Friday, January 31, 2014
Nagashino is the Alamo of Japan;
The Alamo is the Nagashino of America.
Whoever knows the heroes of the Battle of Nagashino
Knows the heroes of the Alamo
But their fame, like the blossom’s fragrance, is still in the air.
The custom of the West does not necessarily condemn surrender…
In other fields, although the Japanese presence in Texas has never been a large one, it has had a tremendous impact on Texas, particularly in areas such as agriculture and architecture. Rice cultivation has been common in East Texas ever since it was brought over from Louisiana but it was greatly improved thanks to the efforts of some of the first Japanese-Texans who were interested in finding more efficient ways to grow more rice to benefit both Texas and Japan. In 1903 Seito Saibara and 30 other Japanese colonists arrived in Webster in southern Harris County. Rice seed was sent as a special gift from HM the Emperor of Japan and within three years the rice harvest had almost doubled. Seito Saibara, along with his family, among the first Japanese-Texans, have been credited with establishing the Gulf Coast rice industry in Texas. Today, thanks to those early efforts, Texas is one of the largest rice producers in the United States. Later, other Japanese colonists arrived and joined the rice farming industry in various parts of Texas such as Port Lavaca, Fannett, Terry, Mackay, El Campo and Alvin, Texas. Many Japanese also settled in Mission, San Juan and San Benito in the Rio Grande Valley to grow vegetables and citrus orchards. Later, other Japanese families migrated from California to Texas due to racial bigotry being prevalent in California. Texas, the “Friendship” State, was more welcoming.
There are also, of course, numerous Japanese restaurants, tea houses and art galleries in most every major city in Texas. One area in which Japan and Texas have grown quite close in recent years may be overlooked. Texas is known for cattle ranches and oil wells, space exploration and computer development but few probably know that it is a major center for Japanese anime in the United States. Today there are centers in New York and Los Angeles but Texas is still home to the biggest adaptors and distributors of this widely loved area of Japanese pop-culture. The cities of Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth are where much of Japanese anime is sent to be dubbed into English and shared with the American public. Anime Network, Funimation Entertainment, Sentai Filmworks and many other of the biggest names in the industry are based in Texas and they largely employ local talent for their dubbing work so that a great many fans will by now by very used to watching Japanese animation performed by Texan voice-actors. With this industry of rather recent years, combined with the earliest Japanese colonists to East Texas to make rice cultivation a major industry, it is no surprise that Houston, Texas has probably the largest Japanese population in the state. Texas shares many values and interests with Japan and the Japanese have made quite an impact on Texas in business, agriculture, medicine, architecture and even the landscape and in food and entertainment. With great mutual respect and long-lasting ties of friendship, Texas and Japan will certainly only continue to grow stronger in the future.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
That anyone claiming to be a monarchist or a lover of tradition could have any sympathy at all for the Islamic Republic of Iran, frankly, leaves me nearly speechless. Like the proverbial mosquito in the nudist colony, I know what to do, I just don’t know where to start. If you are a monarchist, if you are a traditionalist, if you believe that not everything in life should be subject to change on the whim of the temporary majority, there is absolutely, positively no reason, at all, for you to support the Islamic Republic. Anyone should be able to see, that is, anyone with any measurable intelligence, should be able to see that, beyond the superficial things like (gasp) women being educated, wearing short skirts or people going to see Hollywood movies, the Imperial State of Iran was far more traditional at heart than anything that has succeeded it. It looked with pride back on the entirety of Persian history and not merely that most recent Islamic era and it maintained the existing, traditional views of religion (yes, religion) and politics that had far deeper roots than anything the Islamic revolutionaries later came up with. Iran, under its last dynasty, was going through something of a mini-Renaissance, in some ways similar to the Renaissance experienced by Catholic Europe.
However, the claim is often made that traditionalists or conservatives should have been opposed to the Imperial State of Iran because there were very un-Islamic things like nightclubs, cinemas and, again, those vile skirts that caused innocent men to be driven into frenzies of lust by the sight of a calf or perhaps even a bit of thigh. Obviously, I am making somewhat light of this because I do not consider it a damnable offense for a woman to allow her ankles to be seen in public but then, I am not a Muslim. However, back in my university days I did study Islam and the history of the Middle East (from Egypt to Iran was our definition) and so, while not an expert, I am not totally ignorant of the subject and will make my thoughts known (it is your choice to read them or not). From my understanding, if we are to assume that one is a Shiite Muslim as the majority of Iranians are, there is still absolutely no justification for anyone supporting the Islamic revolutionary regime. As I recall, Shiite Islam was based on the idea that no one can speak for God until the Mahdi, the expected one, comes from heaven to lead the faithful to their ultimate triumph. The Ayatollah broke, radically, with this long-established, traditional view of Shiia Islam by claiming unprecedented powers for the Shiite clerics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Today, although we have touched on this in the past, it bears repeating, we also have those who at least sympathize with the forces of the Islamic Revolution in Iran because they claim to oppose the decadence and immorality of the modern west. That mentality, is not only stupid, it is stupid to the point of being suicidal. It is suicidal because these types seem not to grasp the fact that these fanatics consider the west at its most religious and conservative to be just as immoral as in our own liberal, permissive, present day. These are people who would hold the Christians of the Middle Ages as perverse because they danced touching each other, who would condemn the Popes as immoral for having nudes painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, people who were calling America the “Great Satan” back in the days of Bishop Sheen and “Leave It to Beaver”. Anyone who thinks that these fanatics would show any kindness to someone just because they consider a few of the same things to be immoral is soundly mistaken. They hate the Christian west no matter how truly Christian it actually is. Besides that, however, is the fact that what they hate about the west is more often based on the power and influence held by western nations and has nothing to do with religion or morality at all. Otherwise, how would one explain their cozy relationship with Communist China, an officially atheist, anti-religious regime that persecutes Christians, Buddhists and Muslims and carries out such things as forced abortions and sterilizations? Any tradition-minded person in the west who thinks they can make common cause with the Iranian regime is sorely mistaken.
Other monarchists made the mistake of thinking they could make common cause with Iran and were shown how wrong they were. For instance, in the wake of the Islamic Revolution, King Khalid of Saudi Arabia sent a friendly message to Iran calling for Islamic solidarity. He was met only with anti-monarchy bigotry with the Ayatollah responding by saying that Mecca was under the control of “heretics”. Needless to say, relations between the two countries have never been friendly. In several other countries, monarchist and republican alike, Iran has worked consistently to support subversive elements and oppose any with monarchist sympathies. Those who would sympathize with the Iranian regime as some sort of traditional fortress set against the “evils” of modernity might also remember that the former President of Iran took the exact opposite point of view and boasted of how much more progressive, democratic and liberal his country was when compared to a country like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As recently as Friday, January 24, 2014 an article appeared in Britain’s “The Telegraph” proposing that the west should reach out to the Islamic Republic of Iran because it is “now” a more liberal and democratic country than Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Monday, January 27, 2014
In the Low Countries, the King and Queen of the Netherlands welcomed President Hollande of France to their country early in the week and later met with the Prime Minister of Italy. In neighboring Belgium, Princess Claire celebrated her 40th birthday on Sunday the 19th and her husband Prince Laurent of Belgium (yes, the one who always seems to step in it) put out a press release saying, “…from the bottom of his heart how happy is to have met her, that he respects her, how much he loves her and how grateful he is to her for the beautiful children that fill their hearts with happiness and pride.” The Prince also said, “Each day that pass is a pleasure to share my life with her”. Prince Laurent may not always make good decisions but he certainly made a good one when he married Princess Claire and he is intelligent enough to realize that. Good for them and congratulations to the Princess on her birthday. Finally, in Luxembourg, there has been some confusion over a coin released by a German firm bearing the images of Prince Felix and Princess Claire (another one) as the Royal Court in Luxembourg says that they gave no permission for the use of the images of the newlyweds and will have to see if the couple themselves knows anything about this. And, further south, in the Kingdom of Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has expressed his support for HRH Infanta Cristina who is set to testify as a suspect in court in a few weeks. Rajoy said that he expects things will go well for her and that, “I’m convinced of her innocence”. Nice to see some loyalty on public display in the ‘Land of the Setting Sun’.
The biggest event in southern royal news may have passed unnoticed in most of the media but it was a major event. First of all, there was the official ceremony for the beatification of Queen Maria Cristina of Savoy at the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples, Italy. Blessed Queen Maria Cristina was the daughter of King Victor Emmanuel I of Piedmont-Sardinia, the Queen consort of King Ferdinand II of the Two-Sicilies and the mother of Francis II, the last King of the Two-Sicilies. However, this event was preceded by another important royal event in Naples which was the signing of a document of reconciliation between the two rival branches of the House of Bourbon Two-Sicilies. The Duke of Noto (acting for Infante Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria who is in frail health) and the Duke of Castro signed the “peace treaty” of sorts which states that they will effectively share leadership of the house for the present with each head of each branch to be treated equally. As for the succession, it is not considered a significant issue as the Duke of Castro has only daughters and the eldest son of the Duke of Noto, Prince Jaime, is now learning Italian and will in future take on a larger royal in family affairs. This is very good to see, it comes after about a year of meetings and negotiations and is the first time such a dispute has been settled by mutual agreement from both sides. They will now work on the (hopefully not more difficult) task of reconciling their followers. Hopefully this will also set an example for the House of Savoy which is in a similar situation.
Finally, in Asian royal news, it was a fairly quiet week. Tensions remain high in Thailand with internal matters and in Japan with international matters but both monarchies remain, thankfully, tranquil. In the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan the young monarch presided over the opening of the second session of the second parliament this week, which is all well and good but is still breaks my heart that Bhutan ever started down this path of parliaments and political parties. And in the federal Kingdom of Malaysia, the presiding “King”, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam has spoken up for the first time in support of a court ruling that forbids non-Muslims to use the word Allah to refer to God. This has heightened religious divisions in the country. Last October a court upheld the ban, overturning a previous decision that had allowed a Catholic newspaper to use the word Allah in its Malay-language edition. Muslim leaders have called for action against Christians who do not comply with the order (Christians being about 9% of the population of Malaysia). A Catholic priest is currently under investigation for sedition for denying the ban. In a recent speech Sultan Abdul Halim said, “In the context of a pluralistic society, religious sensitivities especially related to Islam as the religion of the federation should be respected”. After the order first came out a few churches were fire-bombed and government officials said that areas where Christians are concentrated would not be forced to comply with the order, however, this most recent ruling and the words of the King have caused many to doubt whether that will be the case.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Because of Lt. Charles Zanco, the flag of Denmark has and will always have a place of honor in the Alamo, “the Shrine of Texas Liberty”. However, Danish interaction with Texas did not begin on a sizeable scale until after the War Between the States. Two Texans named Travis Shaw and John Hester happened to be visiting the Kingdom of Denmark. Impressed by what they saw, they thought Texas needed some Danes and so they asked if anybody was interested in moving to Texas. A few agreed and were sold land by Shaw and Hester in Lee County. Prices were cheap and at the time, owning property for most any common man in the small countries of Europe was nearly impossible so this was viewed as an opportunity. About 20 families of Danes made the voyage across the ocean first but more came later in the following decade. The first settled in Lee County of course, as did the later arrivals. Most established themselves in an area around eight miles west of the County seat of Lexington. The area came to have such a Danish flavor that it became known as “Little Denmark”. The early settlers were noted for their industriousness and most all were employed in productive occupations such as Paul Paulsen who was a cabinet maker, Niels Thompson who was a bricklayer and Peter Jensen who was a blacksmith.
|Lee County courthouse|
Most Danes began speaking English exclusively early on, however, Danish survived the longest in the Lutheran churches they founded. Formal Danish was spoken in church services until 1954 and a women’s church group, “Den danske Kvindeforening” spoke Danish or “native Texas Danish” until 1971. The community was once known for celebrating a combination of Danish Constitution Day and United States Independence Day as well as Christmas. Both usually included a circle dance around a community tree and singing at least a few Danish songs. The largest Danish settlement was Danevang, established in 1894 mostly by Danish-Americans moving south from northern states. Although it eventually diminished over time as the locals intermarried with others, moved on to other areas and “assimilated” more in the 1920‘s, there was still a population of 60 in 1990 and the local Danevang Lutheran Church is still open. There is also a Danish Heritage Museum in town. Although not as pronounced as some groups, there are still many thousands of Texans who are of at least partial Danish ancestry. While others may have had a bigger influence on Texas, the Kingdom of Denmark has been a part of Texas history from the beginning and, hopefully, the ties between Denmark and Texas will only grow stronger in the years to come.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Also playing a key role was the heavily leftist American labor unions. They too wanted to bring down colonial empires and native monarchies, and to gain influence before others could although they were much less clear about whether they considered the victory of Soviet communism to be all that bad of an outcome. It became standard policy for American organized labor to go to the colonies of American allies like Britain and France to set up labor unions amongst the locals and then to build on those unions as the core of a revolutionary political force. These labor unions would also lobby the government in Washington DC (having especially strong influence with the Democrats) to apply pressure to colonial countries to grant these places independence. When they did, the idea was that the new leader would come from the ranks of the new organized labor movement and they would have all these new countries solidly in their pocket. They could, and did, after all claim that these countries “owed” them their independence because of their lobbying on their behalf in the United States. This would also boost their popularity in America as well as they could portray themselves in a very patriotic light by taking down kings and monarchies while, in fact, they were thoroughly anti-American to their core.
American labor unions also tried the same sort of tactic in the Kingdom of Morocco, backing Mahjoub ben Seddik in forming the Moroccan labor federation in violation of the laws of the French protectorate. This was part of their overall campaign to support independence while also pushing out French-backed labor unions in favor of American ones. It almost worked in Morocco as it had in Tunisia, however, the Royal Family proved too popular and eventually even those supported by the United States were insisting that pushing for the restoration of King Mohammed V to the throne was a wiser course of action that trying to establish a republic. He had been removed and exiled by the French and replaced by his uncle, Mohammed Ben Aarafa, but was eventually restored and negotiated the independence of Morocco from France in 1956. Still, the seeds that were planted continued to cause unrest and violence in Morocco for many years to come, particularly during the reign of King Hassan II, father of the current Moroccan monarch. All of this certainly did the country no good nor was it of any benefit to the United States. In forcing the country away from France, Morocco was obliged to draw closer to America but the unrest in the country only meant that America had an unstable ally which was surely not the ideal situation.
Along with Africa and the Middle East, the effort to back a “third force” by America left behind a record of failure longer and even bloodier in Southeast Asia. In the case of Vietnam, America managed to be on almost every side of the conflict that engulfed the region at one point or another. Under Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States funded, organized and trained the communist guerillas who became the Vietminh (and later the Viet Cong) under Ho Chi Minh to fight the Japanese and, perhaps later, the French. While Harry Truman was busy with Korea it became clear that Ho Chi Minh was a communist (which should have been obvious all along) and so under President Eisenhower the U.S. began to support the French and the last Vietnamese emperor in fighting this monster America had a hand in creating. However, the U.S. would not intervene to stop the communists outright at that stage (which would only mean far more extensive intervention later on) and, once again, a “third force” was sought that was neither French/Vietnamese monarchist or communist. The result was the emergence of Ngo Dinh Diem with strong backing from the United States. In 1955 American agents helped push him into deposing the former Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai and establishing a republic. Royalists were squashed and, through sheer brute force, for a time it seemed that this time the formula might be working. However, after President Diem proved to be a ‘puppet who wanted to pull his own strings’ President Kennedy, who had previously supported Diem in his rule and rise to power, authorized the coup that brought him down and ended in his assassination. South Vietnam was plagued by one coup after another virtually until a relatively stable period from 1965 until 1975 under General Nguyen Van Thieu. In the end, the communists were victorious.
|King Savang Vatthana of Laos|
Likewise, in Cambodia, there emerged an American faction, a communist faction and a royalist faction. King Norodom Sihanouk was trying to keep friendly with all sides, showing the sights to Jackie Kennedy one day and vacationing with Chairman Mao the next. He looked the other way to North Vietnamese incursions into Cambodia and to American CIA agents trying to buy influence for Cambodia coming into the war on the side of the United States and South Vietnam. In 1970 the U.S.-backed prime minister, General Lon Nol, staged a successful coup against King Norodom Sihanouk who was out of the country. A republican government was established which was quickly recognized by the United States under President Richard Nixon. The King was sentenced to death in absentia, his wife to lifetime imprisonment and even his mother was placed under house arrest. The new republic immediately went to war with the communist Vietnamese but deposing the King had forced him into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, the local communist insurgency, whose numbers swelled dramatically as a result. In the end, the Khmer Republic lasted only as long as American aid did, which was cut off after the U.S. government gave up on South Vietnam and with the collapse, the Khmer Rouge filled the vacuum. They disposed of the no-longer-necessary monarch and established a communist state that was murderous on a scale almost unequalled in world history. Such were the fruits of a “third force” in Cambodia.
|Chin Peng, communist leader in Malaysia|
Unfortunately, the same could not be said of Indonesia. Here again was an anti-colonial war that the United States reacted to but, even more outrageously, not by backing a “third force” but by backing the primary enemy of the colonial power, another World War II ally, the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Under the leadership of another socialist revolutionary, Sukarno, Indonesian rebels waged a guerilla war against the Dutch. Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands agreed to a compromise by which Indonesia would be granted complete autonomy as the United States of Indonesia while remaining under the Dutch Crown, rather like modern-day Aruba is a “constituent country” of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. However, the rebels rejected this offer and continued to wage war on the Dutch population. Their offer of good will being rejected, the Dutch responded with military force and were quite successful. They were positively winning the war when the United States, under President Harry Truman, decided to intervene. After threatening to cut off all Marshall Aid to the Netherlands (on which the country depended after World War II) unless the war was stopped, the Dutch had no choice but to concede total Indonesian independence and hand power over to Sukarno, retaining control only over western New Guinea as a safe haven for Dutch settlers who were suffering immense persecution.
There are still other examples that could be cited but the point seems well made. All around the world, anti-monarchy bigotry on the part of U.S. foreign policy served to benefit no one but the very communists it was ostensibly intended to oppose. In some cases it was anti-imperialism that was the primary, motivating factor (such as in Africa where the U.S. backed rebel groups that were anti-Portuguese as well as anti-communist, the communists inevitably winning as a result) but then there are cases in which the colonial power was clearly going or already gone in which the U.S. seemed to oppose a national leader simply for being a monarch. Incredibly enough, the idea that such an anti-imperialist attitude was rather at odds with the fact that the U.S. had a military presence stretching from West Germany to Central America to Japan seems to have never occurred to many occupants of the White House and members of Congress. In spite of the facts surrounding them, the consistent attitude seemed to be, ‘it’s only imperialism when someone else does it’. Finally, this is in no-way an attempt to encourage the ever-present “blame America first” crowd that is so popular around the world. Just as much as what the U.S. did, at issue here is the fact that it did NOT work. The policies did not benefit America in the least. It led to defeats on the world stage that made America look weak and it undermined trust in the United States. Many would shake their heads in agreement with the bitter words of Madame Nhu that, “Whoever has the Americans as allies does not need an enemy”. If the American situation is to improve, Americans have to understand these facts and for future foreign policy success the United States needs to learn from what has happened and drop the knee-jerk rejection of any and all types of monarchy.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
"It is necessary to respect every living child, every child that has begun to live...And to be in favor of life is not backward, nor is it something confined to Christianity. It is to follow the natural law."
-HM Queen Sofia of Spain
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Monday, January 20, 2014
On the Scandinavian royal front, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden injured her leg while skiing in Italy over the New Year holiday but was not letting that hold her back, carrying on with her royal duties with her left leg in a brace. Meanwhile, the King and Queen met with county governors this week. In neighboring Norway, HM King Harald V celebrated the anniversary of his succession to the throne this week and HM Queen Sonja opened the “1814 -The Game of Denmark and Norway” exhibition at the Norwegian Folk Museum. And in Danish royal news, Crown Princess Mary was in Burma this week, comforting impoverished children on a visit to promote “sexual health” in that unfortunate country. Further south, King Philip of the Belgians opened the Brussels Motor Show this week and in Luxembourg it was announced this week that some months ago Archduke Istvan of Austria resigned from his post as secretary general of the administration of the Grand Duke. The Archduke is the son of the late Archduke Felix who was the son of Blessed Emperor Charles of Austria-Hungary.
And, speaking of the House of Hapsburg, in an interview with a group of European newspapers, Archduke Karl (current head of the family) said that his family should not be blamed for starting the First World War (and rightly so) saying that, “If you were to simplify it, you could say that the shooting in Sarajevo started the first world war. But if there hadn’t been the shooting in Sarajevo, it would have kicked off three weeks later somewhere else. He said his family nor Austria-Hungary had anything to feel sorry about as they were not guilty of anything, saying it would be wrong to single out one state when tensions were so high between all the major powers. And, moving on to southern Europe, in Rome the world media was shocked at the ‘State of the World’ address of Pope Francis in which he called abortion “horrific” in his most critical words yet about the practice. Reuters earned some derision for referring to the remark as a “nod to conservatives” in their headline. In the Principality of Monaco, Andrea Casiraghi and new wife Tatiana are busy preparing for their second wedding ceremony while the Sovereign Prince and Princess greeted circus performers. Finally, in Spain, the anticorruption prosecutor has now said he will not appeal the summons for HRH Infanta Cristina to testify but he also criticized the judge for believing in “conspiracy theories” in an effort to bring the Infanta before the court despite a lack of evidence that it is warranted. Good for him.
In Africa, archeologists from the United States believe they have uncovered the tomb of a previously unknown Egyptian pharaoh. As most know, the pharaohs of Egypt were held to be gods and someone else is being accused of making a similar case on the African continent. However, it is nowhere near as outrageous as most of the headlines make it sound. Yes, it is the Kingdom of Swaziland where the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs said that God operated “in a monarchical way” just as the King does. This is, of course, entirely true. He said, “It is God’s desire to see the people of Swaziland loving their monarchy” which I would also be inclined to agree with. However, he probably did go a bit too far considering the many problems that exist in that country saying, “The reason God’s eye is closer to the Kingdom of Swaziland is that we are a platform of showing the world how the Almighty God wants the world to be ruled”. Okay…
Moving on to Asia, readers may recall a previous news report here about a claimant to the Sultanate of Malacca in what is now Malaysia obtaining a document recognizing his claim from the International Court of Justice. Well, *fooled you*! Turns out it was a fake as the ICJ came out this week saying that it did no such thing and that the claimant in question is a big, fat, lying liar (or words to that effect). The pretender in question, who calls himself Raja Noor, has since been arrested under the sedition act on allegations that he has been involved in the buying and selling of titles (a significant problem in Malaysia). And, on Wednesday, in the “Land of the Rising Sun”, Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress participated in the annual New Year’s Poetry Reading Ceremony at the Imperial Palace. A poem, composed by HM the Emperor, was recited which recalled a recent imperial visit to a coastal area devastated by disease caused by severe mercury poisoning due to pollution. There were also poems by HM the Empress and HIH Crown Princess Masako among others.
Friday, January 17, 2014
His election came with a huge victory for the Democrats in Congress and with near absolute power President Wilson could have his way on just about everything. The American people were to see what an unfettered Democratic government looked like for the first time in the memory of most people. First he lowered or abolished tariffs and then set about putting the government in charge of the banking industry and establishing a new currency with the passage of an act creating the Federal Reserve which the government would have exclusive control over. In doing this, Wilson had said that he wanted to set business free, but not too free it seems as he next set about enacting a massive intrusion of government into the business sector with the creation of the Federal Trade Commission and the passage of the Clayton Antitrust Act. He also helped out the farmers by making it easier for them to drown themselves in debt. Again, what a guy. And if that doesn’t make you love him, Americans also have President Wilson to thank for the federal income tax. I’m rather surprised his face isn’t on Mt Rushmore (which was carved by a member of the KKK so I really am surprised).
After Pancho Villa raided American territory, President Wilson ordered another invasion of Mexico where American troops clashed with rebel and government forces alike. The issue was never settled as American attention was soon diverted by the First World War. However, Mexico was certainly not alone in being invaded by American troops thanks to President Wilson. No, this preachy scholar who firmly believed he was the smartest man in any room, who condemned past territorial acquisitions by the United States and who would condemn, for example, the German invasion of Belgium in 1914, invaded a number of other countries himself. Aside from a totally unjustified invasion of Mexico at Veracruz, Wilson had American troops invade and occupy Nicaragua in 1914, Haiti in 1915 and Wilson put the Dominican Republic under U.S. military rule in 1916. Somehow, each of those was justified but, of course, Germany invading Belgium or Austria-Hungary invading Serbia was just plain wrong. It was after all of that, in 1917, that Woodrow Wilson took the United States into World War I after winning reelection on the slogan “he kept us out of war”.
But, before getting into that, we should also mention that a whopping three Constitutional amendments were passed during the Wilson administration. One was giving women the vote (and we know what Wilson thought about that), the other was the prohibition of alcohol which proved to be extremely lucrative for the organized crime business and finally one which provided for the direct election of U.S. Senators who had previously been appointed by state governments. This is often overlooked but it was one of the worst of the many terrible things Wilson inflicted on the United States. The Senate had been established in the first place to provide a representative body for the states of the Union. The people were represented by the House of Representatives and the states were represented by the Senate. By making Senators be directly elected, the public suddenly got double-representation and the states suddenly had none. This made it much easier for the federal government to trample on the rights of the states in the future. It would also lead to a great deal of political fighting and deadlock as the Senate ceased to be a less partisan gathering based on region rather than party and became a more puffed up version of the lower house which became particularly problematic when the same public would elect one party to power in the House and another party to power in the Senate.
|Wilson declaring war on Germany|
In his arrogant, scholarly way, he came to Europe when it was over famous for his “Fourteen Points”, cheered wildly in every European capital he visited. The truth, of course, was that the Fourteen Points were irrelevant from day one. The Germans actually wanted to have a peace based on them, knowing it was a better deal than what they would otherwise get but, of course, Britain and France had no intention of letting Wilson dictate the peace. Most regarded Wilson with derision as an over-educated yet uniformed, idealistic incompetent who didn’t know what he was talking about. Eventually, Wilson himself all but admitted as much. He had lots of vague, pretty sounding slogans but no real solutions to European or world problems. He also sacrificed a great deal just to see the creation of his beloved League of Nations, a useless talking shop that the United States, thankfully, refused to have any part of. In fact, the U.S. refused to sign on to both the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles which, in typical fashion, Wilson blamed on the influence of Germans and Irish in the United States. He left behind him a country full of unemployed veterans, striking workers and race riots but with a much bigger and more powerful federal government that future presidents would be only too willing to exploit.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
|HM the Meiji Emperor|
When the Empire of Japan first emerged onto the world stage, monarchy was still dominant in the world and the only close neighbors of Japan; Korea, China and Russia, were all monarchies as well. Some conflict was probably inevitable. As Japan modernized, the need for resources grew greater and one early source of vital food imports was Korea. However, Korea was a vassal of China and the Chinese were not too pleased with the increased Japanese involvement in Korea and had a long history of being rather contemptuous toward Japan, mostly for refusing to recognize Chinese supremacy. The first two external wars fought by the Empire of Japan after the Meiji Restoration were, if you reduce it to the most simplistic level, over Korea. First they drove the Chinese out but were robbed of much of their victory when Russia, France and Germany ganged up on the Japanese, forcing them to give back some of their winnings. Russian power was expanding in the region and Japan offered to accept Russian dominance in Manchuria (Chinese power being on the decline) if the Russians would stay out of Korea. Their offer was not accepted and the Russo-Japanese War basically determined whether or not Korea would be a part of the Empire of Japan or the Russian Empire. The Japanese were victorious and in 1910 the short-lived “Great Han Empire” (Korea) was annexed by Japan.
|Emperor "Henry" Puyi with the Japanese|
|Mongol Prince Demchugdongrub|
|Prince Cuong De|