Archive for the ‘CONSERVATISM’ Category

CLASSICAL BRAZILIAN GEOPOLITICS: SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT

November 6, 2018

The German geographer Friedrich Ratzel in his book “Politische Geographie” (1897) developed a number of concepts of space, that interested both the father of classical geopolitics, Swedish Professor Rudolf Kjellén, and Sir Halford Mackinder of Great Britain. The latter’s central term was Heartland, more or less Russia (or later the Soviet Union), although the more exact area of the Heartland was in Siberia.

Brazil is regarded as the most notable school of classical geopolitical thought in Latin America. The output has been prolific and imaginative but also because Brazilian geopolitical concepts have been incorporated into its national development policies and its international relations.

It has influenced the country’s strategic culture. Focus has been on several distinct objectives: protection of its large coast line, the expansion into the interior, particularly into the Amazon Heartland, and the integration of the national territory. Expansion of influence in the Rio de la Plata Basin and the establishment and consolidation of a leadership role in Latin America are two other important objectives. Seeking great power status has been a strategic feature.

Brazilian geopolitics had two founders, Everardo Backheuser (1879 – 1951) and Mario Travassos (1891 – 1973). The former was greatly influenced by the Swedish father of geopolitics, Rudolf Kjellen. Backheuser focused on southern Brazil, border disputes with neighboring countries and the formation of Amazonia.

Travassos systematized Brazil’s geopolitical imperatives. In his 1935 book, ”Projecao Continental do Brasil” (Brazil’s Continental Projection), Travassos linked “integral security” and “development”. This would later be central to Brazilian geopolitics and influenced governments. Brazil according to Travassos should expand both internally and internationally along two main lines and not concentrate only on the coast.

First it was an East-West axis into the Amazon basin for the empty spaces. He called it ”longitudinal Brazil”. The transfer of the capital of Brazil from Rio at the coast to Brasilia into the interior must be seen as part of this development.

The second axis of expansion would be toward the former Mato Grosso state and into the so called Southern Cone. This was to minimize Argentina’s influence over states such as Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay extending influence into the River Plate Basin. Travassos regarded Mato Grosso, Bolivia and Paraguay as the South American Heartland.

Backheuser adapted the principles of Kjellén’s geopolitical theory to Brazilian circumstances, particularly the concept of “living frontiers”. This concept advocated the idea that borders, as organic entities, are fluid and flexible. They for instance respond to pressures exerted by neighboring countries.

He also believed that Brazil was emerging as a leading power in the region. Thus it should expand to the west and seek to develop ”empty spaces” to secure the nation.

In spite of Brazil’s efforts during many decades population and economic activity is still mostly concentrated in the region along the Atlantic coast. Nearly 80 per cent of the country’s population lives less than 200 kilometers away from the Atlantic coastline. The states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are responsible for 43 per cent of Brazil’s GDP.

The large landmass of Brazil was secured already during the colonial period. Between 1854 and 1907 the territory was further enlarged in settlements of territorial disputes with Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and French Guiana.

After World War II geopolitical theorists of the Escola Superior de Guerra (Superior War Coillege; ESG) came to play an important role in developing the theory of Brazilian geopolitics. ESG was established in 1949. Its motto “Security and Development” was the two pillars upon which the ESG formulated the National Security Doctrine (NSD). The doctrine incorporated the geopolitical concept of the nation-state as an organic entity. It also placed great emphasis on the aspects of a nation’s power: population, territory, economic and military capabilities, military strategy, a national grand strategy, and national will.

A leading geopolitician was General Golbery de Couto e Silva (1911 – 1987). With Carlos de Meira Mattos Couto e Silva’s projections were based on the large size of the country. Important was also Brazil’s support for the Western alliance in the struggle against international communism. To strengthen Brazil quick integration of Amazonia had to be supported.

Building the infrastructure was also crucial. This included roads in the interior and as well as airfields. Brazil’s strong position in South America today would not have been possible without the development during the 1960s and 1970s.

Couto e Silva in 1964 presented his views on how to best integrate and develop Amazonia:

-to articulate the ecumenical basis of the continent-wide projection of Brazil. The Northeast and the South would have to be connected to the center.

-it would be important to colonize the Northwest to integrate it with the rest of the country.

-the new frontier population would hold the frontier following the axis of the Amazon River.

Couto e Silva was also one of the founders of ESG and served as the Chief of Staff of the Presidency of the Republic from March 1974 to August 1981. Couto e Silva is by many regarded as a “Brazilian Henry Kissinger”.

Brazilian geopoliticians have also expressed an interest in Antarctica. During the government of Jose Sarney Brazil promoted the creation of a South Atlantic Zone of Peace and Co-operation (SAZOPC).

The 1966 book ”Geopolítica do Brasil” (Geopolitics of Brazil), by Couto e Silva was probably the most important contribution to modern Brazilian geopolitics. His views were similar to those of Travassos and Backheuser as he supported national integration and effective use of national resources, effective occupation of internal territories, solidification of border areas, and economic development as vehicles to obtain national greatness. Couto e Silva differed from the older geopoliticians in that he placed Brazil in the global geopolitical arena.

Brazil’s prospect when it came to furthering its national political, economic, and military objectives did not rest only on its own abilities in South America. The country needed to project influence beyond South America.

It was important for Brazil not only to control her own national territories in continental projection. Brazil also needed international influence. These developmental goals would have the additional benefit of increasing Brazil’s international prestige and would serve as a means of achieving greatness.

Carlos de Meira Mattos (1913-2007) also linked geopolitical principles to a National Security Doctrine, looking beyond Brazil’s continental influence. Mattos argued that Brazil as South America’s largest country had a legitimate geopolitical interest in the South Atlantic Ocean and the Antarctic. It was also linked to the West by geography, history, and by choice. Brazil should play a role in the defense of the Western hemisphere, as a whole.

There are at present signs that the new Brazilian administration of 2018 will be on more friendly terms with the United States and might want to play an active role in the defense of the West. President Trump has indicated a willingness to work closely with Brazil ”on trade, military and everything else”.

Markets have surged along with Jair Bolsonaro’s opinion polls and election. The market seems to believe that he can deliver on a market-friendly agenda. It also seems that the new Brazilian president will bring back the military into the political limelight. His first international trip is planned to Chile, which has elected a president on the political right. Realignment with more advanced economies also seems to be on the agenda of the new administration after the long leftist rule.

The fight against corruption will continue as a likely candidate for minister of justice will be the anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro.

Closer ties between the two largest economies of the Western Hemisphere could be possible. In a call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo collaboration on foreign policy issues were discussed, including Venezuela. Bolsonaro has vowed to increase pressure on Venezuela’s authoritarian leftist government to hold free elections that could stem the flow of refugees into neighboring Brazil and Colombia, also governed by a conservative president.

Fiscal reforms proposed by Bolsonaro’s free market adviser, Paulo Guedes, could also be on the table.Brazil’s currency has gained around 10 percent against the U.S. dollar during October 2018. Guedes wants to erase Brazil’s budget deficit within a year, simplify the tax code and reduce taxes. The goal is to create 10 million new jobs.

The leftist ruled Brazil created a weak economic growth and a huge budget deficits. The new government will thus face tough challenges.

Retired General Augusto Heleno, the likely new defense minister, has said that Bolsonaro has a positive view of a planned $4.75 billion joint venture between Boeing Co and Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA.

UNDERSTANDING ELITE RULE AND POPULISM: READING VISIONARY JAMES BURNHAM

October 14, 2018

American Greatness on December 21, 2018, recommended a number of books for those interested in understanding populism in the United States. Julius Krein, the editor of American Affairs, a quarterly journal of public policy and political thought, lauded a visionary book by James Burnham (1905 – 1987). Excerpts below:

In ”The Managerial Revolution: What Is Happening in the World” (1941), James Burnham explains the economic and intellectual history of the new “managerial” society that supplanted entrepreneurial capitalism over the course of the twentieth century. Closely connected with this economic transition is the shift from parliamentary and constitutional government toward administrative bureaucracy. Any work of this type will contain some anachronisms and mistaken predictions, but many of Burnham’s insights may seem more relevant now than at the time of writing, as the trends that he identified have only accelerated since then.

While rising “populism” receives significant attention today, our understanding of the composition and interests of the so-called “elite” is severely lacking. On one hand, “Conservatives” typically denounce the “adversary culture” and “postmodernism/relativism” of today’s intellectual elite, yet too often remain blind to the economic realities behind political and social transformations. “Progressives,” by contrast, protest rising inequality, yet ignore important differences between today’s elite and that of prior periods, specifically the separation between ownership and control that prevails in managerial arrangements and distinguishes them from classical notions of capitalism.

This failure to understand the nature of the current political and economic “elite” explains why so many politicians and intellectuals of the left and right have failed to understand voters’ dissatisfaction with the status quo. Reading Burnham is essential to correcting this misunderstanding and for developing better responses to present policy problems.

Comment: Burnham’s ”The Managerial Revolution” is a classic work in the field of elite study. He followed up in 1943 with another classic, ”The Machiavellians – Defenders of Freedom”. It was an account of a remarkable group of scholars who had studied how to preserve freedom in Western society. They were Gaetano Mosca, Georges Sorel, Robert Michels and Vilfredo Pareto. The original Machiavellian was of course the great Italian Niccoló Machiavelli. His method was the method of science applied to politics. It may be surprising to describe Machiavelli as a defender of liberty. He has incorrectly often been described as a proponent of tyranny. In reality he hated tyranny and believed that only out of the continuing clash of opposing groups could liberty flow. Liberty is the dominant ideal of the Italian master thinker. It is no wonder that the powerful throughout the ages have denounced the Florentine diplomat and writer. They can recognize an enemy who like Machiavelli will never compromise.

During the Cold War Professor Burnham was an important thinker on the threat of Soviet power and published three basic studies on American strategy in the conflict between Soviet totalitarianism and Western freedom.

RICHARD PIPES – USA:S LEDANDE RYSSLANDSKÄNNARE HAR AVLIDIT

May 19, 2018

Associated Press meddelade den 18 maj 2018 att den framstående Rysslandskännare professor Richard Pipes avlidit i sitt hem i Massachusetts, USA. Han var rådgivare till president Ronald Reagan och blev 94 år.

Den pensionerade juristen och författaren Bertil Häggman hade nöjet träffa professor Pipes vid ett antal konferenser på Kent Castle i sydöstra England i början av 1980-talet, där bland annat politiken mot Sovjetunionen behandlades.

Pipes son, den kände Mellanösternexperten Daniel Pipes, lämnade beskedet .

Pipes var född i Polen 1923 och flydde undan nazismen samt kom till USA 1940. Hela hans akademiska karriär var vid Harvarduniversitetet fram till pensioneringen år 1996. I början av 1980-talet var han chef för Eastern European and Soviet Affairs vid det nationella säkerhetsrådet under president Ronald Reagan.

Åren 1961 till 1979 var farliga år för Västvärldens demokratier. Då dominerade den så kallade fredliga samlevnaden vilket gjorde det möjligt för Moskva att flytta fram sina positioner. USA fäste under den perioden av det kalla kriget mindre vikt vid politiska och psykologiska operationer mot Sovjetväldet. Dessa operationer fortsatte och upphörde inte helt men fick mindre betydelse.

Reagan psykologiska och politiska operationer mot Sovjetblocket, har det visat sig, var starkt påverkade av konservativa strateger från slutet av 1940-talet fram till slutet av 1970-talet. En av dessa strateger var Rysslandshistorikern Richard Pipes. En annan var professor James Burnham vars böcker nu aktualiserats sedan valet 2016 i USA.

1980-talet kom att bli avgörande i det kalla kriget. När president Ronald Reagan tog över 1980 efter Carter hade de minskande försvarsutgifterna börjat bli ett hot mot USA:s och den icke-kommunistiska världens säkerhet. Reagan ändrade på försvarspolitiken och ökade försvarskostnaderna från 134 miljarder dollar 1980 till 253 miljarder dollar 1985. Målet var att balansera de sovjetiska ökningarna och ge USA en stark ställning vid förhandlingsbordet.

Reaganadministrationen åstadkom också en förändring i den sovjetiska expansionspolitiken. De halvhjärtade försöken till att stoppa sovjetisk aggression hade lett till en omfattande sovjetisk frammarsch främst under åren 1975 till 1979. Sovjetunionen strävade under den perioden aktivt efter världshegemoni och att kontrollera till exempel Centralamerika.

JAMES BURNHAM OCH SANNINGEN OM DE VÄNSTERLIBERALA POLITISKA ELITERNA

May 17, 2018

Den amerikanske statsvetaren James Burnham hade på förslag av kollegan Sidney Hook på 1930-talet börjat läsa verk av Machiavelli, den tyske statsvetaren Robert Michels, den italienske sociologen Vilfredo Pareto och den sicilianske teoretikern Gaetano Mosca. Av dessa banbrytande pionjärer på elitforskningens område utvecklades hans syn på ”den politiska vetenskap” som ledde till boken ”The Machiavellians – Defenders of Freedom” (1943; den finns inte översatt till svenska). Många betraktar den som Burnhams mest betydelsefulla bok.

Det var enligt Burnham italienaren Niccolò Machiavelli som grundade ”den politiska vetenskap” som blivit en väsentlig del av burnhamiternas tänkande. Innan Machiavelli skulle politik och internationella förbindelser i den politiska litteraturen vara “dygderika” och byggde på klassisk grekisk litteratur.

Den italienske diplomaten blev en stor förnyare vad gäller politiskt tänkande. Man får dock inte glömma bort att han också var en stark understödjare av italiensk enighet, ett stärkande av italiensk militärmakt till skydd mot utländska angripare och en stark anhängare av demokratisk kontroll av den styrande eliten. Samtidigt insåg den banbrytande italienske filosofen och tänkaren att politik främst var en maktkamp inte bara mellan individer utan också mellan stater.

Florentinarens arv finns i den realistiska skolan inom internationell politik (och som en följd också geopolitik). Denna skola framställer hypoteser om framtiden utan att ta hänsyn till det önsketänkande som de utopiska klassiska filosoferna hängav sig åt.

Machiavellis tankar om den formella och verkliga betydelsen inom den politiska retoriken till skillnad från myter spelade för Burnham en viktig roll. Den verkliga betydelsen kan bara utrönas inom existerande tid, rum och historia.

Den “politiska människan” är primärt en aktör som inte tänker logiskt utan drivs av “instinct, impulse” och särintresse.

Härskare och politiska eliter (också i moderna demokratier) är först och främst intresserade av att behålla sin egen makt och de egna privilegierna.

De machiavelliska tänkarna var enligt Burnham:

the only ones who have told us the full truth about [political] power.

Burnham ägnade i sin bok stort utrymme åt Macchiavellis ”Fursten” (den bästa svenska översättningen är av Paul Enoksson, Atlantis, som utkom för några år sedan), ”Discourses on Livy” (som finns på svenska under titeln ”Republiken”, även den översatt av Enoksson på Atlantis), The Art of War (som finns på danska under titeln ”Krigskunsten”, Helikon Forlag), ”History of Florence” men också Moscas ”The Ruling Class” (finns ej på svenska), Michels ”Political Parties” (som finns på svenska utgiven av Ratio) och Paretos ”Mind and Society” (som inte finns på svenska). Machiavellisternas empiriska studier bygger på fakta, inte målsättningar och utopier.

”The Machiavellians” har efter valet 2016 kommit att ägnas ett ökande intresse i USA. Det främsta bidraget om Burnham och eliter publicerades i tidskriften American Affairs av en ledande akademiker, Julius Krein, ”James Burnham’s Managerial Elite” (vårnumret 2017, Vol. 1, No. 1). Här skriver Krein bland annat om vad de amerikanska vänsterliberala eliterna misslyckats med:

The inability to reduce mass unemployment: although headline U.S. unemployment figures are low, labor participation rates are also at their lowest levels in decades.

Economic cycles are no longer trending higher: boom-bust cycles are economic inevitabilities, but when cycles overall trend downward, as the post–financial crisis recovery would suggest, it is a sign that the society “can no longer handle its own resources.”

Instability and manipulation of foreign exchange: many of the world’s major economies are effectively engaged in an undeclared currency war against each other.

Excess uninvested cash: the “mass unemployment of private money is scarcely less indicative of the death of capitalism than the mass unemployment of human beings. Both show the inability of the capitalist institutions any longer to organize human activities.” The same is true for managerial institutions. The inability of corporate or financial investors to find productive uses for increasing cash hoards—especially in light of unusually low interest rates—signals profound and systemic economic dysfunction.

Failure of advanced nations’ policies toward developing economies: in recent decades, the managerial model for economic development has been “globalization,” or the offshoring of labor-intensive industries to geographies with lower wages and employment costs. This model is now breaking down and not only because of political resistance in Western nations.

The inability to exploit technological advances: this failure applies not only to hypotheses concerning a slowdown in innovation but also to the likelihood that fully exploiting available technological advances would not positively “disrupt” but rather destabilize society. For Burnham, the fact that capitalism would be unable to implement new technologies without significantly increasing unemployment was a further indication that a new social organization had become necessary.

In place of the 1930s agricultural depression that Burnham described, consider the systemic challenge to managerial society posed by the collapse of the universities.
Ideological impotence: “no one who has watched the world during the past twenty years can doubt the ever-increasing impotence of the bourgeois ideologies,” wrote Burnham.

It is impossible say whether the accumulating problems facing managerial society are in fact the beginning of its demise or whether a transformation into new social arrangements is underway. Unlike in Burnham’s time, no new elite appears to be rising as a class.

VÄSTLIG NEDGÅNG?

May 11, 2018

Bertil Häggman och Claes G Ryn utkom 1971 med boken “Nykonservatismen i USA” (1971). Den väckt en ofta upprörd debatt. Författarna beskrev den amerikanska konservatismens rötter och senaste gestalt med början under 1950-talet. På vänstersidan var det stor upprördhet och i det borgerliga lägret noterade man med intresse den begynnande högervinden i Förenta Staterna.

Det kanske viktigaste kapitlet i boken var Bertil Häggmans ”Kritiken mot liberalismen: James Burnham”. År 2007 tog författaren och juristen Häggman upp Västerlandets självmord i en artikel publicerad i Captus Tidning. Den bok som hade gjort Burnham berömd var “Direktörernas revolution” (på svenska 1947). Här försökte den amerikanske professorn analysera vad som skulle hända efter andra världskriget. Om det nazistiska Tyskland segrade skulle världen domineras av tre stora hegemoner.

Vad var det som gjorde boken “Västerlandets självmord” så betydelsefull, särskilt för bedömningen av den nuvarande västerländska krisen? Burnham drog år 1964 slutsatsen att om världens utveckling fortsatte efter den som modell som skapats av socialdemokratin i Europa och vänstern i USA skulle det leda till förfall och Västs slutliga kollaps. När Sovjetunionen rasade samman år 1991 kunde det tyckas som om hotet hade minskat. Men åtminstone inom media och kommunikation fortsatte vänstern att dominera och från och till lyckades socialdemokraterna i Europa ta makten. De åtta åren med Obama-administrationen i USA har lett till inre motsättningar i USA. Donald Trumps seger i 2016 års val har gjort Burnhams analyser alltmer aktuella.

Bertil Häggman skrev 1971 om Burnham i Nykonservatismen i USAatt denne ville förstå vänstern i dess konkreta, nuvarande form som en motreaktion mot ”fienden till höger”. Utan denna fiende skulle någon vänster förmodligen inte existera.

Det fortsatta studiet av Burnham är oundgängligt. Hans varningar är särskilt värda att uppmärksammas när tillväxten i Europa stagnerar, befolkningsminskningen accelererar och tre anti-västliga imperier i Eurasien, bland dem Kina, kontinuerligt flyttar fram sina positioner.

I boken ”Direktörernas revolution” studerade Burnham de kommande eliterna i världen. När boken kom ut 1941 befann sig världen i ett skede av samhällsförändringar, ett skede som präglades av osedvanliga förändringar i samhällets institutioner: de ekonomiska och sociala, de politiska och kulturella. Vi befinner oss idag i ett liknande skede med snabba förändringar. En viktig fråga är om folken i Europa och Amerika börjat tröttna på de nuvarande eliterna, de politiska, ekonomiska och kulturella. Denna fråga kommer att behandlas närmare i några inlägg på denna blogg.

AN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY AGENDA

April 4, 2018

Washington Times on April 3, 2018 published a commentary by Jed Babbin, a former US deputy undersecretary of defense, on a new foreign policy agenda for the United States. Excerpts below:

There are at least four policy matters that could comprise an initial agenda for Mr. John Bolton, each of which would significantly assist the president in bolstering our national security.

In August 2016 Mr. Trump,…, said, “Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”

Mr. Trump was right and strategically so. Radical Islamic terrorism is motivated by a religiously-based ideology. It can only be won by the defeat of that evil ideology.

[Mr. Bolton] will be able to assemble the best psychological warfare…to craft and commence the campaign. He will be able to guide the president and other government leaders, to play their critical roles in defeating the Islamist ideology.

The ideological fight will take many years, perhaps decades, to win but there is no prospect of defeating this enemy unless it is won.

The next big item on Mr. Bolton’s agenda should be Mr. Obama’s 2015 nuclear weapons deal with Iran. Mr. Bolton, from the outset highly critical of the deal, can be expected to press the president to do the right thing and cancel the deal in May.

[The new national security advisor] steps into his new job at an opportune moment to address a third item on his agenda. The president is supposed to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the next few weeks. Mr. Bolton will be able to advise the president on the pitfalls of any proposed agreement with Mr. Kim. When the meeting ends, as it almost certainly will with no agreement other than to talk again, he will be able to convince the president to do far more than has been done to improve our defenses against ballistic missile attacks.

One of the ways to improve our ballistic missile defenses is a space-based system called “Brilliant Pebbles” first unveiled in the 1990s. It is a system of small interceptor missiles, linked to our satellite missile tracking systems, which — even with 1990s technology — would have made America almost penetration-proof against such attacks. Modern technology would make the system even more effective depriving many adversaries, not just North Korea, of a “first strike” capability.

The fourth item on Mr. Bolton’s agenda should be to recommence sending captured terrorists to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Gitmo, isolated and secure, is a place where terrorists can be interrogated at length. Such interrogations, which take place over months and even years, have proven to be a consistent source of actionable intelligence.

Under the law of war, we can hold prisoners until the conflict is over. It has never been demonstrated that Gitmo benefits terrorist recruitment, but so what if it does? Gitmo — and the fact that no prisoners are tortured there, a fact that is verified by frequent inspections by international groups — is another weapon we should use in the ideological war.

Comment: In addition to the war against terrorism the West is at present facing three major imperial challengers: China, Iran/Persia and Russia. Of Mr Babbin’s policy recommendations two deal with the war on terrorism, one with Iran and one with the threat of missile attacks by North Korea, China and Russia. The two latter recommendations are helpful in the case of the challenges the West is today facing from empires in the rimland of Eurasia and the Russian heartland.

MOST INFLUENTIAL EVANGELICALS IN AMERICA

November 19, 2017

Newsmax on November 17, 2017, published a list of the 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America including pastors, teachers, politicians, athletes, and entertainers — men and women from all walks of life whose faith leads them to live differently and to help others in a variety of ways. Please find below the top ten names:

1. Billy Graham — Rev. Graham has slowed down in his active ministry — he will turn 100 next November — but he’s built a legacy as the greatest preacher of the gospel America has ever known. Graham has preached the gospel to nearly 215 million people in stadiums around the world and led more than 3.2 million people to Christ at his Crusades over the years. But his influence is felt beyond the call of invitation as well. Graham opposed racial segregation in the 1950s, integrated his services, and worked to dismantle the black and white divide in America’s church. He advised U.S. presidents on spiritual matters over the course of five decades.

2. Franklin Graham — A bit of a prodigal son in his youth, Franklin Graham eventually followed in his father Billy Graham’s footsteps while also forging his own influential ministry through Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that provides disaster and humanitarian relief and also offers the gospel to millions of people around the world.

3. Joel Osteen — Encouraging people to believe that God will bless them in big ways, Osteen’s messages are televised to more than 7 million viewers each week and 20 million each month in more than 100 countries. He pastors the largest church in America, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, with some 45,000 weekly attendees.

4. Mike Huckabee — The former pastor who served as governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, Huckabee was a Republican primary presidential candidate in 2008 and 2016, winning the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008. He had a talk show on the Fox News Channel from 2008 to 2015 and has also written best-selling books about the intersection of politics and religion. He now hosts “Huckabee” on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

5. Pat Robertson — Perhaps best known as the host of the “The 700 Club,” Robertson is the chancellor and CEO of Regent University and the chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also founded the International Family Entertainment Inc. (ABC Family Channel, now Freeform), and the American Center for Law and Justice, among other organizations, and is an important voice for conservative Christianity in the United States.

6. Rick Warren — The founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, a megachurch in California, Warren became a household name with the release of his book “The Purpose Driven Life,” which sold more than 32 million copies and is widely billed as one of the best-selling nonfiction hardcover book in history.

7. Jerry Falwell Jr. — The president of Liberty University, one of the largest evangelical Christian colleges in the U.S., Falwell took over after his father’s and the school founder’s death in 2007. He has made controversial remarks about gun rights and endorsed Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention in his support. Falwell Jr. also invested $5 million of Liberty’s endowment in Israel in 2016.

8. Joyce Meyer — A charismatic Christian author, Meyer has written more than 100 books and hosts a popular TV show, “Enjoying Everyday Life,” that teaches people how to live the Christian life and overcome their problems with faith in Christ and common sense.

9. Mike Pence — The former Indiana governor was chosen by Trump to be his vice president in large part for his traditional Christian conservatism. He is notably creationist and pro-life, and attributes many of his political stances to his evangelism. As one commentator put it, “Pence doesn’t simply wear his faith on his sleeve — he wears the entire Jesus jersey.”

10. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey — A married couple, Burnett and Downey are television and movie producers who have produced faith-based content like “The Bible” miniseries and 2016’s “Ben-Hur,” run Lightworkers Media, the family and faith division of MGM studios, and launched Light TV in 2016, a faith-based television channel through MGM.

RULE BY SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IN THE WEST MEANS CONTINUED DECLINE

October 9, 2017

The Guardian (UK) on September 29, 2017, published an article, (”The right is rising and social democracy is dying across Europe – but why”) by Josef Joffe, a German editor of the journal Die Zeit and American academic (Hoover Institution, Stanford University). A similar article by Joffe but on the global implications of this trend can be found on-line at the journal American Conservative (”The Relentless Decline of the Social Democracy in the West”) in October 2017.

It is an important subject. For excerpts from the Guardian article see below:

To put it brutally, the reformist left is losing its customer base

The common denominator is resentment and protest.

…these sentiments highlight a…bigger picture: the precipitous decline of those large centre-left parties…that have governed…Europe since the second world war.

The[German Social Democratic Party] SPD is battling long-term decay. Here, too, Germany is not alone; the signs of decline for social democracy stretch across Europe.

In Italy, the once mighty Italian Socialist party (PSI) is no more. The Socialist party in France used to be strong…In this year’s presidential race, they captured only 6.4% in the first round. In Scandinavia, the moderate left has taken a beating.

The Dutch Labour party (PvdA) has plunged from 19% to less than 6% in five years. A similar fate has befallen Greece’s Pasok. To take in the whole panorama, imagine a map of Europe. Twenty years ago, the map was mainly covered in red, the traditional colour of social democracy. Today, only five countries are inked in red. (Comment: one of these five countries is the small island of Malta in the Mediterranean).

Then look farther afield. At first sight, Britain sticks out as the great exception because Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour almost edged out the Tories in the June election. Arguably, the verdict was more anti-May than pro-Labour.

In the US, the Democrats seem to fare much better, given their majority of the popular vote in 2016. Now look again, at middle America. Since Barack Obama’s first victory, the Republicans have gained 1,000 additional seats in the state legislatures, and 34 out of 50 governors are Republicans.

What happened?

Historically, social democrats rose to power in tandem with a rising working class. Now, this once mighty force is shrinking along with manufacturing as a share of GDP. In the past 50 years, that portion has roughly dropped from 35% to 15% throughout the West. To put it brutally, the reformist left is losing its customer base, and it shows in all recent elections.

It is also losing its unique selling point, which is redistribution and the all-providing state. Take Martin Schulz, the SPD’s hapless candidate for chancellor. His message was “social justice” – taking from the rich to help the poor through taxes and benefits. But today’s German workers are middle class, and the highest tax bracket bites at €50,000 – the salary of an upper-level teacher or skilled worker.

These folks do not look forward to more taxation – not in a country where the government takes in almost half of GDP…So the SPD must find another selling point. Yet the SPD is trapped by its traditions.

Comment: It is important to consider the Scandinavian countries. These were once the core of European social democracy. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden were for decades ruled by social democratic parties sometimes with the support in parliament by communist parties. In 2017 the scene is different. The center right is ruling in Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Finland. Sweden is the only exception. The reason for social democratic rule in Sweden is not that voters like overwhelming state influence in most sectors. In the 2014 elections the voters had lost confidence in the center right alternative. In 2017 the center right parties have not regained the confidence they had from 2006 to 2014. They may still have chance in the 2018 elections but must shape up. The Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) is in the fall of 2017 supported by around 30 percent of the electorate. The party should be down at around 20 percent like the German SPD.

In general terms the way forward in the West is not a moderate reformist brand of socialism. What saved Sweden between 2006 and 2014 was a center right government that lowered taxes and introduced pro-enterprise reforms. Like Germany Sweden is an exporting country and SAP has been able to remain in power thanks to the reforms of non-socialist parties and a fairly strong economy in Europe. The relentless decline of social democracy will most likely continue in the West. Rule by social democratic parties in America and Europe can only mean continued decline of the West. One can only wish that the present trend of social democratic parties on both sides of the Atlantic will continue.

Preussisk renässans?

August 7, 2017

Tyskland har efter murens fall upplevt en renässans för den 1945 upplösta staten Preussen, dess historia och kultur. Redan 1986 förde den dåvarande östtyska regimen vid firandet av 200-årsminnet av Fredrik den stores död tillbaka hans ryttarstaty till Unter den Linden i Berlin. Den finns givetvis kvar nu och ser mycket bättre ut efter en grundlig renovering.

Det har skrivits en rad böcker om Preussen under de senaste årtiondena: Sebastian Haffners ”Preussen ohne Legende” (1978), Marion Gräfin Dönhoffs ”Preussen – Mass und Masslosigkeit”. Nya tjocka biografier om Preussenkungarna har kommit ut. Haffner skrev i sin bok att han med den ville befria Preussen från två legender: den ”svarta” legenden, som de allierade skapade 1947 då de upplöste staten Preussen och den ”gyllene”, att Preussen alltid sett som sin uppgift att ena Tyskland.

Större delen av Preussen på Fredrik den stores tid ligger nu i Polen, Ryssland och Litauen. Kvar i Tyskland finns egentligen bara kärnlandet kring Berlin och den omgivande delstaten Brandenburg. Det finns få stater som satt känslorna så i svallning som Preussen. Samtidigt kan man inte jämföra Preussen med Bayern eller Sachsen. Det var i stället ett konglomerat av territorier.

Vilka var då de preussiska dygderna, det positiva: pliktuppfyllelse, lydnad, fromhet, tolerans, trofasthet, öppenhet mot flyktingar, enkelhet. Listan är lång och imponerande.

Fredrik den store var en liberal monark. Landet erkände som ett av de första Förenta Staterna. Ett år före sin död undertecknade Fredrik ett vänskapsfördrag med USA, som av George Washington betecknades som ”det mest liberala fördrag, som någonsin tecknats mellan två oavhängiga stater.” Brandenburg-Preussen tog 1685 emot tiotusentals franska hugenotter och gav dem fristad i Berlin, Stettin och Königsberg (nu ryska Kaliningrad). Från Schlesien, Österrike, Schweiz och Holland kom religionsförföljda till Brandenburg. I den preussiska landsrätten infördes tidigt en rättighetskatalog liknande den som finns i den amerikanska författningen. Likhet inför lagen var inte en tom fras i Preussen.

Preussen var inte heller krigshetsande. En genomgång av krig mellan 1680 och 1940 visar att Preussen-Tyskland förde mindre angreppskrig än England, Frankrike, Spanien och Ryssland. Landet var således inte någon barbarisk soldatstat utan centrum för kultur, litteratur och vetenskap.

Tysklands roll efter 1945 har varit att vårda det goda i det preussiska arvet. 2001 var det utställningen ”Preussen 2001 – en europeisk historia” (Charlottenburgs slott), ”Marksteine: Eine Entdeckungsreise durch Brandenburg-Preussen” (Kutschstall, Potsdam).

Sedan 2001 har det kommit en rad nya böcker om Preussen. En av de viktigaste var ”Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947” av Christopher Clark, ett massivt verk på 816 sidor, som utkom 2006. Den torde ha bidragit till att förändra den anglo-saxiska bilden av Preussen.

KEEPING AMERICA SAFE AND STRONG

June 2, 2017

Washington Times on June 1, 2017 published a commentary by Wesley Pruden on President Trump’s abandoning of the Paris climate agreement. Excerpts below:

“As of today,” he said, “the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. We’re getting out but we’ll start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”

This was exactly what the 196 signers needed to hear, and the president told them without heat, bombast or blather.

The president thus makes good on one of his most important campaign promises, mocking the holy writ of global warming, or “climate change” as it’s called now because the globe refuses to warm as promised and all the dead polar bears are still not dead and the ocean that was supposed to have inundated the financial district of lower Manhattan by now, [is still above water].

The president sounds like the reasonable one now. “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris accord for an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.” He identified several sectors of the American economy that would lose jobs and paychecks if the United States stays in the accord — 2.7 million jobs by 2025.

This puts a large dent in Barack Obama’s legacy, about which he can’t stop talking.

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” he said, trying to remember how to affect a presidential tone. “I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership, even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future, I’m confident that our states, cities and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.” This was a stunning exercise in disrespect for the one president we currently have, and for the office as well. Pittsburgh and Peoria with a foreign policy.

Mr. Trump’s critics are eager now to play holier than thou — even the pope, who had said earlier that if Mr. Trump withdrew from Paris the Vatican would take it as “a slap in the face.” Leonardo DiCaprio was disappointed, too, because he had earlier urged Mr. Trump to “make the moral position.” Moral tutelage from the Vatican and Hollywood on the very same day. Religiosity reigns, if only for the day.

But back where it counts, the president’s decision won praise from Republicans in Congress. “I applaud President Trump and his administration for dealing with yet another blow to the Obama administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs.” Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment, observed that “the Paris climate agreement set unworkable targets that put America at a competitive disadvantage.”

Whatever new agreement President Trump can make will be a treaty, and must, as the Constitution makes clear, be ratified by the Senate. Barack Obama, the famous professor of constitutional law, wouldn’t do that because he knew that the Paris agreement would never have made it through the Senate..

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.

Comment:  The Paris climate agreement is an unequal treaty forcing the United States and other Western nations to pay for China’s heavy use of fossil fuels.  Conservatives in the United States have praised the president for his move.

Mike Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America: [Trump is “not succumbing to pressure from special interests and cosmopolitan elites.”

“Withdrawal from the agreement marks a critical step in unraveling former President Obama’s destructive legacy,” President Trump’s decision is a win for both his administration and the American people.”

 

The Club for Growth:  [Trump’s decision put] “American taxpayers and businesses back in the driver’s seat.”

“For far too long the Obama Administration allowed foreign governments and alarmist environmentalists to dictate, not only climate change policy, but worse our nation’s economic policy,” President Trump’s decision sends a strong message to the environmentalist movement: no longer will the United States be strongarmed by their scare tactics intended to harm our economy and inhibit economic growth.”

 

Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute: [Trump is] “leading the world toward a brighter future.”

“The Paris Climate Agreement promises no measurable climate benefits at an incredible economic and political cost to Americans,” By getting out of the agreement, President Trump is leading the world toward a brighter future as low energy prices over the long-term will benefit consumers and energy-intensive industries.”