There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2021
You may well remember Fiona Hill as a “fact witness” from Donald Trump’s first impeachment. I thought I would hate her, but after reading her book, I found that she is actually fairly reasonable and motivated by many of the same concerns that I am. I’ll explore the problems in her policy proposals and overall worldview at the end.
England’s Rust Belt
Dr. Hill started out in England’s Rust Belt. She is of mixed British heritage — English, Scots, Welsh, Irish Traveler, etc. — and quite familiar with the culture of Northeast England. Her family were coal miners when that industry, along with steel and shipbuilding, predominated there. But in the 1960s, the coal mining industry fell apart and the mills closed. Her father became a hospital porter. Her mother also worked in a hospital as a midwife and nurse, but dropped out when she had children. Many of her neighbors and family members were unemployed or underemployed in the long term.
Her family was poor and from one of the poorest parts of England. Her grandparents lived in Roddymoor, County Durham. As the economic base shrank due to the de-industrial collapse, Roddymoor lost its bus service and became a food desert. Her grandparents were crippled from their years of toil in the mines and elsewhere. Her grandmother had trouble navigating the stairs, staying on the ground floor and eating canned food, thus becoming obese, which added to her woes. I’ve seen this same situation in America’s Rust Belt, where malnourished people are overweight.
Fiona was noted by her teachers for being very bright, but her school in Bishop Auckland was not very good. She describes bullying, attacks on teachers, and other outrages. Eventually, in the late 1970s she was invited to attend a conference in Germany along with other outstanding British students, sponsored by the Durham County Council’s educational authority. There, she realized that her northern England accent and working class background were factors that put her near the bottom of British society.
The sorting between classes came in the form of three questions:
- Where are you from?
- What does your father do?
- What school do you go to?
Her answers, given in her northern accent, marked her as working class, and some of the other students stopped talking to her then and there. Later, her parents scrimped and saved and used their connections with various miners’ associations to get Fiona into university. When she attempted to attend Oxford, she ran into one of the girls she had met at the exchange in Germany, which became an exercise in snobbery. She was tripped — possibly deliberately — by the girl with an outstretched leg just as she was called into the interviewer’s office. Then she is told that she won’t be going to Oxford while nursing a bloody nose from the fall.
She attended Saint Andrews University instead. The class snobbery was still bad there, but not nearly as much as at Oxford. Saint Andrews University is where Dr. Hill’s career as a Russian expert comes into focus. She was able to go to the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. While in Moscow she realized that the Soviet Union was de-industrializing and collapsing in the same way as her home county, despite the fact that Moscow had great cultural amenities.
Her interest in Russia stemmed from two events. The first was that she had a war hero relative, her “Uncle” Charlie Crabtree, who had served with the British fleet in the Second World War, where he had a series of interesting adventures. Uncle Charlie had a difficult time understanding why the Soviet Union had gone from being a war-time ally to such a ferocious enemy. This question haunted Fiona as well. The second was that she was emotionally impacted by the early 1980s war scares, especially the contentious deployment of both American and Soviet nuclear missiles to Germany as well as the downing of KAL 007 by a Soviet fighter jet.
Fiona then went to Harvard, where she met her husband, an American Midwesterner with roots in South Dakota and Illinois.
Dr. Hill went on to serve in three presidential administrations, most notably the Trump administration. At this point in the narrative she starts to offer some insights that I feel are worth passing on.
One regards pay. She makes a big deal about the female-to-male pay gap. She discovered that she wasn’t making as much as the men around her. I’ll therefore pass on some advice I received that worked well for me and that can work well for anyone, regardless of sex. First, don’t bother going to an interview where they don’t offer to cover your travel expenses. If you are paying for the ticket and hotel room, they won’t hire you – they’re just padding the candidate list before hiring the person they’ve already decided on. There is no converse to this rule. Second, when you’re closing in on being hired for a salaried job, make them give you the salary number first. If they promise a raise after six months, get it in writing, and be prepared to confront them with it when the time comes. They won’t do it automatically.
Another pertains to leadership. Dr. Hill says that President Trump ran the Executive Branch in the same way that he ran his businesses. He saw his experts as staff who were there to carry out his will, not people from whom he was taking advice. There is a dividing line between staff and experts: When a leader is dealing with a project that he has control, such as building a grand canal, he needs his staff and subordinates to carry out his policies, but when a leader is dealing with forces that are out of his control — such as formulating policy against a geopolitical rival like Russia — he will need to know how to consult experts and be able to heed their warnings.
Dr. Hill was also cognizant of how she appeared as a woman operating in a masculine setting. She was able to use Michelle Obama’s hairstylist to give her a professional, non-frumpy look. She dressed in such a way that her fashion choices were not an issue. She also did not engage in strategic anger. Women who get mad are seen as emotional and unreasonable, while men can use anger to show their concern and forcefulness.
She also mentions several conspiracies that deserve further remarks. First, she claims that the idea that George Soros is behind all manner of evil stems from two Jewish lobbyists who were paid by Viktor Orbán to give him a foil to define himself against. The two Jews were Arthur Finkelstein and George Birnbaum. She also believes in the climate change conspiracy. I’ve come to believe that climate change is a conspiracy designed to unite the Democratic Party’s disparate factions with a crisis that is vague and doesn’t involve a specific enemy who can be offended, but which seems big and important nonetheless. In this same way, the crisis unites the European and American elites. Their crisis might be at an end, though, given that new technology is mineralizing carbon captured from the atmosphere. Eventually, this technology will provide good jobs in various places. One day there might even be houses made from bricks that were themselves derived from atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Finally, she argues that the Trump administration was riddled with intrigue and back-stabbing. This strikes me as true. She further claims that Trump always believed schemers who would tell him that so-and-so was saying something bad about him. This created a high turnover rate in his administration that was unhelpful. There were actual conspiracies against Trump, of course. America First white advocates need to become qualified enough to serve on the staff of a future Pat Buchanan/Trumpist-style President and figure out how to work together in an honest and loyal way.
Dr. Hill also discusses the Russian “hacking” conspiracy. She argues that the Russians indeed “hacked” the election by creating false social media accounts to exacerbate and amplify divisions within the United States, especially along racial lines. The Russians were also behind the hacking of Hillary’s e-mails. Hill argues that the Russians were sure Hillary would win, but they wanted her victory to be tainted so that her administration would be slowed down by scandals and investigations.
The Russian effort at exacerbating tensions in America’s low-level civil war was a drop in the bucket compared to what is already occurring, however. I find it doubtful that the Russians really exacerbated racial issues to the degree that the Democratic Party and mainstream media were already doing. In every election year since Obama’s 2012 re-election run, the Democratic Party and mainstream media have hyped the death of a sub-Saharan to turn out the African vote. In 2014, the Democrat/mainstream media alliance caused Ferguson, Missouri to burn and Africanize. In 2016, this hyping was so intense that a sub-Saharan with an assault rifle murdered five cops in Dallas. Ironically, those police had been directing traffic in support of a BLM parade.
Regardless, Trump’s staff, of which Fiona Hill was a part, failed to contextualize the hacking. Trump was furious when H. R. McMaster said that the Russian “hacking” conspiracy was “incontrovertible,” but failed to add that the Russians hadn’t actually helped Trump to win. According to Hill’s own words and understanding of the “hacking” conspiracy, any division or scandal caused by Russian “meddling” was playing into “Putin’s hands,” although she and others omitted this fact and did not make it a mantra. One might be tempted to say that this omission is proof that Trump’s national security bureaucrats were disingenuous and disloyal.
Dr. Hill also believes that the 2020 election was not stolen, but fails to acknowledge that America has a long history of election fraud. Edgar Allan Poe likely died of alcohol poisoning while participating in a type of election fraud called cooping. The election of 1876 was certainly fraudulent, and a compromise had to be reached to determine a winner. President Lyndon Baines Johnson won his 1948 senatorial contest by means of a box of fraudulent votes from one county. The parallels between Johnson’s “discovered” votes and those late arriving votes in 2020 are obvious. The 1960 election was likewise determined by frauds in Chicago and Texas. President Jimmy Carter’s report on election fraud centered on mail-in votes as vehicles for dishonesty — yet another parallel to 2020.
Dr. Hill ably argues that de-industrialization is fueling the political crises in England and America. Dr. Hill’s American in-laws in the Midwest voted for Trump in 2016, and her English relations voted for Brexit. Both sets of relations were motivated by their sense that the establishments of their respective nations were not heeding or addressing their concerns. Northern England was once the Labour Party’s most loyal territory, but Labour Party MPs from other parts of England would take the safe seats there and then do nothing for their constituents.
In America, the GOP cannot get past what Seth David Radwell calls the “Conservative Dilemma.” This is when Republicans win on social issues but then only deliver tax cuts for billionaires. Donald Trump managed to get a tax break into law when the GOP held both houses of Congress, and then went to get funding for his border wall only after his party had lost the House, leading to a long government shutdown. This was a terrible structural error within the Republican Party.
Dr. Hill argues that Nigel Farage and Donald Trump are themselves part of the wealthy elite who are offering a false cure to blighted Rust Belt regions in both Great Britain and America. I’ll counter that while this might be true, they are pointing out a serious problem that nobody else in politics wants to talk about. Furthermore, “support for ethnic movements is often stronger among well-educated individuals with high incomes and high status occupations than among those from lower socio-economic levels.” The movements that led to Brexit and Trump’s victories were ethnic in nature.
De-industrialization is a national security threat. Dr. Hill focuses on its sharp politics, but there is also the fact that it has become hard to get things. Hunting ammunition is in short supply because lead comes from China. Go to a gun store and try to get a box of 30-30. There are none to be had. There is also a shortage of microchips. Building materials have become expensive. Shelves are empty. The supply chain is in crisis.
Dr. Hill discusses the issue of social networks and how they relate to success. The people of Northern England are underutilized by the wealthy areas around London because there are few connections or mutual support groups for the Northern English in those places. It is actually easier for someone from Northern England to move to America or Australia and become successful. I’m not certain this really a crisis from an America First perspective, however. Many Americans have a Northern English background; indeed, many of the most prominent families in Pennsylvania trace their ancestry to the Northern English towns of Settle and Giggleswick. But their emigration is a problem for the English. Dr. Hill offers several suggestions on how to improve the situation through education and various programs.
The Missing Parts of the Crisis
De-industrialization is a serious crisis, but Dr. Hill is ignoring several other serious problems. One is the fact that the Russians are rational and just in their concern over Ukraine and NATO’s eastern expansion. Russia has been invaded from the west many times: the Teutonic Knights in 1242, the Poles in 1610, the Swedes in 1708, Napoleon in 1812, and the Germans in 1918 and again in 1941. All of these cost the Russians dearly in blood and treasure.
Dr. Hill doesn’t mention the problems within NATO, either. On its eastern marches, NATO member states are deeply anti-Russian. In the west, however, the Italians, Spanish, French, and others have little reason to fear Russia. Then there is the German Question. In early 2021, the Russians used cyberwarfare to attack an American pipeline in a way which the Biden administration was unable to counter. This caused them to cease blocking the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will bring Russian oil to Germany. The balance of power within NATO has shifted due to this pipeline. Germany is now effectively a Russian ally.
In the current crisis in Ukraine, Germany has not provided significant aid to Ukraine, nor have they stationed their troops in Poland. They’ve really done little apart from forcing a pro-Russian admiral of theirs to resign. Thus, their insistence that they still support NATO rings quite hollow. NATO has gone too far to the east, and the costs exceed the benefits.
This situation was not unpredicted. In the early 1990s, Pat Buchanan argued against NATO’s eastern expansion, but the political establishment ignored him. Buchanan also argued that the British Empire collapsed as a result of their unsolicited guarantee to defend Poland in 1939. The parallels with America’s security guarantees to Ukraine are obvious.
An aggressive stance against Russia is a luxury policy, being endorsed by people who have animosity against the Russians but who have no concern over the costs that such a policy might inflict on others.
America has a problem with its allies bigger than NATO as well. Some of America’s allies have populations that harbor extreme anti-American prejudices, and yet they receive enormous military resources from the US all the same. For example, there have been incidents of South Koreans stabbing Americans in unprovoked attacks. The US Ambassador to South Korea was knifed in 2015, for example, and the South Koreans regularly protest the American presence in their country. This is despite the fact that the US has nearly 30,000 troops positioned along the DMZ. South Korean troops are nowhere to be found supporting NATO. Likewise, Israel costs the American taxpayer billions every year, and yet Israel’s excellent medical services have never patched up a wounded American soldier, nor have Israeli troops been used in support of any American conflict, anywhere.
There is also the Deep State. It has no card-carrying members. One won’t see any secret induction ceremonies where a federal bureaucrat is initiated into a cabal of wicked men. But there is a flawed culture within the American government whereby an administration enters into a reckless foreign policy action that is shrouded in lies that ignores the American people’s needs. Thus, calling it the Deep State is good enough as an appellation.
The first disaster instigated by the Deep State was the Bay of Pigs invasion. The Kennedy administration lied to members of its own team to carry out a plan that was doomed to failure from the outset. The same people who pushed for the Bay of Pigs then led America into Vietnam — and the wounds from that conflict have still not healed.
Other Deep State debacles often have a foreign lobbying group supporting them. The disastrous Lebanon deployment in 1983 is one example, as well as the Jewish-led, Jewish-planned Iraq War. The Syrian deployment remains ongoing despite the fact that President Trump campaigned against it and even ordered the troops home. His order to leave Syria was treacherously ignored by the military.
Dr. Hill recognizes that race is a fault line in American society, but claims that it can be overcome by bringing down class barriers. This is wrong. The problem isn’t class snobbery, nor is it an inefficient system. Instead, there are intractable racial differences in IQ and criminality. Sub-Saharans can’t truly fit into white society. Americans have tried to uplift them since the Civil War, and every attempt ends in failure. The best book on this subject remains Wilmot Robertson’s The Dispossessed Majority.
Finally, I find it curious that Dr. Hill failed to recognize the optics disaster that was Trump’s first impeachment. The Jewish angle was highly apparent in it. It also showcased Ukrainian corruption while failing to cause Trump to lose any support. But if Ukraine is conquered by Russia in the future, Dr. Hill’s testimony as a “fact witness” will be part of Putin’s arsenal.
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