June 10, 2017
If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.Today is “the coming days.”
– George Bernard Shaw
This “unexpected” hasn’t gone on for over one hundred years because political leaders are stupid, “incapable…of learning from experience.” When something like this is sustained – when the same “mistakes” occur repeatedly – one might consider other reasons.
I will revisit my view for the reasons behind this ongoing history in the coming days.
Considering the comments I received to the post, I think I threw a bit of a curveball with this conclusion. While the subject post was regarding conflict in the Middle East, my views of the ongoing history see this as a mere portion of the story.
I remain swayed by the geo-political view first presented to the Royal Geographical Society by Halford Mackinder in 1904: “The Geographical Pivot of History,” also known as The Heartland Theory.
He begins by describing the preceding 400 years as “the Columbian epoch,” the time when Europe explored and controlled the seas and much of the coastline of the several continents.
He looks back to the long history of invasions from the east – forming in the steppes of Central Asia and moving into Europe or China. He describes the geography of the region, the rivers (and lack of navigable rivers), the climate.
He contrasts control over the oceans – as Europe has demonstrated effectively over the preceding 400 years – with control, or lack of control, over this Eurasian heartland. The oceans give access to coastline over a vast and widely dispersed space; the heartland is an area three times the size of North America, all accessible by land.
While Europe – and by this time, specifically the British Empire – has maintained control of the seas, there remains this land mass:
The Russian railways have a clear run of 6000 miles from Wirballen in the west to Vladivostok in the east. The Russian army in Manchuria is as significant evidence of mobile land-power as the British army in South Africa was of sea-power. True, that the Trans-Siberian railway is still a single and precarious line of communication, but the century will not be old before all Asia is covered with railways. The spaces within the Russian Empire and Mongolia are so vast, and their potentialities in population, wheat, cotton, fuel, and metals so incalculably great, that it is inevitable that a vast economic world, more or less apart, will there develop inaccessible to oceanic commerce.Of course, a detour through communism was first taken (with a not insignificant push from the west), drastically delaying the possibility of success.
He describes this as the pivot region of the world: Russia is to the world island as Germany is to Europe, the key geo-strategic player. According to Mackinder, Russia was wise to part with Alaska, recognizing that Russia could not compete with Britain over the seas.
Outside the pivot area, in a great inner crescent, are Germany, Austria, Turkey, India, and China, and in an outer crescent, Britain, South Africa, Australia, the United States, Canada, and Japan.For the visual:
Mackinder sees the United States and Germany as critical in this equation:
The United States has recently become an eastern power, affecting the European balance not directly, but through Russia, and she will construct the Panama canal to make her Mississippi and Atlantic resources available in the Pacific.He concludes by suggesting that it does not matter who controls the pivot area – were the Chinese to overthrow the Russians, this would be irrelevant. All that matters is that the pivot area is controlled.
The oversetting of the balance of power in favour of the pivot state, resulting in its expansion over the marginal lands of Euro- Asia, would permit of the use of vast continental resources for fleet-building, and the empire of the world would then be in sight. This might happen if Germany were to ally herself with Russia.
A Hundred Years Have Come and Gone
So, what has happened since Mackinder’s presentation? If you want a shortcut…note how well this map corresponds to Mackinder’s world island:
It’s an old map – there are bases even closer in Eastern Europe today…and (not pictured here) don’t forget Alaska…and don’t forget Canada via the North Pole route…and don’t forget Australia to the southeast…and Hawaii to the east. There, that about covers it.
OK, now for the longer version.
William Thomas Stead
Who was he?
William Thomas Stead (5 July 1849 – 15 April 1912) was an English newspaper editor who, as a pioneer of investigative journalism, became a controversial figure of the Victorian era.Yes, he died on the Titanic.
I offer an extensive background here (including a somewhat less mature picture of my global view). For those who want the short version…
Stead wrote a book: “The Americanization of the world; or, The trend of the twentieth century,” published in 1902.
Stead was an imperialist; Stead was a confidant of Cecil Rhodes; Rhodes was a major mover regarding British imperialism; Stead saw that Britain had reached its limits and in any case could never compete with the industrial might of the United States; it was time for the English-speaking people of the world to unite; Stead saw no possibility that the American people would accept subservience to the crown; relatively isolationist America must be convinced to take the lead; Britain must accept whatever terms are offered.
Lest it be forgotten, relations between the United States and Britain were shaky ever since, oh, about 1776. Things were no better in 1812. During the American Civil War, Britain backed the South. Britain’s support of the South did not help relations.
Yet, a few short years after the end of the Civil War came The Great Rapprochement:
The Great Rapprochement, according to historians including Bradford Perkins, describes the convergence of diplomatic, political, military and economic objectives between the United States and Great Britain in 1895–1915, the two decades up to and including the beginning of World War I.As early as the 1860s, William Gladstone recognized that the day will soon come when Britain could not sustain its “public burdens.” He had little doubt that “the daughter at no very distant time will, whether fairer or less fair, be unquestionably stronger than the mother.”
Stead cites Rhodes:
“If only we had held together,” he remarked, “there would have been no need for another cannon to be cast in the whole world. The Federation of the English-speaking world would be strong enough in its command of all the material resources of the planet to compel the decision of all international quarrels by a more rational means than war.”At least Rhodes got part of that right.
And Carnegie, who in 1892 wrote of this hoped-for reunion:
If England and America were one they would be able to maintain the peace of the world and general disarmament.Note the theme – peace through strength!
Mr. A.W. Tourgée, writing in the Contemporary Review two years prior to Stead’s work, wrote:
An alliance between the great branches of the Anglo-Saxon family means the creation of a world-power against which it is not only impossible that any European combination should make headway, but it will have such control of the commercial and economic resources of the world as to enable them to put an end to war between the Continental Powers themselves without mustering an army or firing a gun…. They are the peacemakers of the Twentieth Century….Sir Walter Besant, in his book “Rise of the Empire,” wrote:
We want an everlasting alliance, offensive and defensive, such an alliance as may make us absolutely free from the fear of any other alliance which could crush us.Stead concludes:
There lies before the people of Great Britain a choice of two alternatives. If they decide to merge the existence of the British Empire into the United States of the English-speaking World, they may continue for all time to be an integral part of the greatest of all World-Powers.Shortly thereafter, the US was dragged into two World Wars – neither in defense of the United States. Yet, through these wars two things happened: Britain went bankrupt, and the United States became the pre-eminent Western and even global power.
An interesting aside: Churchill, who more than any single individual, held political power throughout much of Britain’s demise – geo-politically and financially – is lionized. Strange, don’t you think? Not if you believe my story.
By the end of the Second World War, the United States had colonies (you can call them whatever you like) throughout Europe and East Asia. Military bases remained.
Since then and until the end of the Cold War, wars fought by the United States along the periphery: Korea, Vietnam; it was too risky to fight in Europe.
The Cold War ends, yet the wars continue. Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, even Ukraine. Why?
Were these wars all for oil? For Israel? To stop the spread of communism? No. Each of these is a convenient story, specific to the particular war. Each of these is a useful tool, explanatory for one or the other – but not all – of these wars.
So, why the wars? For control; not any more complicated than this. As stated by Rhodes: “…command of all the material resources of the planet….”; as stated by Tourgée: “…control of the commercial and economic resources of the world….”
Sure, they proclaimed it was for peace. Such men are not so naïve – Rhodes saw how well that was working out in South Africa.
And since the end of the Cold War, Russia has re-emerged – as a power and as a bogeyman; China is building transcontinental railways, potentially uniting 70% of the world’s population. The world island is coming together.
Since the end of the Cold War, all is done to prevent Germany and Russia from growing closer; NATO moves ever further east. Why?
To disallow others from controlling; not any more complicated than this.
And the map, remember the map: Russia wants war: Look how close they put their country to our military bases.
There is one explanation that fits this history. And it is found in the paper presented by Halford Mackinder in 1904. All other explanations require contortions.
I like to keep things simple.
As it plays a critical part in the story, I must comment on the purposeful destruction of Western Culture, best explained by Antonio Gramsci (emphasis added):
While firmly committed to global Communism, [Gramsci] knew that that violence would fail to win the West. American workers (proletariat) would never declare war on their middle class neighbors as long as they shared common Christian values. So the Italian communist — a contemporary of Lenin — wrote an alternative plan for a silent revolution. The main weapons would be deception, manipulation and infiltration. Hiding their Marxist ideology, the new Communist warriors would seek positions of influence in seminaries, government, communities, and the media.The first phase in achieving “cultural hegemony” over a nation is the undermining of all elements of traditional culture.
Gramsci himself rejected Christianity and all its transcendent claims. Nevertheless, he knew Christian culture existed…. For that was the force binding all the classes… into a single, homogeneous culture. It was a specifically Christian culture, in which individual men and women understood that the most important things about human life transcended the material conditions in which they lived out their mortal lives.
He has a thing for Christian culture, don’t you think?
What does this have to do with my theory of history? Disallow others from controlling. Common culture provides governance with much less government. Destroy common culture and you inherently invite more government, more control.
But why the focus by Gramsci (and others, continuing to this day) on Western, Christian culture? Why not African culture, Chinese culture, whatever?
From which culture came forth the idea of liberty, from the earliest days of the Middle Ages? Where was the highest level of liberty achieved (over a meaningful population) by man on earth?
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.