"When they allow a talk show host to play them like a two-dollar banjo, they demonstrate what kind of backbone they'll bring to the job later on, if we elect them. After they get elected will they continue to allow Jeff Crank to put a nickel in them and wind them up every Saturday morning?"

Barry Noreen, former columnist, Colorado Springs Gazette

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FAILED PROPHETS AND PROPHECIES


By ROBERT F. HARKINS

I wish to address the American prophecy President Obama described in his State of the Union address. He intends to harness Americans to his calamitous vision, to a 3.7 trillion dollar budget, to ever-increasing deficits and 1.6 trillion dollars in new, confiscatory taxes. Because history teaches that prophecy is too often the plaything of ambitious men, Americans must take the full measure of the prophet, the prophecy and its consequences. The President is not the first failed prophet.

In the first decades of the twentieth century, American and European intellectuals predicted, immediately before the outbreak of the First World War, long generations of halcyon peace. Stock market prophets relying upon a Pax Britannica— that harmony imposed by a British Empire upon which everyone believed the sun would never set—predicted declining risk and rising profits. But the prophets and their prophecy failed and the market crashed in the face of savage war. The British Rothschilds, themselves financial prophets, investing heavily in British bonds, succumbed to financial ruin.

The German leadership, fearing the ambitions of a Machiavellian Russia and France, used the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand as an excuse to declare war. While the German military predicted light causalities in a brief conflict that would last no more than a few months, they were quite surprised at their seven million dead, and the millions who died of influenza in hospitals or who coughed themselves to death in muddy trenches.

While the German mortar and cannon were extremely lethal, somehow, the German military failed to predict the terrible toll on German solders of British, French and American mortar and cannon. They also failed to predict the devastation disciplined British soldiers would wreck upon German soldiers as they aimed the lethal Lee-Enfield .303 across the shattered wastes of No Mans’ Land.

The German military also predicted that the painstakingly crafted Schlieffen Plan would bring about the encirclement and destruction of the French army precisely as Hannibal encircled and destroyed a Roman army of 80,000 at Cannae. The encirclement failed utterly.

The government predicted that the war would end so quickly that criticism of its “rape of Belgium,” and its mass execution of Belgian civilians would come to nothing in the face of a fait accompli. The Germans were the first to make reprisals. In villages in Belgium, Lorraine and Vasges, all males were shot. They were also the first to bomb cities.”[i] The prophets failed in their prophecy—and an outraged world began to refer to the German soldier as the “ Hun.”

Kaiser Wilhelm predicted, this one time correctly, that the machine gun would prove to be a devastating instrument of war. The prideful British, however, predicted that Imperial élan and the British Lancer would psychologically devastate the German offensive. The crude machine gun, after all, possessed nothing of the style and gravitas of the lance and sword. The Russians, much like the British, saw the bayonet charge as the classical instrument of victory. But the prophets failed and for their failure a generation of young men was cut down by murderous fire as they stumbled bayonets fixed into the bloody maelstrom.

While the German navy intended to sink all shipping, including American shipping, the leadership predicted that the Americans would not enter the war. Apparently ignorant of the Monroe Doctrine by which the American government prohibited aggressive foreign expansion into the Southern Hemisphere, it predicted that the soft Americans would not react to the Zimmerman Memorandum, wherein they offered to Mexico a great cut of the United States were it to join Germany in war against America. The telegram recites in part,

On the first of February we intend to begin submarine warfare unrestricted. In spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep neutral the United States of America. If this attempt is not successful, we propose an alliance on the following basis with Mexico: That we shall make war together and together make peace. We shall give general financial support, and it is understood that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details are left to you for settlement.

Following the First World War, England’s prophet Neville Chamberlain predicted that the pacification of Hitler, in a series of pitiful surrenders culminating in the betrayal of Czechoslovakia, would bring “peace in our time.” But the Treaty of Versailles ending the First World War, in its surgical dismemberment of Germany, and in its imposition of a punitive war debt, guaranteed the ascendance of Hitler’s national socialist government and a Second World War. Once again the prophet failed. Winston Churchill warned of war; he was ignored.

The Treaty of Versailles, in a long tumbling unfoldment of cause and effect, would also guarantee the ascendance of communism, a nuclear arms race, the slaughter of one hundred million people, the Soviet enslavement of Eastern European countries, the Katyn Forest assassinations of thousands of Polish soldiers, a Chinese and North Korean communist dynasty, the fall of Vietnam, a Jewish, Cambodian and Armenian Holocaust and two man made famines, one Russian and the other Chinese, more terrible in the millions of its dead than any famine in history.

Failed prophets did not predict the Hitler/Stalin/Japanese Axis or Pearl Harbor or the rise and fall of a vicious communist regime. The Russian Provisional Government, after the Czar’s abduction, intended a liberal constitution and parliament. The government prophets, however, failed in their benign prophecies. They were blind to the feral ambition of V.I. Lenin, a Russian Robespierre, a zealot who promised the Russians land and bread, who with Stalin would use terror, mass starvation, executions, and a long chain of sub zero, Siberian gulags to see imposed upon a subdued people the glories of a communist utopia.

And now to the President. Americans do not hear much anymore of the seemingly ancient 2010 presidential prophesies. We may recall, however, the President explaining— quite simply, and slowly so that we Americans might at last understand—that the health care bill, unlike the government’s previous economic fiascos, Medicaid and Medicare, would bend health care costs down. Well, of course, the President’s prophecy has failed so miserably no leftist will even speak of it. But ever onward our indefatigable President, predicts anew that his budget will shave—over an extremely convenient span of ten years—no less than one trillion dollars from a 15 trillion dollar deficit.

Ah, but here’s the rub. The President’s 3.7 trillion dollar budget will confiscate from those Americans who actually pay taxes an additional 1.5 trillion dollars. The President will not use the 1.5 trillion dollars to pay down the deficit. He will use the money so confiscated to finance avaricious bureaucracies, to expand the redistributive system of unblushing patronage that is the collectivist welfare state and to squander American wealth upon “investments” and “innovations.”

In this the President embraces the failed prophets of previous generations, the late Lyndon Johnson comes to mind, who prophesized a Great Society and created instead a mind numbing utopia still inhabited by poor Americans transfixed in misery, despair and ignorance. One need only look upon the tragedy that is Detroit, to look also with a skeptical heart upon the prophet and his failed prophecies.

President Obama released his budget this morning. Rather than focusing on Washington’s over-spending problem, the budget calls for higher taxes on families and small businesses to pay for even more government spending. Under the Obama budget, tax revenues will grow from 14.4% of GDP in 2011 to 20% of GDP in 2021. By comparison, the historical average is only 18% of GDP.[ii]

The President predicts that his lean new 3.7 trillion dollar budget will accomplish precisely the same goals as he accomplished by the imposition of a 2010 trillion dollar stimulus. That said, for reasons at once obvious and humiliating, the President will not again say the word “stimulus” nor will his staff, a single Democrat anywhere—nor must anyone else.

Henceforth Americans should refer to the lean new 3.7 trillion dollar budget as the essence of that shrewd investment by which government has brought Americans to the brink of economic catastrophe. Post Detroit, the President’s new vision, will restore a new Great Society replete with green jobs, and perhaps, just perhaps, a fleeting, nostalgic semblance of Constitutional government—something to recall with waning pride as Americans continue their wayward decline. The President predicts that this new Great Society, will restore to America the power and prestige she enjoyed before the twin parties, over the decades, engaged hand in hand in a spectacle of orgiastic profligacy that has caused decline, misery and catastrophic ruin.

The President predicts yet again that investment in “green, anti-global warming technologies” will stem the weirding of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring thereby setting us anew upon our constitutionally guaranteed pursuit of happiness. Soon no doubt we will happily ride about in brand new bullet trains and play, unto psychotic distraction, with our new government provided high-speed internets.

For now however, it seems that we are a people transfixed in a timeless crucible, perhaps cast therein by elemental gods who first created sun and earth, a waxing moon and roiling seas—or perhaps we were so transfixed by the election of this… this new president.

We are now a people who see as if through a glass darkly a new specter of freedom bent and burdened with unquenchable debt; the rest, shall we say, so as to avoid the expression of profane and bullish crudities, is the consequence of failed prophets and their prophecies.



[i] Niall Ferguson, The War of the World, Descent of the West, (2006).

[ii] Obama's FY2012 Budget:
Taxes, Taxes, and More TaxesRyan Ellis (Americans for Tax Reform, February 14,2011).

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. You obviously know your history. Unfortunately, I share your pessimism as to what the future holds for the U.S. under, not just Obama, but the entire "Progressive" leadership. (Evidently Progressive is now being used instead of socialism in hopes that, like "investment" versus "stimulus", it will be more palatable - deceitful - to the American public.

    Perhaps the desire to hide the lessons of history is why the Progressives have undermined the teaching of history in public schools. Very Machiavellian plan.

    ReplyDelete