Monday, February 17, 2014

The Hunley Legacy

The Hunley was not a failure. The crew's immediate mission was to stop the Housatonic from bombarding civilians in Charleston, and in that they heroically succeeded.

In their larger mission, however, they failed. Lincoln's Revolution destroyed a voluntary union of sovereign States, and concentrated all power in Washington DC, where absolute power has been warping our national character ever since -- just as Lord Acton knew it would. Whereas the Founding Fathers relied on dispersed political and economic power to prevent the central government from becoming aggressive and tyrannical, post-Civil War Washington DC had nothing left to restrain it. Once the conservative South was corralled, DC quickly found new targets.

The same militant nationalism that forced the South to assimilate to Northeastern rule -- at a cost of 630,000 lives -- was quickly refocused on the American Indians. In 1867, General William Tecumseh Sherman said: "We must act with vindictive earnestness against the [Lakota Sioux] even to their extermination, men, women and children." Once the American Indians were conquered or exterminated, the "brothers and comrades in arms" of the now-amalgamated North and South joined the European powers in the "great game" of imperialism, forever abandoning the Founders' vision of a peaceful Republic of Republics dedicated to, in Jefferson's words, "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations -- entangling alliances with none."

The "vast republic" that Robert E. Lee feared would emerge with Northern victory is indeed, as he predicted, "aggressive abroad and despotic at home," spreading suffering and misery all over the world. Here is a partial list of examples:

- Spanish-American War, 1898 -- US troops grabbed Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Cuba.
- Philippine Insurrection, 1899-1902 -- 600,000 Filipinos died resisting US occupation.
- Vietnam, 1960-75 -- Two million Vietnamese killed in longest US war.
- Indonesia, 1965 -- CIA-backed overthrow of Sukarno in 1965 resulted in estimated death of one million people.
- Cambodia, 1969-75 -- US carpet bombing killed two million people.
- El Salvador, 1981-92 -- troops and air power assisted death squads, 75,000 people killed.
- Serbia -- Clinton's 'Wag the Dog' Air War in 1999 killed 6,000 Serbian troops and 2,000 civilians.
- Iraq -- US-led sanctions result in the estimated deaths of over one million civilians, from 1990 to 2003. And the Iraqi invasion and occupation has killed over 700 US troops, 5,000 Iraqi troops, and 8,000 civilians.

Lincoln's Revolution did not create "a new birth of freedom." It usurped and centralized power from the States, which was the Founding Fathers' greatest fear. As a result, the US has become the opposite of what it used to be. Where once it was a free republic that minded its own business, it is now the last holdout from the 19th and 20th centuries' age of empires. Problem is, we're now in the age of small nations and city-states, where Singapore, Hong Kong, and Switzerland are the new models for successful competition and quality of life.

The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, both "proposition" megastates, succumbed to the yearnings of its captive peoples for self- determination and preservation of their traditional cultures, which provide the surest foundation for durable and voluntary social and political order. The same yearnings drive the Catalans, the Quebecois, and the Scots today, just as they once drove American Colonists in 1776, Texans in 1836, and Jews in 1948.

One thing that history clearly teaches is that military intervention is not an aberration of big government, it is instead big government's business plan. And overseas militarism guarantees domestic oppression. As James Madison said, "The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." Now that we have W's US PATRIOT Act, which authorizes citizen surveillance, and Obama's NDAA, which disposes of the right to habeas corpus, we see just how right Madison was.

Just as we see how right was the Cause of the Hunley crew. God bless them.


Anonymous said...

You left out the forcible annexation of Hawaii.

Old Rebel said...


Yeah, but there are so many crimes against humanity DC's guilty of that I can't remember all of them.

dan hill said...

Truer words have seldom ever been written. God bless the Hunley crew, and may their souls rest in peace and in the knowledge of the success of their mission, and hope of the ultimate goal of their just cause.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Old Reb, this says it all. These were brave South Carolinians, brave Americans, who died in defense of their families, homes, liberty and country.
It is quite appropriate today that a president of the enemy would not eulogize them, but very appropriate that the governor of South Carolina should be honoring these men as the equals of Francis Marion, et al.

Weaver said...

You forgot America's backing of ethnic cleansing in the Guatemalan Civil War.

Venice is a good historical model. It was once powerful and influential. Sparta was a small state that became powerful vs. Athens, a much larger state.

My personal ideal though is a larger state that can enjoy a greater degree of autarky. How large I suppose depends on the situation. The goal should be a permanent state that endures rather than slowly dies.

Anonymous said...

You are short changing the US on what it has done. You totally forgot WWII and Korea. In WWII, we killed more French than the Germans ever thought of, plus, the Yankee deserters set up a mafia in Paris that had the French begging for the Germans to return. Then we bomb innocent German civilians in the untold millions and starved German POW's. Korea, you can't even get a butcher's bill.

Anonymous said...

The Hunley crewmen were brave men. Just a little correction, though--the Housatonic was not bombarding Charleston, but enforcing the blockade. All the shells being thrown into the city (for no good reason) were coming from the artillery batteries at Morris Island.