Thursday, December 4, 2014
The USA, Monarchy and America-Bashing
The strident anti-American would then have to condemn those monarchies which not only helped give birth to the United States but without whose support American independence could not have been won (much as the Yankee Doodle dandies hate to admit it). One should also keep in mind that, for all the radical rhetoric, the so-called American Revolution was hardly revolutionary at all. The firebrand republicans like Thomas Paine were useful to whip up the masses and make the rebellion seem justified but when it came to actual leadership, such rabble-rousers were kept far from the halls of power. Even the most radical of the “Founding Fathers”, Thomas Jefferson, kept in his “Hall of Heroes” at Monticello portraits of King Louis XVI of France and the self-made Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. There were Founding Fathers who were monarchists themselves at heart, the most notable being Alexander Hamilton. Men like George Washington and John Adams, once the war was won, could not hide their lingering attachment to the United Kingdom they had broken away from. The war deprived the British monarch of territory but not of his throne and there was no attempt to remake society in the way of the French or Russian revolutions.
Where America at least seemed to have the most impact on the replacement of monarchial government with republican ones was in Latin America. There was, after all, the Monroe Doctrine and the involvement of American officials (often Freemasons) in conspiracies to bring down the Spanish Crown in the New World. However, as reprehensible as these things are, the simple fact is that the United States did not have the strength to back up one word of the Monroe Doctrine and no amount of republican fervor from US envoys in Latin American countries could have accomplished anything were it not for the republican, revolutionary elements already there. The British Empire supported the Monroe Doctrine and had the Royal Navy to enforce it. Aside from native, revolutionary elements the success of republicanism in Latin America largely came down to official and unofficial support from the British Empire as well as, most significantly, chaos in Spain itself. The royalists had won in Mexico but the rising liberalism in Spain pushed Mexican conservatives into the pro-independence camp. The outbreak of the Carlist Wars also prevented the Spanish from being able to focus their strength on serious efforts to retake colonies that had been lost with the support of Britain which was anxious to break up the Spanish monopoly on trade with Latin America.
After clashing with Britain in 1812, America did not fight a monarchy again until the Spanish-American War. Many European countries did not like this and the German Kaiser even urged concerted action to, more or less, put the Americans in their place. However, none did so because, again, the British Empire decided it was wiser to support America rather than Spain which, still struggling with seemingly endless Carlist Wars, was a rapidly declining power. Around the same time there was also the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by American interests and that is something that Hawaiians certainly have a right to be upset about. Not too many do though as it is a very liberal state and has come to depend on the largesse of the government in Washington. Hawaiians are also a tiny minority in the state and in any democratic decision on the matter would be easily outvoted.
As much fun as many have blaming the loss of every monarchy toppled in 1918 on America, the simple fact is that the USA had practically nothing to do with it. America did not declare war until late in 1917, after the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, and by that time Austria-Hungary was already doomed. Britain and France had already made the agreements with the other powers and the ethnic minorities for the carve-up of Austria-Hungary before America was ever part of the picture. The same goes for the Ottoman Empire. In Bulgaria, the monarchy survived and in Germany it was the outbreak of leftist rebellions combined with the Social Democrats seizing the opportunity that brought down the Kaiser. Not one American or other Allied soldier had set foot on German soil when that happened and the greatest pressure put on Imperial Germany by the Allies was the Royal Navy blockade which had been going on since the start of the war. As for what happened at the Versailles Conference, Wilson certainly did his part to help make it the disaster it was but he was only one man among many and the other Allied leaders were perfectly happy to ignore his lofty, unrealistic preaching when it suited them. The Germans actually preferred to make peace based on his “Fourteen Points” but the Allies brushed most of them aside. The United States, lest we forget, was the only major Allied power that neither sought nor was given any territorial concessions and also the only one that did NOT endorse the Versailles Treaty. The idiotic Wilson thought it was swell but, thankfully, the United States Senate did not and refused to ratify it and America made a separate peace with the Central Powers later.
American participation was not always bad for monarchy in World War II. American forces enabled the monarchies in The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark and Norway to be restored or liberated. The Greek monarchy was restored (for the time being) and though the Italian monarchy fell it is one, for baffling reasons, which a fair number of monarchists seem ambivalent about. In East Asia, the American victory meant the doom of the restored Manchu monarchy but it seems to have few friends these days anyway. Korea became republican but even most Korean monarchists seem to prefer half an independent republic to a monarchy subordinate to the Empire of Japan. In Japan itself, it was the United States, mostly General Douglas MacArthur himself, which prevented the partition of the country (as the Soviets wanted) and the execution of the Emperor (which many in Washington and even some dissidents in Japan wanted). The monarchies of Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania and Bulgaria were doomed but this was part of a deal worked out as well between Britain and the Soviet Union and one must face the uncomfortable question as to whether Nazi or Communist domination of these countries would have been preferable. To jump back to East Asia for a moment, it is interesting to note that the one other independent monarchy in the region (besides Japan) was the Kingdom of Thailand which declared war on the United States but the United States never declared war on Thailand in return, considering the regime there illegitimate.
In Burma, it had been the British who deposed the last king and the downfall of the British Empire, while certainly assisted by the United States which was eager to jump on the popular anti-colonialism bandwagon and try to woo peoples away from Soviet Russia, it was the decisions of the British government and British people which made this possible. Britain had sold itself to America to fight World War II and may, perhaps, have forgotten the Biblical warning that “the borrower is slave to the lender”. Yet, even then, Britain may have been able to at least hold on to Africa where it not for the fact that after the war the socialists came to power in a big way in Great Britain and there is simply no way that the United Kingdom could afford an empire AND a social welfare state. It has become clear today that they cannot even afford a military and a social welfare state. The generous entitlements, benefits, welfare (call it what you will) most monarchies have in place today would, by and large, not be possible were it not for the United States protecting all of them and so permitting them to live in peace with only token military forces.
When it comes to the post-Cold War era, American actions in regard to monarchy are probably not so terrible as most would think (certainly if one listens to those who blame America for everything). Iran is an interesting case. America is often blamed by monarchists for the fall of the Shah, yet this is more a case of America not helping maintain the Shah as opposed to actively bringing about his downfall. However, there is no doubt that President Carter certainly should feel guilty about his treatment of such a stalwart American ally (-partisan remark about a certain US political party removed-). What does look absurd is that while monarchists blame America for letting the Shah be deposed, anti-monarchists are blaming America for having put the Shah back in power once before, something anti-American monarchists rarely talk about. After Carter, there was President Ronald Reagan who restored the authority of the Crown over Granada. I know, some British experts at anti-Americanism think that was outrageous but I do not see how. The Governor-General, the Queen’s representative on the island, had been taken prisoner so the authority of the Queen had effectively been removed by the communists and this was restored by the intervention of the US Marines. It doesn’t seem like something for a British monarchist to complain about to me.
The United States was certainly not occupying any of these countries, they had been isolated from all American influence for decades behind the “Iron Curtain” and all of their monarchs had been exiled. If there is any evidence of the United States actually taking action to prevent the return of monarchs to these countries and providing some sort of irresistible pressure to prevent restorations I have yet to see it. In most cases, there was no real change in the power elite at all, old communists were simply replaced by new communists who changed their affiliation to Social Democrats. I suppose the United States could have been more supportive or perhaps could have done what it never did throughout the Cold War and launch military invasions of East European countries to forcibly restore monarchs to power but that would seem an odd thing for monarchists to expect from the most preeminent republic in the world while not expecting the same action from actual monarchies. That is something which perplexes me to no end; the number of times I have seen monarchists acting outraged that the very republican United States is not more pro-monarchy than actual monarchies are. I find it baffling. Frankly, I am often amazed America is as friendly toward monarchy as it is given how hyper-egalitarian the American left is and how hyper-republican the American right is.
The bottom line is that the United States attracts a great deal of criticism simply for being powerful, just like others that have gone before them. Long-time readers will know that I hate the blame game and believe that in the vast majority of cases we are all the authors of our own misfortunes. Some like to bash America simply because it is an inviting target. Countries complain that they cannot take any action on the world stage without America’s permission, yet, when pressed, they admit they really don’t want to take any action anyway. Many countries complain about America meddling in the affairs while taking for granted American subsidy and military protection. In other words, “shut up and give us your money”. However, all of the monarchies which have to at least take the wishes of America seriously are only in such a position because of past decisions they themselves made and which they go on making today.
Monarchists, in my view, need to be more realistic about the world we live in, a world born out of World War II, a conflict which started in London and Paris and not Washington DC (though Roosevelt certainly took full advantage of it). Currently there is no monarchy that is anywhere near close enough to being able to take a leadership position in the world comparable to the United States, mostly due to past actions in regards to the world wars. If monarchists are unhappy with this state of affairs, then we must ask ourselves who would be most likely to have such a dominant position if not the United States? I doubt anyone would imagine that Communist China would be prepared to give war guarantees to most monarchies in the world. And if none of the alternatives seem preferable then the only solution is not to complain, not to antagonize but to reassess priorities. Make the tough choices to grow the economy, put more money into the military and be more assertive on the world stage once you have the strength to back it up. Blaming America for all and sundry will get you nowhere and being a constant annoyance to the most powerful country in the world is hardly helpful to the monarchist cause. What would be helpful is if more monarchists were just as proud and just as assertive about their own countries and their own system of monarchial government as most Americans are about their own model. Rather than give Americans doubts about the wisdom of standing guard for the monarchies of the world, welcome it and welcome American friendship while using the safety that shield provides to rebuild, reorganize and grow stronger until the great day comes when it is no longer necessary.