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Pasdermadjian on the war in the Caucasus 1917-18

22852195_1983681511912426_5741226045173895152_nGaregin Pasdermadjian, the Dashnak leader, had two small books published under his revolutionary name of “Armen Garo” (Armenian Hero) as he waited in Washington for his nation to be provided for by the victorious Allies in Paris. The books were called ‘Why Armenia Should Be Free’ (1918) and ‘Armenia and her Claims to Freedom’ (1919).

The first of these is a description of the Armenian Insurrection of 1914 and its contribution to the military efforts of the Great War Allies that was deserving of reward at the Peace Conference. ‘Armenia and Her Claims to Freedom’ is quite different. It is made up of four parts; a description of the ‘Armenian nation’ that is split between Russia, Persia and the Ottoman Empire in the first two; the third part consists of the case for a large Armenian state to be established by the Peace Conference, and the fourth part is an argument why the Allies, for their own interests, should establish this state.

The two books were published when the Great War was won, or about to be won by the Allies. Ottoman Turkey was presumably going to pay a high price for being on the losing side in this highly moral war of Good over Evil. It had been described as the personification of Evil for half a century by the Liberal wing of the victors of 1918 so it was going to get its come-uppance if the war was an honourable one at all.

The Armenians had suffered defeat, but they were very much on the side of “Civilisation against the Barbarians” and had contributed something to the victory, whilst sustaining enormous losses in the process. They expected to be getting a large share of the spoils for their suffering for the cause that was often described as their martyrdom. Or so it was hoped.

It is probably because the two books were written at this precise moment of seeming triumph that they are amazingly candid. Of course, there is much propaganda in them, of an anti-Ottoman and anti-Moslem nature, but there is also a recognition of facts that are nearly always hidden in publications since that time, about what happened to the Armenians in these years.

Pasdermadjian was keen to emphasise that the Armenians were no passive victims of Ottoman massacre.His books describe an Armenian Insurrection, beginning in late 1914, that, it is argued, contributed substantially to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, and which was seen by Pasdermadjian as well worth the lives of the hundreds of thousands, or more, it consumed, because it had presumably achieved its objective.

Below, from ‘Why Armenia Should be Free’ (1918) is Pasdermadjian’s account of the ‘Role Played By the Armenians in the Caucasus after the Russian Collapse.’

I do not intend to comment on the assertions made in it by Pasdermadjian. Of course, he had to present the Tartars (Azerbaijani Turks etc.) as aggressors and the Armenians as victims. And that is more or less how it is presented to the Western world today.

However, anyone with any knowledge of these events, knows differently – as did British officers in the area and Ministers in Whitehall.

Who, after all, had armed these hordes of Tartars? Who had established their army and trained it? The answer is nobody. The Azerbaijani Turks were the most unmilitarised element in the whole region, excluded from the Tsar’s army before the Great War and refused enlistment in it during conscription. On the other hand there were hundreds of thousands of Armenians under arms in both regular and irregular forces with a long tradition of guerrilla warfare behind them. They were trained by the Tsar in his army, reconstituted by Kerensky in a new army, employed by the Bolsheviks in the absence of a Red Army and then funded by the British to make up a new line in the Caucasus against the Ottomans.

So, in which people did the military art and experience lie in the Caucasus in 1918 and how was that likely to determine who was aggressor and who was victim?

The only thing that the Azerbaijanis had in their favour was that they constituted the majority of humanity in the area. But that was something that was of little concern to the Armenian Dashnaks in establishing their Greater Armenia. And in the one area where the Armenians had the advantage – their military forces – they could always reduce that majority if given the chance.

‘Role Played By the Armenians in the Caucasus after the Russian Collapse.’ (Garegin Pasdermadjian)

This was the state of affairs when there came the crash of the Russian revolution. The heart of every Armenian was greatly relieved, thinking that the greater part of their torments would come to an end. And in truth, during the first few months of the revolution, the temporary government of Kerensky made definite arrangements to rectify the unjust treatment of the Armenians by the government of the Czar. But events progressed in a precipitate manner. The demoralization of the Russian troops on all the fronts assumed greater proportions as the days went by. Foreseeing the danger which threatened the Caucasus, the Armenian National Organization of the Caucasus, as early as April, 1917, sent to Petrograd on a ‘special mission Dr. Zavrieff, already mentioned, and the writer of these lines, in order to have them obtain permission to transfer to the Caucasus some 150,000 Armenian officers and men (scattered throughout the Russian army), by whose assistance the Armenians might be able to protect their own native land against the Turkish advance.

Mr. Kerensky, who was well acquainted with the abnormal conditions reigning in the Caucasus, agreed to grant the request of the Armenian delegates, but, on the other hand, for fear of receiving similar requests from the other races in case he granted an order favourable to the Armenians, he decided to fulfill our request unofficially, that is, without a general ordinance, to send the Armenian soldiers to the Caucasus gradually, in small groups, in order not to attract the attention of the other races. And he carried out this plan.

But unfortunately, scarcely 35,000 Armenian soldiers had been able to reach the Caucasus by November, 1917, when Kerensky himself fell at the hands of the Bolsheviks, and there was created a chaotic condition the result of which was the final demobilization of the Russian army. During December, 1917, and January, 1918, the Russian army of 250,000 men on the Caucasian front, without any orders, abandoned its positions and moved into the interior of Russia, leaving entirely unprotected a front about 970 kilometers (600 miles) in length, extending from the Black Sea to Persia.

As soon as the Russian army disbanded, the 3,000,000 Tartar inhabitants of the Caucasus armed themselves and rose en masse. Toward the end of January last, the Tartars had cut the Baku-Tiflis railroad line as well as the Erivan-Joulfa line, and now began to raid and plunder the Armenian cities and villages, while behind, on the frontier, the regular Turkish army had commenced to advance in the first days of February. Against all these Turks and Tartars the Armenians had one army corps made up of some 35,000 regular troops under the command of General Nazarbekoff, and nearly 20,000 Armenian volunteers under the command of their experienced leaders.

Armenia’s only hope of assistance was their neighbours, the Georgians, who were as much interested in the protection of the Caucasus as the Armenians were, because the Turkish demands of the Brest-Litovsk treaty included definite portions of Georgia, as well as of Armenia; for example, the port of Batoum. And in fact, during the months of January and February they seemed quite inclined to help the Armenians, but when the Turks captured Batoum on April 15 and came as far as Usurgeti, the morale of the Georgians was completely broken, and they immediately sent a delegation to Berlin and put Georgia under German protection.

From this time on the 2,000,000 Armenian inhabitants of the Caucasus remained entirely alone to face, on the one hand, the Turkish regular army of 100,000 men, and on the other hand, the armed forces of hundreds of thousands of Tartars. From the end of February the small number of Armenian forces commenced to retreat step by step before the superior Turkish forces, from Erzingan, Baiburt, Khenous, Mamakhatoun, Erzeroum, and Bayazid, and concentrated their forces on the former Russian-Turkish frontier. Here commenced serious battles which arrested for quite a long time the advance of the Turkish troops. It took them until April 22 to arrive before the forts of Kars, where the first serious resistance of the Armenians took place. The fierce Turkish attack which continued for four days was easily repulsed by the Armenians, owing to the guns on the ramparts of Kars.

During these events a temporary government of the Caucasus existed in Tiflis, composed of representatives of three Caucasian races Georgian, Armenian, and Tartar. This Caucasian government was formed immediately after the coup d’etat of the Bolsheviks, and conducted Caucasian affairs as an independent body. It refused to recognize the authority of the Bolshevik government, or the terms of the Brest-Litovsk treaty signed by its accredited delegates. The president of the government was Chekhenkeli, a Georgian. Immediately after the capture of Batoum the Caucasian government opened peace negotiations with Turkish delegates in Batoum itself.

The Turks, by their usual crafty tricks, persuaded the Georgian delegates that they would return Batoum to the Georgians if Kars surrendered without resistance. Feeling assured of this Turkish promise, the Georgian president of the Caucasian government, Chekhenkeli, on the night of April 25, without consultation with the other members of the government, telegraphed the commander of Kars that an armistice had been signed with the Turks on condition of surrendering Kars, and therefore to give up the forts immediately and retreat as far as Arpa-Chai. On the following day the commander of the Armenian soldiers who were defending Kars delivered the fortress into the hands of the Turks and retreated to Alexandropol. Then it became known that Chekhenkeli had sent the fateful telegram on his own responsibility, but it was already too late. This event occasioned very strained relations between the Armenians and Georgians. Not long after, on the 26th of May, the Georgians, assured of German protection, declared in Tiflis the independence of Georgia. Thus the temporary Caucasian government dissolved.

After the separation of the Georgians the Armenian National Council of the Caucasus declared Armenian independence, under the name of the Republic of Ararat, with Erivan as its capital. While the negotiations were going on in Batoum always between the delegates of the Turks and the three Caucasian races comprising the Caucasian temporary government, the Turkish armies, after the occupation of Kars, became more aggressive and commenced to advance toward Alexandropol and Karakilissa.

Concentrating their forces around Karakilissa and Erivan, early in June, the Armenians in two fierce battles drove the Turks back almost to their frontier. In the battle of Karakilissa, which lasted four days, the Turks left 6,000 dead before the Armenian posts, and escaped to Alexandropol. When the Turks felt that their position in the face of the Armenian resistance was becoming more and more hopeless and that it would cost them dear to continue the fight, they immediately began to make concessions.

Up to that time the Turks had not yet recognized the right of Russian Armenia to independence, their objection being that they only recognized in the Caucasus Georgian and Tartar countries. But when they heard the news of the last military victory of the Armenians, on June 14, in Batoum, the Turkish delegates, together with the representatives of the Republic of Ararat, signed the first terms of armistice, leaving the final peace signature to the congress of Constantinople, where the final negotiations were to take place.

The delegates of the three nations of the Caucasus reached Constantinople on June 19. They were 32 in number. Among them were also the representatives of the Republic of Ararat, Mr. A. Khatissoff, the minister of foreign affairs, and Mr. A. Aharonian, the president of the Armenian National Council. In that congress, which convened in presence of the delegates of the German and Austrian governments, the Turks signed peace treaties with each of the newly-formed Caucasian Republics. It is needless to say that those treaties had as much value as that which the Roumanian government was forced to sign a few months before by the central powers. And, as was expected, the Turks and the Germans rewarded the Georgians and the Tartars at the expense of the Armenians. They gave the greater part of the Armenian territories to the other two nations, and the remainder was claimed by Turkey, with the exception of 32,000 square kilometers (about 12,350 square miles), with 700,000 Armenian inhabitants, which were left to the Republic of Ararat.

According to these terms only one-third of the Armenians of the Caucasus are included within the Republic of Ararat, while the remaining 1,400,000 Armenians are left in territories allotted to the Tartars or the Georgians. That portion of the Armenians which inhabits the mountainous regions of Karabagh (which was assigned to the Tartars), up to this very day, October, 1918, resists the Turco-Tartar hordes and refuses at any price to be subjected to the unjust terms of the treaty of Constantinople, while beyond, the Armenians at Van, when their military forces realized that their retreat was cut off early last May, after being sheltered for two whole months in Van, moved toward Persia, there joined the Christian Assyrians in the neighbourhood of Urmia, repulsed for a long time the Turkish and Kurdish attacks, and only early in September succeeded in shattering the Turkish lines and thereby reached the city of Hamadan in Persia, where they entrusted to the care of the British forces the protection of about 40,000 Armenian and Assyrian refugees. In order to complete this picture of the heroic resistance of the Caucasian Armenians, let me say a few words more about the struggle at Baku.

As already mentioned, early in May, 1917, through the efforts of the Armenian National Organization of the Caucasus, the Armenian soldiers and officers scattered throughout Russia were gradually brought together and mobilized on the Caucasian front. With that purpose in view an Armenian Military Committee was formed in Petrograd with General Bagradouni as president. Bagradouni was one of the most brilliant young generals of the Russian army. He had received his military training at the highest military academy of Petrograd, and, during Kerensky’s administration, was appointed Chief of the Staff of the military forces at Petrograd. When the Bolsheviks assumed power they ordered him to take an oath of loyalty to the new government. General Bagradouni refused to do so, and for that reason he was imprisoned, with many other high military officials. After remaining in prison two months, through repeated appeals by the Armenian National bodies, he was freed by the Bolsheviks on condition that he should immediately leave Petrograd.

After his release from prison, General Bagradouni, accompanied by the well-known Armenian social worker, Mr. Rostom, with 200 Armenian officers, left for the Caucasus to assume the duties of commander-in-chief of the newly-formed Armenian army. This group of Armenian officers reached Baku early in March, where it was forced to wait, for the simple reason that the Baku-Tim’s railroad line was already cut by the Tartars. During that same month of March from many parts of Russia a large number of Armenians gathered at Baku and waited to go to Erivan and Tiflis in response to the call issued by the Armenian National Council. Toward the end of March nearly 110,000 Armenian soldiers had come together at Baku. By the 30th of March the news of German victories was spread throughout the Caucasus by the Turco-German agents. On the same day in Baku and other places appeared the following leaflets:

“Awake, Turkish brothers !

“Protect your rights; union with the Turks means life. “Unite, Children of the Turks! “Brothers of the noble Turkish nation, for hundreds of years our blood has flowed like water, our motherland has been ruined, and we have been under the heel of thousands of oppressors who have almost crushed us. We have forgotten our nation. We do not know to whom to appeal for help. “Countrymen, we consider ourselves free hereafter. Let us look into our conscience! Let us not listen to the voice of plotters. We must not lose the way to freedom; our freedom lies in union with the Turks. It is necessary for us to unite and put ourselves under the protection of the Turkish flag. “Forward, brothers! Let us gather ourselves under the flag of union and stretch out our hands to our Turkish brothers. Long life to the generous Turkish nation! By these words we shall never again bear a foreign yoke, the chains of servitude.”

And on the following day (March 31) from all sides of the Caucasus the armed hordes of Tartars attacked the Armenians. The leaders of the Tartars at Baku were convinced that they would easily disarm the Armenian soldiers, because they were somewhat shut up in Baku, but they were sadly mistaken in their calculations. After a bloody battle which lasted a whole week the Armenians remained masters of the city and its oil wells. They suffered a loss of nearly 2,500 killed, while the Tartars lost more than 10,000. The commander of the military forces of the Armenians was the same General Bagradouni, who, although he lost both of his legs during the fight, continued his duties until September 14, when the Armenians and the small number of Englishmen who came to their assistance were forced to abandon Baku to the superior forces of the Turco-Tartars, and retreat toward the city of Enzeli in the northern Caucasus.”

During these heroic struggles, which lasted five and a half months, the small Armenian garrison of Baku, together with a few thousand Russians, defended Baku and its oil wells against tens of thousands of Tartars, the Caucasian mountaineers, and more than one division of regular Turkish troops which had come to the assistance of the latter by way of Batoum. Time after time the Turkish troops made fierce attacks to capture the city, but each time they were repulsed with heavy losses by the gallant Armenian garrison.

The Armenians had built their hopes on British assistance, since nothing was expected from the demoralized Russian army. But, unfortunately, the British were unable to reach Baku with large forces from their Bagdad army. Nevertheless, on August 5, they landed at Baku 2,800 men to help the Armenians. The arrival of this small British contingent caused great enthusiasm among the tired and exhausted defenders of the city. But meanwhile the Turks had received new forces from Batoum and renewed their attacks. After a series of bloody battles the armed Armenian and British forces were forced to leave Baku on September 14 and retreat toward Persia, taking with them nearly 10,000 refugees from the inhabitants of the city.

As to the condition of those who were left behind, this much is certain; that on the day the city was occupied by the Turco-Tartars, nearly 20,000 Armenians were put to the sword, the greater portion of them being women and children. According to the news received from Persia, after that first terrible massacre, other massacres likewise have taken place. The number of the losses is not known; but it may safely be surmised without any exaggeration that out of the entire 80,000 Armenian inhabitants of Baku, all those who were unable to leave the city in time were slaughtered by the revengeful Turks and Tartars. Thus ended the resistance of five months and a half by the Armenians at Baku against the Turco-Germans.

The remnants of the retreating Armenian garrison of Baku, at the time of writing, are located in the Persian city of Enzeli, where, under the command of their heroic leader, General Bagradouni, they are recuperating before hastening to the aid of the Armenians in the eastern Caucasus, who, as already mentioned, up to this very day are resisting the forces of the Turco-Tartars in the mountains of Karabagh.

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III. Strategic Aspects of the Balfour Declaration

In March 1915 Britain reversed its Foreign Policy of nearly a century and consented to Russia’s possession of Constantinople/Istanbul after the War. This was done to secure the continued services of the Russian Steamroller in the field and dissuade the Tsar of any thoughts he might have of making peace with the Kaiser.

To secure the agreement of France to this, Edward Grey agreed to accept French designs on Syria. Taken with Britain’s own designs on Mesopotamia this amounted to a break-up of the Ottoman Empire. At a meeting of the War Council, in the same month, Asquith stated: “If for one reason or another… we were to leave the other nations to scramble for Turkey without taking anything ourselves, we should not be doing our duty.” (Cited in Aaron S. Klieman, Britain’s War Aims In The Middle East In 1915, Journal Of Contemporary History, July 1968, p.242) 

In April 1915 Asquith appointed a Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir Maurice de Bunsen to consider “British Desiderata In Turkey-in-Asia.”  The Report concluded that it was always an Imperial objective “to strengthen ragged edges” of the Empire so “we have to take advantage of the present opportunity, and to assert our claim in settling the destiny of Asiatic Turkey.” 

Strengthening ragged edges was Liberal talk for Imperial expansion. Because of the Indian Empire the main area of importance for Britain in the Middle East was the Persian Gulf. Because Basra was essential to the control of the Gulf it was invaded and occupied a few days after War was declared on the Ottomans. The Indian army had left for the conquest a month before Britain had found its excuse for War.

Since Baghdad was important in relation to Basra it became a further necessary acquisition. And Mosul had to be taken to protect the area north of Baghdad. Then Persia had to be controlled to guard the Eastern flank. And at the Western gate the acquisition of Palestine was essential to protect Mesopotamia, and Egypt, and the Suez Canal, and on and on…

That was what strengthening the ragged edges of Empire meant.

The Report of the Committee showed Britain desired a belt of territory between Arabia and the concession to the French in Syria and it would not permit a Foreign Power occupying the area next to Egypt and the Suez Canal.  It recommended support for a devolutionary scheme preserving the Ottoman Empire in five regions, Anatolia, Armenia, Syria, Palestine and Jazirah-Iraq, with the latter four being capable of being detached in the future.

However, the Report’s recommendations were shelved and the Asquith Government took up one of its rejected policy options instead – the partition of the Ottoman Empire between the Imperialist Powers. This option was described by the Committee as having the advantages of: providing Britain with freedom of commerce, a granary and oil reserves in Mesopotamia in which an British Indian colony could be established; and the chance of detaching the Southern part of Syria (Palestine) from Turkey (and France) to construct a buffer zone linking up the Indian Empire to Egypt.

The process of implementing this policy began with the Sykes/Picot Agreement of May 1916.

Therefore, at the same time as the British agreement with Shereef Hussein promising him an Arab state in return for military services, England began making a secret treaty with the French and Russians (The Sykes/Picot Agreement of May 1916) which sought to divide up the Middle East amongst the Western Christian Powers after the War.

Under this Agreement Russia was to have the Dardanelles, Constantinople and a large area around Erzurum and Trebizond. France was to get Cilicia and Lebanon, above Acre, whilst  the vilayet of Mosul, north of Mesopotamia, the areas of Syria were to be included in a large “Arab State A,” under French control. England was to have the vilayets of Basra and Baghdad, and a large tract of land stretching from Kirkuk in the north down past Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf and west to the Jordan, called “Arab State B.” Under Sykes/Picot Palestine was to become a condominium of England, France and Russia.

Hussein knew nothing of this Agreement that aimed to balkanise the region so that the Arabs could not establish a state as promised. The Turks warned him of British duplicity but he chose to have faith in the promises made.

This plan of balkanisation was a most unsuitable way to administer the region because divisions within the Arab world were not national in any way. They were religious and cultural. But the different religions and cultures were spread right across the region and could not be delineated by national boundaries or through nation states drawn in the sand. That was why the Ottoman vilayet structures worked – because they enabled different religious groups and clans with different cultures, ways of life and allegiances to live next to each other, and move freely, with no lines in the sand to bother them or be fought over.

When the lines in the sand were imposed on the Arabs they were forced to see themselves as nationalities, (with no historical meaning) and to see others (who had the same history, religion or culture as themselves) as alien, because they were on the other sides of the newly imposed lines in the sand.

It should be understood that Britain coveted Palestine long before it discovered the Zionists. It was not Zionism that drew England to Palestine, or the Zionists who brought the issue of Palestine up within the British corridors of power. England had its eye on the territory long before the Balfour Declaration or the negotiations that brought it about (which were instigated by Britain and not the Zionists).

For the first two years of the War England showed little interest in Zionism and pursued its objective of getting hold of Palestine without reference to it. Zionism didn’t interest the de Bunsen Commission, Britain negotiated the Sykes/Picot Agreement and the deal with Hussein of Mecca without reference to it and basically took the future of Palestine to be decided without taking into account the views of either ordinary Jews or Zionists. What Britain was mainly concerned about was whether it could wrest the area from France at the hour of victory.

Palestine had not been explicitly mentioned in any of the agreements concluded between Britain and Hussein. The Arabs naturally took this to mean that it was simply included within the area of an Arab State, because it had not been specifically excluded, as other areas west of Damascus had been. However, England carefully avoided mention of the area because it had other ideas for Palestine after the War, and it had other deals to do with other people. Britain is very skilled at this sort of thing, relying on the good nature of others whilst shafting them, good and proper.

Under the Sykes/Picot Agreement the status of Palestine had been left unclear. England, France and Russia all had an interest in administering it, but Britain, despite having the least claim to it, had its heart set on acquiring it for its expanding Empire. The problem, from Britain’s standpoint, was how to devise a scenario whereby the Empire could get control of Palestine. And that is where the Jews came in and Zionism became a significant element in Imperial affairs.

It was certainly the case that the French had much greater historical ties to Palestine than the English (from the time of the Crusades) and if any of the Imperial Powers had a right to supervise the region it was the French.

As far back as the 1840s Lord Palmerston recognized the potential value of utilizing the Jews in relation to gaining influence within the Ottoman Empire. Palmerston noticed that both of England’s rivals, France and Russia, had achieved leverage over the Sultan by adopting a religious minority in Jerusalem for “protection”. But Reformationist England had no such influence due to the lack of Protestants there. So, to achieve influence in the region another religious group would have to be adopted and the obvious candidates, given England’s Old Testament orientation, were the Jews. In the 1880s Laurence Oliphant contacted Lord Salisbury with a scheme for Jewish colonization in the Holy Land.

The first argument used by England to counter the French claim to Palestine was that the existence of the Holy Places in and around Jerusalem called for a special régime. But when this did not convince the French they produced the Jews from their hat.

With regard to Britain’s manoeuvrings against France, Lady Hamilton explains the use that England had for the Jews:

Imperially minded Britons knew that ever since Napoleons massive fleet had landed in Alexandria in 1798 the French had wanted to hold the Holy Land. French missionaries were active throughout Syria and Palestine, and their schools had transformed thousands of intelligent but illiterate Arabs into well-informed intellectuals, writers and poets. A Jewish homeland would provide a rational reason to block the French from taking too much territory in the Levant, and create a reliable and strong client population. Their presence would guarantee Britain a hold on this strategic area. If the Allies won the war, France would take the place of Germany and would be the most powerful nation on the continent. Frances power would need to be checked. Britain did not want France also to be the dominant power in the Middle East. (God, Guns and Israel, p.136)

This was the Balance of Power policy and it remained an Imperial constant after temporary enemies e.g. Germany and the Ottomans were seen off.

Britain calculated that a proposed Jewish Homeland in Palestine would tip the balance in moral claims to the territory in England‘s favour. Since it was England who would give the Jews a solemn undertaking of a National Home in Palestine it was only fitting that Britain should govern the territory to see that this promise was fulfilled. So England would get Palestine for the Jews and the Zionists would get Palestine for Britain.

It could be said that England cheated the Arabs of Palestine by saying it had been promised to the French and then cheated the French of it by promising it to the Jews. And all the time the objective was to keep it for the British Empire.

The strategic reason for the alliance between British Imperialism and the Zionist Movement was the British desire to enlist the support of International Jewry in the War effort against Germany, and then to manoeuvre itself into control of Palestine, through the use of the advocation of the moral right of the Jews to settle there.

Britain is used to setting the moral standard for the world and the Balfour Declaration was a new standard for it to live by.

By 1916 it was becoming to be understood in Britain that the French, Russian and Italian Allies it had procured to destroy Germany and the Ottomans were not up to the job. The United States was needed not only to finish the War but to save it from being lost or drawn – which was seen as a loss. And this introduced another factor favourable to a Anglo-Zionist alliance.

James Malcolm was an Oxford educated Armenian who acted as an adviser to the British Government on Eastern affairs. He was a personal friend of Mark Sykes and upon hearing Sykes’s concern that Britain was having no success in persuading Jews to support an American entry into the War Malcolm advised him that he was approaching the wrong Jews. It was the Zionists who were the key to the problem, he suggested.

Sykes had a problem with this solution because he knew the terms of the secret Agreement he had concluded with the French and Russians. Although he told Malcolm that to offer to secure Palestine for the Jews was impossible Malcolm insisted that there was no other way and he urged Sykes to take the suggestion to the Cabinet. The matter was taken up by Lord Milner who asked for further information.

Malcolm pointed out the influence of Judge Brandeis of the American Supreme Court on President Wilson and the fact that the President himself held strong Zionist sympathies. Sykes and Malcolm were then authorized to engage in a series of meetings at Chaim Weizmann’s London house, with the knowledge and approval of the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Maurice Hankey.

A Programme for a New Administration of Palestine in Accordance with the Aspirations of the Zionist Movement was issued by the English Political Committee of the Zionist Organization in October 1916, and submitted to the British Foreign Office as a basis for discussion and in order to give an official character to the informal discussions. It contained the main Zionist demands for an International recognition of Jewish rights to Palestine, nationhood for the Jewish community in Palestine and the creation and recognition of a Jewish chartered company in Palestine with rights to acquire land.

But it did not reach the Cabinet because it was known that Asquith was unsympathetic to the Zionist ideal. With Lloyd George replacing Asquith as Prime Minister (and Balfour replacing Edward Grey as Foreign Secretary) from December 1916, Zionist relations with the British Government gathered momentum. The Balfour Declaration was now a possibility.

Chaim Weizmann and the Zionists were presented with something of a problem when the Tsarist State began to collapse during early 1917. The Zionists had argued that Tsarist oppression made a sanctuary for the Russian Jews necessary and that this was estranging the US from the Triple Entente. So the Tsarist collapse threatened to remove some of the rationale behind providing a Home for the Jews and the antagonism they had for the Entente, which Zionists promised they could counter if they were given a Declaration. Weizmann overcame the fall-out from this event by utilising it to the advantage of Zionism by planting the idea in the new Prime Minister’s head that Russian Zionists could affect the course of the Russian Revolution and undermine the defeatist policy of the emerging Bolsheviks, saving Russia for the Allies.

The Balfour Declaration appeared for the first time in public view in The Times on 9th November 1917 – a month after the Bolshevik takeover and a month before the British capture of Jerusalem. The momentous announcement was produced from behind closed doors and was never debated in Parliament.

Its timing was important. To have made it earlier would have had a disorganising effect on the Arabs who were doing the fighting for Britain against the Turks.

Published in The Irish Political Review September 2017

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Britain's Great War Geopolitics Iraq Turkey and Ottoman Empire United States Zionism

On Democratic War

Editorial from Church & State An Irish History Magazine Third Quarter 2017:

The Irish Government facilitated the destruction of the liberal, secular State of Iraq by American and British military action. It refuelled American war-planes at Shannon. Government spokesman, Martin Mansergh, explained that its policy was determined by a judicious combination of practicality and idealism. The practical consideration was that Irish interests would possibly have suffered slightly from American displeasure if it had not agreed to the use of Shannon in the War. But there was also the idealistic consideration on the American side that a dictator was being overthrown.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, called a Middle East expert to Downing Street to discuss Iraq. The expert must have done a fairly good job of explaining the intricate make-up of the Iraqi State because Blair ended the discussion by saying “But Saddam is an Evil Tyrant, isn’t he?”

This journal has never pretended to know what “Evil” is. It seems to be a mind-stopping notion, of theological origin that remains usable in State propaganda, even though religion has been discarded from State affairs—except for special occasions.

The great Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, William King—by far the greatest there has ever been—gave Evil a secular meaning even though he was writing during the high tide of Protestant Ascendancy. He said that Evil was what obstructs the will—what obstructs the will is Evil.

God is wilful. His will knows no superior authority. What he wills is good, and whatever obstructs it is evil. And, since man is made in the image of God, the same is the case with him. Man is a little God. He is intolerant of anything that obstructs his will, and he calls it Evil.

We can understand that. It is perfectly clear. And it is entirely in accordance with the conduct of the interest served by Archbishop King—the interest of the British State which he played an active part in constructing.

The difficulty arises about why Saddam Hussein should have been seen as Evil from the viewpoint of the British State. In what way was the liberal secularisation of Iraq in the British mode obstructive of the British will in the Middle East?

Baathist Iraq was a multi-cultural State. The three major religions, Sunni, Shia and Christian, were drawn into its functioning. The Christian community was flourishing and its representative, Tariq Azziz, was Prime Minister. The mass support of the State was Sunni, but the Shia population was so far from being in latent rebellion (as the Catholic community in Northern Ireland always was) that it took part in the war against the Shia revolutionary State in Iran—a war that was encouraged by the West.

Iraq, hastily thrown together by Britain for divide-and-rule purposes during its war of conquest in Mesopotamia, for use against the general Arab nationalism to which Britain had made promises, was well on the way to becoming a coherent nation-state when Britain decided to destroy it.

Fourteen years later Tony Blair, who had become a billionaire out of it, is still thrashing around in search of a credible statesmanlike reason for why he did it.

Ireland has forgotten it. And it is hoped that, with the destruction of Mosul, Islamic State will be reduced from the status of an actual territorial State to a movement that can be described as terrorist.

The destruction of the Baath State of Iraq by the application of overwhelming military force, combined with the appeal of the invading forces to the elements of Iraqi life that were being curbed by the development of the Baath State, to come out and give popular support to the invasion, led so directly and predictably to the formation of Islamic State, that a strong case can be made that the purpose of the invasion was the replacement of the liberal secular State by a revolutionary Islamist State.

An argument that the invasion had come for an entirely different purpose can only be made on the basis of assumptions that are grossly unrealistic.

If liberal democracy operating in a secular, or non-religious, medium is the necessary ideal of the West (with Britain and the USA at its core), and if the West is compelled to apply itself to realising this ideal in actual government throughout the world, then it is to the point to remind it how its ideal was realised within itself.

The starting point is a secure national state. The sequence of development is nationality, liberalism, and democracy. The British state gained national stability in Britain during the generation after 1688. It was in the first instance assertively Protestant, in Anglican form. It might be said to have become liberal in 1829 with the repeal of the Test Act, which disfranchised the members of all other religions. The process of democratisation began in 1832 with limited middle class enfranchisement and it was not until 1918, three-quarters of a century later, that the electorate became a majority of the adult population. (The state remained nationalist—chauvinist— throughout, though heavily camouflaged.)

Liberal-democratic development of the regime of State that was stabilised in 1715 took over two centuries. And there can be little doubt that this development was assisted by the fact that the State became the controlling force in a world Empire from which it drew great resources with which it alleviated internal conflict.

When the possibility of democratisation began to be discussed as a practical proposition in governing circles in the late 19th century, it was frankly said that it was the Empire that made it practicable.

Is a State—or a country—that is not Imperialist, but is subject to Imperialist economic exploitation, and which is subject to the vagaries of Imperialist policy, even after the formal Empires have been dismantled, likely to take more or less time to reproduce the development that took two centuries, under very favourable conditions, in Britain?

Can a liberal democracy, that took two hundred years to develop, and which, with its Imperial reach, imposes on another country the obligation to undergo liberal-democratic development—can it allow that other country to develop at the snail’s pace that it did itself? The evidence suggests that it cannot.

The question then is whether a powerful democratic State can have a democratic foreign policy? And even: What is a democratic foreign policy?

Is a democratic foreign policy just the foreign policy of a democratic State? Or is it a policy that cultivates democracy in other countries.

Suppose a powerful State with an Empire, which it exploited profusely in the interest of its domestic population, and suppose the domestic development of democracy in that state—in other words, look at Britain. Is it reasonable to expect that democratised Britain, whose relationship with the world remains what it was made by the Empire, will conduct a foreign policy which undermines its economic interest?

It was the first democratic British Government that overruled the will of the democracy in Ireland in 1918, and put in the Black and Tans to help it to change its mind.

But that wasn’t a real democracy? Well, if real democracy is to be invoked against actual democracy all the time, then democracy becomes a will-o-the-wisp.

British democracy had its first Socialist Government in 1945. It was elected in the wave of euphoria generated by victory the in Anti-Fascist War. One of the first things it did was make war on the Malayan Independence movement, which was led by the Malayan Anti-Fascists who had made war on Japan.

The war was fought by methods that might reasonably be described as Fascist. Racism was fostered in Malaya to assist the War. And the War was not called a war but an Emergency so that it would not be subject to International Law on war that, supposedly, had just been established by the Nuremberg Trials of the Germans. And the reason for this, which almost everyone agreed with, was that Britain just had to have Malayan tin and rubber.

And as the post-War world began in the late forties, so it has continued.

Meyrick Booth, who was probably the writer of the Meyrick Cramb articles in Connolly’s Workers’ Republic, suggested in the 1930s that the idea of democratic foreign policy should be discarded. We gave some extracts from his argument some years ago as being worthy of consideration. And it must be said that the course of events in the last few years has not refuted them.

The Great Powers of the democratic world obliterated a viable liberal-secular State in Iraq fourteen years ago. They did the same in Libya six years ago. They are currently trying to do the same in Syria.

Islamic State, with Sharia Law and the Caliphate, emerged as the viable alternative to the Baath State which the leading democracies destroyed. Those democracies now seem to be on the brink of destroying Islamic State as a territorial entity. They are using a concocted Iraqi Government as a facade. But does anybody doubt that, if the conflict was left to work itself out between what calls itself the Iraqi Government and Islamic State, the territory of Iraq would become the base area for for Islamic State in a restoration of the Caliphate.

These events naturally have repercussions in the Muslim population of Britain, which has greatly increased because of them. Melanie Phillips,a Zionist who says her primary allegiance is to Israel, propagated the idea of Londonistan a few years ago, when the Muslim population was smaller and less provoked than it is now, demands that Islam must undergo a Reformation. She says that General Sissi, who runs his own special brand of democracy in Egypt, agrees with her.

An Islamic Reformation! Perish the thought! What did the Reformation of Christianity lead to? A fanatical Puritanism with a zeal to remake the world in its image.

But, unfortunately, the Islamic Reformation has already happened

Islam, more capable than Christianity of being easy-going and tolerant, maintained for centuries what now seems an idyllic era of peace and harmony in the Middle East under Ottoman rule, was thoroughly radicalised and fundamentalised and financed by he United States in Northern Pakistan for the purpose of making war on the regime in Kabul that was doing in Afghanistan, with Russian support, what Saddam did in Iraq chiefly through internal development.

When America invaded Afghanistan to suppress the forces which it had cultivated as jihadis against Communists, Richard Pearl was asked if it hadn’t made a mistake in radicalising and militarising Islam. Wasn’t it now making war on its own creature? Pearl brushed that criticism aside, and said that the US would in every particular situation do whatever served its purpose of the movement there.

The leading democracy of the world gave Islam its Reformation. And it has taken root.

Categories
Britain's Great War Geopolitics Germany Greece Independent Ireland Iraq Russia Turkey and Ottoman Empire

Who was Roger Casement?

The following talk was given on 9th June 2017 in Donegall Street, Belfast, in launching the pamphlet ‘Roger Casement on the Great War: a commentary’. The pamphlet contains two of Casement’s lost writings: “Sir Roger Casement on Sir Edward Grey” and “A Pacific Blockade” originally published in the Continental Times, October and December 1915, as well as a commentary.

Who was Roger Casement? He was undoubtedly unique out of all of the leading figures of 1916. He was someone who was special and who did something of a greater magnitude than any of his comrades against British world domination. He publicly disputed the Great War narrative of Britain with an insider’s knowledge and then acted with ruthless consistency against it in alliance with Germany to bring about a multi-polar world. The British realised he was the most dangerous thing they had ever encountered from Ireland and he had to be hung.

In fact, he not only had to be hung but the thoughts that had inspired his action had to be obliterated. But how do you destroy something that has been placed in the public domain? Only character assassination will do.

These two articles of Casement, originally published in The Continental Times, which have lain forgotten for nearly a century tell us more than most of the material published in the last half century about Casement and who he was. They show that Casement was a consistent Liberal at the moment when English Liberalism failed its great test at the ultimate moment of truth and morally collapsed. They show he was a consistent Irish Nationalist when the Home Rulers all collapsed into Imperialism. Remaining true to his principles Casement attempted to forge an Irish-German alliance. It really was the only logical thing to do in the circumstances that he found himself. The ground shifted under his feet but he remained solid.

In his incisive article about Sir Edward Grey Casement attempts to answer the question: how did it all go so badly wrong from the Liberal viewpoint, resulting in collaboration with what all true Liberals wished to avoid – catastrophic world war. He saw the truce between the British parties – Unionists and Liberals – over Foreign Policy as being at the root of what happened in August 1914. He identified the Liberal Imperialist tendency in British Liberalism as being largely responsible for this. Through this deviation from the Gladstonian tradition Liberalism made an accommodation with Imperialism that removed Foreign Affairs from the party conflict.

Casement saw Ireland as an integral part of this process, viewing the Liberal retreat from Home Rule after Gladstone’s failure in 1886 (and 1893), as intimately connected with its subsequent collaboration in Imperialism and War. Up until the 1880s Foreign Policy had been at issue at British General Elections but from around the Home Rule defeat the Liberal Party began to acquiesce in Imperialism. The long wilderness years of Unionist government had a chastening effect on the Party and it began to avoid any questioning of the direction of Foreign Policy, confining itself to reform at home. This began with Lord Rosebery, the founder of the Liberal Imperialist tendency, but Sir Edward Grey was the Liberal Foreign Secretary who achieved the transition in substance.

Casement describes Sir Edward Grey as “the shield behind which the permanent plotters” against Germany developed their plans for a Great War “unchecked and uncontrolled by the forces that were supposedly the masters of English public action.” 

That Britain was responsible for the Great War there was no doubt in Casement’s mind. That was the reason he sided with the victim in the event against the perpetrator. He saw that Britain began the process of the Great War a decade before it started and was clear that motive lay entirely with London rather than with Berlin. The question Casement addressed himself to was how much was the British Foreign Secretary, whom he was acquainted with and whom he had served in an official capacity, to blame, personally for the War? Casement’s verdict on the charge against Sir Edward Grey that he had brought on the Great War on Germany is “Guilty, with diminished responsibility.”

Casement’s argument is that the Great War would have been organised without the particular participation of Sir Edward, as a distinct individual. He was “a fly on the wheel of state” using Grey’s own phrase. The prime movers within the British State were determined on their Great War, with or without Grey, and, according to Casement, he was essentially a “useful shield” between their manoeuvrings and his party colleagues, who dominated Parliament from 1906 to 1910, but who had mistakenly put their trust in Grey as a well-meaning and peace-loving Liberal.

There is, of course, a wealth of evidence that has emerged since that Sir Edward Grey was much more personally responsible for what happened than Casement believed. He was much more than just the driver of an unstoppable train. He was a strong anti-German in his own right (unlike Rosebery); he helped write the ABC etc. articles in Leo Maxse’s National Review in 1901 that set out the Revolution in British Foreign Policy, altering the object of Britain’s Balance of Power; he acted in conjunction with political opponents in the Committee of Imperial Defence to plan the War; he brought the White Dominions into the War planning even before informing the Cabinet and his tricky behaviour in July and early August 1914 oiled the wheels of war in a way that no other could have achieved.

He drove the train toward destruction whilst assuring the worried crew that all was fine and they need not worry because he was in control.

Casement wrote that:

“The ten years of ‘Liberalism’ at the Foreign Office since 1905, under the nominal direction of a Liberal Minister, will go down in history as the most criminal, the most audacious and, I believe, in the end the most disastrous in all English history.”

There can be little doubting the truth of that statement.

Casement saw Grey as unfitted by temperament to the role he had taken up through duty. He was from a famous political house and had been groomed as Lord Rosebery’s successor, to keep any Radical out of the Foreign Office and preserve “continuity” in British policy in the world.

The 1906 Liberal Government was the Government that planned the Great War behind the backs of its own backbenchers and most of the Cabinet. The Liberal Imperialist cabal who headed this Government and occupied the important positions of State worked closely with the Unionist front bench opposition on this project of a War on Germany. They did so as they engaged in the routine of parliamentary conflict. The new Foreign Policy was said to represent continuity with the old but in its important aspects it represented a great discontinuity and was actually a revolution. It was a truly collaborative effort involving the Liberal Imperialists, senior Unionists, important military and naval figures and individuals like Lord Esher and Maurice Hankey, who steered the ship of state toward the War on Germany they all felt was necessary to preserve British domination.

The 1906 Liberal Government kicked the Gladstonian Irish Home Rule policy into the long grass after winning a landslide victory. This is the territory I explored in The Rise and Fall of Imperial Ireland – how the sea-change in English Liberalism impacted on the Home Rule movement and produced what is called Redmondism. This is the subject matter of Casement’s article on Sir Edward Grey, though I was not aware of it when writing Imperial Ireland. Casement had it all worked out, or most of it, a hundred years ago.

When the Home Rule struggle reappeared as a result of the British electoral stalemate of 1910 it had a lot to do with the silencing of a Liberal opposition to what Grey was doing. The attempts made by John Dillon and some Liberal backbenchers to draw attention to what Grey was working at in the background – bringing on a World War – ceased from around 1910 as Home Rulers and Gladstonian Radicals were drawn into the intense party conflict which then developed against the Unionists, over Constitutional issues. In August 1914 Redmond and his acolytes achieved the total subordination of Home Rule to Imperialism and the effective subduing of Liberal opposition to War. Even John Dillon, who had a position similar to Casement, fell into line.

Casement’s argument that it was Britain’s intention to make War on Germany has never been challenged on its own ground. That is hardly surprising. Any historical knowledge of what Britain was doing from 1905, as well as as the course of actual events, along with documents and diaries of the important people revealed in later years, would make any contesting of his view impossible. What has been required is mystification and diversion.

Mystification has been achieved through the diversionary activity  whose seed was planted by the Black Diaries. The obsession with Casement’s private life that the Black Diaries introduced has proved a “useful shield” in preventing understanding of what Casement represented in his real substance.

Casement’s writings on the international situation have been ignored and his sympathy for Germany, arising out of a principled opposition to what he knew was being done in high places in England, is put down to a simple intensification of Irish nationalist sentiment within him. He was, in other words, deluded, and went into alliance with something he did not really understand the true evil of. That is the caricature of Casement that the revisionists have achieved – the incomprehensible Casement.

The impression conveyed by those explaining Casement to audiences during the centenary events of 2016 was of a well-meaning but flawed fool. It couldn’t be quite said in the celebratory atmosphere but that was the intent of the reluctant guests at the party.

I noticed that people who should have known better seemed incapable of challenging this incompressible Casement – presumably because they had neglected their own history and had not bothered to understand the world outside of Ireland. They lived within the British world and its narrative, whatever their credentials and the greenest of their attire. They simply did not understand the world in the way Casement had came to understand it so they were lost in understanding Casement himself. And without having knowledge of the actual basis of Casement’s thought and consequent activity – his inside knowledge of what Britain intended to do to the world – the incomprehensible argument of the revisionists could past muster. From this viewpoint it was easy to leave the impression that Casement was a tragic figure – a misguided fool and the author of his own misfortune.

In reality, Casement was part of a great tradition with a substance that had the most massive effect on humanity. He had a very solid Liberal view of the world that helped him understand that a fundamental departure from principle was occurring. When Casement saw what Britain was intending to do with Germany it produced a recoiling from the State he had served. Casement’s understanding led him to predict a criminally irresponsible British made World War. And Britain proved him wholly right.

The person of Sir Edward Grey facilitated the War and this was a problem for Casement. He was on friendly terms with his old boss and obviously thought highly of him still.

The famous Dean Inge of St. Paul’s later wondered in his book England if the War, which he saw as the greatest catastrophe ever befalling the British Empire and Europe, could have been avoided. He concluded it couldn’t have. But all the reasons he puts forward why it could not have been avoided are connected to Grey’s activity. He said in a later book, Talks in a Free Country, that the Liberal Cabinet were intimidated into the War by the fact that Grey had made such arrangements with France that if England didn’t fight Germany it would lose France and Russia altogether and would have to fight a Franco-German-Russian alliance in the future. Liberal fears of a future bigger war were used by the Liberal Imperialists to face down principled Liberal opposition.

If the War plans had been openly made and declared by Grey there would have been no War to put them into practice. Germany would have been warned and the Kaiser would have backed off, as he always had done, when he saw he was offending Britain in a way that was unacceptable. So there needed to be the appearance of disinterest and an aloof altruistic morality to spring the trap on Germany. And Edward Grey was integral to the success of that.

Casement had the traditional Foreign Policy of an English Liberal, as John Dillon’s correspondence to C.P.Scott shows he also had. However, Dillon went along with his Chairman, Redmond, as he saw the Liberal opposition collapse in the face of the outpouring of Redmondite War frenzy. Dillon got swept away by the herd and kept his head down, hoping for the best.

Home Rule was intimately connected with the way in which the Great War was facilitated. The Liberal Government were dependent on the Irish Party for their Parliamentary majority and the moral weight the Irish Home Rulers added to the War swept aside the anti-war morality of Liberalism. Dillon hoped for a quick Entente victory to clear the unwanted issue out of the way and for the Liberal/Home Rule alliance to be resumed in 1915. But it wasn’t to be. The Liberals had bitten off more than they could chew taking on Germany and then the Ottomans, and they choked on it.

Redmond and his acolytes had shifted the ground under both Casement and Dillon’s feet. Dillon hoped the ground would return after a momentary earthquake but Casement calculated that Germany was more substantial than Dillon thought and Britain may have greatly miscalculated, to the cost of its Empire.

Because Casement held England largely responsible for the War he followed the logic of his position by aligning himself with Germany.

Casement understood commerce to be England’s life and no rival was to be going to be permitted to ever emerge. The Royal Navy was the controller of the world market and ensured a dominance that was not going to be surrendered even if the only alternative was to bring the world to catastrophe.

Casement saw England as an island Empire which had grown through 3 essential factors:

1. The subduing of Ireland and its reduction to a state of dependence.

2. The isolation of the Low Countries from Europe and their use as an instrument of British policy.

3. Playing the Balance of Power on the Continent to the advantage of England and the disadvantage of Europe.

Casement noted the truth of Bismarck’s view that England had made Europe into an “armed camp”. England compelled every continental nation to place itself on a permanent war-footing and build navies to defend their commerce as they entered the world market owned by England. They had to build navies because Britain refused to regard private property at sea as having the same rights as property on land. It was open to confiscation on the Royal Navy’s whim. Britain’s ruling of the waves meant that everyone’s property on the seas was fair game when England decided war was needed to disrupt the development of Europe. What could Germany do?

Britain said to the world that no one was allowed to build a navy half the size of the Royal Navy. This was known as the Two Power Standard – which could become a three or four Power Standard if required. Because Germany seemed to be ignoring this rule it was said to be after world domination. So the British plan was to:

1. Destroy her navy

2. Ruin her factories

3. Capture her trade

4. Confiscate her merchant marine

5. Dismember her territory

5. Teach her to never compete again.

Casement saw the War as not only aimed at destroying Germany but also at ruining France and Russia in the process by engulfing those countries in the bulk of the fighting on land and the destruction that ensued. Britain could remain largely aloof from the catastrophe from the security of its island fastness and make hay in the aftermath. All that was needed was the traditional detachment from the destruction. In the first year of war a kind of semi-detachment was largely achieved with the Royal Navy plus an expanded Expeditionary Force, but then England had to commit herself more substantially to land war as her allies proved not up to the job of destroying Germany.

Casement’s second article on the Pacific Blockade (meaning “peaceful” blockade) concerns Greece. It is about the British/Allied violation of Greek neutrality during a Great War that England was originally claiming to fight because of a violation of Belgian neutrality.

English Liberalism was opposed to military conscription. A conscript army was seen as an unnecessary  luxury for an island state without frontiers to defend which only needed to dominate the seas to maintain world dominance. Liberalism saw entanglement in war as bad for commerce once Britain had control of the world market. There was a moral aspect to opposition to war as well, of course. But it had become a principle of Liberalism to oppose conscription to hinder entanglement in continental fighting and that made it necessary, once the Germans had not been defeated quickly, to get others to do the fighting for Britain – the fighting that the Liberal Party was reluctant to impose on its own citizens for fear of interfering with their freedoms. So began the process of intimidating and bribing other nations to fight to avoid Conscription at home.

While Liberal England hesitated to compel its own citizens to fight it trumpeted its crusade around the world looking for manpower to wage its moral War. The Liberal Government went to the neutral countries of Europe, carrying the message that this was a War of Good versus Evil and it would be morally inexcusable for them to abstain from it. But the contradiction of the whole thing began to disable Liberalism. To uphold the voluntary principle moral propaganda had to be churned out to the maximum to get the volunteers and stave off Conscription. But this begged the question why the Government was not compelling its citizens to fight the thing that was supposed to be the most evil thing the world had ever produced?

Casement points out that the difference between Liberals and Unionists regarding the coaxing of Greece into the War was one of form rather than substance. The Liberals, with their moral sensibilities and conscious of how they had themselves been brought to support the War, talked of executing “a form of pacific pressure to which Greece is peculiarly susceptible” (Daily News, 22.11.15) and used “euphemisms” to minimise the aggression implied in such threats. British activity against was merely to “assist the King of Greece to arrive at a decision” – namely the right one. The Greeks needed to “see sense”, which really meant co-operating with the British interest.

Casement predicted that British moral, political and military pressure to enlist the reluctant Greeks in their Great War would be absolutely disastrous for Greece if they succumbed to the pressure. And he was proved absolutely right.

Casement also noted how the Armenians were to be used as pawns in the British game of destroying the Ottoman Empire through the promotion of Insurrection. The Turks were to be encouraged into arranging an “Armenian Massacre” to provide moral cover for the British Imperialist land grab of Palestine and Mesopotamia.  That would tug at the heart strings of the English Liberals of the Gladstonian tradition and make them good war-mongers. Arnold Toynbee and Lord Bryce were at the ready. The Armenians themselves were expendable, in all senses.

Casement was a consistent Liberal who was appalled at the great departure from principle that led to the catastrophe. He saw the moral hypocrisy, stood his ground and chose sides. He was not just an Irish Nationalist availing of England’s difficulty, he was a principled Liberal standing up for the historic principles abandoned in the moral collapse of Liberalism in August 1914. And that is why he did what he did.

Categories
Britain's Great War Iraq Second World War Turkey and Ottoman Empire

The Apprenticeship of Bomber Bull

The bombing of civilian populations was originated and perfected by Britain in “policing” operations on the frontier of India/Afghanistan and its new construction of Iraq in the inter-war years i.e in the interlude between the two British World Wars on Germany. Hugh Trenchard, father of the RAF, had not been able to put his strategy of devastation into practice against German cities with the unexpected Armistice in late 1918 and the British War on German society had been waged by the Royal Navy instead through a starvation blockade which killed over 1 million civilians up until its calling off in July 1919, having secured the German signature at Versailles.

The bombing of “the lesser breeds without the law” in Britain’s Imperial territories was a kind of apprenticeship for things to come. In civilian bombing Britain led the world. It taught Mussolini a thing or two and he copied the British methods in Abyssinia in the mid-1930s, his air-force supplied with oil from the British possessions in the middle-east by British companies – despite the League of Nations sanctions which the British were publicly supporting.

One of the first operations of the RAF was the bombing of the Amir of Afghanistan’s palace to make him think again about attempting to influence events in British India.

The tribesmen of the Euphrates mounted an insurgency against the British conquest in the summer of 1920. According to a recent account the first Iraq insurgency led to an innovation in Imperial government:

“Winston Churchill, as Colonial Secretary, was sensitive to the cost of policing the Empire; and was in consequence keen to exploit the potential of modern technology. This strategy had particular relevance to operations in Iraq. On 19 February, 1920, before the start of the Arab uprising, Churchill (then Secretary for War and Air) wrote to Sir Hugh Trenchard, the pioneer of air warfare. Would it be possible for Trenchard to take control of Iraq? This would entail the provision of some kind of asphyxiating bombs calculated to cause disablement of some kind but not death… for use in preliminary operations against turbulent tribes.

Churchill was in no doubt that gas could be profitably employed against the Kurds and Iraqis (as well as against other peoples in the Empire): ‘I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.’ Henry Wilson shared Churchill’s enthusiasm for gas as an instrument of colonial control but the British cabinet was reluctant to sanction the use of a weapon that had caused such misery and revulsion in the First World War. Churchill himself was keen to argue that gas, fired from ground-based guns or dropped from aircraft, would cause ‘only discomfort or illness, but not death’ to dissident tribes people; but his optimistic view of the effects of gas were mistaken. It was likely that the suggested gas would permanently damage eyesight and ‘kill children and sickly persons, more especially as the people against whom we intend to use it have no medical knowledge with which to supply antidotes.’

Churchill remained unimpressed by such considerations, arguing that the use of gas, a ‘scientific expedient,’ should not be prevented ‘by the prejudices of those who do not think clearly.’ In the event, gas was used against the Iraqi rebels with ‘excellent moral effect’ though gas shells were not dropped from aircraft because of practical difficulties.” (Geoff Simons, Iraq: From Sumer to Saddam, pp. 179-181)

Britain had introduced chemical warfare into the Middle East, in the shape of mustard gas, during the Battle of Gaza in 1917. And the effectiveness of air power in the region, where there was little cover and villages were densely populated, became apparent to the Royal Flying Corp in the battles against the Ottomans North of Jerusalem during early 1918.

Churchill asked the RAF to use mustard gas during these raids, despite the warning by one of his advisers that “it may … kill children and sickly persons, more especially as the people against whom we intend to use it have no medical knowledge with which to supply antidotes”. In the event the RAF did not use gas – for technical rather than humanitarian reasons. But even without the gas the campaign was conducted with brutality. Villages were destroyed because their inhabitants had not paid their Imperial taxes, although the authorities always maintained in public that people were not bombed for refusing to pay – merely for refusing to appear when summoned to explain non-payment.

According to David Omissi, when commanders proposed using bombs with delayed action fuses – because delayed-action bombs prevented tribesmen from tending their crops under cover of darkness – one senior officer protested that this would result in “blowing a lot of children to pieces”. Nevertheless, the RAF went ahead, without the knowledge of the civilian High Commissioner for Iraq, Sir Henry Dobbs.

Arthur ‘bomber’ Harris – of Dresden and Hamburg fame – in his book Bomber Offensive, written in 1947, recounted what happened in Iraq in 1922 when the Air Ministry took over the defence of the new client-kingdom.‘Bomber’ Harris learnt his craft in Mesopotamia and later described the process of policing by bombers, or as it was known,air control:

“When I got to Irak, or Mespot as we called it, in those days, Sir John Salmond had just taken over the air control of the country and most of the very large army forces which the British taxpayer refused any longer to support there had departed. A rebellion had broken out in 1920, because the Arabs there had been led to expect complete independence and had got instead British army occupation… The military control of a Irak was transferred to the RAF entirely in order to save money… the decision to hand control of the country to the RAF – which was of course Winston Churchill’s – was made in 1921 and took effect on 1 October, 1922…

The truculent and warlike tribes which occupied and still largely controlled after the rebellion, large parts of Irak… had to be quelled, and in this our heavy bombers played a large part. We were hundreds of miles up river near Baghdad and in the centre of thoroughly turbulent and wholly unpacified tribes on whom we were endeavouring to impose government of local Baghdad Effendis whom the tribesmen have naturally held in utter contempt for time immemorial. When a tribe started open revolt we gave warning to all its most important villages by loudspeaker from low flying aircraft, and by dropping messages that air action would be taken after 48 hours. Then, if the rebellion continued, we destroyed the villages and by air patrols kept the insurgents away from their homes for as long as necessary until they decided to give up, which they invariably did. It was, of course, a far less costly method of controlling rebellion than by military action.” (pp.21-3)

After one bombing raid on Iraq in 1924, Harris wrote: “They now know what real bombing means, in casualties and damage; they now know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured by four or five machines which offer them no real target, no opportunity for glory as warriors, no effective means of escape.” (This quote is from a book by David Omissi, Air Power and Colonial Control: The Royal Air Force 1919-1939, which is a very informative source of information on the origins of terror bombing.)

Britain displays great continuity in its military affairs. As its fields of conflict extended to different spheres of the world and the use of new technology Britain maintained the same principles of warfare. It applied the logic of the methods of the Boer War concentration camps and the Great War naval blockade of Germany to Iraq by destroying the women and children of the fighting men in order to defeat the combatants. British wars are slow grinding wars, not just aimed at defeating an enemy but primarily to disable its people. The spirit of the enemy needs to be thoroughly crushed and the best way of doing this is by harming its human stock. England did this long before it produced Darwin. Drake and Hawkins practiced it in Ireland in the 16th Century, Cromwell in the 17th.

In a biography of Hugh Trenchard, the father of the RAF, an operational report about a British attack on a village, sent to Churchill, is quoted:

“The eight machines (at Nasiriyah) broke formation and attacked at different points of the encampment simultaneously… The tribesmen and their families were put to confusion, many of whom ran into the lake, making good targets for our machine-guns.”

Churchill was annoyed at the candour of the writer and insisted that such enthusiasm at slaughtering civilians should not appear in official records again. ((Andrew Boyle, Trenchard, p.389)

In Iraq, in the 1920s, the RAF first employed itself against Turkish forces on the border near Mosul, to ensure the oil rich area remained under Imperial control. The RAF flew most of its missions against the Kurds – who have always resented rule from Baghdad. For ten years the RAF waged an almost continuous bombing campaign in the oil-rich, mountainous northeast region of Iraq against these people, to whom Britain had earlier promised autonomy. The Iraqi Air Force – which the British established, built up, trained and equipped – carried on this work from Baghdad after the Iraqi client state became nominally independent in 1932.

Arnold Wilson, the first British governor of Iraq, later condemned the “air control” used by his government to attack “undefended places.” In an address to the Grotius Society in 1932, explaining why it was a poor substitute for government of the traditional variety Wilson said:

“To attack such a place by dropping bombs by aeroplanes is clearly a breach of International Law… There is no subject better calculated to test the wisdom of the Army Commander and strain the conscience of civil administrators than the question of bombarding places inhabited wholly or mainly by non-combatants, even though they may have been warned (perhaps in mid-winter) to leave the place and fly to the neighbouring hills or fields. Yet in this matter His Majesty’s Government has, of recent years, set the pace, and created a new set of usages of war by using the Royal Air Force, in support of the Civil Power, to suppress disturbances which are often primarily, if not solely ‘political’ in origin. There is no doubt whatever that the bombing of towns and villages is accompanied by little danger to the airmen; that it is cheap, spectacular and temporarily effective. My own view is that it is not, in the long run, effective, and that it is contrary both to The Hague Convention, to the usages of war as laid down in The Manual of Military Law, and to the larger interests of this country and of humanity at large. The ineradicable defect of action by air is that even though warning be given, the onslaught is sudden, the damage indiscriminate; there is no locus penitential and no chance of a friendly parley under a flag of truce and timely surrender after a few shots. To allow a belligerent a belligerent to employ any measure at his own will because it is likely to abbreviate fighting is to set back the clock of International Law.” (The Laws of War In Occupied Territories, pp. 27-8)

But the use of Air Control became too attractive and cheap an alternative for the government of the Empire’s subjects. It had, as Wilson noted, detrimental effects for both the governing and governed. Previously, the intimate approach of the Indian Political Service had created functional relationships with local elites and some of the general populace, but the expedient of policing or governing from the air placed a wall of distrust between rulers and ruled:

“Perhaps the most serious long-term consequence of the ready availability of air control was that it developed into a substitute for administration. Several incidents during the Mandate period indicate that the speed and simplicity of air attack was preferred to the more time-consuming and painstaking investigation of grievances and disputes. With such powers at its disposal the Iraq Government was not encouraged to develop less violent methods of extending its control over the country.” (Peter Sluglett, Iraq Under British Occupation, pp. 268-9)

Whatever might be said about the former Imperialism it certainly confronted the Imperial subject with a more beneficial face than the new version, which confronted the ruled impersonally with bombs and machine-guns from the skies. The blueprint for the American and British bombing strategy of the late 20th/early 21st century against Iraq, Serbia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria etc. was developed by Britain as soon as she saw the possibilities of the aeroplane as a weapon of war. And as Wilson noted “His Majesty’s Government… set the pace, and created a new set of usages of war.”

The British State was unique in 1920 in having an independent air force and air ministry. In other countries air forces were arms of the navy or army and designed to support and complement military operations against enemy military forces on the sea and land. But in setting up an independent air force and air ministry Britain set out to make war against civilians (“terrorism” as Sir Samuel Hoare called it in 1939 before it began to be employed by the R.A.F. to goad Hitler into attacking London) its primary method of warfare, replacing the blockade.

David Edgerton puts it like this in his England And The Aeroplane – An Essay On A Militant And Technological Nation:

The primary context for the study of the development of aviation in English grand strategy cannot be understood in the usual schemes of political history I see the basic strategy of the English State as one of relying on technology as a substitute for manpower and using technology to attack enemy civil populations and industry, rather than armies. I label this Liberal militarism as an ideal type of warfare. (p. xv)

British Liberalism is often mistakenly thought of as anti-militarist and anti-imperialist. But it has been shown, in the catastrophic wars it has been responsible for, to have the impulse of expansionist aggressiveness much more than conservativism. Liberal militarism, according to Edgerton, was produced by combining Liberal Imperialism’s desire for cheapness in the waging of war, funded by private business, with the Liberal understanding that war was fundamentally an extension of commerce. Or in other words, war was only worth it for the purposes of extending British trade and seeing off commercial competitors.

It is no surprise then that the neo-conservatives in the U.S. administration who believed they could govern Iraq on the cheap, using air-strikes to accomplish democracy, were liberals in orientation.

During the inter-war period the British employed “police bombing” elsewhere in the Empire: in the client state of Transjordan; against the Pathan tribesmen on the northwest frontier of India; in the Aden Protectorate (now southern Yemen); and against the Nuer pastoral farmers of the southern Sudan. Schemes of aerial “policing” similar to that practiced in Iraq/Mesopotamia were set up in the Palestine Mandate in 1922 and in the Aden Protectorate in 1928. Bombers were active at various times in policing British rule in Egypt and nomads in the Somali hinterland.

These “police” operations in Britain’s Empire were too much for some air force officers. In 1924, Air Commodore, Lionel Charlton, resigned his post as a staff officer in Iraq after he visited a hospital and saw the victims of bombing recovering from their injuries. The RAF recalled him quietly to England and ended his career.

The officers, like Arthur Harris, who thrived in the terror bombing work and who served their bombing apprenticeships against the Kurdish villages in Iraq furthered their careers and went on to greater things in Palestine, and then Dresden and Hamburg. In Palestine the RAF was used in conjunction with army sweeps to repress Palestinian resistance. As the British Army encircled large areas the RAF used a system of “Air Pin” in which villagers were warned to stay in their villages or risk being killed from the air if they left before the army arrived.

Harris notes in his book Bomber Offensive how he was restrained by the ‘Ten Year Rule’ adopted by the British Government after the Great War to save money. This envisaged no World War for at least a decade and constrained the building of a bomber fleet. In 1923 when Britain, having defeated Germany, had switched to play the Balance of Power against their former ally, France and the French had occupied the Ruhr, Britain found it could not use bombers against French cities because of the relative strength of the French Air Force in relation to the RAF (p.13). It was recommended that the RAF be increased to 52 squadrons by the Salisbury Commission.

According to Omissi, the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Hugh Trenchard, had great ambitions for his bombers. In a paper written early in 1920, when some politicians feared a social revolution in Britain, he suggested that the RAF could even be used to suppress “industrial disturbances or risings” in Britain by bombing working class districts. Churchill, who had experience of suppressing industrial disputes himself with armed force, decided such a thing was impolitic to say and told Trenchard never to refer to his proposal again – at least not in writing anyway.

The Catholic Bulletin kept a vigilant eye on the activities of what it accurately described as “Bomber Bull” in the early 1930s. In its Gleanings column in the edition of August 1934, for instance, it reproduced extracts from a series of articles on the subject of air bombing published in the Times. The Times’s aeronautical correspondent at Peshawar, revealed how civilian bombing had been developed into a systematic science by the Royal Air Force in India/Afghanistan:

“When the first of last year’s troubles broke out among the Mohmands and the Bajaurs of the North-West Frontier, the R.A.F. was hampered by the inaccuracies of existing maps. The process of making a tribal directory had already been begun, and the tribal directory for the Mohmands and the Afridis practically complete. Built on a basis of R.A.F. photographs—in two sections respectively labelled ‘Where’s Where’ and ‘the Landed Gentry’—it enables any village or sub-division of a tribe to be found on the map and pictorially at the shortest notice. The card index of the first section gives at a glance the name of every village, its map reference, photograph number and all details and if a village has to he bombed, the directory supplies the relevant particulars to the pilot. The second index shows all divisions of the tribes, their habits, the districts used by them in Summer and Winter, and a list of their most important men together with their places of residence.

“One of the Mohmand lashkars took refuge in a series of big caves which might have made by nature for the purpose. They were reputed to have given shelter to 3,000 men… The determination of these tribesmen to go on fighting was broken by the bombardment of their empty villages. In other cases opposition has been worn down by continuous ­air assault. Once a settlement has been reached, the tribesman knows he must fulfil its terms or suffer the rapid renewal of air activity.”

The Times correspondent then outlined the value of aerial bombing for the post-Great War inflated Empire of over-stretched cash-strapped Bull:

“The revolution in Frontier control is not that bombs are taking the place of shells but that the punishment of wrong-doing has become so cheap, and unprovocative, and so unpleasant to the tribesman, that he hesitates to behave in ways that would incur it. There is thus room to hope for eventual administration without military occupation, as has happened in Iraq, Aden and elsewhere. There is ample room for the expansion of the little Air Force of the Frontier. If ever the whole Frontier were inflamed at the same time, help from elsewhere would certainly have to be sought.”

It was believed during the early 1930s that Britain had, of all the European powers, the most to gain from the abolition of aerial bombing. Britain had always been secure in its island fortress behind the Royal Navy – the most powerful military force in the world. But the development of the air weapon had meant that Britain had ceased to be an island and London, the centre of her power and communications, was vulnerable from the air.

During the early to mid 1930s there was a great desire in Europe to outlaw civilian bombing as a form of warfare, or at least draw up conventions about the possible uses of aeroplanes in war. But Britain, despite commentators’ predictions about having the most to gain from such a development, obstructed such agreements when all the other European powers – including Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany – were in favour of it.

Here is the editorial report of these forgotten events from the Catholic Bulletin of December 1935, headlined, The Scandal of the British Bombing Plans:

“Right in the middle of the recent British Election—the election in which Baldwin’s majority has become 250… — came out, in its full measure, the giant scandal of English International Policy concerning War and its Ways. We had long known that England was the one obstacle to the total abandonment, by all nations, of the gross abuse of Bombing of whole cities and peoples from the Air. We had also to bide our time, for it was very desirable to put Bull in the position of being shown up by his own representative personages, for the bold lying and blatant hypocrisy that have ever and always characterised him. Our opportunity has come. The London Times of November 8th, 1935, in the middle of all the reports of election speeches and of election letters, provides us quite fully with what we may call perfect material for the exposure of this most scandalous performance by Bull, a performance done on a most public stage, and in the very fullest official form. The performer-in-chief concerning Bull as International Air-Bully and as Advocate of Bombing from Aeroplanes is, we make haste to say, that champion of Ascendancy in Ireland, the Most Noble the Marquis of Londonderry. Behind him, as we shall see is placed as Advocate in Reserve, Antony Eden of Geneva and Moscow, English Emissary-at-Large over Europe and all around. A clumsy champion, this ex-Minister of the Craig Compound, the man who planned the iniquitous Belfast Education Act of 1923, the heir of the title given to Castlereagh. For Londonderry actually provides plain palpable proof, in the very words on Air Bombs, 7th November, 1935, that the elaborated pleas that he made were simply destitute of truth, devoid of common decency.”

What appears next in the Catholic Bulletin is 12 pages of evidence taken from British sources to back up the Bulletin’s view of Bomber Bull. We can only summarise it here. What appears to have happened is as follows:

In May 1933 the League of Nations disarmament conference at Geneva seemed almost agreed as to the abolition of military aircraft and agreement might have been reached had Britain abandoned her reservation of the use of military aeroplanes for “police purposes in outlying regions”. Lord Londonderry, Air Minister, stated in the Commons that amid the public outcry he had immense difficulties preserving the use of the bombing aeroplanes even on the frontiers of the Middle East and of India. The policy of total air disarmament was supported by France, Germany, Russia, Italy (with reservations), Spain, and all the other European powers and had also been accepted by the United States. Only Antony Eden and the client government of Iraq and Siam were opposed. At this point there was an outcry in Britain as a result of which the British government ultimately consented to waive their demand for the retention of aeroplanes for “police purposes in outlying regions” if it proved the only obstacle to a general agreement. But this shifty tactical withdrawal came too late. After June 1933 the international situation grew worse and the disarmament conference was suspended. Lord Londonderry immediately announced the government’s decision to expand the air force forthwith and this ended all possibility of the disarmament conference reconvening.

The Catholic Bulletin explained the motives behind Bomber Bull’s actions:

“Bull wanted to bar all military use of Bombing Planes, all, absolutely, everywhere. England has no relish at all for another sequence of what happened to the London area, 1916-1918. That was military use: it was unpleasant to London. Cut it out altogether. Hence the fine, strong, sweeping phrases against it, which Lord Londonderry made such play with in his oration at Southampton—another exposed position placed much as London is. Total abolition of Military Air Bombing is Bull’s aim, his professed aim. But always Bull wants to be the sole possessor of the Bombing Aeroplanes. How will he contrive that? By having all the Colonial and Imperial Borders abroad, Civil Bombing Machines! He will use them only for POLICE purposes, if you please! He will, with these very civilised instruments of mere internal or civil administration, be the only possessor of the Bomber in the whole world! And he will compel those hill tribes in Asia and in Africa, tribes on the Imperial and Colonial “outlying regions,” “on the frontier,” of course, —how convenient these chosen phrases are, how nicely vague! —keep the peace, keep order, and thus keep his Bombers!”

Britain stymied attempts at the abolition of aerial bombing by insisting on the inclusion of a clause allowing retention of bombers for “police purposes in certain outlying regions” in any agreement between the European powers. The other powers could not agree to this – knowing that in the event of another European war they would be all defenceless against a formidable and experienced British bomber fleet transferred from the North West frontier and Iraq. Then when British public opinion learnt of this Eden played for time until the international situation took a turn for the worse. Lord Londonderry announced re-armament and all hopes of future agreement were scuppered.

In November 1935 Lloyd George revealed that Mussolini’s aircraft bombing Abyssinia were being driven on petrol supplied by the Anglo-Iranian oil company in which the British Government had more than half the shares – although Britain was supposedly supporting League of Nations sanctions against Italy at the time.

And so the way was open for Britain to wage aerial war on the civilian populations of Europe when the time came to resume World War on Germany. Bomber Bull, the apprentice, had served his time bombing natives in “police purposes in certain outlying regions” and bomber Harris was brought back from the middle east for the new job in hand.

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Britain's Great War Iraq Second World War Turkey and Ottoman Empire

Democracy and Bombing

The Russians have been bombing Aleppo in pursuance of military objectives. That is hardly something that is unprecedented in warfare over the last century. But in the US and UK the consequences of that bombing are placed on the TV screens in a way that mirrors the absence of all such images of the bombing of the Western democracies and their allies.

James Petras has recently written in the Unz Review an article entitled ‘The Politics of Bombing’:

“The US and EU are the world’s foremost practitioners of ‘wholesale bombing’. They engage in serial attacks against multiple countries without declaring war or introducing their own citizen ground troops. They specialize in indiscriminant attacks on civilian populations – unarmed women, children, elders and non-combatant males. In other words, for the ‘wholesale bombers’, unleashing terror on societies is an everyday event.

“The US and EU practice ‘total war’ from the skies, not sparing a single sphere of everyday, civilian life. They bomb neighborhoods, markets, vital infrastructure, factories, schools and health facilities. The result of their daily, ‘ordinary’ bombing is the total erasure of the very structures necessary for civilized existence, leading to mass dispossession and the forced migration of millions in search of safety.

“It is not surprising that the refugees seek safety in the countries that have destroyed their means of normal existence. The wholesale bombers of the US-EU do not bomb their own cities and citizens – and so millions of the dispossessed are desperate to get in. Wholesale bomb policies have emerged because prolonged ground wars in the targeted countries evoke strong domestic opposition from their citizens unwilling to accept casualties among US and EU soldiers. Wholesale bombing draws less domestic opposition because the bombers suffer few losses.

“At the same time, while mass aerial bombing reduces the political risks of casualties at home, it expands and deepens violent hostility abroad. The mass flight of refugees to US-EU population centers allows the entry of violent combatants who will bring their own version of the total war strategies to the homes of their invaders.”

The concept of strategic area bombing (or ‘terror bombing’) which the RAF adopted in Britain’s Second World War on the Germans, and which it used par excellence in the Dresden massacre in February 1945, originated in the new form of warfare developed by England in 1917/8 and first implemented against German and Ottoman civilians.

Sir Charles Webster and Dr. Noble Frankland noted in their book, The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany (Vol. 1, p. 42) issued by H.M. Stationery Office, London, in 1961, that: “Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff from 1919 to 1929, had a decisive influence on the future of the R.A.F.” They explained that the essence of Trenchard’s policy was that “future wars would be won by producing such moral effect on the enemy civilian population that its government would have to sue for peace. The advantage of destroying military installations and factories was recognised but he maintained that it was easier to overcome the will to resist among the workers than to destroy the means to resist” (p. 86).

According to his biographer Lord Hugh Trenchard, the ‘father’ of the Royal Air Force, called for “fighting the Germans in Germany” from as early as June 1916 (Andrew Boyle, Trenchard, p.295). This was something the British Army was incapable of due to the defensive effectiveness of the Germans.

Trenchard’s main accomplice in the development of terror bombing was the Glasgow industrialist at Lloyd George’s Ministry of Munitions, William Weir. Weir’s “ambition was to build bombers by the hundred to carry the war into Germany.” (p.202) In the Spring of 1917 Weir put forward the idea of a long-range bombing campaign against Germany. Lord Weir was appointed Air Minister to the Lloyd George government in 1918.

During 1917 Trenchard implored the War Cabinet to let him “attack the industrial centres of Germany” (p.295). He declared himself unimpressed with any sporadic bombing the German air force had done over England and “the few occasions French machines raided the Rhineland cities, it was always emphasised that such attacks were in the nature of reprisals. Trenchard was against retaliation; his sole concern was to cripple Germany by means of a sustained air offensive.” (p.296)

Trenchard argued for a new form of aerial warfare – not the miserable, retaliatory sorties/raids of the German and French machines but a strategic campaign of terror and devastation of civilian areas. He authoritatively described the role that strategic bombers should play in war in a study prepared for the Allied Supreme War Council in 1918. He specified two main objectives for the his proposed force of strategic bombers – to destroy the enemy both morally and materially. In order to achieve this end, he argued for the need to attack enemy industrial centres where striking at the centres of production could do vital damage. This entailed precision bombing. But he also argued for achieving the maximum effect on the morale of the enemy by striking at what he saw as the most vulnerable part of the German population – the working class. This entailed saturation area bombing.

According to his biographer Lord Trenchard had a major effect on the developing United States Air Force and its philosophy of war from the skies. Apparently Trenchard “conceived and shaped, under the stress of war, the embryo of the future US Strategic Bombing Command; fed by British machines, nursed by British technicians, its first members were enrolled and initiated in Trenchard’s exacting school… He was thinking in terms of the future, of the destruction which would rain down on the industrial vitals of Germany the following Spring…” (p.297)

But the chief of the Allied military command, Foch, denied Trenchard the resources for his strategic air offensive in 1917/8, and his desired large, long-range bomber fleet. So Trenchard decided to spread terror to the general German population:

“Lacking the resources to concentrate attacks on one target at a time, Trenchard so spread his raids that no city within range could feel entirely safe. The bombers might cause little destruction; what counted was their impact on the spirit of the German people. The cumulative effect on morale would far exceed the actual toll of damage inflicted, providing the bombing went on, day and night, with few interruptions…” (p.304)

This was the blueprint for things to come when the RAF and USAF used sustained bombing over days to systematically pulverise German civilian centres and their occupants in the Second World War on Germany. Trenchard imagined it in 1917 and had planned it for 1918-19.

In June 1918 over 70 tons of bombs were dropped on German cities by Trenchard’s machines. In July 85 tons were dropped on Cologne, Coblenz, Mainz, Stuttgart and Saarbrucken. From August to November 75 of Trenchard’s long-range bombers were lost out of his fleet of 120 machines. But despite the enormous losses of his airmen Trenchard was encouraged by letters captured from German soldiers from their relatives in the Rhineland cities which “evoked the terror sown in the Rhineland and Saarland cities, a terror which indirectly affected husbands, sons and brothers in uniform as well.” (p.311)

Istanbul was also subjected to air raids. Between March and October 1918, a dozen air raids were made on the Ottoman capital. All air raids were night time attacks, maximising the chances of civilian casualties. Hundreds of people were killed, many of them Christians, in the indiscriminate attacks. The bombs did not discriminate between Turk, Jew, Greek or Armenian.

The Ottoman Harbiye Nezareti, (Ministry of War) communicated a request to the “Government of England” from Hariciye Nezareti, (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) stating that

İstanbul is a city which enjoys a number of very valuable hospitals, whereas it has no military institutions of significant importance. Continuous air attacks on İstanbul are nothing but a violation of legal norms vis-à-vis civilians. In the event that these attacks will not cease, the Government of Turkey will be obliged to transfer all enemy aliens to internment camps regardless of their age and gender. This is due to the increasing tension among the public facing these air attacks and in the event that a public retaliation against the resident subjects of the governnments of Allies shall take place, the difficulty posed by the possible prevention of this should be duly taken into account of by the Government.”(Harbiye Nezareti to Hariciye Nezareti, August 28, 1918, File No: 7310/8959, [BOA HR.SYS 2456/27-3], Department of Ottoman Archives, Prime Ministry of the Republic of Turkey. I am grateful to Turan Cetiner for this information).

But the British ignored the request and the air raids continued and intensified. The threat embedded in the message of the Ottoman Ministry of War was not carried out.

Lord Trenchard’s biographer makes it clear that civilian casualties were of no concern of his:

“It was still only the experimental overture to a dreadful revolution in warfare. No squeamishness for the fate of civilians distracted Trenchard’s mind. His sole purpose was to weaken the enemy’s will to resist. It was for moralists and lawyers to argue whether a munitions’ plant and the workers’ houses about it should be struck off the list of legitimate war targets; it was for statesmen to act on their verdict… Trenchard consoled himself that his bombs were not aimed indiscriminately at civilians but at factories which supplied the armies and so prolonged the slaughter on the battlefield. He prided himself on strictly professional thinking unclouded by vindictiveness or mawkish sentimentality.

“Weir was less pernickety than Trenchard. ‘I would very much like if you could start a really big fire in one of the German towns,’ he wrote in September, suggesting that incendiary bombs could be used to spectacular advantage in older built-up districts where there were few ‘good, permanent, modern buildings.’ And again: ‘If I were you, I would not be too exacting as regards accuracy in bombing railway stations in the middle of towns. The German is susceptible to bloodiness, and I would not mind a few accidents due to inaccuracy.

“I do not think you need be anxious about our degree of accuracy when bombing stations in the middle of towns. The accuracy is not great at present, and all the pilots drop their eggs well into the middle of the town generally.” (p.312)

This represented an innovative blurring of the traditional difference between combatant and civilian in which civilian lives were treated in the same way as those of combatants. And it prepared the way for ‘accidents’ or ‘collateral damage’ as it is called today, so that aerial terrorism waged by states could be practiced on women and children without any moral remorse. In the years that followed British air war strategists almost completely abandoned the idea or pretence of precision bombing in favour of the strategy of anti-civilian bombing.

Carroll Quigley, the American geopolitics professor, in his 1348 page book ‘Tragedy And Hope – A History Of The World In Our Time’ concludes that strategic bombing was not, as the Irish Times concluded a number of years ago in a review of Frederick Taylor’s book, in the case of Dresden, a “masterstroke” that “went horribly right,” but actually a great failure in military terms:

“ the strategic bombing of Germany was mishandled from the beginning until almost the end of the war. Correctly, such strategic bombing should have been based on careful analysis of the German war economy to pick out the one or two critical items which were essential to the war effort. These items were probably ball bearings, aviation fuels, and chemicals, all of them essential and all of them concentrated. After the war German general Gotthard Heinrici said that the war would have ended the year earlier if the allied bombing had been concentrated on ammonia plants. Whether this is correct or not, the fact remains that strategic bombing was largely a failure, and was so from poor choice of targets and from long intervals between repeated attacks. Relentless daily bombardment, with heavy fighter escort, day after day, in spite of losses, with absolute refusal to be distracted to area or city bombing because of losses or shifting ideas might have made a weighty contribution to the defeat of Germany and shortened the war substantially. As it was, the contribution by strategic bombing to the defeat of Germany was relatively incidental, in spite of the terrible losses suffered in the effort.

“Indiscriminate bombing of urban areas… was justified with the wholly mistaken arguments that civilian morale was a German weak point and that the destruction of workers housing would break this morale. The evidence shows that the German war effort was not weakened in any way by lowering of civilian morale, in spite of the horrors heaped upon it… the British effort to break German civilian morale by area night bombing was an almost complete failure. In fact, one of the inspiring and amazing events of the war was the unflinching spirit under unbearable attack shown by ordinary working people in industrial cities. ” (pp.800-2.)

But was the extermination of the German working class a purely military matter? Perhaps it was a kind of racial cleansing motivated by the Social Darwinism in England that had seen the Naval Blockade of 1914-19 as an instrument designed to “degenerate the German racial stock” (as one Imperialist publication put it in the infamous article, The Huns of 1940) by destroying infants and producing sub-normal human specimens from the wombs of starving German women. The Royal Navy had not degenerated the German racial stock sufficiently in 1918-9 to disable the Hun by 1940, so a large proportion of the German masses needed to be eradicated by the Royal Air Force when the opportunity presented itself from 1942-45, before the Russians won the War.Perhaps that was what it was all about – casual Genocide.

Attacking German workers, destroying their morale, and also hopefully provoking them to revolt against their leaders was a widely held notion among the British military circles prior to the Great War – only then it was planned that the Royal Navy would do it through sea blockade. Trenchard took the Naval blockade strategy that England had planned against Germany from 1903, had used against the civilian population between 1914 and 1919, and applied it to air warfare, for the next war on Germany.

Trenchard’s belief in the awesome power of strategic area bombing was elaborately substantiated by the Italian Air Force general and military philosopher, Giulio Douhet, who encapsulated strategic bombing into a coherent theory of air power in his book, The Command Of The Air, published in 1921.

Douhet contended that the decision in future wars “must depend upon smashing the material and moral resources of a people caught up in a frightful cataclysm which haunts them everywhere without cease until the final collapse of all social organisation… the decisive blows will be directed at civilians, that element of the country at war least able to sustain them.” (p.54, English edition of 1943)

Douhet warned that Europe would have to reconsider its rules of warfare and institute a reversal of taken for granted historical principles of honour. A new principle of warfare was required:

“ this general principle of war…seems inhuman to us because of the traditional notion which must be changed. Everyone says, and is convinced of it, that war is no longer a clash between armies, but is a clash between nations, between whole populations. During the last war this clash took the form of a long process of attrition between armies, and that seemed natural and logical. Because of its direct action, the air arm pits populations directly against populations, and does away with the intervening armour which kept them apart during the past war. Now it is actually populations and nations which come to blows and sees each other’s throats.

“This fact sharpens that peculiar traditional notion which makes people weep to hear of a few women and children killed in an air raid, and leaves them unmoved to hear of thousands of soldiers killed in action. All human lives are equally valuable; but because tradition holds that the soldier is fated to die in battle, his death does not upset them much, despite the fact that the soldier, a robust young man, should be considered to have the maximum individual value in the general economy of humanity…

“Any distinction between belligerent and non-belligerent is no longer admissible today either in fact or theory.

“War is won by crushing the resistance of the enemy; and this can be done more easily, faster, more economically, and with less bloodshed by directly attacking the resistance at its weakest point. The more rapid and terrifying the arms are, the faster they will reach the vital centres and the more deeply they will affect moral resistance. “(p.158/9).

The first two British wars of the twentieth century – the conquest of South Africa and the Great War on Germany – changed the nature of war in Europe and the world, from limited wars with limited objectives fought with mercenary troops to unlimited wars of economic attrition with unlimited objectives fought with national armies. This had far-reaching consequences. The distinction between combatants and non-combatants and between belligerents and neutrals became blurred and ultimately indistinguishable.

International law, which had grown up in the period of the limited dynasty wars, made a great deal of such distinctions. Previously, non-combatants had extensive rights which sought to protect their ways of life as much as possible during periods of warfare and neutrals had similar rights. In return, there were strict duties on noncombatants to remain non-participants in the fighting. All these distinctions broke down in 1914-1915, with the result that there were wholesale violations of existing international law and conventions of honour.

These violations were more extensive on the part of the Entente side than on the German/Austria-Hungarian side. That is a fact distorted by anti-German atrocity propagandists in the British press. But the British recognised it and understood the weakness of the Germans in possessing a sense of military honour that would disable them from competing with England in the eradication of civilians.

The Germans still maintained the older traditions of the professional army, and their geographical and strategic position, with limited manpower and economic resources, made it to their advantage to maintain the distinctions between combatant and non-combatant and between belligerent and neutral. By maintaining the distinction of former conflicts they would have had to fight just the enemy army and not the enemy civilian population, and, once the former was defeated, would have had little to fear from the latter, which could have been controlled by a minimum of troops. If they could have maintained a distinction between belligerent and neutral, it would have been impossible to blockade Germany, since basic supplies could have been imported through neutral countries.

The German plan of War – a defensive form of offence – called for a short, decisive war against the enemy armed forces, and they never expected nor desired a total economic mobilisation or even a total military mobilisation, since these might disrupt the existing social and political structure in Germany which was a very successful socialised economy. For these reasons, Germany made no plans for industrial or economic mobilisation, for a long war, or for withstanding a blockade, and hoped to mobilise a smaller proportion of its manpower than its immediate enemies to defend herself.

But ‘German atrocities’ in Belgium – where Belgian civilians were encouraged to blur the distinction between combatant and non-combatant by indulging in behind the lines terrorist attacks on German supply lines – were used by the British to justify their own planned violations of international law. As early as August 1914, the Royal navy was treating food as contraband and interfering with neutral shipments of it to Europe. In November 1914, Britain declared the whole sea from Scotland to Iceland a ‘war-zone’, covered it with fields of mines, and ordered ships going to the Baltic, Scandinavia, or to the Low Countries to go by way of the English Channel, where they were stopped, searched, and much of their cargo seized, even when these cargoes could not be declared contraband under existing international law. In reprisal the Germans on February 18, 1915, declared the English Channel a ‘war-zone,’ announced that their submarines would sink shipping in that area, and ordered shipping for the Baltic area to use the route north of Scotland.

And it was further declared by Liberal England and Redmondite Ireland that there could be no neutrals in the fight between Civilisation/Democracy and Barbarism/Prussianism. And so more and more of neutral Europe were sucked in to the conflict as Britain extended the war into a world conflict.

Italy was one of those countries that had been neutral at the start of the Great War but had been encouraged by British demonstrations of force in the Mediterranean and Dardanelles into seeing where its future interests lay and joining with the Entente. And the Italian officer, Douhet was one such – along with his compatriot Mussolini – who was impressed by this show of force and reorientation of Italian strategic thinking.

It was the Italians who first used bombing in warfare, to my knowledge, in the assault on the Ottoman territories in present day Libya in 1908. And of course, the bombers have returned to Libya recently to destroy a functional state, create ground for Jihadists and unleash a flood of migrants on the European mainland that the government of Libya had previously prevented.

Between 1918 and 1939 Douhet’s ideas on air warfare and Hugh Trenchard’s proposals were readily accepted and implemented by the British government which began to regard area bombing as a necessary part of warfare, no matter how immoral it was regarded by others – including even Hitler.

Douhet’s theory received support from the commander-in-chief of the USAAF, General Billy Mitchell. Trenchard, Douhet and Mitchell unanimously predicted that future wars could be won by airpower alone, and that terror attacks on cities by independent air forces with high explosive, incendiary bombs and gas, could destroy a nation’s will to resist. The view that “the bomber would always get through” to the enemy country, no matter what happened, was expressed by Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister. It provided a boost to the air theorists’ arguments that the bomber would win wars for whichever country that possessed them.

Carroll Quigley noted the link between the ideas of Trenchard/Douhet and the 1930s policy of appeasement:

“Acceptance of Douhetism by civilian leaders in France and England was one of the key factors in appeasement and especially in the Munich surrender of September 1938… the Chamberlain government reflected these ideas and prepared the way to Munich by issuing 35 million gas masks to city dwellers… in spite of the erroneous ideas of Chamberlain, Baldwin, Churchill, and the rest, the war opened and continued for months with no city bombing at all, for the simple reason that the Germans had no intentions, no plans, and no equipment for strategic bombing. The British, who had the intentions but still lacked the plans and equipment, also held back.” (Tragedy And Hope – A History Of The World In Our Time, pp. 799-800.)

This is the relationship between the policy of “appeasement” and terror bombing – a means by which the British believed they could win wars by terrorising the enemy’s civilian populations into submission and avoiding suffering military casualties on the scale of the Great War.

I am sure readers can see the relevance of this for today.

Appeasement is a dirty word these days. Bombing is very much the order of the day, from the White House to Westminster.

A spokesman for the BBC on Radio 4, when criticised for its minimal coverage of the recent massacre of 80 Syrian soldiers by US/UK bombing, which destabilised the Russian/US ceasefire plan, said that the BBC is not neutral. It is always on the side of “Democracy against authoritarian dictatorships”. Presumably this not only means that the BBC is always on the British side against those whom the British State marks out as an enemy, it also means that if Democracy slaughters civilians whilst governments which do not conform to the democratic standards set by the State which is secure in its island, defend themselves, the aggressors are always right, since they represent Democracy! So Democracy is with the Angels no matter how despicably it behaves in the world and the rest are the Devils. And accidents, as Hugh Trenchard said, will happen!

It should be understood that England, prior to the Great War, had always fought its wars using others – the Irish, mercenaries and foreign countries. The intention of the Liberal Imperialist coterie in 1914 was to fight the Great War in a similar fashion – albeit with a 100,000 strong expedition force to aid France and Russia’s encirclement of Germany. But the Great War did not turn out as planned. It was not over by Christmas because Germany was able to resist the armies of France and Russia and England had to commit much more of her population to the war to crush her. A negotiated peace was impossible since the fight had been declared to be one of Good against Evil and there was no settling or Pact to be had with the Devil. Conscription had to be introduced in England and it took years to break down the German defences at a very high cost – this time borne by the English middle class as well.

The English Middle Class War and the high level of respectable casualties (as opposed to Irish “scum of the earth” as Wellington called his men) had a serious effect on the British will to wage this kind of war again. And it was determined that it should be avoided, if at all possible. This was one part to the Appeasement policy of the 1930’s (the other part was the hope that Hitler could be encouraged to attack the Soviet Union to finish off the main enemy of Britain, or at least bleed each other dry). So what went hand in hand with the Appeasement policy was the terror bombing policy – a means to wage war against an enemy civilian population without committing large numbers of English manhood to the fields that had took so much of its blood in the Great War. And so the British World War was a pathetic thing. After some fighting for about a month in France the British Army scuttled off from Dunkirk to shelter on its island for the next 4 years until the US had joined the World War and the Russians had began advancing on Berlin.

Fifty million died in Britain’s Second World War on Germany and less than half a million of them were British! That statistic just about sums up the contribution of England to the fighting against Hitler. The British War largely consisted of terrorist/commando raids, prisoner of war escapes, defence of its trade by the Royal Navy and bombing.

Know-alls from Dublin have lately condemned the Provisional IRA for its “ungentlemanly warfare”. Where did this army learn about warfare as young boys but from the saturation of British war movies and the “ungentlemanly warfare” depicted on their TV screens.

Carroll Quigley makes the following comments on the British Appeasers and advocates of Douhet’s theories:

The military advocates of such air bombardment concentrated their attention on what was called strategic bombing, that is, on the construction of long-range bombing planes for use against industrial targets and other civilian objectives and on very fast fighter planes for defence against such bombers. They generally belittled the effectiveness of anti-aircraft artillery and were generally warm advocates of an air force separately organised and commanded and not under direct control of army or naval commanders. These advocates were very influential in Britain and in the United States.

The upholders of strategic bombing received little encouragement in Germany, in Russia, or even in France, because of the dominant position held by traditional army officers in all three of these countries. In France, all kinds of air power was generally neglected, while in the other two country strategic bombing against civilian objectives was completely subordinated in favour of tactical bombing of military objectives immediately on the fighting front. Such tactical bombing demanded planes of a more flexible character, with shorter range than strategic bombers and less speed than defensive fighters, and under the close control of the local commanders of the ground forces so that their bombing efforts could be directed, like a kind of mobile and long range artillery, at those points of resistance, of supply, or of reserves which would help the ground offensive most effectively. Such dive-bombers or Stukas played a major role in the early German victories of 1939 to 41. Here, again, this superiority was based on quality and method of usage and not on numbers.” (Tragedy And Hope – A History Of The World In Our Time, p.665.)

The English, who based their plans for war on Germany on the destruction of German cities and the killing of their inhabitants, believed that Germany had similar plans for London. And they repeated the view that “the bomber will always get through” so that they could convince the general public that facilitating Hitler – in the hope he would go east against Soviet Russia – was a sound idea.

But the British worry about bombing was entirely self-induced. It was manufactured entirely by Trenchard and the RAF who signalled it would devastate German cities and their civilian populations given half a chance. If that was the case who could expect Mr. Hitler, a volatile chap, to turn the other cheek?

But whilst the British banked on aerial bombing of civilian populations to save its soldiers from trench warfare the Germans developed, within the confines of the Versailles restrictions on its military forces, the theory of fast mobile warfare supported from the skies – Blitzkrieg. And Hitler had no intention of attacking British cities until Churchill brought on the blitz by dropping bombs on Berlin in a series of provocative raids aimed at diverting Hitler from military targets. The Germans had not, unlike the British, constructed a long-range bomber fleet of 4-enginened machines designed to slaughter civilians. The Luftwaffe was built to support military objections in conjunction with the German Army.

Britain was ill equipped to deal with the German Blitzkrieg strategy. It had decided a land war could not be won without years of costly static land warfare. And its War Office and military planners had decided the way to avoid the killing of Great War proportions was to directly attack the enemy at his weakest point, its civilians, so that such a conflict could be shortened and British military casualties would be fewer as a result.

If warfare could be made humane in any way the German method was humane warfare. At the opening of conflict in 1939/40 Nazi Germany decided that if it were forced into a new European War it would fight a fast, decisive conflict, whilst democratic, Appeasing England would rely on terrorism from the air and sea. The German Army, even under Nazi direction, practiced Blitzkrieg using air power in support of distinct military objectives. And they achieved what they could not do in 4 years in 1914-8 by routing the Anglo-French armies in 4 weeks – with fantastically minimal casualties on both sides.

The traditional aim of European armies was to destroy the enemy combatants will to fight through the physical destruction of those on the enemy side who could defend themselves. And that is how the Nazis fought the Anglo-French forces. It was the Democracies who aimed to slaughter civilians by the million.

If war is defined as a conflict between two bodies equipped to fight and terrorism is military action against people who are not equipped to fight, it must be conceded that Britain was the pioneer of terrorism in the 20th century and the British State was the original state sponsor of terrorism. And Uncle Sam has learnt well from his Anglo-Saxon cousin, Bomber Bull, from whom he received his torch – to go about the world, bombing in the name of Democracy.

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Britain's Great War Geopolitics Iraq Russia Turkey and Ottoman Empire

Who Remembers the Persians?

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‘The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917-1919’ by Dr Mohammad Gholi Majd begins with one of the most startling statements I have read:

“The great famine of 1917-1919 was unquestionably the greatest calamity in the history of Persia, far surpassing anything that has happened before. It is shown in this study that as much as 40% of the population of Persia was wiped out because of starvation and the associated diseases that accompany malnutrition. Unquestionably, Persia was the greatest victim of World War I. No other country had suffered casualties of this magnitude in both absolute and relative terms. Yet the great famine in Persia, one of the greatest famines of modern times, and definitely one of the largest genocides of the 20th century has remained unknown and unexplored… Unquestionably, the most remarkable fact about the Persian Holocaust is that it has remained concealed all these years, a fact about which volumes can be written.” (p.1)

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Britain's Great War Iraq Turkey and Ottoman Empire

Charles Townshend on the Turks (1922)

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Reproduced below is a speech by General Charles Townshend, who surrendered his army to the Turks at Kut el Amara 100 years ago. It was made in the British House of Commons in December 1922, four years after his release from captivity, after Townshend had become an M.P. In the speech Townshend says some very interesting things about Britain’s disastrous policy in the area that constituted the Ottoman Empire and which Ataturk was then reconstituting as the Republic of Turkey by defeating the imposed Treaty of Sevres. The other parts, taken by the Imperialists, became Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. He also reveals his efforts at intercession between Britain and the Turks, which proved futile, due to the British intent on grinding the Turks into the Anatolian dust through their use of the Greeks as catspaw. 

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Britain's Great War Geopolitics Iraq Russia Uncategorized

Centenary of Kut al Amara

The following talk was given to the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto, Canada and Ottawa University at the end of March 2016

Easter week of 1916 was a very bad 7 days for the British Empire. It started with a serious Rising in Dublin against British rule in Ireland and ended with General Townshend’s surrender at Kut al Amara, the largest surrender of Imperial forces suffered since Yorktown during the loss of the American colonies.