Monday, April 29, 2019

We Should Support Muslims Who Defend Their Families

A man who worships at a mosque, and also refuses to allow his children to be taught that abortion is sometimes necessary and that six-year-olds can choose their own genders, is a friend, not an enemy.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 29 April 2019

Libby Emmons of The Federalist recently published a story entitled: “Feminists Couldn’t Get Trans Ideology Out Of UK Public Schools, But Muslims Did.” She briefly described the tepid opposition which a new program to teach leftist gender theory to five and six-year-olds received from British conservatives and old-fashioned feminists – that is to say, feminists who reject the idea that anyone can be a woman. But these people didn’t make any headway, and they just ended up being labelled as bigots and ridiculed by the ruling class.

“Then,” Emmons says, “religious Muslims got wind of the LGBT+ indoctrination of their primary school students, and freaked out. According to these parents, who staged protests outside of the schools in their districts… homosexuality is not sanctioned by their religion, and they don’t want their children taught that it’s acceptable. The parents’ protests included pulling more than 600 Muslim children from school, and were incredibly effective. The lessons have stopped.”

At this point, a decently written story would have commended these Muslim parents for their forcible, and ultimately successful, resistance. Any true lover of liberty will make common cause with anyone, of whatever race or religion, who defends his or her children from indoctrination into such an ideology.

But Emmons seems to draw all the wrong lessons from these events. The next section of her story is subtitled “Moral Relativism Meets Privilege Theory,” and from there it all devolves into a lamentation of how the nonsensical ideology of the Left requires that the views of certain repressed groups – Muslims included – be given privileged status.

After spending quite a while critiquing the Left’s way of thinking, Emmons concludes by stating that “to hold the dominant Western culture to one set of standards, but to hold a culture that opposes the grounding views of Western culture to a different set of standards is to have no basis upon which to hold fast the standards that are essential for free life in a democracy. The West must hold fast to the standards of individual freedom, not group identity, as a driving factor for law making and social interaction.”

All of this leaves me with the odd impression that Emmons wishes that, for the sake of equality, the Muslim’s efforts to keep their children free of LGBT indoctrination had failed. What began as a story of people who successfully fought back against what ought to be every conservative parent’s nightmare has now wandered off into the weeds of criticizing Muslims for opposing Western culture. In other words, Emmons has let her ill feelings toward Islam eclipse her desire to protect the innocence of children.

And it is very strange for anyone to describe the Muslims in this situation as “a culture that opposes the grounding views of Western culture.” For nearly the entire existence of Western civilization, it has gone without question that children cannot choose their own gender. But nowadays, the people who most vehemently defend that principle are shunned by many conservatives because they follow an unpopular religion.

This is the sort of infighting among the opponents of tyranny that will guarantee the triumph of the Left. If you cannot see that the real enemy, in this situation, is the person who will talk a child into getting himself castrated if he feels like he was born as the wrong sex, then you are – in the British parlance – a bloody idiot.

When conservative white people read a story like this, the correct emotional response is not envy for Muslims’ place in the victim hierarchy, but shame that so few members of their own race are willing to fight just as hard to protect their own children. If white Tories, who make up about half the British population, had pulled their children from the schools en masse, they would have had an even easier time getting their way than the Muslims did.

And as for us Americans, we ought to always remember that the Founders shared a strong belief in religious pluralism among the defenders of liberty. And they left no doubt that Muslims are included in that pluralism. Consider, for instance, the passage in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography where he describes a time when several eminent men contributed money to finance the construction of an edifice “expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something to the people at Philadelphia; the design in building not being to accommodate any particular sect, but the inhabitants in general; so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

Religious conservatives in modern America are fighting a mostly losing battle, not against Islam, but against secular hedonism, an ideology which really is inimical to the ancient principles of Western civilization. And yet, when confronted with schools where the curriculum includes Planned Parenthood pep talks, white privilege bracelets, and Genderbread Man, most so-called conservatives will shrug their shoulders and send their children anyway. 

When a Muslim refuses to do so, we are wrong to regard him as an enemy because he is a Muslim. We ought to see him simply as a man who is willing to defend his family.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Letter: Collateral Damage


I recently encountered a news story whose most notable feature may be its strange lack of coverage in the mainstream press. Even though it’s nearly two years old, it still seems serious enough to be worth writing about.

In 2017, researchers at the University of Amsterdam published a study in which they measured levels of the neurotransmitter GABA+ in the brains of adults who, as children, had been diagnosed with ADHD and medicated with methylphenidate (aka Ritalin aka Concerta). They found that these adults suffered a permanent deficit of the neurotransmitter. The consequences are unknown, though this is almost certainly a bad thing, because:

1) The human brain is extremely complex, and nobody fully understands the delicate balance of thousands of chemicals needed for it to function properly.

2) This is the same neurotransmitter which ADHD treatments are trying to increase in the short term. The scientists described what they had discovered as “an aberration from the normal development of the GABAergic system,” saying that “Future studies are therefore warranted to assess the underlying mechanisms, as well as the consequences of these lower GABA+ levels.”

The pharmaceutical industry’s attitude toward the controversy is best summed up as: ‘We don’t know the ramifications of these missing neurotransmitters, but whatever sort of damage the drugs may cause, it’s acceptable collateral damage in the struggle to get kids to behave better in grade school.’

Since ADHD medication is used mainly on boys, I sometimes wonder if all the statistics about women surpassing men in higher education might have anything to do with the fact that some 10 or 20% America’s young male population is going through life with neurotransmitter deficits whose effects are basically unknown.

Monday, April 15, 2019

How The Federal Reserve Keeps Everyone In Debt

In a debt-backed currency system, new money is created only when the central bank lends it out at interest. The amount of money owed to the Federal Reserve will always exceed the amount in circulation, so most debts will never be repaid.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 15 April 2019

People often speak of fiat money as if its worth were purely imaginary because, unlike the gold-backed currency of the past, its value is not based on any physical substance. But that is only partially true; fiat money isn’t backed by nothing, it’s backed by debt. Everyone is scrambling to get dollars because nearly everyone has debts that can only be paid in dollars – and the scramble will, for most people, lead only to frustration, because there aren’t enough dollars in circulation to pay off all the debt.

In a debt-backed currency system like America’s, new money can only be created by the central bank, and the central bank exchanges this money for only one thing – a promise to pay back yet more money in the future. Debt created in this manner will never, on the whole, be paid off. It is mathematically impossible for it do anything but steadily grow.

America’s current problem with debt – both personal and public – is generally blamed on a lack of frugality.  And that is indeed part of the problem, as most modern Americans live beyond their means. But even in the mid-twentieth century, when the old virtues of thrift and hard work were more widespread, the middle class was kept firmly under the heel of the banking industry and was being steadily drained of its wealth.

The problem is ultimately structural. The minority of Americans who manage to pay their way out of debt can only do so by selling their goods or labour in exchange for dollars. And those dollars were ultimately borrowed, at interest, from a bank. The debt can be shuffled around, and the most talented and hardworking individuals can claw their way to the top of the pile, but the pile itself will never be diminished.

And because the amount of money owed to the Federal Reserve is always increasing, the only way to prevent the economy from grinding to a halt entirely is to steadily increase the money supply via inflation. And that is what the Federal Reserve does, by lending out yet larger amounts of money in order to cover the original debts. But central bankers know better than to set the inflation rate so high as to lose the ability to profit off the debt already owed to them. With the right balance, economic collapse can be staved off without the finance industry losing its ability to enrich itself at the expense of everybody else.

All this is not to say that individuals cannot pay out of debt if they make it a priority to do so. They need only outperform the average American – and that’s a pretty low bar. Nevertheless, America as a whole will keep sliding further into bondage, as it has been doing ever since the free coinage of silver and gold were abolished in 1873 and 1933, respectively, making bankers into the creators of money rather than mere merchants of it.

No amount of moralizing about the need to live within our means can solve the debt problem in a country whose economy is structured so that an increasing debt load is a mathematical inevitability. Abolishing the Federal Reserve, and restoring commodity-backed money, is the only way to prevent the average American from continuing to toil away as a debt slave.

Friday, April 12, 2019

We Shouldn't Care Which Democrats Call Themselves Socialists

Republicans often express shock that so many Democrats are willing to vote for someone who embraces the label of ‘Socialist.’ But we shouldn’t let this distract us from the fact that most politicians, even in our own party, want bigger government.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 13 April 2019

When Bernie Sanders ran for President back in 2016 as a self-proclaimed socialist, he spurred a lot of discussion about just how accepting of socialism Americans are these days. Then Alexandra Ocaisio-Cortez used that same label to hog more media attention than every other freshman in Congress combined. Do her ideas, whether good or bad, actually merit such attention? Hardly, but we still give it to her.

News sites are constantly running articles about what percentage of millennials support socialism and what this says about their own outlook on life and about the future of American society. Republicans are lambasting the stupidity of anyone who wants to make the United States more like Venezuela. Sanders and Cortez are attacking the callousness of anyone who doesn’t want to make this country more like Denmark.

 Right-wingers say that socialism is communism-lite. Left-wingers say that democratic socialism is the complete opposite. But there can be no definitive answer as to what, exactly, socialism means, because far too many political entities over the years have described themselves as socialist. These range from Eugene Debs’ Socialist Party of America to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the National Socialist German Workers Party, and the British Labour Party under Clement Atlee.

These ideologies had very little in common, except that they all wanted a bigger role for government in their countries. And when you realize that, you’ll see the silliness of focusing our attention on the few Democrats who embrace the label of socialist. All democrats want bigger government, as do many Republicans. But when a select minority get labelled as socialists, either by themselves or by their enemies, we tend to let that distract us from the broader situation.

In 1946, George Orwell wrote an essay lamenting the unintelligent state of British political discourse. One of his complaints was that “the word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’”

The word Socialism, for many years, had occupied a similar place in America, until a faction of the Democratic Party decided that, to them, it now signifies ‘something desirable.’

And so the hype over the fact that a few Democrats are now embracing this meaningless label has distracted us from the fact that all Democrats, and most Republicans, support the same long list of big-government programs. And it has also allowed an intellectually empty young woman from New York to garner more media attention than the entire class of incoming congressmen did last time around.

The hype has allowed many right-wing patriots to delude themselves into thinking that America dodged a bullet by not electing Bernie Sanders to the White House when he ran as a socialist. But in truth, America has been taking bullet after bullet as every president since Hoover has expanded the size and scope of the federal government.

The decline of American civilization is like the Blind Men and the Elephant. It is too large and multifaceted for any one observer to fully understand. Founding principle after founding principle has been undermined throughout the last century. The defenders of liberty are few and far between. And worrying about which label is or is not socially acceptable for leftists to wear will do nothing but distract us from the real issues.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A Time To Be Brave

The father of a girl whose gender has been changed by court order could take his daughter and flee to Russia. Or he could remain in a country where speaking his child’s name is a thoughtcrime. It’s his choice.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 10 April 2019

A disturbing news story has been unfolding in Canada over the past few months. Here is how Jeremiah Keenan of the Federalist tells it:

“On 27 Feb, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada ordered that a 14-year-old girl receive testosterone injections without parental consent. The court also declared that if either of her parents referred to her using female pronouns or addressed her by her birth name, they would be considered guilty of family violence.

“As previously reported, the girl was encouraged by her school counselor in British Columbia’s Delta School District to identify as a boy while in seventh grade. When she was 13 years old, Dr. Brenden Hursh and his colleagues at British Columbia Children’s Hospital decided that she should begin taking testosterone injections in order to develop a more masculine appearance.”

Keenan spends most of his article giving more details on the story and repeating the usual conservative arguments as to why what is happening is a very bad thing. Near the end of the article, he quotes the girl’s father saying: “We’re gonna fight this right up to the Supreme Court of Canada. We’re not quitting.”

What seems to go over the heads of people like Keenan is that “fight this right up to the Supreme Court,” and “not quitting,” are not the same thing. The two are only equivalent in a worldview where ‘obeying a court order’ occupies a higher place in the chain of moral imperatives than ‘not allowing your daughter to be mutilated and sterilized.’ But such is the worldview held by most Americans and Canadians.

Hence the article’s doleful conclusion: “For now, the judge’s decision stands: the 14-year-old will begin taking testosterone against a parent’s wishes on the sole basis of her own consent.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. The man could take his daughter and flee to Russia, a country which has a taken a decidedly different stance than Canada on this matter, and a country where speaking the girl’s name isn’t a thoughtcrime.

Breaking the law in such a flagrant manner is a step too far for nearly all modern conservatives, but it wasn’t a step too far for the men and women of the past whom they look up to: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Corrie ten Boom, Claus von Stauffenberg, and so forth. On the opposite side – those who chose obedience under all circumstances – you’ll find Vidkun Quisling and Adolf Eichmann. Right now, this Canadian man must decide who his heroes are.

Should he choose to resist, his prospects are good. If the Russians welcomed Edward Snowden, they will probably be equally welcoming of this father and daughter. As President Putin said, “Russia does not extradite human rights activists.”

The United States and Canada may not consider it a human rights violation for a school counselor to talk a seventh-grader into getting herself sterilized, but Russia does. The plain fact of the matter is that anybody who identifies as the sex opposite his or her actual sex is insane, and no one else ought to validate such a delusion.

In the old days, everyone knew this. But then we allowed the Left to take over and begin preying upon mentally ill children, which the present regime of factory schools, endless screen time, and behaviour modifying drugs has produced in a superabundance never before seen. But in the end, a damaged boy is not a girl, or vice versa, and living in a society that tells such children otherwise will make their lives a lot more miserable than they need to be.

I have no idea what factors played into this particular girl’s mental crisis, but whatever they were, the rulers of Russia believe that she shouldn’t be encouraged to respond by mutilating herself. The rulers of Canada and the United States have no such scruples.

Getting to Russia is well within this man’s abilities. The distance from Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory, to Provideniya, the Russian town nearest the Bering Straits, is 1820 nautical miles. Most bushplanes can’t make that flight, but some can.

Acquiring the aircraft legally is probably beyond the man’s financial means, though this should not deter him, as planes can be stolen or hijacked. My first thoughts were that he might be able to find an Alaskan pilot willing to take him to Russia, but on further consideration I believe that to be too optimistic.

While there are no doubt thousands of bushpilots who, as gun-toting right-wingers, like to blather about resisting tyranny, such blather is usually quite empty. Just consider the fact that hundreds of children in the United States and Canada have already had their genders switched by court order over a parent’s objections, and I have yet to hear a single news story about anyone fleeing the country because of it. If fewer than one percent of Americans are willing to make such a sacrifice for their own child, then you can’t count on anyone making it for a stranger.

 I now believe that the best way to pull off the escape would be for the man to get himself and his daughter onto a chartered, single-pilot plane on the pretence of going to some far-away part of Canada, then draw a weapon and demand to be taken to Russia instead.

Would doing this be difficult and dangerous? Certainly. The man would have to deal with all the challenges of leaving his home country forever and settling in a foreign land, and he would also have to somehow get a very hostile daughter to see through the delusions which the Canadian psychologists have fostered in her.

There is a chance that the man could die, but like everyone, he’s going to do that someday no matter what. There is a chance that he could end up in prison, but being forbidden to speak his child’s name should be a serious enough form of bondage as it is.

If he doesn’t choose to be brave, if he chooses to do the Eichmann thing and obey orders not matter what, nobody will judge him for it. The conservative activists who are publicizing his case will continue to praise him for fighting the good fight. But he will have lost his daughter.

It is one thing to use eloquent arguments to ask the authorities not to mutilate one’s child. It is another thing to put one’s life on the line in order to protect that child after the authorities have turned down the request.

The vast majority of modern men and women will obey unconditionally. But no one is constrained to follow the majority. Sooner or later, we all must choose for ourselves. And for this man, the choice is one of whether to resist tyranny, as did Washington and Jefferson, or to remain in a country where speaking his child’s name is a thoughtcrime.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Remembering America's Last Great Statesman

Each April 4th, we must remember Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the day of his martyrdom. With his death, America lost its last major leader who was willing to defy the authorities and risk imprisonment, and worse, for his cause.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 4 April 2019

America won her independence because of the bravery of the Founding Fathers. It could not have been done without a generation of men willing to say: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Abolitionism never would have triumphed without men and women like Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Sherman Booth, and John Brown, who risked imprisonment and worse in order to aid the escape of as many slaves as possible. And although President Lincoln professed a great respect for the laws, he would never have emancipated anyone if he hadn’t been willing to defy the Supreme Court over the Dred Scott decision, when he believed that the Justices were usurping power that rightfully belonged elsewhere.

The enemies of freedom gain power on the same principle. Lenin and Stalin both spent years in Siberia for their early revolutionary activities. Hitler and his lieutenants served time in prison after the Beer Hall Putsch. In the end, these men supplanted the old rulers because, what they lacked in decency, they made up for in courage.

The defenders of liberty cannot afford to be less dedicated to their cause than its foes are to theirs.

It is reasonable, therefore, for Americans to inquire whether such bravery has lasted into modern times. What was the most recent movement in our national politics whose leader was willing to risk imprisonment and death rather than doom his cause to failure by treading carefully? Which activist wrote a letter from a jail cell to denounce any moderate who “paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom?” Who, by doing such things, led his people to victory and gained near-universal acceptance for his principles?

It was the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who did those things, and that’s why I believe that he is worthy of being known as America’s last great statesmen.

Some people might argue that King’s nonviolence precludes him from being on the same list with Washington, but I don’t think so. As it turned out, Reverend King's chosen strategy of nonviolent resistance was a winning strategy. Nonviolence could not have worked against any injustice, but it did bring down segregation in America, which is what King was trying to do.

The important element here lies in resistance, in defying the authorities and holding to principles which you will not give up even if you are ordered to do so. No major statesman in present-day America holds such principles; they always work within the established legal system, and will yield on anything if they sense the slightest chance of personal risk. Not so with Reverend King, who defied numerous laws and injunctions to hold his assemblies and marches. “We aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around,” he said, “we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around.”

Here was a man who was willing to get arrested, beaten, or shot rather than yield his ground, and he stood at the head of thousands of followers were likewise willing to get arrested, beaten, or shot.

You cannot bring down the great injustices by opposing them through strictly legal means. Forms of dissent that are permitted are permitted for a reason. Only a resistor who does what isn’t permitted is a threat to the authorities.

Reverend King understood this, as should every minister in a religion whose scriptures say that “We ought to obey God rather than man.” Granted, there was always been plenty of Christians who have taken the opposite approach, and taught that it was a virtue to obey man’s laws no matter what. But the only reason they were even capable of practicing their watered-down Christianity is because people like Peter and Paul chose to practice the other form of Christianity, and got crucified for it.

On the day before his martyrdom, Reverend King gave his famous speech, “I’ve been to the Mountain-Top.” In it, he exhorted his followers to “Develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.”

He told the story of the Good Samaritan, and speculated on why the Priest and Levite passed the wounded man by. He talked of having gone to the Holy Land and seen the road where the story was set, and how it was a winding, dangerous road. Perhaps the Levite, fearing that if he paused his journey, he might be robbed as well, asked himself: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

 “But then,” said Reverend King, “the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

And Reverend King believed that, by asking that question and standing up for their brothers’ rights, his people could win their struggle for equality. “We've got to say to the nation,” King said, “We know how it’s coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”

Americans need to remember Reverend King and the sacrifices that he made – and which no leader with his level of influence is willing to make today. And we need to tell the stories of the men and women in our history who likewise resisted despotism. The fight for freedom has taken many forms throughout the years, and it is only by remembering a diverse array of heroes, and their many tales of resistance, both violent and nonviolent, that we can prepare ourselves to struggle for liberty in our own time.

We need to talk about Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty, George Washington and the Continental Army, and Thomas Jefferson and the Kentucky Resolutions. We need to talk about Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas. And we need to talk about Sherman Booth, the Wisconsin abolitionist whose successful advocacy for nullification of the fugitive slave laws led to years of arrests by federal marshals, and years of the state militia repeatedly setting him free.

As things now stand, there is no leader of that caliber to be found in any of the modern political causes whose supporters wrongly see themselves as the successors to the revolutionaries and the abolitionists. This is not to say that the modern injustices aren’t as severe as what previous generations dealt with. Rather, the difference is that modern activists aren’t willing to make sacrifices nearly as big as those made by America’s past troublemakers.

The various political movements which presently squabble over this country’s direction are not led by the likes of Washington, Lincoln, or Reverend King. You cannot become a great statesman by moderating your positions to avoid controversy, or by never putting yourself in personal danger, or by always submitting to the law as enforced and interpreted by whoever is currently in power. Reverend King knew this, and we would all do well to remember him on the fourth day of April, and take time to contemplate his bravery, his resistance, and his martyrdom.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Ranking America's Wars

From Least Justified to Most Justified.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 3 April 2019

Today I have taken a break from commenting on current events in order to talk about history instead. Specifically, I’ll be discussing America’s major wars, and ranking twelve of them in order from least justified to most justified. It is important for Americans to be familiar with these wars, as their outcomes are largely responsible for shaping the country we live in today.


1)         Philippine War. There was simply no justification for the American double-crossing of Emilio Aguinaldo and his Filipino independence movement after the Spanish-American war had ended. The more perceptive Americans at the time saw Aguinaldo as the Philippines’ Washington and McKinley’s decision to make war against him as a gross betrayal of America’s own founding principles. See, for instance, Mark Twain’s biting satire, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated, which opens:

            Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the sword,
            He is seeking out the hordings where the stranger’s wealth is stored,
            He hath loosed his fateful lightning and with woe and death hath scored,
            Lo, Greed is marching on!

But opponents of the war weren’t numerous enough. William Jennings Bryan, who favoured Filipino independence, lost the 1900 election to McKinley, and Roosevelt continued the counterinsurgency after McKinley’s death, until the Philippines were pacified. They eventually gained independence from the United States after World War II, but there’s still a lot of bad blood between the two countries.

2)        World War I. The tricky thing about this war is that the Germans had given us a somewhat legitimate casus belli with the Zimmermann Telegram and the plan to invade the U.S. through Mexico. The problems with going to war on these grounds were that, first, the Germans and Mexicans were in no position to actually make good on such a threat, and second, with or without the telegram, there was no real moral superiority of one side over the other in this war. So in the end, Woodrow Wilson broke his campaign promise and spilled a lot of American blood in a pointless European conflict between rival imperialistic powers, in which we had nothing to gain. By siding with the Entente, we guaranteed a lopsided outcome in which resentment by the Central Powers led to yet another, worse European war.

3)        Korean War. The disaster of the Korean War lies not in defending Korea, but in waging war with a complete lack of Congressional authority. In the other undeclared wars in this list, the President at least got some sort of formal authorization to use force, but in Korea, there was nothing. The problem only became worse after China had joined in on the side of the aggressor and was slaughtering American troops, but President Truman refused to so much as bomb the bridges the Chinese were crossing out of a belief that doing so would harm the cause of peace. General McArthur got the blame for exceeding his authority when he went to Congress himself, but really it was Truman who was acting outside his bounds. This war not only taught the Communists that they could attack America with impunity; it also destroyed the constitutional separation of powers and helped establish the imperial presidency.

4)        Vietnam War. Like in Korea, the intended purpose of this war, defending Southeast Asia from communism, was not a bad thing. The problem was with how the war was conducted, and American leaders’ willingness to spill so much blood in a conflict where they lacked a clearly defined goal and were unwilling to commit to complete victory as in World War II. This war was also the beginning of America’s tradition of failed counter-insurgencies - our futile attempts to impose our values on countries in which, whether we like it or not, too many of the inhabitants are opposed to us and will fight to the death to keep us out.

5)         Gulf Wars. The First Gulf War was ostensibly started in order to protect a weak nation, Kuwait, from a stronger neighbour. The problem was that Kuwait had provoked Iraq by slant-drilling, and the American coalition’s consequent invasion had less to do with justice, and more to do with commerce and favouring an American-friendly regime over a more independent one. The Second Gulf War was even worse; this time there was no actual invasion of anything by Iraq, only a lot of propaganda about 9/11 and WMDs in order to turn Saddam Hussein into the bogeyman that America’s rulers wanted at the time.

6)         Mexican-American War. This war is a mixed bag. Part of its cause was Mexico’s continued hostility toward Texas after Texas joined the Union, and part of it was that settlers in many of Mexico’s territories, such as the successful revolutionaries in California, knew that they would be better off under the United States’ freer system of government. But for the most part, the war was a land grab. The minor troop movements near the Texan border did not justify a full-scale invasion of Mexico, and if Mexico’s northern territories had a strong enough desire for independence, they could have achieved that on their own, as Texas had. Mexico was too weak to hold onto an unwilling empire. If President Polk hadn’t been in office to annex Texas, invade Mexico, and otherwise enforce his dreams of “Manifest Destiny,” the west would have simply ended up as a group of independent Republics - Texas, California, Deseret, and so forth - with just as much freedom, and no possibility of future military force by the new masters in Washington to keep Texas and Deseret in line.

7)        Spanish-American War. This war was long in the coming; American’s sympathy for what they saw as brave freedom-fighters in Cuba meant that they looked on the Spanish as barbarians and wanted a reason to wrest Cuba out of their hands. The USS Maine disaster was probably not the work of the Spanish, but the Spanish had done enough brutal things to earn a reputation as the kind of people who might do it. Cuba’s liberation was a good thing, but seeing as the Americans took the opposite course of action in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, the overall outcome of the war was quite bad for the cause of freedom.

8)        Civil War. This one is very tricky to rank, because the justifications for it changed a lot over the course of four years. In the beginning, Lincoln was downplaying the role of slavery; at the end, it was the primary factor. The tragedy of the Civil War is that it was the triumph of an unholy alliance between abolitionists and unconditional unionists. A few years earlier, these factions had been at odds – just study up on the history of Northern nullification and state-led resistance to the Fugitive Slave Acts and the Dred Scott decision. Abolitionists like Sherman Booth knew better than to equate freedom with submission to the central government. The Civil War changed that, and the results – unlimited federal power and a precept that UNION = LIBERTY – have been wreaking havoc in the country ever since. The abolition of slavery was a good thing, but it was also something which most nations achieved without bloodshed, which leaves the expenditure of 600,000 Americans lives to put down the South's bid for independence looking very questionable.


4)        Barbary Wars. The Barbary pirates had been a menace to European civilization for centuries. Defending American commerce from piracy was one of the few enumerated powers of the new federal government, and these wars were the result of Jefferson putting that power into action. The Pasha of Tripoli had demanded tribute in exchange for not attacking American shipping; Jefferson instead responded by sending out the US Navy’s six new frigates with orders to sink, burn, and destroy pirates wherever they found them. The Pasha declared war on the United States in the customary manner, by chopping down the flagstaff in front of the American consulate in Tripoli, and the fight was on. The Americans deserved victory, and they got it.

3)        War of 1812. The invasion of Canada is often criticized as an aggressive move, but this war was not quick in the making. It was only after years of the British boarding American ships, and impressing thousands of American sailors to fight for them against Napoleon, that America decided it was time to declare war. Britain’s failure to fully acknowledge American independence could be tolerated no more. While the war ended in a tactical stalemate, the Americans dealt enough blows against Britain to prove that they were not to be trifled with, and our independence has been secure ever since.

2)        World War II. “Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy…” There’s a reason that the votes after that speech were 388 to 1 in the House and 82 to 0 in the Senate. There was no justification for what Japan had done, and every reason for America to fight the Empire to the finish. The Japanese thought that, since America had started playing the colonial game by taking islands from the Hawaiians and the Spanish, Japan could in turn take them from the US, but their extreme brutality doomed their efforts. In Europe, the moral case was even clearer. The Nazis were the greatest menace that the western world had yet seen, and the moral justification for putting an end to Hitler’s dreams of world conquest couldn’t be any clearer.

1)         Revolutionary War. Many people’s knowledge of the causes of this war doesn’t go beyond vague ideas about anti-Monarchism or the colonists’ unwillingness to pay taxes. The true cause of the Revolution is, in my opinion, much deeper. The English people had a very long tradition of representative government, going back to the Magna Carta and beyond. Many civil wars had been waged in England to defend the powers of parliament and the sacred right of the people’s representatives to approve or reject any attempt by the King to raise taxes. In America, a similar system existed, where local, colonial legislatures worked alongside governors who represented the Monarch. But when the British parliament under George III and Lord North decided that these legislatures were their inferiors, and that the consent of the American representative houses wasn’t needed to tax and govern the Americans, they had a war on their hands. And the Patriots’ willingness to defend their system of government, and their right to representation in a legislature whose acts couldn’t be blithely overridden by a distant central government, won America her independence and created what would, for a time, be the greatest and freest nation in the world.