Category Archives: History

Manchester, or Innocence Long Lost, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Hats off to Raúl Ilargi Meijer, this one took some balls to post. It’s long, but well worth reading in its entirety. From Meijer at theautomaticearth.org:

There are times when you have to talk about things when it appears most inopportune to do so, because they’re the only times people might listen. Times when people will argue that ‘this is not the right moment’, while in reality it’s the only moment.

A solid 99% of people will have been filled, and rightly so of course, with a mixture of disgust, disbelief and infinite sadness when hearing of yet another attack on civilians in Europe, this one in Manchester. An equally solid 99% will have failed to recognize that while the event was unique for the city of Manchester, it was by no means unique for the world, not even at the time it happened.

Though the footage of parents desperately trying to find their children, and the news that one of the dead was just 8 years old, touches everyone in more or less the same place in our hearts, by far most of us miss out on the next logical step. In a wider perspective, it is easy to see that parents crying for missing children, and children killed in infancy, is what connects Manchester, and the UK, and Europe, to parents in Syria, Libya, Iraq.

What’s different between these places is not the suffering or the outrage, the mourning or the despair, what’s different is only the location on the map. That and the frequency with which terror is unleashed upon a given population. But just because it happens all the time in other places doesn’t make it more normal or acceptable.

It’s the exact same thing, the exact same experience, and still a vast majority of people don’t, choose not to, feel it as such. Which is curious when you think about it. In the aftermath of a terror attack, the mother of a missing, maimed or murdered child undergoes the same heartbreak no matter where they are in the world (“I hope the Russians love their children too”). But the empathy, the compassion, is hardly acknowledged in Britain at all, let alone shared.

Not that it couldn’t be. Imagine that our papers and TV channels would tell us, preferably repeatedly, in their reports in the wake of an attack like the one in Manchester how eerily similar the emotions must be to those felt in Aleppo, Homs and many other cities. That would change our perception enormously. But the media choose not to make the connection, and the people apparently are not capable of doing it themselves.

None of that changes the fact, however, that British lives are not more valuable than Syrian and Libyan ones. Not even when we’ve gotten used to ‘news’ about bombings and drone attacks executed for years now by US-led coalitions, or the images of children drowning when they flee the area because of these attacks.

To continue reading: Manchester, or Innocence Long Lost

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He Said That? 5/26/17

From  Paul D. Escott, Professor of history at Wake Forest University, Uncommonly Savage: Civil War and Remembrance in Spain and the United States (2014):

In the United States the continued influence of the old elite meant that southern politics fell under the domination of a Democratic Party that gloried the Confederacy, the Lost Cause, the Ku Klux Klan, and resistance to Reconstruction. White supremacy was made into the fundamental cause of the South, and racism became the tool to enforce white unity behind the Democratic Party whenever a political challenge arose. Another tactic used over and over again to maintain the Solid South was to warn against outside threats and outside agitators. The mentality of a defensive, isolated, but gallant South helped Democratic leaders to deflect attention from the problems of their society and the effects of their rule.

These powerful social currents, aided by women’s groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy, shaped and inhibited the region’s culture. Conformity to white supremacy, segregation, and Democratic Party rule was a social imperative for generations of southerners who were indoctrinated in the belief that they had suffered grave injustice with the defeat of their glorious Lost Cause. Had the diverse political leaders of so-called Radical Reconstruction continued to exercise some power or influence, the South would have been a very different society.

 

After the Confederates, Who’s Next? by Patrick J. Buchanan

Let’s get this statement out of the way: slavery was evil. However, there was more at stake in the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression as it’s called in the South, most notably the right of states to secede and to resist invasion. The explanations for why states cannot be allowed to secede flounder on their own convolutions, especially in light of the fact that the American Revolution was a secessionist movement. Certainly most of the founders supported the right of states to leave the US. No set of political arrangements can ever be set in stone. The attempt to wipe the Confederacy from American history denies history, truth, and recognition of valid principles that animated many of those in the South who took up arms. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

On Sept. 1, 1864, Union forces under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, victorious at Jonesborough, burned Atlanta and began the March to the Sea where Sherman’s troops looted and pillaged farms and towns all along the 300-mile road to Savannah.

Captured in the Confederate defeat at Jonesborough was William Martin Buchanan of Okolona, Mississippi, who was transferred by rail to the Union POW stockade at Camp Douglas, Illinois.

By the standards of modernity, my great-grandfather, fighting to prevent the torching of Georgia’s capital, was engaged in a criminal and immoral cause. And “Uncle Billy” Sherman was a liberator.

Under President Grant, Sherman took command of the Union army and ordered Gen. Philip Sheridan, who had burned the Shenandoah Valley to starve Virginia into submission, to corral the Plains Indians on reservations.

It is in dispute as to whether Sheridan said, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” There is no dispute as to the contempt Sheridan had for the Indians, killing their buffalo to deprive them of food.

Today, great statues stand in the nation’s capital, along with a Sherman and a Sheridan circle, to honor these most ruthless of generals in that bloodiest of wars that cost 620,000 American lives.

Yet, across the South and even in border states like Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, one may find statues of Confederate soldiers in town squares to honor the valor and sacrifices of the Southern men and boys who fought and fell in the Lost Cause.

When the Spanish-American War broke out, President McKinley, who as a teenage soldier had fought against “Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah and been at Antietam, bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War, removed his hat and stood for the singing of “Dixie,” as Southern volunteers and former Confederate soldiers paraded through Atlanta to fight for their united country. My grandfather was in that army.

For a century, Americans lived comfortably with the honoring, North and South, of the men who fought on both sides.

But today’s America is not the magnanimous country we grew up in.

To continue reading: After the Confederates, Who’s Next?

JFK at 100, by Paul Craig Roberts

Eight years of a John F. Kennedy presidency would probably have resulted in a lot of different outcomes than what we got under President Johnson. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

This Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2017, is the 100th birthday of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States.

JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963, as he approached the end of his third year in office. Researchers who spent years studying the evidence have concluded that President Kennedy was assassinated by a conspiracy between the CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secret Service. (See, for example, JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglass)

Kennedy entered office as a cold warrior, but he learned from his interaction with the CIA and Joint Chiefs that the military/security complex had an agenda that was self-interested and a danger to humanity. He began working to defuse tensions with the Soviet Union. His rejections of plans to invade Cuba, of the Northwoods project, of a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, and his intention to withdraw from Vietnam after his reelection, together with some of his speeches signaling a new approach to foreign policy in the nuclear age (see for example, https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/BWC7I4C9QUmLG9J6I8oy8w.aspx ), convinced the military/security complex that he was a threat to their interests. Cold War conservatives regarded him as naive about the Soviet Threat and a liability to US national security. These were the reasons for his assassination. These views were set in stone when Kennedy announced on June 10, 1963, negotiations with the Soviets toward a nuclear test ban treaty and a halt to US atmospheric nuclear tests.

The Oswald coverup story never made any sense and was contradicted by all evidence including tourist films of the assassination. President Johnson had ro cover up the assassination, not because he was part of it or because he willfully wanted to deceive the American people, but because to give Americans the true story would have shaken their confidence in their government at a critical time in US-Soviet relations. To make the coverup succeed, Johnson needed the credibility of the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, Earl Warren, to chair the commission that covered up the assassination. Warren understood the devastating impact the true story would have on the public and their confidence in the military and national security leadership and on America’s allies.

To continue reading: JFK at 100

 

Full Circle: An Encore Performance, New Venue, Fresh Actors, by Doug “Uncola” Lynn

People make the same mistakes over and over and thus, history repeats itself. From Doug “Uncola” Lynn at theburningplatform:

History is written by the victors.

Winston Churchill

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Proverbs 22:7

The Wheel of Time is a notion shared by many religions and philosophies.  In modern paganistic traditions, like those celebrated by Wiccans today, annual festivals are arranged into what is called the Wheel of the Year and marked by various equinoxes, solstices, and the dates in between. The ancient Greeks and Romans considered destiny as spinning like “yarn” on a wheel; and the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, once wrote how the universe is “change”, life is what “our thoughts make it”, and of time’s cycling to and from infinity while aligned into a succession of finite periods.  From the days of the earliest Druids through the life of the Viking Leif Ericson, the most commonly used nomenclature for Wheel of the Yearfestivals are descended from the Celtic and Germanic cultures.

When the Roman emperor Constantine the Great proclaimed his Edict of Milan, in AD 313, it eventually allowed the pagan festivals-of-old to be later claimed by the Christians.  The Roman Saturnalia, and the Germanic Yule, became Christmastide; and the spring celebrations of rebirth and fertility combined with the resurrection of Jesus Christ into what was henceforth known as Easter Sunday.  Today, the two-faced, Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings, is celebrated worldwide as New Year’s Eve and Day;  the wine-infused, Cupid pierced, bacchanalian, ancient Roman fertility orgies of Lupercalia are now acknowledged as Saint Valentine’s Day; and the ancient Roman festivals of Lemuria, Parentalia, and the Celtic Samhain, are today commemorated as Halloween.  Just as the hands rotate around a clock, so are the holidays repeated within the turning of seasons, year after year.

The Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, once said:

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.

The Spaniard author, essayist, and philosopher George Santayana, claimed “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and the American author, Mark Twain, believed history “rhymes” instead of actually repeating.   In the more recent past, however, it was the historians William Strauss and Neil Howe who in their books, Generations (1992) and The Fourth Turning (1997), identified twenty-year generational cycles spinning as the four seasons while stamping their impressions upon the flux of linear time.

To continue reading: Full Circle: An Encore Performance, New Venue, Fresh Actors

The Fallacy of Demonizing Russia, by Natylie Baldwin

Americans have never had to live through the kind of hell Russians endured in World War II. That is perhaps why Americans so often seem utterly clueless about Russia and the Russians. From Natylie Baldwin at consortiumnews.com:

Today’s demonization of Russia is especially offensive when viewed against the suffering of the Russian people that Natylie Baldwin recalled in a visit to the monument honoring the defense of Leningrad against a brutal Nazi siege.

We entered the monument to the siege of Leningrad from the back. There is a large semi-circle with eternal flame torches at intervals and embedded sculptures of Lenin’s face, and other symbols of the Soviet era. The monument was built in the post-war period so the Soviet iconography is understandable. In the middle is a sculpture of a soldier, a half-naked woman looking forlorn into the distance, and another woman collapsed on the ground with a dead boy in her arms.

There are several concentric steps that follow the semi-circle and I sat down on one of them and took in the feel of the area. Classical style music played in the background with a woman’s haunting voice singing in Russian. It was explained to me that it was a semi-circle instead of a full-circle to represent the fact the city was not completely surrounded and ultimately not defeated.

I finally got up and went through the opening in the semi-circle and came out to the front where a tall column with 1941 and 1945 on it stood with a large statue of two soldiers in front of it.

There are several statues on either side of the front part of the monument of figures, from soldiers to civilians, who labored to assist in alleviating the suffering of the siege and defending the city. Soldiers and civilians helped to put out fires, retrieve un-exploded ordnance from buildings, repair damage, and built the road of life over a frozen body of water to evacuate civilians and transport supplies.

The siege lasted 872 days (Sept. 8, 1941, to Jan. 27, 1944), resulting in an estimated 1.2 million deaths, mostly from starvation and freezing, and some from bombing and illness. Most were buried in mass graves, the largest of which was Piskarevskoye Cemetery, which received around 500,000 bodies. An accurate accounting of deaths is complicated by the fact that many unregistered refugees had fled to Leningrad before the siege to escape the advancing Nazi army.

To continue reading: The Fallacy of Demonizing Russia

 

US Thinking on Arming the Kurds: Complex, Intricate, Nuanced, or Just Plain Stupid? by Michael Scheuer

Not to spoil it, but because this is SLL, and SLL is generally anti-interventionist you can probably guess that the correct answer is the last choice: just plain stupid. From Michael Scheuer at theburningplatform.com:

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We are halfway through May, 2017, and it seems to be a month that again highlights the dearth of commonsense in the minds of most of those who are responsible for conducting the republic’s foreign and domestic affairs. On this score, one event merits special notice, namely, the arming of the Kurds.
This decision will eventually have such a widespread and disastrous impact on the Middle East region that the interventionist diplomats, media, generals, and academics who advised President Trump to arm the Kurds will have to fall back on a paraphrase of that old Iraq-War, Bush lie, “We did our best and the calamity that resulted from our decision to arm the Kurds is a case of unintended consequences.” When the worst occurs, anyone with a bit of commonsense will recognize that the failure, destabilization, and additional war that has resulted from arming the Kurds was something that (a) was perfectly and easily predictable and (b) another long step into a fatal swamp in which America has nothing at stake save the feelings, sensitivities, and ardor for lucre of the already rich American governing elite. But first, take a quick look at these two maps.

As can be seen, there are substantial Kurdish populations in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, and, at least in Iraq, Kurdish territories sit upon enormous oil and natural gas reserves. Each of those four nations has long feared the Kurds’ strident demands for an independent Kurdish state, their fighting abilities, and their fiery nationalism. As fear always does, the nations’ fear of the Kurds has led to their economic, social, linguistic, and – at times — military oppression by each government. In short, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran have long seen their Kurdish populations as malcontents bent on independence and so a threat to their territorial integrity.

To continue reading: US Thinking on Arming the Kurds: Complex, Intricate, Nuanced, or Just Plain Stupid?