Author: Henry George (Page 1 of 2)

Was Trump’s Warsaw speech really that controversial?

Donald Trump made his first major foreign speech on Thursday, July 6, at the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising in Warsaw, Poland. He was surprisingly clear, coherent, and projected conviction and belief in the words he uttered.

I don’t agree with Trump on everything and believe that his personal conduct leaves much to be desired and does not give due respect and reverence to the office he holds. However, the reaction to this speech was disproportionate to what was actually said and reveals the ulterior motives of those making the point.

After the usual diplomatic flim-flam thanking the Polish dignitaries and saying how much he loved to be in Poland, a country placed at the centre of the European continent and witness to some of its defining historical moments, trials and tribulations, he got down to his speech. It was a long one, and the transcript is available here.

Trump however gave a realistic picture of the threats facing the Western world today. He talked about a variety of geopolitical security issues, from radical Islamist terrorism, to cybersecurity issues, to a commitment to Article 5 of NATO, to Russian meddling in the Ukraine.

Of course, because he didn’t spout the same platitudes about ‘hope and change’ and say everything would be fine if we just hold hands and sing ‘Imagine’. That led the predictable circles in the media to weep and wail about how dark it was, how lacking in hope, how deprived of optimistic visions of the future.

They proclaimed that he had regressed to his ‘American Carnage’ rhetoric seen in his inauguration speech. Sorry, the world isn’t a pretty place and there are people who would be quite happy to see the West enfeebled, in retreat and in eventual ruin. Facing up to that, with a degree of honest realism, is now beyond the pale. Maybe that’s why we’re in such bad shape.

After this, Trump really plunged into the heart of his message. And of course, the commentary classes went crazy. The New Republic and Vox.com called it an ‘alt-right’ speech based in xenophobic nativism speckled with a dusting of white grievance. (Compare Trump’s speech with that of Kennedy in 1961)

Eric Foner of Columbia University said on BBC’s Newsnight that Trump’s speech repeated the idea that Trump was espousing white nationalism and alt-right xenophobic nativism. According to him, saying that Europe and the West are based on Judeo-Christian values is basically white pride.

I’m sure those who also subscribe to Judeo-Christian values who aren’t white, like Middle Eastern Coptic Christians and Israelis are thrilled at this incredibly solipsistic and narcissistic display of privilege on the part of some well-to-do academic. 

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Freedom of expression is for everyone in a democracy

Following the far-right terrorist attack at the Finsbury Mosque at 00:21 am on Monday, June 19, Tommy Robinson went on Twitter to say how he felt about the attack. Once again he put his foot in it by appearing to suggest that those outside the mosque who were run-over, while not directly responsible for their injuries, were nevertheless tangentially responsible as the mosque had a long history of creating and sheltering extremists and that a reprisal of this sort was just waiting to happen following the recent Islamist attacks in Manchester and on London Bridge.

Predictably, the Twittersphere sounded like the Twitterpocalypse had come, with scores of people slamming him for his tweets. I am not defending what Robinson said in his tweets, and think that they were poorly worded. I do however defend his right to tweet what he did. Robinson did say in later tweets that he didn’t want this to happen and that he’d been warning about it for years, but the damage had already been done. It made him look worse in many people’s eyes than he did already and confirmed other peoples’ suspicions about him.

Robinson then went in ITV’s Good Morning Britain, ostensibly to defend himself on national TV. However, the “interview” didn’t really turn out the way he might have hoped. What unfolded was extraordinary by any measure, and has caused more controversy than if Robinson had not been invited and just been left with his tweets for company.

He began by saying that there was no such thing as “Islamophobia”. A phobia is an irrational fear, and he said that it wasn’t irrational to fear these things, i.e. Islamist terror. 

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Finsbury Park Mosque attack sign of a society coming apart

On the morning of Monday, June 19, at 00:21 am, a white van ploughed into a crowd of worshippers who had exited the Finsbury Park Mosque. 10 people were injured, eight are in hospital with several whose conditions have been described as very serious. One person was killed.

The far-right terrorist, for that, is what we must call him, was held down by members of the congregation while the police were called. The imam protected him from the anger of the crowd so that the police could do their job properly when they arrived. The man reportedly said that he’d done his job, and apparently shouted that he wanted to kill all Muslims.

This attack came just over a year after the murder of the MP Jo Cox by another far-right terrorist. Anniversaries are important for terrorists.

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Upon a Windswept Shore: The Falklands War 35 Years On

It was 35 years ago. Margaret Thatcher was in power, but only precariously so. The country was fractious, and the economy was still struggling to emerge from the subterranean depths it had plunged to in the 1970’s. A war on the far side of the world was fought and won, against all the odds, and showed the world that Britain would not sit idly by as its sovereign territory was invaded by a belligerent dictatorship.

The first signs of trouble came on March 31, 1982, when news came of Argentinian naval vessels fast approaching the few rocky and windblown islands at the bottom of the world, 8,000 miles away from the UK. The islands were home at the time to around 1,500 people who considered themselves British.

This move by the Argentines came at a bad time. Britain was still weak after the disaster of the 1970’s when even the USSR didn’t want to buy our goods because they were so poorly made. As a result of this, the armed forces, and particularly the navy, had faced budget cuts and were untested since the 1950’s. A victory was not inevitable or even looked possible. The task before Thatcher’s government and the armed forces, in purely logistical terms, let alone in military capability, was immense.

Thatcher had to wage a two-front campaign, both within her own cabinet in order to determine Britain’s response, and also against America, whose interests in the region ran counter to Britain’s. If she had made a mess of either situation, the consequences would have been extremely severe. However, the way Thatcher managed the crisis mirrors the performance of the soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought; they rose to the task, drew a line in the sand and refused to accede to the thuggish behaviour of a dictatorial totalitarian regime.

The cabinet and members of the Foreign Office were already resigned to defeat, showing the prevailing idea from the 70’s of Britain being a nation in decline and that they were just there to manage it. Admiral and First Sea Lord Henry Leach forced his way into the meeting in the House of Commons in full uniform, showing that at times like this symbols of authority such as this are needed to galvanise people into action. He was emphatic: “I can put together a task force of destroyers, landing craft, support vessels… It can be ready to leave in 48 hours.”

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UKGE2017: Tory night of fiasco

Britain went to the polls on Thursday, June 8, 2017, and received a hung Parliament in return. Prime Minister Theresa may had called the snap election back in April, in order to shore up what she saw as her lack of legitimacy due to her having slipped into the role of Prime Minister almost de facto following the six-way shootout following the Brexit decision in 2016 which led to then PM David Cameron resigning.

Initially, the polls showed that the Tories had an astonishing 20-24 point lead over the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. The Tories were seen as the party that would deliver Brexit in a ‘strong and stable’ manner, and May seemed like a safe pair of hands with which she would lead the country through the undoubtedly turbulent years ahead. Meanwhile, the Labour Party was led by a man who’d never held a senior ministerial position before and had had a nasty habit of being overly friendly with terrorists, theocratic regimes and Marxist revolutionary governments, all of which ought to have sunk his electoral hopes without much of a trace.

Indeed, this was what looked like the most reasonable outcome. And then came the disaster of the Tory manifesto release, with its messy roll-out, uncosted nature, vague promises and various pledges to remove provisions for elderly people as well as what became known as the ‘Dementia tax’. The so-called Dementia tax was an effort to address the spiralling costs of social care in modern Britain and mandated that older people with assets of £100,000 or over, for example in property, could use those to pay for their care. The downside was that many people would then be unable to leave anything in an inheritance to their descendants.

To say this did not go down well was an understatement. 

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London Burning: Latest terror attack is “Fourth Gen Warfare”

At 10:30 pm on Saturday, June 3, London witnessed the latest in a string of jihadi terror attacks that have so far hit Afghanistan, Iraq, and Manchester. ISIS has also taken over the town of Marawi in the southern Philippines, showing that as its central state is rolled back inch by inch it has the potential to expand elsewhere.

The attack on London Bridge saw 7 people killed by being run over by a white van or stabbed by the three terrorists who then went on a stabbing rampage that ended in Borough Market. British armed police arrived on the scene in 8 minutes from the time of the alert, where they shot all 3 men dead, who were wearing what turned out to be fake suicide vests.

The attacks struck at another landmark in the capital of the West’s home to parliamentary democracy; London Bridge is a landmark with deep historical significance, and to launch an attack on it was an attempt to reach the same level of psychological impact as that on Westminster Bridge back in March. Borough Market is a popular tourist and local attraction and is always full of people. If the attackers had managed to obtain AK-47’s or another similar firearm, or indeed if they’d actually had real suicide vests, the death toll could have been catastrophic. As it was, the country is grateful that they only had a vehicular missile and blades to finish the job. That is what we’ve come to in the West.

What we are seeing is, as Maajid Nawaz and others have described, a full blown global jihadist insurgency. The jihadists have taken their campaign of terror beyond mere terrorism and have elevated it to the levels of highly decentralised, insurgent, Fourth-Generation Warfare.

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The British Bataclan and Western passivity

On Monday, May 22, an Islamist jihadist blew himself up at the Manchester Arena, at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. He killed 22 people, mostly young teenagers, one only eight years old. Most of the concert attendees were teenage girls, who the bomber may have seen as a legitimate target because of their femininity–the same way Islamists pour acid on women. Police and counter-terrorism operations are still ongoing as of this writing, while the terror threat has been raised to critical and there are now soldiers on Britain’s streets.

Given my dissertation focuses on ISIS-inspired Islamist terror attacks in Europe 2015-16 it now looks more relevant than ever, and not in a good way.

Theresa May’s speech after the attack was mostly good, but she didn’t name the ideology of Islamism. As a result, she risks falling into the same trap as Obama in not naming the ideology behind these attacks. She risks handing the narrative to those who will use it for their own malevolent ends by insisting that it’s the fault of all Muslims.

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Storm clouds over the rainbow nation

The rise of Nelson Mandela and the ANC in 1994 and the end of the malevolence of apartheid in South Africa was meant to usher in a new era of social justice and racial equality in a nation in a continent that had never known either.

There were great hopes for the future, with many sure that the creation of a political ecosystem that relied on democracy and the removal of discriminatory laws and regulations would be a sure-fire recipe for success, which would be fair to each group in South Africa and would be guaranteed to lift up those who had been underrepresented politically and who had underperformed economically.

To say that this has not happened is an understatement. The rulers who govern South Africa today are classic examples of the archetypal ‘extractive elite’, who use the power of their office to extract power, prestige, influence and wealth for themselves and their close associates, be it family, friends or loyal politicians. It is political tribalism with an added layer of acquisitive moral corruption. And the people it hurts most are of course those the ANC claims to stand for. 

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Labour’s manifesto and Marxism’s rotten heart

After the shambolic leak of Labour’s draft manifesto, Comrade Corbyn launched the party’s manifesto to the public in Bradford on May 17, to rapturous applause from the party faithful. As one would expect from Corbyn and his team’s track record as apparently cuddly socialists, it’s an incoherent grab bag of policies designed to massively expand the role of the state in people’s everyday lives, supposedly in an aim to help people, all the while chipping further away at the now rather eroded foundations of freedom and liberty that British society was founded on.

Not only was the leak shambolic, but the big release was also as full of holes as Corbyn’s cardigans. His spending plans would cause the UK’s debt to explode by £250 billion (US$325 billion) and would see the government aiming to spend an extra £48.6 billion (US$63 billion) per year. Indeed, the chaotic nature of the unveiling was elevated to levels of parody by the fact that even though the manifesto – titled “For the Many, Not the Few” (ruin for the many, not Corbyn’s nomenklatura few) – claims to use an economic model entirely devised by world-leading economists, the policy of a levying a tax on offshore company property actually relied in part on a database created by the current events and satire magazine Private Eye.

Policy proposals include free childcare for all 2-4 year olds, a fat-cat tax on city banks and the super-wealthy that would be worth 2.5% of incomes over £330,000 (US$428,000) and 5% of incomes over £500,000 and a raise in the corporate tax from 19% to 26%, nationalisation of the railways and water industries, re-nationalisation of the postal service, and a new 45p tax threshold for incomes of £80,000 (US$104,000) a year and over and 50p on incomes of £123,000 and over, which would affect 1.3 million people who would end up paying £5,300 (US$6,900) more in tax. According to IFS estimates, the tax burden could increase to 37% by 2022 under a Labour government, dragging us back not the 1970’s but the 1950’s, when Britain was a bombed out shell living on debt and US subsidies. Labour says all its plans for spending, borrowing and taxing are fully costed, but as Matthew Lynn points out, this view seems to belong in another reality.

To conclude the economic arguments against the Labour manifesto, none of Corbyn’s sums add up. Because of the reasons already discussed, the Labour tax plans would actually bring in less tax revenue, and would only raise £20bn-£30bn, leaving a potential shortfall of £28.6 billion (US$37 billion), to be covered by guess what? More borrowing.

The fact is, higher tax rates and stifling economic intervention would lead to poorer economic growth, which in turn would result in lower revenue and adding to the shortfall. One can see how £250 billion more in debt suddenly looks frighteningly realistic.

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Book Review: “The Strange Death of Europe”

‘The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam’ by Douglas Murray

Hardcover: 352 pages, Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum (4 May 2017), Language: English. £18.99. Available at Amazon

 

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Douglas Murray is not known for shying away from controversial subjects, or for keeping quiet on matters that need the bright light of public discourse shone on them, whether people want that light shone or not.

He has been a vocal critic of radical Islam and Islamist terrorism for over a decade now and has always spoken with great lucidity and coherence on a range of very difficult subjects that won’t be made

any easier to face by ignoring. To watch him debate on the subject of whether Islam has anything to do with terrorism, for instance, is to watch a verbal heavyweight often crush the opposition with skilful rhetoric and salient facts that just will not go away, much to his opponents’ chagrin.

Douglas Murray’s latest book is a bringing together of the themes he’s been thinking, writing and talking about for years now, and as a result the argument presented within this extremely eloquent piece of rapid-fire literary slaying of sacred cows is a pleasure to read, even as someone who doesn’t agree with everything he has to say. Given that he opens with ‘Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether European people choose to go along with this is, naturally, another matter’ one can tell that he is, as usual, pulling no punches.

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