Tag Archives: Spanish-American War

GLOBAL OUTLOOK BLEAK FOR 2019

There have been an increasing number of articles warning about the global economy.   The latest predicts a depression worse than the Great Depression.   None are specific, in terms of “when” but all say the signs are there.

The most common problem cited is debt.   Governmental debt is already over $22 trillion in the US.   This is the highest amount any country in history has ever owed, so it’s difficult to predict what will happen.   In addition, there’s also corporate and private debt.   The figures given do not include mortgage debt, which is also extremely high.   Nor do they include the annual commitments for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other government programs, the so-called entitlements.

The 2008 financial crash started as a mortgage failure.   So did the 1873 crash.   It began in Austria-Hungary and spread around the world.   This particular crash was known as The Great Depression, more than fifty years before the depression of the thirties.   It would be a mistake to think it cannot happen again.

In fact, depressions have been a regular feature in America’s history.   There have been as many as 47 recessions and depressions since independence.   After the end of the Revolutionary War, there was a depression, in which the economy slumped by 50%.   The depression of 1873 lasted 25 years, on and off.   Unemployment was at 50% in the 1896 election, resulting in the highest turnout ever – a full 80% of voters participated that year.

Not every year saw the economy in deep depression.   It came in three waves.   It finally ended with the Spanish-American War, which got the economy moving again.

PANIC OF 1873

The 1873 depression in the US started with the collapse of Jay Cooke & Co., then a major component of the American banking establishment.   Contributory failures were the post-Civil War inflation, rampant speculative investment and losses in the Chicago and Boston fires (1871 & 1872).   Bank reserves plummeted in the first two months from $50 million to $17 million.

“The failure of the Jay Cooke bank, followed quickly by that of Henry Clews, set off a chain reaction of bank failures and temporarily closed the New York stock market.   Factories began to lay off workers as the United States slipped into depression.   The effects of the panic were quickly felt in New York, and more slowly in Chicago, Virginia City, Nevada (where silver mining was active), and San Francisco.

“The New York Stock Exchange closed for ten days starting 20 September.    By November 1873 some 55 of the nation’s railroads had failed, and another 60 went bankrupt by the first anniversary of the crisis.    Construction of new rail lines, formerly one of the backbones of the economy, plummeted from 7,500 miles (12,070 km) of track in 1872 to just 1,600 miles (2,575 km) in 1875.    18,000 businesses failed between 1873 and 1875.    Unemployment peaked in 1878 at 8.25%.    Building construction was halted, wages were cut, real estate values fell and corporate profits vanished. ”  (Panic of 1873, Wikipedia)

GRUNDERKRACH

I single out the 1873 depression because of the similarities in the global situation today.   The depression in German speaking countries is known as the Grunderkrach, or Founders Crash.   When Germany was united following the Franco-Prussian war, a lot of money flowed into the country, mostly from French war reparations. Loans were then made, mostly for mortgages.   When people couldn’t pay them, the banking system collapsed.   This spread to the US and Britain.   It was the beginning of the end of Britain’s global supremacy.

The Great Recession of 2008 began as a housing crisis.   It actually began two years earlier when housing prices started falling.   For years previously house prices had been rising fast.   Millions of people bought homes, homes they could not afford.   The banks loaned to people who should not have had loans.   It was a recipe for disaster.

The same thing is happening again.   Bad loans and speculative investments are pervasive.   Student loans are so high they could be the cause of a collapse by themselves.   Government debt is at an all-time high as are corporate debt and consumer, non-mortgage debt (credit cards).

I am reminded of what the late President of France, Charles de Gaulle, said over 50 years ago.   He did not want Britain to join the EU (he had incredible foresight!).   He dismissed the US and the UK as “the Anglo Saxon debtor nations.”   The British-American economic systems have been built on massive debt.   It works well . . . for a while!   Eventually, there comes the day of reckoning.

That may be this year.

We should never have borrowed so much money, especially after the Crash of 2008.   Often it’s been encouraged by government, when it makes little sense.   Social engineering has boosted the value of homes and increased the number of loans (more profits).   A government decree made under the last administration was that all neighborhoods should be 25% minority; the only way to achieve that was to give 100% loans to people who had never owned a house. Additionally, 100% loans have been made to immigrants, who have had little time to learn how the economy works in the US.

Remember, at stake here is America’s global leadership role.   A serious set-back for the economy would weaken the US.

It’s interesting here to note that the euro is set up very differently, with government borrowing limited to 3%.   The euro has its own problems, but could emerge as the greater currency in the event of a global depression.  It’s already used by more people than the US dollar.

Debt can mean the borrower ends up in servitude to the lender. Note the following warning from scripture:   Proverbs 22:7 7  “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”

This is a far cry from the promised blessings for obedience:

Deuteronomy 15:6 says:  “For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”

A second cause of financial concern is impending TRADE WARS.   These will slow down the global economy.   Once again, uncertainty is an issue here.

A third reason the global economy is at risk is BREXIT, now less than two months away.   This could seriously affect inter-European trade.

A fourth factor, increasingly seen, is the economic Rule of Inequality. This is an economic law that predicts the likelihood of revolution based on the gap between the rich and the poor in any country. China is very concerned about this.   There is only one country with a greater gap and that’s the US.   Trump’s election was our “revolution” – if he is not able to deliver, there will be trouble ahead.

There are many countries around the world with a similar gap. France is going through weekly demonstrations about the rising gap between rich and poor; Venezuela and Zimbabwe are on the brink of revolution.

Other factors to watch are China’s slowdown and even the weather. Both can impact economies.

The above are all the predictables.   There may be other factors, unpredicatables, such as war, that can add to economic woes.

It remains to be seen.   But the warnings are there.   The only question is “When?”

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RUSSIA & CHINA POSE BIGGEST THREATS TO US

“Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned in 1997 that the greatest long-term threat to US interests would be a “grand coalition” of China and Russia, ‘”united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.”   This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

Nobody listened back then, but now it’s becoming clear that the two countries are cooperating to deal with what each perceives as the American threat.   The latest development is in Venezuela, where they are supporting President Maduro and condemning the US for backing the “usurper,” Juan Guaido.

In the past, the US has thought a Sino-Russian entente outlandish. Only now it’s happening.   As Mr. Brzezinski warned, it’s not that they have a lot in common, but rather they share a common enemy.

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UK TO CRASH OUT OF THE EU

Now, nothing can stop Brexit from happening.   Even many supporters of remaining in the EU see that.   The way Europe has treated the UK will make it impossible to avoid a hard Brexit.   (This assumes no change of heart in the EU.)

The facts are that British incompetence has led to Europe just wanting to get it over with.   Looking back on almost 50 years of membership there is a realization that Britain has never been a good fit, either, so why try to keep the British in?

A third reason is NATO.   Most of the other European countries sense that the US is pulling out of NATO, that it doesn’t want the responsibility or cost of defending the other members.   This is why Europe is trying to put together its own military force.   Britain, more pro-American, would only get in the way of this.

So, expect a full Brexit on March 29th.

This will not prevent Mrs. May running around Europe like a chicken with its head cut-off!

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BOOK QUOTE

“From July 1780 until the end of the year, the Catawba River Valley and the adjacent northern districts were the scenes of some of the most brutal warfare ever fought in what is now the United States.   It was a civil war, with all its horrors, as neighbors and families turned on one another with a vengeance.”   (page 140, Partisans and Redcoats, by Walter Edgar, 2001)

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GUAM IN THE HEADLIGHTS

Guam isn’t in the news very often.   But right now it is.   The reason? North Korea has threatened to “nuke” it first.   It seems to have the technology to do it. But will it?   That is the question.

A North Korean attack on the US Pacific island would likely kill most of the 160,000 Americans who live there; but, within minutes, most of North Korea’s population would also be dead in a US retaliatory strike.  That figure would include North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Even if he has a bunker to retire to through the attack, he would no longer have a kingdom to rule over.   Kim would lose everything in minutes.   The three-generation Kim dynasty would be history!

Logic and common sense say he won’t do it.   But logic and common sense are sadly lacking in North Korea.

The world awaits developments and hopes for a good outcome.

Back to Guam.

The world was much simpler when the US took possession of the island in 1898.   It was one of four territories acquired by the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War.   The others were Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Guam had been a Spanish territory for 230 years, since 1668.

When the USS Charleston arrived in Guam to capture the territory, the ship fired its cannons in the direction of the Spanish fort on the island.   The Spanish garrison took some time to respond.   Eventually, they sent a delegation to apologize to the Americans. They had thought the cannons were a salute and they had no means of reciprocating – they hadn’t realized this was an invasion.   It had been a while since they had received any communication from Spain.

So Guam fell into American hands.

Not without some opposition – at home.   The United States was terribly divided on the issue of foreign adventures.   Pro-interventionists included President McKinley, the future Vice President Theodore Roosevelt and newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, a man of great influence at the time.   All three felt that America needed overseas possessions, like European nations. Against the acquisition of colonies were Mark Twain, Dale Carnegie and William Jennings Bryan.   These two were often referred to as the “pro-imperialists” and the “anti-imperialists.”   Imperialism was very much in vogue at the end of the nineteenth century.

The great debate around the birth of the American Empire is the subject of a new history book, entitled “The True Flag” by Stephen Kinzer, a foreign correspondent who now writes for the Boston Globe.   The Spanish-American War was a major turning point in American history and, indeed, in world history. It launched the US as a global power.

“Various forces united to push McKinley toward his decision to seize the Philippines.   Navy commanders recognized Manila Bay as a magnificent platform from which to project American strategic power into East Asia.   Business leaders saw millions of new customers for American goods, the prospect of rich resources, and a springboard to the potentially immense China market.   Missionaries and religious groups swooned at the prospect of saving millions of lost souls for Christ.   McKinley himself recognized above all the political value of annexation – and the furor he feared would engulf him if he turned away from empire at this crucial moment.” (“The True Flag,” page 87.)

Later, McKinley, a deeply religious man, recounted a vision he had at this time.

“When McKinley emerged from his trance, he found himself believing that the United States could not grant independence to the Philippines because its people were ‘unfit for self-government,’ and that ‘there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.” (ibid.)

The following paragraph adds:  “McKinley was deeply religious, and his account of this vision was no doubt sincere.  Nevertheless he must have recognized the happy coincidence: what God wanted him to do would also be popular with voters.  This time, God sounded remarkably like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge.”

These paragraphs show just how much American thinking has changed in the last century.   America’s track record in international affairs has been mixed, at best.   The Spanish-American War was won by the US.   World Wars One and Two, were also won, with allies, but there were many problems after the fighting was over.   Wars since World War Two have largely not been won and the country is now caught up in never ending conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan.   The resultant turmoil has created an unprecedented refugee problem and untold suffering.

Americans are often woefully ignorant of these wars and the mess that is left behind.   President McKinley did not know where the Philippines and Guam were when he ordered US forces to take both.   Somebody once said that “wars are nature’s way of teaching Americans geography” — there is a great deal of truth to that.

History, too.   A review of a new book on President James Buchanan, who was in office immediately before Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, described him as one of the worst ever leaders of the free world.   This remark fails to appreciate that Americans presidents did not lead the Free World until after World War Two.

“The first time the phrase ‘Leader of the free world’ appeared in The New York Times was in a November 1948 essay by the British economist Barbara Ward, which urged Western unity against the communist threat. With its unchallenged economic might, the United States was ‘potentially the political leader of the free world.’“ (‘What does it mean that Trump is “Leader of the Free World,” by Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic, January 2017.)

Dozens of nations have been truly and deeply thankful for the American umbrella, especially the nuclear umbrella, which protected them from communism during the Cold War.   However, the Cold War ended over a quarter of a century ago.   Now, there are other threats and the US is not doing so well.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech in 1961 warned:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

A powerful military-industrial complex will constantly be pushing the country toward war to justify its existence and its cost to the tax-payer.   Each of these wars divides the country as assuredly as the first overseas military adventures in 1898.   The wars in the Islamic world have cost the US billions, in addition to thousands of lives.   The result has been described by historian Geoffrey Wawro (University of North Texas) as “Quicksand,” the title of his 2010 book – the more we struggle to get out, the more we get sucked in!

WILL AMERICAN HEGEMONY BE A CONSTANT?

President Trump has vowed to maintain American hegemony, while at the same time promising to put “America First.”   Ultimately, these two are opposites.   America already suffers from a bad case of “imperial over-reach,” with too many commitments around the globe.  Can the US handle a major conflict on the Korean peninsula, together with unfinished wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan? Can the US afford another major conflict, with a $20 trillion overdraft?   Will American voters support more wars?   President Trump has added another possible military intervention, saying that the US may have to intervene militarily in Venezuela.

History shows that every great power eventually burns out.  Before the US, the British Empire was the world’s number one superpower. After World War Two, the British had to deal with three major international problems all at the same time – in India, Palestine and Greece.   Imperial over-reach led to a withdrawal from Greece and the US was well on the way to replacing the United Kingdom as the world’s policeman.   Americans should not fall into the trap of thinking the same cannot happen to them.   The country has a bad case of imperial hubris, just as Britain did before the US.

History shows the inevitability of America’s demise.

So does the Bible.

Bible scholars have long known that the US plays no role in the final prophesied events, which center on Europe and the Middle East.

This implies that something big is going to happen to America, which returns the country to its pre-1898 status, isolated from the rest of the world.   However, it won’t be the same as pre-1898 – then, the US was secure in its isolation; now, there’s too much bitterness and resentment around the world toward the United States.   Additionally, the United States is more divided now than it was then.

Daniel 2:21 reminds us that God is behind the rise and fall of nations.

“And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.”

In the sixth century BC, while living in the Babylonian Empire, Daniel had a vision that revealed to him that Babylon would soon fall and be replaced by Persia; in turn, Persia would give way to Greece and Greece to Rome.   This is exactly what happened over the next few centuries.   Each of those superpowers, in turn, thought it was invincible; yet, each one fell.   Both history and the Bible show the inevitability of this continuing.

Already, there are voices declaring the 21st century China’s century, just as the twentieth was America’s and the nineteenth Great Britain’s. Certainly,   China is a rising power.   It’s the main reason North Korea can threaten the US at this time and seemingly get away with it.

But the Bible shows that the final superpower is a power that has not yet formed; that ten nations will come together and threaten the peace and security of the world.

Revelation 17:12-13 says the following:

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.   These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”

The term “for one hour” means that this superpower will not last very long.   America’s supremacy has lasted 70 years, Britain’s was much longer; the next one will be a lot shorter.

Which brings us back to Guam.

When the USS Charleston took possession of Guam en route to the Philippines, America became a major power in Asia.   A successful attack on Guam from North Korea would signal the end of the American Empire.   It happened once before in 1942 when the Japanese took the island, but the US returned after defeating Japan.     A nuclear attack on the island would mean there’s nothing to return to.

It’s likely that something will be worked out and we will return to peace – this time.   But at some point American hegemony will end and it could end on an island thousands of miles away or somewhere closer to home.   It’s worth remembering that the British Empire suffered two major defeats, in Singapore (1942) and Suez (1956).

Stephen Kinzer, who wrote “The True Flag,” has an accompanying article in the latest issue of American History magazine.   He ends with an observation by Mark Twain, who opposed America’s international expansion.

The last two paragraphs make for sobering reading:  “Despondent, Twain wrote a bitter lament. His observations, trenchant then, sound eerily appropriate today.  (italics mine)

“It was impossible to save the Great Republic,”  Twain wrote.  “She was rotten to the heart.   Lust of conquest had long ago done it’s work.   Trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home; multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people’s liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake in their own persons.   The government was irrevocably in the hands of the prodigiously rich and their hangers-on, the suffrage was become a mere machine, which they used as they chose.   There was no principle but commercialism, no patriotism but of the pocket.”

(This blog is a fully independent blog that has no connection to any church or secular organization. It was started to keep people informed on international affairs in light of the scriptures.   Financial support comes from myself and readers who generously donate to help cover costs.)