Thursday, November 28, 2013
There was no radical change in flag design because there was no radical break with Great Britain. Australian independence came about step by step, legally and peacefully with no bitterness or animosity. It seems some wish it had not been so. These are the sort of people who are, make no mistake about it, traitors in their heart and soul who I am sure wince in physical pain when reading the words of the great Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies who called himself, “British to the bootstraps” and who said that, “…the common devotion to the throne is part of the very cement of the whole national structure.” There should be no doubt that everyone agitating for changing the Australian national flag is also a republican (which makes them a traitor) and some will proudly admit it. Some will smugly proclaim that they oppose the Australian national flag because it features the Union Jack and the Union Jack symbolizes the British monarchy (which is also the Australian monarchy but good luck getting any of them to say that). So, again, it seems that they cannot enjoy being an independent country because that independence came with no hateful, violent break with the past.
There is, after all, a reason why the flags of New Zealand and Australia are similar just as there is a reason why the flags of Canada, India and South Africa used to be similar; all were a part of the British Empire. Obviously, those wishing to change the flag despise that fact and hate their own history but if they value multiculturalism so highly, surely there was never a more multicultural entity than the British Empire. The British Empire included the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic peoples (all of them outside the United States), French-Canadians in Quebec, Dutch Boers, Africans of various tribes, the Hindu states of India, the Buddhists of Burma, the Chinese of Hong Kong and the largest population of Muslims in the world. What on earth could be more multicultural than that? And how is it that the Union Jack (which is really the only part of the flag most of these people object to) cannot be considered a symbol of multicultural Australia when it is still the symbol of a very multicultural Great Britain which has sizeable minorities of peoples from countries as far flung as Jamaica, Poland and Pakistan? Of course, they will counter that with an even more absurd argument which is that it is just not “proper” for an independent country to have the flag of another country as part of its own. This, frankly, displays an astounding level of stupidity.
God Save the Queen! God bless Australia and keep it flying!
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
|Captain John Byron|
In 1766 another British expedition landed and established a British fort on Saunders Island named Port Egmont. The Spanish never knew of this outpost until 1770 at which time they found out and the Spanish authorities in Buenos Aires sent a military expedition to Port Egmont which forced the British to withdraw though they still maintained their claim on the islands. They had arrived first and none of the treaties invoked by Spain (the Treaty of Tordesillas or the Treaty of Utrecht) to back up their claim applied to the Falkland Islands. Nonetheless, for the time being, Spain was in control of them. When the Spanish empire in the Americas began to fall apart, British entrepreneurs endeavored to settle the islands again in the 1820’s. By this time, the British presence was protested by the revolutionary government of the “United Provinces of the River Plate” or the “United Provinces of South America” which was the rebel government that had broken from Spain and taken control of what had formerly been the Spanish Viceroyalty of the River Plate (Rio de la Plata) and which presided over territory that would eventually become the northernmost reaches of the Republic of Argentina.
The United Provinces were formed, usurping authority from the Spanish Viceroy, in 1810 and were not recognized by any major foreign powers. Moreover, they did not actually declare independence from Spain until 1816. Britain, for example, did not recognize Argentine independence until 1823, a year after the Jewett episode. The Kingdom of Spain did not recognize Argentine independence until 1857! Furthermore, though modern Argentina claims descent from the United Provinces, it was certainly not the same political entity that exists today. Bolivia and Paraguay broke away and the United Provinces were succeeded by the Argentine Confederation of 1831-1861 which was itself succeeded by the rival Republic of Argentina and State of Buenos Aires. Obviously, the claim of the modern country of Argentina to the real or imagined territories of past revolutionary governments that were always in a state of transition, is extremely tenuous at best. What makes the modern-day claim of Argentina to sovereignty over the Falklands really rich is that it is based on someone planting a flag on them and occupying them, all the while claiming that when the British did the same thing that this should be considered illegal and should not count as a way of determining sovereignty. Because a government which they claim as a predecessor of their own held possession of the islands, very briefly, Argentina asserts that this negates the British holding possession of the islands for centuries.
|God Save the Queen!|
Thursday, September 5, 2013
After returning to England in 1677 he married a lady-in-waiting to Princess Anne (daughter of the Duke of York and the future Queen), Sarah Jennings. He undertook some diplomatic tasks and continued to advance himself in the army, rising to the rank of brigadier general. Because of his background at court, his marriage and his military service alongside him, Churchill was seen very much as one of men most attached to the Duke of York and when he succeeded his brother on the throne as King James II, Churchill solidified this image by helping put down a revolt against the new, and openly Catholic, British monarch. The religion of the King was soon seized upon as the pretext for the Protestants at court to plot the overthrow of James II and his replacement by his son-in-law, the Prince of Orange, who was mounting a Dutch invasion of Great Britain. Churchill, as most expected, was initially staunchly loyal to his sovereign and longtime patron King James II. However, by this time certainly, Churchill knew a losing cause when he saw one and when Prince William of Orange landed in England with his Dutch army in 1688, Churchill promptly turned his coat to join the invaders. For most, this was a religious issue, Catholic versus Protestant, and there were later attempts to make Churchill a sort of Protestant champion, however, he had been loyal to James II long enough knowing full well that he was a Catholic and intended to reign as a Catholic king so there seems little explanation for his betrayal other than simple opportunism. Fortunately for him, he had picked the winning side.
Although he never trusted him, King William III finally gave Marlborough his rank back. Not long after King Billy died and was succeeded by Queen Anne. Just as importantly for Marlborough, the unfortunate King Carlos II of Spain, the last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, died and so brought about the War of the Spanish Succession. Anxious to keep France and Spain apart, England allied with the Netherlands and Austria and declared war. The Dutch would not be major participants but Marlborough would find himself fighting alongside the Austrians under the command of another of the great captains of history; Prince Eugene of Savoy. For the next nine years this pairing of two of the greatest military leaders in history never lost a battle and set a new standard for military excellence. Warfare, at that time, had become rather stagnant again thanks to the brilliant designs of the influential French military engineer Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban and his impregnable fortifications. Marlborough insisted that no one could win a war fighting defensively and built his new method of warfare on the twin pillars of “attack” and “planning”. He would often employ diversions to draw away the strength of an enemy from a certain point and then launch a surprise attack, often leading from the front in person and like so many of the greatest captains in history, he seemed to be able to read the mind of his enemy and knew just when to throw in his reserves for the knock-out blow.
By this time his victories had earned him promotion to first Duke of Marlborough and the Queen lavished the genuine war hero with money and land. It did not take long for the Duke of Marlborough to become the wealthiest man in all of the British Isles. And, still his victories continued. Back in Belgium, he defeated the French again at the battle of Ramillies on May 23, 1706 and two years later won, perhaps, and even more shocking success. At the battle of Oudenaarde it seemed that, at last, the Duke of Marlborough had been bested. The fight on July 11, 1708 saw the French take Marlborough by surprise for a change but, in a dramatic turnaround, “Corporal John” again displayed his masterful ability to maneuver the army, worked his troops around to advantageous position, stopped defending and started attacking. The French were beaten and their morale suffered heavily from the loss. The following year, on September 11, 1709, Marlborough gained what would be his final victory at the battle of Mons. It was a brutal, hard fought battle that took a terrible toll on both sides. Again, for a time, it seemed he might be beaten but Marlborough knew just when to commit his reserves and did so at just the right time to win the day. Still, casualties had been immense; some 21,000 losses.
Throughout his life, the private life and the military career of the Duke of Marlborough were always in contrast. His betrayal of King James II was shocking and distasteful even to those whose side he joined. His efforts to keep one foot in each camp, as it were, also lowered his reputation. Later on, when his self-seeking pride and disloyalty might have been somewhat forgotten, his arrogance and outlandish opulence won him many more critics. His wife and her gossip, intrigues and haughty behavior certainly did not help his reputation either. All of that, of course, was off the battlefield. When it came to warfare, Marlborough was a soldier almost without equal and, indeed, his reputation would probably be still higher were it not a number of other exceptionally gifted captains he shared the stage with. In his entire career he had never lost a battle. He had won four major victories on the field and succeeded in twenty-six sieges. Marlborough and his army were masters of the continent for ten years and he would probably be easily titled as the greatest captain of his time were it not for the presence of his ally, the brilliant and daring Prince of Savoy. Nonetheless, his achievements were astounding and he fully deserves both the contempt many have for him as a man but also his standing as one of the great captains of world history and one of the greatest figures in the hall of heroes of the British army.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
|King James II|
One of those who helped Prince Charles actually get to Scotland was Lord Charles O’Brien, Viscount Clare. A Jacobite with a long record of service in the French army he would eventually attain the rank of Marshal of France and be made a knight of the Holy Spirit. It was Lord Clare who put Prince Charles in touch with the Irish shipping magnates who helped arranged the gathering of the men, material and funds the Prince would need to launch his expedition. At the time, Lord Clare was the commander of the Irish Brigade in the army of His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XV. This was a unit originally formed for French service in exchange for a larger contingent of French troops that were sent to Ireland to fight for King James II. When Prince Charles finally set out for Scotland he was accompanied by the “Seven Men of Moidart” of whom four were Irishmen; Sir Thomas Sheridan, Parson George Kelly, Sir John Macdonald and Sir John William O’Sullivan. Sheridan had been the tutor of Prince Charles and was over seventy when the expedition launched. His age would have made campaigning difficult and he was soon sent back to Rome to keep Prince James informed of the progress of the uprising. Parson George Kelly, likewise, did not remain too long in Scotland as he was sent back to France after the battle of Prestonpans to spread the word of the stunning Jacobite victory.
Sir John William O’Sullivan was born in County Kerry, sometime around 1700, and was trained for the priesthood in Rome and Paris. However, when his father died, he returned to Ireland to take over the family estates. Unfortunately, he ran afoul of the Penal Laws and forfeited his ancestral lands, returning to France and joining the army. His time as a tutor in a French military household likely gave him the notion to take up a career in the army. O’Sullivan showed considerable talent and rose rapidly in rank, finally becoming a colonel. He served in Corsica and on the Rhine where he gained a high reputation for irregular warfare. It seems most likely that it was his record as an accomplished guerilla fighter that brought O’Sullivan to the attention of Prince Charles and, in any event, the two became very close and lasting friends. When the Prince set out for his effort to restore his house in Britain he named O’Sullivan his adjutant and quartermaster-general. From the time of their landing until the bitter end O’Sullivan never left the Prince’s side.
As Quartermaster-general, O’Sullivan had the difficult and unenviable task of keeping the Jacobite forces fed and armed. Many ardent Jacobites professed that he gave good service in this position but O’Sullivan (like the Prince) was constantly at odds with Lord George Murray and the partisans of Murray tend to lay much of the blame for the Jacobite failure at the door of O’Sullivan if not the Prince himself. At the last battle at Culloden Moor, once again, Lord Murray did not want to fight, insisting that the ground was too soft and their position less than ideal. Prince Charles, however, was determined to have at the enemy at least one more time, regardless of the circumstances, before admitting defeat. Colonel O’Sullivan, as usual, agreed with the Prince and many have since placed at least some of the blame for the lost battle on O’Sullivan for choosing such poor ground to fight on. Whatever the case, O’Sullivan has also been credited with helping to arrange the safe escape of Prince Charles back into exile. The colonel himself escaped on a French frigate (which also had an Irish captain) and was later knighted by Prince James (King James III to the Jacobites) for his part in saving the life of his son. He married well and died sometime in the early 1760’s.
|Prince Charles Edward Stuart|
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Furthermore, if this point of the Queen not being a native-born Australian is so important; why does it not extend to others? Australia is a member of the United Nations despite the Secretary-General being a Korean and not an Australian. How can any Australian be a Catholic when the Pope is an Argentine and not an Australian? The republicans cannot answer it of course because, as has been said, they are trying to make a nationalist argument while being fundamentally inter-nationalist in their core beliefs. Aside from the background of the socialist principles most uphold there is the positions they advocate in favor of greater power going to international organizations, few to no restrictions on immigration and their whole mindset of being “citizens of the world” rather than being “Australia for the Australians” which is an attitude they would no doubt abhor. Likewise, even if they tried, they would be unable to make such an argument, not only because it goes against their core beliefs but also because they would be unable to concretely define what an “Australian” is when trying to exclude any member of the Royal Family. After all, the royals share the same ethnic background as most Australians, certainly as the early settlers and builders of modern Australia which is a product of the British Empire. In excluding any member of the Royal Family as being “foreign” to Australia would also necessarily exclude anyone of English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish background who was born and raised in Australia. After all, the blood that runs in the veins of any human being does not change because of what patch of ground they happen to be born on.
One common but tired tactic is to use the argument of democracy. The monarchy, after all, in un-democratic. It makes the highest “office” in the land something beyond the reach of popularity. Yet, as un-democratic as the monarchy might be, this argument does not hold water either. No one votes for the monarch, true enough, yet the very fact that Australia has already had one referendum on republicanism and with the Queen having stated that she will cheerfully abide by any referendum on the future of the monarchy means that the Queen can be voted out of office if the Australian people wish it. In this way, the Australian monarchy is actually more democratic than most of the major democratic republics of the world. Even in the United States a simple popular vote is not sufficient to remove a sitting president from office nor can any popular vote do anything so drastic as to change the very form of government and the basis for government authority. In the same way, in the United States the Supreme Court can overrule a president and the popular will and not one member of that body is elected or accountable to popular opinion. The fact that Australians can decide whether they want a monarchy or a republic means that they already have more freedom and popular power than republics like France or Germany where it is actually illegal to change the form of government in any way.
There is also not much reason to believe republicans when they claim such great devotion for democracy in the first place. In large part these are the same people who empower unelected judges to rule on social issues rather than leaving it to the public to decide. The same people who support international organizations like the UN or the EU, neither of whom have a top leadership that is elected by the ordinary people but most of all we can see the republican contempt for democracy in their own reaction to the referendum on the monarchy. There was a vote for switching to a republic, Australians voted “no” and the republicans swiftly decided to ignore that vote and immediately began working for another referendum and no doubt if that one comes back in favor of the monarchy they will wish for a third and a fourth until the public returns the answer that the republicans desire. This is certainly not respecting the will of the majority, it is no more than a charade. Furthermore, the republicans have made no secret of their desire to pose the question at a time when emotional factors or, in other words, an irrational mentality, would make the public more likely to vote the way they wish them to vote. This leads to another argument; how good a job the monarchy has done for Australia.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
|The burning of the Gaspee|
The consequences were more far reaching than most people realize. The Gaspee Affair (as it tends to be called) prompted the formation of the Committees of Correspondence which led to greater unity throughout the American colonies in fomenting revolution. The greater level of organization as well as the impression that British laws could not only be ignored but that a British warship could be attacked and still have a sizeable portion of the public sympathize with the attackers who went unpunished led ultimately to the events of the Boston Tea Party. With that bit of vandalism, undoubtedly to the surprise of many who remembered the Gaspee Affair, Britain finally decided that enough was enough and took repressive measures. They learned, perhaps a little too late, that when the public embraces criminal behavior and when elected civil officials start to pick and choose which laws they will uphold and which they will not (sound familiar) the country is on a fast track to disaster.