glorious French Revolution recognized the “Rights of Man” (all of which it proceeded to violate). As usual with the Whig interpretation of history, none of it is true.

After the fall of Rome, absolute monarchy was rare in the West until the late 17th and 18th centuries. Kings’ subjects had rights, lots of them, and they were not shy about claiming them. Medieval in origin—the Middle Ages were on the whole a good time, not a bad one—they differed from the “Rights of Man” in fundamental respects. First, they were real, specific, and concrete, not air-fairy promises. I, as a subject, have the right to the products of this field. I have the right to having my grain ground at this mill, at a price not to exceed this much. I have the right not to pay these taxes. I have the right to take certain grievances to the king, in person. I have the right to walk this path (still with us as right-of-way). I have the right, depending on my function in society and thus my class, to serve in the king’s army, or to refuse to serve in his army. If you violate my rights, you will face a dangerous rebellion.

Second, these rights of men (and, differently, women) could neither be established nor withdrawn by law. Rather, they were first established in fact by being exercised, then enshrined in custom, and only finally recognized by law, based on precedent. The rights came first, the law afterward.

This made traditional rights—we know them best as the “rights of Englishmen,” which is what the Americans rebelled to defend in 1776—robust. Because the “Rights of Man” are invented by legislative fiat, they can be easily withdrawn by legislative fiat. Because they depend on the state, they can be withheld by the state. The constitution of the Soviet Union was full of rights, but the same state that created them could and did ignore them. The same thing has occurred in western Europe, where “rights” such as free speech are being withdrawn at the demand of the cultural Marxists. Whatever they deem “hate speech,” which is to say open defiance of cultural Marxism, is now prosecuted.

Before the rise of absolute monarchy in a few places, most prominently France, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, kings had to respect their subjects’ rights. In Spain, a new king, as part of his coronation, had to visit each province, formally swearing to respect that province’s rights. Even in France, the parliaments (which were courts, not legislative bodies) could and regularly did defy the king and block actions he wished to take right up to the catastrophe of 1789. That disaster, the French Revolution, began because the king could not levy new taxes without the approval of the Estates General, which he had to call into session. That was one of his people’s rights.

Ironically, in the 18th century absolute monarchy was not traditional, it was a violation of tradition and its sweeping away. Those promoting it were the equivalents of today’s progressives, not conservatives, who fought to defend traditional rights. Progressives, then as now, wanted an all-powerful central government that could push through their agenda, the people’s rights be damned. In most of Europe, they were not successful in creating the all-powerful monarchs they wanted. In most German states, the Landstände, which were legislatures like France’s Estates General, retained significant power.

Conservatives reject rights created by the wave of a hand, at the demand of some philosopher or ideology (a recent absurdity is “animal rights,” which cannot exist because animals cannot compel us to respect them). That is not because we are against rights, but because we know our rights can neither be created nor legitimately taken away by the state. Something is our “right” because it has been for a long time. Its origin lies in precedent, not politics. If a government violates it, we have the right to rebel and demand its restoration. In both Europe and America, where culturally Marxist governments are violating real rights on a massive basis, rebellion is growing. People want the rights of men, not the evanescent “Rights of Man.”

Why “Judeo-Christian?”

Some readers have inquired why we often use the term “Judeo-Christian” to describe Western culture, instead of just “Christian.” The reason we do so has nothing to do with modern Israel or present-day Judaism. Rather, like much on traditionalRIGHT, it reflects historical accuracy.

Western culture has often been described as a product of Athens and Jerusalem, Athens standing for reason and logic and Jerusalem for monotheism and a moral code. Athens and Jerusalem have often been in tension with each other, and that tension has been one of the sources of Western culture’s dynamism.

While Jesus Christ’s earthly life centered on Jerusalem, the West’s moral code finds its origins there long before he lived. That moral code, including the Ten Commandments, traces to ancient, Old Testament Judaism. So, of course, does monotheism. Western culture is unimaginable without either, much less without both. Hence we describe it as “Judeo-Christian.” Honesty about the historical record demands we do so.

The New Covenant Christ established changes the basis for salvation from following the law laid down in the Old Testament to faith, i.e., accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah and our Savior. However, the Old Testament remains important to Christians as a moral guide. Christ came, as He reminds us, not to abolish the law but to fulfill the law. The Ten Commandments remain mandatory for Christians, as do many other broad rules in the Old Testament, such as charitable giving. It is only narrow rules, such as those pertaining to ritual purity or forbidden foods, that fall away. While the New Covenant supersedes the Old Covenant, it also incorporates important elements of the Old, enough so that our culture remains Judeo-Christian. Again, that is the clear historical record.

Understanding Western culture as Judeo-Christian is especially important for conservatives because it is perhaps the central reason conservatism rejects fascism (and fascism’s sub-set, National Socialism). At its root, fascism was an attempt to abolish the whole Judeo-Christian heritage of Western culture and return to the value system of the ancient world, where power was the highest good. Athens might have been too soft for fascism; Rome and Sparta were more its inspirations. What astonished the ancient world about Christianity was not that its Savior died and rose from the dead; that was claimed by many mystery cults. What was astonishing, indeed incomprehensible to the ancients, was that Jesus Christ said he came to serve, not to be served. That stood the entire ancient world’s hierarchy of values on its head.

Historical accuracy and intellectual honesty—both enemies of cant—are among traditionalRIGHT’s most important values. Appropriately to this topic, they spring from both Jerusalem and Athens. They are Western, and we uphold them for the same reasons we uphold the rest of the West’s heritage: because they are true, because they are good, and because they are ours. May they always remain so, all ideologies to the contrary.