Friday, October 31, 2014

Crimea: The Great Crimean War 1854-56

Trevor Royle’s Crimea: The Great Crimean War 1854-56, published in 1999, is an exhaustive and fascinating study of one of the most controversial conflicts of the 19th century, a conflict that has considerable relevance on our own era.

In the early 19th century the Ottoman Empire controlled a considerable slice of eastern Europe but the empire which had once seemed likely to dominate the entire continent (they went very close to capturing Vienna in 1683) was now clearly in decline and had become known as the Sick Man of Europe. The problem was what to do if the Sick Man actually died. A further problem was that the British at least suspected that the Russians might be planning to hasten his demise. British policy was to maintain the Ottoman Empire at all costs. It was obvious that if it collapsed Russia would strengthen its position in eastern Europe and central Asia, and perhaps strengthen its position just a little too much. As always the British feared for India. And if Russia gained control of the whole of the Black Sea she would have unrestricted access to the Mediterranean.

In the early 1850s a dispute between Orthodox Christians and Catholics over control of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem gave the Tsar Nicholas I his opportunity, and brought Russia and France into collision. The Ottomans declared war on Russia and the subsequent Russian naval victory at Sinope left Russia effectively dominating the Black Sea. Britain and France then declared war on the Russians, a move that eventually led to the landing of an Anglo-French invasion force in the Crimea.

The Crimean War is widely regarded as a classic example of a futile and unnecessary war. That’s perhaps not entirely accurate. The Tsar did have a sincere interest in the rights of Orthodox Christians within the Ottoman Empire and the British did have legitimate reasons for fearing an imminent Ottoman collapse and for fearing the consequences that were likely to follow. The so-called “Eastern Question” bedeviled European politics for a century and provided the spark that ignited the First World War. The echoes continued for another century, the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia in the late 20th century being a result of the failure to solve the question satisfactorily. There were real issues at stake. Whether it was wise for the British and French to become directly involved was another matter. The French Emperor Napoleon III wanted to restore France to the dominant position she had held in Europe prior to the defeat of his uncle and namesake in 1815 and saw the war as a means of achieving this. The British government was to a large extent stampeded into war by the hysteria of the British press.

The Crimean War ended in defeat for Russia but it proved to be far more expensive in money and lives than had been anticipated and the final result was not entirely satisfactory from Britain’s point of view. The campaign in the Crimea exposed disastrous faults in the organisation of the British Army’s supply and medical services and those faults cost the lives of many more British soldiers from disease than from the actual fighting.

The dangers of being drawn into eastern European wars was a lesson that European statesmen had to learn again in 1914, and it seem that the lesson may have to be learnt yet again in our own day. Of even greater relevance today are the astonishing parallels between the demonisation of Nicholas I in the British press in the early 1850s and the demonisation of Vladimir Putin by an equally irresponsible and hysterical media. 

Royle gives a very fair account of the war, recognising the extreme difficulties faced by Lord Raglan as British commander in the Crimea, and refusing to demonise any of the main actors in the drama. The only real villains are the British press. Royle’s book can be warmly recommended.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Could even Labour be worse than David Cameron?

With "conservative" Prime Minister David Cameron planning sweeping crackdowns on what's left of freedom of speech in Britain it's surely time to ask - can even Labour be worse than this? The argument  that even a lousy Conservative government is better than having a Labour government is now looking rather threadbare. Trying to scare potential UKIP voters by telling them that they may be helping Labour gain office now seems beside the point. The only possible hope for Britain is for the Cameron Conservatives to be utterly smashed. Then it may be possible to build an actual conservative party out of the ruins.

I've been saying for some time that traitorous so-called conservatives like Cameron are more dangerous than avowed leftists. This would seem to prove my point. In David Cameron's Britain this is what the Justice and Security Act means - " It prevents those accused by the government from seeing the evidence against them, or the witness testimony against them. The individual concerned would also be unable to submit evidence – or even enter the courtroom, if it is deemed to be in the court’s interests. In fact, the court will not even have to inform the person concerned of why they have been taken to court, or even that a trial is taking place. It could mean that the first a person hears of a case against them, is when the police turn up to take them to jail to begin their sentence."

1984 has well and truly arrived.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rotherham, Islam and the decay of western civilisation

Peter Frost in his recent post at UNZ Review has some interesting things to say about the Rotherham scandal. I disagree with much of what he says but he does make some valid and pertinent points. 

It’s obviously crystal clear that the main problems are the catastrophic policies of multi-culturalism and mass Third World immigration but I think Frost is right in believing that there are other things going on here as well. It does seem as if many immigrants (especially Muslim immigrants)  are assimilating, but in dangerously wrong ways - that they are adopting the very worst aspects of our own rapidly collapsing civilisation while at the same time maintaining the very worst features of their own cultures. They are embracing the mindless hedonism, the obsession with sex, the nihilism, the victimology and the identity politics. From their own cultures they are maintaining the contempt for outsiders.

They are also taking advantage of the disintegration of the family unit in western culture, which has led to so many teenage girls becoming virtually victims waiting to be happen. 

These immigrants are also taking advantage of their knowledge that the police (especially in the UK but also to a large extent across the western world) are always going to take the side of non-whites against whites. The few fathers of victimised white girls who tried to get something done about the problem found themselves being arrested. 

The net result of all this is that for the mainly Pakistani grooming gangs their horrendous activities were made ridiculously easy, and almost risk-free.

Frost also makes the point that other non-white groups apart from Muslims are over-represented in these kinds of crimes. 

Islam and immigration are certainly major parts of the problem but unless we can address the serious failures of our own civilisation we can expect many more Rotherhams.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland - the end of a dream

So Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom. While the SNP will undoubtedly make brave noises about continuing the fight the reality is that the dream of Scottish independence was never much more than that - a dream.

It could be objected that other European countries with comparable populations, like Norway and Denmark, manage to be independent nations. But how independent are they? They remain independent for precisely as long as their more powerful neighbours choose to allow them to do so. What happened in 1940 when Germany decided that Norwegian and Danish neutrality was no longer in Germany’s interests? Denmark resisted invasion for six hours. Six hours. Norway put up a tougher fight but in that case the Germans, with negligible sea power, had to invade by sea. Norway lasted 62 days.

The lesson is that independence for very small countries is largely an illusion. If you lack the capacity to defend yourself independence will always be an illusion. An independent Scotland would be entirely reliant on the UK for its defence. 

When you are economically dependent as well then independence is even more of an illusion. The reality is that an independent Scotland would be ruled from Brussels rather than London.

Part of me is sad that Scotland will never again be a sovereign nation but living a dream can be a dangerous thing. I’m more sad that the United Kingdom itself is no longer a free nation but merely a province of the EU empire. A United Kingdom free of the chains of the EU would offer Scotland a great deal more freedom than a make-believe Scotland subservient to Brussels.

A referendum on British independence from the EU would be a great deal more meaingful than Alex Salmond’s pipe-dreams.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

anti-immigration Sweden Democrats make huge gains in Swedish election

The Swedish election has been almost all good news. The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats made huge gains, more than doubling their vote and their representation in parliament. The rabid loony Feminist Initiative party failed to gain a single seat. The Greens lost ground.

If even the Sweden, the European country which has been most determined to embrace self-destruction, is starting to come to its senses there may be hope for all of us.

And the gains made by the Sweden Democrats were in spite of desperate efforts by the other parties and by the Swedish media to discredit them and to try to bully Swedes into not voting for them.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

politically incorrect books - Bulldog Drummond (1920)

Books don't come much more politically incorrect than the Bulldog Drummond novels of H. C. McNeile (published under the pen-name Sapper). The first in the series was Bulldog Drummond, published in 1920. Apart from being politically incorrect these books are enormous fun. My review of Bulldog Drummond can be found on my book blog here.

Things get even more politically incorrect with the second book, The Black Gang.

The first four Bulldog Drummond novels from the Carl Petersen tetralogy which I recommend in its entirety.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Obama and the Ukraine - not stupidity and cowardice but cunning

A lot of conservatives seem to view Obama’s Ukraine policy as another example of the man’s stupidity and cravenness. In fact I’m inclined to think the whole crisis has played out exactly as Obama hoped it would.

America’s Middle east policy is now a smoking pile of rubble decorated with severed heads. What Obama desperately needed was a diversion elsewhere to stop people from examining that smoking pile of rubble too closely. The Ukraine crisis was made to order. The best thing about it is that 99 percent of the American population haven’t the foggiest notion of what the crisis is actually about. Even people with an extensive knowledge of the history of the region have trouble untangling all the nuances. Which means that the American people will believe whatever their media tells them. It’s the kind of crisis politicians love because they can’t lose, because even if they do lose they can pretend they won and no-one will be any the wiser.  

When Obama’s Ukraine policy turns out to be a lot of hot air his Administration will simply announce it as a foreign policy triumph. The media will cheer - Obama the Great Peacemaker has averted war. There will be demands for him to be given yet another Novel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee will almost certainly oblige. The godawful mess in the Middle East will be pushed off the front pages, for a while at least.

This is not an example of stupidity and weakness. It’s an example of political cynicism and rat cunning of the highest order.