Poverty In America

7 02 2012

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made one of the dumbest and most insensitive comments that I have ever heard from an American politician since I became involved with politics:
You can choose where to focus.  You can focus on the rich; that’s not my focus.  You can focus on the very poor; that’s not my focus.  My focus is on middle-income Americans.

He went on to explain that “[w]e have a safety net for the poor.”  And “[i]f there are people that are falling through the cracks, I want to fix that.”[2]

However, the fact that America’s poorest citizens theoretically have access to food stamps, Medicaid and housing vouchers[3]—which Romney cited—does not constitute much of a “safety net” at all.  Some Americans, such as senior citizens, are too proud to accept any governmental assistance (other than Social Security and Medicare benefits) or handouts.  They have worked all of their lives; and to find themselves in poverty is embarrassing and deeply depressing.  They and others are often turned away or sanctioned by the government bureaucracy that can be brutal and cruel, especially to people who are truly in need.[4]

Those Americans who had moved into our “Middle Class” will lose their homes and everything else, which is happening already.  The idea that colleges and professional schools were guaranteed pathways to success will also evaporate.[5]  Our society and that of other countries will be upended.  And yes, there will be “class warfare,” which Barack Obama and his surrogates are fanning already.  Leave aside the fact that he will add more debt than all 43 prior presidents combined, demagoguery is in season and full swing.

When I worked in the U.S. Senate as a young lawyer with its Senate Banking Committee and later headed the Senate staff of Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass)—the first African-American in the Senate since Reconstruction following our Civil War, with Obama being the third—the senator and I met with Mitt’s father who was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (1969-1973)[6], and I was very impressed with him.  At that time, I was working on the passage and implementation of the Housing and Urban Development Acts of 1969 and 1970, which included the “Brooke Amendment” relating to public housing; and the national “Housing Allowance” program, which morphed into the Section 8 housing program that has helped millions of Americans.  The senator, George Romney and I talked about these programs at length.

On behalf of Senator Brooke, I also established a summer program for disadvantaged kids in Massachusetts, in conjunction with the Pentagon, which involved underutilized military facilities within the state (e.g., the Boston Navy Yard, Otis Air Force Base) and served approximately 100,000 kids during its first year alone.  Indeed, the senator and I traveled to Massachusetts with then-Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird in his private plane to review the program and its progress.

In making my observations, I am not singling out Mitt Romney for condemnation.  I have believed in Mitt for a long time now, and will vote for him—in no small part because I share most of his positions with respect to the economy and national security issues.  However, lots of politicians and other successful Americans are “tone deaf” when it comes to the needs of the poor.  They do not relate to them at all, and they cannot understand them.  To be poor is a sign of failure in our success-oriented and driven society.  Our advertising touts beautiful bodies and fancy cars and materialistic dreams.  In no way are the poor glorified, much less given dignity.  Shame is heaped on them, which is wrong.

When I was graduating from grade school in Los Angeles, my mother came to the ceremony in a wheelchair, and I was mortified.  No other mothers were present like that.  She had suffered the convergence of two debilitating illnesses, which robbed her of her beauty and almost killed her.  By the time that I was entering high school, her right leg had been amputated, which stopped the onslaught of what she had gone through; and during the Vietnam War, she walked with an artificial leg and was named the “Woman of the Year” by the local chapter of the Red Cross—for her outstanding volunteer work.

What all of this taught me was that her faith in God had sustained her, and given her courage, hope, joy and great love.[7]  And that stigmas and discrimination attach, especially in Southern California, to those people who are physically or mentally “challenged” or handicapped, the poor, and to those who are not “beautiful.”  Hollywood has gone nationwide and worldwide since then, with a vengeance; and life-threatening illnesses and poverty are not part of the “American dream,” which has been embraced by people globally.  As the U.S. economy declines more between now and the end of this decade—which will happen to an even greater extent in countries around the world—poverty, human suffering, misery and anger will increase dramatically.[8]

The core issues will be how Americans adjust to their poverty and hopelessness, which will be just as rampant in this decade as during the Great Depression of the last century that did not end until the onset of World War II, at the earliest.  There are no easy solutions to losing one’s job, home, car and everything else.  As State governments scramble to avoid bankruptcy, programs that might have helped the poor will no longer exist.  For example, in California, State parks are being closed; and the nightly price for staying at those that remain open equals the cost of a cheap motel already.  Where will the poor stay, especially if they have no family members who can—or are willing to—take them in?  How will they afford food to eat, and find transportation to get from one place to another (e.g., looking for work)?  When inclement weather sets in, how will they survive?

The published numbers of “poor” do not begin to tell their tragic stories; and the human suffering will increase and become unfathomable during the balance of this decade, whether Romney is president or not.  Pure economics will dictate this; and there is nothing that can be done governmentally, by any politician.[9]  And yes, many of those poor will be “middle-income Americans” or those who had been members of our Middle Class.  They will be devastated; suicides and divorces will increase[10]; and families will be torn asunder.  Mitt Romney and the wealthy of the United States—which includes Obama and most members of Congress—need to wake up now, and begin to demonstrate real compassion.  The problem is that they have no earthly idea of what it is like to be poor.

In Greece today, parents are giving away their children because they cannot afford them.  Kids are being dumped in streets or abandoned at shelters with notes attached to them, saying that one or both parents are at wits’ end.[11]  Poverty breeds inhumanity on a scale that is unknown to most Americans; and it also breeds crime (including massive Internet fraud[12]), which will increase in the United States as money for law enforcement declines and as our prisons are overcrowded and prisoners are released.  Reality is crashing down with a thud like never before in our lifetimes.

As I wrote almost three years ago:

America and other nations are in uncharted waters; and their politicians may face backlashes from disillusioned and angry constituents that are unprecedented in modern times. Also, the limits of godless secularism and paying homage to the false gods of materialism may become self-evident.[13]

The chickens are coming home to roost, in spades; and the “good times” are ending for vast numbers of Americans and their counterparts around the world.

Others will remain rich, or attain great riches[14]; and I do not begrudge it to them at all.  I do not envy or covet what another has.  I have never done so.  My parents taught me that, by their own words and actions.  In my lifetime thus far, I have had lots of money, and none.  I have friends with many millions, and one with several billions; and others who have nothing.  I have treated them all the same—with love, respect, dignity and compassion.

I lived in a tent for months at a time—with water everywhere inside it, during the rainy season—because that was all I could afford.  I have had two cars repossessed, as well as a boat.  I have been evicted; and lost my dream house, as well as most of the possessions that were important to me, including priceless family items that had been handed down over generations.  When I was in law school, I had a pair of shoes resoled so many times that I was told it could not be done anymore; and I have struggled to make ends meet for food.

I do not wish any of this on others.  However, I realize that many Americans have experienced losses, pain and suffering that are far worse than I ever have; and this is true today of people abroad who are dying of wars, diseases and malnutrition, and are being forced into slavery and prostitution.[15]  I have great faith in God, the United States, all Americans[16], and people everywhere.  I believe we will survive like my mother did.  However, we will be tested like never before.

© 2012, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search:Timothy D. Naegele

[2] See http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/02/politics/campaign-wrap/?hpt=hp_t1

[3] As discussed later in this article, “housing vouchers” are an outgrowth of the national “Housing Allowance” program that I crafted as a young attorney with the Senate Banking Committee—which was complementary to the “Brooke Amendment,” and morphed into the Section 8 housing program that has helped millions of Americans.

[4] As I have written:

[L]awyers who are prosecutors are often less interested in fairness and justice than they are in winning at all costs, and exercising their raw power and hurting others in the process—such as those who are innocent but are convicted anyway.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/

And I added:

A federal official with reason to know told me that between 15-20 percent of the indictees in federal courts are probably innocent.  Some are seniors who have been charged with cheating the Social Security program, and they are scared to death, so they agree to plea bargains rather than fight for their innocence.

See id. at n.8.  This is truly frightening, and cruel.  Also, those who are engaged in prosecutorial misconduct are “sheltered” by the government, which is a travesty unto itself.  Aside from any civil remedies against them, such prosecutors should be prosecuted and disbarred.

See, e.g.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-02-06/ted-stevens-prosecutors-justice-department/52922922/1 (“Taxpayers pay to defend prosecutors in Ted Stevens case”); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/#comment-1700 (“Perhaps the best remedy for such abuses is to have the ‘guilty’ prosecutors incarcerated; and let justice be meted out with respect to them, by those in prisons”)

[5] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/#comment-1977 (“Law School May Amount To The Worst Investment Of Her Life!”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/are-colleges-dinosaurs/ (“Are Colleges Dinosaurs?”) (see also the footnotes and all other comments beneath the article)

[6]  See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Romney#Secretary_of_Housing_and_Urban_Development

[7] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/what-and-where-is-god/ (“What And Where Is God?”) (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article)

[8] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-1960 (“Global Economy Could Endure Disaster For a Week”) (see also the article itself, as well as the footnotes and all of the other comments beneath it)

[9] See, e.g., http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html (“Greenspan’s Fingerprints All Over Enduring Mess”) and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html (“Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”); see also http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ (“Greenspan’s legacy: more suffering to come”)

[10] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/divorces/ (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article)

[11] See, e.g., http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2085163/Children-dumped-streets-Greek-parents-afford-them.html (“Children ‘dumped in streets by Greek parents who can’t afford to look after them any more'”)

[12] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/lawyers-and-internet-scams/ (“Lawyers And Internet Scams”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)

[13] See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html

[14] See, e.g., http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2012/02/02/the-youngest-and-richest-people-in-america-from-mark-zuckerberg-to-sean-parker-photos.html (“The 10 Youngest Richest, From Sergey Brin to Mark Zuckerberg”)

[15] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/human-trafficking/ (“Human Trafficking”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)

[16] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/america-a-rich-tapestry-of-life/ (“America: A Rich Tapestry Of Life”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)





Barack Obama Is A Lame-Duck President Who Will Not Be Reelected

3 12 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Like former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson before him, in 1980 and 1968 respectively, Barack Obama will not be reelected in 2012.[2] The twin pincers of a domestic economy in the throes of the “Great Depression II”[3]—which economic historians will describe as such, or by using similar terms 20-40 years from now—and his failed Vietnam-like Afghan war[4] will seal his political fate.  Other factors will contribute mightily too, such as the perception that he is “out of touch” just as Jimmy Carter was; and that Obama is a silver-tongued, narcissistic “foreign born” demagogue who is un-American.[5] Perceptions often become reality, certainly in politics.

We are witnessing the end of Obama as a politician now.  The zenith of his presidency occurred with the enactment of ObamaCare, just as Hillary Clinton’s health care efforts marked the “high water mark” of her influence during Bill Clinton’s presidency.  Obama’s nadir is yet to come, but the 2010 mid-term election debacle represented an important milestone on the slippery downward slope of his presidency.  The domestic economy will get far worse; his Afghan war is a morass that seems unwinnable and inescapable; and national security issues loom—such as North Korea and Iran—which may prove “hazardous” at best.

Barack Obama is a failed politician whose “magic” has come and gone.  He is not merely a bad president. He may have the distinction of going down in history as one of the worst presidents that America has ever had, or perhaps the worst depending on what happens during the remainder of his term in office.  That he is presiding over a failed presidency is not in dispute. The only question becomes: how bad will things get for the American nation, its people and for him, before he leaves public office?[6] It is fair to surmise that we have only seen the tip of an enormous political, economic, social and national security “iceberg”—or nightmare—reminiscent of the one that the RMS Titanic struck in 1912.

It is not beyond the pale to believe that scandals will engulf Barack Obama’s presidency as more and more is learned about who he is and how he has governed, and what he and others in his administration have done during the time they have been entrusted with the presidency.[7] Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton: a “cat” with seemingly nine lives politically. He is a “mix” between Carter who was perceived as cerebral and out of touch, and Johnson who was viciously maligned and prevented from running for reelection.

When I was a young Army officer stationed at the Pentagon, before working on Capitol Hill, I remember bumper stickers on cars in the District of Columbia that asked: “Where is Lee Harvey Oswald now that we really need him?”—a reference to John F. Kennedy’s killer.  Johnson was hated, and such implied threats were real.  There are rising negative sentiments about Obama today, involving large numbers of Americans who are not racially prejudiced or merely disillusioned.  Indeed, two Democratic pollsters and advisers to Presidents Clinton and Carter respectively, Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell, wrote an important op-ed piece in the Washington Post recently, which stated:

[W]e believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.

. . .

[T]he president has largely lost the consent of the governed.  The [2010] midterm elections were effectively a referendum on the Obama presidency.[8]

However, his raving and overarching narcissism will likely drive his decision making to put his own perceived best interests ahead of the good of the country and his political party; and he will probably fight on to the bitter end.  More and more Americans are concluding that he does not deserve a second term in the White House.[9] Political pundit and former adviser to Bill Clinton, Dick Morris, argues that he will be challenged by both those on his left and right politically.[10]

Barack Obama is an unsuccessful “community organizer” from Chicago—and before that, Hawaii and Indonesia—who became a black man when it suited him, despite the ethnicity of his mother and her parents who nurtured him like no one else in his life.  The best of him, he has readily admitted, is what the three of them gave him; and clearly he cherishes their memories.[11] Yet, it is not such personal qualities that will determine his political fate.  Jimmy Carter was perceived as likable too.

With respect to the economy, we are in the midst of the “Great Depression II,” and there is nothing he can do about that fact.  The economic tsunami that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan unleashed has been rolling worldwide, with no end in sight. At most, government policies can affect it at the margins—because it will run its course, essentially oblivious to government intervention. Where and when it stops, no one knows; however, Obama’s actions to date have only made it worse.[12] His so-called “stimulus package” has done little or nothing to help the economy; and his reform of the financial markets is akin to shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic[13].

His signature legislation, ObamaCare, was opposed by a majority of the American people, but that did not stop Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from arrogantly shoving it down their throats, as if to say that the two of them knew what was best for their wards.  ObamaCare is likely to be a tragedy for Americans who need health care the most, such as senior citizens; and according to a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, 58 percent of American voters favor its repeal, while 37 percent are opposed.[14]

His policies with respect to Russia’s “dictator-for-life” Vladimir Putin are a travesty to say the least, which simply reflect his almost-total naïveté that is stunning—America’s “Hamlet” on the Potomac.  His negotiation and endorsement of the New START Treaty is a perfect example.[15] Also, he stood by helplessly while those Iranians who advocated freedom were tortured or killed.  His positive contributions with respect to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians are essentially nonexistent, at a critical juncture in the history of the Middle East.[16] And the list goes on and on.

Writing for Germany’s Der Spiegel, Klaus Brinkbäumer stated bluntly:

[N]obody in the US understands [the Afghan] war any more.  The conflict long ago ceased to be Bush’s war, and is now Obama’s.  Worse still, it will inevitably end with an inglorious withdrawal.  Why, then, should the US send in yet more troops?  Why spend $100 billion a year waging war when train stations and schools back home are falling to pieces, and the money would be better spent on other American projects and research?  Congress refuses to approve extra spending on renewing America: The money has already been spent.

. . .

The problem is simply that Obama is smaller than the promise he made, and tiny in comparison to the hopes an entire nation placed on him in 2008. There’s one thing that Barack Obama failed to do. That was his real failure, the big mistake he made, back when everything seemed possible.

. . .

[H]e didn’t even try.[17]

The fact is that Barack Obama is a professional politician and nothing more.  And Americans have come to loathe such creatures, not love them.  So “out of touch” is he that when the BP oil spill was polluting the Gulf of Mexico, Michelle Obama and their youngest daughter flew to Spain—and she was described as America’s “Marie Antoinette.”  More importantly, Obama is not fit to serve or govern, and he never has been.  He is a demagogue and a liar[18], and an embarassment to this great nation and its people.  He is incompetent[19]; and yes, he is evil.[20] Before his presidency ends, he is apt to do even more irreparable damage to our national security, our economy, and with respect to a whole host of critical areas.

He should be relieved of command, and end his political career with dignity like his former military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley A. McChrystal.  This is what Democrat pollsters Schoen and Caddell have urged Obama to do.  The good General McChrystal, who was forced by Obama to resign his command, might be the first public official (or former-public official) to call for Obama’s resignation.[21] He knows, better than most people, about Obama’s ineptitude and recklessness with the lives of U.S. military personnel and America’s honor—which are at stake and on the line each and every day in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

The fact that Obama named General David Petraeus to replace McChrystal as commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and that Petraeus was willing to accept the job and step down from his position as Commander of the U.S. Central Command—which oversees American military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of Africa—speaks volumes about the character, talent, loyalty and integrity of Petraeus.  However, it does not change the verdict with respect to Obama and his failed presidency.

There is nothing positive about his administration or what he has done to date, nothing.  Despite projecting an upbeat, positive, personable image on the campaign trail, which enthused millions of voters and gave them hope, at best he has proved to be an “empty suit.”  If Americans read his book, “Dreams from My Father,” they will realize that his radical beliefs are in tune with Indonesia where he lived—or perhaps some other foreign country—but not with the United States.[22] The “change” he espoused has not been consistent with the beliefs and goals of mainstream American voters.

The critical words that General McChrystal and his staff spoke in a Rolling Stone interview[23] were true and needed to be said—even though lots of Americans might have preferred not to hear about the acrimony and dissension between our military and the Obama Administration.[24] We have a president who is a far-Left neophyte and wrong for America; and he is presiding over a presidency that almost surely will get dramatically worse with the passage of time.  And we have a lovable but utter buffoon for vice president, who is a pathological liar and the laughingstock of the world, and who makes former Vice President Spiro Agnew look brilliant by comparison.[25]

With respect to Afghanistan, at the same time that Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 American troops, he said the U.S. would begin pulling out by July of 2011—just before his anticipated reelection campaign begins in earnest[26], and only one year after our forces will have been deployed fully.  If implemented, it would be tantamount to conceding the country to our enemies sometime in 2011; and it would result in the shedding of American blood and that of our allies for nothing, like Vietnam.

While Obama may be in the process of jettisoning that unrealistic timeline, his thought processes are not surprising because he is an anti-war politician who never served in the U.S. military, and he knows nothing about running a war.  His goals—which never refer to the possibility of “victory” in Afghanistan—are designed to appease his political soul mates and constituency, America’s anti-war far-Left.  He is focused on an “exit strategy” instead of winning.  He has not been successful at running anything, ever[27]; and it is unlikely that Afghanistan will be an exception.  Since when does a failed, anti-war, far-Left “community organizer” from Chicago, who was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, know how to run a war, much less successfully?

Independents and Republicans helped elect Obama and Democrat candidates in 2008; and they  joined with “disenchanted” Democrats and members of the Tea Party movement in November of 2010 to produce an opposite result.  The combination of Afghanistan—which is apt to be Obama’s Vietnam—and growing economic problems may doom his presidency, just as similar issues converged to deny Lyndon Johnson’s reelection in 1968.  Like John F. Kennedy before him, who inspired so many people and caused legions to enter politics, Obama has feet of clay and is dashing Americans’ dreams and political fantasies.[28]

In the final analysis, it is increasingly clear that Obama is a fad and a feckless naïf, and a tragic Shakespearean figure who will be forgotten and consigned to the dustheap of history—unless he tragically alters the course of American history.  His naïveté is matched by his overarching narcissism; and he is more starry-eyed and “dangerous” than Jimmy Carter.  Indeed, it is likely that his presidency will be considered a sad and tragic watershed in history; and the American people are recognizing this more and more with each day that passes.[29] Hopefully he chooses to end his political career with dignity by not running for reelection in 2012, instead of continuing to drag this great nation down with him.[30]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama [Please note: the postings beneath this article are important as well]; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/sarah-and-todd-palin-the-big-winners and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/the-rise-of-independents/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/the-speech—is-barack-obama-smoking-pot-again/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/barack-obama-america’s-second-emperor/

[3] See, e.g., http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html and http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-great-depression-ii/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/is-financial-reform-simply-washingtons-latest-boondoggle/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/will-the-eus-collapse-push-the-world-deeper-into-the-great-depression-ii/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally

[4] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/are-afghanistan-iraq-and-pakistan-hopeless-and-is-the-spread-of-radical-islam-inevitable-and-is-barack-obama-finished-as-americas-president/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/obama-in-afghanistan-doomed-from-the-start/

[5] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/

[6] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/

[7] In his book, “Dreams from My Father,” Obama wrote:

Junkie.  Pothead.  That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man.

See Obama, “Dreams from My Father” (paperback “Revised Edition,” published by Three Rivers Press, 2004), p. 93; see also pp. 120, 270; https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/.

Regardless of whether he has taken illegal drugs or not since his college years, he is occupying our White House; and sooner or later, stories will trickle out about the time he has spent there.

[8] See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/12/AR2010111202846.html; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama/#comment-974

[9] See http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1295.xml?ReleaseID=1538; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama/#comment-999

[10] See http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/obama-may-face-left-wing-primary/; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama/#comment-968 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/sarah-and-todd-palin-the-big-winners/ (“[I]t is not beyond the pale to believe that two women might face off for the American presidency in 2012, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, which would be historic!”)

[11] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/ and Obama, “Dreams from My Father” (paperback “Revised Edition,” published by Three Rivers Press, 2004).

[12] Paul Krugman has written a New York Times’ article entitled, “The Third Depression,” which states:

Recessions are common; depressions are rare. As far as I can tell, there were only two eras in economic history that were widely described as “depressions” at the time: the years of deflation and instability that followed the Panic of 1873 and the years of mass unemployment that followed the financial crisis of 1929-31.

. . .

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost—to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs—will nonetheless be immense.

. . .

[T]he recession brought on by the financial crisis arguably ended last summer.

But future historians will tell us that this wasn’t the end of the third depression, just as the business upturn that began in 1933 wasn’t the end of the Great Depression.  . . .  [B]oth the United States and Europe are well on their way toward Japan-style deflationary traps.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/opinion/28krugman.html

This conclusion is consistent with the thesis of articles that I have written and interview responses that I have given; namely, we are in the midst of the “Great Depression II”—certainly in terms of the 20th and 21st Centuries—which will continue to unfold during at least the balance of this decade.  See infra n.3.

Krugman added:

As far as rhetoric is concerned, the revival of the old-time religion is most evident in Europe, where officials seem to be getting their talking points from the collected speeches of Herbert Hoover, up to and including the claim that raising taxes and cutting spending will actually expand the economy, by improving business confidence. As a practical matter, however, America isn’t doing much better. The Fed seems aware of the deflationary risks—but what it proposes to do about these risks is, well, nothing. The Obama administration understands the dangers of premature fiscal austerity—but because Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress won’t authorize additional aid to state governments, that austerity is coming anyway, in the form of budget cuts at the state and local levels.

Why the wrong turn in policy? The hard-liners often invoke the troubles facing Greece and other nations around the edges of Europe to justify their actions. And it’s true that bond investors have turned on governments with intractable deficits. But there is no evidence that short-run fiscal austerity in the face of a depressed economy reassures investors. On the contrary: Greece has agreed to harsh austerity, only to find its risk spreads growing ever wider; Ireland has imposed savage cuts in public spending, only to be treated by the markets as a worse risk than Spain, which has been far more reluctant to take the hard-liners’ medicine.

It’s almost as if the financial markets understand what policy makers seemingly don’t: that while long-term fiscal responsibility is important, slashing spending in the midst of a depression, which deepens that depression and paves the way for deflation, is actually self-defeating.

So I don’t think this is really about Greece, or indeed about any realistic appreciation of the tradeoffs between deficits and jobs. It is, instead, the victory of an orthodoxy that has little to do with rational analysis, whose main tenet is that imposing suffering on other people is how you show leadership in tough times.

And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy?  The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.

Amen.  Where I differ with Krugman is that his solution is more Keynesian governmental spending, with the goal of spending our way to prosperity.  As stated in articles that I have written and interview responses that I have given, the economic tsunami that Alan Greenspan unleashed has been rolling worldwide, with no end in sight.  At most, government policies can affect it at the margins—because it will run its course, essentially oblivious to government intervention.  Where and when it stops, no one knows.  Originally I predicted the 2017-2019 time frame, but it may take longer than that because of misguided and wasteful government “tinkering.”

In an editorial entitled, “The Keynesian Dead End,” the Wall Street Journal concluded that spending our way to prosperity is going out of style—and the editorial essentially rebuts the solution that Krugman recommended:

For going on three years, the developed world’s economic policy has been dominated by the revival of the old idea that vast amounts of public spending could prevent deflation, cure a recession, and ignite a new era of government-led prosperity. It hasn’t turned out that way.

. . .

The response at the White House and among Congressional leaders has been . . . Stimulus III. While talking about the need for “fiscal discipline” some time in the future, President Obama wants more spending today to again boost “demand.” Thirty months after [Obama economic adviser Larry] Summers won his first victory, we are back at the same policy stand.

The difference this time is that the Keynesian political consensus is cracking up. In Europe, the bond vigilantes have pulled the credit cards of Greece, Portugal and Spain, with Britain and Italy in their sights. Policy makers are now making a 180-degree turn from their own stimulus blowouts to cut spending and raise taxes. The austerity budget offered this month by the new British government is typical of Europe’s new consensus.

To put it another way, Germany’s Angela Merkel has won the bet she made in early 2009 by keeping her country’s stimulus far more modest. We suspect Mr. Obama will find a political stonewall this weekend in Toronto when he pleads with his fellow leaders to join him again for a spending spree.

Meanwhile, in Congress, even many Democrats are revolting against Stimulus III. The original White House package of jobless benefits and aid to the states had to be watered down several times, and the latest version failed again in the Senate late this week.  . . .  Mr. Obama is having his credit card pulled too—not by the bond markets, but by a voting public that sees the troubles in Europe and is telling pollsters that it doesn’t want a Grecian bath.

The Journal adds:

The larger lesson here is about policy. The original sin—and it was nearly global—was to revive the Keynesian economic model that had last cracked up in the 1970s, while forgetting the lessons of the long prosperity from 1982 through 2007. The Reagan and Clinton-Gingrich booms were fostered by a policy environment for most of that era of lower taxes, spending restraint and sound money. The spending restraint began to end in the late 1990s, sound money vanished earlier this decade, and now Democrats are promising a series of enormous tax increases.

Notice that we aren’t saying that spending restraint alone is a miracle economic cure. The spending cuts now in fashion in Europe are essential, but cuts by themselves won’t balance annual deficits reaching 10% of GDP. That requires new revenues from faster growth, and there’s a danger that the tax increases now sweeping Europe will dampen growth further.

President Obama’s tragic mistake was to blow out the U.S. federal balance sheet on spending that has produced little bang for the buck. . . .

With the economy in recession in 2008 and 2009, we argued that some stimulus was justified and an increase in the deficit was understandable and inevitable. However, we also argued that permanent tax cuts aimed at marginal individual and corporate tax rates would have done far more to revive animal spirits, and in our view would have led to a far more robust recovery. . . .

What the world has now reached instead is a Keynesian dead end. We are told to let Congress continue to spend and borrow until the precise moment when Summers and Mark Zandi and the other architects of our current policy say it is time to raise taxes to reduce the huge deficits and debt that their spending has produced. Meanwhile, individuals and businesses are supposed to be unaffected by the prospect of future tax increases, higher interest rates, and more government control over nearly every area of the economy. Even the CEOs of the Business Roundtable now see the damage this is doing.

A better economic policy will have to await a new Congress, which we hope at a minimum can prevent punishing tax increases. But for now the good news is that voters and markets are telling politicians to stop doing what hasn’t worked.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703615104575328981319857618.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

Thus, economic “thinkers” continue to flail around, while the Great Depression II takes its toll in terms of horrendous human suffering worldwide, with no end in sight.

[13] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/is-financial-reform-simply-washingtons-latest-boondoggle/

[14] See http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/health_care_law

[15] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1014

[16] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/israels-senseless-killings-and-war-with-iran/ [Please note: the postings beneath this article are important as well]

[17] See http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,723814,00.html

[18] In his announcement with respect to McChrystal, Obama stated:

I don’t make this decision based on any difference in policy with Gen. McChrystal, as we are in full agreement about our strategy. Nor do I make this decision out of any sense of personal insult.

See http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/06/23/obama-on-mcchrystal-nothing-personal/

It has been said before, and it bears repeating, that if one wishes to watch Barack Obama lie, all one needs to do is watch his lips move.

[19] See, e.g., http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/2010/07/28/leaked-report-hurts-obama/#more-1230 (“Having already lost all Republicans and almost all independents, Obama is shedding Democrats these days.  . . .  [W]hile liberals have increasing reason to question Obama’s performance on their litmus-test issues, they also have increasing cause to wonder at his competence”).

[20] He is not evil in the sense of being the “antichrist,” as some would suggest, but evil in the sense of leading the United States in the wrong direction and having lied to the American people in the process of doing so.  As stated previously:

It has been said: “Jimmy Carter may be heading to #2 on the [list of] all-time worst presidents in American history, thanks to ‘O.’” This is an understatement.  When history is written, Barack Obama may be hated more than George W. Bush has been by the Democrats, more than Bill and Hillary Clinton have been hated by the Republicans, more than Nixon was hated by the Democrats, and even more than Johnson was hated by a broad swath of the American electorate . . . and the list goes on and on.  Obama may emerge as the most hated president in history.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama

[21] With McChrystal’s military career at an end, there will be nothing to prevent him from lashing out at Obama and telling the truth (e.g., in memoirs released shortly before the 2012 presidential elections, which tell the unvarnished truth about Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan and sear Obama in explicit terms):

Obama seemed to suggest that McChrystal’s military career is over, saying the nation should be grateful “for his remarkable career in uniform” as if that has drawn to a close.

McChrystal left the White House after the meeting and returned to his military quarters at Washington’s Fort McNair.

See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37866754/ns/us_news-military/

Former adviser to President Bill Clinton and political pundit Dick Morris adds:

Relieving the general of command sends a message that Obama is thin-skinned, arrogant, and easily offended.

Coming at the same time that the failure of the Obama Administration to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf is already rankling liberal voters, the McChrystal comments will add to their doubts about Obama. They already are against his decision to send additional troops there and have long believed that we should not be fighting in Afghanistan. By calling attention to how badly the war is going and the disarray in the president’s foreign policy apparatus, the McChrystal interview can only highlight and underscore these concerns and further dampen liberal enthusiasm for Obama.

Neither the oil spill nor the Afghan War will drive any liberals to vote for conservatives or induce Democrats to vote Republican. But they both will hold down Democratic turnout and reinforce cynicism about the Obama presidency on the left. Those initially attracted by Obama’s charisma will be driven away by these twin failures.

The Democratic Party is really a synthesis of environmentalists and peace advocates with a few gay rights activists and public employee unions thrown in. Now, Obama has alienated both the green and the anti-war segments of the party. And the continuing spillage from the Gulf oil well and from the General’s mouth will further damage his standing with his political base.

Whatever the fate of General McChrystal or of the American involvement in the war, the mounting casualty lists will drag down Obama’s prospects in November still further and depress his ratings in the days ahead.

See http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/2010/06/23/mcchrystals-attack-hurts-obamas-left-wing-base/#more-1096

[22] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/

While some of his far-Left “true believers” may have read the book and agreed with his core beliefs, the majority of Americans did not; and they had no idea how much his future policies would differ from what they perceived as the mainstream views that he was espousing on the campaign trail.

[23] For example, the author Michael Hastings writes:

The general’s staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs . . . , and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority.

. . .

[McChrystal] also set a manic pace for his staff, becoming legendary for sleeping four hours a night, running seven miles each morning, and eating one meal a day. (In the month I spend around the general, I witness him eating only once.) It’s a kind of superhuman narrative that has built up around him, a staple in almost every media profile, as if the ability to go without sleep and food translates into the possibility of a man single-handedly winning the war.

See “The Runaway General” by Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone (June 22, 2010), http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/119236#

Barack Obama is quoted by the national media as having said that the article showed “poor judgment,” and that he wanted to talk with McChrystal before making any decision about whether he should remain the U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

See, e.g., http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38837.html and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704853404575322354071542896.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

While it was surprising that McChrystal gave the Rolling Stone any access, much less seemingly unfettered access to his innermost thoughts and beliefs—especially given the Rolling Stone‘s reputation—the fact is that he did, and he and his staff spoke their minds, and their words are now part of American history.

The article adds:

After arriving in Afghanistan last June, [McChrystal] conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The now-infamous report was leaked to the press, and its conclusion was dire: If we didn’t send another 40,000 troops—swelling the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by nearly half—we were in danger of “mission failure.” The White House was furious. McChrystal, they felt, was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security unless he did what the general wanted. It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president’s ass.

. . .

Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it’s precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn’t want.

It is reminiscent of “Brer Rabbit And The Tar Baby,” and Afghanistan is becoming Obama’s “tar pit.”

See, e.g.http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Uncle_Remus%3A_His_Songs_and_His_Sayings/The_Wonderful_Tar-Baby_Story

The article continues:

In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama’s top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a “clown” who remains “stuck in 1985.” Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, “turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it’s not very helpful.” Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal’s inner circle. “Hillary had Stan’s back during the strategic review,” says an adviser. “She said, ‘If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.'”

. . .

 

At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. “Oh, not another e-mail from [Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard] Holbrooke,” he groans. “I don’t even want to open it.” He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.

“Make sure you don’t get any of that on your leg,” an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.

. . .

When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal’s side. The only foreign invader to have any success here was Genghis Khan—and he wasn’t hampered by things like human rights, economic development and press scrutiny.

. . .

The very people that [McChrystal’s military strategy known as counterinsurgency, or] COIN seeks to win over—the Afghan people—do not want us there.  . . .  There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word “victory” when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge.

The media and politicians like Barack Obama said the same thing about George W. Bush’s—and David Petraeus’—”surge” in Iraq, and they were mistaken.

[24] The highly-respected Rasmussen polling organization found in results that were released on June 25, 2010:

Forty-seven percent (47%) of U.S. voters agree that it was appropriate for President Obama to fire America’s top commander in Afghanistan this week, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and say the president should not have removed General Stanley McChrystal from his command. Another 17% are not sure.

Just 32%, however, believe it was appropriate for McChrystal to criticize the president and other top U.S. officials in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Fifty percent (50%) feel the general’s public comments were not appropriate. Nearly one-out-of-five voters (18%) are undecided.

Publication of that interview prompted the president to call McChrystal back to Washington and, during a private White House meeting, to accept his resignation. Obama then announced that General David Petraeus, who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, will take his place.

Forty-seven percent (47%) view the naming of Petraeus as the new top commander in Afghanistan as good for the U.S. war effort there. Only nine percent (9%) say it’s a bad move, while 30% think it will have no impact. Fourteen percent (14%) aren’t sure.

Voter confidence in the course of the war in Afghanistan has been falling in recent weeks. Just 41% of voters now believe it is possible for the United States to win the nearly nine-year-old war in Afghanistan. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and say it is not possible for America to win the war. Another 23% are not sure.

See http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/june_2010/47_support_obama_s_decision_to_fire_mcchrystal_36_oppose

[25] In an editorial entitled, “The Petraeus Hail Mary,” the Wall Street Journal pointed out the divisive effect that Biden has had with respect to American policies and their implementation in Afghanistan.  Biden has been a “loose canon,” who was fully capable of fabricating facts if not engaging in outright lies.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704629804575325073086949444.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop (“Mr. Obama said yesterday that no one individual is indispensable in war, but if any single person is, it is a President. Mr. Obama too often gives the impression of a leader asking, ‘Won’t someone rid me of this damn war?'”); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/obama-in-afghanistan-doomed-from-the-start/#comment-169

Former President Bill Clinton was reluctant to take on the military politically, and wisely so—much to the chagrin of his far-Left constituents, some of whom believe America does not need to be strong militarily.  As I have stated before: “America’s economic and military strength go hand in hand. Both are indispensable ingredients of our great nation’s future strength.”

See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html

[26] If Obama’s presidency does not end before 2012, it is likely that he will not run for reelection, just as Truman declined to run in the midst of the Korean War, and Lyndon Johnson declined to run in the midst of the Vietnam War.

[27] See, e.g., http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=1FF04086-18FE-70B2-A8502AE14AB8C592 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/

[28] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/john-f-kennedy-the-most-despicable-president-in-american-history/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/ronald-reagan-and-john-f-kennedy-a-question-of-character

[29] Also, there is the issue of personal Obama family extravagances at the expense of U.S. taxpayers, especially at a time when so many Americans are suffering.  See, e.g.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1298063/Michelle-Obama-takes-daughter-Sasha-Spanish-getaway–leaves-birthday-boy-Barack-behind.html (“Michelle Obama is set to holiday with daughter Sasha on Spain’s Costa del Sol.  . . .  Mrs Obama . . .  has reserved 30 rooms at a five-star hotel”)

[30] Lyndon Johnson chose not to run for reelection in 1968; and Obama advised New York Congressman Charles Rangel to end his political career with dignity as well.  Hopefully he follows his own advice.

See http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0710/Obama_Time_for_Rangel_to_end_career_with_dignity.html





The Economic Tsunami Continues Its Relentless And Unforgiving Advance Globally

27 09 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the EU entitled, “Currency Union Teetering, ‘Mr. Euro’ Was Forced to Act,” which is worth reading and reflecting on seriously.[2] It represents an excellent discussion of what has happened in the past.  However, its conclusions are sobering and ominous:

[F]our months later, the root causes of the Greek crisis remain: There is no central authority to even coordinate national tax-and-spending policies.

In the past month, financial markets have turned their sights on Ireland and Portugal. Doubts remain over the solvency of banks on Europe’s stricken fringe. That leaves them dependent on [the European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet]’s largesse, in the form of “temporary” lending facilities introduced by the ECB when the crisis first hit.

Despite Mr. Trichet’s assurances that the bond-buying program is a stop-gap, it not only continues but has also increased in recent weeks—with no end in sight.

Put succinctly, Europe is still on the brink. It is foolish to believe otherwise. The “green shoots” that have appeared recently are an “illusion” and merely a brief respite in the midst of a maelstrom, which economic historians will describe as the “Great Depression II” (or by some similar name) 20-40 years from now.

Americans and their counterparts around the world have lost faith in their governments, and rightly so[3]; and the governments have come closer to exhausting all of their viable economic options. As this becomes increasingly clear, and as governments thrash about trying to find solutions that do not exist, and as politicians continue to lie—which after all is what they are most proficient at doing—the economic tsunami will continue to take its toll and run its course worldwide during the balance of this decade.

It will get very ugly, economically, socially and politically. Barack Obama will be swept out of office in the United States, and this process has begun already. It will accelerate with November’s elections. He is caught in the twin pincers of an economy in decline that he cannot influence except negatively, and an Afghan war that cannot be won. Republicans and Independents do not support him now; and his own Democrats are deserting him.

The slippery slope out the White House door will follow, like it did for Lyndon Johnson prior to the presidential election of 1968, when the political consequences of the Vietnam war made him unelectable.  Obama will return either to Chicago or Honolulu to lick his wounds and set up his presidential library, and assume an “elder statesman” role—similar to Bill Clinton—after only one term in office.

The efforts of Jean-Claude Trichet, or “Mr. Euro,” will prove similar to measures undertaken to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  Trichet is not “Superman,” and he will lack the necessary skills; and the policy options will have been exhausted. Panics may ensue in the financial markets; and the recent crises may seem like child’s play by comparison to what is coming. The “Band-Aids” that Trichet, America’s Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and others applied will be ripped asunder as the economic tsunami continues its relentless and unforgiving advance globally.[4]

Hold on tight. It is apt to get very ugly. The euro zone will unravel, which is likely to be a relatively small but critical part of what will be happening worldwide; and financial turmoil will engulf the euro-zone nations. There will be nobody of consequence in charge economically or politically in the United States or other countries. And the human suffering and chaos will be unfathomable.[5] Throw military and national security issues into the mix, and the results may be explosive.

 

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.comand http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/CurrencyUnionTeeteringMr.EuroWasForcedtoAct.pdf; see also http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467004575464113605731560.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLETopStories

[3] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/washington-is-sick-and-the-american-people-know-it/

[4] See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/are-afghanistan-iraq-and-pakistan-hopeless-and-is-the-spread-of-radical-islam-inevitable-and-is-barack-obama-finished-as-americas-president/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/will-the-eus-collapse-push-the-world-deeper-into-the-great-depression-ii/

[5] See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-great-depression-ii/#comment-750 and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-great-depression-ii/#comment-745





Will The EU’s Collapse Push The World Deeper Into The Great Depression II?

16 05 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

“For want of a nail . . .  the kingdom was lost.”[2] Will Greece’s debt crisis lead to a Greek debt default and the collapse of the euro and an ensuing collapse of the 27-member European Union (or EU), and trigger the next round of crashes that will be described by economic historians decades from now as “the Great Depression II”?[3] The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo, Serbia brought the tensions between Austria-Hungary and Serbia to a head.  In turn, it is said this triggered a chain of international events that embroiled Russia and the major European powers; and World War I broke out in Europe.[4] Will Greece’s debt crisis set a series of events in motion that sends the world into a downward economic spiral of unfathomable proportions?

For years, I have wrestled with the question of whether the Europe would collapse economically, politically, socially and militarily.  Sounds absurd, you say?  The countries are too interwoven and mutually dependent now for that to happen, and at the very least they will muddle along, making the worst of the best situations, and achieving the lowest common denominator?  The United States of Europe, they are not and never will be, but they have achieved a degree of cohesiveness that I never thought was likely years ago.

I believed jealousies and rivalries and, yes, the hatreds of the past would linger barely beneath the surface, coming unglued at the most inopportune times when it really mattered the most.  When the chips were down, I felt the EU would splinter and fall apart; and that its participants and the world would write it off as a noble experiment that failed, much like the League of Nations.  After all, its successor—the United Nations—is considered to be a colossal joke by Americans, many of whom would love to see it shipped to Europe, and its building on the East River in Manhattan bulldozed and turned into a park, or made into co-ops or condominiums.

The bitter hatreds of the past seem to have subsided in Europe though, and it has become a cultural melting pot, more and more.  Airbus was the first tangible sign of economic integration that I never thought would be possible.  To see the Germans and French working together, and genuinely enjoying each other and producing competitive aircraft on a global scale, was something to behold.  The economic interdependence and booming economies covered up a myriad of sins, mistakes and weaknesses.  It all looked very rosy until the economic tide in Europe and worldwide began to turn.  Then, potholes showed up where there had been rose gardens; and recriminations began to occur that had been buried beneath the surface.

Today Greece is teetering, and anger is intensifying over proposed cuts that are to be made as part of the EU deal to save the country’s economy.  It is the age-old battle between the haves and have-nots, and between those who will bear the burden of the cuts and the wealthy who will escape them.  However, anti-American sentiments are growing because the International Monetary Fund (or IMF) is viewed as a tool of the U.S., which is carrying out American policies.  Like the U.N., the IMF has taken on more powers and responsibilities than were ever envisioned; and it needs to be curbed, and its U.S. support diminished.[5]

Perhaps a recent editorial by the Wall Street Journal best captured the “contagion” that began with Greece:

It hasn’t been a week since the terms of Athens’s . . . bailout were set, and already the reviews of this latest Greek drama are saying it’s a flop.  Yesterday the euro sank to its lowest level in a year.  Stock markets across Europe fell nearly 3%, and the carnage spread to Wall Street and beyond.  Greek interest-rate spreads climbed higher again, and market players have turned their attention to the euro zone’s other weak sisters as everyone tries to figure out who is most likely to follow Greece down the road to national insolvency.

The bailout, in other words, hasn’t stopped the much-feared contagion. If anything, it has spread it.[6]

The Archduke revisited—and hardly encouraging to a world that is in the process of revisiting the Great Depression.  And reason enough for panics, with many more to come.[7]

In another editorial, the Journal added:

The real gamble is being made by politicians who are calculating that, by taking the risk of sovereign default off the table for now, they are giving the global economic recovery time to build and making it easier to address Europe’s fiscal woes.

. . .

In the euro’s first serious test, the political class blinked.  The resulting moral hazard will haunt the single currency for years and reduce the incentive for governments to keep their fiscal houses in order.[8]

Even more troubling is the prospect that the 16-nation (out of the 27-EU member states) shared euro currency may be headed for disintegration.  “The euro is doomed,” said one market analyst.

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel observed, Europe is in a “very, very serious situation”; and the U.K.’s new Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition partner, Nick Clegg, may have major problems keeping the left wing of the Liberal Democrats and the right wing of the Conservatives (or Tories) in line, and a new election may be called before year-end.[9] Also, it is predicted that “China’s economy will slow and possibly ‘crash’ within a year as the nation’s property bubble is set to burst”—which may have troubling implications for whether China will continue to buy and hold our government debt.[10] In turn, this is a major economic and national security risk.

The economic tsunami that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan unleashed has produced consequences far beyond those that were ever envisioned—and far beyond American shores—which will last through the end of this decade, and possibly a generation.  Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance, has said: “Greenspan was considered a master.  Now we must ask ourselves whether he is not, after [Osama] bin Laden, the man who hurt America the most.”  These words speak volumes; however, they fall short of describing the global dimensions and consequences of Greenspan’s actions and inactions.[11]

The central banks of the world are essentially out of options, and the worst is yet to come.  Hold on tight.  It will not be pretty—and global citizenry anger may be truly mind-boggling![12]

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] The proverb, “For Want of a Nail,” states:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_Want_of_a_Nail_(proverb)

[3] See, e.g.http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100408/D9EURADO0.html and http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=aL3SiaURK8dQ&pid=20601087

[4] See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Archduke_Franz_Ferdinand_of_Austria

[5] As the London Times points out:

Even greater social unrest is expected as resentment simmers among poorer families at being told to tighten their belts when wealthy Greeks can protect their fortunes by moving their money abroad, some of it into property bargains in London.

See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7113941.ece The Times article adds:

Mikis Theodorakis, the 84-year-old musician who composed the score for the film Zorba the Greek, calls for revolt against what he sees as an American plot to turn Greece into a “protectorate”.

[6] See http://www.naegele.com/documents/TheGreekBailoutFlop_000.pdf

[7] On May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average “ended down 347.80, or 3.2 percent, at 10,520.32, after being down as much as 998.50 earlier, the Dow’s biggest intraday drop on record.”

See http://www.cnbc.com/id/36988229

The CNBC article added:

“We’ve seen a crisis start in a country—Greece—become regional, impact the whole of the Euro zone and is on the verge of truly going global,” said El-Erian, CEO of the world’s biggest bond fund.

. . .

There is simply a growing recognition that Greece has got to default, said Rochdale banking analyst Dick Bove. “The riots in the streets showed the decision to repay the debt was not going to be made by the people in Germany, France and Switzerland, it’s going to be made by people in Greece and they’re not going to repay it,” he said. “Anyone seeing the riots is going to recognize that this government is going to be thrown out and anything replacing this government is going to be far more leftist leaning and they’re going to repudiate.”

See id. A Wall Street Journal article added:

The velocity of the plunge in stocks was breath-taking. Investors fled everything from stocks and risky bonds to commodities and poured money into safe assets such as U.S. Treasurys and gold.

. . .

“You worry about the a domino effect, from Greece to Portugal to Ireland and Spain,” said Richard Schottenfeld, general partner of Schottenfeld Associates, a New York hedge fund. “Pretty soon those kinds of losses are bigger than housing.”

Investors said they were worried about potential contagion from Greece’s ongoing problems, and whether eventual losses could even exceed those of the U.S. housing collapse.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704370704575227754131412596.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEADNewsCollection

[8] The Journal’s editorial added:

The real euro crisis, in short, is one of overspending and policies that sabotage economic growth. Sunday’s shock and awe campaign has merely postponed that reckoning—and at a fearsome price.

See http://www.naegele.com/documents/TheRealEuroCrisis.pdf

[9] See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aqquuYOAN_sE (“European policy makers last week unveiled a loan package worth almost $1 trillion and a program of bond purchases in an effort to contain a sovereign-debt crisis that has threatened to shatter confidence in the euro.  . . .  By resorting to what some economists have called the ‘nuclear option,’ the [European Central Bank, or] ECB may open itself to the charge it’s undermining its independence by helping governments plug budget holes”)

[10] See http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/2010/05/07/Commentary-Fiscal-WMD/UPI-69801273233877/

[11] See http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ and http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html

[12] See also http://www.naegele.com/documents/MatthewKaminski-EuropesOtherCrisis.pdf (“Germans no longer feel obliged to pay for the sins of their forefathers by bankrolling Europe.  . . .  ‘The EU is falling to pieces'”) and http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Spain-debt-downgraded-by-apf-1816859080.html?x=0&.v=27 (Spain) and http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6f696c52-456a-11df-9e46-00144feab49a.html (“Soros warns Europe of disintegration”) and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703525704575061172926967984.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read (“Europe is entering unprepared into a serious economic crisis—and the nascent global recovery could easily collapse due to the unsustainable and Ponzi-like buildup of government debt in weaker countries.  . . .  The issues for troubled euro zone countries are straightforward: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (known to the financial markets, and not in a polite way, as the PIIGS) had varying degrees of foreign- and bank credit-financed rapid expansions over the past decade.  In fall 2008, these bubbles collapsed.  . . .  Since these struggling countries share the euro, run by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, . . . they are left with the need to massively curtail demand, lower wages and reduce the public sector workforce.  The last time we saw this kind of precipitate fiscal austerity—when nations were tied to the gold standard—it contributed directly to the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s.  . . .  Ireland’s banks are today probably insolvent. Who can afford to repay their mortgages when wages are falling and unemployment rising?  Irish house prices continue to speed downward.  This is not an example of a ‘careful’ solution—it is a nation in a financial death spiral”) and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1250433/Greece-debt-bailout-EU-leaders-split-euro-crisis.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html?hp=&pagewanted=all





Alexander the Great

17 01 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

In the pantheon of the greatest human beings who ever lived, in terms of influencing the history of the world, Jesus Christ “ranks” number one and Alexander the Great ranks number two, for similar albeit different reasons.  Both influenced history more than others, and died at essentially the same age, 33.  Jesus changed Man’s perception of his relationship to God and thereby “conquered” much of the world, while Alexander’s territorial conquests spread democracy and the assimilation of disparate cultures.  Both were remarkable leaders who possessed super-human qualities, including wisdom and fearlessness.

In a sense their lives were intertwined, for without the common language of Greek, Christianity might not have spread beyond Judea to become a world religion.  The Roman Empire and the long centuries of Byzantium are all said to be the fruits of Alexander’s achievements too.  In his short life, this young king and student of Aristotle conquered the known world as far as India to the east—”at the farthest end of Earth”—and changed the course of history.  Among the ages, he is a giant; a man who became a mythic god.

As a general, Alexander (or Alexander III of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.) is considered to be among the greatest the world has ever known.  His conquests dwarf those of other conquerors, such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Hitler.  He was recognized as pharaoh (or god incarnate) of Egypt; and his general Ptolemy founded the fabled Egyptian dynasty that ended with the death of Cleopatra (who was named for Alexander’s full sister[2]), the last of the Ptolemies.  Alexander’s wife, Roxane, is a story of love and alliances—and of their son, born posthumously, who succeeded him.

Even the taming of his great black stallion, Bucephalas—which his father Philip had proclaimed unmanageable to the youth of 12, and which became Alexander’s loyal companion during his campaigns on three continents, as far as India—has been immortalized in history and legend, and in movies such as Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Black Stallion.”  According to tradition, Alexander also solved the riddle of the “Gordian knot”—a rope knotted so intricately that whoever could undo it was to rule Asia—by cutting it with his sword.

Alexander’s numerous acts of both savagery and gallantry in war have been chronicled throughout recorded history, such that 2,300 years after his death he often appears more like a mythic figure than a man of flesh and blood.  His conquests ushered in what has been called the Hellenistic Age—or the “Golden Age”—dating from his death in 323 B.C. to 31 B.C. when Ptolemaic Egypt fell to Rome, a period in which the Greek culture and language spread through northern Africa and southwestern Asia, creating an era that has been described as the first giant step toward the establishment of an international culture.

At the time of his death, his empire stretched from Albania, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, the Danube and the Black Sea in the north, through Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and what was the Persian Empire, to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Punjab of India in the east, and encompassing strategic parts of present-day Libya, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Born around July 20, 356, at Pella in Macedonia[3], west of what is now Thessaloniki in the rugged northern reaches of Greece—in the shadow of Mount Olympus, the home of the gods—he was the son of Philip II, king of Macedonia, and Olympias, daughter of the king of Epirus.  Philip was considered one of the most brilliant generals of his day[4], whose family had ruled Macedonia for more than 300 years.  Alexander is said to have owed much of his tactical genius to his father, although emotionally he is considered to have been closer to his strong-willed, proud and ruthless mother.  Philip was married at least seven times; and after his death, it is said that Olympias roasted his last and youngest wife alive.

From his mother, Alexander acquired a belief that he was a descendant of Achilles, the legendary hero of his beloved Iliad by Homer, whose code was upheld by warriors: Glory in war was life’s highest honor.  Plutarch, who wrote a biography of Alexander in the first century A.D., noted that “[h]e regarded the Iliad as a handbook of the art of war and took with him on his campaigns a text annotated by Aristotle which he always kept under his pillow together with a dagger.”  Alexander was groomed by Philip to inherit his kingdom; and Philip acquired Aristotle, a former student of Plato, who became Alexander’s tutor and taught him philosophy, medicine, and scientific investigation from age 13 to 16.  Also, Alexander was reared among his father’s hard-drinking professional soldiers, and hunters.

In 340, during his father’s attack on Byzantium, he was left in charge of Macedonia.  He defeated the Maedi, a Thracian people; and two years later, at the age of 18, he commanded the Companion Cavalry, Macedonia’s elite mounted unit, at the Battle of Chaeronea in which Philip decisively defeated an alliance of Athenian, Theban and other Greek forces.  Taking advantage of a break in the enemy line, Alexander is said to have displayed personal courage in leading the attack against Thebes’ legendary crack unit, the Sacred Band.[5]

A year later Philip divorced Olympias; and after a quarrel at a feast held to celebrate his father’s new marriage, Alexander and his mother fled to Epirus, and he subsequently went to Illyria. Shortly afterward, father and son were reconciled and Alexander returned to Macedonia, where he spent all but 11 years of his short life.  In 336, however, on Philip’s assassination by a bodyguard[6], Alexander at 20—supported by the army—installed himself on his father’s throne.

He at once executed those who were alleged to be behind Philip’s murder, along with all possible rivals and the faction that was opposed to him. He then marched south, recovered a wavering Thessaly, and at an assembly of the Greek League at Corinth was appointed generalissimo for the forthcoming invasion of Asia, already planned and initiated by Philip whose ultimate goal was to attack Persia, Greece’s old enemy across the Aegean Sea.

Before turning to Persia, whose wealth was needed if he was to maintain the army that Philip had built and pay off 500 talents that he owed—and following a rumor of his death that precipitated a revolt of Theban democrats—Alexander marched 240 miles in 14 days from Pelion (near modern Korçë, Albania) in Illyria to Thebes.  When the Thebans refused to surrender, he entered and razed their city to the ground; 6,000 were killed, and all survivors were sold into slavery; and the other Greek states were cowed by this savagery.

The Persian expedition and the Battle of Issus

In 334 B.C., Alexander crossed the Hellespont—the strait known today as the Dardanelles—to Asia Minor and set out for Troy, leaving Antipater, who had faithfully served his father, as his deputy in Europe with more than 13,000 men.  Alexander himself commanded more than 5,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry, as he began his campaign against Persia whose empire extended from modern Turkey to Pakistan.

At the fall of Troy, Alexander and his closest companion, Hephaestion, paid tribute to the great Homeric warrior Achilles, by anointing altars at his alleged tomb with oil and offering sacrifices.  Indeed, it has been said that blood was the characteristic of Alexander’s whole campaign, and that there is nothing comparable in ancient history except Julius Caesar in Gaul.

He confronted the Persians first at the Granicus River (now the Kocabas), northeast of Troy, in May of 334.  The Persians were arrayed on high ground with approximately 15,000 cavalry and 16,000 infantry, a third of them Greek mercenaries.  The Persian plan to tempt Alexander across the river and kill him almost succeeded.  Alexander, ignoring the advice of his father’s general Parmenion to delay the attack, forged into the river and up the steep opposing bank to where the Persians waited.  However, in hand-to-hand combat, he and his men were able to break the enemy lines and surround the mercenaries of the Persian king, Darius III, and Alexander’s victory was complete.  The mercenaries were largely massacred, except for 2,000 survivors who were sent back to Macedonia in chains.

In addition to having his father’s Companion Cavalry, Alexander had the Macedonian phalanx that had been refined by Philip into a highly mobile unit of foot soldiers armed with wooden thrusting pikes up to 16 feet long.  It was the length of these pikes—as much as nine feet longer than the average spear—that protected Alexander’s men as they climbed the river bank from their vulnerable position below the Persians, according to one account.  This victory at Granicus exposed western Asia Minor to the Macedonians; most cities opened their gates; and in contrast to Macedonian policy in Greece, democracies were installed—on the condition that they were obedient to Alexander.

While the Persian forces fled inland, Alexander and his army marched triumphantly along the coast, liberating the region’s Greek cities from their Persian rulers.  By the winter of 334-333, Alexander conquered western Asia Minor.  Darius and his Persian army advanced northward, and intelligence on both sides was faulty.  Alexander was already encamped near modern Iskenderun, Turkey, when he learned in the fall of 333 that Darius was at Issus, north of Alexander’s position, near the present-day Turkish-Syrian border.  Turning, Alexander found Darius drawn up along the Pinarus River; and in the battle that followed, Alexander won a decisive victory.

Exhausted from a two-day march, Alexander’s men were outnumbered: a Macedonian force of about 50,000, to as many as 70,000 Persians.  Nonetheless, Alexander rallied his troops and led the charge into the Persian lines.  It is said that amidst the dust and savagery of battle, Alexander spotted Darius in his war chariot and made straight for him, followed by his cavalry.  Darius fled; the struggle turned into a Persian rout, leaving Darius’ family in Alexander’s hands; and on Alexander’s orders, the Persian king’s wife and daughters were not harmed.  Yet, at 23, Alexander had met the great King of Persia and defeated him.

Conquest of the Mediterranean coast and Egypt

From Issus, Alexander marched south along the Mediterranean coast, into Syria and Phoenicia, his object being to isolate the Persian fleet from its bases and destroy it as an effective fighting force.  City after city allied to Persia surrendered to him; and Alexander’s second in command, Parmenion, who had secured a foothold in Asia Minor during Philip’s lifetime, was sent ahead to secure Damascus and its rich booty including Darius’ war chest.  In response to a letter from Darius offering peace, Alexander replied arrogantly, recapitulating the historic wrongs of Greece by Persia and demanding unconditional surrender to himself as lord of Asia.

He met his first resistance at Tyre, an island city located a mile offshore, which was a strategic site because of its fabled sea power.  Alexander’s forces included a special engineering unit similar to the modern American Seabees, and they began constructing a causeway to the island.  While his siege of Tyre was in progress, Darius sent a new offer: he would pay a huge ransom of 10,000 talents for his family and cede all his lands west of the Euphrates.  “I would accept,” Parmenion is reported to have said, “were I Alexander”—”I too,” was the famous retort, “were I Parmenion.”

The storming of Tyre in July of 332 is considered to be Alexander’s greatest military achievement; however, it was attended with great carnage and the sale of the women and children into slavery.  It took Alexander seven months to conquer the city; and when his Macedonians triumphed, it is said of Tyre that 7,000 were slain outright, 2,000 young men were crucified, and 30,000 sold into slavery.  Leaving Parmenion in Syria, Alexander advanced south without opposition until he reached Gaza.  There, bitter resistance halted him for two months, and he sustained a serious shoulder wound during a sortie.[7]

In November of 332, after neutralizing Persian allies along the way, Alexander reached Egypt where the people welcomed him as their deliverer, and the Persian satrap wisely surrendered.  At Memphis, Alexander was crowned with the traditional double crown of the pharaohs; the native priests were placated, and their religion was encouraged.  He spent the winter organizing Egypt, where he employed Egyptian governors, keeping the army under a separate Macedonian command.  He founded Alexandria, one of the greatest cities of its time, near the western arm of the Nile on a site between the sea and Lake Mareotis, protected by the island of Pharos, and had it laid out by a Rhodian architect.  He is also said to have sent an expedition to discover the causes of the flooding of the Nile.

From Alexandria, he trekked inland to visit the famed Oracle of the god Ammon, in its lush oasis at Siwah.  Hoping to confirm his divine status and secure favorable omens for his invasion of Asia, the priest gave him the traditional salutation of a pharaoh, as the son of Ammon, a title that fueled his growing sense of invincibility.  It is said that throughout his campaigns, he made daily sacrifices to sway the gods.

His conquest of Egypt had completed his control of the whole eastern Mediterranean coast; and in July of 331, Alexander was on the Euphrates.  Instead of taking the direct route down the river to Babylon, he traveled across northern Mesopotamia toward the Tigris; and Darius, learning of this move from an advance force, marched up the Tigris to oppose him.  The decisive battle of the war was fought on the plain of Gaugamela, between Nineveh and Arbela.  Alexander pursued the defeated Persian forces for 35 miles to Arbela, but Darius escaped with his cavalry and Greek mercenaries into Media.

Alexander now occupied Babylon, city and province. Susa, the capital, also surrendered, releasing huge treasures amounting to 50,000 gold talents.  Here, Alexander established Darius’ family in comfort; and he pressed on into Persia proper.  At Persepolis, he ceremonially burned down the palace of Xerxes, as a symbol that the Panhellenic war of revenge was at an end.  In the spring of 330, Alexander marched north into Media and occupied its capital.  The Thessalians and Greek allies were sent home; and henceforth, it is said that he was waging a purely personal war.

Alexander’s views on the empire were changing.  He had come to envisage a joint ruling class consisting of Macedonians and Persians, and this served to augment the misunderstanding that now arose between his Macedonians and him.  Before continuing his pursuit of Darius, who had retreated into Bactria, he assembled all the Persian treasure and entrusted it to Harpalus; and Parmenion was also left behind in Media to control communications.   In midsummer 330, Alexander set out for the eastern provinces “at a high speed” via modern Rayy (near Tehran) and the Caspian Gates, where he learned that Bessus, the satrap of Bactria, had Darius stabbed and left him to die.  Alexander sent his body for burial with honors in the royal tombs at Persepolis.

Campaign eastward, to Central Asia

Darius’ death left no obstacle to Alexander’s claim to be “lord of Asia”—of the Persian Empire.  He also accepted the surrender of Darius’ Greek mercenaries.  His advance eastward was now rapid, and he founded Alexandria of the Arians (modern Herat).  At Phrada, he took steps to destroy Parmenion and his family as well.  Parmenion’s son, commander of the elite Companion Cavalry that Alexander had once commanded, was implicated in an alleged plot against Alexander’s life; he was condemned by the army, and executed; and a secret message was sent to Parmenion’s second in command, who obediently assassinated him.  This ruthless action excited widespread horror but strengthened Alexander’s position relative to his critics and those whom he regarded as his father’s men.  All of Parmenion’s adherents were now eliminated, and men close to Alexander were promoted.

From Phrada, Alexander pressed on during the winter of 330-329, over the mountains past the site of modern Kabul, Afghanistan, into the country of the Paropamisadae, where he founded Alexandria by the Caucasus.  Bessus was now in Bactria raising a national revolt with the usurped title of Great King.  Crossing the Hindu Kush northward over the Khawak Pass (11,650 feet), Alexander brought his army, despite food shortages, to Drapsaca.  Outflanked, Bessus fled and Alexander sent his general Ptolemy in pursuit; Bessus was captured, flogged, and sent to Balkh[8], where he was mutilated after the Persian manner (losing his nose and ears); and in due course he was publicly executed.

From modern Samarkand, Alexander advanced to the Jaxartes, the boundary of the Persian Empire.  There he broke the opposition of Scythian nomads by his use of catapults and, after defeating them in a battle on the north bank of the river, pursued them into the interior.  On the site of modern Leninabad (Khojent) on the Jaxartes, he founded a city, Alexandria Eschate, “the farthest.”  It took Alexander until the autumn of 328 to crush the most determined opponent he encountered in his campaigns.

Later in the same year, he attacked Oxyartes and the remaining barons who held out in the hills of modern Tadzhikistan.  Volunteers seized the crag on which Oxyartes had his stronghold, and among the captives was his daughter, Roxane.  In reconciliation Alexander married her, and the rest of his opponents were either won over or crushed.

At Maracanda (or modern Samarkand), an incident occurred that widened the breach between Alexander and many of his Macedonians.  He murdered Cleitus, one of his most trusted commanders, in a drunken quarrel, but his excessive display of remorse led the army to pass a decree convicting Cleitus posthumously of treason. The event marked a step in Alexander’s progress toward Eastern absolutism, and this growing attitude found its outward expression in his use of Persian royal dress.

Shortly afterward, at Balkh, he attempted to impose the Persian court ceremonial—involving prostration (or what has been described as a “courtly kiss”)—on the Greeks and Macedonians too; however, to them this custom, habitual for Persians entering the king’s presence, implied an act of worship toward a god and was intolerable before a man.  Even Callisthenes, historian and nephew of Aristotle, whose ostentatious flattery had perhaps encouraged Alexander to see himself in the role of a god, refused to abase himself.  Macedonian laughter caused the experiment to founder, and Alexander abandoned it.  Shortly afterward, however, Callisthenes was held to be privy to a conspiracy among the royal pages and was executed (or died in prison).

Invasion of India

In early summer of 327, Alexander left Bactria with a reinforced army under a reorganized command.  If Plutarch’s figure of 120,000 men has any reality, however, it must have included all kinds of auxiliary services, together with muleteers, camel drivers, medical corps, peddlers, entertainers, women, and children—the fighting strength perhaps stood at about 35,000.  Recrossing the Hindu Kush, Alexander divided his forces.  Half the army with the baggage, under Hephaestion and another Cavalry commander, was sent through the Khyber Pass, while Alexander himself led the rest through the hills to the north.  His advance was marked by the storming of the almost impregnable pinnacle of the modern Pir-Sar, a few miles west of the Indus and north of the Buner River, an impressive feat of siegecraft.

In the spring of 326, crossing the Indus, Alexander entered Taxila, whose ruler, Taxiles, furnished elephants and troops in return for aid against his rival Porus, who ruled the lands between the Hydaspes (modern Jhelum) and the modern Chenab.  In June, Alexander fought his last great battle on the left bank of the Hydaspes.  He founded two cities there, one of which was named Alexandria Nicaea, to celebrate his victory; and Porus became his ally.

Although Alexander gained a rajah and a new troop of elephants, he also lost a life-long friend.  It is said that Bucephalas was a man-eater and a unicorn, and that he was born of the same seed as his master, and that he whinnied and fawned with his front legs at the sight of the only man he ever trusted.  What we do know for certain is that not far from the defeat of Porus and the site of Bucephalas’ last river crossing, Alexander founded a second city and named it Bucephala, in memory of his beloved horse that died there about the age of 30.  The great black stallion had carried his master to the “eastern edge of the world,” and a funeral procession was organized, which Alexander led in person.

How much Alexander knew of India beyond the Hyphasis (probably the modern Beas) is uncertain; there is no conclusive proof that he had heard of the Ganges.  While he was anxious to press on, he had advanced to the Hyphasis when his army mutinied, refusing to go farther in the tropical rain; they were weary in body and spirit, and Coenus, one of Alexander’s four chief marshals, acted as their spokesman. On finding the army adamant, Alexander agreed to turn back.

On the Hyphasis, Alexander built a fleet of 800 to 1,000 ships.  Leaving Porus, he then proceeded down the river and into the Indus, with half his forces on shipboard and half marching in three columns down the two banks. Nearchus commanded the fleet; and the march was attended with much fighting and heavy, pitiless slaughter.  At the storming of one town near what is now called the Ravi River, Alexander received a severe wound that left him weakened.

On reaching the head of the Indus delta, he built a harbor and docks and explored both arms of the Indus.  He planned to lead part of his forces back by land, while the rest in perhaps 100 to 150 ships under the command of Nearchus made a voyage of exploration along the Persian Gulf.  Local opposition led the ships to set sail in September of 325, and they were held up for three weeks until they could pick up the northeast monsoon in late October.  In September, Alexander too set out along the coast through Gedrosia (modern Baluchistan), but he was soon compelled by mountainous country to turn inland, thus failing in his project to establish food depots for the fleet.

Craterus, a high-ranking officer, already had been sent off with the baggage and siege train, to rejoin the main army on the Amanis (modern Minab) River in Carmania. Alexander’s march through Gedrosia proved disastrous; waterless desert and shortage of food and fuel caused great suffering; and many, especially women and children, perished in a sudden monsoon flood while encamped.  At the Amanis, Alexander was rejoined by the fleet, which also had suffered losses.

Consolidation of the empire

Alexander now proceeded farther with the policy of replacing senior officials and executing defaulting governors, upon which he had already embarked before leaving India. Between 326 and 324, more than a third of his satraps were superseded and six were put to death; three generals in Media were accused of extortion, arrested, tried, and executed.  Whether the conduct that Alexander displayed against his governors represented exemplary punishment for gross maladministration during his absence, or merely the elimination of men he had come to distrust (as in the case of Parmenion), is debatable; however, ancient sources generally favorable to Alexander comment adversely on his savagery.

In the spring of 324, he was back in Susa, administrative center of the Persian Empire.  He found that his treasurer, Harpalus, had absconded with 6,000 mercenaries and 5,000 talents to Greece.  Arrested in Athens, he escaped and later was murdered in Crete.  At Susa, Alexander held a feast to celebrate his conquest of the Persian Empire, at which, in furtherance of his policy of fusing Macedonians and Persians into one master race, he and 80 of his officers took Persian wives.  He and Hephaestion married Darius’ daughters Barsine (also called Stateira) and Drypetis, respectively; and 10,000 of his soldiers with native wives were given generous dowries.

This policy of racial fusion brought increasing friction to Alexander’s relations with his Macedonians, who had no sympathy for his changed concept of the empire.  His determination to incorporate Persians on equal terms in the army and the administration of the provinces was bitterly resented.  This discontent was now fanned by the arrival of 30,000 native youths who had received Macedonian military training, and by the introduction of Orientals from various parts of the empire into the Companion Cavalry.  The issue came to a head when Alexander’s decision to send home Macedonian veterans under Craterus was interpreted as a move toward transferring the seat of power to Asia.

There was an open mutiny involving all but the royal bodyguard; however, when Alexander dismissed his whole army and enrolled Persians instead, the opposition broke down.  An emotional scene of reconciliation was followed by a vast banquet with 9,000 guests to celebrate the ending of the misunderstanding and the partnership in government of Macedonians and Persians—but not, as has been argued by some, the incorporation of all the subject peoples as partners in the commonwealth.  Ten thousand veterans were now sent back to Macedonia with gifts, and the crisis was ended.

In the autumn of 324, Hephaestion died and Alexander indulged in extravagant mourning for his closest friend.  He was given a royal funeral in Babylon with a pyre costing 10,000 talents.  It was probably in connection with a general order sent out to the Greeks, to honor Hephaestion as a hero, that Alexander linked the demand that he himself should be accorded divine honors.  Legend offered more than one example of men who, by their achievements, acquired divine status.

Alexander had on several occasions encouraged favorable comparison of his own accomplishments with those of Dionysus or Heracles.  He seemed to have become convinced of the reality of his own divinity and to have required its acceptance by others.  There is no reason to assume that his demand had any political background (divine status gave its possessor no particular rights in a Greek city); rather it has been said to be a symptom of his growing megalomania and emotional instability.  The cities complied, but often ironically—the Spartan decree read, “Since Alexander wishes to be a god, let him be a god.”

In the spring of 323, at Babylon, he received complimentary embassies from the Libyans and from the Bruttians, Etruscans, and Lucanians of Italy.  Representatives of the cities of Greece also came, garlanded as befitted Alexander’s divine status.  Following up Nearchus’ voyage, he now founded an Alexandria at the mouth of the Tigris and made plans to develop sea communications with India, for which an expedition along the Arabian coast was to be a preliminary.  He also dispatched an officer to explore the Caspian Sea.

Suddenly, in Babylon, while busy with plans to improve the irrigation of the Euphrates and to settle the coast of the Persian Gulf, Alexander was taken ill after a prolonged banquet and drinking bout.  Ten days later, on June 10 or 13, 323, he died before reaching the age of 33.  He had reigned for 12 years and eight months.  His body, diverted to Egypt by Ptolemy, its later king, was eventually placed in a golden coffin in Alexandria.  Both in Egypt and elsewhere in the Greek cities, he received divine honors.

No heir had been appointed to the throne, and his generals adopted his father’s half-witted illegitimate son, Philip Arrhidaeus, and Alexander’s posthumous son by Roxane, Alexander IV, as kings, sharing out the satrapies among themselves, after much bargaining.  Both kings were murdered, Arrhidaeus in 317 and Alexander IV in 310/309.  The provinces became independent kingdoms; and the generals, following Antigonus’ lead in 306, took the title of king.

Who was Alexander?

Like Napoleon, in physical terms, Alexander is said to have been short, perhaps not more than five feet tall; stockily built; and apparently unable to grow a full beard, thus setting a fashion of being clean-shaven.  He was said to be famously good-looking, with long curling hair and fair skin that, according to Plutarch, had “a ruddy tinge . . . especially upon his face and chest.”[9]

In his later years, Alexander’s aims seem to have been directed toward exploration, in particular of Arabia and the Caspian.  In the organization of his empire, he had been content in many spheres to improvise and adapt what he found.  His financial policy is an exception; it is clear that he set up a central organization with collectors perhaps independent of the local satraps.  That this proved a failure was partly due to weaknesses in the character of Harpalus, his chief treasurer.  But the establishment of a new coinage with a silver standard based on that of Athens in place of the old bimetallic system current both in Macedonia and in Persia helped trade everywhere and, combined with the release of vast amounts of bullion from the Persian treasuries, gave much-needed stimulation to the economy of the whole Mediterranean area.

Alexander’s founding of new cities—Plutarch writes of more than seventy—initiated a new chapter in Greek expansion.  No doubt many of the colonists, by no means volunteers, deserted these cities, and marriages with native women led to some dilution of Greek ways; however, the Greek (rather than Macedonian) influence remained strong in most of them.  Since the process was carried further by Alexander’s successors, the spread of Hellenic thought and customs over much of Asia as far as Bactria and India was one of the more striking effects of Alexander’s conquests.

His plans for racial fusion, on the other hand, were considered a failure. The Macedonians, leaders and men alike, rejected the idea; and in the later Seleucid Empire, the Greek and Macedonian element was clearly dominant.  How far Alexander would have succeeded in the difficult task of coordinating his vast dominions, had he lived, is hard to determine.  The only link between the many units that went to make up an empire more disparate than that of the Habsburgs, and far larger, was his own person; and his death came before he could tackle this problem.

What had held it all together was his own dynamic personality.  He combined an iron will, and ability to drive himself and his men to the utmost, with a supple and flexible mind.  He knew when to draw back and change his policy, though it is said that he did this reluctantly.  He was imaginative and not without romantic impulses—figures like Achilles, Heracles, and Dionysus were often on his mind.  He was swift in anger; and under the strain of his long campaigns, this side of his character grew more pronounced.

Ruthless, he had increasing recourse to terror, showing no hesitation in eliminating men whom he had ceased to trust, either with or without the pretense of a fair trial.  Years after his death, it is said that Cassander, son of Antipater, a regent of the Macedonian Empire under Alexander, could not pass his statue at Delphi without shuddering.  Yet he maintained the loyalty of his men, who followed him to the Hyphasis without complaining and continued to believe in him throughout all hardships.  Only when his whim would have taken them still farther into unknown India did he fail to get his way.

His military genius is undisputed, and he was blessed with the gift of leadership.  When he gave the command to attack, it is said that he knew his men would confidently do so.  Alexander himself led the cavalry charge at the Granicus, in a white-plumed helmet; and empathy for his men was part of the Macedonian warrior code.  Arrian, a Greek historian of the second-century A.D. whose account of Alexander’s campaigns is considered one of the best of ancient sources, wrote: “For the wounded he showed deep concern.  He visited them all and examined their wounds, asking each man how and in what circumstances his wound was received, and allowing him to tell his story and exaggerate as much as he pleased.”

In addition, Alexander showed unusual versatility both in the combination of different arms and in adapting his tactics to the challenge of enemies who commanded novel forms of warfare—the nomads, the Indian hill tribes, or Porus with his elephants. His strategy was skillful and imaginative, and he knew how to exploit the chances that arose in every battle and that might be decisive for victory or defeat.  He also drew the last advantage from victory by relentless pursuit.  His use of cavalry was so effective that it is said he rarely had to fall back upon his infantry to deliver a crushing blow.

Alexander’s short reign marks a decisive moment in the history of Europe and Asia.  His campaigns and his own personal interest in scientific investigation brought many advances in the knowledge of geography and natural history.  His career led to the moving of the great centers of civilization eastward, and initiated the new age of the Greek territorial monarchies.  It spread Hellenism in a vast colonizing wave throughout the Middle East and created, if not politically at least economically and culturally, a single world stretching from Gibraltar to the Punjab, open to trade and social intercourse and with a considerable overlay of common civilization.

. . .

Two thousand three hundred years ago, Alexander and his army began a 22,000-mile expedition from Greece to India, and conquered most of the known world before he was 30.  It was a turning point in history.  It is said that there was never a king before or since with exploits as vast as those of Alexander.  He was the world’s first authentic hero—a worldly genius who succeeded, whereas others before and after him failed.

He is one of a handful of men who, in striding across the pages of history, left the world marked forever by their presence.

This was the Age of Alexander . . . Alexander the Great!

____________

ALEXANDER THE GREAT

Timeline/Chronology

356 B.C. Birth of Alexander the Great (Alexander III) in Macedonia to Philip II, king of Macedonia, and his wife, Olympias

344 B.C. Alexander tames the giant horse Bucephalas (age 12)

343-340 B.C. Alexander is taught by Aristotle (ages 13-16)

340 B.C. Philip attacks Byzantium; Alexander is left in charge of Macedonia, and defeats the Maedi (age 16)

338 B.C. Philip II defeats combined Greek armies (consisting of Athenian, Theban and other Greek forces) at Chaironeia (or Chaeronea); Alexander commands the Companion Cavalry, Macedonia’s elite mounted unit, and displays personal courage in leading the attack against Thebes’ legendary crack unit, the Sacred Band (age 18)

336 B.C. First invasion of Asia; King Philip assassinated at Aigai; accession of Alexander to the Macedonian throne (age 20)

335 B.C. Alexander’s campaigns in Thrace and Illyria; the destruction of Thebes (age 21)

334 B.C. Alexander begins his invasion of the Persian Empire; the Battle of the Granicus River; the sieges of Miletus and Halicarnassus (age 22)

334-333 B.C. Conquest of southern Asia Minor; visit to Gordion near Ankara

333 B.C. The Battle of Issus (age 23)

332 B.C. The siege and capture of Tyre and Gaza (age 24)

332-1 B.C. Alexander conquers Egypt, founds Alexandria, and visits the Oracle of Ammon at the Siwah Oasis

331 B.C. The Battle of Gaugamela (age 25)

330 B.C. The burning of Persepolis; death of the Persian Great King Darius III; murders of Philotas and Parmenion (or Parmenio); the Hindu Kush and the “eastern edge of the world,” according to Aristotle; the pursuit of Bessus (age 26)

329-8 B.C. Campaigns in Bactria and Sogdia (or Sogdiana); the capture of Bessus; the murder of Cleitus; the Royal Pages’ Conspiracy, and the arrest and death of Callisthenes; the revolt and death of Spitamenes

327 B.C. Alexander marries Roxane (or Rhoxane); the invasion of India (age 29)

326-5 B.C. The Battle of the Hydaspes against Porus, during which Bucephalas is gravely wounded and dies (at about 30 years); the mutiny on the Hyphasis river; the voyage down the Indus; the campaign against the Malli (or Malloi), and the fortress of Multan

325 B.C. The march across the Gedrosian desert (age 31)

324 B.C. The mass marriage at Susa; the mutiny at Opis; the death of Hephaestion (or Hephaistion) (age 32)

June 10 or 13, 323 B.C. The death of Alexander the Great at Babylon (before the age of 33)

31 B.C. Rome overcomes the last of Alexander’s successor kingdoms with the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra

© 2010-2015, Timothy D. Naegele

Alexander


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

This article was written as the basis for a movie script and film.

[2] Also, the last wife of Alexander’s father, King Philip II, was named Cleopatra.

[3] Macedonia was a large region of northern Greece, not to be confused with the former Yugoslavia, or the province of that name in present-day Greece.  In the Fourth Century B.C., it stretched to the north and covered much of the former Yugoslavia and parts of Bulgaria, to the east as far as Thrace and the Black Sea, in the south as far as Thessaly, and to the west across the Pindus mountains into modern Albania.

[4] He was considered to be an insightful leader, unrivaled by any except his famous son, Alexander.  In 359 B.C., at about the age of 23, Philip became king of Macedonia, which consisted of many clans.  He consolidated the kingdom, increased its wealth and status, and built a mighty army.  With shrewd diplomacy, alliances and brute force, he conquered much of Greece and headed the Greek League that was formed to invade Asia Minor; however, in 336, an assassin’s sword ended his life, leaving the invasion to his ambitious son, Alexander.

[5] As promising as his performance was, few would have guessed that he would conquer the known world to the east and change the course of history in the next 14 or so years.

[6] It has been written that the bodyguard might have been a former lover of Philip since—like most Greek upper-class men—Philip was considered to be bisexual.

[7] It is said that there is no basis for the tradition that he turned aside to visit Jerusalem.

[8] Also, this appears to be referred to as Bactra.

[9] It is also said that he held his head slightly to the left and had a “melting look” in his eyes, traits that have led some modern doctors to suggest that he suffered from a rare eye condition known as Brown’s syndrome.  If this diagnosis is accurate, the characteristic tilt of his head may have enabled him to see straight.