World War I through Arab Eyes

Essential history I should have learned in high school but didn’t. I must have been absent that day. This documentary gives me a new understanding of how European colonial powers totally wrecked the Arab world – a process that continues to the current day.

World War I through Arab Eyes

Al Jazeera (2014)

Film Review

This is a three part documentary in which Tunisian journalist Malke Triki interviews European, Turkish and Arab journalists and surviving families about the role of Arab forces – on both sides – in World War I.

Part 1 concerns the forcible conscription of Muslim troops by both the Ottoman Empire and the Allies. Two-thirds of the soldiers who defeated England, Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli weren’t Turkish, but Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Iraqi and Palestinian. As these countries were still part of the Ottoman Empire, they were subject to a mandatory draft.

I was unaware that England and France, who had occupied large swathes of North Africa since the end of the 19th century, also forcibly conscripted Muslim troops. England forced more than 1.2 million Egyptians to fight for the Allied cause, while France forcibly drafted 100,000 Algerians, 80,000 Tunisians and 45,000 Moroccans.

The French were widely accused of using these colonial forces as cannon fodder to protect French soldiers.

Many colonial troops rebelled against being compelled to kill fellow Muslims. This, as well as their abominable treatment by Europeans, was the spark that inflamed the North African independence movements that arose after World War I.

Part 2 tells the story of the decline of the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century and the Ottoman-German relationship which led to their Treaty of Alliance in August 1914.

In 1830 the Ottoman Empire stretched from Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) to the Red Sea and encompassed most of North Africa and the Balkans. It was under continual attack by European colonial powers. In the late 1800s, the British military seized Egypt and the French military Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. In 1912, Italy seized Libya. In the 1912-13 Balkan Wars, the Empire lost its European territories.

This episode also describes the Ottoman leadership’s brutal suppression of Arab nationalism in the Middle East, particularly in Syria/Lebanon. In 1915, one third of the Lebanese population died of starvation and another third were permanently displaced when their villages were decimated.

It also provides important background on the Armenian genocide carried out by the Ottoman leadership in 1915-17.

Part 3 covers the secret Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France and the way the two imperial powers carved up the former Ottoman Empire between them, regardless of promises made to nationalist movements across the Arab world.

Despite the Egyptian Revolution and the Iraq Uprising, Arab subservience to Ottoman rule was replaced by a series of mandates across the region in which Britain and France seized control of the areas they prized most – to satisfy their own ambitions, interests and ultimately to gain access to region’s valuable oil resources.

World War I gave birth to the Turkish nationalist movement, which led to the founding of the modern Turkish state; and to Zionism, aided greatly by the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Suppose They Gave a War and No One Came?

Christmas_Truce_1914_IWM_HU_35801

The 2014 Christmas Truce

2014 year marks the 100th anniversary of the Christmas truce during World War I. On December 25, 1914, two-thirds of the Western Front (roughly 100,000 British and German troops) spontaneously exited their trenches to exchange chocolate, cigarettes, brandy rum and souvenirs. They took photos of themselves together, played football (soccer) and shared gripes about the war and their superior officers. In some areas, the truce continued for days.

Short truces between British and German units dated from early November 1914, when static trench warfare began. The close proximity of trench lines made it easy for opposing armies to shout greetings to each other. It seems to have been the most common method for arranging informal truces during to attend to the wounded and collect the dead for burials. Several British soldiers recalled instances of Germans asking about the outcome of important football matches.

This 1981 BBC documentary features interviews with two British veterans of the Christmas truce. One vet describes how his unit pre-scheduled a second truce on New Year’s Day because the Germans wanted to see how the pictures turned out. Because they traded caps and jackets, it’s impossible to distinguish the opposing armies in the photo above.

High Command Livid

Soldiers naturally wrote home to their families about the impromptu truce. The British high command was livid when the New York Times broke the story on December 31, 1914.

Over the next three Christmases they issued strict orders that any troops who fraternized with German soldiers would be court martialed for treason. Despite the dire warnings, a few British troops participated in spontaneous celebrations with German soldiers in December 1915.

The German Revolution that Ended World War I

Thanks to the Christmas truce, soldiers on both sides made the shocking realization they had more in common with each other than with their superior officers – despite the intense propaganda they were fed by their respective governments. In 1918, a longer better organized mutiny would force the German Kaiser to surrender to the Allies.

Mainstream history textbooks go on at length about the 1917 Russian revolution that ended Russian participation in World War I. They rarely mention that the revolution spread to Germany the following year. A combination of revolutionary fervor and severe food and fuel shortages would lead to a series of three mutinies by German sailors.

During the third mutiny, on Oct 29, sailors stationed in the port city Kiel organized armed demonstrations that spread throughout the fleet and docks. By November 3, the entire city was controlled by a revolutionary council. Success at Kiel led to huge demonstrations across Germany. Within days, scores of German towns were controlled by councils of workers, soldiers, and sailors.

Kiel, Novemberrevolution, Matrosenaufmarsch

As Neil Faulkner writes in 1918 How the War Ended, the revolution reached Berlin by November 9:

Hundreds of thousands were on the streets. The city was awash with red flags and socialist banners. The anti-war revolutionary socialist Karl Liebknecht addressed the crowds from the balcony of the imperial palace and proclaimed a ‘socialist republic’ and ‘world revolution.’

Once the popular uprising reached the German capitol, Kaiser Wilhelm would have no choice but to surrender to Allied forces on November 11.

Berlin, 750-Jahr-Feier, Festumzug, "Karl Liebknecht"

Photos from Wikimedia Commons

Also posted at Veterans Today

War is a Racket

war is a racket

War is a Racket

by Major General Smedley Butler (1933)

Book Review

Published in 1933 by retired Marine Major General Smedley Butler, War is a Racket is a historic expose of the role of Wall Street profiteering in instigating war.

The book begins with the startling statistic that World War I created 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires. President Woodrow Wilson borrowed (from Wall Street banks) the $50+ billion to pay for World War I, increasing the national debt from $1 billion to $52 billion. Of this amount, $16 billion was pure profit. Butler lists specific companies, starting with Du Pont and US Steel, and the obscene profits they made from World War I.

He also deplores the systematic inefficiency and fraud that caused the War Department to pay two to three times the retail charge for equipment such as saddles and mosquito nets that had no possible use in a modern European war. This was on top of millions spent on poorly crafted wooden ships that sank when put to sea and airplanes that were technologically obsolete by the time they were delivered.

Wilson had been elected to his second term based on a campaign promise to keep the US out of the Great War. War is a Racket also discusses his secret White House meeting with a European commission that caused him to reverse himself. After informing Wilson the allies were losing the war, they warned that they couldn’t repay the $5-6 billion they owed American bankers, manufacturers and munitions makers if they were defeated.

Butler maintains the real reason the US entered the war was to protect these Wall Street interests. Obviously this isn’t what Wilson and his Committee on Public Information (run by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations) told the American people. They would be barraged with incessant propaganda about the Germans being monstrous barbarians and the Great War being the war to end all wars because it would make the world safe for democracy.

 

War is a Racket: free PDF

Major General Smedley Butler is best known for foiling the 1933 Bankers’ Putsch. This was a failed military coup, instigated by America’s leading bankers and industrialists, to remove Roosevelt from office and replace him with a Mussolini-style dictatorship. Butler, who was recruited to lead the coup, blew the whistle to the House McCormick-Dirkson Committee. They responded by launching a cover-up. Details of the Bankers’ Putsch only became public knowledge in 1967, when journalist John Spivac uncovered the committee’s secret notes.

The Real Vampires: An Insider’s View of Banks

tragedy and hope

Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time

Carroll Quigley* (1966 MacMillan)

Tragedy and Hope is a free download from http://sandiego.indymedia.org/media/2006/10/119975.pdf

(This is a third of a series of posts about stripping private banks of their power to create and control our money supply.)

Book Review

Tragedy and Hope is an exacting account of how the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve, the European central banks, and the investment banks that dominate them (e.g. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan) came to control all western governments.

According to Quigley, banks have controlled western society – by manipulating the money supply – since the creation of the Bank of England and the fractional reserve lending system in 1694. Moreover, owing to the secrecy under which they operate, Quigley asserts that most elected officials are totally unaware of the immense control central and investment banks exert over the so-called democratic process.

He describes in exhaustive detail how all historical inflationary and deflationary crises, panics, wars, recessions and depressions were orchestrated behind the scenes by the banking establishment, for the purpose of increasing their private wealth. In his epic portrayal of three centuries of western civilization, he also describes how the banking aristocracy financed the rise of Communism in Russia, China and Eastern Europe, as well as bringing Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Roosevelt to power and guiding their governments from behind the scenes.

How Banks Create Money “Out of Nothing”

The single act, according to Quigley, that guaranteed Britain’s two century preeminence over the rest of the world was the development (in 1694), by British investment banks, of the fractional reserve lending system. This system allowed English investment banks to be the first in the world to lend money (to industry and the British government) that they created out of thin air. He goes on to list the banking dynasties that have held near absolute control of the global money supply since 1694, starting with banking cartel formed by Frankfurt banker Meyer Rothschild. At the time of his death, Rothschild’s five sons each controlled a major investment bank in Vienna, London, Naples, Paris and Frankfurt. Quigley lists the investment bank formed by the J.P. Morgan family as second to the Rothschild banks in power and influence, followed by the Baring Brothers, Morgan Grenfell, the Lazard Brothers, Erlanger, Warbur, Shroder, Seligman, the Speyers, Mirabaud, Mallet and Fould.

The Council on Foreign Relations

Quigley also writes about the network of secret round tables of international corporate and banking elites started by Cecil Rhodes and expanded by his followers with his sizable estate. At their founding, they had the stated purpose of spreading British the virtues of “ruling class” tradition throughout the English speaking world and solidifying the political power and influence of the British Empire. The US Council on Foreign Relations, one of the secret round tables started by Rhodes’ followers, was started in 1919, with the explicit goal of influencing the foreign and domestic policies of a former colony over which Britain no longer had direct control.

How English Banks Controlled the US Government

According to Quigley, the US was consistently a debtor nation prior to World War I. Following the 1776 revolution, US government and businesses continued to borrow funding for industrial and colonial expansion from English and European investment banks. The American banker, JP Morgan, collaborated with European investment banks to dictate US foreign and domestic policy. They did so by threatening to destroy the US economy by 1) refusing to renew treasury bonds (i.e. money the government borrowed from banks to fund public spending 2) causing a panic by throwing large numbers of shares on the stock market or 3) destroying the value of railroads and other companies the banks owned by loading them up with worthless assets.

As Quigley relates, they engaged in all three tactics at various times throughout the 19th century, resulting in a series of booms, panics, recessions and depressions that wreaked havoc on American economic development.

How Bankers Engineered, World War I, Bolshevism, Nazism and the Great Depression

The most disturbing section of Tragedy and Hope describes how international bankers engineered (he describes their secret meetings) World War I and what Quigley calls the Banker-Engendered Deflationary Crisis of 1927-40 (aka the Great Depression). Following the 1870 unification under Bismarck, Germany experienced a rapid burst of industrialization, generating sufficient profit that they ceased to rely on investment banks to finance either business or government. They also threatened global bankers by competing with England and other European countries for export markets.

While engineering the first world war to put Germany in her place, the world banking cabal simultaneously hatched a scheme to destabilize Russia (which was making claims on Balkan members of the former Ottoman Empire) by secretly funding the Bolsheviks and other Russian revolutionaries.

Financing Hitler and the Nazis

When the the first world war ended in 1918, public debt in Western Europe and the US had increased by 1000%. In 1929, the austerity measures global banks forced on the US, England, France and other European countries led to widespread bankruptcies and unemployment and the virtual collapse of foreign trade.

Except in Germany. The global banking elite used the wealth generated from debt repayment to finance rapid German re-industrialization and militarization and the Nazi movement started by Hitler. The main German corporations funding Hitler were IG Farben, Siemens, Bayer, Daimler Benz, Porsche/Volksvagen and Krupp. In addition to Henry Ford and William Randolph Hearst, the important US banks and corporations who financed Hitler’s rise to power included Kodak, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Standard Oil, IBM, Random House and Chase Bank.

* Late mentor to former president Bill Clinton, Princeton, Harvard and Georgetown professor Carroll Quigley also served as an adviser to the Pentagon and Foreign Service.