The Long View 2007-09-27: The Real EU; Christian Jacobinism; Credit for Iraq; The Unwatchable War

June 2020 Zones of Control in LibyaBy Ali Zifan (vectorized map) - Derived from Template:Libyan Civil War detailed map, CC BY-SA 4.0,

June 2020 Zones of Control in Libya

By Ali Zifan (vectorized map) - Derived from Template:Libyan Civil War detailed map, CC BY-SA 4.0,

I sometimes wonder what John J. Reilly might have made of the Trump presidency. It is quotes like this one that give me some clues:

Maybe, but it is not at all clear that the shredded and discredited wreck of the Republican Party can benefit from the implosion of its rival. It is not at all clear that it would deserve to.

Here, John was noticing that neither President George W. Bush, nor Hilary Clinton cared much for the institutional power of their respective parties, as long as they were able to get what they wanted. That structural weakness certainly made an opportunity for an outsider to defeat the ultimate insider in an election.

The Real EU; Christian Jacobinism; Credit for Iraq; The Unwatchable War

The European Union is held in light esteem by Perry Andersen, a writer of apparently Leftist views. In the current London Review of Books, he explains the reasons for his antipathy:

The vast majority of the decisions of the Council, Commission and Coreper concern domestic issues that were traditionally debated in national legislatures. But in the conclaves at Brussels these become the object of diplomatic negotiations: that is, of the kind of treatment classically reserved for foreign or military affairs, where parliamentary controls are usually weak to non-existent, and executive discretion more or less untrammelled...What the core structures of the EU effectively do is convert the open agenda of parliaments into the closed world of chancelleries. But even this is not all of it. Traditional diplomacy typically required stealth and surprise for success. But it did not preclude discord or rupture...politics conducted between states, as distinct from within them, but politics nonetheless. In the disinfected universe of the EU, this all but disappears...Hayek, who even before the Second World War had envisaged a constitutional structure raised sufficiently high above the nations composing it to exclude the danger of any popular sovereignty below impinging on it... Under an impartial authority, beyond the reach of political ignorance or envy, the spontaneous order of a market economy could finally unfold without interference... Statistically, the conditions for an independent Europe existed as never before. But politically, they had been reversed. With the decay of federalism and the deflation of inter-governmentalism, the Union had weakened national, without creating a supranational, sovereignty, leaving rulers adrift in an ill-defined limbo between the two. With the eclipse of significant distinctions between left and right, other motives of an earlier independence have also waned.

The author might have quoted Henry Kissenger's dictum that Europe was not an international actor because there was no diplomatic telephone number for it. Now that there is such a number, the author seems to suggest, it serves chiefly to facilitate the people in Washington calling the people Brussels to tell them what to do.

Since the author seems to be annoyed that the EU put an end to Leftist politics as it had been traditionally understood, perhaps he depicts it as more zombified and pro-American than it actually is. Be that as it may, he says that there this already a fair amount of executive-level cooperation between Washington and Brussels. In his telling, the US president is an unofficial member of the Council of Ministers, at least on some issues. At that level, the EU is a collateral activity of the same people who run NATO; indeed, a subsidiary collateral activity. This arrangement actually gelled during the Clinton Administration. It will become more apparent, perhaps, under a future Administration with a more emollient diplomatic style.

* * *

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was addressing a mens group recently, so he gave them a dose, not just of muscular Christianity, but of muscular macrohistory:

I’d like to start with a proposition. Here it is: To be a Christian is to believe in history.

Think about the Bible. All the great world religions have sacred books...they’re essentially wisdom literature. ...The Bible also aims to make people wise. But it does much more. It seeks to lead them to salvation...The Bible begins with a step-by-step report of the first day in the history of the world...

We believe that since the beginning of time God has been working out his own hidden purposes in the history of nations and in the biography of every person....The creed not only tells us about the past. It also speaks of the future. We believe Jesus Christ will come again in glory to usher in a kingdom that will have no end....If the Incarnation represents the past, and the Second Coming represents the future, then the Church is always the “present tense”...A key part of your Catholic identity is to be a missionary; ...most of us are called to be missionaries in [an] more ordinary and local way...we’re living in an environment that’s much worse than official atheism. In our own country and throughout much of the developed world, we often hear that this is a "post-Christian moment" in history....That’s what we’re up against: an alternative civilization. ...How are we going to convert this world? did a handful of very ordinary men, disciples of an obscure man executed as a criminal, wind up changing the world—...Never before had a religion taught that God loved people personally and that God’s love began before the person was even born....Christian love is not weak or anesthetic. It’s an act of the will. It takes guts. It’s a deliberate submission of our selfishness to the needs of others. There’s nothing "unmanly" about it, and there’s nothing—and I mean nothing—more demanding and rewarding in the world. The heart of medieval knighthood and chivalry was the choice of a fighting man to put himself at the service of others—honoring his lord, respecting the dignity of women, protecting the weak, and defending the faith even at the cost of his own life.

That’s your vocation.

Jerry Pournelle might call this Jacobinism. Maybe he'd be right.

* * *

The Bushes and the Clintons are now in cahoots on Iraq, as has been widely reported. Andrew Sullivan, former subject of HM Elizabeth II, is so dismayed by these events that he characterizes the new alliance in the most cutting terms he can imagine:

The conservative Washington Establishment is swooning for Hillary for a reason. The reason is an accommodation with what they see as the next source of power (surprise!); and the desire to see George W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq legitimated and extended by a Democratic president (genuine surprise). Hillary is Bush's ticket to posterity. On Iraq, she will be his legacy. They are not that dissimilar after all: both come from royal families, who have divvied up the White House for the past couple of decades. They may oppose one another; but they respect each other as equals in the neo-monarchy that is the current presidency.

As I have remarked before, the political class will not oppose an American victory in Iraq, provided that President Bush does not get credit for it; President Bush, for his part, is content to trade victory for his party in the next presidential election for victory in Iraq. In a way, his fine disdain for partisanship is admirable. It would be more admirable if Bush had ever cared tuppence for the institutional viability of his party.

Actually, the Clintons seem to be of similar mind about their own party, as Mark Steyn pointed out two years ago:

Hillary, if not exactly a shoo-in, is looking like the least worst choice for the Democratic Party...The Clintons always win but they never move on. The distinguishing characteristic (as Paula Jones would say) of the Clintons' Democratic Party is that it was swell for the Clintons, disastrous for the Democratic Party: throughout the 1990s, the Democrats lost everything - Congress, state legislatures, governors' mansions, tumbling to their smallest share of elected offices since the 1920s. But somehow Bill and Hill were always the lone exceptions that proved the rule. There is no reason to believe the Clintons' amazing historical immunity to their party's remorseless decay will not continue.

Maybe, but it is not at all clear that the shredded and discredited wreck of the Republican Party can benefit from the implosion of its rival. It is not at all clear that it would deserve to.

* * *

Why is Ken Burns's 1,000-hour series on World War II (The War) unwatchable?

(1) No Shelby Foote;

(2) No sense of national pathos;

(3) I'm sorry about the treatment of the Nisei, too, but not that sorry.

Actually, the worst history series of all time dealt with World War I. It was narrated, I think, by Colleen Dewhurst, and produced, I think, by PBS. I can find no trace of it online. Where all the copies destroyed?

Copyright © 2007 by John J. Reilly

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