Sir Roger Casement on the Ottomans and Armenians in Britain’s Great War

pdf from Studi irlandesi. A Journal of Irish Studies, n. 8 (2018), pp. 135-151 DOI:


StIr 23373-50853-1-PB

One comment

  1. This was a fascinating and eye-opening effort on your part, Dr. Walsh; bravo.

    It certainly produces much food for thought on many levels. It reinforces the idea laid out in another of your fine essays of how Russia was “played” by Britain, when the surface impression lies with how Russia was serving as an equally calculating partner of the Entente.

    This line was also thought-provoking: “And there was the shepherding of the Goeben and Breslau battleships into the Straits by the Royal Navy which helped compromise Turkish neutrality.” My prior impression was that the canny German captain (whom I have read later became the head of the Ottoman Navy, although Djemal Pasha had that post) successfully avoided Britain’s fleet; perhaps Britain, far from being outsmarted, deliberately allowed for the two ships to find sanctuary in the Black Sea, for strategic purposes.

    Other fine food for thought was offered by, “Sir Roger’s theory of where Liberalism had gone wrong,” where he rebelled against “dangerous Gladstonian Liberals.” The parallel with today’s hypocrisy regarding liberalism is profound. Naturally, the “Armenian genocide” is the domain for equal opportunity haters, but it’s often the liberals that embrace the unproven charge, in the crusade for “human rights.”

    I was not familiar with Sir Roger Casement, and I found the fact that he was at the forefront of exposing Belgium’s crimes to be moving. (“The idea of ‘Belgian atrocities’ struck Casement as ironic since King Leopold and the Belgian Imperialists had been the prime exponents of atrocities that the Irishman had investigated [and been honoured for].”) You indicated that he is regarded in some circles as another Raphael Lemkin, much as it’s difficult to determine whether that was a compliment, since Lemkin was a zealot and has unwittingly caused a great deal of harm with the genocide mania that came about since the 1970s.

    Another nugget for thought provocation was the clue that Casement was associated with the Easter Rising. Looking a bit further, the notion that the Easter Rising was the Germans’ idea (inspired as they were with the success of how Britain and other imperialists had manipulated the Armenians) now may be challenged; perhaps it was Casement who successfully planted the notion of “fifth column” rebellion into the Germans’ heads. This Guardian article ( written by a historian (not that “historian” means much anymore) claims:

    “In 1914, Casement crossed enemy lines into Germany. There, he attempted to recruit Irish prisoners of war to fight against their former British commanders and sought to secure arms from the Kaiser.” The author continued, “Casement was arrested after coming ashore on the southwest coast of Ireland from a submarine bearing German weapons and ammunition. He was sent to London to be interrogated and tried for treason.” (And later executed. Unlike the 76 “Armenian intellectuals” who were “murdered” by the Ottomans, from among the 227 arrested on April 24, whom we are often told were all “murdered.”)

    (Another “fun” Armenian parallel is the way in which apparently Drastamat Kanayan recruited from among Soviet Armenian POWs in the hands of the Third Reich to join Dro’s infamous battalion. Not that the equation between the fine Casement and the dreadful Dro should be made.)

    The Guardian article also reveals that whether or not Casement was a homosexual (he may have been “set up” by the British), Casement posthumously seems to have played a hand with furthering gay rights in Ireland and Britain.

    It was much to this man’s credit that he was able to see through deceit and to have the courage and integrity to “unpatriotically” (i.e., during wartime) shed light on how Turks don’t have tails, in the company of other honorable Britons such as C. F. Dixon-Johnson and Marmaduke Pickthall.

    You are continuing to contribute a much valuable service to the causes of truth and decency.


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