Showing posts with label democracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label democracy. Show all posts

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Making The World Safe For Democracy - 1917 To 2000

In August, 1914, Europe erupted in warfare  For nearly three years, President Woodrow Wilson kept the United States out of the war, even in the face of actions that could have justified US entry.

American lives were lost on the high seas when German submarines sank the British civilian passenger ship Lusitania without warning and without stopping the ship and boarding it to determine if the cargo included contraband or offering passengers the opportunity to escape in life boats. These were well understood measures in maritime law intended to protect civilian life. To sink the ship without warning violated international law and custom.

Germany justified its actions because, since the last maritime war in the early 19th century, Marconi's invention of the radio made the traditional procedures too hazardous for warships to follow. The United States protested and Germany relented to a certain extent.

But Germany was becoming desperate. Enough so that they sent a telegram to Mexico offering to return territory taken by the US in 1846 to Mexico if they would join the war if the United States entered on the British side. That Zimmerman telegram alone could have been enough to justify US entry. But Wilson held off.

Then, in January 1917 a desperate Germany renewed unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking merchant ships on the high seas without warning no matter what flag they were flying. The goal was to starve England and France to the negotiating table. They expected this would cause the United States to enter the war, but expected they could defeat the allies before the US could recruit, train, equip and transfer to Europe a force sufficient to tip the balance against them.

It was a bad bet.

Last week PBS broadcast a three episode series showing the US entry into World War I:

If you missed the series, I recommend you seek it out and watch it.

Consequences of that decision produced powerful effects whose ripples are with us to the present time.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The German Question

It is becoming pretty clear that the most urgent question facing today's Europe is the German question.

Paul Krugman sees Germany as killing the European project:  I agree, and have been commenting on the looming disaster for about three years now. The biggest surprise to me is how patient the long-suffering public has been. I hope Greece uses whatever time they have gained by this weekend's deal to print bales of new drachma and prepare to exit the Euro. Spain and Italy should do so as well.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times  claims we thought we had solved the problem of Germany in 1945. I take issue with that, though I think we did believe we had solved it by embracing Germany within the stifling arms of NATO and the Western European Union. As NATO's first Secretary General explained, the purpose of NATO was to keep the Germans down, the Russians out, and the Americans here. To Europe, NATO was at least as much about Germany as it was about the Soviet Union. From 1945 for more than four decades, NATO publicly blamed the Soviet Union for a divided Germany and privately hoped the division would continue. It was Germany under Willy Brandt whose "Ostpolitik" began chipping away at the barriers between East and West for the purpose of making German reunification possible. In the United States, we studied what might happen after Tito died, but never examined the implications of a reunited Germany. Everyone knew that could never happen. Everyone was wrong.

The late George Kennan had some thoughts on Germany, which we should have considered, but of course no one did:

More recently, the economic historian Brad Delong had some interesting thoughts in response to Simon Wren-Lewis' ruminations on the Euro: "And we are seriously considering, after reading him, whether the Euro project needs to be blown up--indeed, whether the fundamental flaw was in U.S. occupation authorities allowing the formation of the Bundesrepublik, because a European Union that now had five members named "Brandenburg", "Saxony", "Bavaria", "Rhineland", and "Hanover" would be likely to have a much healthier politics and economics than our current one, with one member named "Germany":"

That's a thought worth retrospective consideration. It is a much more creative idea than the quickly-abandoned "Morgenthau plan."

It's very hard to get toothpaste back in the tube.

Did we waste a whole war?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cox v. Town Of Oriental: The Real Story

A lot of nonsense has been promulgated by Oriental Town Government about why I filed suit against the Town over closing of Avenue A and South Avenue.

It was about taking away public rights, but it was very much about defending private property rights.

I call it a swindle. It can also be called theft. Constitutionally, it was a "taking." Takings can be lawful, if taken for a public purpose. But this was neither an exercise of eminent domain nor an exercise of the state's "police power." The only other circumstance in which a street closing is clearly authorized by case law is if all the property owners in a subdivision agree to it.

The Town's attorney Clark Wright knows this. Mayor Bill Sage knows this. But they wanted to do what they did, and they didn't even want to protect public access to the "donated property" by a public dedication, a deed restriction, or any other measure that would protect the public in the future.

It changed the face of the Town forever, and since I have now withdrawn my suit, it can't be undone by the courts, even if it is unlawful.

It isn't really complicated, but the Town Board and its attorneys spent (they say) $80,000 to protect the deal by keeping it from the Court of Appeals.

Here's my story: