By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog
On December 17, 2020 A new US Maritime strategy was unveiled putting into practice the regressive concepts first outlined in the early National Defense Strategy 2020 doctrine which target China and Russia as the primary enemies of the USA and demanding that the USA be capable to “defeat our adversaries while we accelerate development of a modernized integrated all-domain naval force of the future”.
The Pentagon’s Advantages at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power continued by saying “China’s and Russia’s revisionist approaches in the maritime environment threaten US interests, undermine alliances and partnerships and degrade the free and open international order… moreover, China’s and Russia’s aggressive naval growth and modernization are eroding US institutional advantages.”
The document continued to describe that “we must operate more assertively to prevail in day-to-day competition as we uphold the rules-based order and deter our competitors from pursuing armed aggression… ready, forward-deployed naval forces will adopt a more assertive posture in day to day operations”
For anyone who has been paying attention to the vast growth of the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum containment policy around China’s perimeter begun with Obama’s Asia Pivot, it may appear as though these words are not new, but just a continuation of American unipolar agenda, Pacific war games, and psychological projection onto perceived enemies, that have been underway for years. While this is certainly true, it must be noted that they are occurring at a time that NATO 2030 has enshrined an anti-China military posture into the Trans Atlantic security doctrine which had formerly channeled most of its hate purely onto Russia.
The fact is those unipolar zombies programmed to think in no other terms but global post-nation state dominance are deathly afraid of the Russia-China bond of survival which has created a uniquely viable foundation for an alternative economic/security architecture for the world. This model is based on a system of finance that defines money not in speculative but rather long-term development of the real economic foundations of life. It also features a strong emphasis on win-win cooperation as opposed to Hobbesian zero-sum logic dominant among western powers, and it also finds itself driven by OPEN system economic practices shaped by unbounded scientific and technological progress that once upon a time guided America’s better traditions.
With the obvious threat of nuclear war breaking out between a collapsing unipolar order in the west and an emergent Multipolar alliance, it is important to review what possible latent policy traditions may yet be revived within America’s history which certain forces have worked very hard to scrub out of the historical record and memory. This study will take us to the incredible fights that arose over America’s identity at the turn of the 20th century during the period of President William McKinley and the treasonous anglophile President of vice, Theodore Roosevelt.
Monroe Doctrine or Empire?
As Martin Sieff eloquently laid out in his recent article, President McKinley himself was an peacemaker, anti-imperialist of a higher order than most people realize. McKinley was also a strong supporter of two complementary policies: 1) Internally, he was a defender of Lincoln’s “American system” of protectionism, internal improvements and black suffrage and 2) Externally, he was a defender of the Monroe Doctrine that defined America’s anti-imperial foreign policy since 1823.
The Monroe Doctrine’s architect John Quincy Adams laid out this principle eloquently on July 4, 1821:
“After fifty years the United States has, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations, while asserting and maintaining her own.
That the United States does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
That by involving itself in the internal affairs of other nations, the United States would destroy its own reason of existence; the fundamental maxims of her policy would become, then, no different than the empire America’s revolution defeated. It would be, then, no longer the ruler of itself, but the dictator of the world.”
America’s march is the march of mind, not of conquest.
Colonial establishments are engines of wrong, and that in the progress of social improvement it will be the duty of the human family to abolish them”.
It was an aging John Quincy Adams whom a young Abraham Lincoln collaborated with in ending the imperial Mexican-American war under Wall Street stooge James Polk in 1846. When Adams died in 1848, Lincoln picked up the torch he left behind as the London-directed “proto deep state” of the 19th century worked to dissolve the republic from within. The foreign policy conception laid out by Adams ensured that America’s only concern was “staying out of foreign imperial entanglements” as Washington had earlier warned and keeping foreign imperial interests out of the Americas. The idea of projecting power onto the weak or subduing other cultures was anathema to this genuinely American principle.
A major battle which has been intentionally obscured from history books took place in the wake of Lincoln’s murder and the re-ascension of the City of London-backed slave power during the decades after the Union victory of 1865. On the one hand America’s role in the emerging global family of nations was being shaped by followers of Lincoln who wished to usher in an age of win-win cooperation. Such an anti-Darwinian system which Adams called “a community of principle” asserted that each nation had the right to sovereign banking controls over private finance, productive credit emissions tied to internal improvements with a focus on continental (rail/road) development, industrial progress and full spectrum economies. Adherents of this program included Russia’s Sergei Witte and Alexander II, Germany’s Otto von Bismarck, France’s Sadi Carnot, and leading figures within Japan’s Meiji Restoration.
On the other hand, “eastern establishment families” of the USA more loyal to the gods of money, hereditary institutions and the vast international empire of Britain saw America’s destiny tied to an imperial global partnership with the Mother country. These two opposing paradigms within America have defined two opposing views of “progress”, “value”, “self-interest” and “law” which have continued to shape the world over 150 years later.
William Gilpin vs Alfred Mahan: Two Paradigms Clash
A champion of the former traditionally American outlook who rose to the international scene was William Gilpin (1813-1894). Gilpin hailed from a patriotic family of nation builders whose patriarch Thomas Gilpin was a close ally of Benjamin Franklin and leading member of Franklin’s Philosophical Society. William Gilpin was famous for his advocacy of America’s trans continental railway whose construction he proselytized as early as 1845 (it was finally begun by Lincoln during the Civil War and completed in 1869 as I outlined in my previous paper How to Save a Dying Republic).
In his thousands of speeches and writings, Gilpin made it known that he understood America’s destiny to be inextricably tied to the ancient civilization of China- not to impose opium as the British and their American lackies were want to do, but to learn from and even emulate!
In 1852, Gilpin stated:
“Salvation must come to America from China, and this consists in the introduction of the “Chinese constitution” viz. the “patriarchal democracy of the Celestial Empire”. The political life of the United States is through European influences, in a state of complete demoralization, and the Chinese Constitution alone contains elements of regeneration. For this reason, a railroad to the Pacific is of such vast importance, since by its means the Chinese trade will be conducted straight across the North American continent. This trade must bring in its train Chinese civilization. All that is usually alleged against China is mere calumny spread purposefully, just like those calumnies which are circulated in Europe about the United States”.
With Lincoln’s 1861 presidential victory, Gilpin became Lincoln’s bodyguard and ensured the president survived his first assassination attempt en route to Washington from Illinois. During the Civil War, Gilpin was made Colorado’s first Governor where he successfully stopped the southern power from opening up a western front during the war of secession (applying Lincoln’s greenback system to finance his army on a state level) and winning the “Battle of Glorieta Pass”, thus saving the union.
After the war Gilpin became a leading advocate of the internationalization of the “American system of political economy” which Lincoln applied vigorously during his short-lived presidency. Citing the success of Lincoln’s system, Gilpin said: “No amount of argument will make America adopt old world theories… To rely upon herself, to develop her own resources, to manufacture everything that can possibly be manufactured within her territory- this is and has been the policy of the USA from the time of Alexander Hamilton to that of Henry Clay and thence to our own days”.
Throughout his speeches Gilpin emphasizes the role of a U.S.-Russia alliance: “It is a simple and plain proposition that Russia and the United States, each having broad, uninhabited areas and limitless undeveloped resources, would by the expenditure of 2 or 3 hundred millions apiece for a highway of the nations threw their now waste places, add a hundredfold to their wealth and power and influence”
And seeing in China’s potential the means to re-enliven the world- including the decadent and corrupt culture of Europe: “In Asia a civilization resting on a basis of remote antiquity has had, indeed, a long pause, but a certain civilization- although hitherto hermetically sealed up has continued to exist. The ancient Asiatic colossus, in a certain sense, needed only to be awakened to new life and European culture finds a basis there on which it can build future reforms.”
In opposition to the outdated British controls of “chock points” on the seas which kept the world under the clutches of the might of London, Gilpin advocated loudly for a system of internal improvements, rail development, and growth of the innate goodness of all cultures and people through scientific and technological progress. Once a global system of mutual development of rail were established, Gilpin stated “in the shipment of many kinds of raw and manufactured goods, it will largely supersede the ocean traffic of Great Britain, in whose hands is now carrying the trade of the world.”
Gilpin’s vision was most clearly laid out in his 1890 magnum opus “The Cosmopolitan Railway” which featured designs for development corridors across all continents united by a “community of principle”.
Echoing the win-win philosophy of Xi Jinping’s New Silk Road today, Gilpin stated:
“The cosmopolitan railway will make the whole world one community. It will reduce the separate nations to families of our great nation… From extended intercommunication will arise a wider intercourse of human ideas and as the result, logical and philosophical reciprocities, which will become the germs for innumerable new developments; for in the track of intercommunication, enterprise and invention invariably follow and whatever facilitates one stimulates every other agency of progress.”
Mahan Derails America’s Anti-Imperial Identity
Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914) represented an opposing paradigm which true American statesmen like Lincoln, Secretary of State James Blaine, William Seward, President Grant, William Garfield, and McKinley detested. Sadly, with McKinley’s murder (run by an anarchist ring with ties to British Intelligence) and the rise of Teddy Roosevelt in 1901, it was not Gilpin’s but rather Mahan’s worldview which became the dominant foreign policy doctrine for the next 120 years (despite a few brief respites under FDR and JFK).
Mahan is commonly credited for being a co-founder of modern geopolitics and an inspiration for Halford Mackinder. Having graduated from West Point’s naval academy in 1859, Mahan soon became renowned as a total failure in actual combat having crashed warships repeatedly into moving and stationary objects during the Civil War. Since reality was not his forte, Mahan focused his post-war career on Ivory tower theorizing gushing over maps of the world and fawning over Britain’s power as a force of world history.
His “Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783 published in the same year that Gilpin published his Cosmopolitan Railway (1890) was a total break from the spirit of win-win cooperation that defined America’s foreign policy. According to the Diplomat, this book soon “became the bible for many navies around the world” with the Kaiser of Germany (now released from the influence of the great rail-loving statesman Otto von Bismarck whom he fired in 1890) demanding all of his offers read. Later Teddy Roosevelt ordered copies for every member of Congress. In Mahan’s book, the geopolitician continuously asserts his belief that it is America’s destiny to succeed the British Empire.
Taking the British imperial definition of “commerce” which uses free trade as a cover for the military dominance of weak nations (open borders and turning off protectionism simply makes a people easier to rob), Mahan attempts to argue that America need not continue to adhere to “outdated” habits like the Monroe doctrine since the new order of world empires demands America stay relevant in a world of sea power and empire. Mahan writes: “The advance of Russia in Asia, in the division of Africa, in the colonial ambitions of France and in the British idea of Imperial Federation, now fast assuming concrete shape in practical combined action in South Africa” demands that the USA act accordingly.
Attempting to refute the “outdated habits” of rail development which consume so many foolish statesmen around the globe, Mahan states: “a railway competes in vain with a river… because more facile and copious, water traffic is for equal distances much cheaper and because cheaper, more useful”. Like those attacking today’s Belt and Road Initiative, the power of railways is that their returns are not measurable by simple monetary terms, but are rather QUALITATIVE. The long-term construction of rail systems not only unite divided people, increase manufacturing and industrial corridors but also induce closer powers of association and interchange between agriculture and urban producers. These processes uplift national productive powers building full spectrum economies and also a culture’s capacity for creative thought.
The attempt made to justify sea traffic merely because “larger amounts of goods can be shipped” is purely quantitative and monetaristic sophistry devoid of any science of real value.
While Gilpin celebrates the successful awakening of China and other great nations of the world, in the Problem of Asia (1901) Mahan says: “It is scarcely desirable that so vast a proportion of mankind as the Chinese constitute should be animated by but one spirit”. Should China “burst her barriers eastward, it would be impossible to exaggerate the momentous issues dependant upon a firm hold of the Hawaiian islands by a great civilized maritime power.”
Mahan’s adherence to social Darwinism is present throughout his works as he defines the political differences of the 3 primary branches of humanity (Teutonic, Slavic and Asiatic) as purely rooted in the intrinsic inferiority or superiority of their race saying: “There are well recognized racial divergencies which find concrete expression in differences equally marked of political institution, of social progress and of individual development. These differences are… deep seated in the racial constitution and partly the result of the environment”. Mahan goes onto restate his belief that unlike the superior Teutonics “the Oriental, whether national or individual does not change” and “the East does not progress”.
Calling China a carcass to be devoured by an American eagle, Mahan writes: “If life departs, a carcass can be utilized only by dissection or for food; the gathering to it of the eagles is a natural law, of which it is bootless to complain… the onward movement of the world has to be accepted as a fact.”
Championing an Anglo American alliance needed to subdue and “civilize” China as part of the post-Boxer Rebellion, Mahan says “of all the nations we shall meet in the East, Great Britain is the one with which we have by far the most in common in the nature of our interests there and in our standards of law and justice”.
In case there was any doubt in the minds of Mahan’s readers as to the MEANS which America should assert its dominance onto China, Mahan makes clear his belief that progress is caused by 1) force and 2) war: “That such a process should be underlain by force… on the part of outside influences, force of opposition among the latter themselves [speaking of the colonial European monarchies racing to carve up China in 1901 -ed] may be regrettable, but it is only a repetition of all history… Every step forward in the march that has opened in China to trade has been gained by pressure; the most important have been the result of actual war.”
A Last Anti-Imperial Push
The chaos induced by the anti-foreigner Boxer Rebellion of 1899 which spread quickly across China resulted a heated battle between imperial and anti-imperial forces in both Russia and the USA. Where Transport Minister Sergei Witte who spearheaded the development of the Trans Siberian rail line (1890-1905) tried to avoid military entanglement, McKinley was busy doing the same.
The boxers soon attacked the Manchurian rail connecting Russia to China by land and Witte succumbed to pressure to finally send in troops. The reformers of China who attempted to modernize with American and Russian assistance under Emperor Kuang Hsu and Li Hung Chang fell from power as total anarchy reigned. The outcome of the Boxer chaos involved the imperial powers of France, Germany and England demanding immense financial reparations, ownership of Chinese territory and mass executions of the Boxers.
While McKinley is often blamed for America’s imperial turn, the reality is just the opposite.
The Spanish-American war begun in 1898 was actually launched unilaterally by Anglophilic racist Theodore Roosevelt who used the 4 hour window he had while Undersecretary of the Navy (while the actual Secretary was out of Washington) to send orders to Captain Dewey of the Pacific fleet to engage in a fight with the Spanish over their Philippine territories. McKinley had resisted the war hawks until that point but found himself finally bending to the momentum. In China, McKinley, like Witte worked desperately to reject taking territory resulting in great fears from the British oligarchy that a U.S.-Russia alliance led by McKinley and Witte was immanent.
The assassination of McKinley on September 18, 1901 catapulted Mahan-loving Vice President Teddy Roosevelt into high office, who enmeshed America into a new epoch of Anglo-American imperialism abroad, a growth of eugenics and segregation at home and the creation of an independent police state agency called the FBI.
As Sieff writes: “Roosevelt devoted his next eight years in the presidency and the rest of his life to integrating the United States and the British Empire into a seamless web of racial imperialist oppression that dominated Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and that destroyed the cultural history and heritage of the Native North American nations.”
In Russia, the 1902 Anglo-Japan Treaty led to the disastrous Japan-Russo war of 1905 which devastated the Russian navy, ended the political career of Sergei Witte and threw Russia into chaos leading to the fall of the Romanovs (Czar Nicholas II was the last statesman occupying high office that this author is aware of to have actively promoted the Bering Strait Tunnel rail connection in 1906. It wasn’t until FDR’s Vice President Henry Wallace met with Foreign Minister Molotov in 1942 that the idea resurfaced once more).
In his Two Peoples One Friendship, Wallace described his discussions with Foreign Minister Molotov in 1942 saying:
“Of all nations, Russia has the most powerful combination of a rapidly increasing population, great natural resources and immediate expansion in technological skills. Siberia and China will furnish the greatest frontier of tomorrow… When Molotov [Russia’s Foreign Minister] was in Washington in the spring of 1942 I spoke to him about the combined highway and airway which I hope someday will link Chicago and Moscow via Canada, Alaska and Siberia. Molotov, after observing that no one nation could do this job by itself, said that he and I would live to see the day of its accomplishment. It would mean much to the peace of the future if there could be some tangible link of this sort between the pioneer spirit of our own West and the frontier spirit of the Russian East.”
While the “open door” rape of the China was attempted by the Anglo-Americans, a fortunate rear guard maneuver orchestrated by another follower of Abraham Lincoln named Sun Yat-sen resulted in a surprise overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1911 and the institution of the Republic of China with Sun Yat-sen as the acting President. While Sun Yat-sen sided with Gilpin and Lincoln in opposition to the Mahanists on the issue of rail and industrial development (illustrated in his extraordinary 1920 International Development of China program which called for 160 000 km of rail, water diversion projects, ports and 1.5 million km of paved roads- illustrated below), the intrigues that sank the world into World War I made any hopes of this early development of China impossible in Sun Yat-sen’s lifetime.
Expressing his own deep understanding of these top down tactics of world history (and the recognition that the same British imperial forces that orchestrated the US Civil War were planning to do the same to China), Sun Yat-sen wrote in 1912:
“We understand too well that there are certain men of power—not to include for the present, certain nations—who would view with a greater or lesser satisfaction an internal rupture in the new Republic [of China]. They would welcome, as a move toward the accomplishment of their own ends and designs, a civil war between the provinces of the North and the South; just as, 50 years ago, there was applause in secret (in certain quarters) over the terrible civil strife in the United States.
Americans of today who were alive in those dark days of the great republic will remember the feelings in the hearts of the people—the bitter and painful thoughts that arose from the knowledge that foreigners were hoping and praying for the destruction of the American Union.
Had the war been successful from the South’s standpoint, and had two separate republics been established, is it not likely that perhaps half a dozen or more weak nations would have eventually been established? I believe that such would have been the result; and I further believe that with the one great nation divided politically and commercially, outsiders would have stepped in sooner or later and made of America their own. I do not believe that I am stating this too forcibly. If so, I have not read history nor studied men and nations intelligently.
And I feel that we have such enemies abroad as the American republic had; and that at certain capitals the most welcome announcement that would be made would be that of a rebellion in China against the constituted authorities.
This is a hard statement to make; but I believe in speaking the truth so that all the world may know and recognize it.”
Today’s Belt and Road Initiative, and strategic friendship established between Russia and China has re-awoken the forgotten vision of William Gilpin for a world of cooperating sovereign nation states. Does the USA have the moral ability to avoid disintegration by accepting a Russia-U.S.-China alliance needed to revive McKinley’s American System or will we slip into a new Great Reset and World War?
Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow, BRI Expert on Tactical talk, and has authored 3 volumes of ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation. He can be reached at [email protected]