Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Back to the 1930s
World War II was the most destructive war in history. What caused it?
The panic from the ongoing and worldwide Depression in the 1930s had empowered extremist movements the world over. Like-minded, violent dictators of otherwise quite different Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan and Communist Soviet Union all wanted to attack their neighbors.
Yet World War II could have been prevented had Western Europe united to deter Germany. Instead, France, Britain and the smaller European democracies appeased Hitler.
The United States turned isolationist. The Soviet Union collaborated with the Third Reich. And Italy and Japan eventually joined it.
The 1930s saw rampant anti-Semitism. Jews were blamed in fascist countries for the economic downturn. They were scapegoated in democracies for stirring up the fascists. The only safe havens for Jews from Europe were Jewish-settled Palestine and the United States.
Does all this sound depressingly familiar?
The aftershocks of the global financial meltdown of 2008 still paralyze the European Union while prompting all sorts of popular extremist movements and opportunistic terrorists.
After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, America has turned inward. The Depression and the lingering unhappiness over World War I did the same to Americans in the 1930s.
Premodern monsters are on the move. The Islamic State is carving up Syria and Iraq to fashion a fascist caliphate.
Vladimir Putin gobbles up his neighbors in Ossetia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine, in crude imitation of the way Germany once swallowed Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Theocratic Iran is turning Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon into a new Iranian version of Japan’s old Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The Western response to all this? Likewise, similar to the 1930s.
The NATO allies are terrified that Putin will next attack the NATO-member Baltic states – and that their own paralysis will mean the embarrassing end of the once-noble alliance.
The United States has now fled from four Middle Eastern countries. It forfeited its post-surge victory in Iraq. It was chased out of Libya after the killings of Americans in Benghazi. American red lines quickly turned pink in Syria. U.S. Marines just laid down their weapons and flew out of the closed American embassy in Yemen.
America has convinced its European partners to drop tough sanctions against Iran. In the manner of the Allies in 1938 at Munich, they prefer instead to charm Iran, in hopes it will stop making a nuclear bomb.
The Islamic State has used almost a year of unchallenged aggression to remake the map of the Middle East. President Obama had variously dismissed it as a jayvee team or merely akin to the problems that big-city mayors face.
Europeans pay out millions to ransom their citizens from radical Islamic hostage-beheaders. Americans handed over terrorist kingpins to get back a likely Army deserter.
Then we come to the return of the Jewish question. Seventy years after the end of the Holocaust, Jews are once again leaving France. They have learned that weak governments either will not or cannot protect them from Islamic terrorists.
In France, radical Islamists recently targeted a kosher market. In Denmark, they went after a synagogue. In South Africa, students demanded the expulsion of Jewish students from a university. A Jewish prosecutor who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina was found mysteriously murdered.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being blamed for stoking Middle Eastern tensions. Who cares that he resides over the region’s only true democracy, one that is stable and protects human rights? Obama administration aides have called him a coward and worse. President Obama has dismissed the radical Islamists' targeting of Jews in France merely as “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli.”
Putin, the Islamic State and Iran at first glance have as little in common as did Germany, Italy and Japan. But like the old Axis, they are all authoritarians that share a desire to attack their neighbors. And they all hate the West.
The grandchildren of those who appeased the dictators of the 1930s once again prefer in the short-term to turn a blind eye to the current fascists. And the grandchildren of the survivors of the Holocaust once again get blamed.
The 1930s should have taught us that aggressive autocrats do not have to like each other to share hatred of the West.
The 1930s should have demonstrated to us that old-time American isolationism and the same old European appeasement will not prevent but only guarantee a war.
And the 1930s should have reminded us that Jews are usually among the first – but not the last – to be targeted by terrorists, thugs and autocrats.
Anecdotes in New Reagan Book Showcase His Unique Character
As someone who has studied and written about Ronald Reagan for more than four decades, I thought I knew the 40th president pretty well.
But a new book, “Reagan Remembered”, edited by former Amb. Gilbert A. Robinson, offers the personal and in many cases never before revealed recollections of 80 individuals, high and low, who worked in the Reagan administration.
Starting with Edwin A. Meese III, counselor to the president in the first term and U.S. attorney general in the second. These alumni confirm what a remarkable leader Reagan was—always focused on the big picture.
Meese reminds us of Reagan’s primary achievements: revitalizing the economy, rebuilding the nation’s defenses so that the Free World could win the Cold War, and reviving the spirit of the American people.
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In answer to the question, “How was one man able to accomplish so much?” Meese points to Reagan’s clarity of vision and his ability to get the most out of his cabinet-style governing.
He recalls that a jar of jelly beans always sat in the middle of the Cabinet table. Whenever the discussions over a controversial issue became too intense, the president would reach over, select a jelly bean, and pass the jar around the table. This invariably cooled tempers and restored “calmer reflection.”
Often described as the most powerful man in the world, Reagan was amazingly modest. Vice President George H. W. Bush remembers his visit to the Washington hospital after the 1981 attempted assassination of the president.
Ushered into his room, Bush saw that Reagan wasn’t in his bed and looked around. A familiar voice said “Hello, George” and the vice president turned to find Reagan on his hands and knees in the bathroom. “Are you all right, Mr. President?” Bush asked. A smiling Reagan explained that he had spilled some water on the floor and was wiping it up. “I don’t want the nurses to have to mop it up,” he said. “I’m enough of a nuisance to them as it is. Be with you in a second.” Bush writes, “That’s the sort of man Ronald Reagan was.”
Reagan being a man of his word was established again when he agreed to meet with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the cemetery in Bitburg. It was then discovered that members of the Nazi SS were buried at Bitburg, causing Nobel Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, among others, to demand a change in venue.
Secretary of State George Shultz tried to shift the meeting, but Kohl insisted on Bitburg. Having made a commitment, Reagan went to Bitburg, despite withering criticism by the media and the political opposition. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher subsequently told Shultz that “no other leader in the free world would have taken such a political beating at home in order to keep his word.”
For Reagan, politics was a means, not an end. In 1976 when he was locked in a tight battle with President Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination, his Texas campaign manager arranged for Reagan to speak in the largest church in Houston. To his great surprise, Reagan turned down the opportunity.
The Texan argued that “thousands of conservative voters will see you and millions more will read about it. The venue couldn’t be more prestigious.” Reagan quietly replied, “I’m a very religious person, but I don’t wear it on my sleeve. And I never want to use religion for political purposes.” The event never took place.
Since his film acting days, when he helped stop the attempted communist takeover of the Hollywood trade unions, Reagan was an implacable anti-communist. In November 1978, he visited Berlin for the first time and stood before the infamous Berlin Wall.
His national security adviser Richard Allen recalls that suddenly Reagan’s hands clenched and his jaw set and he said in a low almost growling tone, “We’ve got to find a way to knock this thing down!” Less than a decade later, he again stood before the Berlin Wall and declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Two years later, the Wall came tumbling down and communism collapsed in Eastern and Central Europe.
He believed in doing the right thing and not caring who knew that he did it. Campaigning in North Carolina in 1976, he agreed to meet with a small group of blind children but without any reporters or cameras present. He talked with the children for a moment and then asked if they would like “to touch my face to get an idea of what I look like?”
Campaign aide and future presidential speechwriter Dana Rohrabacher remembers “these eight kids putting their fingers on his face. When they were finished they all had big hugs—and then we were off to the next stop.” Rohrabacher says, “Any candidate running for president I’ve ever met would give a million dollars to have a picture like that.” Not Ronald Reagan.
He was as quick-witted as anyone who ever occupied the White House. In 1983, in the course of a deep White House discussion about proposals to “freeze” the building of nuclear weapons, someone brought up the suggestion made by several U.S. senators—a “build-down” rather than a freeze.
“How would that work?” the president asked. For every new modernized nuclear weapon the U.S. built, it was explained, we would retire two so that in time we would have many fewer weapons. “Well,” said the president without hesitation, “I have a proposal. For every senator they elect, let’s retire two.”
Secure in his own skin, he delighted in making fun of those who criticized him. His gubernatorial secretary Helene von Damm, who would later serve as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, remembers that during the Vietnam protests, a bunch of hippies camped outside the state capitol in Sacramento. They carried a sign that said, “Make love, not war.” Gov. Reagan smiled and said, “I got a look at them and I am not sure they are capable of either.”
President Reagan knew his Constitution. Once, recalls special adviser Edward Rowny, when cabinet members were complaining that the president was spending too much on defense, he responded firmly: “As president of the United States my most important duty is to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. If we lose our freedom, all is lost. Through a policy of peace through strength, everything is possible.”
Summing up the essential qualities of Reagan, Meese quotes British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery: “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” The recollections of the 80 men and women in “Reagan Remembered” attest that Reagan was such a leader and possessed that kind of character.
British artists shun Israel’s ‘blood money’ but accept Britain’s
More Leftist hypocrisy. They have to be hypocritical because they in fact have no principles or beliefs. So they pretend they do. All they have is hate. And Jews are a classical outlet for that. Karl Marx was such a great hater that he too hated Jews -- even though he was one
Seven hundred British creatives have signed a pledge saying they will never work in Israel or take the Israeli government’s filthy lucre so long as it continues to wage war in Gaza and kill Palestinians. So why, then, are they happy to take money from the British government, when the British government has in recent years bombed Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and left a trail of destruction and line-up of corpses that make last year’s Israeli clashes in Gaza look like a tea party in comparison? Come on. There must be an answer to this question. What is it? Why shun Israel’s ‘blood money’ but accept Britain’s?
A quick glance at the list of 700 Israel-boycotters reveals numerous people who have built their careers on cash from the coffers of the Iraqi-killing, Afghanistan-repressing British government. There’s Ken Loach, recipient of monies from the government-backed UK Film Council, here chiming in with all the others to say he will ‘accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding from any institutions linked to its government’. So, Ken, why are you happy to accept money from institutions linked to a government that has killed way more people in the Middle East than Israel has?
There’s Mike Leigh, who’s also been funded by the UK Film Council, and who threw a massive hissy fit in 2010 when the Film Council was wound down in its current form and reorganised. Ladies and gentlemen, the principled film-directing doyen of decent Hampsteadites, who makes angry public statements over two things: his implacable, principled refusal to take blood money from the Israeli killing machine and his fury at having his bloody money from the British killing machine taken away from him! What a guy!
Film director Peter Kosminsky is here, too, blathering on about not doing any work with Israeli government-linked institutions, yet he’s happy to sit on the Board of Directors of the British Film Institute which has been subsidised by… you guessed it: the government that bombed the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan. There are too many more to mention: poet Benjamin Zephaniah, who’s worked with the Arts Council, which is funded by you-know-who; writer Bonnie Greer, who’s been an Arts Council playwright-in-residence despite the fact that the Arts Council receives millions of pounds every year from the government that killed thousands of Iraqis and Afghans… And on it goes. It would not be surprising to discover that the vast majority of creatives on this Israel-shunning list had, at some point, received money from the public purse in Britain, because that’s what creatives do these days.
So, that question again: why is it bad to have anything to do with institutions linked to the Israeli government because of that whole Gaza thing but fine and dandy to take money from institutions linked to the British government despite the Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya thing? Are Israel’s wars somehow worse than Britain’s? Is being killed by a solider from the Jewish State somehow worse than being killed by a soldier of the British state? Is Israel more evil than Britain? Is Israel’s money bloodier than British money? Come on. Give us answers. You criticise those who say that any protest or boycott against Israel is anti-Semitic, and I agree with you that there’s sometimes a kneejerk tendency to interpret every political protest against Israel’s actions as anti-Jewish in sentiment. But that might be because there’s such a glaring double standard in how Israel is judged and treated by radical Westerners, including you, in comparison to how the British government is judged and treated, or the French government, or the American government, none of which you are actively boycotting. So, help to offset this search for the ‘real reason’ for boycotts of Israel by giving us a straight answer to one of the great moral conundrums of our time: why are artists so allergic to working with a government whose army killed 2,000 people in Gaza last year yet will demand the right to spend the cash of a government whose army killed 150,000 people in Iraq?
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Posted by JR at 1:38 AM