Category Archives: WWI

Charles A. Beard, “American Foreign Policy in the Making, 1932-1940″*

Review: Charles A. Beard, American Foreign Policy in the Making, 1932-1940: A Study in Responsibilities.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1946.

american-for-pol-in-the-making     charles-a-beard-ii

Introduction

Last year, 2016, marked the 70th anniversary of the publication of Charles Beard’s masterful study of United States foreign policy prior to the nation’s disastrous entrance into the Second World War, American Foreign Policy in the Making1932-1940: A Study in Responsibilities(AFPM).  The book was soon accompanied by President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War, 1941 published in 1948, the year of the great historian’s passing.

The two volumes were extremely influential and became cornerstones of World War II revisionism.  AFPM chronicled US policy in the crucial decade prior to the fateful attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  The records released and the research done in the decades following Beard’s studies have only substantiated the historian’s interpretation of events.*

The most recent of the growing literature of WWII revisionism has been by the German historian Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof, and his provocative book, The War That Had Many Fathers.**As Beard did with AFPM, Schultze-Rhonhof seeks to assign responsibility for the outbreak of WWII in the European theatre.  Like Beard, and in contrast to the official historical interpretation, Schultze-Rhonhof blames the provocative actions of the “Allied” governments in the years leading up to the conflict.***

Continue reading at:  https://antoniusaquinas.com/history/

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

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*This essay is dedicated to the late Charlie McGrath of Wide Awake News.

charlie-mcgrath

 

Donald & the Dollar

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John Connally, President Nixon’s Secretary of the Treasury, once remarked to the consternation of Europe’s financial elites over America’s inflationary monetary policy, that the dollar “is our currency, but your problem.”  Times have certainly changed and it now appears that the dollar has become an American problem.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the soon to be 45th President of the United States believes that the greenback’s strength – up some 25% against a broad basket of currencies since 2014 – is now “too strong,” “killing us,” and has hurt companies trying to compete overseas.* A top Trump economics advisor, Anthony Scaramucci, reinforced his boss’ sentiment adding that “we must be careful of a rising dollar.”

Apparently, making America great again does not include the nation’s monetary standard.  Trump’s belief that the dollar is too strong also shows a distinct lack of historical understanding.  Every great nation and empire (which Trump promises to restore America to) had a sound monetary system.  It is no coincidence that the pound sterling was the world’s “reserve currency” at the time when the British Empire was at its height.  Debasement of it to finance Britain’s insane decision to enter World War I led, in large part, to the eventual loss of its empire.  If Trump truly seeks to restore American greatness at home and its prestige throughout the world, devaluating the currency is not the way to go.

Nor does a weakened dollar benefit the middle class whom the president elect throughout the campaign has pledged to help.  In fact, it has been the fall in the purchasing power of the dollar due to the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve which have decimated the living standard of the middle class.  And, while the proposed Trumpian middle class tax cuts will help, just as important is a sound monetary system if Middle America is to become a creditor class once again.

Pensioners and retirees, another group that Trump has promised to help, would continue to see their financial condition decline under a policy to weaken the dollar. A fall in the purchasing power of money would devastate the income stream of pensions and social security payments.

While a weaker dollar policy would hurt the middle class, retirees, and savers, it would benefit the most responsible for the continued economic doldrums of America – banksters and the government.  A weaker dollar would allow the government to continue to borrow and maintain its profligate spending.  Financial houses and the banksters would receive credit at nearly zero cost which would allow them to continue to blow bubbles in the asset markets.  Export firms, too, would benefit at least for a while, but would more than likely face retribution from foreign governments and central banks which would retaliate with their own devaluations sparking potential currency wars.

Talk of “currency manipulation,” “weakening the dollar,” “trade deals,” and the like do not address what lies at the heart of not only America, but the Western world’s economic problem – too much debt.  The reason why the West has been able to incur its current gargantuan level of debt is not because of a “weak” or a “strong” dollar, but because the dollar is a fiat currency not backed by any commodity.  A true gold standard, where each currency unit represents either gold or silver, provides monetary discipline which prevents politicians and banksters from incurring ruinous levels of debt.

Since money is the lifeblood of an economy, any hope that one can be turned around without a stable monetary order is, to say the least, delusional.  If president-elect Trump and his policy makers do not realize this, they will be severely disappointed in the years to come.  Sound money allows for the accumulation of savings and capital formation, the essential elements of the market economy and the only basis upon which real economic growth can occur.  More savings and capital are needed to boost production and create employment, not supposedly wiser and more competent international trade negotiators.

Talk of currency devaluation is what is typically heard from banana republics, it should not be advocated by those who have aspirations of making their country great again.

*Tyler Durden, “Dollar Tumbles After Trump Calls Currency ‘Too Strong,’ Slams Border-Adjustment Tax.”  Zero Hedge.  17 January 2017.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

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Brahms & Democracy

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In November of 1876, one hundred and forty years ago, Johannes Brahms’ monumental First Symphony was first heard, performed in Karlsruhe, Germany.  The much anticipated work – which took Brahms over 20 years to complete – has become part of the canon of Western music.  Ironically, the premiere of The Ring by Brahms’ supposed rival and fellow musical genius, Richard Wagner, was performed for the first time in the same year.

While one critic initially called Brahms’ First Symphony “Beethoven’s Tenth,” it has surpassed that unjust description and now stands on its own merit as a distinct masterpiece.  The First Symphony, the three that followed, and the rest of Brahms’ works makes him more than Beethoven’s successor, a unique musical figure in his own right.

In one of his best newspaper articles, H.L. Mencken wrote the following about a Brahms’ performance:

My excuse for writing of the above gentleman is simply

that I can think of nothing else.  A week or so ago, . . . I

heard his sextet for strings, opus 18, and ever since then it

has been sliding and pirouetting through my head.  I have

gone to bed with it and I have got up with it.  Not, of course,

with the whole sextet, nor even with any principal tune of it,

but with the modest and fragile little episode at the end of

the first section of the first movement – a lowly thing of eight

measures, thrown off like a perfume, so to speak, from the

second subject.*

The Sage of Baltimore continued on what made Brahms so special:

In music, as in all the other arts, the dignity of the work is simply

a reflection of the dignity of the man.  The notion that shallow

and trivial men can write great masterpieces is one of the follies

that flow out of the common human taste for scandalous

anecdote. . . .  More than any other art, perhaps, music demands

brains.  It is full of technical complexities.  It calls for a capacity to

do a dozen things at once.  But most of all it is revelatory of what

is called character.  When a trashy man writes it, it is trashy music.

 

Here is where the immense superiority of such a man as

Brahms becomes manifest.  There is less trashiness in his music

than there is in the music of any other man ever heard of, with

the sole exception, perhaps of Johann Sebastian Bach. . . .

Hearing Brahms, one never gets any sense of being entertained

by a clever mountebank.  One is facing a superior man, and the

fact is evident from the first note.

While Brahms was born in Hamburg, he eventually found his way to the musical capital of the world, Vienna, which, at the time, was part of the Austro- Hungarian Empire.  Vienna was more than the musical center of Europe, but a cultural one as well which was rivaled by few in Brahms’ time.

Although mostly forgotten under an avalanche of pro-democracy historiography, the Vienna where Brahms spent most of his adult life was “ruled” by a monarch.  The rich cultural life which flourished in that political atmosphere was admitted even by those who were, no doubt, hostile and envious of it as the philosopher and economist, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, describes in his seminal book, Democracy: The God That Failed:

Even democratic intellectuals and artists from any field of

intellectual and cultural endeavor could not ignore the

enormous level of productivity of Austro-Hungarian and in

particular Viennese culture.  Indeed, the list of great names

associated with late nineteenth and early twentieth century

Vienna is seemingly endless.**

As Professor Hoppe insightfully shows, the incredible accomplishments of the likes of Brahms came in the pre-democratic era which tragically ended with WWI.

. . . rarely has this enormous intellectual and cultural

productivity been brought in a systematic connection with

the pre-democratic tradition of the Habsburg monarchy.

Instead, if it has not been considered a mere coincidence, the

productivity of Austrian-Viennese culture has been presented

‘politically correctly’ as proof of the positive synergistic effects

of a multiethnic society and of multiculturalism.

Whether the accomplishments were in the arts, music, scientific breakthrough, invention, or entrepreneurial wealth creation, all were the result of individual initiative, skill, tenacity, foresight and intelligence within a society that recognized, praised, and promoted such achievements.  There was no affirmative action or policies that promoted artists based on their skin color or gender.  When Brahms came to Vienna, he did not receive an Austro-Hungarian version of a National Endowment of Arts subsidy!

Just as important, and what is ignored by the Left and many race-denying realists on the respectable Right, is that all of these civilization-enhancing accomplishments in Vienna were made, for the most part, by white men.  No other culture or people have ever produced music comparable to Brahms and his fellow Western musical masters.

The democratic age which followed has been praised by scholars as an advancement of the human condition on all fronts.  In his book and in other places, however, Professor Hoppe has shown that just the opposite has occurred under democratic conditions with a trend toward de-civilization.  Taking the US as an example, he writes:

. . . less than a century of full-blown democracy has resulted in

steadily increasing moral degeneration, family and social

disintegration, and cultural decay in the form of continually rising

rates of divorce, illegitimacy, abortion, and crime.  As a result

of an ever-expanding list of nondiscrimination –

‘affirmative action’ – laws and nondiscriminatory, multicultural ,

egalitarian immigration policies, every nook and cranny of American

society is affected by government management and forced integration;

accordingly, social strife and racial, ethnic, and moral –cultural

tension and hostility have increased dramatically.

As Professor Hoppe notes, the latest phase in the democratic era has been  immigration policies which have been deliberately planned to destroy the various Western cultures with Germany being the most devastated.  Yet, as Mencken wrote of him, Brahms was a product of Germanic blood not that of multiculturalism.  The German people who continue to support and allow those to wantonly destroy the culture that produced a Brahms should consult Mencken:

I give you his Deutsches Requiem as an example. . . .   The thing is

irresistibly moving.  It is moving because a man of the highest

intellectual dignity, a man of exalted feelings, a man of brains,

put into it his love and pride in his country.  That country is

lucky which produces such men.

While Brahms’ music will always be listened to and played for its brilliance, it should always be remembered in what culture his genius was allowed to flourish.  How fortunate for mankind that Brahms lived in the pre-democratic era and what a loss it would have been if the First Symphony would have never been composed.

 

*Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, ed. The Impossible H.L. Mencken: A Selection of His Best Newspaper Stories.  With a Foreword by Gore Vidal.  New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1991, pp. 465-468.

**Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy and Natural Order.  New Brunswick (U.S.A.): Transaction Publishers, 2001, pp. xii-xiii.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

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The Donald Versus Killary: War or Peace?

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Although history does not exactly repeat itself, it does provide parallels and sometimes quite ominous ones.  Such is the case with the current U.S. Presidential election and the one which occurred one hundred years earlier.

The dominating question which hung over the 1916 campaign was whether the country would remain neutral in regard to the horrific slaughter which was taking place on the European battlefields in probably the greatest act of mass insanity ever recorded, World War I.

President Wilson had maintained that the U.S. would continue a policy of strict neutrality.  By all indications, the nation wanted no part of the war, with the President’s own party at his nomination delivering an emphatic “No” to any foreign intervention.

Although Wilson maintained a neutral policy through the election and briefly afterwards, his advisors and Cabinet had been lobbying for war and continued to do so even more vehemently after the President’s re-election was secured.  Nearly all of them, including Wilson himself, had deep financial, family, and political ties to J.P. Morgan.  Wilson received considerable Morgan financial backing for his two presidential runs.

The Morgan operatives within the Administration were pushing for war because the House of Morgan had “invested” heavily in the “Allied” cause and a defeat or a negotiated settlement with any favorable concessions to Germany would be a catastrophe for Morgan financial interests.

Germany understood the cozy Morgan relationship with the Wilson Administration and the Allied powers as Morgan representatives, especially the sinister Colonel House, had repeatedly rebuffed peace proposals from the Central Powers.  The Allies and their opponents understood that Wilson’s re-election would mean U.S. entry into the conflict.

Tragically, for the U.S. and for the course of war-ridden 20th century history, Wilson capitulated and brought the U.S. into the battle despite the campaign promise of neutrality and no real German threat.  The House of Morgan’s financial bacon was saved at the cost of a devastated Western world.

One hundred years later, the U.S. and the world stand at another critical juncture and face a similar choice: the election of a known war criminal who has not only shown no remorse for her murderous policies, but promises, if elected, to continue them; or the election of a candidate who has spoken of negotiating with America’s supposed principle enemy, a possible pull back in the nation’s unsustainable global empire, and the enactment of a legitimate use of federal authority – protection of the country’s borders.

It is difficult to believe that Donald Trump is not sincere in seeking accommodation and friendly relations with Russia.  It would be far easier for the billionaire businessman and would most likely secure his election if he followed the bellicose policy of the Democrat and Republican Presidents of the recent past who have continued to antagonize and threaten Russia.  The most hopeful sign for peace coming from the U.S. in quite a while has been Trump’s talk of de-escalation of tensions and a pledge to place American interests first in foreign policy, instead of mouthing the global domination designs of the crazed neocons.

Some of the things he has said about Vladimir Putin and Russia have been, to say the least, quite encouraging:

I think I would get along with Vladimir Putin.

I just think so.*

It is always a great honor to be so nicely

complimented by a man [Putin] so highly respected

within his own country and beyond.**

I have always felt that Russia and the United States

should be able to work well with each other towards

defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not

to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from

mutual respect.***

Although not a non-interventionist, a President Trump is unlikely to provoke Russia or China into a civilization-ending conflagration and has displayed the instincts of a true peace maker.

There is, however, little hope for a reduction of global tensions if his sociopathic opponent becomes Commander-in-Chief.  Killary has repeatedly demonstrated that she is a willing tool of the neocons and the global financial forces that will profit mightily from continued U.S.- instigated conflicts.  If she makes it past the finish line, either legitimately or more likely through fraud, she will surely do their bidding.

For once, politicians and pundits who routinely call every election “the most crucial of a generation” are right.  This year’s Presidential election is the most significant one since at least the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.  If the U.S. electorate wants to avoid the disaster not only to its own land and the world that followed in the wake of the 1916 election, there can be only one choice in November of 2016.

* , “Trump Says he Would ‘Get Along Very Well’ With Putin.”  NBCNews.com 30 July 2015.

**Maxwell Tani, “Vladimir Putin’s Praise is ‘A Great Honor.'”  Business Insider.  17 December 2015.

***Ibid.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

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