Friday, November 29, 2013

Island Disputes Part III: The Northern Territories

Not many people are probably aware of the fact that World War II in the Pacific is not really “over” yet. That is because there has never been an official peace treaty, ending the war between Japan and Russia. Why is that, you may ask? The answer is because of some more disputed islands, this time in the North Pacific, known as the south Kuril Islands in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. These are a few, small, rather insignificant islands which are controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan. As with most territorial disputes involving Japan and her, oh-so-courageous, republican neighbors, it only came about after the Japanese defeat in World War II, after Japan enacted a constitution that forbid warfare as a means of settling disputes. How convenient. To understand this problem though, we need to go back to the beginning. Today the disputed islands are Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai Islands, keep those names in mind.

The northern islands between Japan and Russia had been a source of confusion and dispute even before the two countries had any diplomatic relations with each other. When the two countries did finally sign a treaty, in 1855, the Treaty of Shimoda, it specified that the border between the Empires of Russia and Japan would run between the islands of Etorofu and Uruppu. So the island of Etorofu and everything south belonged to Japan and Uruppu and everything north belonged to the Kuril Islands of Russia. The islands of Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai Islands, all south of Etorofu, were all recognized as belonging to the Empire of Japan and, in fact, their status was never even in dispute. The bigger issue had always been the larger island of Sakhalin which was inhabited by both Russian and Japanese nationals. To keep the peace, both countries agreed to share Sakhalin. This, however, proved impossible and so in the 1875 Treaty of St Petersburg the Japanese gave all Sakhalin to Russia completely in exchange for which the Russians gave up all of the Kuril Islands to Japan. Later, after the Russo-Japanese War, the peace treaty gave the southern half of Sakhalin back to Japan but nothing else changed.

Later, in 1941, the Empire of Japan and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact in which both promised to respect the territorial borders of the other and to take no part in any conflict that involved Japan or the Soviet Union with a third power. It was signed in April of 1941 and was stipulated to be valid for five years, so it would not have expired until April of 1946. The Empire of Japan was scrupulously faithful to this agreement and this is why, for example, when her fellow Axis partners Germany and Italy invaded the Soviet Union only a couple of months later, Japan took no part. The only mistake Japan made was in assuming that communists ever keep their word or honor their agreements. In spite of the non-aggression pact, the Soviet Union agreed with Britain and America to go to war with Japan after Germany was defeated in Europe. Of course, because communists are as cowardly as they are untrustworthy, the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin waited until after the war had already effectively been won and after America had dropped one atomic bomb on Japan and one day before they dropped the second, to suddenly stab the Japanese in the back and invade the pro-Japanese Empire of Manchukuo. They grabbed everything of military or industrial value, looting basically the entire infrastructure set up by Japan before going on to loot, rape and murder the Manchu populace. Three days after Japan surrendered to the Allies, Soviet forces also moved in to invade and occupy the Kuril Islands.

Now, it is important to remember that when the Allies were dividing up the spoils, so to speak, to be gained from a defeated Japan that these islands were not included. The drive to gain territory at the expense of Japan was mostly driven by the Republic of China which was eager to take advantage of Japan losing World War II (mostly to the United States) to regain all territory lost in conflicts with Japan previously that had nothing to do with the Second World War. So, the Cairo Declaration of 1943 stated that, “Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed”. Now, keep in mind that the islands in dispute today and, in fact, one could say all of the Kuril Islands (which Japan does not claim) were not part of this since Russia recognized from their very first diplomatic agreement with Japan that these islands were Japanese territory and the rest of the Kuril Islands were not gained “by violence and greed” but by a peaceful agreement with Russia in exchange for the Japanese half of Sakhalin.

When the official treaty ending the war between Japan and the Allies was signed, the Treaty of San Francisco, the Soviet Union refused to sign on, in part because the treaty did not recognize the Soviet right to the islands they had occupied. In 1956 a Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration was signed to end the state of war between these two countries prior to a permanent peace treaty, a peace treaty which has still not been agreed to. In the declaration the Soviets agreed to return the Habomai and Shikotan Islands to Japan to be carried out after a permanent peace treaty was signed but that has never happened. More might have been done at the time but the United States objected in 1956 and to this day Japan and Russia have not agreed on who should control which islands. Today Russia still claims that even the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri are part of the Kurils and thus Russian territory in spite of the fact that, as mentioned at the beginning, the Russian Empire never claimed these islands and in their original treaty with Japan in 1855 recognized them as Japanese territory. The fact should also be reiterated that the entire Kuril island chain was not gained by Japan by violence but by peaceful territorial exchange and Japan does not claim all of these islands or the southern half of Sakhalin that was lost to the Soviets after World War II. All Japan claims is those islands which had been recognized as Japanese territory by Russia from the very beginning.

Unfortunately, in the years since, Russia has chose only to exacerbate the issue. When the Soviets first occupied the islands, they rounded up all the inhabitants, over 17,000 people, and deported them to Japan -what some people would call ethnic cleansing. Since the Putin-Medvedev regime in Russia started to take measures to befriend Communist China, tensions between Russia and Japan over the islands have increased. A visit by President Medvedev in 2010 provoked Japan to sever diplomatic relations with Russia and in 2011 Russia began militarizing the islands. In 2013, in an effort to salvage the situation, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin but, as yet, no agreement has been reached nor does the current situation inspire much cause for optimism as Russia has declared that a Japanese recognition of Russian sovereignty over the islands is a prerequisite to any negotiations on the matter and, of course, Russian sovereignty over the islands is exactly the matter in dispute to be negotiated over. So, Japan says, “they belong to us” and Russia says, “they belong to us” and when Japan says, “we seem to have a disagreement, let us discuss the issue”, Russia responds with, “we will discuss it if you agree first that they belong to us”. It is a completely ridiculous situation and seems all the more so coming from what is the largest country on earth, referring to these miniscule and practically valueless islands gained illegally by a violation of their word of honor as “an important region of our country”. It is an unjust violation of Japan for Russia to hold these islands and a shame that the Russia of today should defend the criminal behavior of the Soviet regime they succeeded.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Flag Flaps, Part III, Australia

The debate over the Australian national flag is one of those annoying little issues that can be extremely frustrating. Those who advocate scrapping the Australian flag for a new design have never come anywhere close to gaining the support of a majority of the people and yet, partly thanks to an often treasonous mainstream media, the issue never seems to go away. It continues to be brought up and discussed over and over again in spite of the fact that no poll has ever shown more than 32% in favor of changing the flag and recent polls have shown even less support than that. Those who favor changing the flag invariably wrap themselves in the most popular, “warm and fuzzy” catch-phrases of modern political-speech like “uniqueness” and “multiculturalism”, yet, when you boil it down, it seems what they are most upset about is that Australia never had a really bloody, horrific revolutionary war in order to become an independent country. The Australian national flag came about in much the same way that the independent Commonwealth of Australia itself did, moderately, peacefully and over a period of time. That would seem to be the ideal way for a country to gain independence, yet it seems these people wish things could have been different and rather than be proud of how mature and reasonable Australia behaved in the past, they wish there had been a murderous tantrum instead. Does that sound mad? Give it some thought.

The primary complaint made by the anti-Australian flag crowd is the presence of the Union Jack in the canton. They dislike this because the Union Jack is also the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and because it is a reminder of the colonial history of Australia as the flag is basically a modified British Blue Ensign. This is entirely understandable because Australia began as a collection of British colonies, as part of the British Empire and so the flag of the British Empire was not the flag of a foreign country, but the flag of Australia and every other part of the British Empire. As Australia came together as one country and gained independence the British Blue Ensign was modified to become the uniquely Australian flag we know today. This was not the case in, for example, the United States of America which started out with a defaced British Red Ensign but dropped the Union Jack (as it was then) also called the “King’s Colours” when independence was declared during the Revolutionary War. It would have been rather absurd for rebel colonists in America to continue flying the flag of a country they were at war with, whose soldiers they were trying to kill as best they could. Yet, none of that happened with Australia. Britain was never an enemy of Australia, they have never fought a war against each other and so the British flag was not the flag of an enemy but the flag of the “mother country” and the British Empire which was the seed bed that the Commonwealth of Australia grew in.

There was no radical change in flag design because there was no radical break with Great Britain. Australian independence came about step by step, legally and peacefully with no bitterness or animosity. It seems some wish it had not been so. These are the sort of people who are, make no mistake about it, traitors in their heart and soul who I am sure wince in physical pain when reading the words of the great Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies who called himself, “British to the bootstraps” and who said that, “…the common devotion to the throne is part of the very cement of the whole national structure.” There should be no doubt that everyone agitating for changing the Australian national flag is also a republican (which makes them a traitor) and some will proudly admit it. Some will smugly proclaim that they oppose the Australian national flag because it features the Union Jack and the Union Jack symbolizes the British monarchy (which is also the Australian monarchy but good luck getting any of them to say that). So, again, it seems that they cannot enjoy being an independent country because that independence came with no hateful, violent break with the past.

Of course, the anti-flag crowd would never admit to such a thing. Instead, they complain that the Australian flag is too similar to other flags and that it does not represent the modern, multi-cultural Australia because all the symbolism on the flag is British (which is not entirely true but that is the argument). The idea that it is a problem that the flag looks too similar to some others is certainly an absurd one. The only other sovereign state with a flag similar to that of Australia is New Zealand, so it is not as though there is a great deal of confusion gripping the peoples of the world. One other flag is similar and that is all. There would be more grounds for confusion over the United States flag which is similar to at least two other countries; Liberia and Malaysia. Yet, no one complains. You will certainly never hear anyone in Texas complain that the beloved Lone Star must be tossed aside because some might confuse it with the flag of Chile. How about Turkey and Tunisia or Slovakia, Slovenia and Russia? What about Indonesia and Monaco? What about Mexico, Italy and Ireland? Chad and Andorra? It is, frankly, ridiculous and more than that, it contradicts their very own, paramount, argument concerning multi-culturalism.

There is, after all, a reason why the flags of New Zealand and Australia are similar just as there is a reason why the flags of Canada, India and South Africa used to be similar; all were a part of the British Empire. Obviously, those wishing to change the flag despise that fact and hate their own history but if they value multiculturalism so highly, surely there was never a more multicultural entity than the British Empire. The British Empire included the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic peoples (all of them outside the United States), French-Canadians in Quebec, Dutch Boers, Africans of various tribes, the Hindu states of India, the Buddhists of Burma, the Chinese of Hong Kong and the largest population of Muslims in the world. What on earth could be more multicultural than that? And how is it that the Union Jack (which is really the only part of the flag most of these people object to) cannot be considered a symbol of multicultural Australia when it is still the symbol of a very multicultural Great Britain which has sizeable minorities of peoples from countries as far flung as Jamaica, Poland and Pakistan? Of course, they will counter that with an even more absurd argument which is that it is just not “proper” for an independent country to have the flag of another country as part of its own. This, frankly, displays an astounding level of stupidity.

For one thing, it is not just “another country” but the country that, whether these people like it or not, founded and brought up what became the modern Commonwealth of Australia. These people cannot seem to get beyond their own prejudices and accept the fact that there would be no Australia if it had not been for the British Empire and those first British ships and British colonists who came and built the country from the ground up. However, the argument that it is “improper” for an independent country to feature, as part of its flag, the flag of another country, while being grossly insulting to other countries and states and provinces around the world that do the same, is so astoundingly absurd, I can really only think of one way to best respond to it and that is with a question. I would really like to pose this to one of the advocates of changing the Australian flag: “Why are you speaking English then?” After all, you’re a totally different and multicultural country now, so why do you still speak the language of your former “colonial masters”? Isn’t it “improper” for one independent country to speak the exact same language as another country? I know, I know, that sounds extremely silly but that is the whole point. Australians speak English because they were founded by English-speaking peoples just like how the Australian flag features the Union Jack because they were founded by people for whom the Union Jack was “their” flag and proudly so.

The Australian flag, the flag that has accompanied Australians to battle in both world wars and every conflict since, represents the entirety of Australian history whereas these people seem to want a flag that represents only the Australia of today which might not even be the Australia of tomorrow. It is absurd. However, it is part of a larger and more insidious effort to divorce Australia entirely from the traditions and values that made the country. Part of that, all here should take notice, is the monarchy. There is scarcely any argument made for changing the flag that could not, and for the most part has not been, used to argue for abolishing the monarchy as well. For many people across the entire English-speaking world those three crosses of St George, St Andrew and St Patrick that make up the Union Jack represent monarchy like no other symbol. The enemies of monarchy are always trying to hide it, change it and remove it from view and all monarchists in the world should stand together in opposition to this. All monarchists everywhere and most certainly all those in the English-speaking world should give all of our support to our loyal brethren ‘Down Under’ in defending and maintaining the Australian flag.

God Save the Queen! God bless Australia and keep it flying!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Monarchist Quote

"Had as much effort been directed to strengthening Bao Dai as was employed in ruining him, and with him the monarchy, a strong Vietnam directed by a premier heading a broad-based popular government might have welded the disparate groups into a solid front against the Reds."
-Hilaire du Berrier

(Note: This is a monarchist quote, not a quote by a monarchist as I would not call Hilaire du Berrier a monarchist, however, he was certainly of the opinion that the monarchy was the right answer to the problems in Vietnam)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dealing with Iran

As most who follow the news are probably aware, an agreement has just been reached between a number of countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran by which the international sanctions on Iran will be partially lifted in exchange for the Iranian government stopping the enrichment of uranium beyond a certain level so as to avoid them gaining nuclear weapons. It will probably surprise few that, from what I have heard, it does not sound like a “good deal” to me. In all fairness though, I must say that there are few possibilities I could imagine in which I would favor any sort of a deal with the current Iranian regime. I do not want it to become “acceptable” to the rest of the world, I do not want it to become “one of the club” as I detest it to its very core. Such is the case, not only because it calls America “the Great Satan” or has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” but because it is a barbaric and illegitimate regime that would certainly have killed the last Shah of Iran if they ever could have gotten their uncivilized hands on him. Even if they had not become one of the biggest sponsors of terrorism in the world, that alone would have been enough to make them a permanent pariah in my book. And I do not say that simply as the knee-jerk reaction of a monarchist but because I believe the Shah was a basically good man who had the best interests of his country at heart, who was trying to do the right thing and who was making the lives of his people better and glorifying his country. I think the villainous portrayal of the late Shah is one of the most gross miscarriages of justice that has occurred in my lifetime.

Yet, there is something that disturbs me even more than this agreement, at least in a way. Because I expect very little from the self-serving governments of America, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. The crimes of Iran, for example, could not hold a candle to the monstrous misdeeds of the communist regime in China. Rather, it is the number of seemingly sensible tradition-minded people, some of whom even claim to be monarchists, who seem to support Iran. Some of them even openly so. The very idea astounds me but most seem to argue that they think much of what the Iranian mullahs do is a pretty good idea. They like the idea of stoning adulterers, hanging homosexuals and are not very impressed with Iran under the Shah being a country with mini-skirts and Hollywood movies. Of course, they might think differently if it was their own wife, sister or daughter who was stoned to death for being raped or perhaps turning down an advance from a man who decided to use the law to take his revenge. However, even if this position was a valid one, it would still make no sense. The radicals ruling in Iran today, let their be no mistake, are not just enemies of the warped, licentious society that western civilization has become. Do not be fooled, they are the enemies of western civilization as it has always been no matter how far back one wishes to go.

It is undeniable that there is much about modern western society that is disgusting and despicable, but the sort of fanatics in power in Iran did not just start hating the west since the ‘swinging sixties’. These are people who would have called the height of the Renaissance a den of depravity (all that drinking and art with unclothed women), who would find the Middle Ages morally deplorable (after all, there was dancing going on -with men and women actually touching each other!) and who were already screaming death to the “Great Satan” when Beaver Cleaver was on TV and Lucie and Ricky (a real life married couple) were still sleeping in separate beds and the word “pregnant” was considered too graphic for audiences. Anyone who thinks that devout Christians of the west could ever make common cause with the brand of religious zealotry practiced by the rulers of modern Iran is very much mistaken. If anything, they would oppose the restoration of a more traditional Christendom if for no other reason than that it would be a much stronger enemy to overcome. One can see this quite clearly in the sort of people they choose to do business with today.

After all, do not think it is any accident that Iran has decided to negotiate with the west (and Russia and China but they are on the Iranian side already) at a time when you have an open socialist in Paris, a socialist in denial in Washington and a very much pretended “conservative” in London. Even the lukewarm, mainstream “right” in America would never have dreamed of coming to such an agreement with Iran. Does anyone think George W. Bush would have done such a thing? The elder Bush would not have, going so far as to befriend Saddam Hussein in order to oppose the regime in Iran and before him was Ronald Reagan who spoke out publicly in defense of the Shah and his rule of Iran, criticizing President Carter for his shameful betrayal of a man who had been a reliable ally of the western world. Even proper, faithful Muslims (admittedly most of whom are not of the Shia sect that populates Iran) should be aghast that the Iranian regime relies on support from a country like mainland China where Muslims in Xinjiang are brutally oppressed and which is officially atheist. In that same vein, of course, is the fact that the Islamic Middle East as about as worried as anyone else can be about the prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. Suppose, for example, the mullahs in Iran made good on their threats to strike Israel. It is a tiny country that could not be attacked without simultaneously taking the lives of a great many Muslims in the Palestinian territories and surrounding areas. In spite of all their grand talk, the religious leaders in Iran are concerned with nothing beyond themselves and their own hold on power. The Islamic community over all means nothing to them, otherwise their best business partners would not be countries like Russia, China and India.

One thing that can be said about all of those places is that they at least have self-interest to explain their actions. With the possible exception of Russia which, it seems, wants Iranian access for oil but which always seemed a bit absurd to me since Russia has such huge oil reserves of its own. However, countries like India and China need oil and just as much they need cheap oil and Iran is a place to get it. For Christians in the west, however, there is not even self-interest to be served by siding with or sympathizing with Iran, only self-destruction. Does anyone honestly think that if these radicals in Tehran had their way, they would only massacre the immoral secularists while leaving the devout Christians alone? Do not be absurd. The same rule could be applied to modern-day Islamic terrorists all across the board. Were they selective in any attacks based on the immoral culture of the west? Did they bomb the brothels of Amsterdam or porn studios in Berlin? No, they bombed passenger trains in London and Madrid to kill as many people as possible. Did they fly planes into the smut-producers of Hollywood or the “Sin City” of Las Vegas in America? No, they targeted the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Capital to try to cripple the country as a whole (and spent their last night alive in nudie bars watching infidel women take their clothes off -the stuff “martyrs” are made of). They have bombed Christian churches in Africa and would likely do the same in Europe were not for the fact that they are mostly empty.

For a Christian to support the Islamic Republic of Iran because they are anti-modern western degenerate culture would be like having sympathy for the Devil because he believes in God. The regime in Iran does not oppose degenerate western culture, it opposes western culture -period. It is not terribly fond of most of Islamic culture for that matter and certainly has no love for the long, pre-Islamic history of Iran. In fact, one of the things they detested about the late Shah was that, during his reign, there was a little bit of a renaissance of classical Persian culture which they utterly opposed. It is a contemptible regime, an illegitimate regime and I want no rapprochement with it, I do not want it to become an “acceptable” member of the community of nations. What would please me would be to see the Islamic Republic torn down by the Iranian people and to see the monarchy restored under Crown Prince Reza or, if he is unacceptable, I would be pleased as well to see Prince Mohammad Hassan shipped over from Texas to be the new Shah. Perhaps if the people have been too enflamed against the Pahlavi dynasty, a return to the Qajar dynasty under Mohammad Hassan would be the ideal solution. That is my goal, the restoration of the Persian Empire and I would think it would be the goal of anyone calling themselves a traditionalist as well.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Royal News Roundup

It has been a week tailor-made to get on my last nerve so let’s get this over with. Beginning in the British Isles, Prince Harry headed out for his trek to the South Pole, taking a swing through South Africa on the way while back at home hen-pecked Prince William admitted that his wife, Duchess Catherine, will not let him have a Playstation. Ah, modern marriage. Later in the week the Duchess attended a forum on bullying. A noble cause but perhaps she should stop bullying her husband and “allow” the Duke play his video games. At Buckingham Palace the Countess of Wessex hosted a special reception in honor of the 50th anniversary of the sci-fi series “Dr. Who” complete with a TARDIS and a few Daleks. Special guests included Matt Smith, John Hurt, Peter Davison and Tom Baker who have all had a turn at playing the iconic Time Lord. In other, not so surprising news, the Prince of Wales reasserted his place on the “the world is going to kill us” movement by saying that man-made “climate change” will cause more natural disasters around the world. Actually, typhoons such as that which devastated the Philippines have declined since the 1950’s though one can understand why the Prince would be confused with the UN climate-change committee releasing a report saying that dangerous storms were less common now while at the same time the UN General-Secretary says the typhoon “proves” that First World countries have to do something about global warming. It is probably time that the Prince of Wales, the Prince of Monaco and George Clooney pooled their resources to deal with this problem once and for all!

On the continent, the hits just keep coming for the Spanish Royal Family. Earlier the King was forced to give up his royal yacht to appease those who think the Spanish debt crisis is the fault of the monarchy and not the massive spending program of the socialists they keep electing to give them “free” stuff. Well, it seems that tactic came back to bite the Spanish taxpayers as they are now being sued by the crew of the yacht for wrong dismissal and the total amount being demanded is about a million pounds or 1.2 million euros. More embarrassing was the revelation that the captain of the yacht earned a larger salary than the prime minister and only took the ship out once last year to exercise the engines. For more bad news, accusations are now swirling that HRH Infanta Cristina and her husband failed to pay corporate taxes and even with the witch-hunt that has been going on, the state prosecutor is still being accused of showing favoritism for the Infanta for not forcing HRH to appear in court. In better news, HM the King went in for hip surgery on Thursday and at last report was said to be doing “satisfactory”. Also this week, TRH the Prince and Princess of Asturias were in Miami this week to mark the 500th anniversary of Florida, formerly a Spanish colony. The mayor gave them the keys to the city and the heir to the Spanish throne opened a book fair. Unfortunately, it has always seemed to me that the Spanish royals have never been given nearly enough attention or entirely proper treatment on their many visits to formerly Spanish areas of North America. Not that I’m bitter at all…

And, for some happy news, Their Majesties the new King and Queen of The Netherlands were in the Caribbean this week for a tour of the Dutch West Indies. The Orange royals got a warm reception and while Queen Maxima was, as usual, noted for her style, King Willem-Alexander was noted for his gallantry, springing into action to shield his Queen consort from a particularly obtrusive Argentine reporter. Good job there. In other news the Grand Ducal couple of Luxembourg visited the Republic of Turkey, the Grand Duchess bringing some cheer to some of the Syrian refugees forces to seek shelter in Turkey. During the visit Grand Duke Henri voiced his support for Turkey being admitted into the European Union -which is sure to upset some in Europe and it would upset the Turks as well if they knew what was good for them. Elsewhere in the royal world, the Grimaldis were out in glamorous force to celebrate National Day this week. Princess Stephanie, Princess Caroline, Princess Charlene and Prince Albert II were all on hand for the mass of thanksgiving but of the Casiraghi trio only Pierre was present with newlywed father Andrea absent and mother-to-be Charlotte skipping out as well. U.S. President Obama met with King Mohammed VI of Morocco this week, praising the monarch for his leadership in “deepening democracy”.

In East Asia there was not much major royal news this week. The most talked about thing was Democrat faux-royal Caroline Kennedy arriving in Japan to take up her new post as Ambassador and presenting her credentials to HM the Emperor. Her initial speech upon arrival was less than stellar, mumbling a word of greeting in Japanese along with an awkward shrug (she doesn’t speak the language) before mentioning how much her father wanted to be “the first U.S. President to visit Japan” which shows, evidently, that America’s new ambassador to Japan is completely unaware that the first President to visit Japan was Ulysses S. Grant in the 19th Century. But still, she’s a Kennedy so that didn’t phase the cheering crowds. Of course she took the elaborate horse-drawn carriage to the Imperial Palace to present her credentials and I always love that part, especially when it is a super-liberal ambassador from a republic because every ambassador has their choice of a simple car ride or the horse-drawn carriage and they *always* pick the horse-drawn carriage, no matter how much they claim to be liberal, egalitarian republicans. In all the glowing press accounts most did at least mention that some responsible people in Japan have some concerns about choosing a celebrity rather than someone with actual (heck, *any*) diplomatic experience for the post at a time when North Korea is causing problems, China is expanding militarily and the leader of South Korea is refusing to even speak to the Prime Minister of Japan. It could be a problem.

Finally, I saved the worst for last and this story comes from Australia. The current Governor-General of Australia, the representative of HM the Queen, Quentin Bryce (and I though Quentin was a boy’s name) who is set to leave office in March of next year (offering her resignation after her politician son-in-law was elected boss of the main left-wing party), came out as a republican. The current, conservative Prime Minister, defended the Governor-General in remarks, saying it was common for an outgoing G-G to make their political positions known, which is true, but most do not out themselves as traitors and total hypocrites. That is what this disgusting woman is, a liar, a traitor and a hypocrite. After all, does anyone honestly think she just became a republican in the last few weeks or months? No, and frankly it should not surprise anyone as her entire career can be summed up as being a cheerleader for “equality” causes. She was a republican traitor all along, she was a republican when she hypocritically accepted the post of being Her Majesty’s representative in Australia and she was a republican when she perjured herself in taking the oath of allegiance to HM the Queen of Australia. Moreover, as I have said many times before, the entire, absurd argument of these disgusting people makes no damn sense at all!

She said she hoped to live to see the day when a young Australian boy or girl could grow up to be the first Australian head of state. And just to make sure there was no doubt about where she was coming from, she came out in favor of homosexual “marriage” at the same time -and she‘s a Catholic so double-hypocrite on that one. This really, really disgusts me and I am sure I will never understand the mentality. Why an Australian-born head of state? I just don’t understand the idea of HM the Queen as a “foreigner”. The Queen looks like most Australians, speaks the same language as most Australians, worships the same God most Australians worship and has a history shared with Australia. How and why is she considered so foreign just because of what bit of land she was born on? And to drag some others into this, which I probably shouldn’t, think about Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and how she is so beloved and popular in Australia. Do these republican xenophobes think it is appropriate for Denmark to have an Australian Queen consort instead of a Danish one? Oddly enough, the decent Danes do not seem to mind and have been pleased to welcome Crown Princess Mary into the national family. So why are so many in Australia so much less kind? It should go without saying that I think Bryce should be driven from office immediately. If I had my way she would be arrested on brought up on charges of perjury and treason but, rest assured that won’t happen as it seems no countries in the First World at least even believe in such a thing as treason anymore.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why I Will Not Join In Kennedy Worship

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and from the political left as well as the right, ‘Kennedy worship’ has been in overdrive. The airwaves are full of tributes of that ‘magical’ time of “Camelot” with that darling liberal family becoming American royalty. The tales of perfection are never ending. How the Kennedy clan is the quintessential American story, poor Irish immigrants, fleeing British oppression, coming to America for freedom, working hard, becoming extremely wealthy and entering politics to “give back” to the country that has made their success possible. Frankly, it’s enough to make me sick. I will not be joining in with this Kennedy love-fest and the most simple answer as to why should be clear enough. I am a monarchist and heaping adulation and hero worship on a republican politician is not on my list of priorities. I consider the list of American presidents to be a sorry collection overall and even the few I consider comparatively better than others I could never bestir myself to actually admire, defend or praise and commemorate. However, to my surprise, some monarchists apparently adore JFK and the Kennedy clan that has remained in power ever since, benefiting from the myth-making surrounding their fallen hero. This surprised me, especially coming from admirers of the British Empire (something Kennedy opposed) and the tenacious defense of Kennedy by some. Having taken on other beloved American presidents in the past, not excluding Washington and Lincoln, perhaps I should explain what some of my problems with Kennedy are. His sincere worshippers will surely not be moved by this, most have no recollection of the “Camelot” days and even then it was more form than substance but, just in case there are some open to persuasion, here are the reasons why this monarchist has no love for the late President Kennedy.

First of all, I am no fan of the nest that Kennedy hatched from. The rise of the family under Joe Kennedy was no success story of hard work and fair play but rather of political intrigue, corruption and making a fortune on bootlegging during prohibition. Joseph and John F. Kennedy, however, had relatively little in common save for the fact that no woman was safe around either of them. JFK was born in 1917 and named after his grandfather, Boston mayor and later Congressman John F. Fitzgerald who was a lifelong supporter of Irish republicanism and published a weekly newspaper devoted to denouncing the British monarchy called “The Republic”. Joe Kennedy, who hungered for recognition and acceptance from the elites of Wall Street and London, tried to distance himself from his Irish dissident background but John F. Kennedy was the total opposite. Still, his father helped get him elected to Congress and later the Senate by building him up as a war hero. He had earlier purchased John a commission in the Navy and when sent to war his torpedo boat was run over by a Japanese destroyer and cut in half. And, when you’re a Kennedy, getting run over by a ship larger and slower than your own is enough to qualify for “war hero” status.

From his earliest days in office, touring Asia and the Middle East in 1951, JFK was an avowed enemy of the British Empire. In his radio report to the home front, he decried, “Our intervention in behalf of England’s oil investments in Iran” referring to the aid the U.S. and U.K. gave to the restoration of the Shah of Iran who had been driven out by his premier who had nationalized the oil industry, most of which was British-owned. The depth of opposition to the British Empire Kennedy had can be seen in the pages of his book, “Profile in Courage” in which the nominally Catholic Kennedy praises the Puritanical John Quincy Adams for his refusal to, “yield his devotion to the national interest for the narrowly partisan, parochial and pro-British outlook which dominated New England’s first political party”. In a St Patrick’s Day speech in Chicago in 1956 he called on the local Irish-Americans to broaden their opposition to the British Empire in Ireland to revive the American ‘revolutionary heritage’ and apply it around the world against all empires. The following year, in a speech called “Imperialism the Enemy of Freedom” in the Senate, he demanded that the U.S. take the side of the Algerian rebels against the French and decried the resources the Eisenhower administration had given to support the French in Vietnam and the last Vietnamese Emperor.

Anglophiles in the Democratic Party disapproved as of course did the French and the British who were trying to maintain themselves. However, not long after, Charles de Gaulle became President of France, gave up on Algeria and withdrew France from its imperial alliance with Great Britain. This was nothing new however. In his very first political speech, Kennedy said that the only solution to the problems in Ireland were for the end of partition and the removal of the British Crown from any part of the island. For the sake of good relations, he avoided the subject publicly after becoming president, but from his earliest speeches throughout his political career there is no doubt he wanted the British Crown out of Ireland and most anywhere else in the world as well. As an admirer of the British Empire, that does not impress me much, nor does his much vaunted record of anti-communism. Kennedy was elected to office promising to negotiate a peace with the Soviet Union and the first fiasco he had to deal with was the Bay of Pigs invasion. He did not plan it, nor has he ever been held responsible for it but it was Kennedy who called off the scheduled air strikes so as to boost his absurd claim that ‘America had nothing to do with it’. All this accomplished was to make the communists view Kennedy as someone they could push around, and they were not incorrect in that assessment.

Kennedy wanted to show he was tough and thought Indochina would be the place to do it. First up was the Kingdom of Laos where a communist insurgency was underway. However, Kennedy could not bring himself to support the King of Laos who was tainted by being royal and by having been friendly with colonial France, so he made a 2-front war into a 3-front war. Rather than supporting the royalist faction of Prince Souvanna Phouma, he funded the formation a more faithfully pro-American faction under General Phoumi Nosovan. The result was a civil war no side had the strength to win until the victory of the communists in Vietnam allowed them to dominate the region and turn Laos into a puppet state. In Vietnam itself, Kennedy began by aiding the Catholic and strongly-nationalist President Ngo Dinh Diem, praising him as someone untouched by colonialism (unlike the former emperor). However, when the media (two individuals in particular) began to portray Diem in a negative light, opinion was shifted against him and his regime. When Diem refused to take orders from the United States government, Kennedy gave the word to the generals in Vietnam that U.S. aid would stop unless Diem was removed. Diem was not only removed but brutally assassinated along with every member of his family in the country at the time. South Vietnam never had a stable government again and the communists were elated, astonished that America could be so stupid as to remove their most dangerous enemy for them. No, a successful anti-communist crusader Kennedy was certainly not.

On other fronts, as soon as he gained office Kennedy began a personal correspondence with Gamal Abdel Nasser, the man who planned the overthrow of the Egyptian monarchy and an avowed enemy of Great Britain as well. Kennedy reversed the policy previously favored by Democrats Truman and Dulles and he actively took the side of Nasser and the Arab nationalists against the British and Saudi allied Arab royalists of the Middle East. He was also good friends with President Sukarno of Indonesia who brought an end to the reign of the Dutch monarchy in the East Indies. Even after being betrayed by their American allies, something Queen Wilhelmina had threatened to abdicate over, the Dutch monarchy of Queen Juliana still reigned over half of New Guinea. Sukarno wanted that for the Republic of Indonesia and President Kennedy was ready to help him out. He sent his brother Robert to the Netherlands to demand an immediate evacuation of Netherlands New Guinea and with Kennedy backing Sukarno who was threatening invasion, the Dutch were furious but had no choice but to comply. Afterward, the first lavish aid package for Sukarno’s government was passed a few days before Kennedy was assassinated. 

Kennedy had opposed British influence in Asia, Africa and Ireland but for many Brits who had given up on the idea of the glory days of empire, that was not terribly important. Many probably never heard about it or would have cared if they did. They probably didn’t care that when Kennedy visited Ireland he took the time to meet with his cousins who served in the Irish Republican Army, after all, they were so charming and as long as he did not mention the problem directly it could all be overlooked. However, some people in Britain did manage to work up some anger when it came to Kennedy taking over British defense. It seemed to many in Britain that Harold Macmillan had signed over British security to President Kennedy with the Nassau Agreement by which American missiles would be used for Britain’s nuclear deterrent and the U.S. gained a submarine base in Scotland. The British nuclear subs were then to be assigned along with British bombers to a joint NATO task-force that would be under United States control, keeping all nuclear capacity for the alliance in American hands, something Kennedy justified as preventing “nuclear proliferation”. Many in Britain, however, saw it as the loss of British independence in military affairs and it helped encourage the decline of the Tory party. Kennedy would have been thrilled. Kennedy appointees Bob McNamara and Dean Acheson were both of the opinion that Britain was old news and in the words of Acheson, the “’special relationship’ with the United States…is about played out”.

All of that would be sufficient, I would think, in discouraging any monarchist and certainly any British, Dutch, Laotian, Egyptian etc royalist from being part of the Kennedy fan club. For myself, it certainly is and I can add to that my opposition to almost the totality of his domestic policies as well. I don’t approve of his economic intervention, I don’t approve of his immigration plan to shift from Europe to Central and South America, I don’t approve of how he dealt with Native Americans and I don’t approve of his social policies. I do not like how he distanced himself from his religion while running for office and I can certainly not approve of the flagrant immorality of his private life. Were there other American presidents who were worse? Certainly. There were also some who were better. What is more frustrating about Kennedy than other presidents who have been deified and have their own cult-like following such as Lincoln or Washington or FDR, Kennedy had a whole family to come after him and who have benefited from the myth-making surrounding their slain relative. The adulation he received and the elevation of his family to "royal" status allowed a slew of disreputable characters with the Kennedy last name to hold positions of power and influence such as little brother Ted Kennedy, an alcoholic who got a woman killed and who arranged for Gerry Adams to come to the USA for St Patrick’s Day, or daughter Caroline Kennedy who stood up at the last Democrat National Convention to voice her support “as a Catholic woman” for birth control and abortion being part of the Obamacare health plan. The idea that President Kennedy, who did little and even less of any good, while in office or his dysfunctional family in general could have so many ardent admirers astounds me. It always will and if some wish to join in the worship of him or any other politician, I cannot stop them. However, I will be having no part of it myself nor will I ever hold a romantic view of any presidential figure.

Monarch Profile: Emperor Tu Duc of Vietnam

Emperor Tu Duc is sometimes referred to as the “last independent Emperor of Vietnam”, mostly by those who seem anxious for monarchies to end and dynasties to fall. Tu Duc was certainly not the last Vietnamese monarch, being only the fourth of the twelve Nguyen dynasty emperors (thirteen if one counts Nguyen Duc Duc) but it was during his reign that French forces established their first colonial foothold in Vietnam. His designation as the “last independent emperor” stems from the fact that monarchs after him tended to be dominated by corrupt regents and then the French, losing their throne if they opposed these forces. The future Emperor Tu Duc was born Prince Nguyen-Phuc Hong Nham on September 22, 1829 to Emperor Thieu Tri. His elevation to the throne after the death of his father in 1847 was not without difficulty. Emperor Thieu Tri had changed the law of succession so that he could choose his successor rather than having the throne pass automatically to the eldest son. In this case it meant that Crown Prince Hong Bao was passed over in favor of his younger brother who was enthroned as Emperor and Son of Heaven with the era name of Tu Duc.

This was done because, since the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty, concern was growing stronger about the threat of foreign powers and because, from the reign of the first Nguyen emperor onward, a renewed emphasis had been placed on strict Confucian orthodoxy. Emperor Thieu Tri wanted his successor to be someone who would maintain traditional, conservative values and keep foreign influences out of Vietnam and there was no doubt that Emperor Tu Duc would be the one to do it, so he was chosen to inherit the throne instead of the crown prince. Yet, the very fact that the eldest son was passed over in favor of the younger angered the most strict adherents of Confucianism among the mandarinate. It did not take long for rebellions to break out, united by the figure of Prince Hong Bao though it included dissidents from various different backgrounds whose ultimate aims were often at odds with each other. For example, alongside strict Confucianists were Christian converts who hoped that Hong Bao would show them favor, there were those peasants who had fell afoul of crop failure or some less than perfect local official and even a few die-hard Le Dynasty loyalists still lingering around.

Fortunately, for peace and order, imperial troops quickly crushed the rebellion and Prince Hong Bao was arrested. Emperor Tu Duc was inclined to inflict the legal punishment for treason but his mother, the powerful Empress-Dowager Tu Du, persuaded him to show mercy. In any event, it did not finally matter as the prince committed suicide in prison. The throne was secured but it was an inauspicious start to the reign of Emperor Tu Duc. In all the years since his reign, the image of Emperor Tu Duc has been subject to a great deal of distortion by many people. Contemporary foreign accounts tended to portray him as brutal, cruel and close-minded. However, the truth was exactly the opposite. Emperor Tu Duc was an upstanding Confucian monarch, a great scholar and generally was in every way what a good, traditional Asian emperor was expected to be according to time-honored values. Much of the “bad press” Emperor Tu Duc has been subjected to involves his treatment of the Christian minority. This is worth considering since it was, to some extent, the treatment of Christians that was used as a pretext for the French Emperor Napoleon III invading Vietnam and setting the course for the eventual French colonization of all of Indochina. Despite what many say, Emperor Tu Duc was not completely intolerant of Christianity though, like most Confucianists, he was wary of it.

Previously, Emperors Minh Mang and Thieu Tri had tried to discourage Christian missionaries from coming to Vietnam but it was to no avail. Emperor Tu Duc was not completely intolerant as is proven by the fact that he had Christians included in the highest levels of his government. Probably the best known was Nguyen Truong To, a Catholic mandarin who was allowed to travel to Rome for an audience with the Pope and who brought back books from Europe on Christianity which were translated into Vietnamese. Certainly, if Emperor Tu Duc had been mindlessly opposed to all Christians he would never have allowed this. It was only when the safety of the throne and the stability of the empire were under threat that the Emperor took drastic measures against the Christians. It was only after it was discovered that a French priest had been involved in a plot to overthrow Emperor Tu Duc that action began to be taken.

Moreover, this was not an isolated incident. There had been missionary involvement, possibly backed by the French government, in several coup attempts and there had been many Christians involved in the initial rebellion against him when Emperor Tu Duc took the throne. It is unfortunate that the missionaries and converts did not refrain from involving themselves in politics in this way rather than working to show that they were loyal and that Catholicism did not contradict being a loyal subject of the Emperor. Yet, all too often many were inclined to join in subversive activity in the hope (usually naïve) that a new ruler would be more favorable and give greater privileges to Catholics. The result was that in 1848, at a time when it was hoped that France would be too busy in Europe to meddle in southeast Asia, Emperor Tu Duc decreed that all Vietnamese Catholic converts must renounce Christianity and return to their traditional beliefs or be branded as heretics and lose all privileges. He also cracked down on French and Spanish missionaries which brought western opinion down against Emperor Tu Duc, most having never heard of the previous intrigues against the Emperor by spiritual men trespassing into temporal affairs. The devoutly Catholic French Empress Eugenie (who was Spanish by birth) championed the cause of intervention and soon French troops were landed in the far south, Cochinchina, and began attacking north.

French land at Danang
Emperor Tu Duc responded to this attack by ordering military conscription and establishing a system for formal military training. Unfortunately, what few modern weapons the Nguyen armies had at the start of their reign had been lost or sold and the zeal and courage of the Vietnamese forces proved insufficient against the modern weaponry of France. In fact, more French troops died from disease and the sweltering climate than from the Nguyen armies. More French troops landed in the north and Emperor Tu Duc had no choice but to appeal to his nominal overlord, the Qing Emperor of China, for protection. The result was the 1884-85 Sino-French War and, unfortunately for Vietnam, it was the French who emerged victorious. The result was China washing its hands of Vietnam and France, which already claimed the south as a colony, claiming north and central Vietnam as French protectorates. In spite of these many disasters, Emperor Tu Duc was determined to fight on but, unfortunately, another rebellion broke out in the north. The Emperor decided it would be better to come to terms with France rather than risk a rebel victory that might bring down the dynasty altogether. So, he diverted his troops to crush the rebellion and signed an agreement with the French. The result was Vietnam being divided into the French colony of Cochinchina in the south and the French protectorates of Tonkin (the north) and Annam (central Vietnam). Emperor Tu Duc retained his throne but, with the liberal interpretation the French applied to the protectorate treaty, the effect was that the authority of the Emperor hardly extended beyond the walls of the “Great Within”. Emperor Tu Duc died on July 17, 1883, according to one contemporary, cursing the invaders with his last breath.

In the years since, many accounts have been unfairly critical of Emperor Tu Duc. He was the longest reigning emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty and had to deal with problems and enemies of a sort no previous monarch had ever had to face. He was highly educated, intelligent and refined, devoted to the Confucian moral code and the traditional rites. Because of an affliction with smallpox as a child he was unable to have children of his own, though he had many wives and concubines. He was an accomplished poet and probably the most literary of any Vietnamese monarch. A French official who met him was surprised that he was so different from the beast he was portrayed as, describing his delicate manners, soft voice and comparing his features to those of an ancient pharaoh. If a wise and upright ruler had been all that was called for, the reign of Tu Duc would have been very different but, instead, his reign saw rebellion, invasion and ultimately the first beginnings of what would become the era of French colonial rule.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Royal Friends of Texas: Great Britain

The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland has a very old and strong history with the “Lone Star State” which is all the more interesting for the fact that Texas is one of the (relatively few) parts of the world that was never part of the British Empire. The degree of influence the British have had on Texas has been so great, recounting it all could fill a library. However, here we will touch on some of the basics and look at a few unique incidents for illustration. Part of the reason the British influence on Texas has been so great is due to the fact that it was both direct, in Anglo-Texan relations, and indirect because the majority of the early settlers in Texas were Americans of Anglo-Celtic ancestry. One figure who played a major part in the War for Texas Independence was James Grant who was from Ross-shire, Scotland. He even became, at one time, one of at least four claimants to the position of commander-in-chief of the Texas army. Grant is most known for his effort to lead an offensive against the Mexican city of Matamoros after the successful capture of San Antonio. Many people, such as General Sam Houston (once he found out he would not be in charge) tried to dissuade the volunteers from following Grant on such a hair-brained scheme but no one can say Grant lacked courage because he set off to attack a Mexican city of 12,000 with less than a hundred men, by some counts not much more than fifty. Of course, it all ended in disaster when his tiny band ran headlong into the advancing column of General Jose Urrea and was completely wiped out. He was killed at the battle of Agua Dulce on March 2, 1836 -Independence Day.

Baker's San Felipe flag
At the famous battle of the Alamo, the British Isles were well represented. Out of the tiny garrison, 12 were from England, 4 were from Scotland, 12 were from Ireland and there was even one Welshman present. Probably the most visible of the British volunteers was 27-year old John McGregor, a sergeant in the artillery, who boosted the morale of the troops by playing his bag pipes during the 13-day siege. Numerous British natives fought in almost every major battle of the war. Even for the native Texans, the Anglo-Celtic heritage of the majority was not taken for granted. For example, when the first Anglo colony in Texas, San Felipe de Austin, organized a militia company for the war it flew a flag based on a design by Stephen F. Austin himself which featured the British Union Jack in the canton to represent the British ancestry of the people, along with red and white stripes to represent the United States, a Lone Star which has always been the symbol of Texas and the colors of red, white and green to represent their history with Mexico. This symbolism was not all that unique either. There were two proposals for independence flags which also featured the Union Jack, one in the canton of a reversed Mexican tricolor with a Lone Star in the middle and another, oddly enough, on a red, white and blue tricolor with the face of George Washington in the center.

During the 1820’s six Englishmen were given empresario contracts by the Mexican government to establish colonies in Texas but none did so. Beale’s Rio Grande colony included a number of English families and after independence the Republic of Texas authorized a large grant to the Peters colony in 1841 that settled large areas of north Texas and was named for English immigrant William S. Peters. It is interesting that, due to strong trade ties between Great Britain and Mexico, the Republic of Texas was not immediately recognized by the British government. At least not officially. There was a Texan envoy in London but, while everything worked as though there was official diplomatic recognition, there never was officially because of British fear of offending Mexico. It can, in some ways, be compared with the way countries today deal with the Republic of China on Taiwan without officially recognizing it as such for fear of losing access to the lucrative markets of the People’s Republic of China on the mainland. It was diplomatic recognition in all but name. Also interesting is that, during the war and after, Britain was the primary supplier for the Mexican navy. Because of this, all of the ships the Republic of Texas Navy faced at sea were British ships, some even with British crews and British officers all in the pay of Mexico. What is surprising is that, given that, the Republic of Texas Navy heavily copied the Royal Navy of Great Britain when it came to everything from uniforms to regulations.

An early Texas flag proposal
As the period of independence for the Republic of Texas was drawing to a close and tensions began to increase between the United States and Mexico over the idea of American annexation of Texas, the British found themselves in the middle of the diplomatic bargaining. Originally, this was not by choice. The leadership in Texas, at that time very much in favor of joining the United States, was trying to encourage the U.S. government to annex Texas but Washington was slow to act due to northern opposition over the admittance of another slave-holding southern state. To make America jealous, the Texas officials began to make hints that if the U.S. did not come around to favoring the annexation of Texas, then Texas might decide to join the British Empire instead. America, of course, was not at all pleased by this (probably not entirely serious) threat and the idea of having the British on both their northern and southern borders. So, America came around to favoring annexation pretty quick.

When Britain did choose to get involved on the annexation, it was after America decided to put annexation up for a vote. Mexico, despite losing the War for Texas Independence and losing another campaign to re-take Texas, still claimed that the Republic of Texas was Mexican territory and threatened war if the U.S. annexed Texas. Britain did not want to see a war break out that would be bad for business and was also not pleased with the idea of America growing even stronger by annexing such a large and valuable country. So, the British tried to broker a deal by which Mexico would finally agree to recognize the independence of the Republic of Texas if the Texan and American governments would agree that Texas should stay out of the United States. For Britain, this would be a win-win scenario, avoiding a Mexican-American War that would disrupt trade and giving the United States some competition for dominance of the continent. Unfortunately for Britain, and Mexico as it turned out, the Mexicans refused to ever recognize the loss of Texas under any circumstances and the deal failed before it could even be proposed to Texas or America. The result, of course, was the Mexican-American War in which Mexico ended up losing New Mexico, Arizona, California and even more territory as well as Texas so, in retrospect, they would have been wiser to listen to Britain.

HRH PoW at the San Jacinto Monument
After the war, there was another effort to establish an English presence in Texas, known as the colony of Kent, in the area of Bosque County in 1850. This was part of a much grander scheme envisioned by the Universal Emigration and Colonization Company of London which planned for considerable expansion and development with Kent becoming a “Philadelphia on the Brazos”, selling grain to nearby Ft Graham and becoming a center of manufacturing with access to the Gulf of Mexico and from there to the markets of the world. However, the initial settlers proved unable to adapt to the harsher climate of Texas and by 1851 the project had mostly collapsed. After the War Between the States there was a major cattle boom in Texas and this attracted a great many new immigrants and many came from Great Britain. The list of their contributions would be too numerous to list. However, later on there was one group that did manage to stand out. Between 1880 and 1900 a number of British aristocrats came to Texas looking for wealth and adventure. One of the earliest was Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks (‘Texanized’ by the locals into “Marshbanks”) the first Baron of Tweedsmouth. His syndicate bought 244 square miles of land in Wheeler and Collingsworth Counties in 1883. The English lord referred to his property as a “cattle estate” which he grandly named “Rocking Chair Ranche, Limited” but which was known by the neighbors as “Nobility Ranch”. It was a unique blending of the Texas frontier and English aristocracy with the owners preferring to be known as “proprietors” rather than ranchers and who, rather than hiring cowboys, “engaged cow servants”.

The Queen at the Governor's mansion
Over the years, Texas and Great Britain have only grown closer. Especially after World War II there were many family ties between the two as Texas soldiers stationed in Britain married British wives and brought them home to Texas when the war was over. In 1953 the Anglo-Texan Society was established in London to encourage closer cultural ties between Great Britain and Texas with the famous author Graham Greene serving as the first president. In the following decades, Texas and Britain became close enough to start having a few royal visits. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited first, followed by the Prince of Wales in 1986 as part of the sesquicentennial celebration of Texas independence and the Duchess of York visited in 1990. Princess Royal Anne and Princess Margaret also visited Texas. The greatest moment came in 1991 when HM Queen Elizabeth II visited Texas, stopping in at San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin where the Queen addressed a special joint-session of the Texas Legislature. The Queen visited the Alamo in San Antonio, took in a symphony in Dallas and the Johnson Space Center in Houston. It was the first time a British monarch had ever set foot on Texas soil but few would know it. British flags were everywhere, the Salute Battery of the Texas Army Guard fired a 21-gun salute to welcome the monarch along with an honor guard and saber arch leading to the capital building. The Queen was gracious as well, pointing out that the experience of the Texas oil fields had helped in the British development of North Sea oil and she grasped the nature of the Texas attitude pretty well, noting in her speech how “lesser mortals are pitied for their misfortune in not being born Texan” which was met with thunderous applause and a deafening cheer.

The Queen at the Texas Legislature
Today there are over two million Texans of English ancestry and even more when one adds in the Scots and Irish. Every major city in Texas has British specialty shops, tea rooms and the like. Scottish festivals and highland games are held in numerous cities across Texas and there is even an official Texas Lone Star tartan, designed by Lanora Davidson in 2012 and registered with the Scottish Tartan Board (and before you ask, yes I have and yes I do). Texas may have never been part of the British Empire (only flirting with the idea) but Britain and Texas have had close ties ever since the fight for independence. Unlike some other areas of the modern United States, Texas and Great Britain have never been enemies and have fought side-by-side on numerous occasions. You can find a Texas cantina in the heart of London and more than one English pub in the heart of the Alamo City (and most other Texas metropolises). Texas and the United Kingdom are and have always been close friends and allies, the British have added much to the unique flavor that is Texas and hopefully the two will only ever grow closer and their friendship long continue.

God Bless Texas and God Save the Queen!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Note on Political Realities

Yours truly was recently quite amused by a note from a triumphalist republican. They are quite silly, Utopian creatures; aren't they? This one asserted that republicanism was the way of the future, that the world today confirms this beyond all doubt because monarchies are few and growing weaker while republics are the rule rather than the exception and only growing stronger. And, it is true, there are more republics than monarchies and in the monarchies that do exist, outside of Liechtenstein, the trend has been toward monarchs having less power and less of a place in government at all rather than more. However, I could not help be struck by the fact that, any look at the world today will also see leaders in countries and cultures as diverse as Syria and North Korea who hold power only because their fathers did before them. In the more democratic world, in Canada, Justin Trudeau is set to run for Prime Minister with no other qualification than that his father had been Prime Minister. In the United States there was only recently a President whose father had been President and recently there has been talk that his brother might run for the office as well. In the ruling party the next candidate is expected to be a woman who is the wife of a former President and their last unsuccessful candidate for office was a former Senator who held the same seat his father had held previously. The last unsuccessful candidate for the office in the opposition party was a former Governor whose father had been a Governor. Likewise there are republics from Greece to the Philippines famous for their political dynasties. And if the Kim clan in North Korea was insufficient, the current President of South Korea is the daughter of a former President. So, is monarchy really on the decline? Is the idea of hereditary authority really being rejected? It does not seem so. It only seems that many people prefer a dishonest monarchy wearing a republican hat to an honest monarchy that is legitimate and traditional.

Imperial Sweden

Most people today would not think of the Kingdom of Sweden as a major power. Today it is a member of the European Union with a tradition of neutrality, never having fought a war since 1814. Even in recent times, however, the Swedes have been known for having an independent streak when it comes to national defense and in the past the Kingdom of Sweden was the dominant power in northern Europe. Astute students of history will probably recall that Swedish power once stretched across Norway, Finland, the Baltic states and parts of northern Germany but perhaps fewer are aware that, at times, the Kingdom of Sweden stretched its hand out to lands far beyond the shores of Europe to establish a modest colonial empire, albeit a relatively short-lived one. Of course, the Kingdom of Sweden was never a major colonial competitor on the world scene, though if things had gone just a little differently that might not have been so and the fact that the sparsely populated Scandinavian kingdom was able to project a Swedish presence overseas at all is quite remarkable given that they had the dominant land power of Russia to the east and the dominant naval power of England (later Great Britain) to the west. And, even without formal colonies of their own, the Swedes were able nonetheless to spread their culture and traditions around the world.

Queen Christina
Under King Charles IX, Sweden became zealously Protestant and much more militaristic. Not much was accomplished right away but it was under Charles IX that divisions were eliminated and Sweden got serious about being a major power. Under his successor, Gustaf II Adolph or King Gustavus Adolphus, Sweden came down with an acute case of awesome. He forged the Swedish army into a matchless military machine, highly innovative and swept his enemies from the field, changing the course of European history by his victories in the Thirty Years War. In conflicts with Poland he extended Swedish rule over Estonia and Latvia which, combined with Finland and Swedish lands in Germany, made the Baltic almost a Swedish pond. Dominating northern Europe, after the death in battle of Gustavus Adolphus, Sweden first reached out overseas during the reign of his daughter Queen Christina. In 1638 a group of Swedish and Finnish settlers established the colony of New Sweden on the east coast of North America on land claimed by the Dutch. Fort Christina was established in what is now the state of Delaware. The idea was to get a piece of the action on all the tobacco and furs being traded in the region by the British, French and Dutch. There was also some pay-back included in it as the first governor was Peter Minuit, formerly of the New Netherland colony, who was anxious to cause trouble for his old bosses as many an embittered ex-employee would like to do. He was still a fair choice for the Swedes though as he knew the area and, at the time, very few Europeans did.

Unfortunately for Sweden, their Finno-Swedish foothold in the New World was not to last. In an effort to secure control of the Delaware Valley, in 1654 Swedish colonial forces attacked and captured the Dutch-held Fort Casimir. The Dutch got angry and retaliated, conquering New Sweden the following year. However, by that time, the Kingdom of Sweden had secured some colonial holdings on another continent. In 1650, still while Queen Christina was on the throne, a Swedish colony was founded in Africa on the Gulf of Guinea by Hendrik Carloff in what is now Ghana. The area became known as the Swedish Gold Coast and consisted of six forts and a couple of trading posts. The endeavor was backed by the Swedish Africa Company, founded in 1649 by Louis de Geer, and it obtained the land these forts and outposts were built on by a purchase from the Akan King of Futu. The Swedes were, evidently, pretty popular with many of the local Africans as they seemed to prefer dealing with Sweden over the Dutch or Danes. Several years later Ft Carlsborg (the oldest Swedish fort in the region) was captured by Denmark which prompted King Charles X Gustav to declare war on the Danes. The peace agreement made in 1660 called for the Swedish territory in Africa to be restored, however, it was discovered that the local agent in charge for Denmark (another disgruntled ex-employee but this time of Sweden) had sold the land to the Dutch and absconded with the loot to Portuguese West Africa. However, Swedish rule was restored when the local Africans rose up in rebellion against their new masters, driving them out and again offering Sweden a good deal to come back and set up shop again, which they did. Unfortunately, this situation did not last very long as only a few years later the Kingdom of Denmark seized the colony again in 1663 (though the Swedes made them work hard for it) only to ultimately lose the colony themselves to the British later on.

King Gustav III
In the next century, after things had calmed down a bit, under the reign of King Frederick, Sweden began taking another look at the American neighborhood. In 1733 a Swedish attempt to establish a colony was made on the island of Tobago. Unfortunately the local Carib natives were experienced at fighting off foreigners and the effort was a failure thanks to their fierce resistance. A more lasting Swedish presence, however, was established on St Barts starting in 1784 during the reign of King Gustav III. It was in exchange for trading privileges in Gothenburg that King Louis XVI of France traded St Barts to the Swedes and, as it turned out, Swedish ruled proved to be a great blessing for the island. The Swedish West India Company was founded, the King declared Gustavia to be a “free port” and for a time it was the sight of booming business in trade and great prosperity. The population doubled and when the Napoleonic Wars broke out in Europe, profits grew even larger through both legitimate trade as well as a lucrative market for contraband. In 1813 the Swedish presence in the Caribbean grew a little larger when King Carl XIV John was given the island of Guadeloupe in thanks for his support for the Allies against France (his former country). This did not last long though as the island went back to France only a year later though thanks to the settlement made with Britain over the deal, Sweden still received money from the “Guadeloupe Fund” until 1983!

St Barts was the most long-lasting Swedish overseas colony and it was quite a successful one. It was a very free sort of place with more personal and economic freedom that Sweden itself. An enterprising businessman could make a fortune on trade and, whereas Lutheranism was strictly mandatory in Sweden, on St Barts there was religious freedom and eventually many, many more Catholics than Lutherans. The Swedish government decided not to mess with a system that was working and so even employed a Catholic priest to visit the island. In time, however, competition increased and after the Napoleonic Wars ended and the contraband market died down, the economy on St Barts began to suffer. This was critical as trade was all the island had going for it at the time, unlike other islands in the area which usually relied on plantations for the backbone of their economy. When slavery was abolished on the island this lack of a market for manual labor meant many of the freed slaves ended up being worse off for lack of employment. The Swedish island in the Caribbean eventually lost its luster and in 1877, under King Oscar II, a referendum was held on turning the island over to France. It passed with only one contrary vote and St Barts has belonged to the French Republic ever since.

New Sweden
By that time the Swedish empire in Europe had long since receded. The Baltic states were lost to Russia as was Finland with Sweden being given Norway, taken from Denmark, as compensation. This was, however, a personal union, with Norway still being a distinct country of its own but sharing a monarch with Sweden. The last Swedish colony was given up in 1877 and in 1905, after another referendum, Norway broke away from the Swedish crown to become a totally separate kingdom with a Royal Family of its own. Still, even without many or long-lasting Swedish colonies around the world, Swedish immigrants have carried the flavor of their homeland with them to many different countries. Some moved to Argentina, many moved to Brazil during the reign of Emperor Pedro II but most moved to the United States of America with the majority settling states that are not too dissimilar from Sweden itself. From the late Nineteenth to early Twentieth centuries more than a million Swedes came to America to settle, the majority in the state of Minnesota. As a result, the Swedish culture is quite strong in many parts of the Upper Midwest and even today, long after any sizeable Swedish immigration has stopped, there are still nearly four million Swedish-Americans living in the United States and the Swedish Royal Family maintains many ties with the community. The Swedish empire may not have lasted long on the map of the world but the influence of the Swedish people is still felt in many parts of the world to this day.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Royal News Roundup

Starting with the English-speaking world, last weekend HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh led the way in paying tribute to the British and empire war dead. It should be clear to anyone how much more this means coming from royals like the Queen and Prince Philip who both served in uniform during wartime rather than a politician who has never been in the military or been in danger of enemy fire. In more troubling news, the last coronation ceremony in Christendom came under threat last week as an atheist lawyers group called the National Secular Society or NSS launched an investigation into bringing a legal case against the British coronation ceremony, claiming it is a violation of “human rights”. They are seeking to have the coronation replaced with a secular, non-religious ceremony. Their tool in this act of cultural destruction is, not surprisingly, the European convention on human rights. So far, the Church of England has pushed back against this attack, saying it is politicizing the coronation and would be a misuse of human rights laws for partisan purposes. Those eager to dismiss this attack as trivial might recall that this same group was one of the strongest advocates for the changes to the succession law that eventually were taken up by the government and enacted.

Today, the British coronation is the only Christian coronation still performed in Europe with all other monarchs having a simple “swearing-in” ceremony (which sounds rather political) and the Pope having an “installation mass” (which sounds like getting a new washing machine). The effort does reveal the secularist mindset for all to see. They want the freedom to not participate in religious services, which they have, but then they also want to ban other people from participating in religious services. They say the coronation violates the human rights of the non-Christian and non-religious and yet do not consider secular ceremonies to violate the rights of those who are Christian or who are religious. They are also encouraging a total lack of freedom by attacking the symbols and traditions of the country and culture that allowed them the right to exist in the first place. This simply sends the message that if you value your religion, your traditional culture and so on, then you should not allow people of other beliefs into your country and you should not allow dissent to be voiced, because if you give them that freedom, they will repay it by trying to destroy that which you hold dear. If the coronation ceremony violates the “human rights” of atheists and non-Christians, my solution (even as a non-Anglican) would be to encourage all atheists and non-Christians who feel their rights are being violated to leave the country and shake the dirt from their boots as they do so. But, of course, I’m sure that would be considered terribly intolerant. Anyway, in lighter news, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall continued their visit to India and also visited Ceylon and both the visitors and the visited seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

Moving to the continent, the King and Queen of The Netherlands visited Russia and met with President Vladimir Putin. There was some unpleasantness as protestors hurled tomatoes at the Dutch royal couple while on their way to a gala concert in Moscow. Fortunately, no one was hit and two of the culprits (a 23yr old man and 18yr old woman) were sentenced to 15 and 10 days in jail. Were these right-wing Russian nationalists angry at Dutch interference in their energy industry or the trouble with the Russian diplomats in Holland? No, these were actually members of “The Other Russia” opposition party who blame, ridiculously enough, King Willem-Alexander for the suicide of a Russian dissident who was denied asylum in The Netherlands. Meanwhile, in Belgium, retired King Albert II attended mass for King’s Day this week, something which he has not done since his late brother Baudouin was alive. By tradition, the reigning King never attends King’s Day services but as Albert II is now retired, he was on hand this time while King Philip stayed at home. There was troubling but not surprising news for the Crown Princess of Norway who has been having severe neck problems recently, forcing her to cancel many plans. It was announced this week that she will be undergoing surgery to try to correct the problem. Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark arrived in Mexico for a visit on Monday and the Prince and Princess of the Asturias made a visit last week to California.

In Asia, President Putin of Russia called King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Sunday to discuss ways of easing the tensions between the two countries. Relations between Russia and the Saudi kingdom have worsened due to Russian support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who most Arab monarchs would like to see gone, and over Russian support for Iran and the Iranian nuclear program. Saudi Arabia and most Sunni Muslims in the region greatly fear the Shia Islam theocracy in Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. Russia was sharply critical of Saudi Arabia turning down a seat on the UN security council and recent efforts at reconciliation have had no success. It is rumored that Saudi Prince Bandar, on a trip to Moscow, offered Russia a $15 billion arms deal in exchange for Putin dropping his support for the Syrian dictator but the offer was declined. Russia denies any such thing was even discussed. Across the continent in the Kingdom of Malaysia, AFP ran a story this week on the trouble being caused by the lavishness of royal titles in that country. Particularly the title “Datuk” or ‘sir’ has been bestowed rather generously so that some are now complaining that the title no longer is all that special. Allegations have also arisen of corruption in the way the title is sometimes obtained. Estimates of the number of people in Malaysia who hold royal titles run into the tens of thousands. Fake or purchased titles are also a persistent problem. And in Japan, actor-turned-antinuclear activist-turned politician Taro Yamamoto continues to be the center of controversy over the letter he handed to HM the Emperor regarding the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Many conservatives have called on Yamamoto to resign for attempting to politicize the monarchy while others defend him saying that what he did is being exaggerated in order to keep attention off of ending nuclear power use in Japan. Others, most outsiders who hold nothing sacred and want to impose their lack of values on others, say the whole episode only highlights how the Emperor is still too highly revered for a modern, democratic country. Some, of course, have, like always, brought up again the late Showa emperor, World War II etc. It all really needs to stop. Finally, in another break with tradition, it has been announced that HM the Emperor will be the first Japanese emperor in about 400 years who will not be buried. Instead, when the sad occasion comes, the TM will be cremated and placed in simple tombs within the Imperial mausoleum in Hachioji.
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