When empires doubt themselves: 17th Century Spain and 21st Century America. Michael Vlahos.. @jhuworldcrisis.
Charles V continued to battle the French and the Protestant princes in Germany for much of his reign. After his son Philip married Queen Mary of England, it appeared that France would be completely surrounded by Habsburg domains, but this hope proved unfounded when the marriage produced no children. In 1555, Paul IV was elected pope and took the side of France, whereupon an exhausted Charles finally gave up his hopes of a world Christian empire. He abdicated and divided his territories between Philip and Ferdinand of Austria. The Peace of Augsburg ended the war in Germany and accepted the existence of the Protestant princes, although not Calvinism, Anabaptism, or Swiss Reformed.
Germany would enjoy relative peace for the next six decades. On the eastern front, the Turks continued to loom large as a threat, although war would mean further compromises with the Protestant princes, and so the Emperor sought to avoid it. In the west, the Rhineland increasingly fell under French influence. After the Dutch revolt against Spain erupted, the Dutch effectively ceased be a nominal part of the Holy Roman Empire, the culmination of a process of political divergence which had already begun in 1384.
After Ferdinand died in 1564, his son Maximilian II became Emperor, and like his father, accepted the existence of Protestantism and the need for occasional compromise with it. Maximilian was succeeded in 1576 by Rudolf II, a strange man who preferred classical Greek philosophy to Christianity and lived an isolated existence in Bohemia. He became afraid to act when the Catholic Church was forcibly reasserting control in Austria and Hungary, and the Protestant princes became upset over this. Imperial power sharply deteriorated by the time of Rudolf's death in 1612. When Bohemians rebelled against the Emperor, the immediate result was the series of conflicts known as the Thirty Years' War (1618–48), which devastated the Empire. Foreign powers, including France and Sweden, intervened in the conflict and strengthened those fighting Imperial power, but also seized considerable territory for themselves. The long conflict so bled the Empire that it never recovered its strength.
The actual end of the empire came in several steps. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years' War, gave the territories almost complete independence. The Swiss Confederation, which had already established quasi-independence in 1499, as well as the Northern Netherlands, left the Empire. The Habsburg Emperors focused on consolidating their own estates in Austria and elsewhere.
At the Battle of Vienna (1683), the Army of the Holy Roman Empire, led by the Polish King John III Sobieski, decisively defeated a large Turkish army, stopping the western Ottoman advance and leading to the eventual dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. The army was half forces of the Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth, mostly cavalry, and half forces of the Holy Roman Empire (German/Austrian), mostly infantry.
Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict by Ben-Dror Yemini.
The Industry of Lies is one of the greatest frauds of recent decades - a fraud of historic, even epic, proportions. When almost half of all Europeans believe that Israel treats the Palestinians just like the Nazis treated the Jews, when leading politicians assert that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the central cause of violence in the world, and when prominent intellectuals argue that Israel is an apartheid state, the unfortunate reality is that the lies are winning.
As a result, Israel has become the devil incarnate in the eyes of many otherwise good and reasonable people - people who genuinely want to see peace but inadvertently contribute to the continuation of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The tragedy is that they are neither helping the Palestinians nor promoting agreement or reconciliation. Instead, they lend legitimacy to the most fallacious claims of the most extreme activists, empowering not moderates but the worst of the radicals who have no interest in attaining peace.
Israel is not free from flaws. However, this book draws a clear distinction between legitimate criticism and the industry of lies that has emerged from two unlikely sources - the media and academia - undermining their reputation as bastions of truth and knowledge. Ben-Dror Yemini presents an in-depth analysis of the many inaccurate and malicious accusations leveled against Israel and refutes them one by one in this thought-provoking and well-researched volume that invites us to rethink the causes and consequences of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
SUMMARY OF LIFE: VOLUME 1
In defense of the nation state and in praise of monarchs. Gregory Copley, Defense & Foreign Affairs
A “Crowned Republic”
Most current constitutional monarchies have become indistinguishable in most characteristics from republics, and some republics have the attributes of monarchies.
Why, then, the protracted debate about which is the best, or the inevitable, form of governance? It is difficult to highlight that one form or other performs better or more responsively than another, although it is clear that the societies where the populace and governance act in harmony are usually most productive, or at least most harmonious. This means that the governance or hierarchical forms which are rooted historically in the values (ie: the cultures and logic) of a society achieve that harmony, even if work is needed to sustain the vigor of it.
What seems clear, however, is that the debate now reaching the proportion of a conflict is between the nation-state and the globalist view of the city-state. Thus, retaining security within nation-states becomes critical, given the logical risks of having security services becoming politicized and partisan. It is for that reason that all monarchies — including constitutional monarchies — ensure that the oath of allegiance is directly to the sovereign or the sovereign’s representative (governor-general or governor, in many instances), to attempt to ensure that the armed forces, in particular, remain loyal to the state, rather than to the governing political faction.
In the US, the oath of allegiance by the Armed Forces is to the Constitution, which is also significant, given attempts already by numerous administrations to declare the Constitution as an impediment to governance. This significant, and seemingly ceremonial point, may prove critical as the conflict between globalism and nationalism accelerates.
And it is for this reason that the great ideological effort of urban globalists — and such groups as even Cambodia’s rural-based socialist Khmer Rouge (1968-79) — has been the eradication or transformation of the teaching of history. Little wonder Ethiopia’s Dergue, beginning in 1974, burnt all the books it could of the nation’s three millennia of history.
Little wonder, too, that history has been either eradicated or politicized in most modern, urban-dominated societies.
‘The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.’ Peter Berkowitz @hooverinst
In Beinart’s telling, “The most shocking sentence in Trump’s speech—perhaps the most shocking sentence in any presidential speech delivered on foreign soil in my lifetime—was the president’s claim that ‘The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.’” Beinart then asserted that “[t]he implication is that anyone in the United States who is not white and Christian may not truly be American but rather…[is] an imposter and a threat.” This may not be the most egregious sophistry ever published in a reputable magazine’s coverage of a presidential speech in Beinart’s lifetime, but surely it is competitive.
The estimable William Galston, the center-left columnist at the Wall Street Journal, adopted a more measured tone and issued more circumspect judgments, but he still joined the progressive consensus that Trump advanced in Poland a divisive and authoritarian politics. Galston rebuked Trump because he “barely mentioned democracy,” speaking “instead of the ‘will to defend our civilization.’” Oddly for the author of a book titled “Liberal Purposes,” Galston overlooked that the West Trump called citizens to rally around was dedicated to, the president declared, “the dignity of every human life”; “the rights of every person”; and “the hope of every soul to live in freedom.”
Conservative commentators—including Rod Dreher, Marc Thiessen, Robert Merry, and Roger Kimball—dissected multiple progressive distortions. In addition, conservatives observed that Trump correctly attributed to the West the idea that tradition, faith, and fidelity to nation are complementary and integral features of a state dedicated to protecting individual liberty and respecting equality under law.
The conservatives, however, did not examine the sources within Western civilization that breed hostility to it. Progressives tend to view tradition and nation as foes of freedom and equality. In the extreme case—disproportionately represented at our universities—they contradictorily assert that the very idea of Western civilization is a recent delusive invention while insisting that the West’s roots extend back to Jerusalem and Athens and its essence is bigotry, racism, and imperialism.
The hard truth is that the West’s undeniable achievements in securing freedom and equality under law also foster skepticism and resentment toward the very beliefs, practices, and institutions on which the preservation of freedom and equality depends. The family, voluntary associations—very much including religious ones—and schools cultivate moral and intellectual virtues that equip citizens to prosper in liberal democracies. These associations prevent liberty from deteriorating into license and equality from mutating into the demand that everybody think alike. But an abundance of freedom and the spread of equality excite a scorn for limits and fuel a hunger for conformity. That in turn fosters an indiscriminate disdain for authority extending to the authority of family, faith, and formal education.
The self-doubt and self-loathing evident in advanced liberal democracies around the world cannot be blinked away, shamed or bullied into silence, or disposed of by refutations. But it can be tempered, especially by an education that focuses on the history of Western civilization, including the inspiring and sobering clash of opinions—about reason and faith, liberty and tradition, the individual and community—that constitutes it.
Cultivating progressives capable of grasping the complementarity of the West’s diverse elements—and, yes, conservatives more appreciative of the tensions among them—would substantially improve the United States’ prospects of dealing effectively with...
1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart.
A gripping and original account of how the Civil War began and a second American revolution unfolded, setting Abraham Lincoln on the path to greatness and millions of slaves on the road to freedom.
An epic of courage and heroism beyond the battlefields, 1861 introduces us to a heretofore little-known cast of Civil War heroes—among them an acrobatic militia colonel, an explorer’s wife, an idealistic band of German immigrants, a regiment of New York City firemen, a community of Virginia slaves, and a young college professor who would one day become president.
Their stories take us from the corridors of the White House to the slums of Manhattan, from the waters of the Chesapeake to the deserts of Nevada, from Boston Common to Alcatraz Island, vividly evoking the Union at its moment of ultimate crisis and decision. Hailed as “exhilarating….Inspiring…Irresistible…” by The New York Times Book Review, Adam Goodheart’s bestseller 1861 is an important addition to the Civil War canon.
Includes black-and-white photos and illustrations.
In the closing days of 1862, just three weeks before Emancipation, the administration of Abraham Lincoln commissioned a code setting forth the laws of war for US armies. It announced standards of conduct in wartime—concerning torture, prisoners of war, civilians, spies, and slaves—that shaped the course of the Civil War. By the twentieth century, Lincoln’s code would be incorporated into the Geneva Conventions and form the basis of a new international law of war.
In this deeply original book, John Fabian Witt tells the fascinating history of the laws of war and its eminent cast of characters—Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Lincoln—as they crafted the articles that would change the course of world history.
Witt’s engrossing exploration of the dilemmas at the heart of the laws of war is a prehistory of our own era. Lincoln’s Code reveals that the heated controversies of twenty-first-century warfare have roots going back to the beginnings of American history. It is a compelling story of ideals under pressure and a landmark contribution to our understanding of the American experience.
From the acclaimed Civil War historian, a brilliant new history—the most intimate and richly readable account we have had—of the climactic three-day battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), which draws the reader into the heat, smoke, and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier, and depicts the combination of personalities and circumstances that produced the greatest battle of the Civil War, and one of the greatest in human history.
Of the half-dozen full-length histories of the battle of Gettysburg written over the last century, none dives down so closely to the experience of the individual soldier, or looks so closely at the sway of politics over military decisions, or places the battle so firmly in the context of nineteenth-century military practice. Allen C. Guelzo shows us the face, the sights, and the sounds of nineteenth-century combat: the lay of the land, the fences and the stone walls, the gunpowder clouds that hampered movement and vision; the armies that caroused, foraged, kidnapped, sang, and were so filthy they could be smelled before they could be seen; the head-swimming difficulties of marshaling massive numbers of poorly trained soldiers, plus thousands of animals and wagons, with no better means of communication than those of Caesar and Alexander.
What emerges is an untold story, from the trapped and terrified civilians in Gettysburg’s cellars to the insolent attitude of artillerymen, from the taste of gunpowder cartridges torn with the teeth to the sounds of marching columns, their tin cups clanking like an anvil chorus. Guelzo depicts the battle with unprecedented clarity, evoking a world where disoriented soldiers and officers wheel nearly blindly through woods and fields toward their clash, even as poetry and hymns spring to their minds with ease in the midst of carnage. Rebel soldiers look to march on Philadelphia and even New York, while the Union struggles to repel what will be the final invasion of the North. One hundred and fifty years later, the cornerstone battle of the Civil War comes vividly to life as a national epic, inspiring both horror and admiration.
WINNER OF THE BANCROFT PRIZE
One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren't. In fact, they were performing an elaborate ruse, having risen up earlier and slaughtered most of the crew and officers. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception-that the men and women he thought were humble slaves were actually running the ship-he rallied his crew to respond with explosive violence.
Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity is the untold history of this extraordinary event and its bloody aftermath. Delano's blindness that day has already inspired one masterpiece-Herman Melville's Benito Cereno. Now historian Greg Grandin returns to these dramatic events to paint an indelible portrait of a world in the throes of revolution, providing a new transnational history of slavery in the Americas-and capturing the clash of peoples, economies, and faiths that was the New World in the early 1800s.
In This Arab Time: The Pursuit of Deliverance by Fouad Ajami. With @samueltadros, Hudson Institute.
"In this collection of bold and wide-ranging essays, Fouad Ajami offers his views on the Middle East, commenting on the state of affairs in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt and more. He brings into focus the current struggles of the region through detailed historical standpoints and a highly personal perspective.
The author discusses such landmark past events as the Algerian civil war, the state of the Arab world shortly after 9/11, and the pan-Arab awakening that began in 2011, as well as current events such as the Syrian rebellion and the repercussions of its brutal response from Bashar al-Assad. In addition, he sheds new light on some of the significant players in the Arab world, past and present, from Naguib Mahfouz, the Nobel laureate of the Arabs, to Ziad Jarrah—the terrorist who is thought to have been at the controls of the plane forced down by its heroic passengers in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9/11."