C-SPAN offered an interesting show on Sat., Sept 30 about Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Toward the end of the show the conversation got into how people are going to earn money to pay their bills once AI is doing nearly all tasks, important and not so important. The solution offered by the discussants was simple - “grant of tax money to nearly everyone to pay their bills”.
There was no mention of the importance of work for human psychological health and for human flourishing. Additionally there was no mention of all the jobs already transfered abroad.
They did say things like “if people were better educated they would be better able to enjoy and benefit from lives of leisure”.
Of course, the only thing that was blatantly obvious was the discussants’ lack of knowledge of the natural law which has been written into man by his maker. The natural law engaged here tells men they need to perform activity that benefits themselves and others and gives a sense of having contributed to society as a whole. Such work also is important because it sends an meessage to the next generation that regular work is a good thing to seek out and do. . ........... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 10/28/2017)..........
This is a Review of Pat Buchanan’s book Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War which is subtitled How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World -
(Note: This book deals with the 31 year period between 1914 and 1945 in Europe during which two major conflicts were fought. Buchanan feels these two conflicts were just one war with a long truce in the middle. Since this is his view, he probably should have titled his book Churchill, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War.)
Putting that aside, he makes many good points about the political and diplomatic behavior of the leaders on all sides during the lead up to 1914 and during the “truce” period 1919 to 1939. In the lead up period there were open “mutual defense alliances” and there were “secret mutual defense alliances”. These secret defense alliances were buried inside less binding “cordial entente” agreements.
This fact led Woodrow Wilson to put into his 14 points governing a truce in Europe in 1918 the requirements that in all mutual defense agreements be openly disclosed and that national boundaries reflect the local people’s preference.
Now turning to some details:
PART I - What led to the commencement of War?
In the 1900 to 1914 period there were several developments that eventually contributed to the war:
1) Germany had started to build a large Naval Fleet. They stopped this building program a couple of years before the war started, but their ability to even contemplate this alarmed Britain’s naval leadership (particularly Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty).
2) British Foreign Secretary Gray entered into a secret agreement to come to France’s aid if it was attacked. Secret means not only secret to the public but also most of the British government.. Churchill, the leader of the Navy, supported this secret arrangement.
3) Kaiser Wilhelm had demonstrated a willingness to back off in earlier crisis when a Germany show of force looked like it might trigger a wider or larger conflict. He was a cautious man leading a wealthy, growing, populous country.
4) The steps that led to war came quickly and had several steps: a) a Serbian anarchist killed the Austro Hungarian heir apparent, b) The Austro-Hungarian made demands on Serb, c) the Serbs responded but their response did not satisfy the Austro-Hungarians who declared war on Serbia, d) Russian, an ally of Serbia and a fellow Orthodox Christian county, declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire, f) Germany was an Austro-Hungarian ally, it declared war on Russia and asked France for a declaration of neutrality; however, France, an ally of Russia, declined, g) Germany declared war on France, h) the German plan of attack, (the Schlieffen Plan), required quick transit through Belgium so Germany asked for safe passage through Belgium, j) Belgium, under pressure from Britain (Churchill), declines the “safe passage” request, k) Germany invades anyway to get its troops into northern France rapidly to gain a quick victory over France (German felt Russia was the bigger long term threat and wanted France neutralized) quickly, l) Britain declares war against Germany under a 1839 treaty with Belgium and sends 120,000 men quickly to Belgium where trench warfare begins. (This 1839 treaty allowed but did not require Britain to aid Belgium.)
This conflict ended 11/11/18 when Germany signed an armistice and sued for peace having accepted provisionally Wilson’s 14 points (see attachment) as a guideline for negotiation.
PART II - The interval of years between conflicts
Turning to the period from Nov 1918 to Sept 1939 there are many important occurrences :
A) Wilson’s 14 points were ejected by France, Britain and other Allies
B) Germans are excluded from the negotiations. The Kaiser abdicates; a weak democracy is formed.
C) The blockade initiated by Churchill’s navy continues .... no food or medicine reaches Germany till 6/19. 9
D) In June 1919, the final treaty is shown to the Germans. They had to sign because blockade was causing tens of thousands of deaths in Germany
E) Treaty’s provisions included 1) separation of Germans from Germany in the east (Danzig, east Prussia, and Memel) , west (Alsace-Lorraine and Saar), and south (Sudetenland ), 2) many ethnic Germans, but not all, of these separated Germans were given the right to vote much later to rejoin Germany 3) Separation of most Austro-Hungarian areas from Austria, 4) demilitarization of the Rhine valley, Germany’s industrial heartland, from Switzerland to Holland, 5) reparation demands (beyond Germany’s ability to pay), and 6) all of the Ottoman empire is dismembered, except for the region around Istanbul, nations including Syria, , Jordan, and Iraq were created.
F) In the 1920's, America insisted that Britain break its mutual defense pact with Japan and replace it with a World Wide Naval Treaty controlling the size of major Navies. Japan begins thinking of its future needs and later begins invading its neighbors across SE Asia to gain control of resources.
G) For over ten years, the weak German democracy survives, but reparations plus the world wide depression of the early 1930's created terrible unrest in Germany.
H) A brilliant malcontent, named Hitler, gathers a following in southern Germany, is jailed for organizing challenges to local elected leaders, writes Mien Kemp, organizes a political party, and in 1932 is able to form a national government in Berlin.
I) Kristallnacht in Nov 1938 (where German soldiers broke into and destroyed Jewish businesses across Germany) was a horrible blunder by Nazi leadership. Thenceforth public opinion in western Europe hardened against Germany. From then on it was possible for European leaders to rally the populous to again fight Germany. (It appears from German archives that Goebbels, not Hitler, ordered this event.)
J) As leader, Hitler began: 1) to rebuild Germany’s military (in violation of the peace treaty), 2) he reoccupied the area along the Rhine River (in violation of the treaty). 3) He enters into alliances with Japan and Italy, 4) he stirs up a desire for union with Germany among the German speakers in adjacent areas, 5) in Austria he out foxes the Austria PM who opposes the idea to unify Austria with Germany. He gets the Germans in the Sudateenland who had been forced into the new Czechoslovakia by the Treaty to agitate for re-inclusion in German, he forces the British PM (Chamberlain) to agree to the re-inclusion of this population into Germany, and 6) he demands that Poland allow him land transit rights to and from Germany and remote German areas along the Baltic shore. K) Poland led by Foreign Minister Beck refused to even negotiate on the corridor idea because Poland had recently signed a mutual defense pact with Britain.
L) Hitler then made an alliance with the Soviet Union and the two countries invade and divided up Poland.
M) Britain and France declare war on German. A few days later Churchill replaces Chamberlain as PM
N) Hitler captures France easily and sues for peace with Britain - Britain refuses to talk. Britain who can’t bring force to bare on forces in Poland decides to blockade and initiate bombing of German cities with their first class bomber, the Lancaster (22,000 lbs max carrying capacity).
O) Hitler responds by using his inferior bombers (5,000 lbs max carrying capacity) to bomb Britain even though Britain’s superior fighter aircraft are able to inflect huge losses.
P) Later Hitler breaks his peace pact with Russia and invades Russia; he figured in the long run Russia is the only European power that can ultimately conquer Germany.
Q) Japan, Hitler’s ally, bombs Pearl Harbor without consulting Germany. German declares war on the US.
PART III -The aftermath
Finally consider the aftermath of this long war
A) After fighting, Britain lacked the men and money to continue its colonies, They replaced the idea of colonies with an association of their former colonies called a Commonwealth.
B) America replaces the British Navy as the guarantor of safe passage on the seas, and to a lesser extent peace on land.
C) Supervision of Sunni Islam by a Caliph located in Istanbul was lost. This created the opportunity for the many cultural mutations within Islam to flower. Some of these “flowers” are quite violent and repressive.
D) Great civilizations emerged free from outside pressure to shape their futures; these include almost immediately: the Hindu civilization, the Islamic civilization, the sub-Saharan civilization, and South American civilization; ...... a few years later: the world saw the Orthodox Christian civilization, Japanese civilization, and Chinese civilization emerge as post-war occupation ended and communism imploded and/or mutated.
E) Conflicts are beginning to pop up as these civilizations defined themselves (within their region) and rub up against adjacent civilizations ; the West is far less able to provide peace keeping supervision as these process go forward and occasionally get violent.
The foregoing is the sad story of the beginning of the decline of western civilization. Whether a reversal can occur is problematic. In democracies, such change must come through a change in the peoples’ attitudes and values. Enlightened Leadership can help, but it won’t be dis-positive . Prayer is called for!
Access to notes, statistics, and maps that bring clarity to Buchanan's arguements ..... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 11/5/2017)
This book has nine sections. A few observations about each are enlightening:
Introduction - Here Lewis recounts the extraordinary history of Islam as it grew out of the Arabian desert and spread for four centuries ... to Morocco, Spain, and Portugal in the west, to Indonesia in the east, to the Russian city of Kazan (400 miles east of Moscow) in the north, and to Zanzibar on the coast of Africa in the south.
He mentioned that Christianity was always the object of particular Islamic attention because Christianity was the only other religion that seemed posed to become a world wide religion. Of course, that was exactly what Islam aspired to become.
He discusses the particular problems created by Christians: 1) the stubborn resistence of the Byzantine Empire that held Constantinople (Istanbul) until 1454 when it finally fell to Islam, 2) the Crusades that invaded and occupied for a couple of centuries various regions around Jerusalem, and 3) the re-conquest of the Iberian peninsula by Christian forces from roughly 900 until 1492 when Granada fell.
Finally Lewis discusses the great defeats Islam began to experience beginning in 1250 with the fall of Bagdad to the Mongols, to the failure of Ottoman forces to take Vienna in 1529 (which ended with Islam’s unilateral withdrawal because of other concerns), to Lepanto were a combined Christian force defeated an Islamic fleet in 1571, and again in 1683 during the Second Siege of Vienna (which ended with a rout of the Ottoman forces). After several other defeats in the Balkans, the Ottomans signed the Treaty of Carlwitz (1699). However, this was not an end of setbacks which continued for over two centuries. All this led to Islam losing control of Hungry, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Russia, India, Armenia, Crimea, and Ukraine.
Battlefield Factors - The steady losses on battlefields following 1683 caused Islam to begin modernization of their military. Western instructors were recruited to instruct Islamic officers on modern techniques and equipment. Additionally, Islam abandoned its practice of never allying itself with non- Muslims. Thenceforth the Ottomans were prepared to ally with Christians who shared their goals. Ottomans also began using foreigners as translators and even advisors in diplomatic settings. These changes where difficult because they required religious exemptions from certain tenets of Islamic law.
There was a lot of introspection about these things. Reports were created. The most prevalent theme in these documents places a lot of blame on the country’s falling away from the “good old ways” and the basic remedy was “to a return to these ways”. These reports do not focus very much on what the enemy did right rather they focused of what Islam did wrong.
One of these noted the superiority of Christian navies. It was right. Christian shipbuilders after 1500 had the benefit of knowledge acquired building ships for and sailing ships on long ocean voyages. Additionally, Islam’s military leaders learned two lessons from the French occupation of Egypt during the French revolution. First Islam could not stop the French from coming in; and second, the occupation was ended by a different Christian country, not by Islam, getting the French out.
Eventually in the 1800's a few Islamic thinkers realized the problems in their military were caused by a much greater dysfunction of their broader society.
Trade and Industry - 1) Islam’s role as a middleman handling oriental goods (e.g. spices) going to Europe was undermined by long range shipping to and from Europe, the Far East, and the Americas, 2) Islamic religious leaders restricted travel of Muslims to Europe where they might learn new techniques, 3) religious rules dictated how inheritances would be distributed regardless of the decedent’s wishes and regardless of the needs, of say, a family business, 4) eventually the needs of the state required that Muslim be allowed to travel for specialized military and business training in Europe.
Social and Cultural Factors - 1) lack of equality and respect for the ability of women, 2) lack of curiosity about how western inventions actually worked, 3) Islam had slaves and concubines longer than other cultures (but were more willing to give up these up than they were to accept the equality of their women), 4) had a profound difficulty with non-Muslims in any position superior to a Muslim (e.g. teacher, supervisor, advisor,) in a Muslim country.
Equality & Modernization - 1) Islam did begin to give up slaves and concubines in the 1850's (even though traditionalists issued religious “fatwas” against these changes), 2) there was huge resistence to Muslim/non-Muslim marriages, 3) Islam’s first experience with European domination of a majority Muslim nation (e.g. by France in Egypt around 1800 ) was very alarming because the French treated Coptic Christians as equal to Muslims.
Separation of Church and State - 1) In Islam the two institutions never really developed separate identities. 2) there was no real distinction between civil and religious law 3) Islam doesn’t have an organized, certified clergy like Jews and Christians, 4) Islam has a very different foundational narrative from Christians and Jews (e.g. Muhammad ended his life as a successful military, political and religious leader and all his followers learn the many details of his story). On the other hand, Christian and Jews had centuries of persecution and struggle before final acceptance. And their founding figures Moses and Jesus had very difficult lives, and in Jesus’ case suffered an ignominious death.
Precision in Measurements of Time, Distance, etc - 1) Islam felt little need to insist on precision in these areas 2) time pieces were held to disrupt the traditional daily cycle revolving around the five daily calls to prayer, 3) distance was measured by the time it took to do a common task (e.g. “that village is one cigarette from here” meaning the time it took to smoke a cigarette while walking). 4) dates on documents were very uncertain - while the month and year might be accurate research has shown the actual day shown was often incorrect. 5) Muslims even today feel it is somehow undignified to worry about being on time, 6) Lewis notes that the scientific method of inquiry (e.g. scientific experiments) requires deep appreciation of measurement accuracy, including time measurements and distant measurements.
Acceptance of Cultural Change - 1) Western concepts in the visual arts (e.g. using techniques to add perspective to paintings) were accepted in Muslim lands , 2) but western techniques in music (e.g. polyphony) were not accepted, 3) the production of printed material was not finally accepted until the 1780's, 4) western translations of scientific, travel, and similar works were printed. 5) but great literature, plays, and histories from the west were not introduced until the 20th century, 6) team sports and games never caught on in the Islamic world (i.e. the teamwork skills taught by playing team sports are important because teamwork helps in democratic political processes and is essential in all large organizations), 7) today Lewis says Islam has “elections with little choice in candidates and ‘democracies’ with little freedom”
Conclusion - Bernard Lewis says Islam has not accepted modernity because of many disadvantages (some large and some small). Here are some examples:
1) the people did not use wheeled carts to increase their productivity because such vehicles were often easily expropriated by the arbitrary actions of governmental authorities, This indicated a lack of a functioning rule of law with independent judiciary.
2) goats, rather than other animals, were widely adopted, even though goats tended to kill vegetation thus converting arable land into semi-desert.
3) intermarriage within family groups (tribes) was encouraged: a) this caused DNA degradation, and b) this process also makes it difficult for individuals to see beyond the tribe to the needs of their broader society,
4) a generally felt Islamic cultural superiority inspired by: (a) early Islamic military success indicating God’s favor, (b) having a holy scripture transmitted “word for word” from God, and ( c) having inherited through conquest man’s early storehouses of knowledge from the Egyptians, Byzantine Greeks, and peoples of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys All of the above naturally makes it difficult for Muslims to accept the ways of other cultures.
5) the sense that accepting Western methods of thought ....... developed at the time of the Reformation and the enlightenment (e.g. the scientific method, questioning traditional ways, separation of Church and State, etc.), ...... rather than just the accepting specific western inventions (e.g. printing press, cannon, telephone, military training techniques, etc.), ...... would change or corrupt Islamic culture and traditional ways.
Muslims are probably correct to think that accepting these new ways of thinking would inevitably change the Islamic view of things and their way of life.
6) the reduced influence of woman particularly in the formation of teenage boys and young adult men; Women tend to encourage weak men to be stronger and encourage strong men to be more moderate; This failure was brought on because women have been forced into a secondary role by Islam
7) The presence of mineral wealth and oil wealth in some Islamic countries has undercut the natural need of people to organize, to study, to work and to struggle for advancement . These natural efforts by people generally contribute to the creation of strong families and strong communities.
. Finally, Lewis notes 1) Islam is being left behind economically by the rest of the world, and 2) ultimately, Islam’s future is in the hands of Muslims. They will have to decide how to adjust ...... or whether to adjust at all. ................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 11/15/2017)
Bernard Lewis says Islam has not accept modernity because of some of these disadvantages:
1) Muslims did not adapt wheeled carts, which increase productivity, because such vehicles were easily expropriated by the arbitrary actions of governmental authorities,
2) goats, rather than other large animals (e.g. sheep) were widely adopted, even though goats pull vegetation up by the roots and thus convert arable land into semi-desert,
3) intermarriage within family groups (e.g. tribes) was encouraged with attendant DNA degradation from generation to generation.
4) there was a generally felt Islamic superiority inspired by:
(a) early military success taken to indicate God’s favor,
(b) having a Holy Scripture transmitted “word for word” directly from God, and
( c) having inherited through conquest man’s early storehouse of knowledge from Egypt, Byzantium, Greece, and Mesopotamia.
This sense of superiority caused Islam to disdain the accomplishments of non-Muslims.
5) the widespread belief that accepting Western methods of thought would corrupt Islamic culture. This resulted in the rejection of enlightenment modes of inquiry (e.g. the scientific method, questioning traditional ways, separation of politics from religion, etc.), while slowly accepting specific western inventions (e.g. the printing press, eye glasses, the telephone, modern military tactics, etc.).
6) the reduced influence of woman in the formation of teenage boys and young adult men; women tend to encourage weak men to be more confident and to encourage strong men to be more moderate; this failure was brought on because women had been forced into a secondary role by Islam.
The foregoing is a short summary of the detail analysis Lewis has set forth in his great book. .............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 11/15/2017)