Royal World operated by American monarchist Theodore Harvey which last year passed the 2,000 mark in the number of visitors arriving from that destination (now close to 3,000 overall). Royal World gets a sticker.
Perhaps the biggest blog milestone of 2013 was passing the two million mark for visitors to the blog since it started (at its current location). I can just recall when 200,000 seemed like a big deal. Overall this year the blog has remained pretty consistent at having about 3,000 readers each day. Still, the numbers have tended in the upward direction and though I do not do this for that reason (otherwise I would still not be selling ad-space) it is always nice to see more people being interested. Just at the very end of the year, yours truly also found out that someone had been posing as The Mad Monarchist on Twitter and evidently got up to no good as the account was banned. To try to stop a repeat of this, your blogger of questionable sanity recently joined the Twitter-verse at MadMonarchist1, feel free to follow there though there is not much at the present. When it comes to overall advice (not the ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ sort) I was surprised by the recurring comment that I am too “mysterious”. This surprises me since I have never been bashful about giving my opinion on anything and because I have posted several interviews in the past and they never broke any popularity records. However, I am completely open to doing blog posts or videos or something answering any questions readers may have if that is something people would be interested in seeing. I am certainly not secretive or mysterious by nature -I prefer, “delightfully difficult” or “charmingly eccentric”.
A prosperous new year to all and … stay “mad” my friends.
The Mad Monarchist
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Monday, December 30, 2013
March saw the papal conclave to elect a replacement for Benedict XVI and with the election of Pope Francis the Catholic Church had, for the first time, a Jesuit pope, and the first pope from the “New World”. Ever since his election, according to polls, both the Catholic Church and even non-Catholics and the non-religious have been in love with the ever-so-humble pontiff. However, it has also been a year of explanations on the part of many in the Church virtually every time the Pope opened his mouth. It was also in March that Sacha Grimaldi was born to Andrea Casiraghi (son of Princess Caroline of Hanover, nephew of Prince Albert II of Monaco) and his girlfriend Tatiana Santo Domingo. As his parents were not married at the time, little Sacha did not immediately gain a place in the Monegasque succession. However, plenty of news was made in the royal succession of Great Britain and the Commonwealth Realms in April when HM the Queen gave royal assent to the “Succession to the Crown Act 2013” which did away with male primogeniture as well as the previous rule that those marrying Roman Catholics would lose their rights to the throne. The monarch is, of course, still required to be a Protestant.
August saw little Sacha Grimaldi become the third in line for the Monegasque throne (at present) when Andrea Casiraghi and Tatiana Santo Domingo were married. In Britain, police launched a probe into the death of the late Princess of Wales over allegations of government involvement in her demise. Needless to say the investigation eventually found such rumors to be completely unfounded. In Thailand the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great was released from hospital after four years of treatment and observation. August also saw the passing of Prince Johan Friso of Orange-Nassau in The Netherlands who had been in a coma since February of 2012 after being buried in an avalanche while skiing in Austria. The biggest news event for the world, however, was certainly the prospect of western intervention in the civil war in Syria with President Obama threatening to intervene but finally backing down after an agreement was brokered by Russia. The Syrian civil war caused a massive flood of refugees into the Kingdom of Jordan and caused tensions for many monarchies in the area. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was particularly interested in seeing the pro-Iranian and pro-Russian dictator of Syria removed. A proposal to intervene was voted down in the British House of Commons and in the United States it became clear that the public had no interest in getting involved in another Middle East conflict. Local monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have nonetheless continued to support the rebel forces.
There was a warm welcome for Prince Harry who visited Australia in October and in France there was a Romanov Celebration Gala to mark the 400th anniversary of the start of the reign of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. Throughout the year there were a number of events to highlight this year and the former Russian monarchy. In other news, the world was shocked when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia turned down a seat on the UN Security Council, the first time such a thing had ever happened. The Saudis explained their choice by saying that the UN Security Council was more or less worthless, pointing to the lack of action in Syria as an example and probably also having in mind the inability of the UN to stop the development of nuclear weapons in Iran (something Saudi Arabia opposes strongly) and for basically the same reason, that being that China and Russia stand ready to veto any UN action against the Syrian or Iranian dictators.
From the end of November throughout the month of December there was a great deal of turmoil in the “Land of Smiles” as protests broke out in the Kingdom of Thailand over efforts by the government to pardon a former prime minister who fled the country after being found guilty of corruption. There was happier news though as the revered King of Thailand celebrated his 86th birthday. On the world stage, the Obama administration announced an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran to lift sanctions on that country in return for stepping down their nuclear program. After the fact it was revealed that the talks came about thanks to the Sultan of Qaboos who acted as an intermediary. Britain’s Prince Harry trekked to the South Pole for the benefit of wounded veterans and in a rather odd turn of events, Pope Francis was voted “Person of the Year” by both TIME magazine and one of America’s leading homosexual periodicals. The Dutch celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, secularists advanced their cause of separating Church and State in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and to close it out Charlotte Casiraghi made her mother Princess Caroline of Hanover a grandmother for the second time in one year with the birth of her son Raphael.
Since 2013 saw the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the death of Nelson Mandela, it was a year of more than usual president-worship which your ‘old school’ monarchists find hard to tolerate. With governments all across the First World going ever deeper into debt, monarchies have been scrutinized for their cost. There also seems to be some cultural chauvinism at work as monarchies such as Japan and Thailand have been criticized by westerners for basically being too respectful toward their monarchs and not treating them with the casual flippancy seen in the west. Most troubling for me about 2013 was the further deterioration of tradition and traditional values. Royal children born out of wedlock, “inter-faith” coronations and so on. Belgium and Luxembourg both have openly homosexual prime ministers and in little Luxembourg bigger changes are planned with the current government such as legalizing gay marriage, gay adoption, removing religious classes from the public schools and doing away with Catholic services as part of National Day celebrations. The King of The Netherlands says he doesn’t want to be called “Your Majesty”, the Prince of Wales wants an “inter-faith” coronation and the Pope is talking about income inequality and driving a Ford. In all the good and bad we have seen in 2013, it is safe to say that those supporting tradition and monarchy, in Europe in particular, need to step their game up in a big way.
That was 2013, wishing everyone a happier 2014
The Mad Monarchist
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Friday, December 20, 2013
The Mad Monarchist
Mandela was a member of the Madiba clan of the Thembu tribe of the Xhosa ethnicity (again, even that can get a little complicated), although as that designation came about during the apartheid era it is now disputed that the Thembu and the Xhosa have anything at all in common. The Thembu claim to be an ancient kingdom, originating in the area of the Congo before moving into southern Africa. However, this is somewhat disputed now as it is being used as a basis for claims to a greater prestige and perhaps even independence (more on that later) which the South African government (the ANC as the country is effectively a one-party state) adamantly opposes. Mandela was related to the local chieftain family but, for reasons which will become clear, most of his devoted adherents prefer not to highlight the relationship. He was the uncle, for example, of Kaiser Matanzima who does not have a very good reputation in South Africa these days. His status is a little unclear as his titles are sometimes royal and sometimes republican in nature, depending on what one is reading. His unpopularity stems from the fact that he worked with the White minority government. This cooperation is often cited as the “price” for his being recognized as the paramount chief (sometimes rendered as king) of the “Emigrant Thembus” which was a separatist group.
Chief/king Kaiser Matanzima supported the Bantu or Black Authorities Act of 1951 by which the apartheid government set up officially recognized homelands for the native people. They called this an effort at genuine cultural preservation for the native African people. Others would say that the government was doing this to have a place to expel Blacks who caused problems in the parts of South Africa where the White minority was most concentrated. Chief/King Kaiser Matanzima claimed that he had his own agenda in mind even though it meant breaking with the African National Congress (the communist-coalition revolutionary group of Mandela). Matanzima had a vision for Black South African liberation coming from the establishment of a federation of all-Black states whereas the ANC was determined to stay within the White-established South Africa while using popular pressure and acts of violence to force the Whites out of power. Matanzima became very unpopular with the radicals because of this, some of whom even tried to assassinate him. Nonetheless, Transkei became the first “independent” Bantustan (as a republic) with Matanzima being elected Prime Minister. However, some at the time accused him of corrupt dealings and ruling like a dictator while he later clashed with the South African government over territorial demands. At one point, Matanzima tried to assert actual independence but was stopped when the South African government threatened to cut off the financial assistance he depended on.
In 1979 King/Chief/Prime Minister Kaiser Matanzima became State President and made his brother prime minister. In 1980 he banned opposition parties including the Democratic Progressive Party led by Sabata Dalindyebo who went into exile in Zambia and joined the ANC. Dalindyebo was also challenging Matanzima for the kingship of the tribal nation. Matanzima continued to keep politics “in the family”. He appointed the father-in-law of Nelson Mandela to his cabinet and when Mandela was arrested he tried to persuade him to leave prison and go into exile in Transkei. Mandela had been arrested, tried and convicted of complicity in 156 acts of public violence, mostly terrorist bombings which took the lives of many men, women and children. Mandela himself pleaded guilty to these charges and the South African government offered to release him if he would only renounce violence but Mandela refused to do so (which is why Amnesty International refused to designate Mandela as a political prisoner). In any event, it seemed to work out for him as his imprisonment was not harsh and Mandela was able to keep in contact with his followers, maintain his leadership and become a very rich man all while in prison. He refused to even speak with his uncle, classifying him as collaborating with the apartheid system which is what the ANC said about anyone that did not go along with their leadership and agenda.
|The Thembu King|
Since that time, the friendly relationship he and his father had with the ANC government came to an abrupt end as King Buyelekhaya blamed President Jacob Zuma for failing to intervene to stop the criminal proceedings against him. He has since pointed out the long list of unsavory things Zuma has done without consequence. Also since that time he has, in a mild way, tried to secede from South Africa and create a Kingdom of Thembuland, taking two-thirds of South Africa with him as “historic territory”. The South African government has pretty much ignored this and the King has said that he is strictly non-violent and will accomplish his goal by educating people on the “true” history of the Thembu which he has said were an ancient and powerful nation that have been unjustly eclipsed in South Africa. In particular he has railed against the most high-profile South African tribal-kingdom of the Zulus, complaining that these were nothing compared to the Thembu people and that they only achieved status by working with the Whites. He has also complained that the Zulu king receives far more government funds (63 million rands a year) than he does because of their undeserved (in his view) notoriety. He has also demanded $124 million in damages from the government and a whopping $10.8 billion for the “humiliation” that his trial caused the Thembu people.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
The British case, on the other hand, is quite different and yet here again the very document being lauded, the 1689 Bill of Rights, is at least somewhat self-defeating. The only problem with the unwritten British constitution is that the one entity which is supposed to defend it and which, allegedly, has the obligation to defend it has been completely robbed of the ability to do so in part because of those very events of 1688 and the changes which came after (of course there have been plenty of others, and more drastic ones since). At the coronation of every British monarch they must swear to uphold the law and administer justice and yet, because of the perpetual power-grabbing by Parliament, today the monarch is effectively incapable of doing this and, in fact, most legal experts in Britain today would consider it “unconstitutional” and illegal if the Queen attempted to actually uphold the very oath she took at her coronation. Yet, this is only one modern absurdity among many we can see today. Another would be politicians being required to swear allegiance to the Crown yet also being allowed by law to campaign for the abolition of the Crown. We see it as well in the law which makes Parliament supreme while Parliament votes away its powers to the European Union.
The United States, lest anyone think things are better in the “Great Republic” has come to the same thing, and in much less time. Contrary to what various presidents have said, “the buck stops” nowhere these days. The President does something that is illegal (something that violates the Constitution) and yet, the Constitution can do nothing to stop him. The opposition party may ask the Justice Department to investigate but, of course, the Attorney General is a presidential appointee and unlikely to find his boss guilty of any wrongdoing. The Congress is supposed to be able to do something but as any American should know, a thing is only illegal if someone in the *other* party does it. Unless the party opposed to the President controls large majorities in both houses, there is nothing they can do about a President who breaks the law. Most would think that the Supreme Court could do something, and it is probably true that most Americans consider them to now be the ultimate authority in the country (oddly, the institution to which one is appointed and serves for life, making it the least democratic) but, even if someone brought such a case to them and even if they deigned to hear it their ruling must be enforced by the President as they have no power other than to render opinion. As most familiar with American history know, presidents have refused to enforce Supreme Court rulings in the past and, in the right circumstances, there is no reason it couldn’t happen again.
One can debate whether or not another bill of rights would do the United Kingdom any good. Perhaps it would help for a while, perhaps it would not or perhaps it would be twisted to actually do even more harm. What is certain, and it is certain because the current bill of rights has failed in “its” duty, is that it would not be a perfect solution. Nor is their likely to be one so long as the public is limited in its thinking to trusting for the answer to their problems in more politicians (such as in the new House of So-Called Lords) or in more documents to be upheld and interpreted by politicians when the politicians are the very problem. When the monarch has been reduced to ceremonial status and the House of Peers destroyed in all but name, is it any surprise that the professional politicians of the Commons have been able to run wild? The public must awaken sufficiently to stop trusting those who advance themselves by playing on the public vanity. It must awaken to the fact that sometimes the popular majority can get it wrong and that any constitution or code of justice is only as good as those who are charged with upholding it. They must also realize that, even if they cannot consider allowing a monarch to rule or even have a share in governing, it is still a good idea to allow a monarch to say “no” and have that be the end of it. The public wanted that power and they have it. Most now realize something is wrong but they do not want to admit that maybe, just maybe, they are part of the reason why. Looking at the situation today, a monarch would not be unjustified to say to anyone asking for help, in the words of the last German Kaiser, “You’ve cooked this broth, and now you’re going to drink it”.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Princess Salwa Aga Khan (formerly Kendra Spears)
Note: This was not originally on my 'favorite images' list but after some recent comments I decided to post this one (which I do think is a lovely photo) just as a sort of test. We shall await the results.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Joining the ranks of the radical Jacobins, Napoleon cut all ties with his homeland when Corsica declared independence from France in 1793. At that point, his choice was made; he chose to no longer be Corsican but to be French. Young Napoleon embraced the revolutionary cause and became an officer in the republican artillery, distinguishing himself at the siege of Toulon fighting the British, Spanish, Piedmontese and those French who had turned traitor. His plan won the city back for the revolutionaries and he was made a brigadier general. His star was on the rise having taken command in a difficult situation, devised a plan that led to victory and having been wounded in the process, he had all the makings of a revolutionary hero. His status rose even higher when, on October 5, 1795, he suppressed a royalist uprising in Paris with a “whiff of grapeshot” and, as a reward, he was put in charge of the Army of Italy. In this post he proved himself a natural and gifted military leader. In 1796 and 1797 he defeated the Austrians at Lodi, Castiglione, Arcola and Rivoli until, in the end, Austria and Italy were at his mercy. He also gained the high esteem of his soldiers by leading from the front, at Lodi even personally leading a bayonet charge across a bridge against the Austrian rear guard. It was because of this that his troops dubbed him “the Little Corporal”.
Great Britain, however, was the one enemy he could not touch and the following year renewed their war against France, later joined by Austria and Russia. However, even with the gains he had already made, his ambition was still not fulfilled and in 1804 he crowned himself Emperor, having Pope Pius VII brought up from Rome to preside over the ceremony and his give papal blessing to the new French Emperor. Yet, still, the British remained his greatest irritant. In 1805 the British fleet, again led by Horatio Nelson, destroyed the French and Spanish navies at the battle of Trafalgar. On land, however, Napoleon proved unstoppable and he set out on what was arguably his most brilliant military campaign. He moved quickly, maneuvered adeptly and struck with vicious force. On October 17, 1805 he defeated the Austrians at Ulm and on December 2 won a stunning victory over the Austro-Russian forces at the battle of Austerlitz. That victory alone would have earned him a page in military history but Napoleon was still not finished. In 1806 he defeated the Prussians at Jena and in 1807 defeated the Russians at Friedland, forcing them to make peace. With the Treaty of Tilsit, Europe was effectively divided between France and Russia with the French Empire in the commanding position. Napoleon had made himself Emperor in 1804 and within three years had effectively made himself master of Europe.
For the devout, traditional royalists of France Napoleon would not and could not be anything but an upstart usurper, however, many people who would have been royalists were converted to his side because of the order and return to normalcy that Napoleon brought to France. He ended the chaos, bloodshed and instability of the French Revolution and while he emancipated Jews and Protestants he also signed a concordat with the Pope that recognized Catholicism as the religion of the majority in France and restored to the Catholic Church most (but not all) of the privileges that the First Republic had taken from them. Napoleon had also portrayed his French Empire as a restoration of the empire of Charlemagne and the style he adopted was a very noticeably Roman one; wearing a laurel crown at his coronation, topping the standards of his regiments with eagles and in countless other ways. As the Pope had come to terms with him, as the position of the Church had been settled in France, it became possible, in the minds of many at least, to be a good Catholic and a loyal supporter of the new Emperor Napoleon I. The most unanswerable argument Napoleon could always make to his critics was that he simply got it done. The republican purists might have condemned him for his monarchial aspirations and the royalists might denounce him as a usurper but the fact was, they had not succeeded and Napoleon had. They did not restore calm and order to France, he did. They did not resolve the problems with the Church, he did and the government and legal system he established proved successful enough to endure, in part, even to our own time. He got it done and no one, then or now, could deny it, regardless of their own opinions of the man.
The Kingdom of Spain proved easy to conquer but impossible to pacify. The word “guerilla” entered the lexicon as Spanish irregular forces harassed the French occupiers at every turn. Spain, generally dismissed as a sideshow by Napoleon, would be a drain on French resources that would ultimately prove critical. It was also worsened by the fact that Napoleon didn’t stop at Spain but decided, while he was in the neighborhood and all, to conquer Portugal in 1807. The Royal Family went into exile in Brazil but this proved a pivotal moment as it got Great Britain (longtime allies of Portugal) involved in the Peninsular War. The British would support the Spanish resistance, revamp the Portuguese army into a very effective fighting force and would send troops to Spain to bedevil the French led by the man who would ultimately bring Napoleon down; Arthur Wellesley, later made Duke of Wellington. France would lose 300,000 men in Spain and have nothing to show for it.
By the spring of 1813, Napoleon had recovered somewhat but was faced with the combined forces of Great Britain, Russia, Sweden and Prussia arrayed against him. Napoleon scraped together another army and went out to meet them, confident that, having defeated multiple enemies before, he could do so again. For a time, it seemed that might be the case as he fought as brilliantly as he had in the past but this time it was to no avail. The French were defeated at Leipzig in October of 1813 and forced to retreat to France. With a population tired of his wars and the horrendous casualties they caused, along with the Allied powers closing in on them, Napoleon’s marshals urged him to admit defeat. Feeling disgusted and betrayed Napoleon abdicated on April 11, 1814 and was exiled to the island of Elba on the Italian coast. King Louis XVIII was restored to the throne of France and Europe breathed a sigh of relief. By this time Napoleon had divorced Empress Josephine and in 1810 had married Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria, the eldest child of Emperor Francis I. He did this to obtain an heir and make the Bonaparte succession secure as well as to, hopefully, gain recognition as a legitimate member of the crowned heads of Europe by marrying into the House of Hapsburg. In 1811 she gave birth to his only son, Napoleon II. With his downfall in 1814, Napoleon would never see them again and that too weighed heavily upon him.
For other thoughts on Napoleon and his place in history, see this post.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Concerning the British & Commonwealth royals, Prince Harry had his race to the south pole canceled because of safety concerns but he and the veterans still continued their trek to the southernmost extreme of the globe at a more leisurely and non-competitive pace. They arrived on Friday making Prince Harry the first British royal to ever visit the South Pole. Back at home, Prince William showed his support for HM’s Armed Forces at a special military tournament in London. Having ended his career in the RAF, the Duke of Cambridge is expected to be rejoining the Blues & Royals shortly. Also on the military front, the Duchess of Cambridge welcomed home her Fourth Rifles Battalion this week of which she is honorary colonel. The Prince of Wales gave out an art award and along with the Duchess of Cornwall attended the Sun Military Awards.
Princess Catherina-Amalia of The Netherlands celebrated her tenth birthday (congratulations there) this week and Queen Maxima was on a tour of Africa, visiting Ethiopia and Tanzania, bringing quit a bit of happiness to the locals based on the images from the trip. In Belgium, King Philip met with trash collectors and got started celebrating Christmas at the Royal Palace along with Queen Mathilde, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent.
In southern Europe, in the sunny Principality of Monaco, Charlotte Casiraghi is all set to give birth to her first child and has a room reserved at the Princess Grace Hospital where she and her brothers were born. Her actor/comedian boyfriend will be wrapping up his latest tour in Monaco to be on-hand for the big event. In nearby Italy, HH Pope Francis made headlines again this week for being given the distinction of TIME magazine “Person of the Year”, continuing the unabashed love affair the mainstream media has been having with Pope Francis, something that stands in stark contrast to the treatment of his predecessors. However, in another interview with an Italian periodical, seemingly in response to the controversy caused by his papal “mission statement” Pope Francis had to assert that he is “not a Marxist”. That is, of course, good to hear but it is also not exactly the sort of thing one expects a Pope to have to clarify. Once upon a time, the very idea would have been too absurd to even occur to anyone. Unfortunately, though he clarified that he was not one, the Pope did not seem bothered by being called one saying, “I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.” That may be an even worse thing to say. Marxists are atheists after all, so one would wonder by what definition a Christian could consider an atheist a “good” person. Did anyone ever say that National Socialism was wrong as an ideology but many Nazis were good people? Has anyone ever said that -because Marxism has killed more people than Nazism did (even if for no other reason than that it is more widespread and has been around longer). Somehow I doubt it. How things change. And, over in Spain, HRH Infanta Cristina was sued this week by the far-right group “Manos Limpias”, I would suspect mostly likely in an effort to gain publicity. On a lighter note, HM Queen Sofia was in London doing some Christmas shopping.
On the subcontinent of India, HH Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar passed away on Tuesday at the age of 60 from a heart attack. Wodeyar was the last descendant of the dynasty which ruled Mysore until the abolition of the princely states following independence from Britain and the dissolution of the Empire of India. Today the area is part of the state of Karnataka. Described as a progressive and a reformer he was also a known cricket enthusiast. He had no children. In happier news, though not without a hint of controversy for the royal world of India, star athlete S. Sreesanth was married to Princess (?) Bhuveneshwari Kumari of the royal family of Jaipur at the Guruvayoor Sree Krishna temple in Kerala. The famous cricket bowler has had some trouble with the law in the past. Of course, we wish them all the best.
In still more news of people saying things that shouldn’t have to be said, former PM and convicted criminal on the run from the law, Thaksin Shinawatra, has said he is loyal to the King and complained that nothing his enemies in Thailand are saying is true (that he is not loyal to the monarchy and aspires to being the first “President of Thailand”). Of course, the fact that he has to say such a thing only goes to show what good reasons have for people to doubt it. After all, if one cannot take the word of a politician convicted of massive deceit and corruption, who can you believe?
In Japan, HIH Crown Princess Masako released a 2-page statement on the occasion of her fiftieth birthday saying that she is making good progress in her recovery and has hopes for better times ahead. Less pleasantly, in a recent article by the ever left-leaning Japan Times, Philip Brasor editorialized on how the “liberal leanings” of HM the Emperor are at odds with the “far-right” LDP currently in power. It bemoaned how “emperor worship” is still engrained in people, much to His Majesty’s discomfort and embarrassment, pointing to the recent uproar over a breach in protocol when an activist politician handed HM a letter. This is the sort of simplistic and frankly racist idiocy that can only come from a western leftist. His are the very same people who howl the loudest about the Emperor being a purely symbolic figure, completely outside of politics, upset that any might still respect or (dare I say) even revere HM while in the very same breath insisting that, despite being totally nonpolitical, when it comes to politics, deep down HM really agrees with them and not the “far-right” that places more trust and more seriousness to the monarchy. Everyone should also be aware that the *actual* far-right has never held an ounce of political power in Japan (at least since World War II) and that what these people call “far-right”, such as the Liberal Democratic Party means a party that believes in the freedom for people to worship where they choose, to insist on past agreements being honored and which is determined to defend the country in case of attack. That is what they call “far-right”. It would be funny if so many people didn’t believe it. As for HM the Emperor holding “liberal” views, if “liberal” is defined as caring about the health of the people and country and preferring to have peaceful relations with all, then, yes, that would make HM the Emperor a liberal but the same would also apply to the vast majority of the entire population.
Friday, December 13, 2013
|Baron de Bastrop|
The Kingdom of The Netherlands was fairly quick to recognize the Republic of Texas and establish full diplomatic relations. When the Kingdom of Belgium did so, the Dutch did not want to be left out and so did the same, opening a Dutch embassy in Austin and welcoming a Texan ambassador to Amsterdam. The Kingdoms of France, Belgium and The Netherlands were the only European countries to fully recognize the Republic of Texas as a sovereign state. Dutch settlers, however, were slow to come to Texas, though there was some trade between Texas and the Netherlands and Dutch colonies in the Caribbean and South America. Dutch settlement in Texas would never be extensive but it did pick up after the end of the American Civil War. One early group was led by Pieter Nieveen and a man named Mr. Roelofs who brought Dutch settlers to establish a farming colony in Denton County. Unfortunately, the enterprise was not a success. Another Dutch colony was attempted at Gothland but met a similar fate. However, in 1895 a group of Dutch businessmen started the Port Arthur Land Company and bought 66,000 acres of prairie land in southeast Texas for resale at $8 per acre. The first Dutch immigrant to buy some of the land was George Rienstra in 1897 and a few months later about fifty Dutch families followed him to start a new life in Texas. To house them while their new homes were built they constructed the Orange Hotel named in honor of the Dutch Royal Family. This little settlement became what is now the town of Nederland east of Houston.
Over the years the Dutch-Texans became known for their religious faith, family ties and uniquely Dutch habits. Unlike other Texans, they saved their horses for plowing and walked everywhere. They saved their money and never bought on credit and whereas most Texans love eating tomatoes raw with a little salt, the Dutch figured that, being a fruit, tomatoes should be eaten stewed with sugar and cornstarch. There were also a number of Dutch natives who became notable throughout Texas history such as David Levi Kokernot who was born in Amsterdam but later moved to New Orleans were he became a pilot and eventually bought his own ship. While hunting smugglers on the Texas coast, he shipwrecked at Anahuac and ended up joining the local Texas forces in the War for Independence. He became good friends with General Sam Houston who, after becoming the first President of the Republic of Texas, gave Kokernot a number of special jobs and he was even the captain of a company of Texas Rangers for eleven years. His sons later grew up to be major cattle ranchers in West Texas. Descendants of his are still working in the cattle business in the area west of Fort Davis. Another Dutch family who came to Texas was that of Maarten and Antje Koelemay who settled with their eight children in Nederland. After having no luck at the cheese business the sons became railroad workers while living at the Orange Hotel which their father managed until 1915 when a storm forced the historic hotel to close.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
|King Zahir Shah|
Daoud Khan was an egotistical and extremely ambitious man who ended up being the ruination of his own country. Despite the fact that there was still a great deal of work to be done in his own country, he looked beyond Afghanistan and put progress there to the side while he pursued his dream of uniting all the Pashtun people into a larger Pashtun nation-state (the Pashtun being the dominant ethnic group of Afghanistan. However, there were a great many Pashtuns living in the still fairly young country of Pakistan and the Pashtun nationalism of Daoud Khan provided no small amount of antagonism to Pakistan. Never a wealthy country, Daoud Khan poured money into Pashtun militias on the Pakistani border and quarreled with Pakistan over where the border was. Pakistan cut off trade with Afghanistan as a result, leaving the Soviet Union as the sole source of economic support for the kingdom. The Soviets were, of course, more than happy to provide all sorts of support to Daoud Khan but at a heavy price of course with the result being the Afghanistan became more and more dependent on the Soviets and the Soviets became more demanding about having greater influence.
The communist poison was sitting there in Afghanistan, almost unnoticed but certainly deadly and Daoud Khan would be their path to power even if he was too ignorant to realize it. As has almost invariably been the case in countries around the world, from Russia to China to Cambodia, it is not the communists who overthrow monarchies and seize power (they are usually not strong enough to) but rather some other, more moderate, regime that does so first. The communists then come in, sweep away this younger, weaker regime and take absolute power for themselves. Such was the case in Afghanistan. In truly cowardly fashion, Daoud Khan plotted his revenge against his cousin but did not take action against him in person. Rather, he waited until the King was far away in Italy having eye surgery in 1973 when he launched a palace coup. Daoud Khan seized power and for the first time in Afghan history, declared himself President rather than king and the country became the Republic of Afghanistan. He thought he had won and immediately consolidated his power, killing off potential rivals and establishing a single-party state ruled by the party he established of course, the National Revolutionary Party. All political opposition was persecuted and that included his former communist “friends” of the PDPA. Relations also cooled with the Soviet Union as Daoud Khan, anxious to be his own boss, sought economic ties with India and Iran and the Middle East rather than Soviet Russia. Needless to say, the communists were soon plotting his downfall.
The exiled King Zahir Shah had been barred from the country by the PDPA and an Afghan civil war was the last thing he wanted to see. Nonetheless, during the Reagan administration he was sought out as an opposition leader and cautiously and tentatively agreed to become the leader of a government-in-exile for Afghanistan. However, this was something the most powerful rebel factions would not agree to as they were determined to have a theocratic republic rather than a monarchy and so the concept fell apart. By 1989 the last of the Soviet military forces left Afghanistan (in utter disgust and frustration) while in Afghanistan the fighting continued between the Afghans themselves. The King had little to nothing to do with Afghan politics during this time, though he was still a sufficiently contentious figure that he was nearly assassinated in 1991. Another government emerged but the country was still almost completely lawless and it was opposed by the Taliban militia that was supported by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In 1996 the Taliban secured control of most of the country though areas remained contested by the United Front opposition.
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