(Sorry guys…I had a few things come up in the last few days. One is that I got a copy of the archives of my private writings on a flash drive from the Priest who has kept them. I will deliver a copy of it to the Archdiocese on Monday. In the meantime, I have been reading through it with a certain wonder and fascination. There are hundreds of items on there, all but three of which I have not seen since I originally sent them, up to nearly 20 years ago. It is breathtaking to have the distance to read yourself as a reader would.
It has given me a great sympathy for many of your questions. I can see myself struggling sometimes to make sense of what I was being shown, at times desperately trying to find a way out, at others proclaiming a confidence and surrender I did not really feel yet. It brought afresh to me how scared I was 20 years ago, even 10 years ago…and how desperately I hoped it might all go away. Sometimes, I chased up a few blind alleys. Funny, to sympathize with my younger self in the same way I often sympathize with fearful readers.
Yet through it all, the larger themes are consistent. I first wrote of the coming collapse of the rule of law on September 20, 2000. I wrote of many things that have happened and more of what is happening now. I worried that the larger message might be obscured by all the trees. But as I read, the fundamental principles are clear in almost every letter.
I wrote then of almost the same things I write about and are happening now. For now, these archives will be given to my Archdiocese and, a little later, I may make them available to some other bona fide researchers. I may quote from a private piece from time to time, but fundamentally, I prefer to keep them private to the entities I mention until after the Rescue. Each of you has to discern for yourselves how to approach the troubles we are in…and it is important that you contemplate the meaning of the signs of the times. For today, I offer a piece I wrote in 2006. It was published in a secular journal, so it is not formally private. I did not change anything, including using the term, ‘Islamofascists; while I now prefer ‘Jihadists.’ Some of the language is dated and some references beginning to get obscure – but it is an archive. I was wrong about when we would abandon Iraq, but dead on that it would happen and what the consequences would be. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past.-CJ)
By Charlie Johnston (2006)
Very soon those who believe America to blame for most of the world’s ills will get to see what the world is like without American pre-eminence. Unfortunately, so will the rest of us.
In the last 120 years, the decline of great western powers has, with the exception of Spain, come as a result of loss of will rather than loss of power. Spain blundered into the Spanish-American War when it did not have sufficient strength to back up its claims on Cuba. Effective diplomacy could have maintained Spanish influence in Cuba, although a diminished influence, and bought her time to recover her strength. War not only exposed her weakness, but made her weaker by ending her influence in both the Americas and the Pacific. Spain exited the table of great powers as America took its seat.
World War I, ‘the war to end all wars,’ dramatically changed how statesmen and world leaders viewed war. School children learn that the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, while visiting Sarajevo, caused World War I. (Well, at least school children used to learn that). But while the assassination was a catalyst for the conflagration, had it not happened some other catalyst would have. The real cause of World War I was that several European powers were busily seeking some reason to go to war – for all the traditional reasons; territorial enhancement, national influence, etc. The real cause of World War I was that, until the horrors of extended trench warfare that that conflict brought, nations throughout the world considered war a normal, if intense, tool of ordinary diplomacy.
France suffered more than any other nation in WWI. After the war, she maintained the largest, most powerful army on earth to deter any such event from happening again. But she had lost the will to back up her potential power with effective action. As Hitler rose to power, France both feared him most and was his foremost European apologist, desperately hoping that wishing his peaceful intentions would make it so. By the time even the most obtuse appeasers realized conflict was inevitable, France had already abdicated any serious role in holding back the darkness. Just a decade before the conflict began, France was the mightiest land power on earth. When the war came, she had ceased to be a premier world power at all. And it was a matter of will, not munitions, that enfeebled her.
England narrowly escaped the fate of her neighbor and traditional rival, France. Were it not for Winston Churchill, who chose to spend a decade as a pariah, making himself unelectable to high government office, rather than joining the apologists for Hitler, it probably would have. Though the English people seemed to have lost their vigor and will, when the darkness arrived at their border, Churchill become the only figure electable to high government office. Following the lead they had scorned in him for a decade, the people were so thoroughly invigorated by his will that they stood by him as England stood alone against the darkness that had enveloped Europe. Remarkably, the critics who railed against him waged a lonely battle, mounting only one feeble genuine ouster attempt even though Great Britain won not a single battle for over two years. (Churchill’s common jest after the war was that they never won a battle until Alamein, and never lost a battle after it.)
But as William Manchester aptly noted, Churchill was England’s ‘Last Lion.’ After the war, the forces of deconstruction of the empire, which had advanced so far in the first half of the century, were ascendant. By the mid-50’s, England was often a vigorous squire to America. But America was the last knight in the western world. And the forces of deconstruction were making themselves heard here, too.
Less than 30 years ago American intellectuals confidently assured us that Soviet-style Communism was the irresistable wave of the future, and the sooner we reconciled ourselves to that, the more practically we could manage our diminished future. That debate raged with intensity for several decades. We were not quite as flaccid as England was before the Hitlerian threat in the 30s, certainly not the paper tiger France had become in the 20s and 30s, but we were not the confident, resolute power we had been for the century before Vietnam, either. Yes, we had battles of isolationism before both World Wars I and II, but those were debates over whether we should engage, not over whether we could prevail. Fortunately, Jimmy Carter was so stunningly inept at almost every level that people were willing, in fact eager, to turn to the optimistic confidence of Ronald Reagan. Once again, American will was respected around the world as Reagan refused to let America be hapless victim to the world’s despots. He enraged the sophists who had taken over academia, the media, and the arts by reinvigorating the American ecnomy and toppling ‘irresistable’ Soviet communism while still getting in a few afternoon naps.
Though they had been dead wrong about the economy, communism, the ‘unstoppable’ coming ice age (just a few decades ago that was the bete noir of the environmentally deranged and media science elites) and the depletion of natural resources (we were supposed to be completely out of oil, copper and manganese by the mid-80s triggering mass famine throughout the industrialized world), the sophists who play at being a modern intelligentsia lacked the decency to even acknowledge their errors, much less shut up and go away. They continued about their deconstructionist ways while solidifying their hold on the academy and the arts. Like a 17th Century French aristocrat, their mannner is progressively more haughty and sneering as their proclamations are progressively more divorced from reality.
Since the death of former Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, finding a Democrat who believes in the legitimacy of American power or the nobility of Ameircan exceptionalism is like finding a rose in a dung-heap; both striking and rare. Like their intellectual forbears in the once-great European capitols of the last century, they have become the unapologetic party of retreat.
Republicans, though beset with deep flaws and inconsistencies, have been the party which has consistently believed in the legitimacy of American power and the nobility of American exceptionalism. But that is changing fast.
George Bush’s major flaw has been his inablilty to communicate what battle we are in and what the stakes are. Over the last few years he has allowed the debate to focus on the battle in Iraq. He has been unsuccessful in explaining that the war we are in is with Islamofascism. The fronts in that war may change, but the war will not be over until we have defeated or surrendered to Islamofascism. Iraq is merely a front in that war. The debate over Iraq should always have been a tactical one: that it has been successfully made into a strategic debate has emasculated our likelihood of prevailing any time soon in the war we must win. Those who oppose the Iraq engagement believe retreat will end the war with Islamofascism. Most of those who support the Iraq engagement believe that victory in that battle will achieve the same. Neither supposition is accurate.
Other than the failure of Bush to effectively communicate what we face, I have often likened his plight to that Churchill would have faced had he miraculously been elected Prime Minister in 1935. Such a scenario would not have stopped the rise of Hitler. Though Churchill was ready to lead in ’35, the English people were not ready to follow. They were too deeply seduced by the delusion that they could talk or negotiate themselves out of the danger. But the Bush presidency has almost certainly bought us some time, and inspired some minds to prepare themselves for the trial to come.
Almost certainly, though, we are going to abandon Iraq. Republican leaders, who have been getting less reliable this last decade, are no longer reliable even on national security. All the Democratic senators, save Lieberman, are prepared to vote for effective withdrawal. Four Republicans have already caved. Seven more are ‘weighing their options.’ That means we are going to withdraw without victory. The wholesale slaughter that engulfed Vietnam and Cambodia after our abrupt withdrawal there is in Iraq’s future – and the prudent Iraqi leader would already be approaching other forces in the region, including the darkest ones, to try to prepare for survival after we have gone.
Thus, Osama bin Laden’s fundamental wager, that we no longer had the will to press on to victory even if we were attacked on our own soil, will pay out. It will embolden Islamofascists throughout the world, as well as other actors who have been making their own bets and hedges.
Because of a near-perfect storm of historical circumstances, which I will explore in future articles, (that was future articles for this now-defunct journal-CJ) this retreat will lead not to a setback of American interests, but a collapse of American power and pre-eminence in the world. For a time, China will be the first power in a chaotic and brutal world. In my lifetime, we will see the end of western civilization and the descent into a new dark ages, or we will rally and see a new birth of commitment to the principles that make liberty possible. But even if we rally, it will not be until after we have seen firsthand what a world without American pre-eminence actually looks like. And like the first dark year and a half of England fighting alone for the survival of free Europe, this time the mere summoning of will will not be sufficient to bring victory. We’re going to need some lucky breaks or divine intervention to stave off the darkness this time.