The first genocide of the 20th century

Europe struggles to atone for its colonial evils

Anti-populist minoritarian denialists for whataboutism

I learned another new word this week. Well, I’m always learning new words in Turkish – this one is English, my native language, in which I consider myself to have a pretty extensive vocabulary. What’s the word? Whatboutism

-ism/-ist are very useful suffixes in English. You attach them to the end of a noun or adjective and suddenly you have a belief system, usually with negative connotations, implying a fanatical adherence to a set of principles often justifying violence to those not belonging to the group; or at the very least, defending an indefensible point-of-view.

Examples: Communism, capitalism, Nazism, fundamentalist, evangelism, extremist, Islamist, Marxist, and so on.

In recent years, the following have become popular.

denialist/ism –people who think they have the right to deny something I am accusing them of. Implication? These people should just shut up and admit they are wrong and I am right!

majoritarianism –the mistaken belief that winning an election allows the elected party to get on with the job of governing a country. Implication? Even though my party of choice was unsuccessful, I still want things to be done my way.

populism/ist –a pejorative term applied by the losers to the winners of an election, even when, as in the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the Big DT was only supported by 26% of eligible voters.

And now we have whataboutism– a debating technique allowing the user to accuse me of any and every evil deed, while denying me the right to point out that other people (or countries) are guilty of equal or often worse crimes.

Thanks toThe Washington Post for publishing the following account of the 20th century’s first genocide – will someone please bring it to the attention of Pope Francis, when he has time to spare from defending his cardinals against the victims of child abuse and pedophilia.

germany-namibia-herero-skulls.width-800At a handover ceremony held in a Berlin church on Wednesday, Namibian officials received the remains of indigenous people killed in their country by German forces more than a century ago. The grisly contents included 19 skulls, a scalp and bones belonging to five skeletons, all of which had been housed for decades on dusty shelves in German universities and museums.

kaiser_main_1695446fThe remains are a visceral link to a hideous past — what many historians recognize as the first genocide of the 20th century. Between 1904 and 1908, colonial forces in what was then German South West Africa carried out the widespread massacre of Herero and Nama tribespeople. Estimates suggest as many as 80 percent of the nomadic Herero tribe — believed to number around 100,000 a century ago — perished, either killed by German soldiers or left to die of thirst and starvation in the desert.

In October 1904, Lothar von Trotha, the German commander in Namibia, delivered his infamous “extermination” order, dictating that “every Herero, with or without rifles, with or without cattle, will be shot.” The following year, he issued a similar warning concerning the Nama; some 10,000 are believed to have been killed.

The violence and indignity did not end there. Moved by the racist eugenics of the time, German authorities shipped thousands of skulls and other body parts of the aboriginal dead back to Europe. The specimens were subjected to studies that formed the basis for now-discredited theories of European racial superiority.

dsc_6574-2.jpgMany of the skulls belonged to tribesmen left to die in squalid concentration camps in the desert; their bodies were beheaded. In some instances, according to a 2011 article in Der Spiegel, widows were ordered to use shards of glass to scrape the flesh off their husbands’ heads so as to better prepare the skulls for transport.

The vileness of these acts is part and parcel of a far broader history. The Germans were hardly alone in slaughtering local populations or hoarding the body parts of slain natives. Myriad museums, clinics and universities in Europe still house remains of colonized peoples, who were sometimes killed explicitly for the purpose of augmenting these morbid collections.

Many Herero in Namibia are awaiting a formal German apology for the genocide of their ancestors. Officials in Berlin committed in 2016 to extending an apology, but they are still in negotiations with the Namibian government over the wording of an official statement. Analysts say the German government doesn’t want to commit to an apology that could make it liable for reparations.

c2bc3439f9145394b389693d4aeed376b3c08e71054d5122a452992bf4fd8b2bOn Wednesday, Michelle Müntefering, the minister of state at the German foreign office, said that “Germany is firmly committed to its historic responsibility” and asked the Namibian delegation for “forgiveness,” but stopped short of an official apology.

European governments are notoriously averse to offering formal apologies, while the right-wing populists ascendant in countries such as France, Britain and Germany — inflamed by various forms of imperial nostalgia — decry the supposed shame complexes of the left. Germany’s far-right AfD has even urged its compatriots to get over their “guilt cult” about Nazi-era crimes.

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World War Three?

I came across a curious article the other day while skimming through various news sources. The headline was:

The Queen has a SECRET speech prepared and ready for WORLD WAR 3

royal family

World War 3, anyone? A show of knees, please. The royals’ll be right there, of course – fighting them on the beaches etc.

Dear old Elizabeth, I thought. Well, she’s been sitting on that throne for a long time now, so you’d have to think she’s got pretty much every possible event covered. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, as we used to say.

The UK Express published this little piece as accusations against Russia were surfacing over the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal, former spy and double agent. Now talk of a Third World War seems to have become the latest buzz topic in the salons of the well-off.

“The Queen”, readers would no doubt have been comforted to hear, “has a speech prepared in case this terrible event does happen. It may have been written nearly forty years ago and is of its time, but it is still relevant today.”

‘Now,” says Lilibet, “this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds.’”

But, hang on – forty years ago? Yep. Apparently, this “incredibly prescient” speech was written on 4 March 1983, a year after the much-faded British Empire had launched an attack by land, sea and air on that major threat to world peace, Argentina, over a tiny archipelago 1,800 km from Buenos Aires, and 12,686 km from London. Great Britain, it seems, had claimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands in 1690. There was some debate, however, in international circles over this claim, with Spain, France, Argentina and later the United States all expressing interest. The Brits, nevertheless, World Number One at the time, backed up their own argument in 1833 with the time-honoured strategy of gunboat diplomacy – and has exercised “de facto sovereignty” ever since.

soviet-union-is-the-focus-of-evil-in-the-modern-world-ronald-reagan-67-54-70

OK, they’ve gone – so who is it now?

1983: Geriatric former Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, was in his first term as President of the USA. He was much-mocked at the time – but his tenure has since come to be viewed with wistful affection in the light of subsequent horrors. Those were the days when Soviet Russia was, allegedly, still the main threat to world peace – and Reagan “The Gipper” was planning to locate missile bases in outer space to get a better coverage of earth-bound targets.

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There wasn’t much sadness when Maggie went on her last journey

Maggie Thatcher, a one-term wonder if ever there was one, had ensured her re-election to the UK premiership by waging that outrageous little war against a third-world South American dictatorship, swept back in on a wave of nostalgic jingoistic patriotism. “The Witch” then proceeded to destroy the unions, create widespread unemployment and poverty, and hand the UK economy over to the financial leeches of London City. The retributive hand of Divine Justice sentenced her to spend her declining years in demented insanity – before casting her into the fires of perpetual damnation. But of course, I don’t really believe in that stuff 😉

The really important question, however, is, whose mortal hand is working behind the scenes of these exemplary democracies to ensure that these looney ideologues are “elected” as leaders of the so-called “Free World”?

lawrence

Apparently he was quite keen on a spot of flagellation

I recently read a history of the First World War by John Keegan – lauded by some as one of the world’s great military historians. I have to say I found it pretty heavy-going, and I mostly skipped over detailed accounts of pointless battles of attrition on the Western and Eastern Fronts. I was really interested in the “theatres” that received little attention in the “history” I was brought up with – especially British attacks on Ottoman territory in Palestine and “Mesopotamia”. With the exception of TE Lawrence’s romanticised, self-aggrandising tales of sado-masochistic adventures in “Arabia”, we knew little of the British government’s plans to establish a Zionist state in Palestine, and seize the Middle Eastern oil-fields for themselves.

But empire-building was what that war was really all about – overcoming rivals to control the world’s resources and enslaving the poorer people in one’s own and other countries. State propaganda was widely used to persuade the public that war was necessary to preserve freedom and defeat an evil enemy. Thinking citizens who refused to believe the lies were ruthlessly punished.

A second more terrible war broke out a mere twenty years after that one ended. The propaganda was more sophisticated, but the Second World War was really a continuation of the First – a continuing struggle for world dominance by competing empires. And a conflict manufactured by financial-industrial oligarchs to establish a new world economic order after the disastrous depression they themselves had created.

With Germany and Japan defeated and laid waste, and the British Empire disintegrating, the United States emerged from that second war as the world’s number one military and economic power. “United” however, it certainly wasn’t. The North-South divide had never gone away. Racial tensions seethed below the glamorous surface illusion created by Hollywood and Madison Avenue. Extremes of obscene wealth and abject poverty were preserved by armed force when necessary. Relaxed open societies flourished in coastal cities contrasting with the religious conservatism of inland states. An existential danger posed by an outside threat was needed to unite a divided people – and for forty years Soviet Russia’s “evil empire” provided that unifying service.

So, what’s changed? Let’s list the changes:

rust belt

Rust Belt, USA

  • The United States’ economic engine has long-since stalled. Its manufacturing sector has been exported to poor countries where the labour force can be exploited to generate greater profits for owners and “shareholders”.
  • Once-great cities have been turned into deserts of poverty, crime and systemic unemployment, with enclaves of super-wealthy guarded by private police, high walls and razor-wire.
  • Real economic growth has ceased. An unsustainable illusion of growth has been maintained by media-driven consumption and shopping.
  • The USA has been transformed from the world’s banker into its greatest debtor.
  • The country’s pristine natural environment has been increasingly ravaged and sacrificed to the greed of industrialists and commercial interests.
  • The anarchy of the internet has brought into the open the dirty secrets of governments that had previously portrayed themselves as representatives of freedom, democracy, justice and equality. More and more people all over the world are discovering the real truth about how the US has used its military and economic power to overthrow democratically elected governments, install puppet dictators and condone their use of torture and murder.
  • The USSR fizzled out of existence, removing the long-standing danger that had prevented the “United” States from disintegrating into its multitude of component parts.

No credible external enemy has been found to replace the evil Soviets. They’ve tried Muslims, but Islam is just about as divided as Christianity – although retaining perhaps a little more faith and sincerity. No one can really believe in a unified Islamic monster opening its jaws to swallow Western civilisation.

trump-kin jong un

Who would you say poses the bigger danger to world peace?

North Korea? With a population of 25 million, and economy ranked 125th in the world, it’s hard to see Kim Jong-Un as a major threat, no matter how hard you try.

Russia again? It may be the largest country by land area, but according to Forbes, its economy is smaller than that of Texas. You may not like Vladimir Putin, but Russians seem to – and he has given them some self-belief back after the shame of the Soviet collapse. Nevertheless, Mr Putin’s probably got enough problems in his own backyard without challenging for world domination.

bankers-warsSo, are we on the brink of a Third World War? In whose interests would it be? Certainly not the tens or hundreds of millions of human beings who can expect to die quickly or slowly if it does break out. As in all other wars, it is the power elite who will do none of the actual fighting, suffer few of the hardships, but expect to reap major financial benefits. Who will start it? As in the past, it is that elite and their minions who will instigate provocations until some other government decides enough is enough and begins to fight back. Then they will be blamed for the ensuing conflagration.

God save us!

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

auckland-museumjpg

The Auckland War Memorial Museum on its spectacular site

I took a trip down memory lane on my recent visit to New Zealand. The War Memorial Museum is arguably Auckland’s most iconic building – if you ignore that upstart Sky Tower with its money-laundering casino. Surrounded by 75 hectares of sculptured gardens, sports fields and semi-wilderness, the museum’s hilltop setting offers a tree-framed view over the harbour to Rangitoto and other islands of the Hauraki Gulf – these days marred somewhat by giant cranes and other paraphernalia of the port container terminal.

According to Wikipedia, the original building, opened in 1929, was constructed partly with the same English Portland stone used for Buckingham Palace and St Pauls Cathedral – requiring a six-week sea-voyage to the uttermost end of the Earth. Quite an expense for a tiny country.

The main hall on the museum’s ground floor is devoted to the indigenous cultures of New Zealand and its regional neighbours – the Māori and their Polynesian cousins who navigated the trackless immensity of the Pacific Ocean centuries before Dutch and English explorers “discovered” it. Taking pride of place in this section are a meeting house, and a 25-metre long war canoe carved from a single log of totara.

Wharenui Ak museum

Restored carvings in Hotunui

As a child I remember the effect of the elaborate carvings in the meeting house muted by a coat of dull red paint applied in the 1950s. Now, I am pleased to learn that a major project is under way to remove that offensive monochrome and restore the splendour of the originals.

A meeting house (wharenui) was the centre-piece of a Māori tribal village, a communal meeting place whose carvings and other works of traditional art recorded the history and origins of the people of the land. Living people shared the house with the spirits of their ancestors, and the house was given a name recognising this metaphysical dimension of its existence.

Auckland Museum’s wharenui is Hotunui, the name of an ancestor of the Tainui people who arrived with the great migration around a thousand years ago. The word can also be translated as “a great mourning, a yearning of the heart”, which may be significant in the light of what I learned of the house’s history. Apparently, it was one of two such meeting houses built in the 1870s by the Ngāti Awa people of Poverty Bay. The government had carried out large-scale confiscations of land after the Te Kooti uprising in the 1860s. According to Te Ara Encyclopedia, The carving of both [houses] was led by Wēpiha Apanui and his father, Apanui Te Hāmaiwaho. Hotunui was, in part, a tribute to Te Hura Te Taiwhakaripi, one of the leaders in the wars of the 1860s. One of the poupou (uprights) in the porch is a carved representation and commemoration of Te Hura, so that the tragedy of the confiscation suffered by Ngāti Awa is memorialised in the meeting house.”

Little of this information, needless to say, is available to the public in the exhibition hall. It seems, by the early 20th century, Hotunui had fallen into disuse and a state of disrepair – not surprising, since the Māori themselves were in danger of disappearing as a race at that time – and it was removed to the newly opened museum in Auckland, to represent a world that no longer existed.

676c86019788eed31b3607670d2166f2

Māori war in canoe in better days

The canoe, Te Toki a Tāpiri (the Battle-axe of Tāpiri) is a survivor of days when Europeans were a small minority in the country. According to Te Ara, it was built by the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe in 1836, and passed through the ownership of several other tribes before it ended up in the hands of the government”. The museum website is a little more informative, acknowledging that the canoe was confiscated by government forces during the Waikato War in the 1860s[1]. Attempts at the time to blow it up apparently failed, and the canoe was left to slowly moulder away. In my school days the wars that were fought between various Maori tribes, the British Army and settler militias, were known as “The Māori Wars”. More recently, some have argued that it would be more appropriate to call them the Pākeha Wars, since the Pākeha (the Māori name for Europeans), were actually invading their country. These days a compromise seems to have been reached where they are referred to collectively as “The New Zealand Wars”.

Canoe and meeting house eventually found their way to the Auckland Museum, originally built to serve as a memorial to soldiers who had lost their lives in the First World War. The top floor of the building now commemorates all the wars in which New Zealanders have been involved since the country became part of the British empire in 1840.

redemption songs

Biography of Māori “rebel” leader, Te Kooti

Brief mention is given to those “New Zealand Wars”, including one particularly poignant quotation attributed to Te Ua Haumene, a Taranaki Māori converted to Christianity, in the early days of colonisation, by Methodist missionaries. With the increasing arrival of European settlers and land “purchases”, Te Ua turned to armed resistance, inspired by a visions of the archangel Gabriel who “assured Te Ua that he was chosen by God as his prophet, commanded him to cast off the yoke of the Pakeha and promised the restoration of the birthright of Israel (the Maori people) in the land of Canaan (New Zealand). This would come about after a great day of deliverance in which the unrighteous would perish.” A forlorn hope, as it turned out, but perhaps understandable in the circumstances.

The words of Te Ua displayed in the museum read: “Pākeha say, ‘Take our religion and our form of government, develop the economy and learn to read and write, and you will be citizens of the greatest empire in the world.’ We try to do all that. But when the British bring in a professional army to back up a faulty purchase of land, nothing of what we have been told appears true anymore. Pākeha seem to want to make the country theirs alone. The only thing we are expected to contribute is the land. Outnumbered, outgunned, unable to trust the law, we turn to religion.” Does that sound familiar?

The Boer War, 1899-1901, was the first where the New Zealand government sent troops to fight on foreign soil. The Auckland Museum’s display includes a quote from a local newspaper, The Waikato Argus, dated 31 January 1900. “It is the destiny of the British nation to spread good and just government over a large portion of the earth’s surface. Wherever her flag floats, equal justice [is] meted out to all . . . There is only one sentiment throughout the Empire – we must win regardless of the cost in man and treasure!”

Well, the British Empire did win, of course. According to a table on display, the British fielded 450,000 troops against the Boers 55,000. British casualties included 21,942 soldiers and 350,000 horses killed. The Boers lost 5,071 fighting men, and 27,921 civilians who died in concentration camps established to combat the guerrilla tactics of the outnumbered and outgunned Boers. In addition, 30,000 farms were burned, and 3,500,000 sheep were destroyed.

800x450

Concentration camp for Boer civilians, 2nd Boer War

What is perhaps more interesting is that The Boer War, as it is known in general British histories, was actually the second war fought between the British and the Boers. The first, a relatively brief affair in the summer of 1880-81 had resulted in a humiliating loss for destiny’s Empire. Contrary to the Waikato Argus editor’s altruistic rhetoric, Wikipedia itemises three key factors for British interest in South Africa:

  • The desire to control the trade routes to India
  • The discovery of huge deposits of gold and diamonds
  • The race against other European powers for expansion in Africa

So it goes – and that brings us to the next exhibit, and the original reason for the Museum’s construction: The First World War; known at the time as “The Great War”, and “the war to end all wars.”

I am currently reading a history of this war written by John Keegan[2], celebrated by The New York Times as “possibly the best military historian of our day”. The first sentence of Keegan’s book reads: “The First World War was a tragic and unnecessary conflict.” So it’s a little sad that military and civilian casualties totalled 41 million, of which 18 million died. The New Zealand government despatched more than 100,000 young men (from its one million people) to battlefields on the other side of the world – and more than 18,000 never returned.

Why the war?One item in the museum’s display asks the obvious question, “Why go?”, and gives two answers: “Loyalty to Britain was strong and people believed going to war was the right thing to do. The war was also a chance for a great adventure.” One returned soldier is quoted as saying, “it was a case of Duty.” A contemporary poster published in The London Times gave three further reasons: “To save [Britain’s] good name. To save her life and her Empire [and] To save the freedom of the people in all Europe”; and encouraged young men to “FIGHT then – for your life. FIGHT – for your honour. FIGHT – for freedom. FIGHT – for mankind.” So clearly propaganda played an important role.

What receives less emphasis is that not all young men were so gung-ho about participating in an Imperialist war. There were many who believed, and more who came to that belief during the conflict, that the war was being fought for economic reasons, and that the common soldier had more in common with his “enemies” on the field than with his own political and industrial leaders.

Once conscription was introduced, however, there was no option of refusing to go. In theory, conscientious objection on religious grounds was acceptable – but almost impossible in practice. Those men who did actually refuse were cruelly treated by their governments. Flogging as a means of enforcing discipline had been banned in Britain’s armed forces in 1881, but remained on the statute books until 1947, and was still used in prisons – where an uncooperative soldier could easily end up. Once in the army, desertion, cowardice or dereliction of duty were offences punishable by execution. Lack of enthusiasm for the war effort was a disease that couldn’t be allowed to spread.

Thames war memorial

240 young men who never returned to the small town of Thames

Many servicemen from New Zealand and Australia had their first taste of combat on the Gallipoli Peninsula in what is now Turkey. Few of them could have located the place on a map. I, and most of my fellow citizens grew up with the legend of Anzac, commemorated every year on 25 April, the day when the invasion landings began. According to a laconic text in the museum display, “New Zealanders fight the Ottomans at Gallipoli . . . Their first campaign is a shambolic eight-month operation that ends in stalemate and evacuation.”

Shortly after first coming to Turkey, I went with a party of Turkish students to the cemeteries of Gallipoli and the town of Çanakkale, where an event takes place every year on 18 March commemorating the Ottoman success in turning back the combined naval fleets of Britain and France. You will search hard to find reference to this in British or New Zealand histories. From an Ottoman perspective, the British naval defeat was the critical event – the “shambolic” beach invasion a bloody exercise that had little chance of success from the outset. Was the result a “stalemate”? The British strategy (conceived by Winston Churchill) had been to bring battleships in front of the Ottoman Palace, force their government’s surrender, take them out of the war and establish a supply route to Russia.  The aim was to strengthen the Russian military effort and force the Germans to fight on two fronts. In the light of that goal, the campaign must surely be seen as a failure.

That was then, this is now. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Are we any better off in the present age of information? So help us, God!

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[1] A detailed history of Te Toki a Tapiri can be found here.

[2] The First World War, John Keegan (Vintage Books, 1998)

94th Anniversary of the Republic of Turkey

TCA Celebrates 94th Anniversary of Turkish Republic

AtatürkOn October 29, 1923, the newly recognized Turkish parliament proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, formally marking the end of the Ottoman Empire. On the same day, Mustafa Kemal, who led the Turkish National War of Liberation and was later named Atatürk (father of Turks), was unanimously elected as the first president of the Republic.  

Turkey had effectively been a republic from April 23, 1920 when the Grand National Assembly was inaugurated in Ankara. When the Turkish parliament held its first session in 1920, virtually every corner of the crumbling Ottoman Empire was under the occupation of Allied powers. Exasperated by the Ottoman government’s inability to fight the occupation, the nationwide resistance movement gained momentum. With the Allied occupation of Istanbul and the dissolution of the Ottoman Parliament, Mustafa Kemal’s justification for opening the resistance movement’s new legislative body was created.  

With the opening of the Assembly, Ankara became the center of the Turkish national struggle for liberation. The National War of Liberation culminated in the emancipation of Anatolia from foreign occupation*, the international recognition of modern Turkey’s borders by the Treaty of Lausanne, and finally, the founding of the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923. October 29, or Republic Day, is an official Turkish holiday celebrated each year across Turkey and by peoples of Turkish heritage worldwide.  

Following the founding of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk embarked on a wide-ranging set of reforms in the political, economic and cultural aspects of Turkish society. These reforms have left a lasting legacy of which the peoples of Turkish heritage are proud: the conversion of the newly founded Republic into today’s modern, democratic and secular Turkish state.

http://tc-america.org/

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* And I suspect it will be a long time before those Allied powers forgive Turkey for causing them that embarrassment.

94th Anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne

24 July. You probably won’t read much about it in media elsewhere, but it’s a pretty important date in Turkey – and possibly one of the reasons Western powers have a long-standing grudge against Turks. I’m publishing a few extracts from other sources on the subject:

The Turkish Coalition of America

Greek invasion

Jubilant Smyrniots welcome the Greeks with garlands, flags and a picture of Premier Venizelos, May 1919.

“The Treaty of Lausanne followed the signing of the Armistice at Mudanya on October 11, 1922, after decisive victories by Turkish national forces led by Mustafa Kemal (later Atatürk). Britain was forced to lift its occupation of Istanbul and the Turkish straits and call for a peace conference following the final defeat of Greek forces, which invaded Anatolia as Britain’s surrogates, and as occupying Italian and French forces decidedly moved toward non-confrontation with the Turkish national resistance movement.

Countries represented at the peace talks were Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania and Serbo-Croatia. Russia, Belgium, and Portugal entered the treaty negotiations at later stages to discuss the status of the Turkish straits and financial matters concerning the defunct Ottoman Empire. The Unites States attended the treaty negotiations as an observer.

The Turkish War of National Liberation, fought against the most powerful imperial states of the time, culminated in a military and diplomatic victory for the Turkish people who achieved full independence and sovereignty at Lausanne. This victory would serve as a source of inspiration for several nations in their struggles against Western imperialism and independence for many years to come.” 

Daily Sabah (English language news source published in Turkey)

“Signed on July 24, 1923 in Switzerland’s Lausanne, the treaty officially ended hostilities between the Allies and the Turkish state led by the Grand National Assembly and marked Turkey’s current borders with the exceptions of Hatay, which joined Turkey from Syria in 1939, and the border with Iraq, which was a British mandate at the time.

Sevres map

Turkey, if not for its War of Liberation and the subsequent Treaty of Lausanne

It also reversed the extensive losses of Turkish-inhabited territories that were laid out in the Sevres Treaty, forced upon the Ottoman Empire by Allied powers.

The Treaty of Lausanne also put an end to the centuries-long economic concessions granted by the Ottoman Empire to European powers.”

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Great Speech to Turkey’s Grand National Assembly in 1927

“Gentlemen, I  don’t think it is necessary any  further to compare the principles underlying the Lausanne Peace Treaty with other proposals for peace.  This treaty, is a document declaring that all efforts, prepared over centuries, and thought to have been accomplished through the SEVRES Treaty to crush the Turkish nation have been in vain.  It is a diplomatic victory unheard of in Ottoman history!

Encyclopedia.com

“Defeat in World War I resulted in a harsh peace treaty for the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty of Sèvres (1920) stripped Turkey of all its European territory except for a small area around Constantinople (now Istanbul); demilitarized the straits between the Black and Mediterranean seas, opened them to ships of all nations, and placed them under an international commission; established an independent Armenia and an autonomous Kurdistan in eastern Anatolia; turned over the region around İzmir to the Greeks; restored the capitulations; and placed Turkish finances under foreign control. By separate agreement, some parts of Turkey left to the Turks were assigned to France and Italy as spheres of influence.

Unlike the other nations on the losing side in World War I, Turkey was able to renegotiate its treaty terms. This was the result of the decline of the sultan’s power, the rise of the nationalists under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the defeat of the Greeks’ attempt to expand their power in Turkey.

The Allied powers restored Constantinople and the straits to Turkish authority and called for a peace convention to renegotiate the terms laid down at Sèvres. [In a typical attempt to divide Turks against each other] the Allies invited both of the contesting powers in Turkeythe sultan’s government and the nationalists under Kemalto a conference at Lausanne, Switzerland. This precipitated Kemal’s decision to separate the positions of sultan and caliph, abolishing the former, exiling Mehmet VI and giving the residual powers of caliph to his cousin, Abdülmecit II. Thus, when the conference at Lausanne began in November 1922, Kemal’s Ankara government was the sole representative of Turkey.” 

As an interesting aside, I found this brief piece on a website calling itself historycentral.com:

“After an unsuccessful military campaign [sic!] against the Greeks, Turkey concluded a peace treaty with the allies. Under the terms of the agreement Turkey gave up all claim to non-Turkish territories lost in the course of World War I. It recovered however, Eastern Thrace. In the Aegean it received [sic!] Imbros and Tenedos, but the rest of the islands went to Greece [as a result of some submarine seismic activity?]. Turkey paid no reparations. The Straits of Dardenelles were demilitarized and open to all ships in time of peace and all neutral ships in a time of war.”

I’ve corrected the several spelling errors – and left the other nonsense to speak for itself. When it comes to “history”, there may be more than one version of the same events. Be careful which one you choose to believe!

the-treaty-of-lausanneTranslation of the French:

The Lausanne Conference

For Peace in the Near East [still waiting for that!]

At the Chateau d’Ouchy

From 15 November 1922 to 28 July 1923 [What’s with those Roman numerals?]

The United States of America, the British Empire, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Romania, Turkey, the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia [What happened to that one?], Bulgaria and Russia participated in the work of the conference which led to the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne

A day for national unity in Turkey

fft99_mf6871574Today, 23 April, was a big day in Turkey, one on which three significant events coincided. These three events represented three major aspects of life in Turkey – the majority religious faith and two other cultural phenomena that bear many characteristics of religion.

First of all, 23 April is the day dedicated to the nation’s children by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic. On that day in 1920 the new Republic’s Grand National Assembly was inaugurated, representing the establishment of national sovereignty in the face of aggression by Western imperialist forces. I am reblogging below a brief article posted on the website of the Turkish Coalition of America.

resimli-mirac-kandili-mesajlariThe night of 23/24 April this year also happens to be Miraç Kandili in the Muslim calendar. There are five of these special holy nights, and Miraç is the one celebrating the ascent of the Prophet Muhammed to heaven.

Finally, bringing together all Turks, secular and religious, and transcending all political boundaries, is the sacred game of football. Tonight two of Istanbul’s greatest clubs, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, faced off in one of the year’s crucial matches. I’m not going to detract from the grandeur of this day by discussing the match or even disclosing the result.

tumblr_static_tumblr_static_3k3647qbhqeco88ssg0g0g88k_640The important message for Turks of all political persuasions surely is the need to work together to preserve their national sovereignty in the face of renewed threats from within and without.

“On April 23, Turkish Americans across the United States are celebrating Turkish National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. The day marks the inauguration of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) on April 23, 1920, proclaimed in 1929 as a Turkish national holiday dedicated to children.  Every year, April 23 is celebrated in Turkey and Turkish communities abroad with international children’s festivals, in the spirit of world peace and harmony.

“The inauguration of the TGNA on April 23, 1920 was first step toward the creation of the Republic of Turkey, the roots of which were laid during the Turkish National War of Liberation led by Mustafa Kemal – later to be given the name Ataturk (father of Turks).

“The Turkish national liberation struggle began on May 19, 1919 and culminated in the liberation of Anatolia from foreign occupation, the international recognition of modern Turkey’s borders by the Treaty of Lausanne, and the founding of the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923. When the TGNA held its first session in 1920, virtually every corner of the Ottoman Empire was under the occupation of the Allied powers. Exasperated by the Ottoman government’s inability to fight the occupation, patriotic movements began springing up all around Anatolia.

“The occupation of Izmir by invading Greek armies and the atrocities they committed against the Turkish population was the final outrage that sparked a nationwide resistance movement. This resistance soon turned into a war of independence under Mustafa Kemal, a young Ottoman military officer at the time. With the Allied occupation of Istanbul and the dissolving of the Ottoman Parliament, Mustafa Kemal’s justification for opening the resistance movement’s new legislative body was created.

“With the opening of the Assembly, Ankara became the center of the Turkish national struggle and was declared as the capital of the new Turkish Republic on October 13, 1923. On the opening day of the Assembly, Mustafa Kemal was elected as its first president. His opening speech includes clues of what he envisioned this Assembly to achieve. Stating that “there will not be any power above the assembly,” Atatürk set the stage for the founding of the Republic of Turkey to replace the Ottoman monarchy. The Assembly, as the representative body of the Turkish people, established a national army and defeated the Allied Powers. Under the visionary leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, it created a secular, democratic Republic.”

US ‘concerned about quality of democracy in Turkey’

The headline was in our local English language daily, so I checked it online just to be sure. Well, as usual, there’s a context. The words were spoken at a US Dept of State press conference on Thursday. In fact the spokesman was doing his best to be diplomatic in the face of questioning clearly aimed at getting him to come out and criticise the state of democracy in Turkey. So, credit where credit’s due – he didn’t.

And well he might not! Whatever pious voices the US reporters might raise against Turkey, it’s pretty clear that they would be better advised to deal with the blows against democracy being struck by their own government at home and abroad.

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Thanks to a CIA-backed coup in 1952 to overthrow the democratically elected prime minister

For example:

“An executive at the Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank on April 13 pleaded not guilty to involvement in a multi-year scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.


“Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager at Halkbank, entered his plea through his lawyer at a hearing in Manhattan federal court.

“U.S. prosecutors accused Atilla of conspiring with wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal transactions through U.S. banks on behalf of Iran’s government and other entities in Iran.”

Well, if these Turkish guys were actually trying to evade US sanctions against Iran (and I’m not saying they were), they were undoubtedly doing it for the benefit of their own country and not just Iran. Turkey had been suffering economically for more than 30 years by loyally supporting the US government’s sanctions against Iran. These sanctions were imposed after a grass-roots Islamic revolution in 1979 overthrew the US-puppet Shah who had been misgoverning the country for 27 years on behalf of his western masters. Who’s wrong here?

If you guys are really so keen on democracy, can you please tell us exactly how such interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation fits into your plan for democratising the universe? And how are things progressing in Afghanistan?

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And $2 million for each bang

“The United States on Thursday dropped “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, on an ISIS tunnel and cave complex in eastern Afghanistan. The bomb, officially called the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said, according to the Associated Press. The target was near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.

“President Donald Trump said Thursday the bombing was a “very successful mission,” according to Reuters, and he touted the mission as evidence of a stronger foreign policy under his administration. It was not immediately clear how much damage the bomb did, how many militants were killed, or whether any civilians were killed.

“The GBU-43 is a GPS-guided weapon that weighs an enormous 21,600 pounds (9.5 tonnes), according to an article from the Eglin Air Force Base. Each one costs $16 million, according to military information website Deagel. During testing in the early 2000s, it created a mushroom cloud that could be seen from 30 km away, according to the Air Force story.

“The U.S. military says it has 20 MOAB bombs and has spent about $314 million producing them, according to CNBC.

“While not all details from Thursday’s blast have been made public, the bomb is very powerful. “What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire,” Bill Roggio, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Air Force Times. “It’s a way to get into areas where conventional bombs can’t reach.” (Source: Time)

Another article in Time informed me that Turkey is one of five countries where ISIS gets many of its foreign recruits:

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Britain and France’s secret plan for post-WWI Middle East – and where did Kurdistan fit in?

“Turkey has its own fraught relationship with an ethnic minority agitating for independence. The Kurds are an ethnic group that number between 20 million and 40 million who straddle the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. Denied their own state when the borders of modern Turkey were established following World War I, they are now the world’s largest stateless ethnic group. Kurdish fighters have spent decades fighting the Turkish government to carve out an independent state for themselves, and some have resorted to terrorism; over the past three decades, more than 40,000 people have been killed in clashes between Turks and Kurds.

“Complicating matters is that Kurds in Syria are one of the most effective forces fighting both Assad and ISIS. Their success could create an independent Kurdish state inside Syria, which might encourage a larger share of Turkish Kurds to take arms with the same goal. So one of the greatest terrorist threats against Turkey is also a threat to ISIS.

“At the same time, roughly 2,100 Turks have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. Since 2015, more than 400 people have been killed in terrorist attacks throughout the country. In other words, Turkey’s terrorism problem is only becoming more complicated.”

And made a whole lot more complicated by US interference in regional affairs. For a start, it wasn’t just Turkey that stood in the way of a Kurdish state. It was the victorious allies, Britain and France who drew the borders of Iraq and Syria for their own selfish reasons at the end of World War I. And if they’d had their way, the Turks would have been an even larger stateless group! Further, there is no doubt that most of the Kurdish people in Turkey do not support PKK separatist terrorism. They are getting on with the business of making a living, and a better life for their kids in the cities of Turkey – with the assistance of the present government. And the process is not helped by the US government supporting Kurdish revolutionary separatists in Syria in the so-called fight against ISIS. Yankee go home! Just let the locals get on with sorting out their own problems!

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Well, I don’t get to vote in the referendum, but if I did . . .

Dear Americans, you may think you have the best of intentions, but . . .

“Misdirected coalition strike kills 18 partner forces in Syria

“A coalition air strike accidentally killed 18 members of a U.S.-backed Arab-Kurdish alliance fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) near a key town in northern Syria, the U.S.-led coalition said on April 13.”

Who needs enemies when you’ve got a friend like the USA?