— WSI_USA (@wsi_usa) July 26, 2016
Here are articles and podcasts including those concerning policies in various areas.
Here are just a part of articles concerning the two candidates’ policies. Excerpts are on our own.
2016 US elections Scenario One: A new female face in the White House but same old gridlock in Washington | Michael Moran @Control_Risks
…while Clinton is not the economic nationalist that her rival Trump is, her presidency marks the end of an era in which Democratic presidents championed free trade accords. With Republicans, too, now unwilling to make the case for free trade publicly, January 2017 in effect ends the post-war era of US leadership on global trade liberalization.
Clinton presidency in nine lines…
Clinton presses new rules on the financial services sector, proposing a follow-on to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms aimed at preventing further consolidation in the banking industry, imposing a ‘risk fee’ on large financial institutions, imposing new capital and reporting requirements on broker-dealers and examining the break-up of systemically significant banking institutions after new, vigorous stress testing.
2016 US elections Scenario Two: Trump wins | Michael Moran @Control_Risks
…Trump, without need to consult Congress, could use executive powers to repeal a host of Obama-era regulatory schema in the financial services, energy, mining and corporate sectors. With Congress, he would seek to push through a modified austerity plan that includes sweeping cuts of the public sector workforce, the elimination of the federal departments of Labour, Energy and Education, and steep cuts in corporate and individual tax rates. @OxfordEconomics, our macroeconomic joint venture partner, reckons Trump’s plan would lead to a major shortfall in government revenue…
In keeping with his campaign promises, Trump would launch new complaints against China at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that amount to ultimatums, and would impose new tariffs on China, Mexico and other low-wage nations. He would have the ability to withdraw the US from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but again, will use that threat to demand changes in the terms of trade that add to the cost of items imported from Mexico. The resulting retaliatory incentives would threaten a general downturn in global growth. …
Surreal Politics: How Anxiety About Race, Gender and Inequality is Shaping the 2016 Presidential Campaign (w Video) | Dean Brady, Prof @JackGlaserPhD, Prof Sarah Anzia & @_jonathanstein @GoldmanSchool @uctelevision
Trumping Trade (w PDF) | @SMerler @Bruegel_org
– What’s at stake: Trade is a central topic in the US presidential campaign, with both candidates expressing some degree of criticism about past trade policy. But while Hillary Clinton’s position could be described as a cautious scepticism, Donald Trump’s trade plans are more openly protectionist. His proposals include high tariffs on imports, renegotiating trade agreements and possibly US withdrawal from the WTO. After the first presidential debate, we review economists’ reactions and their assessment of Trumps trade policies.
Why is Trump better than Clinton for Arabs? | Mamdouh AlMuhaini @AlArabiya_Eng
…he may turn out to be better than the polished but somewhat artificial Hillary Clinton.
In order to see Trump in the right perspective, it is important to understand the answers to three questions: Why do Americans hate him or, to be more specific, why is the American media united against him? Why is Trump resorting to this controversial method that shocks us? Finally, and most importantly, what is the impact of Trump’s policies on our region? …
…Hence we find many Americans – due to their hatred of Trump – turning into “political Salafists” and dreaming about a glorious past. It is also an elitist and arrogant attitude because the president must be a good orator, mobilizing the masses during crisis situations and making them laugh on light-hearted occasions. …
…Trump presents himself as a horse – or a bull if you like – a wild new horse that was not affected by politicians’ corruption in Washington. He refuses to be controlled and used for their interests. He represents a new persona that was not trained but yet can change the lack of action and break the inertia in the US capital and its politicians who have been corrupted by money and interests.
With this dynamic uncontrollable character, Trump has been able to break old traditions and touch the heart of the white middle class Americans that were forgotten, during the past eight years, when a black president was in power. …
…Famous thinker Samuel Huntington wrote an oft-quoted article before his death, in which he warned about the Latin invasion of America. Huntington called for the imposition of conditions that would push the Latin community to be integrated into American society, including the need to learn English and believe in Protestant values, which has characterized the American spirit since the beginning.
It would be stupid to believe that Trump did not understand this predicament and did not know how to cleverly exploit it, even though his words make us laugh. Trump says these sentences includes special symbols and codes. When he said that he would imprison Hillary, he was not naïve; he wanted to say that he will help the weak and the marginalized and would waive the immunity of the corrupt political class, in order to ensure justice.
… What is more important than the above-mentioned factors is Trump’s Middle East policy in comparison to Hillary’s approach. In the most important two areas, Trump seems much better than Hillary. He rejects the Iranian nuclear deal, which is strongly supported by Hillary, and strongly criticizes political Islam, which is also backed by the Democratic candidate (Clinton believes that the Muslim Brotherhood can tame the monster of terrorism and provide a new alternative that is more moderate).
Trump has threatened Iran in Syria and has repeatedly criticized the nuclear agreement, stressing that it is a failed agreement. He pointed out that the sanctions would have overwhelmed the regime in Tehran. He was right when he criticized political Islam saying that it was a source of terrorism. This is a valid point that we (Arabs) understand more than others do. …
Why the U.S. President Needs a Council of Historians | Graham Allison & @nfergus @TheAtlantic
…“almost no administration’s leading figures know the history of what we have done in the Middle East.” Neither do they know the history of the region itself. In 2003, to take one example, when President George W. Bush chose to topple Saddam Hussein, he did not appear to fully appreciate either the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims or the significance of the fact that Saddam’s regime was led by a Sunni minority that had suppressed the Shiite majority. He failed to heed warnings that the predictable consequence of his actions would be a Shiite-dominated Baghdad beholden to the Shiite champion in the Middle East—Iran.
The problem is by no means limited to the Middle East or to Bush. President Obama’s inattention to the deep historical relationship between Russia and Ukraine led him to underestimate the risks of closer ties between Ukraine and Europe. “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now,” President Obama told The New Yorker for a January 2014 article, referring to the great Cold War–era diplomat and historian. By March, Russia had annexed Crimea. …
…We believe it is time for a new and rigorous “applied history”—an attempt to illuminate current challenges and choices by analyzing precedents and historical analogues. We not only want to see applied history incorporated into the Executive Office of the President, alongside economic expertise; we also want to see it developed as a discipline in its own right at American universities, beginning at our own. When people refer to “applied history” today, they are typically referring to training for archivists, museum curators, and the like. We have in mind a different sort of applied history, one that follows in the tradition of the modern historian Ernest May and the political scientist Richard Neustadt. Their 1986 book, Thinking in Time, provides the foundation on which we intend to build. …
Here are #TheDemocrats @HillaryClinton’s issues. Excerpts are on our own.
Economy and jobs
A fair tax system
Making sure the wealthy, Wall Street, and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.
As president, Hillary will:
Restore basic fairness to our tax code.
Close corporate and Wall Street tax loopholes and invest in America.
Simplify and cut taxes for small businesses so they can hire and grow.
Provide tax relief to working families from the rising costs they face.
Pay for ambitious investments in a fiscally responsible way.
An economy that works for everyone
We need to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.
As president, Hillary has a five-point plan to meet these challenges:
A 100-days jobs plan: Break through Washington gridlock to make the boldest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II.
Make debt free college available to all Americans.
Rewrite the rules so that more companies share profits with employees — and fewer ship profits and jobs overseas.
Make certain that corporations, the wealthy, and Wall Street pay their fair share.
Enact policies that meet the challenges families face in the 21st-century economy.
Fact sheet: Stronger Together
Taking on the threat of climate change and making America the world’s clean energy superpower.
As president, Hillary will:
Defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards…
Launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge…
Invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development…
Ensure safe and responsible energy production.
Cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies…
Cut methane emissions across the economy…
Revitalize coal communities…
Make environmental justice and climate justice central priorities
Promote conservation and collaborative stewardship.
Fixing America’s infrastructure
Strong infrastructure is critical to a strong economy.
As president, Hillary will:
Repair and expand our roads and bridges.
Lower transportation costs and unlock economic opportunity by expanding public transit options.
Connect all Americans to the internet.
Invest in building world-class American airports and modernize our national airspace system.
Build energy infrastructure for the 21st century.
We need housing policies that connect working families to opportunity.
As president, Hillary will:
Curb skyrocketing rental costs in areas of opportunity.
Remove barriers to sustainable homeownership.
-Help responsible homeowners save for a down payment.
-Support counseling programs for the significant financial commitment of homeownership.
-Update underwriting tools to reflect today’s job market.
-Clarify the rules of the road to expand access to home loans.
-Defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
-Enforce fair housing and fair lending laws.
Connect housing support in high-poverty neighborhoods to economic opportunity.
Revitalize communities being dragged down by physical decay.
Labor and workers’ rights
When unions are strong, America is strong.
As president, Hillary will:
Invest in good-paying jobs.
Restore collective bargaining rights for unions and defend against partisan attacks on workers’ rights.
Prevent countries like China from abusing global trade rules, and reject trade agreements, like the TPP, that don’t meet high standards.
Raise the minimum wage and strengthen overtime rules.
Invest in high-quality training, apprenticeships, and skill-building for workers. Fact sheet: Workforce and Skills Agenda (cf. @byron_auguste, Harry Holzer @McCourtSchool …)
Encourage companies to invest in workers.
Protect workers from exploitation…
Ensure policies meet the challenges families face in the 21st century economy.
Protect retirement security.
Hillary Clinton’s plan to strengthen manufacturing so we always “Make it in America.”
As president, Hillary will:
Strengthen American manufacturing…
Prevent countries like China from abusing global trade rules and reject trade agreements that don’t meet high standards.
Revitalize the hardest-hit manufacturing communities…
Crack down on companies that ship jobs and earnings overseas…
Invest in America’s manufacturing workforce to ensure that it will always be the best in the world.
Fact sheet: Strategy to “Make it in America”
America’s rural communities are the backbone of this country.
As president, Hillary will:
Support family farms.
Promote clean energy.
Fact sheet: Plan for a Vibrant Rural America
We have to level the playing field for America’s small businesses.
As president, Hillary will make it easier to start and grow a small business in America by:
Unlocking access to capital.
Cutting red tape to streamline the process of starting a small business.
Providing tax relief and simplification for small businesses.
Incentivize health care benefits for small businesses and their employees.
Opening new markets.
Making sure small businesses get paid — not stiffed.
Supporting small-business owners and entrepreneurs.
Make the federal government more responsive to small business.
Fact sheet: Hillary Clinton Will Make Life Easier for Small Business at Every Step of the Way
Social Security and Medicare
We must preserve, protect, and strengthen these lifelines.
As president, Hillary will:
Defend Social Security against Republican attacks.
Expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly by the current system…
Preserve Social Security for decades to come by asking the wealthiest to contribute more.
As president, Hillary will:
Fight Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Fight back against Republican plans to privatize or “phase out” Medicare as we know it.
Drive down drug costs for seniors and other Americans.
Reform Medicare delivery systems to deliver value and quality to our seniors and people with disabilities.
Fact sheet: A Champion for America’s Seniors
Technology and innovation
We can harness the power of technology and innovation to work for all Americans.
As president, Hillary will:
Build the tech economy on Main Street
Invest in world-class digital infrastructure
Advance America’s global leadership in technology and innovation
Set rules of the road to promote innovation while protecting privacy
Fact sheet: Initiative on Technology & Innovation
Wall Street reform
Wall Street must work for Main Street.
Hillary’s plan will tackle dangerous risks in the financial system:
Impose a risk fee on the largest financial institutions. Big banks and financial companies would be required to pay a fee based on their size and their risk of contributing to another crisis.
Close loopholes that let banks make risky investments with taxpayer money. The Volcker Rule prohibits banks from making risky trading bets with taxpayer-backed money—one of the core protections of the post-financial crisis Wall Street reforms. However, under current law these banks can still invest billions through hedge funds, which are exempt from this rule. Hillary would close that loophole and strengthen the law.
Hold senior bankers accountable when a large bank suffers major losses. When a large bank suffers major losses with sweeping consequences, senior managers should lose some or all of their bonus compensation.
Make sure no financial firm is ever too big or too risky to be managed effectively. Hillary’s plan would give regulators more authority to force overly complex or risky firms—including banks, hedge funds and other non-bank financial institutions—to reorganize, downsize, or break apart.
Tackle financial dangers of the “shadow banking” system. Hillary’s plan will enhance transparency and reduce volatility in the “shadow banking system,” which includes certain activities of hedge funds, investment banks, and other non-bank financial companies.
Impose a tax on high-frequency trading. The growth of high-frequency trading has unnecessarily placed stress on our markets, created instability, and enabled unfair and abusive trading strategies. Hillary would impose a tax on harmful high-frequency trading and reform rules to make our stock markets fairer, more open, and transparent.
Hillary would also hold both corporations and individuals on Wall Street accountable by:
Prosecuting individuals when they break the law. Hillary would extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting major financial frauds, enhance whistleblower rewards, and provide the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission with more resources to prosecute wrongdoing.
Holding executives accountable when they are responsible for their subordinates’ misconduct. Hillary believes that when corporations pay large fines to the government for violating the law, those fines should cut into the bonuses of the executives who were responsible for or should have caught the problem. And when egregious misconduct happens on an executive’s watch, that executive should lose his or her job.
Holding corporations accountable when they break the law. Hillary will make sure that corporations can’t treat penalties for breaking the law as merely a cost of doing business, so we can put an end to the patterns of corporate wrongdoing that we see too often today.
Fact sheet: Wall Street Should Work for Main Street
Related: My Plan to Prevent the Next Crash @HillaryClinton @business
Universal, quality, affordable health care for everyone in America
As president, Hillary will:
Defend and expand the Affordable Care Act, which covers 20 million people.
Bring down out-of-pocket costs like copays and deductibles.
Reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
Protect consumers from unjustified prescription drug price increases from companies that market long-standing, life-saving treatments and face little or no competition.
Fight for health insurance for the lowest-income Americans in every state by incentivizing states to expand Medicaid — and make enrollment through Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act easier.
Expand access to affordable health care to families regardless of immigration status.
Expand access to rural Americans, who often have difficulty finding quality, affordable health care.
Defend access to reproductive health care.
Double funding for community health centers, and support the healthcare workforce…
HIV and AIDS
We have reached a critical moment in our fight against HIV and AIDS.
Hillary will continue to fight towards the goal of an AIDS-free generation. As president, she will:
Work to fully implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
Invest in research to end HIV and AIDS.
Cap out-of-pocket expenses for people living with HIV and AIDS.
Expand utilization of HIV prevention medications, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
Fight to extend Medicaid coverage to provide life-saving health care to people living with HIV.
Reform outdated, stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws.
Increase the number of people on HIV treatment worldwide.
Hillary has fought for decades to combat HIV and AIDS — and the stigma and pain that accompany it…
With policies that keep us strong and safe, America will lead the world in the 21st century.
As president, Hillary will:
Ensure we are stronger at home.
Stick with our allies.
Embrace all the tools of American power…
-Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
-Building stronger ties between Cubans and Americans.
Be firm but wise with our rivals.
-Stand up to Vladimir Putin.
-Hold China accountable.
Have a real plan for confronting terrorists.
Hillary has a record of defending America and our core values…
Related: Trump’s dangerous, loose nuclear talk @HillaryClinton @NYDailyNews
Here are #GOP @realDonaldTrump’s positions (policies). Excerpts are on our own.
Order an immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, including critical infrastructure, by a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement, and the private sector.
– The Cyber Review Team will provide specific recommendations for safeguarding different entities with the best defense technologies tailored to the likely threats, and will followed up regularly at various Federal agencies and departments.
– The Cyber Review Team will establish detailed protocols and mandatory cyber awareness training for all government employees while remaining current on evolving methods of cyber-attack.
Instruct the U.S. Department of Justice to create Joint Task Forces throughout the U.S. to coordinate Federal, State, and local law enforcement responses to cyber threats.
Order the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide recommendations for enhancing U.S. Cyber Command, with a focus on both offense and defense in the cyber domain.
Develop the offensive cyber capabilities we need to deter attacks by both state and non-state actors and, if necessary, to respond appropriately.
VETERANS AFFAIRS REFORM
Negotiate fair trade deals that create American jobs, increase American wages, and reduce America’s trade deficit.
Donald J. Trump’s 7 Point Plan To Rebuild the American Economy by Fighting for Free Trade
1. Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified.
2. Appoint tough and smart trade negotiators to fight on behalf of American workers.
3. Direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm our workers, and also direct all appropriate agencies to use every tool under American and international law to end these abuses.
4. Tell NAFTA partners that we intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. If they don’t agree to a renegotiation, we will submit notice that the U.S. intends to withdraw from the deal. Eliminate Mexico’s one-side backdoor tariff through the VAT and end sweatshops in Mexico that undercut U.S. workers.
5. Instruct the Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator.
6. Instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO. China’s unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the WTO.
7. Use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes if China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets – including the application of tariffs consistent with Section 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
America has lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing jobs since NAFTA and 50,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization. [@EconomicPolicy]
Our annual trade deficit in goods with Mexico has risen from close to zero in 1993 to almost $60 billion. Our total trade deficit in goods hit nearly $800 billion last year. China is responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit. Almost half of our entire manufacturing trade deficit in goods with the world is the result of trade with China.
Reduce taxes across-the-board, especially for working and middle-income Americans who will receive a massive tax reduction.
Ensure the rich will pay their fair share, but no one will pay so much that it destroys jobs or undermines our ability to compete.
Eliminate special interest loopholes, make our business tax rate more competitive to keep jobs in America, create new opportunities and revitalize our economy.
Reduce the cost of childcare by allowing families to fully deduct the average cost of childcare from their taxes, including stay-at-home parents.
CONTRAST WITH HILLARY CLINTON
Ask all Department heads to submit a list of every wasteful and unnecessary regulation which kills jobs, and which does not improve public safety, and eliminate them.
Reform the entire regulatory code to ensure that we keep jobs and wealth in America.
End the radical regulations that force jobs out of our communities and inner cities. We will stop punishing Americans for working and doing business in the United States.
Issue a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations that are not compelled by Congress or public safety in order to give our American companies the certainty they need to reinvest in our community, get cash off of the sidelines, start hiring again, and expanding businesses. We will no longer regulate our companies and our jobs out of existence.
Cancel immediately all illegal and overreaching executive orders.
Eliminate our most intrusive regulations, like the Waters of The U.S. Rule. We will also scrap the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan which the government estimates will cost $7.2 billion a year.
Decrease the size of our already bloated government after a thorough agency review.
The U.S. economy today is twenty-five percent smaller than it would have been without the surge of regulations since 1980. [@mercatus]
Prioritize the jobs, wages and security of the American people.
Establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first.
Protect the economic well-being of the lawful immigrants already living here by curbing uncontrolled foreign worker admissions
– Select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and their ability to be financially self-sufficient.
– Vet applicants to ensure they support America’s values, institutions and people, and temporarily suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism and where safe vetting cannot presently be ensured.
– Enforce the immigration laws of the United States and restore the Constitutional rule of law upon which America’s prosperity and security depend.
Donald J. Trump’s 10 Point Plan to Put America First
1. Begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border, on day one. Mexico will pay for the wall.
2. End catch-and-release. Under a Trump administration, anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country.
3. Move criminal aliens out day one, in joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement. We will terminate the Obama administration’s deadly, non-enforcement policies that allow thousands of criminal aliens to freely roam our streets.
4. End sanctuary cities.
5. Immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties. All immigration laws will be enforced – we will triple the number of ICE agents. Anyone who enters the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country.
6. Suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur, until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place.
7. Ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.
8. Ensure that a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system is fully implemented at all land, air, and sea ports.
9. Turn off the jobs and benefits magnet. Many immigrants come to the U.S. illegally in search of jobs, even though federal law prohibits the employment of illegal immigrants.
10. Reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers, keeping immigration levels within historic norms.
Repeal and replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
Work with Congress to create a patient-centered health care system that promotes choice, quality, and affordability.
Work with states to establish high-risk pools to ensure access to coverage for individuals who have not maintained continuous coverage.
Allow people to purchase insurance across state lines, in all 50 states, creating a dynamic market.
Maximize flexibility for states via block grants so that local leaders can design innovative Medicaid programs that will better serve their low-income citizens.
President Obama said his health plan would cut the cost of family premiums by up to $2,500 a year. Instead, premiums have gone up by almost $5,000 since Obamacare passed.
Premiums have skyrocketed across the nation, with a national average of almost 25%, with some states experiencing rate increases up to 70%. In Iowa, one plan got a 43% increase approved. In Florida, the individual market will see an average rate increase of 19%. In Pennsylvania, at least three plans requested rate increases over 40%. And the average rate requested in Minnesota is 54%.
FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFEATING ISIS
Peace through strength will be at the center of our foreign policy. We will achieve a stable, peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground.
Advance America’s core national interests, promote regional stability, and produce an easing of tensions in the world. Work with Congress to fully repeal the defense sequester and submit a new budget to rebuild our depleted military.
Rebuild our military, enhance and improve intelligence and cyber capabilities.
End the current strategy of nation-building and regime change.
Ensure our security procedures and refugee policy takes into account the security of the American people.
Make America energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water. We will conserve our natural habitats, reserves and resources. We will unleash an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country.
Declare American energy dominance a strategic economic and foreign policy goal of the United States.
Unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.
Become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.
Open onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands, eliminate moratorium on coal leasing, and open shale energy deposits.
Encourage the use of natural gas and other American energy resources that will both reduce emissions but also reduce the price of energy and increase our economic output.
Rescind all job-destroying Obama executive actions. Mr. Trump will reduce and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production, creating at least a half million jobs a year, $30 billion in higher wages, and cheaper energy.
CONSTITUTION AND SECOND AMENDMENT
Create a dynamic booming economy that will create 25 million new jobs over the next decade.
For each 1 percent in added GDP growth, the economy adds 1.2 million jobs. Increasing growth by 1.5 percent would result in 18 million jobs (1.5 million times 1.2 million, multiplied by 10 years) above the projected current law job figures of 7 million, producing a total of 25 million new jobs for the American economy.
Reform policies with a pro-growth tax plan, a new modern regulatory framework, an America-First trade policy, an unleashed American energy plan, and the “penny plan.”
Boost growth to 3.5 percent per year on average, with the potential to reach a 4 percent growth rate.
Over the last seven years, 14 million more people have left the labor force.
The lowest labor force participation rate since the 1970s.
1 in 5 American households do not have a single family member in the labor force.
23.7 million Americans in their prime-earning years [ages 25-54] are out of the labor force – an increase of 1.8 million over the last seven years.
Real GDP grew only 1.1% in the second quarter of this year. Over the last seven years, real GDP grew 2.1% the slowest seven-year period since at least the 1940s.
It’s the weakest so-called recovery since the Great Depression.
Hourly earnings and weakly earnings are lower today than they were in 1973.
The number of Americans on Food Stamps during Obama’s time in office has increased by more than 12 million.
2 million more Latinos are in poverty today than when President Obama took his oath of office less than eight years ago.
45% of African-American children under 6 are living in poverty.
1 in 6 American men between the ages of 18-34 are either in jail or out of work.
Student loan debt exceeds $1.3 trillion — nearly doubling under the Obama administration.
Since President Obama took office, the national debt has doubled.
U.S. trade deficit in goods reached nearly 800 billion dollars last year alone.
The U.S. homeownership rate fell to 62.9 percent in the second quarter – the lowest rate in 51 years.
Here are our excerpts of Who won the vice presidential debate? (w Video) | @CNNPolitics.
@David_Gergen: Pence Lifts GOP Spirits
Governor Mike Pence did not change the underlying dynamics of the campaign Tuesday night, but he did provide a significant service to Donald Trump: he gave fresh heart to Trump supporters and may have stopped the downward spiral of their campaign.
Democrats and many journalists argue that Pence succeeded only by throwing Trump under the bus, refusing to defend his boss from repeated attacks. But they miss the point: voters rarely scrutinize debates line-by-line, instead making their judgments on the overall tone and performance of a candidate. Pence will not fare well with fact checkers, but his poise and polish played well with voters. For better or worse, style counts a lot in these debates.
Tim Kaine had a much sharper mastery of policy but was forced to play attack dog, a role that doesn’t fit his personality. His frequent interruptions didn’t help, either — he seemed less Rottweiler than fox terrier. And by the way, who screwed up his camera angle, so that he was often looking off into space instead of talking directly to viewers? That wasn’t fair to him or the audience.
With a CNN poll showing a Pence victory, Republicans finally have reason to cheer again. Trump himself should see how much preparation paid off for his running mate. But now it is up to the candidate to show he can win at this game, too: the upcoming debate this Sunday in St. Louis is make or break for Trump.
@sallykohn: Mike Pence is living on an alternate planet
@errollouis: Pence gives lesson on how to defend Trump
@secupp: Kaine gave tone deaf, unhinged performance
@tarasetmayer: Debate won’t move needle
… Kaine was at his best when he listed many of Trump’s controversial statements and then challenged Pence multiple times to defend them, which he didn’t for the most part. However…
@timothy_stanley: Pence delivers pleasingly banal performance
Now, that was the kind of polite and intelligent debate we used not to watch. Yes, the VP encounter was feisty, but never personally offensive — and its substance also felt incredibly old fashioned. The separation of church and state, a subject never mentioned in Trump v Clinton, was tactfully addressed; memories of 9/11 were invoked; both candidates agreed that Russia is a strategic threat. In fact, Mike Pence’s performance was so old school Republican that he seemed unaware of the reality of Trump’s iconoclastic campaign. …
Kaine gave a spirited performance that was, to his detriment, wholly negative. If he couldn’t say “But your candidate said XYZ!” then he wouldn’t have had much to say at all. Pence defused the antagonism with the wry smile of a genial old man humoring a simpleton — and won most rounds. …
So effective was his performance, so pleasingly banal, that many Republicans will be calling for the ticket to be switched. They do so forgetting that Trump’s radicalism deflects but does not diminish Pence’s: He was once considered a politically incorrect conservative himself, and any other year would have been regarded as a risky choice for VP.
So this debate reinforced the impression that while the Democrat ticket is weak and unlikeable, the Republican one is eccentric. Pence, undeniably effective, won in large part by not being as bizarre as his running mate. …
@nayyeroar: Kaine, Pence and the battle for white voters
@BuckSexton: Tuesday night a sign of what’s to come Sunday?
… As for the head-to-head aspect of it, Pence won the debate against Kaine. In tone and style, he came across as more measured, poised and statesmanlike. Pence also made a much more coherent case against Hillary Clinton — both on her record and her judgment — than anything Trump pulled together in the first debate. Pence had much more difficulty defending Trump’s record, however, as he often was left shaking his head without a response when asked about a specific Trump quote. …
@FridaGhitis: Pence smooth, but can’t defend Trump
… Governor Pence, Trump’s choice for running mate, presented some interesting policy proposals to the public. They just didn’t sound very much like those of his current boss, Donald Trump.
The most startling of all was Pence’s talk about Vladimir Putin, “the small, bullying leader of Russia,” as Pence called him.
… That’s the same Putin that Pence claims his team wants to forcefully take on.
On Syria, Pence outlined a policy that does not resemble any of what Trump has said. Trump has spoken of attacking ISIS and leaving in place the dictator Bashar al-Assad, responsible for far more deaths than ISIS. By contrast, Pence declared that American leadership requires it protect vulnerable citizens, including the children of Aleppo. Compare that to Trump’s tone on Muslims in general.
Pence did make an effort to defend his running mate, but it was a bizarre tactic. When his challenger, Governor Tim Kaine, quoted Trump’s own highly offensive words, Pence repeatedly shook his head as if saying no, and laughed, appearing to deny the quotes that were almost all quite accurate. Then, when his turn came to speak, he did not refute Kaine’s statements citing Trump’s own words.
But then, at one point, he did refute them. Kaine listed a series of Trump insults that all Americans have heard; attacks against a Mexican judge, disdain for John McCain being captured in Vietnam, and others. Incredibly, Pence seemed to deny the words everyone has heard. “If Donald Trump had said all the things you said he said in the way he’s said them,” he said, it would still not compare to Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables.” …
@hsmoghul: Pence’s dishonesty is spiritually toxic, socially radioactive
… I am, however, arguing that we can get an insight into what happened to Mike Pence by seeing how great writers explore the effect of power on the human soul.
Sen. Tim Kaine repeatedly cited Trump’s most egregious comments, but all Pence did was deny Trump ever said any such thing. We have a non-focus grouped term for that. Lying. Pence may have lied more than Trump did, and that’s a historic achievement.
So whether Pence loses the debate in the court of public opinion is secondary. Whether he becomes vice president almost does not matter. Pence’s dishonesty is not just spiritually toxic, but socially radioactive. If the top of your ticket indulges anti-Semitism, moots war crimes, mocks veterans, shames women, and mines Breitbart for campaign direction, then you’re no different. …
@lanheechen: If Pence had been at the top of the ticket…
@ruthbenghiat: Pence won, but Americans could lose
… Pence’s astonishing ability to deny everything perfectly expresses the GOP leadership’s refusal to acknowledge what they have unleashed in America by nominating Trump. It helps to soothe the consciences of Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator John McCain, and all others who refuse to retract their endorsement of this rogue individual, no matter what he says or does. …
@angela_rye: What was that?
… There were so many missed moments starting with the moderator: if she was fact checking, Kaine wouldn’t be the only one cutting Pence off.
@RaulAReyes: Governor… please
… Kaine was fiercely on-message tonight. He did a good job in laying out the stark differences between Clinton and Trump on immigration, calling Trump’s plan “Deportation Nation.” He crystallized the complicated abortion issue into one simple question, asking Pence why he didn’t trust women to make their reproductive choices themselves.
Still, Kaine failed to bring up one of Pence’s vulnerabilities — his history of anti-LGBT legislation cloaked as religious freedom. At a time when marriage equality is the law of the land and most Americans — especially young people — support LGBT rights, this was money left on the table. Kaine also missed the opportunity to mention the fact that Pence has accepted the Medicaid expansion in his state under the the Affordable Care Act — something at odds with Trump’s opposition to “Obamacare.”
For his part, Pence struggled to explain how the Trump tax plans would benefit all Americans. …
@julianzelizer: The start of Pence 2020?
… Most importantly, Kaine forced Pence into the uncomfortable position of being challenged to defend Trump’s most outrageous, polemical and insulting comments about women, Mexicans and Muslims. Mostly Pence side-stepped the points Kaine made.
“I’m just saying facts about your candidate, and you can’t defend him,” Kaine said when Pence complained about their “insult-driven” campaign.
But Pence achieved his goal in this debate, which was simply to provide some positive coverage for the Republican ticket and offer an image of the ticket that differs from everything Trump has conveyed. …
… Pence was able to express some of the major lines of Republican criticism against Clinton’s policy record, something that Trump has mostly failed to do. He brought in the attacks on whether voters can trust Clinton without letting the issue overwhelm his argument.
Pence scored some points by responding to the claims about Trump’s insults by pointing to Clinton’s line about half of Trump’s supporters being in the basket of “deplorables”. …
@iamroxannejones: Pence is polished, but Is that enough?
When you know it’s wrong, just be quiet and move on. That was the strategy adopted by Governor Mike Pence at Tuesday night’s …
… Clearly, Pence does not believe in everything Trump is selling. No matter how many times Senator Tim Kaine tried to bait Pence, he stood firm, opting to defend his own conservative legacy and reputation instead of getting mired in Trump’s drama. Smart move.
Kaine, who it turns out, isn’t just a mild-mannered nice guy, was a breath of fresh air. He came into the debate armed with information and talking points on Hillary, ready to pounce. …
… Integrity matters. The win goes to Tim Kaine, by an edge.
Here is a paper, A COMPARATIVE CRITIQUE OF THE PRACTICE OF IRISH NEUTRALITY IN THE ‘UNNEUTRAL’ DISCOURSE (PDF, 2008) | Dr @DevineDrKaren @LawGovDCU. Excerpts, underlines, italicization, et al. are on our own.
This article takes a comparative, empirical look at the practice of Irish neutrality during the World War II. It critiques a model of neutrality presented in a thesis on Irish neutrality called Unneutral Ireland, consisting of factors derived from an analysis of three states regarded as well-established European neutrals, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland that reflect the practice of neutrality. That model focused on the rights and duties of neutrality; the recognition of Ireland’s status by belligerents and others; the disavowal of external help; and the freedom of decision and action. This present article focuses on the factors flowing from these latter obligations that are cited in an analysis of the practice of Irish neutrality, in the Unneutral thesis as proof of Ireland’s ‘unneutral’ status, i.e. ideology; involvement in economic sanctions; partiality; the practice of Irish citizens joining the British army; and post-World War II factors such as Ireland’s EEC membership. In this article, Ireland’s practice of neutrality is evaluated against the practice of other European neutral states – Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Finland (including Norway’s truncated practice of neutrality) – vis-à-vis the above variables. This article also deals with the perennial myths that crop up in ‘unneutral’ discourses on Irish neutrality, for example, the oft-cited incidence of de Valera’s alleged visit to the German legation in Ireland to sign a book of condolences on Hitler’s death and the suggestions of a British government offer of a deal on Northern Ireland in exchange for Ireland dropping its neutral stance and supporting the Allies in World War II. The article concludes that the practice of Irish neutrality is equivalent to or superior to the practice of other European neutral states, thus undermining the dominant discourse that Ireland’s neutrality is a myth and that Ireland is ‘unneutral’.
A discourse produced by a number of academics, journalists and political elites claims that Irish neutrality is a ‘myth’, because the alleged inadequate practice of Irish neutrality during the Second World War vis-à-vis a conceptual model of neutrality renders Ireland ‘unneutral’. This conclusion, that Ireland’s neutrality does not exist, is reflected in much of the academic discourse on Irish neutrality and is echoed in the media discourse. Discourses propounding the conceptual metaphors that Irish neutrality is mythical or ‘unneutral’ are pertinent to examine, given the current significance of Irish neutrality for a proportion of the electorate who vote against EU Treaties in referenda due to perceived threats to neutrality arising from proposals for progressive European integration in the area of security and defence. The repetition of these negative discourses on Irish neutrality has the effect of ‘sedimenting’ the ‘unneutral’ and ‘myth’ metaphors, i.e. such discourses become ‘common sense’ and may, over time, constitute deeply internalized structures that people exposed to the discourse take for granted and as natural. Such discursive structures are argued to have causal effects that are linked to policy…
These ‘myth’ and ‘unneutral’ discourses are propounded by many elites who advocate Ireland’s participation in NATO and/or a European Union (EU) military alliance, and who support the more recent, concrete plans to build up EU military capabilities (with an associated hypothesised rationale to rival US military hegemony) proposed in the Lisbon Treaty. Irish neutrality is a barrier to these policies, and the ‘unneutral’ and ‘myth’ discourses are produced and reproduced to undermine the value and status of Irish neutrality as part of the strategy to persuade voters to acquiesce to the proposed EU military and defence policy goals.
This article critiques the Unneutral thesis’s premise of deriving its model of neutrality from well-established practitioners of neutrality, namely Austria, Sweden and Switzerland. It reviews the Unneutral analysis of the model’s variables with respect to Ireland, specifically, the variables of “the rights and duties of neutrality [broken down into (1) due diligence and defence resources, (2) defence expenditure and costs of attack, and (3) supplies, trade and economic dependence]; the recognition of Ireland’s status by belligerents and others; the disavowal of external help; and the freedom of decision and action”. It also reviews some ancillary factors that are cited in Unneutral Ireland as additional evidence that Ireland is unneutral, specifically, ‘ideology’, ‘involvement in economic sanctions’ and ‘impartiality’ and the fact that Irish citizens joined the British army. Finally, the article considers the perennial issues that crop up in the ‘unneutral’ discourses: de Valera’s alleged visit to the German legation in Ireland to sign a book of condolences on Hitler’s death and the suggestion that de Valera was open to a deal on Northern Ireland in exchange for Ireland’s neutrality during the war, as well as post-World War II factors such as Ireland’s membership of the EEC. The argument of this article is that if the behaviours of Austria, Sweden and Switzerland were fairly evaluated, each of them would also be deemed ‘unneutral’ alongside Ireland, because each state violated these variables to an equal or greater extent. This conclusion gives rise to the following propositions: either the model of neutrality in the Unneutral thesis effectively defines neutrality out of existence, and is thus unhelpful in a fair and realistic evaluation of the practice of any state’s neutrality; or the Irish practice of neutrality is not ‘unneutral’ by comparison with the above-named neutral states and Ireland was, in some respects, arguably more neutral than these others.
CRITIQUE OF THE MODEL
The first problem with the approach to formulating the model of variables used to evaluate Ireland’s neutrality in the Unneutral thesis concerns tautology. The thesis takes Austria, Sweden and Switzerland as neutral states because they are “universally regarded as such”, because they are “commonly identified as neutral…in the literature”. Using a common, inter-subjective belief that these states are neutral states to identify them as exemplars of a concept of neutrality, rather than arriving at this classification by analysing the practice of their neutrality, is a flawed basis for the formulation of the model. The Unneutral thesis does not evaluate both Ireland’s neutrality and the practice of neutrality of these neutral states vis-à-vis its model of neutrality variables. There is no systematic analysis in the Unneutral thesis evaluating whether these neutral states adhered to the variables of neutrality. Only Ireland is evaluated against these variables, and is found wanting, to the extent that a dominant discourse is in operation that Ireland is ‘unneutral’.
Garret FitzGerald also… contends that it is at least questionable whether Ireland can properly be described as having been “neutral”, because the scale of assistance given secretly to Britain was scarcely compatible with the concept of neutrality under International Law’.
And it is not just the proponents of the ‘unneutral’ discourse in Ireland, but also “both great power blocs, and all the more, the Continental neutrals” who have viewed Ireland’s practice of neutrality as “sui generis”. Thus, it is necessary to evaluate the neutrality of Sweden, Switzerland and Austria as well as that of Ireland against those variables of the model, to establish whether Irish neutrality really is all that different from the neutrality practised by European neutral states during and after the Second World War. The second problem with how the Unneutral thesis evaluated Ireland’s neutrality concerns the proposition that if each of those neutral states violated many elements of the thesis’s model of neutrality, they would also be deemed ‘unneutral’. The approach of evaluating the failures of each state on a ‘sortal’ rather than a ‘scalar’ basis effectively defines neutrality out of existence. The problem is that there is no indication of a hierarchy of the variables in the model, of which variables are fundamental to the concept of neutrality and which variables are auxiliary. Is it possible to violate auxiliary elements of neutrality and still be considered a neutral state? Or is it the case that a violation of just one variable of the model renders a state ‘unneutral’? Does a state have to violate all of the variables to be deemed ‘unneutral’? This is not made clear. Although it is possible to argue for a scalar concept of neutrality that allows violations of some variables in the model, the specification of such conditions would be political and contested. This issue pervades the following comparative analysis of European neutral states’ policies and practices of neutrality.
Benevolence and Concessions
Ireland did give assistance to Britain during the war in terms of shipping, emigration and aviation policy; for example, de Valera came up with “an ingenious plan to help Britain while at the same time preserving the appearance of strict neutrality”. Once the Irish authorities located a submarine, information on its whereabouts would be radioed “to the world”. This would not be of assistance to the Germans because they were too far from Ireland to use the information, but Britain could take action. However, most of the actions were mutually beneficial. It was out of a determination to remain neutral that De Valera denied the British the cooperation from Ireland they wanted most: the return of the Treaty Ports to British hands, and as a result, Irish neutrality was never legally compromised. Bill McSweeney reasoned that Ireland’s “defence was backed up by some ostentatious displays of military impartiality and other, less public, concessions to the Allied cause which were deemed necessary to pacify an outraged Westminster government”. Arguably, Salmon and FitzGerald’s point about Ireland’s alleged lack of adherence to the international law of neutrality could apply to all of the neutral states, not just Ireland. As Risto Pentillä explains, the World Wars shattered the idea of strict, impartial neutrality because those who were able to stay out of the war (many neutral states were invaded) had to compromise their neutrality in economic and military terms in favour of the stronger belligerent side. Citing the case of Sweden, which allowed the transport of German troops through its territory, he argues that such states were legally non-belligerent rather than neutral, concluding, however, that, “because of these concessions, Sweden managed to stay out of the war even if it broke legal rules concerning neutrality”. Constance Howard cites another example in the case of the Swiss, who also made concessions to the Axis side: “while the Swiss were determined to maintain their political independence and to defend their neutrality, the Government were obliged to make a number of concessions to Germany and Italy”. Thus, Rodrick Ogley surmises, “Sweden and Switzerland, like other successful neutrals, had to make concessions, in their case, largely to the Axis powers”. Ogley argues, the fact that Sweden and Switzerland survived at all as neutrals in the Second World War says much for their diplomatic skill. Their problem, essentially, was to concede what had to be conceded to Axis powers, and no more, while making clear that they would fight against any wholesale assault on their independence.
Ogley concludes that “only Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland of the European States, preserved their neutrality throughout the war”. Thus, Ireland is included in the bracket of successful European neutral states in his analysis. It also appears that Ireland did not have to make as severe concessions as other European neutrals – such as facilitating the transportation of British or German troops, as some other neutrals did – thus casting doubt over the argument made by Salmon and FitzGerald that Ireland’s neutrality is a myth because it was of a ‘less clear-cut’ type than that of Sweden or Switzerland.
Impartiality and disavowal of external help
Impartiality is a property of neutrality that Salmon finds lacking in the exercise of Irish neutrality: he argues “partiality to one side or the other is not simply to be added up and judged acceptable if the score comes out evenly at the bottom. There can be little doubt that the Irish engaged in unneutral acts and in partial behaviour”. Dwyer recounts that de Valera was cautious in providing measures that might appear to prove beneficial to one side, i.e. the British, more than the other side, and he had made changes to an exclusion order to include aircrafts and ships because, “if the policy were directed against U-boats alone, critics would charge that it was entirely anti-German”. Salmon also argues that an estimated forty thousand Irishmen from the Republic fighting in the British army “did infringe neutrality by its partiality”. This argument, however, runs contrary to the legal concept of neutrality, for example, the Swiss Doctrine of neutrality provides that neutrality is not conducted by private individuals. Therefore in a neutral country there is freedom of the press, and freedom to join an army if an individual so wishes. Furthermore, Salmon raises the question of whether involvement in the EEC and EPC is incompatible with impartiality, especially as Ireland has participated, along with other Community members, in imposing sanctions against various states on various occasions. Yet, the 1993 Swiss Federal Council report concluded “the law of neutrality does not render neutrality and participation in economic sanctions fundamentally incompatible”. … What of the behaviour of the other neutrals, such as Sweden and Norway? Those two neutral states also engaged in similar discussions, with some analysts claiming that Sweden had “made secret preparations for co-operating with the West in the event of Soviet aggression and neutrality failing”. Moreover, neutral Norway (at least up until the time the Nazis intervened to preempt Churchill’s landing of British troops) discussed a potential defence alliance; as Hicks recounts: the only occasion on which a slight relaxation of Koht’s strict conception of neutrality was noticeable was when he took part in deliberations on the possibility of a defensive alliance between the Scandinavian states and Finland after the conclusion of the Russo-Finnish Peace treaty of 12 March 1940.
What Salmon’s analysis fails to consider is that the accusations he levels at Irish neutrality are not unique to Ireland; in an effort to avoid participating in the war, all of the other European neutral states engaged in unneutral acts and were biased in favour of hostile or friendly neighbours. Even the ‘British Representative’ in Ireland, Sir John Maffey, understood that De Valera’s “goal had been to maintain neutrality and to help us within the limits of that neutrality to the full extent possible”, and he further understood that de Valera regarded his policy as consistent. Nevertheless, Salmon continues, the real question is whether the Irish reservation was sufficient to save their policy of neutrality. Preparations for and expectations of help certainly ran counter to the principles underpinning a policy ‘for neutrality’, as followed by Austria, Sweden and Switzerland. …
… The then UK Minister for Health in the wartime Cabinet, Malcolm MacDonald, was sent to Dublin to try to persuade de Valera to allow British troops into Ireland to take over the ports – his advice was given “principally in the interests of Éire in itself”. Fisk surmises, “MacDonald must have realized that this was less than the truth; in her greatest moment of peril since Napoleon planned an invasion across the Channel, Britain was not offering her troops to Éire for de Valera’s benefit”. In his response to each of the British proposals, de Valera emphatically rejected any possibility of ‘Éire’ abandoning her neutrality. The key point is that de Valera rejected the proposals of external help offered by the British out of a concern to preserve neutrality and the state.
Due diligence and defence resources
Salmon argues, it is difficult to say categorically what constitutes sufficient resources, but at sea and air the Irish clearly did not have ‘enough’, since they were incapable of preventing invasions into territorial waters and airspace, or violations of their neutrality. Their relative defencelessness meant that on occasion they did bend…with respect to ‘due diligence’ the Irish clearly defaulted, particularly in the air and at sea. The Irish objective was simply to avoid participation in the war. That is not neutrality.
Before going into the detail of the “due diligence” accusation, it is worth pointing out, in reference to the last argument, that it is clear from this analysis that the other neutral states also had only one goal in mind – to avoid participating in the war – and this goal was pursued at the expense of many legal rules of neutrality. If Ireland is ‘unneutral’ on this basis, then all of the other states in this present analysis must also be ‘unneutral’.
Fisk reasons that accidental encroachments into Irish territorial waters and a flood of refugees from Britain were the natural burdens of neutrality and de Valera could not have been surprised by these events. Éire was the only British dominion to choose neutrality – the rest of the Commonwealth followed Chamberlain’s lead by declaring war on Germany.
Salmon argues that airspace violations rendered Ireland unneutral, however, it is also the case that other European neutrals also suffered airspace violations, many of them committed by the British. Howard recounts the Swiss experience of airspace violations: since the summer of 1940, however, British bombers had repeatedly crossed Swiss territory on their way to attack north Italian towns and, in spite of repeated protests from the Swiss Government, this violation of Swiss air by British aviators continued. The Italians complained that Swiss illumination gave an unfair advantage to British bomber crews as it helped them to find their targets in northern Italy.
Norway also experienced airspace violations: Hicks describes how there were minor violations of Norwegian neutrality during this period, in the shape of flights by belligerent aircraft over Norwegian territory. Such incidents were always followed by prompt Norwegian protests to the offending Power when it was possible to identify the trespassing aircraft. …
De Valera’s determination for the state to remain inviolate will be dealt with below, in relation to defence resources and threats of invasion from Britain. The Swiss were in much the same situation as Ireland, with an aggressive, hostile belligerent as a near neighbour in Germany, but they managed to stay out of the war despite similar threats of invasion: In 1943 the Government had real grounds for fear that German threats might indeed be translated into action. Hitherto, also, although Hitler had been greatly irked by Switzerland’s continued independence and neutrality, the advantages which would have accrued from the invasion and conquest of Switzerland had been clearly outweighed by the drawbacks. The Germans were aware that any attack would be strongly resisted by the Swiss.
The Irish government itself acknowledged that neutrality meant limited warfare with all belligerents. As Frank Aiken, the minister for the ‘Coordination of Defensive Measures’ said on 23 January 1940, “in the modern total warfare it [neutrality] is not a condition of peace with both belligerents, but rather a condition of limited warfare with both…”. De Valera added, neutrality if you are sincere about it means you will have to fight for your life against one side or the other – which ever attacks you first. Neutrality is not a cowardly policy if you really mean to defend yourself if attacked. Other nations have not gone crusading until they were attacked.
Defence expenditure and “costs of attack”
Although, as mentioned earlier, Salmon admits, “it is difficult to say categorically what constitutes sufficient resources”, he does confirm that, “neutrals do, however, need the ability to deter by making the costs of attack too high, relatively, for the belligerent”. Salmon claims that the Irish position was undermined by de Valera’s recognition that Ireland was a small state and the equipment and arms required in modern wars were beyond a small state. These issues were also acknowledged by the small neutral states in mainland Europe. The notion that a certain level of arms means that a defence is 100% effective is a (neo)realist myth; no defence can be 100% effective and the Swedes and other World War II neutrals knew their defence limits too. The important fact is that de Valera pledged that Ireland would fight any incursion from any side, and the costs of attack were made high. This was acknowledged by both the Germans and the British. … Thus, de Valera had shown comparatively sufficient due diligence and defence resource preparations to make the perceived costs of occupation too high for belligerents, an achievement he shared with the other neutral states.
What Salmon’s analysis (in particular the charge regarding Ireland’s lack of arms) fails to acknowledge sufficiently is the British and American refusals of de Valera’s requests for arms. Duggan recalls, “it was difficult if not impossible in the circumstances to procure weapons. Britain was obstructive; the US was uncooperative. … And David Gray, the United States representative in Dublin during the war years and a confidant of the American President (Gray was also related to Eleanor Roosevelt by marriage to her aunt), made the threat from the Third Reich seem remote by comparison: “Allied troops were already poised on Irish soil and Gray had an insensitive amateur’s appetite for action”. Fisk also recounts that de Valera’s persistent, occasionally frantic quest for weapons was to be a consistent theme of Irish foreign policy over the coming years, a search that was principally directed towards the belligerent powers and which was thus always rewarded by demands which would – if met – totally compromise Éire’s neutrality. In return for guns, the British wanted the use of the Treaty ports, the Americans wanted Irish participation in the war, and the Germans – less ambitious because there was little else to be gained – wanted a closer relationship between Dublin and Berlin. Denuded of weapons, Éire’s refusal to participate in the war was no longer just an assertion of sovereignty; from now on, the policy had to prove successful in keeping Éire out of the war.
Supplies, trade and economic dependence
Because there were exchanges of food for military supplies across the Northern Ireland border, a lack of a ‘strategic reserve’ and a dependence on other countries’ shipping for imports of wheat, maize, petroleum and bulk cargoes, Salmon claims “third parties” saw room for influence and manoeuvre, and doubted the credibility of Irish neutrality. On the other hand, Fisk regards de Valera’s prioritizing of food supplies and external trade, followed by censorship, counterespionage and coastwatching, over military measures and air-raid precautions as an authentic policy of neutrality, the desire to maintain the country’s commercial life and safeguard its political integrity from external pressures, while taking only minimum defence precautions on the grounds that neutrality – if strictly adhered to – would obviate the need for enormous military expenditure.
In fact, de Valera turned down trade agreements with Britain in order to safeguard Irish neutrality: in November the war cabinet was told that Éire had rejected the storage and trans-shipment proposals as being incompatible with neutrality and from fears that they would provoke German attacks on the ports if not on the country as a whole. Ireland’s refusal of the trade agreement may have left her vulnerable to the British economic pressure, but the refusal also sealed off a potential serious breach in Ireland’s neutrality and nothing was more important for de Valera.
Although Salmon is right to point out that Ireland was vulnerable, if this vulnerability renders Ireland ‘unneutral’, then Salmon must retract his understanding of Switzerland, Sweden and others as neutral, because those states experienced similar difficulties. Howard points out that although the Swiss, with the exception of a minority of fanatics and defeatists, were resolved to maintain their political independence, economically they were obliged to align themselves much more closely with Hitler’s Europe. After the fall of France, Switzerland was economically at the mercy of the Axis, which controlled practically all ways in and out of Switzerland. In a trade agreement reached on 9 August 1940, Germany undertook to supply her with certain quantities of raw materials, of which the most vital were coal and iron. In return, Swiss industry was to supply Germany with goods required for her war effort. The Swiss neutrality doctrine states that the neutral country is entitled to trade with belligerents; the neutral country has merely to submit to certain encroachments by the belligerents, e.g. a blockade. … Norway had to deal with a similar situation: “Norway continued to maintain commercial relations with both belligerents – though this to a decreasing extent, and at the price of incurring both Germany and Franco-British displeasure”. It is held that Swedish neutrality during World War Two was compromised by its trade with Nazi Germany, whilst Austria’s leading trade partners were Germany and Italy. The point is that although there is some support for Salmon’s claims that Ireland was non-belligerent in the Second World War because of dependent trade relations or concessions made or assistance given, this analysis shows that Salmon must withdraw his definition of Switzerland and Sweden as being neutral, and to re-brand those states as non-belligerent, because those states failed the same criteria more severely than Ireland is alleged to have failed them. …
“Non-belligerency” and official belligerent acknowledgement of Irish neutrality
Salmon claims that because the British didn’t guarantee not to invade Ireland and refused to officially recognise Ireland as a neutral state, Irish neutrality was not possible. He argues, “neutrality does not come into existence until recognized by both belligerents”, and therefore Ireland was ‘unneutral’; he does, however, concede that “on occasion there was a certain apparent de facto recognition of the Irish position”. It is notable that Hitler did not guarantee not to invade Switzerland, and yet Salmon regards Switzerland as neutral. The British always refused to acknowledge Ireland’s neutrality and preferred to use the term ‘non-belligerency’, because Ireland was still a member of the Commonwealth. As Fisk recounts, a formal recognition of Éire’s neutrality presented a serious difficulty, said Eden, because ‘we do not want formally to recognize Éire as neutral while Éire remains a member of the British Commonwealth’. This would surrender the ‘constitutional theory of the indivisibility of the Crown’.
Duggan’s account of this period states, the [German] Envoy had reported Allied pressure to change the Irish neutrality posture to a stance of technical nonbelligerency, which would be designed, he said, to permit the Allies to use the ports”.
Therefore, regardless of the language the British government used because of political considerations, it was recognised by both the British and German sides that Ireland was indeed ‘neutral’, and this legal, official stance could only turn into “non-belligerency” if troops were allowed in (as in the example of Sweden cited by Pentillä above). Britain’s official view of Ireland’s status emerged during times when the British government tried to persuade the Irish government to allow British soldiers into Ireland. MacDonald offered, we would be content for Éire to remain non-belligerent if she invited our ships into her ports and our troops and aeroplanes into her territory to increase her security against the fate which had befallen neutral Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Whereas MacDonald avoided the word ‘neutrality’ throughout these meetings, in fact there was ‘official British’ recognition of Ireland’s neutral status in various forums, although many were off record. There are several examples of this “certain apparent de facto recognition of ” Ireland’s neutrality by Britain. …
In a War Cabinet memorandum, Viscount Cranbourne, the UK Dominions Secretary from 1940-2, described life in “Southern Ireland” as very uncomfortable, and stated that the discomfort “is a direct result of her neutrality”. When Cranbourne informed Churchill of a request for arms from de Valera in a cover note attached to a dispatch from Maffey, Churchill replied, no attempt should be made to conceal from Mr de Valera the depth and intensity of feeling against the policy of Irish neutrality. We have tolerated and acquiesced in it, but juridically we have never recognized that Southern Ireland is an independent Sovereign State, and she herself has repudiated Dominion Status. Her international status is undefined and anomalous.
The issue behind British refusal to officially acknowledge Ireland’s neutrality was largely inspired by Churchill’s imperialist attitude towards Ireland. Fisk reports, there is, throughout Churchill’s writing and speeches at this period, an ill-concealed impatience with the Irish that sometimes turns into contempt. Above all, there was his notion that by rejecting the Oath of Allegiance, de Valera’s Ireland might somehow legally cease to exist. It was a very disturbing idea to have been gestating in the mind of a future British Prime Minister.
At the time described by Fisk, Churchill, still smarting over the Anglo-Irish rapprochement of 1938 [Chamberlain’s decision to hand the Treaty Ports back to de Valera]…also brought with him to the Admiralty his profound distrust of de Valera’s young state….Here, clearly, would be no friend of a neutral Éire. So it was to turn out, for as Britain went to war against Germany, Churchill’s contempt for Éire’s political status surfaced almost at once. Only two days after the British declaration of war, he ordered the Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound, the First Sea Lord, to compile a special report ‘upon the questions arising from the so-called neutrality of the so-called Éire’.
On foot of this request, Sir William Malkin, the UK Foreign Office Legal Advisor, wrote a ten-page report (it was classified top secret and was never seen by de Valera) on the legal aspects of Irish neutrality and the Treaty ports, which amounted to ‘as blunt an acknowledgement of Éire’s juridical right to remain neutral as had yet come from a British Government official’. Malkin went on to define the complexities of Irish neutrality in a way that morally precluded any British action against Éire.
Anthony Eden added to the report by hand: I fear that it becomes every day clearer that it is scarcely possible for “Dev” to square neutrality with the grant of the facilities for which the Admiralty ask. And at least 80% of the Irish people favour neutrality. Altogether a pretty problem.
Churchill responded to the paper in a way that revealed the extent of Churchill’s disturbing obsession about Ireland: he did not just throw doubt on the international validity of Irish neutrality. He was questioning Éire’s very right to exist as a separate and independent state….seventeen months later, Churchill had become possessed of the idea that Éire had no international rights at all.
Thus, the refusal by ‘Britain’ to recognise the neutrality of Ireland was in effect, Churchill’s refusal to recognise Ireland as a sovereign state, and this was the real dynamic behind Salmon’s argument that the British never simply accepted the 1939 Irish aide-mémoire and throughout the war refused to recognize the Irish position formally. Moreover, there was lacking not only a guarantee of respect for Irish neutrality but also a guarantee not to invade Irish territory: this latter omission was quite deliberate.
Germany did officially recognise Ireland’s neutrality; hours before Germany’s invasion of Poland, “on the instructions of Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German Foreign Minister, Hempel told de Valera that Germany would respect Éire’s neutrality.
Protective umbrella and “relying on Britain”
Salmon’s thesis claims that “the Irish relied on a protective umbrella supplied by the British” and that “during the war there was no consistent Irish disavowal of external help…there still remained a belief in the protective umbrella”. Salmon is employing a classic (neo)realist myth in his use of the concept of a protective umbrella to argue that Ireland is ‘unneutral’. His argument is feasible in a different sense, in terms of seeking help to prevent an attack, as a speech by de Valera on 5 October 1943 illustrates. On that occasion, the taoiseach reasserted in tones reminiscent of a 1940 speech recalled earlier, that if Ireland were attacked by one side, Ireland would seek aid from the other. In this sense, the notion of a protective umbrella applies equally to the other major belligerent in the War, Germany, as it does to Britain. Regardless, as Duggan points out, “this did not indicate any overt change in maintaining the policy of neutrality”. Salmon’s argument may also be resting on the notion that the Germans would have to overcome Britain before launching an invasion of Ireland, but that argument does not hold either, given the inability of the British to defend Belfast and the indications of German plans to occupy Ireland directly. Fisk posits, if the British could not even defend Belfast and protect these people, how could they possibly have guaranteed Dublin’s safety under air attack if Éire had allied herself to Britain in 1940?” and the British themselves, through MacDonald, put it to de Valera that a German invasion of Ireland might precede an invasion of Britain. Thus, the notion that Ireland was relying on Britain to protect her from a German invasion does not stand up to scrutiny, because Britain was simply incapable of defending any part of Ireland from the Axis aggressors. Furthermore, it was the British that were most hostile to Ireland and her policy of neutrality throughout the Second World War. In an interesting reversal of the ‘protective umbrella’ thesis argued by Salmon and others, after the blitz of the British cities began, there were rumours that the North [of Ireland]’s freedom from attack could be put down to the fact ‘that de Valera has indicated to the German embassy that Ireland is to be regarded as a whole’ and there was ‘a belief that the neutrality of the South would somehow cast a protective shield over Northern Ireland’.
Salmon was cited earlier as drawing attention to the fact that Churchill was very careful not to acknowledge or guarantee Irish neutrality; in fact, Churchill threatened to invade Ireland several times and made reference to these intentions in his victory speech after the War ended. Fisk argues that, as early as 1940, “Éire now believed that a British invasion was more likely than a German attack”. British Cabinet records show that, in the event of an enemy invasion of Ireland, Churchill proposed plans to gas the Irish population, as he was prepared to use poison gas against other populations during World War II. As Chomsky points out, as Secretary of State of the War Office in 1919, Winston Churchill was enthusiastic about the prospects of ‘using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes’ – Kurds and Afghans…
The validity of “the Irish” relying on Salmon’s (neo)realist concept of a British protective umbrella is undermined by the fact that “de Valera was never able to rule out the possibility of British attack”. Throughout the War, de Valera did not know which side was going to be the first to launch an invasion of Ireland and he had to make plans to tackle both the Germans and the British, and also the Americans. Fisk reports that in June 1944 “Éire thought she might be invaded by American troops”. Duggan recounts that, Hempel passed on the following British secret service report: in their judgement the Irish army was very good, in spite of a shortage of armament; that factor meant that a large force of, say, 100,000 men would be required for a quick occupation of Ireland” and that Hempel felt a British attack had to be reckoned with – “de Valera did not exaggerate when he stressed the threat from both sides”. Fisk confirms that, “the Irish Government anticipated not only an invasion but an occupation of large parts of Éire by British or German troops.”
Salmon quotes FitzGerald who said in 1980, “there really isn’t such a thing as neutrality today: we are part of Western Europe and our interests coincide with theirs” and he argues the fact that Ireland’s profession of itself as not neutral between ideologies (i.e. between Western values and Communism) violates neutrality. However, the other neutral states also declared they were part of Western Europe and shared the associated values. Hakovirta states “the neutrals identify themselves ideologically with the West”. Schlesinger notes Austrian foreign policy’s general identification with the West as a value system with significant economic and cultural relations with Germany and that Austria’s neutrality was a consequence of a Soviet-Austrian understanding. Furthermore, Schlesinger points to an analyst who declared that Austria and Switzerland, as two ‘alpine neutrals’, had been “more Western than the West”. Keatinge notes that Finland has a consideration for the Soviet Union, mirroring Ireland’s consideration for the United States, and argues that Sweden and Switzerland are “essentially oriented to the west”. Andrén clarifies this in more detail; Sweden has never sought to assume a neatly balanced position in all major respects between the superpowers or between the power blocs. The Swedish policy of neutrality is related only to security, not to ideology, economic relations, or other aspects of international affairs. Sweden has repeatedly and emphatically rejected the idea of ideological neutrality.
McSweeney argues “the law, for what it is worth, places no barrier to neutrality for a nation which is ideologically close to one of the belligerents. Nor does it demand ideological impartiality even during a war”. He argues that impartiality is not with respect to ideology or culture, but the likely consequences of ideology, such as trade, communication links and the possibility of recruitment and propaganda.
Mansergh recounts, “the rigid formalistic adherence to the letter of neutrality, which found significant expression on many occasions, caused much misunderstanding of Éire’s position even among the members of the united nations most friendly to her”. One such occasion concerns de Valera’s “formal call of condolence on the German Minister on 3 May 1945” after the end of the war. This incident is a central part of the anti-neutrality discourse of the past 35 years and is continually cited in the context of arguments that seek to undermine positive adherence to Irish neutrality by members of the Irish public (particularly those who have vetoed EU treaties in the 2001 Nice Treaty referendum and 2008 Lisbon Treaty referendum in an attempt to protect Irish neutrality). …
This ‘book of condolences’ myth is widespread: it is part of mainstream publicly-available accounts of Irish neutrality. For example, it appears in the first and highest ranked article in a Google search on “Irish neutrality”; it arises in tourist guides’ talks; it is cited by secondary school students of history; it is a constant in public and political discourse in Ireland; and it is part of media discourse on Irish neutrality abroad. Its ubiquity is connected to the activities of a significant number of anti-neutrality academics, politicians and journalists, such as Salmon, FitzGerald, Roberts, Girvin and Collins, who continue to publicize and promote the story that de Valera went to the German Legation in order to sign a book of condolences and/or to sympathize over the death of Hitler. There are three core untruths in this collection of discourses: (1) de Valera went to the home of Eduard Hempel, the German Minister in Ireland from 1937 to 1945, not to the German legation (the legation was the equivalent of a German Embassy at that time). This is an important detail, because the claim that de Valera went to the Legation obscures the fact that the central purpose of the visit was of a personal nature. (2) De Valera did not sign a book of condolences. … (3) De Valera’s visit was an act of courtesy, rather than a call of condolence. …
… According to Duggan’s account, de Valera paid a visit out of consideration for Hempel– “the German minister, who deduced his mission as being the preservation of Irish neutrality”, who was “a great favourite of Dev’s because he had fought against any German infringement of Irish neutrality” – and because it was the right thing to do. His attitude to “the displaced German diplomat” was “charitable and understanding. He granted asylum to him and his family”. De Valera defended his decision to grant Hempel asylum against British and American pressure to do otherwise.
Is there other primary evidence that might contradict this account? There appears to be little official pronouncements to analyse, as de Valera would not make any public comment on the visit. There are two ‘official’ sources that are relied upon by commentators and academics, included in more recently published accounts by Brian Girvin and Clair Wills, in their discussions of the visit: (1) a Dáil statement made by de Valera on 19 July 1945 and (2) a letter written by de Valera in a private correspondence to the Washington-based Robert Brennan.
Notably, the word ‘condolences’ is absent from the letter text cited; de Valera used the word ‘courtesy’. The same is also true of the Dáil statement; de Valera never used the word ‘condolences’, he used the words ‘courtesy’ and ‘courtesies’. … The political context of the interpretation of the event is the fact that de Valera knew that his personal visit would be deliberately misrepresented by the British and the Americans (who waged vicious propaganda wars against Irish neutrality); turning to the two primary sources for evidence of this context, de Valera noted in the letter to Brennan that his visit had been ‘played up to the utmost’ by the British and the Americans; and in his Dáil Éireann statement he pointed to the spin of the ‘propagandists’ who were displeased with Ireland’s neutrality and sought to ‘malign’ and ‘misrepresent’ the country. …
… This indicates a rather obvious anti-neutrality political position, one that the author acknowledges in the preface to his book: “I was an active proponent of European integration, believing that Ireland should join NATO.” The same pattern is found in relation to Garret FitzGerald, who argued that “military neutrality is immoral” and initiated and carried on a series of columns in the Irish Independent advocating Irish membership of NATO. Later, as Ireland’s minister for foreign affairs, FitzGerald ensured the perpetuity of the condolences story by passing it on to other EC Foreign Ministers. The debate continues in recent historical texts, but what this analysis seeks to highlight is that history is political, particularly the history of Irish neutrality…
Salmon argues that the act of joining the EEC in 1973 cast doubt on the principle of Irish neutrality because Ireland “accepted…the political objectives of the Community, including political unification and a European identity…and the need ultimately to partake in Community defence”. Twelve years after the initial application, the EEC agreed to accept Ireland as a member, and the Irish government put the proposal to the people through a referendum. The 1972 public debate on EEC membership concentrated on the economic implications of membership and although the question of the possible political consequences was raised, the consequences were not explored in any depth. The government took the line that defence co-operation was a consequence and not a pre-condition of political union, and that it would only arise when economic integration was complete. In the campaign in the run-up to the 1972 referendum, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael reiterated the line that there was no threat to Irish neutrality, and that, in any case, neutrality was accidental, ad hoc, temporary and conditional. The then Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil, Jack Lynch, said Ireland would defend others in the Community and that Ireland had no traditional policy of neutrality like Sweden and Switzerland, and nor did Ireland’s neutrality compare with Austria’s declaration of permanent neutrality. The Labour Party, traditionally a defender of Irish neutrality, was the only large political party to campaign against membership. As Salmon points out, Successive government declarations did not help to clarify the issue: they emphasised the legal position when referring to neutrality, but Irish moral and political obligations when referring to Community commitment. A distinction was drawn between current and future commitments, and between the Community and an alliance.
However, Salmon goes on to argue that this acceptance was the position not only at the elite level: underneath these statements lay a public recognition and acceptance that at some time in the future, and conditional upon certain developments, Ireland would join in the defence of the Community. The problem arose from a reluctance to accept the corollary, namely that such a position involved the abandonment of neutrality.
This is a rather confident statement regarding the state of public opinion given that Salmon does not consider public opinion as a substantive concern in his analysis of Irish neutrality and does not cite any primary evidence in support of this claim. … Keatinge argues the decisive vote of the electorate in favour of membership of the European Community is explained by the quantifiable expectations of economic gain rather than by views, one way or another, on neutrality.
According to Hederman, the Irish population had not decided its preferences on the limits of European integration, and Irish people were no different to other member-state populations in this respect. EEC Eurobarometer opinion poll data supports this view. Keatinge’s and Hederman’s analysis of the debate on EEC membership is corroborated by members of the public exposed to the campaigns of the political parties at the time. In 1995 one such member of the public, Mr. Desmond Curley, wrote a letter to the Editor of the Irish Times newspaper to point out that the former Taoiseach, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, together with the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael political parties, deliberately minimised the debate on security implications in their campaigns for people to vote ‘yes’ in the referendum on Ireland’s membership of the EEC in 1973. The comparative international literature on neutrality also confirms this version of events: Karsh notes “the dismissive attitude of the Irish proponents of EEC membership to the possibility of Ireland’s entanglement within the political and military designs of the European Communities”. Hakovirta also opines that the question of neutrality was never very important in the arguments presented by the Irish government for EC membership, or even in the Irish EC debate in general. It was basically seen as a limited question of non-membership in military alliances. The government argued that membership of the EC was something quite different from that.
Salmon’s conclusion that Ireland’s neutrality does not exist has spread into and seemingly taken root in the mainstream academic discourse on Irish neutrality, and is echoed in the media discourse. The approach Salmon has taken in evaluating a state’s neutrality according to a legalistic, prescriptive, sortal definition has effectively defined neutrality out of existence, because any empirical evaluation of a state’s neutrality shows discrepancies between theoretical and legal prescriptions and state practices. … The assertion by many academics that Ireland’s neutrality is questionable because it does not mirror the clarity of the concept reflected in the practice of other European neutral states is therefore falsified through this comparative analysis. Tonra summarises the ‘unneutral’ thesis as one in which Ireland’s “neutrality has been dismissed as an almost adolescent effort to distinguish the state from its ancient enemy”… Neutrality is a concept needing evaluation in relation to the particular time in which it exists and the situation thereof. … it may be well to suggest a distinction between the factors contributing to the creation of these rules of the international law of neutrality rights and the factors conditioning their application. It is apparent that economic necessities and opportunities and political alignments moved the states of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to embrace and advocate particular rules. But the rules having once come into vogue often developed into a servant stronger than the master. The rules became part of the factual situation which statesmen had to take into account in shaping their policies from time to time. This was true because the rules were themselves the reflection of economic and political realities.
Thus, many empirical differences in the conduct of neutrality are argued to legitimately exist, and are rationally explicable in the context of state interests, the external environment and perceived associated demands. Evaluations and conclusions as to a state’s neutrality based on a particular definition will always be questionable, because the concept is fundamentally essentially contested. What is clear is that Ireland’s practice of neutrality was arguably as clear-cut, legally circumspect, and sufficiently deterring, credible, recognised and respected, as that of the other neutral European states during the Second World War, if not more so. As a result, the current elite strategy to discredit Irish neutrality through incomplete comparative or ideological analyses of the practice of Irish neutrality, and to claim on the basis of such analyses that the public has ‘illusions’ about the nature of Irish neutrality during the Second World War is undermined. Neutrality is a complex policy, in theory and in practice, and tends to be universally hated by all sides. The Americans waged an unscrupulous campaign in the press against Irish neutrality, as did the British. As Frank Aiken, the Irish Minister for the Coordination of Defensive Measures, put it in January 1940…
Here is a (draft, 2008?) paper, Religion and the patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland (PDF) | Prof Jennifer Todd @ucdpolitics @YaleMacMillan. Excerpts, underlines, italicization, et al. are on our own.
Religious distinctions are key to social and symbolic boundaries in many societies, and most certainly so in Northern Ireland. The historical patterning of religious opposition, most particularly perhaps in the conservative character of the forms of Protestantism and Catholicism in Ireland, is clear. Recent works have traced the many ways religion has fed into conflict in the present, and the groups for whom it is important for conflict. Building on this research, I will point to some general tendencies or mechanisms which have kept religion mattering for conflict, and to show the particular character this has given to conflict. This is intended to contribute to the analysis of the way multiplex symbolic boundaries can strengthen singular social boundaries and political oppositions and to help clarify the role religion can play in a multiply constituted conflict.
The Northern Ireland conflict
The conflict in what is now Northern Ireland lies in a direct line of descent from the English reconquest and colonisation (plantation) of Ulster in the early 17th century. This colonisation was never separable from religious differences. Counter reformation, via Irish priests trained on the continent, came to Ireland before the English reformation had taken hold, so that by the early 17th century, when the bulk of plantation took place, religious conflict was already underway. …
The result was a multiply-constituted conflict, where power relations… were partially organised by formal and informal religious organisation and networks, and where symbolic boundaries were multiplex, with religion, moral-political norms and civilisational values, historical narratives of plantation, and ethno-national identities overlapping if never quite coinciding. This configuration generated interests among Protestants, Catholics and the British state which reproduced the broad contours of the social and symbolic distinctions through the radical social, institutional and constitutional changes of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and led to endemic conflict between the groups so constituted. In this paper, I focus on the period I know best, late 19th century to present, and within this on the contemporary phase of conflict and settlement, 1969-present. Conflict between Protestants and Catholics was persistent from the late 19th to the end of twentieth century. It varied in intensity and in institutional and organisational form. There were periods of more or less extreme violence (actual or threatened) from 1912-22, and 1969-94, with intermittent violent episodes throughout. As actors attempted to secure their interests, they entrenched symbolic and social boundaries, while they also came to define their interests in terms of these distinctions. It was a tightly structured conflict, with mutually reproducing feedback between symbolic distinction, social organisation and power relations, giving the conflict an intractable quality. Within this pattern I will argue that religion played a role in making conflict more meaningful, more intense, more totalising. The 1998 settlement, which signalled an end to violence and a more pervasive relaxing of conflict and beginning of a new political order, could have left symbolic and social boundaries intact. It didn’t. Instead it saw a remaking of the symbolic packages, with different roles for religion. …
I want briefly to justify my focus in this paper on religion and conflict rather than religion and violence. Religion is not an important factor in explaining why some individuals opted for violent means while others didn’t, nor in explaining when they so opted, nor in explaining what they did when they so opted: neither the actors nor the targets of violence were overtly or primarily religious. Joining the IRA after 1969 was a strategic choice in a situation perceived as deeply unjust in which there was neither exit nor voice. Law abiding Catholic citizens shared the same experiences and many of the same aims as republicans and understood their motivations. Rev. James McEvoy, Professor of Scholastic Philosophy in Queens University Belfast, pointed out that both the Catholic church and republican paramilitaries believed that Catholics in Northern Ireland faced a stark alternative – to accept a measure of injustice and live with that, or to revolt – they simply made different choices. The IRA itself was informed by a political rather than primarily religious ideology, and its stated aims were constitutional rather than religious or cultural. Loyalists, for their part, judged that effective repression of the republican threat to the union required informal paramilitary as well as state security response. Unionists and Protestants shared the aim but rejected the paramilitary means: indeed many joined and almost all supported the state security forces in this task. … The most interesting question is not why, in this situation, a minority of people resorted to violence, but why the mass of the population was so polarised in its politics and perspectives, and how religion contributed to this.
Disentangling the role of religion in conflict
If, in the contemporary period, religion plays one part in conflict, it does not play the determining part. The same religious oppositions coexist with quite different patterns of social relations and political organisation in, for example, the Irish state or in some areas of France. Religious opposition is at most one strand of causal patterning, where institutionalised power differentials, inequalities, ethnic differences and nationalist aims also play a part. …
There is a strong tendency in the contemporary literature not even to attempt such a task. Contemporary comparative political science takes a broad concept of ethnicity, which bundles together ethnicity narrowly conceived as people-hood, as a descent defined group with a distinctive origin myth, and religion, race, caste, region and sometimes even class. In the presently dominant interpretation of the Northern Ireland conflict, it fits neatly into this conceptualisation, with religion understood as an ‘ethnic marker’. This, in my view, is a mistake, cutting short analysis before adequate explanations are reached.
First, to take a broad and inclusive notion of ethnicity is to focus on boundaries rather than on the meaning of those boundaries (religious, or racial, or narrowly ethnic). This dissociation of boundary from content is, I would argue, a wrong turn in the social sciences. Symbolic boundaries and symbolic content are intrinsically interrelated. Barth who insisted that ethnic groups had no homogenous or unique set of cultural practices or beliefs and refused to reduce ethnicity to ‘cultural stuff’, also described the ‘basic value orientations: standards of morality and excellence’ which defined boundaries. In Northern Ireland, whether (and which) actors define themselves in terms of theological beliefs and religious practices, or in terms of ethnic descent groups, in terms of nationality or of key moral-political values affects not only the persistence of difference and the prospect of eventual integration (via immediate conversion, or long-term intermarriage, or gradual convergence) but also the precise place of boundaries, those marginals who are included and those excluded.
Second, once one acknowledges the relevance of content to boundaries, one would expect conflicts informed by religious distinctions to have a distinctive symbolic logic different from other forms of conflict. This of course leaves open how such conflicts are patterned, how symbolic distinctions do or don’t translate into patterns of behavior, a question that becomes the trickier as we look at real conflicts which have ethnic/religious/national/class/political/civilisational components in different degrees.
Third, the dominant view tends to slip between a broad, inclusive (and therefore empty) concept of ethnicity – where it makes good sense to ask if ethnicity matters for conflict – and a narrow concept of ethnicity as descent, lineage, quasi-kin consciousness which, it is believed, trumps all other categories. This slippage is justified in terms of a socio- psychological or socio-biological explanation of why broadly-conceived-ethnicity has these narrowly-conceived-ethnic-characteristics. This sort of explanation not only elides those cases where it doesn’t have such characteristics but also, in my view, fails adequately to describe or explain those cases where it does.
However, to start to pull apart the role of religion in a multiply constituted conflict like that in Northern Ireland, is exceeding difficult. On all objective indicators, divisions in Northern Ireland are deep: there are comparatively strong correlations between religion of origin, party-political support, constitutional preference, national identification and a set of political views about security, law and equality of treatment. When one makes finer tuned distinctions within the broad categories of Protestant/Catholic, unionist/nationalist, British/Irish there are no evident correlations of type of religion with type of politics. …
Qualitative and interactional studies show a radical variety of ways of combining positions on religious, political, ethnic, national and moral dimensions, and of giving meaning to these categories. Multiply constituted conflicts invite symbolic tradeoffs where blurring on one boundary (eg a Protestant with an Irish identity) is compensated for by insistence on another (eg that same Protestant’s strong unionism). In everyday discussions there are consistent shifts in emphasis and slippage between categories of nationality, religion, and ethnicity. Clustering exists but it also changes over time: Catholic unionists are interesting in this regard, but the better researched are Protestant evangelicals who cluster into two, relatively balanced, groups of, on the one hand, liberals and radicals, and, on the other, conservatives, and the political positions of each have changed very significantly in the last decade.
In light of these well-known facts, some have argued that religion does not matter for conflict, that it is essentially an ethno-national conflict. However very similar arguments – relying on slippage, symbolic trade-offs, everyday cultural variation, and the lack of correlation between varieties of Britishness, Irishness and Northern Irishness, ethnic-self-definitions and political views – can be used to argue that ethnicity (understood in a substantive cultural sense) does not matter for conflict, that national political division is imposed on a cultural plurality and that scholarship inappropriately echoes this imposition of binary categories on a plural cultural reality. …
… Once one opens this path, the prospect of showing how religion contributes to conflict is clear. First, however, it is useful to show why a direct analysis of the material and political incentives to bloc formation is insufficient to explain the continuation of conflict.
That the political system in the period of unionist rule (1921-72) gave incentives for bloc formation, benefitting the Protestant population in terms of division of the spoils and access to influence, is not in any doubt. It also gave Catholics incentives to associate together in defence, and the church was their only well-resourced organisation. Significant though lesser benefits for bloc formation continued through the period of British direct rule, diminishing more rapidly post 1985. Today the benefits are slight: a bias in the Assembly voting system (key votes can be passed with a bare majority of self-designated nationalists and self-designated unionists and an overall majority) which may give a slight incentive to voters to vote for the unionist and nationalist blocs. In addition, the desire of the British and Irish governments to keep the major parties in agreement gives those parties considerable bargaining power and capacity to distribute resources to their supporters. Can bloc formation and behaviour be explained solely by the actual or anticipated material benefit? One test is what happens when the benefits decrease. The result, in the 2000s when benefits and expectations of benefit have definitively decreased, is that the political cleavage is even clearer and more defined than before, even while political conflict is less intense.
If, however, we need to look at the socio-cultural patterning of conflict, we need to look at cultural trajectories, not simply empirically observable (synchronic) cultural plurality. In Northern Ireland, as elsewhere, the categories of division are only one set of categories used in daily life, and oppositional interpretations of them are only one set of available repertoires. Other things equal, one would expect experimentation with new ideas, a blurring of symbolic boundaries, gradually over time the development of a range of different religious, political, national, historical perspectives and a range of different ways of combining them, a move away from oppositional perspectives. Instead, despite consistent experimentation and boundary blurring which is obvious from a micro-interactional perspective, oppositional perspectives have persistently been reaffirmed whenever collective decisions are necessary. For example, in a whole series of small and large decisions over the last forty years, ordinary people began by blurring boundaries, experimenting with new ideas, moving towards compromise, then wavered, then opted for opposition and division. No obvious material interests were involved, nor was this a following of leaders: the Northern Irish are notorious for rejecting their one-time leaders. … In what follows, I sketch some very general mechanisms which explain this type of reaction, and emphasise the role of religion. To test the value of these schema in explaining these particular decisions would require a longer empirical analysis.
Multiplex symbolic boundaries and the tendency to opposition
Given the plurality of dimensions or categorisations by which distinctions are made – Protestant/Catholic, unionist/nationalist, British/Irish, even settler/native – the plurality of repertoires within the religious, national-political, ethno-national and historico-colonial fields, and the constant experimentation with new views which goes on in Northern Ireland as elsewhere, what leads towards an emphasis on opposition? I suggest that there is a practical-cognitive mechanism which provides a weak tendency towards opposition. …
This is neither a structuralist argument nor a Weberian one. It is not structuralist in that the binary oppositions are empirical, historical – rooted in the fact that the same or closely linked groups of people in each generation were making and remaking political, religious and historical narratives; the experience of them in practical life varies between groups, as does the internalisation of them; the tendency to internalise is weak rather than strong, and can be counteracted in predictable ways…
The forms of religion which evolved in Northern Ireland have been on the extreme ends of the reformation division: Calvinism or low church, evangelically oriented Anglicanism; Roman Catholicism with little anti-clericalism and no routine challenge to hierarchical authority. Protestants tended to see themselves as rational, progressive, modern, as opposed to Catholic superstition and backwardness. Within this, brands of Protestantism emphasised old testament chosen-people themes, and the covenantal tradition. The parallels with the dominant brand of unionism are striking: unionism sees nationalism as superstitious, traditionalist, backward, and itself as global, progressive, modern, rational. … Akenson shows how the religious sense of chosen people was historically intertwined with the sense of being a settler, and how this tends to make recessive those aspects of the religion that could criticise inequality and injustice. …
Catholics, on the other hand, saw themselves in the one true church with the one truth. In parallel, the nationalist tradition has a singular, concentred self-understanding with a coincidence of ethnic background, religious faith and national belonging. Particular brands of nationalism emphasise a messianic vision of history, with golden age, fall and redemption through suffering. The concepts of justice and equality used to criticise the Northern state were often informed by Catholic social thinking, and sometimes by a more generalised and simple ‘basic’ Christianity: the Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ) policy statement in 1964 concludes: ‘Our aim is, we think, both basic and Christian but, nevertheless, has not been realised here for hundreds of years, namely equality for all’. It is highly significant that the same concepts (for Protestants, rationality, modernity, loyalty) are used to distinguish different classes and sub-groups within the community as are used to distinguish the communities, thus reinforcing overall communal opposition.
Why this seeming gravitational pull to opposition, even while there are so many nonoppositional strands in the (contemporary) Christian religions? Steve Bruce explains it in terms of the need for a clear sense of belonging which is given (for Protestants) in evangelical Protestantism and the sense of being a chosen people. But the sense of belonging (and the felt need for such a sense) varies very dramatically. The extremes within Northern Ireland have shown little sense of solidarity or belonging beyond their immediate group: republicans, in particular, have little solidarity with or affection for their fellow nationals. I have suggested a simpler cognitive explanation: logical coherence is found in the oppositional interpretations of religion, politics, ethnicity, history, not in the inclusive interpretations: there is a clear coherent oppositional ‘package’, whereas breaking with opposition on any one dimension does not imply a particular way to break with it on others. …
Of course these are socialised rather than intellectualised understandings, a practical sense of coherence, not a coherently articulated ideology. The embodied practical concepts of rationality and modernity allow a merging of religious and other distinctions. The young modern liberal Protestant girl filmed by Desmond Bell in the late 1980s goes into a Catholic church and is visibly shocked and displeased by ‘all the statues’. Meanwhile Catholics are shocked by the ‘polish’ of Protestants in their religious practices as if formality and showy-ness is all, and this spills over into judgement of Protestant dress and make-up. Such embodied religious differences, can exist without being generalised to politics or wider social attitudes. In Northern Ireland, however, they are so generalised. Harris describes how there is a Protestant and Catholic position on just about everything, including international relations. … Work places were largely informally segregated until the last decade. There was strong opposition to exogamy, and where it (fairly frequently) took place, mixed marriage couples moved firmly into one community and all but severed linkages with the other. This had the following consequences:
(a) social capital was within each religious group. With this went reliance and trust: who one was likely to believe in a situation of contestation was firmly determined by religion.
(b) communication patterns were within each group. This was of particular importance as violence began and as information flows became specific to each side. It is well attested that rumours play a major role as triggers and precursors to violence, in particular to riots. The prevalence of single-religion organisations and meeting places in Northern Ireland facilitates two sets of rumour-networks. …
(c) The social basis for mobilisation was given by these working, socialisation and communication patterns and this affected the form of mobilisation. For unionists, the interlocking networks of unionism and the Orange Order allowed province-wide mobilisation which marginalized modernisers within the Protestant community. For nationalists, it meant that mobilisation took place by leafleting areas with GAA halls, parish halls and de facto excluding Protestants… the centrality of religion to social division allows that division to ‘penetrate everyday life’, and permits the clergy to play an important role in socio-political organisation. Taken by itself, religious organisation of social division does not necessarily affect the political goals of the mobilised population. It is, however, likely to highlight the religious dimensions of political opposition: the funerals for the hunger strikers were mass religious rituals with immediate political connotations: terrible suffering and grief, hope of resurrection. Once interrelated with the cognitively-based tendency to generalise religiously-informed oppositions, however, it has greater effects. It gives immediate social confirmation to this fusion of religious-political-social values and embeds it in group-belonging. It separates ‘people like us’ from those who breach the most basic norms of rationality and morality…
Religious division has also been formally and institutionally sedimented. There is an extensive literature showing how Protestantism, Protestant values and Protestant habitus came to permeate the British state and nation. The devolved state in Northern Ireland was more explicitly Protestant in a Calvinist vein, with enforced sabbatarianism, and immediate and easy access and influence of the Protestant clergy on decisionmaking. Employment in the public sector (as in private firms) favoured Protestants, and the reasons for this merit attention: Barritt and Carter report Protestant views that Catholics were ‘not to be trusted‘, they were ‘shifty, idle and unreliable, fit only to be employed on unskilled work‘… Protestants might not ‘work well under Catholic supervision’. In the public sector, Catholics were not considered good candidates for promotion because in tough cases they would obey their church rather than their superior… Later again it was said that Catholics, and particularly republicans, could not be employed in industries of strategic importance because they would leak secrets. …continued underrepresentation of Catholics in the civil service and in public bodies well into the 1980s, …
As state institutions slowly changed, they gave differential incentives to different subgroups of unionists and nationalists to differentiate politics from culture, ethnicity and religion, or to re-connect it. …
Later ‘structural unionists’ who differentiated unionist politics from religious belief and ethnic belonging and argued for fuller integration into a changing British state, were wrong-footed by the increasingly bi-communal and bi-national policies and institutions set in place from 1985. In the 2000s, the unionist public – recognising that a bi-communal politics was now irreversible – left the UUP, plumping decisively for the communalist, religiously influenced DUP, to fight their corner within new institutions which they now also plumped for.
This intersection of symbolism, social practice and institutions created two separate worlds, with different – opposed – values and assumptions, which intersected only occasionally and at risk of violence. Conflict became more intense in the 1960s as the state increasingly penetrated the Catholic social world, and as Catholics increasingly asserted their position in the public (Protestant) world. …
In Catholic theology, God is present in the Communion, and the clergy play a mediating role between individual and God: in Protestant theology, the individual has a direct relationship with God who is not closer to the believer in church than outside. Church-going thus has quite different religio-social meanings in each community. For Protestants, it is a display of respect to God and to the religious community; it is a formal occasion of display, shown in clothing, stance, seriousness of demeanour, control of children in the family group. In some families, if the car is not washed or the clothes not properly ironed, church attendance has to wait. For Catholics on the other hand, the important thing is to attend, whatever the appearance. Moreover there is a radical asymmetry in church organisation and practice. In each small town or city neighbourhood, there are multiple Protestant churches each with a single long Sunday morning service. The congregation arrives at each church at a defined time, whole families together. Catholics, in contrast, have one large local church which holds multiple morning services, so there are always people coming and going, usually walking, and different family members may attend different services, finding seats whereever available. Some arrive late and leave early.
These differences cohere well with the different class and authority profiles of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Protestants often display their position in the community in and through church attendance; the best clothes, the dignified and upright stance appropriate to people of authority and substance. Church is also an occasion to show one’s own respect for authority – the authority of the state, of the security forces, of the monarchy, symbols of which may be displayed in the form of flags or plaques. Mass-going plays a role in community bonding for Catholics. It does not, however, have the same status resonances as it does for Protestants, not least because social position has not been a source of pride for most Catholics, and the churches never display symbols of the state. Behavior in church varies accordingly. In Protestant churches, children are kept with their families, under strict control; in Catholic churches, children are omnipresent, babies crying, toddlers climbing.
Church-going thus expresses and reproduces much more than simply religious difference. It is of crucial importance in forming perceptions of difference-as-opposition, since it is where Catholics and Protestants were – and are – seen in large numbers, as communities rather than as individuals. In the past, part of what Catholics disliked about unionist rule was being governed by the sort of people they saw going to church on Sunday, dark, polished, formal, humourless, and being made fit into a society in their image. Part of what Protestants feared was being governed by the sort of people they saw walking to church, as if randomly, at all hours, without clear order or formality, in all sorts of clothes, in great numbers, or later pouring out of church, or later again going to the Gaelic football match (not much distinguished from church-going in terms of clothing or style but even more threatening because of the numbers, predominantly male attendance and lack of formal authority).
Secularisation is important less because it makes religious values unimportant to individuals – Mitchell argues that they outlast the ending of religious practice by more than a generation – than because it removes religious practice from the public eye and it becomes easier to privatise and segment its values.
If – as sketched above – the generalisation of oppositional religious concepts and values through the political and social sphere is a product of symbolic and social mechanisms, certain predictions follow.
1. Argument and evidence alone will be insufficient to break the cognitive frame. The very meanings of terms like ‘rationality’, ‘progress’, ‘modernity’ are communally-loaded. [An example of this is the capacity of even the most intellectually able and sophisticated of unionists and nationalists to describe their respective states in utterly opposing ways. Until very recently, unionists perceived the Irish state, in David Trimble’s words, to be ‘sectarian, mono-ethnic and mono-cultural’, economically weak and globally inconsequential compared to the British state. For nationalists like Garret FitzGerald, on the other hand, the British state is seen as traditionalist, conservative and class-bound, incapable of fully participating in the European and global economy; the Irish state is a small, independent open economy and polity with strong guarantees of human rights, providing the sort of institutional context and social capital that allows full use to be made of its resources.]
2. Secularisation alone will not break the pattern, since the oppositional concepts are already embodied in politics, notions of identity, views of history, thus creating a continued openness to religion. …
3. Since the ‘practical-cognitive-coherence’ mechanism depends in turn on other social mechanisms, it may routinely be set aside where these mechanisms don’t exist, for example where individuals’ social practices in one field involve a quite different set of concepts and values than in others. …
4. Change is more likely to be provoked by a breach of institutional and social networks than directly by a challenge to the symbolic equivalences. …
5. Where change is radical, there is likely to be a tendency to look for new coherences, and to embed these in new social networks. …
Since 1998, quite radical institutional and social changes have given widespread incentives to change/breach the cognitive equivalences noted above. The ways this is being done casts light on the specific role of religion in the past and present.
1. The political system and power relations have been radically changed with the following as the key events: 1985 (Anglo-Irish Agreement), 1989 (Fair Employment Act) 1998 (Good Friday Agreement), 1999-2003 (reform of policing). Since 1998 this has begun to percolate down to everyday experience, for example in republican participation at all levels of decision making and in a visible nationalist presence in every aspect of the public sphere.
2. Social networks have been diffused. This has occurred in three ways. First, by increased funding for cross-community venues and integrated schooling, although such cross-networking remains relatively small-scale (only 4% of students attended integrated schools in 2002). Secondly… fair employment legislation has stimulated more widespread change in work relations. Third… general cultural trends and consumerism (from foreign holidays to non-place shopping malls to home cinema) have led to greater individualisation, a lesser reliance on social capital, although separate religio-leisure networks remain.
3. The older social worlds are challenged and increasingly problematised. For Protestants, the new political order disconfirms their previous expectations and rules out their habitual ways of acting: they can no longer march where they want, their world (and their control of it) has changed. For Catholics, once isolated ‘Catholic’ and ‘republican’ worlds are increasingly integrated into the public world: for them, their beliefs (in the need for public equality) are confirmed but their practices are changed.
These changes give individuals incentives to rethink and reframe their worlds, to cast adrift older assumptions and conceptual equivalences, to pull apart the cultural matrix or to change it altogether. …
1. One-time Protestant fundamentalist extremists have changed much more quickly than was expected, as is seen by the DUP’s cohabitation with Sinn Féin in the new executive. Recent research shows phases of this change: first a clear sense of political defeat, a prioritisation of religious values over political and a ‘purifying’ of religion of its failed political resonance; second a changing of political assumptions – which no longer matter so much to them; third, a finding of new religious opportunities as well as economic ones in the new cross-border structures or in moral activism (‘saving Ulster from sodomy’) within the newly egalitarian Northern Ireland.
2. One-time Protestant extremists who have no explicit religious belief find it harder to orient themselves to the new situation. They fear being swallowed up by Catholic, nationalist, republican expansion The new opportunities in Northern Ireland, however, require engagement with erst-while opponents (republicans) with clear public projects by whom they feel easily outmanoevred. Some reassert the old values in increasingly desperate protest.
3. Some attempt to adapt, moderate, come to a strategic compromise. But this too raises moral issues which are not easy to resolve: if they can compromise now, what of the principles that they fought for in the past? Were they not important? …
Republican electoral success and international favour has been gained by a public silencing of the questions. It remains as yet unclear if the older oppositional mind-sets are being worn away by the practice of peace and compromise…
4. a helter-skelter of change, with initial movement leading to new levels of cognitive dissonance and further change. This group typically refound aspects of their familial and religious traditions which allowed them to legitimate these changes, and to reinvent a continuity with their personal and wider historical past. Many were in mixed marriages. Even in non-conflictual societies, mixed marriage respondents often narrate a refinding of more open aspects of their religious tradition, using ecumenical networks as support. …
…when religiously informed conflict ends, the individuals who most quickly come to terms with both conflict and settlement are those who re-find aspects of the religious tradition by which to reinterpret it.
I have argued that religion has played a key symbolic role in the Northern Ireland conflict, where opposition is generalised between the religious, political, ethnic, normative, historical spheres. This is not primarily driven by the actions of clerics, or the events in particular churches, or even by changing religious orthodoxies. The generalisation was made likely by the historical development of the traditions, and the highlighting of the same or very similar conceptual oppositions within each. The process of generalisation is in turn underpinned by social networks and communication patterns which prevent the ‘normal’ change and challenge of key sets of beliefs. In the past it was sedimented by state and institutional norms, although as these norms and related practices have changed, so too have the incentives for changing the oppositional understandings and identities in Northern Ireland. The religious values and concepts involved are sometimes explicit, sometimes already secularised, religion-ising values in the political tradition. They are – perhaps paradoxically – the more changeable when they are reconnected to religious tradition than when they are embedded in secularised ethno-political particularity.
Religion, I have suggested, makes conflict much more than a conflict about constitutional claims or political policies. It makes it into a conflict that touches on, resonates with and is informed by whole ways of life, with their constitutive assumptions and values. It makes it an existential conflict. … not all religious conflicts are ethnic, in the sense of being between historically defined and distinctive ‘peoples’. Nor are all ethnic conflicts are about ways of life. Some are about getting ‘our men’ into power, or grabbing resources for ‘us’, with the ‘we’ defined instrumentally, whichever way gets most ‘pork’. Nor are all national conflicts about ways of life: many are about territory and resources. To use Sharma’s categories, ethnic and national conflicts may be about which group rules, rather than about the rules themselves. When they are informed by religion, if this case can be generalised, they become about the content of those rules. The recent history of Northern Ireland also makes clear that while religiously informed conflicts may be fought to protect or to gain recognition for ways of life and identities, the fighting of them, and the process of institutional change involved in settlement, itself changes those ways of life and identities.
Here is a paper, Debating the Little Ice Age | Profs Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda (@EconomicsUCD, @UCD_Research). Excerpts, underlines, italicization, et al. are on our own.
ABSTRACT: This paper replies to commentaries by Sam White and by Ulf Büntgen and Lena Hellmann on our ‘The Waning of the Little Ice Age: Climate Change in Early Modern Europe’. White and Büntgen/Hellmann seek to prove that Europe experienced the kind of sustained falls in temperature between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries that can justify the notion of a Little Ice Age. Neither of them adequately addresses the cogency of the anecdotal or statistical evidence presented in our article, especially with regard to the spurious peaks and troughs created by the smoothing of temperature series — the so-called Slutsky Effect.
In two related articles, “The Waning of the Little Ice Age” and “Change Points and Temporal Dependence in Annual Weather Reconstructions: Did Europe Experience a Little Ice Age?” we examined, respectively, the documentary and statistical evidence for a Little Ice Age (LIA) in Europe, finding little hard evidence to support the widely held belief that Europe experienced sustained falls in temperature between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. …
THE LITTLE ICE AGE ACCORDING TO WHITE … the period between roughly 1400 and 1900, apart from a mild phase in the mid-1700s, was distinctly cooler on average than the centuries before or after”. …. Figure 1…shows the probabilities of a good year, conditional on the previous year being good, and of a bad year, conditional on the previous year being bad. The eleventh and twentieth centuries at either end stand out from the rest. That the twentieth century has a higher probability of good winters and successive good winters than do earlier centuries is consistent with global warming. In the centuries between the two, the probability of good or bad winters appears fairly constant, as does the probability of a bad winter being followed by a bad one. The probability of good winters following good winters is also fairly constant, except for that of the seventeenth century, which is nearly 20 percent higher than those of the surrounding centuries, despite being in the depth of the supposed LIA. Note, however, that the credible intervals (or Bayesian confidence intervals) overlap with other periods. For summers, the probability of a good summer, or of successive good or bad summers, is fairly constant. The probability of bad summers is slightly lower in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and higher in the nineteenth century, but, again, the credible intervals overlap with other centuries. The point is by no means to deny the possibility of occasional clusters of bad years; in fact, the statistical article drew attention to the 1810s, the 1590s, and the 1690s, in particular. …
Unfortunately, neither the tone nor intellectual level of White’s criticisms improvesthereafter. After dubbing narratives linked to the LIA, such as the demise of the Norse Greenland colonies and English vineyards, “red herrings,” White devotes nearly half of his commentary to defending interpretations of them that are consistent with an LIA. We view these narratives, mostly due to Lamb, as circumstantial evidence, not as “proofs” of the LIA. …
Norsemen and Others In the documentary article, we argued that the paucity of hard data leaves room for several plausible but still nonfalsifiable explanations for the demise of Greenland’s Norse colonies. In addition to the LIA, we discussed six others that could account for the flimsy evidence available. The literature on the topic continues to accumulate. Since our article went to press, a new study by Arneborg, Lynnerup, and Heinemeier also denies that climate cooling forced the hand of the colonists. Their skeletal analysis indicates that the last colonists were neither stunted nor diseased. “Perhaps,” summarizes Linnerup, “they were just sick and tired of living at the ends of the earth and having almost nothing but seals to eat.” Both seals and a change in climate feature in another article of 2012, this one by Dugmore et al., in which several factors that we also mentioned play a role: (1) increasing conflict with indigenous inhabitants, whom the colonists called “Skraelings” (“now the Skraelings have desolated the whole western settlement,” as one mid-fourteenth-century source reported); (2) the marginalization of Greenland when Norway began to shift its focus to the south and east; (3) the declining importance of the trade in walrus tusks; and (4) the tiny size of the settlements (a single Inuit raid in 1379 A.D. may have deprived the colony of 5 percent of its hunters). Regular commercial contacts with Norway virtually ceased decades before the collapse of the eastern colony; the smaller western colony seems to have disappeared before any evident cooling in the supporting meteorological data. Our basic point—which White obfuscates—remains that, apart from any climatic considerations, the settlement’s existence was precarious. As Dugmore, Keller, and McGovern (whom we are accused of misquoting) concluded in their 2007 study, “One widely held view is that the impact of climate change, the failure of their pastoral subsistence base, and an inability to adapt were key factors in the end of Norse settlement in Greenland. Alternatively, as we argue here, unfavorable economic changes and falling populations might actually have been the key factors in increasing the settlements’ vulnerability.” We could not agree more.
London’s Frost Fairs White’s view of the frost fairs is contradictory. On the one hand, he concedes that “no serious scholar” considers the two dozen frost fairs on the river Thames between c. 1400 and 1814 as “proof” of an LIA. On the other, however, he cites them as evidence of cooling, since the data “appear to predict” the seventeenth-century peak implied by Northern Hemisphere proxy trends … White also skirts around our statistical point that frost fairs were much more likely during cold winters in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries than during cold winters in the preceding or following centuries.
Evidence of years when the river Rhône and Lake Constanz froze adds to the confusion since it suggests different chronologies … In the case of the Rhône, the fifteenth century was one of the mildest centuries of the second millennium, whereas the fourteenth century was the coldest. The number of Seegfrörne (lake freezings) on Lake Constance (Bodensee), however, peaked in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Neither series registers the seventeenth-century peak in the number of freezings championed by White.
The ambiguities inherent in these comparisons echo broader ambiguities about the dating of the LIA, which White exacerbates by proposing three distinct definitions of the “Real LIA” (1400-1850, 1310s-1810s, and c. 1580-c. 1710). The second and the third definitions are intended to capture the “human dimension” and the “human experience” of the LIA, respectively, but they serve only to allow the historian’s tail to wag the climatologist’s dog. The false precision of these dates, grounded in historical events, confuses secular trends and extreme years. White conflates the two—“LIA climate fluctuations brought clusters of extreme events” (White, 349)—but the events could easily have occurred without an LIA, as shown above. …
Hunting in the Snow … In terms of content and iconography, Bruegel was following a well-defined “book of hours” tradition, traceable back to the Middle Ages; “Hunters” was one of a series of six calendar illustrations commissioned by Antwerp merchant Nicolaes Jonghelinck in 1565. Two of the other illustrations, far from suggesting an LIA, have been described as a “radiant expression of high spring” and an example of “the flat glowing scenery [that] is pure midsummer.”
… the fading interest in this genre after c. 1675 owed less to climate change than to fashion, as the public wearied of gloomy representations of winter. The weather, as depicted in landscape painting during the Golden Age, owed more to “the stylistic requirements of the market” than to meteorological reality. Paintings were accordingly biased toward dramatic or fine weather and away from the humdrum grey clouds most commonly found in Dutch skies, then and now. The stock-in-trade of Hendrick Averkamp (1585-1634), who has become synonymous with the LIA, was joyful winter scenes, played out almost always “in calm and stable weather conditions with stratiform clouds.”….
Population and Agriculture Turning from symptoms to consequences of the LIA, Lamb and his followers repeatedly claimed that the impact of the LIA was particularly severe in the colder, marginal areas of Europe. As temperatures dropped, “grain cultivation [in Iceland] had to be given up”; “farms in many [of Norway’s]upland districts stood empty for hundreds of years”; and even in Denmark, “visitors to a royal wedding in 1406 reported much uncultivated, sodden land,” lamenting that “wheat was grown nowhere.” We addressed such claims indirectly through an analysis of population trends and agricultural yields. The ramifications of cooling should have been evident in demographic trends, particularly in the marginal parts of Europe. On the contrary, the “perfect storm of population pressures and rapid cooling” asserted by White did not prevent the populations of Scandinavia and Switzerland from increasing their share of the European total… Similarly, the cooling associated with an LIA should have resulted in diminished cereal yields, especially in the case of the more cold-sensitive grains. We could find no such evidence in the most comprehensive inventory of cereal yields available.
Nor is White’s gambit of highlighting extreme years — 1621 when the Bosphorus froze, 1658 when a Swedish army marched across the sound, or 1709 when French wine burst in its bottles — convincing. We could equally invoke the winter of 1941/42, when the extreme cold had important ramifications for the outcome of Word War II; that of 1947, when ice floes were seen off the East Anglian coast, and the Dover-Ostend ferry service was suspended due to pack ice off the Belgian coast; or the “big freeze” of 1963, when the sea froze six km out to sea from Dunkirk, and a car could be driven across the frozen Thames at Oxford. But what would such conditions prove?
England’s Vineyards In this case, too, White contradicts himself. On the one hand, he declares that our discussion of the demise of wine production in late medieval England is “irrelevant,” with “no bearing” on climate cooling. On the other, however, he states that studies based on grape culture that point to “cooler summers in early modern Europe” are a “recurring element in descriptions of freezing LIA winters and offer a good indicator of their severity”…
England’s retreat from winemaking, which was a key part of Lamb’s classic case half a century ago, is now part of the conventional wisdom on the LIA. Our case—that wine production was always a marginal activity in England, that the quality of English wine was inferior, that the trade between England and western France entailed both regions to select their comparative advantage, and that, therefore, arguments invoking the LIA are redundant—stands.
Glaciers White’s rebuttal of our short discussion of growth and shrinkage of glaciers is the most confusing and contradictory of all. Rather than confront our evidence of stasis before the nineteenth century… he invokes Groves’ unhelpful chronology, which times the main advances as “dating to around 1320, 1380, 1580 to 1610, 1690 to 1700, in the 1770s, around 1820 and 1850, in the 1880s, 1920s and 1960.” The implication that cooling lasted well beyond 1850 should have alerted White to the possibility (as we noted) that higher winter precipitation brought by mild and humid winters may also have played a role, making the connection between temperature and glacier length hardly straightforward.
THE LITTLE ICE AGE ACCORDING TO BÜNTGEN AND HELLMANN Our response to Büntgen and Hellmann is less involved because they do not address anything that we wrote. In fact, they barely refer to us, even less to our arguments, except occasionally to re-assert that we are wrong. Were their article an exam, we would be tempted to respond, “Answer the question asked.”
In the statistical paper, we show that the four main documentary reconstructions of European weather over the past centuries do not reveal the trends or breaks that we would expect from a European Little Ice Age. Instead, the temperature series resemble white noise–independent draws from a distribution with a fixed mean and variance. In order to dispute our findings, Büntgen and Hellmann need to do one of two things—(1) to prove that the series that we analyze, which have been constructed by leading European climatologists, many of whom have co-authored papers with Büntgen and Hellmann, are wrong or (2) that our statistical analysis, in particular the powerful martingale difference tests that form the analytical core of the statistical paper, is deficient. Büntgen and Hellmann attempt neither of these strategies. Instead, they present a number of studies that purport to show systematic drops in European temperature during the past few centuries. But there are two problems with most of these studies, both of which Büntgen and Hellman ignore: They are largely based on tree rings, and the data are smoothed.
Climatologists have gone to considerable effort to reconstruct documentary weather series for Europe rather than using tree rings because tree rings are not a reliable proxy for weather in most parts of Europe. Tree rings reflect weather only at the limits of a tree’s geographical range where it is under constant stress due to aridity or cold. In Europe, this fact limits their usefulness to high mountains or northern Scandinavia — hence, the importance of documentary evidence. … …
The second difficulty with Büntgen and Hellmann’s series arises from the standard climatological practice of smoothing data. In the statistical article, we demonstrate that smoothing a white-noise series… leads to the appearance of spurious cycles–a so-called Slutsky effect… Although random, at least before the twentieth century, each series appears to show episodes of unusual cold. The Central European series is particularly relevant to Büntgen and Hellmann; it has a particularly cold episode in the late sixteenth century and other cold spells during the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. What makes this graph relevant is that… the most damning evidence against us is the PAGES 2k Consortium reconstruction of European temperature.
However, this reconstruction is based on the standard Central European reconstruction that we analyze in the statistical paper and graph-smoothed… with additional tree-ring series from the Pyrenees, Alps, Balkans, and Scandinavia. The LIA episodes of deep cold in the PAGES 2k construction correspond to the spurious dips in our Central European series…
Once again, we emphasize that although the hazards of unthinkingly smoothing weather series is a central theme of our work on the LIA, Büntgen and Hellmann do not mention it once. Instead, they attempt to refute our findings with what is, in effect, a smoothed version of one of the main series that we analyze and show to be unchanged across the supposed European LIA.