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Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Don’t be fooled to believe news media as true account of history. History is something else. Democracy after fall of Moammar was big news. Arab Spring gave way to something else and the situation in Libya is neither here nor there. Similarly in Egypt  those who wanted a decent life free from want and repression threw Mubarak regime. What did it bring but worse situation than before that the army had to step in. This cannot be history?

History is what people make despite what big money or grandiose Ideas throw about. Arab Spring and Friends of Syria trying to get their control over the Middle East have only created more mess. History is what people make from their needs and dream.

During the Crusades were ‘Jihadists’ or assassins organized by Old Man of the Mountains ( a classmate of Omar Khayyam). But Mongol invasion was a flood that cleared all. Where are they? We people are still here.

History can be compared to a mighty river of perennial supply into which the Crusades, Moslem empires, Mongol invasion,Black death are so many names or stones dropped. No sign of them. What of those great movers or shakers king of kings who carved their name in blood? They are all names written in water.

Water drops circulate between land and the air and keep the river running. History is movement of people and has nothing to do with ideas.

We need not be unduly concerned nor be impatient to change order of things either by violence or by thoughts of glory. Do not be concerned of violence that grips parts of the world. It isn’t history in itself but motion of peoples exerting to find their level.

It is foolhardy to think one can either by good intentions or force make history stop for him. Violence will be met with violence and peace shall keep peace neither realizing what other was all about.

We people shall make our homes as best and those who are cast out of their homes shall yet find their home. History clears way for us.

 

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The Isles of Greece! The isles of Greece

Wherefore this amnesia, drunk from Lethe?

Have you forgotten the warrior race

Whose swords smote down kings and forthwith

‘Here be warriors that knew no fear’

Went thus message post-haste far an’ near?

Sparta led and the hordes of foes

Before their tight phalanxes melted:

In Athens no less brave were demos

Before whose iron resolve tyrants fled.

Spartan or rich in tastes at best

Were men who deemed their own lives least.

What service has the Turks bestowed

That you let your blood and honor

Be trod and your wives as slaves sold?

Martyrs for faith in Asia minor

Lay forgotten as of no value.

For a slave race this’s nothing new.

Spare me your woes with Euro bail-out

Or the Golden Dawn spawn’d from hell.

How slaves for long living on hand-out

Are undone is a sad chronicle:

A land of slaves shall ne’er regain

Unless Greece unlearn past as one.

benny

Original Version

THE isles of Greece! the isles of Greece!

Where burning Sappho loved and sung,

Where grew the arts of war and peace,—

Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!

Eternal summer gilds them yet,

But all, except their sun, is set.

The Scian and the Teian muse,

The hero’s harp, the lover’s lute,

Have found the fame your shores refuse;

Their place of birth alone is mute

To sounds which echo further west

Than your sires’ “Islands of the Blest.”

..

Place me on Sunium’s marble steep—

Where nothing, save the waves and I,

May hear our mutual murmurs sweep:

There, swan-like, let me sing and die;

A land of slaves shall ne’er be mine—

Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!

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This day the Mother of all Wars was born. Britain declared war on Germany which wanted a war, not out of any solid reasons than spite. Sheer spite. This War was an unwanted baby that would show how wars in future shall be fought. Not for glory as in the times of Alexander of Macedon but for the sheer perverseness of peoples coalescing into the hands of a few. The Military Class in Germany and the Kaiser’s wilfulness closed ranks to make a war necessary. The English nobs that called the shots wanted to cut the Hohenzollern to size.

‘On July 24 1914 the British cabinet met to discuss the diplomatic situation in Europe, which had deteriorated rapidly since the assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, a month before. An Austrian invasion of Serbia now appeared imminent, threatening to spark a regional military crisis that might easily escalate into a general war between the Great Powers.
The sense of foreboding in London was captured in a letter sent by the prime minister, Herbert Asquith, to his confidante Venetia Stanley. The situation was “about as bad as it can possibly be”, he wrote, and Europe now stood on the brink of “a real Armageddon”. Nevertheless, Asquith felt able to reassure Stanley. “Happily there seems to be no reason why we should be anything more than spectators.”
Eleven days later, on August 4, Britain declared war on Germany.
In retrospect, Asquith’s words seem strangely complacent. At the time, however, his assumption that Britain might stand aside from the looming European conflagration reflected the hopes and beliefs of a majority of his political colleagues and supporters. This, after all, was a Liberal government which had won a landslide general election victory in 1906 under the slogan of: “Peace, Retrenchment and Reform” ‘.
By the same light we can see the sanctimonious approach to International politics by statesmen especially President Wilson who expressed the wish after the war was won that it was ‘a war to end all wars’.
(quoted from Mathew Johnson article /the Conversation/Aug.4,2014)
benny

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Nazi Germany in the autumn of 1938 was not strong enough to fight a European war let alone win it on military strength. But Hitler maneuvered France and Great Britain into giving in at a cost neither France nor England would have anticipated. On October 5, on the House of Commons Churchill struck an ominous warning, “We have sustained a total unmitigated defeat.” The House rocked by thunderous applause given to the Prime Minister Chamberlain for having brought the country from the brink of war could well dismiss him. His was a voice in the wilderness excluded from the Conservative government. Little did they know that ‘the agreement was the beginning of a war that would consume the whole world one way or other and strip the island to bare bones when it was over. It proved to be the case and all the colonies, crown jewels of Great Britain too dear to be held, one by one was let go.

The principal Allies in their own way suffered from bad blood. France under the Third Republic was a divided house with the Press adding to the internecine war of ideologies. Great Britain on the other hand was ruled by a conservative government without any real sympathies for Europe or understanding. They were for Appeasement.

 

Great Britain and France were bound by a treaty to come to the help of each other in case of a conflict against Germany. Behind France’s back Great Britain and Germany entered into a Naval Treaty in 1935.

France and Russia were in turn bound to come to the aid of Czechoslovakia. There was no access to France except through Poland and Roumania. Both small nations refused entry on the fear that Stalin would not go back once given permission. It had in a way limited France from rendering any help to the Czechs though a treat existed between them. Edouard Daladier, the French Premier was virulently attacked in the Press and by the elements on the Right for siding with Russia than with Germany. Such was the aversion against Russia that Germany could well exploit it. France left Russia in the lurch while signing the Munich pact. As Field-Marshal Keitel later told the Nuremburg tribunal,”The object of Munich was to get Russia out of Europe.” It was achieved at the cost of France. According to their longstanding pact Russia had proved a dependable ally during the WWI. On October 4 the Journal de Moscou echoed the nation’s feelings,”Who will believe again the word of France? Who will remain her ally? Why would the French government, which has just annulled of her own accord her pact with Czechoslovakia , respect the Franco-Soviet Pact?”

Yes the Czechs were not given a hearing while France and Great Britain sat down with Hitler and Mussolini to determine her fate.It would prove a costly blunder and morally repugnant.

In order to avert a wider conflict a short term gain could be too costly when there is a moral opprobrium attached to it. The French Premier knew what a disgrace it was and it rankled him. When he landed back in Paris he saw a tumultuous welcome along his route back to the capital he turned to an aide and said, ”The imbeciles-if they only knew what they were acclaiming!”

In Berlin the German generals could breathe a sigh of relief. They were not sure if they could have penetrated the Czech fortifications. In the west their Siegfried Line was mere skeleton,12 divisions most of them half-trained reserves. As General Jodl expressed doubts if they could have stood up to 100 well-trained divisions of the French Army. Even Hitler was astounded after inspection of the Czech fortifications to comment,”The plan prepared by the Czech was formidable. I now understand why my generals urged restraint.” ( In fact there was an assassination plan hatched by some top ranking generals on the life of Hitler but was shelved since Chamberlain capitulated to the demands of the führer that prevented a war.)

For France her slide into inescapable disaster was now irreversible. In deferring from a punitive action in 1936 when Germany reoccupied the Rhineland she let the German guns come within reach of Strasbourg. In sacrificing the Czechs at Munich in order to buy time gave Germany far greater military advantage than her short-term gains. No more she could encircle Germany or pin down the enemy from the rear. The loss of 35 divisions of the Czechs was grievous. It also gave the Skoda works to the Germans who doubled the output of armaments and planes and when the war came Germany was ready. .

In diplomatic circles France was distrusted by her remaining allies. Warsaw, Belgrade, Bucharest would work out their own alliances and worse still Russia realized how futile was to depend upon Great Britain and France. It would pave the way for Stalin to seek an alliance with Germany in her own fashion.

The Pact proved what it is to have the honor of France tied to an ally that was for Appeasement. Chamberlain was treating France as a client state and deceit of Great Britain would prove the epithet of ‘perfidious Albion’ as apt. Earlier Great Britain and the US had stood as guarantor (Treaty of Guarantee of July 1919) and forced Clemenceau to relent on his hardline on Ruhr. Great Britain’s parliament later approved the treaty on condition that the US also ratify it. In effect it was merely an eyewash for the US Senate never ratified it. (Their deceit would have fateful consequences. Germany, even if under Hitler , would never have risked invading France again if her Allies had proved steadfast and honourable.) The US senate’s rejection of the Treaty would change the German perception. Later when the WWII broke out it would prove to be infinitely more costly in American lives and materials than it would have been, had a President’s word been honoured in the first place by the Senate. Complacency of policy of Isolation had blinded the nation who had no choice but to be part of the wider arena of international politics.France felt shafted by both allies which truly was the case, as Britain and the US found restoration of the German market in post WWI would boost their own sluggish economies.
The most important lesson France needed to learn was “no great nation could , and with impunity, allow its destiny to be decided largely by another with different interests and outlook,…” In the 1960s we may see how far this lesson had impacted in de Gaulle’s foreign policy. Also policy of Israel hinge on this principle (ack. William L. Shirer-The Collapse of the The Third Republic/pub. Pan books)

Benny        

 

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Ukraine—with its rich black soil that would help it become a major grain producer—was continually carved up by competing powers. As a result their nationalism has two sides. Janus-like one looks towards the past and the other to the east.
Let us trace its history in a few sentences. In the ninth century, Ukraine, known as Kievan Rus, was becoming the early seat of Slavic power and the newly adopted Orthodox religion. But Mongol invasions in the 13th century curtailed Kiev’s rise, with power eventually shifting north into Russia to present-day St. Petersburg and Moscow. In the 16th century major swaths of the country were under the control of Poland and Lithuania, with Cossack fighters patrolling Ukraine’s frontier with Poland.
In the 17th century, war between the Tsardom of Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth resulted in more internal divisions. Lands to the east of the Dnieper River fell under Russian imperial control much earlier than Ukrainian lands to the west of the Dnieper. The east became known as “Left Bank” Ukraine and a center of industry and coal. Lands to the west of the Dnieper, or “Right Bank,” were to be ruled by Poland. A small part in the west, called Galicia, was allotted to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the last 19th century. The Austro-Hungarian empire ended at the end of World War I, but that small part of western Ukraine remained outside the Russian empire and was incorporated into the U.S.S.R. only as a result of the Second World War.
After the communist revolution of 1917, Ukraine was one of the many countries to suffer a brutal civil war before becoming a Soviet Republic in 1920. In the early 1930s, to force peasants into joining collective farms, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin orchestrated a famine that resulted in the starvation and death of millions of Ukrainians. Afterward he imported large numbers of Russians and other Soviet citizens—many with no ability to speak Ukrainian and with few ties to the region—to help repopulate the east. The fault lines dividing thus between east and the west we might say that the crisis in Ukraine was waiting to happen.
Tailspin: Nationalism in a sense is an impossibility considering its domino effect. By the same standards ethnic minorities on their cultural identity, belief shall demand their own spheres of control. We have seen it in Balkans demand for Khalistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Inversion principle determines such breakdown no matter how you set up nations.

(ack: National Geographic Magazine)
benny

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 The year 1848 can be considered as the beginning of the modern Europe.
In an obscure German paper Karl Marx published
the Communist Manifesto. It was a challenge to the entrenched order
that was at best benevolent but despotic and exploitative.

It all began with violent
changes across the channel. In England was the Chartism and in Franc
Louis Philippe had been removed from the French throne in February 1848,
and revolutions
were soon to convulse other European capitals.

In early 1848
none of the greater states of Europe
functioned as democracies. Britain, where
about one-in-five adult males (in England) had voting rights,
and France, where voting rights
were allowed to very wealthy men, amounting to about
one-in-two-hundred
of all adult males, were the least undemocratic.

The other greater states
of Éurope – the “Austrian” Habsburg Empire, Prussia and Russia
operated as absolute monarchies
where such Assemblies of Notables, Congregations or Diets,
as were
authorised to convene were understood
to have administrative or consultative roles
rather than political or legislative powers.

 

The European Revolutions
of 1848 represent a widespead emergenc
of situations,
across much of Europe, where populist
human aspirations variously sought constitutional,
liberal, nationalist or socialistic changes
in society often at the cost of
traditionally influential dynastic
or religious authorities.

In February 1948,
the British historian Lewis Namier (1888–1960) delivered
a lecture commemorating the centennial
of the European Revolutions of 1848.


In this lecture Namier presented facts
about the historical developments and themes evident in 1848
and reached the conclusion that:-

1848 remains a seed-plot of history. It crystallized ideas
and projected the pattern of things to come;
it determined the course of the following century.”

Heartened by the French example
a national revolt under the legendary Lajos Kossuth
demanding a parliamentary government for Hungary
and constitutional government for the rest of Habsburg Empire.
As a result number of revolts sent Metternich out of power
and ripples as far as Italy. The movement for Hungarian Independence
lost by two reasons.
Austria and Prussia despite their long running feud
closed their ranks
to protect the divine rights of their rule,
Secondly the Czechs ,Romanians and Serbs
within the empire resisted thus proving the ethnic minorities
were the Achilles heel in the body of Nationalism.
Cluster principle shows how impossible
Nationalism is at heart. How can one divide mankind into labels?
If Nationalism goes about
to create a nation instantly there shall be
cluster of divisions by the same argument
that shall be on ethnic, sectarian lines.
Here we see a paradox that works even this day.
Hungarian nationalism of Kossuth was generously liberal;
in combating the national feelings of the Slavs and other minorities
in their midst the Hungarians were as illiberal
as nationalists elsewhere.

Earlier
the Enlightenment and the French Revolution
had declared the rights of man.
“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.”
But it was another principle that spurred the Nationalism.
“The principle of all sovereignty resides
essentially in the nation. No body or
individual can exercise authority, if it does not
take its origin from the nation.”
This is what Hitler as
der Fuehrer demanded
from the Germans and got.The exaltation of nationalism had set
a conflagration in order to create great catastrophes.
Shall Putin treat Ukraine as Hitler did in his time?(ack: age of the sage.org)

benny

 

 

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Prussians after routing the French Army at Sedan headed towards the city of Paris. They were methodical and French towns were notified in advance of their route and requirements at each place. The list included one-and-a-half pound bread per soldier,one pound meat and one-quarter pound coffee, to five cigars and either a pint of wine and a pint of beer for soldier. Towns that didn’t  come up with the required supplies were burned to the ground.

News reached the Parisians and the city was in panic. To the pervasive beating of drums that relentlessly went on citoyens drilled in the streets days and nights men and boys alike, even at nights under the gas jets. Some 40,000 oxen and 250,000sheep were brought in from all directions to pasture in the Bois de Boulogne. Foods were packed into warehouses to prepare the city for siege. Rumor mill went on and every foreigner was suspect. Most foreigners had left Paris by August.

After the surrender of the Emperor the Government of National Defense had taken over the promise,’Not an inch of our soil will we cede, not a stone of our fortress.’ The US wanted Bismarck to lift the siege and also sent Civil War Generals, Sheridan and Burnside and Leonard Jerome(Churchill’s maternal grandfather).

The three envoys found the city starving. Warehouses were emptied long ago and so were the horses in the Bois de Boulogne. Some two months before Christmas menu at a Paris restaurant had listed:soup from horse meat,mince of cat,shoulder of dog with tomato sauce,roast donkey and potatoes, mice on toast.

According to one ‘sewer rats were considered far more delicate than young chickens. One gourmet found rat tasted like a mixture of pork and partridge.

Dogs sold for four francs a pound when it was available, compared to horse at 40centimes a kilogram. Cats were a delicacy and the price was 20 fr. per pound. According to Chronique de Siege the Parisians had eaten 25,523 cats not counting alley cats. When the zoo was closed elephant trunks went around eight dollars a pound. Camel kidneys were much cheaper. Bread seems to have been made from panama hats picked up from gutter and a piece of bread was the selling rate for a prostitute.

The only plentiful food was mustard and champagne. The prolonged siege made crush of starving men and women throwing at the Prussian soldiers for food. It angered Bismarck who wanted the troops to fire on the citizens.  When someone pointed out that the Prussian soldiers may not do that the Iron Chancellor was sure that the soldiers ought to be punished for disobedience. He seemed to have remarked ,’I  attach no great importance to human life, because I believe in another world.’ Concluded.
(ack:i)Napoleon II-and his carnival empire/John Murray-1988/John Bierman.ii)Jennie/The life of Lady Randolph Churchill/Signet,1970/Ralph G. Martin)

Tailspin: The terrible misery that visited Germany during the Hyperinflation and Paris under siege are two sides of the same coin. Integration principle works slowly but sets man’s inhumanity to one another on the same yardstick.

benny

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