Battle of Lepanto

Battle of Lepanto
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

On October 7, 1571, the decisive Battle of Lepanto saw Catholic forces under the overall command of Don Juan of Austria defeat a larger and more experienced Ottoman fleet led by the seemingly invincible Ali Pasha. The victory of the numerically smaller force and its fewer fighting men has long been considered the savior of Western Europe from the designs of militant Islam.

The Battle of Lepanto. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Christie’s, LotFinder: entry 5367968, PD-US.

Even in our day, commemoration of this remarkable event is marked by historians, especially in countries undoubtedly saved by the victory of the Western forces. During this very year, church leaders in Poland called for a massive rosary procession involving as many as a million people lining their nation’s eastern border. Their goal: letting neighboring countries and potential refugees know that Poland remains determined to retain its independence and its Catholic religion.

The famous one-day battle in 1571 won its name from proximity to the Strait of Lepanto, a portion of the Ionian Sea close to Western Greece. Historians tell us that the struggle was the last naval battle fought between vessels propelled by oarsmen. Warships then relied on sails for propulsion. The forces led by Don Juan numbered slightly more than 200 ships and 68,000 men while Ali Pasha commanded 250 vessels and 81,000 men. Some chroniclers of the battle attribute Don Juan’s victory to the efforts of his loyal rowers. Ali Pasha relied on his Janissaries, many of whom were captured and enslaved Christians. They weren’t as reliable as the free men who propelled Don Juan’s fleet.

By the end of it, it was little more than a single day of conflict with troops from either side boarding their enemy’s vessels and engaging in hand-to-hand combat, the Christians lost 10,000 men and 17 ships. The Turkish-led forces lost approximately 40,000 of their number, and 200 of their ships were sunk or captured. A noteworthy aside saw the victors freeing 12,000 Christian oarsmen, all victims of enslavement and, as a result, undependable.

The victory at Lepanto put an end to further advancement westward by Islam’s naval forces. But it did not end Islam’s territorial designs on the non-Muslim West. In 1683, a force of 200,000 Turkish ground troops commanded by Mustafa surrounded Vienna where they sought to starve the city’s occupants into submission. Polish King John Sobieski arrived in time with 80,000 troops and defeated the numerically superior Muslim force in a surprise attack. For his remarkable deed, King John has long been known as the “Savior of Vienna and Western Europe.” The defeat constituted Islam’s last major ground incursion westward. But Islam’s determination to control all of mankind has never ceased.

Defeated in naval and land campaigns, today’s descendants of Mohammed are carrying out their long-range plan to win the West with immigration, population increases, and an undermining of Western culture. Western leaders would be wise to understand this development. There is less a need for military giants like Austria’s Don Juan and Poland’s Jan Sobieski. There is, instead, a need for realism.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Executive Orders, Subject to the People

Executive Orders, Subject to the People 
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In a nation where people enjoy freedom, laws are made by a parliament, a congress, or some similar assemblage of elected officials. These lawmakers owe their posts to voters and are, in the main, subject to the people. But, as history has repeatedly shown, the laws in many nations are made by the decrees of a king or dictator who relies on virtually almighty power to rule.

The signing of an executive order on the Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government.

The signing of an executive order on the Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, (photo by White House Photo Office [Public domain by Pete Souza], via Wikimedia Commons).

America’s Founders knew well the excesses of that kind of power. So they declared themselves independent, fought a war to get out from under a king’s dictates, and won the struggle to be free. The very first clause in the 1787 Constitution they created left all law-making power in the hands of Congress. Under the rules established by the U.S. Constitution, the president is charged with the responsibility, not to make law, but to see that all laws properly enacted would be faithfully executed.

In the performance of his duties, a president can issue executive orders that have the force of law – but only among those who serve under him. A presidential executive order is proper when directed at government employees. While he serves, a president is much like the CEO of a company who certainly has a right to issue orders binding his employees.

In 1793, during his first term in office, George Washington issued an executive order declaring America’s neutrality in the war between France and England. Our first president soon realized that the protests of Madison and Jefferson against his executive mandate were correct. He then asked Congress to issue a law declaring the sought-after neutrality and Congress complied. There were no more presidential misuses of the executive order power for approximately 70 years.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln overstepped his authority and issued executive orders that suspended habeas corpus, blockaded southern ports, and emancipated southern slaves. He cited his role as “commander in chief” of the military to do so. Later, following the pattern set by Washington, he asked Congress to amend the Constitution to prohibit all slavery. Which was done. A measure of respect for the limitations on presidential power still existed during that period of history. Then in 1866, the Supreme Court in Ex Parte Milligan explained those limitations as follows:

The power to make necessary laws is in Congress; the power to execute in the President…. But neither can the President, in war more than in peace, intrude upon the proper authority of Congress, nor Congress upon the proper authority of the President.

Fast forward to today. In its first seven years, the Obama administration issued 560 major regulations via executive orders. Each had significant economic or social consequences for the entire nation. His wrongful reliance on the power to issue improper executive orders followed President George W. Bush’s issuance of half the number created by President Obama. As reported by Binyamin Applebaum and Michael D. Shear in the August 28, 2016 issue of the New York Times, the Obama orders aimed, among other targets, to “restructure the nation’s health care and financial industries, limit pollution, bolster workplace protections, and extend equal rights to minorities.” The Times reporters added that Obama’s reliance on executive orders “has imposed billions of dollars in new costs on businesses and consumers.”

Barack Obama has even stated his intention to use “my pen” if Congress doesn’t enact laws he wants. Too often, Congress has caved in and tolerated such completely illicit contempt for the Constitution. This docility of the legislative branch has to stop. No king or all-powerful ruler should be making laws for our nation.

Congress should declare any executive order aimed at the entire population completely null. All presidents should follow the lesson George Washington learned while he served as President. All Americans should become familiar with Article I, Section 1, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution where Congress is named as the sole possessor of “All legislative powers.”

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.