Prince of Destruction: How Tamerlane Changed the Landscape of the Middle East and Central Asia

Episode 32: Tamerlane: Prince of Destruction

Barbarian Empires of the Steppes (2014)

Dr Kenneth Harl

Film Review

Tamerlane (aka Timur the Lame) limped due to a battle wound received around 1360.  Born outside Samarkand (in modern day Uzbekistan) in the Chagataid Empire, he was a Turk raised in the high Persian culture of Transoxiana. Unrelated to Genghis Khan, he could never be a khan himself. Instead he served as emir to a number of khan figureheads and ran their armies for them. He eventually came to control a 100,000-man army from the central and western steppes.

Between 1381-1405, he embarked on seven military campaigns, characterized by shocking barbarity and mainly directly at other Muslims.

In 1381, he secured control of Samarkand after 11 years of brutal battle.

Between 1391-92, he launched a campaign to destroy the Golden Horde after they thwarted several of his military campaigns in the Ilkhanate and Changataid Empire. Invading from the South, he first had to defeat Armenia, Georgia and the Egyptian Mamaluks. When he put one of his vassals on the Golden Horde throne in 1391, the Mamaluks and Ottoman Empire allied to regain the throne for the Golden Horde.

Tamerlane won a significant victory against the Ottoman Empire at Angora in 1402, capturing the Ottoman sultan (who dies in captivity). With no administrative background, he proved unprepared to hold power and eventually surrendered the Ottoman throne.

After capturing the Silk Road cities of Iran, he marched his his troops southeast, sacking the Muslim cities of Delhi and Lahore. After launching a second campaign against India in 1403, he became ill and died.

Tamerlane’s military assaults leveled Baghdad, which changed hands four times, twice. This effectively transferred authority over Sunni Islam (which they retained until 1924) from the Abbasid Caliphate to the caliphs of the Ottoman Empire

Babur, Tamerlane’s son (and a direct descendant of Genghis Khan on his mother’s side) would continue his father’s campaign in India, ultimately creating the Moghul Empire.

Film can be viewed free with a library card on Kanopy.

https://www.kanopy.com/en/pukeariki/video/5694984/5695055

The Carbon Trading Racket

The Carbon Rush

Directed by Amy Miller (2012)

Film Review

This documentary is about the $300 billion carbon trading racket (aka the Emissions Trading Scheme) in which carbon polluters in industrialized countries buy permits to pollute from various corporate and and NGO scams that allegedly sequester carbon. Over 5,000 projects are registered with the UN carbon market initiated under the 1992 Kyoto Accord.

The filmmakers interview Third World residents and activists about the devastating effect of these schemes on their communities.

Brazil

Filmmakers visit several communities where multinational corporations have deprived subsistence farmers off their land to build giant eucalyptus plantations. The trees are harvested to make charcoal used to produce pig iron. Because the eucalyptus charcoal is ultimately burned (producing CO2), there is no net reduction in carbon emissions. Yet several dozen of these plantations scattered across the third world are authorized to sell carbon credits to First World polluters.

Delhi

One to two hundred thousand informal waste pickers essential to India’s recycling industry are losing their jobs to Refuse Driven Fuel (RDF) incinerators. The latter burn unsorted rubbish to produce electricity. Despite research showing that waste pickers are nine time more efficient than incinerators in reducing CO2 emissions, the multinationals running the incinerators are allowed to sell carbon credits for operating them. This despite fierce opposition by local residents due to the incinerators’ failure to filter toxic pollutants. There are several dozen RDFs selling carbon credits across the Third World.

Maharashta (India)

The Indian government has colluded with Tata Motors and various multinationals to force  subsistence farmers off their land to build a 1,000 turbine wind. The latter produces carbon credits to a Norwegian Mega Mall. Similar mega-turbine projects generate carbon credits across the global South.

Chiriqui (Panama)

The Panamanian government is collaborating with multinationals and the World Bank to illegally install 160 hydroelectric dams on indigenous land. Despite environmental devastation that has transformed thousands of hectares of land into desert, the corporations earn millions by selling carbon credits for building and operating the dams.

Aquan Valley (Honduras)

Following the 2009 coup,* the new right wing government allowed multinationals to clear cut old growth forest and displace subsistence farmers to build massive palm oil plantations for biofuel production. Despite clear evidence that replacing old growth forest and stable savanna with palm oil plantation increases, rather than decreases, CO2 emissions, a number of similar plantations throughout the the Third World are authorized to sell carbon credits.

The full film can be seen free at

https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the-carbon-rush-documentary/