Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Part 4: The War

At the start of 1915, the British attacked the Dardanelles. At that time, the Ottoman forces there were dangerously low on ammunition. Some of their gunboats only had enough ammo to fire for a single minute. (Page 134) The British began their attack on February 19. (Page 134) The Ottomans ran out of ammo a month later. (Page 151) But right as that happened, the British commanders at the Dardanelles decided to halt their attack and wait for the army to arrive. (Page 153) Winston Churchill was in disbelief. He knew the Ottomans had run out of ammo. Everyone knew that. He wanted to force the navy to resume their attack. But the decision was not his to make. The decision belonged to the prime minister, who sided with those who wanted to wait. (Page 153) And so they waited.

The British army was unable to begin their attack until April 25. (Page 157) By that time, the Ottomans had replenished their supply of ammunition. Before the attack began, the British army commander was given an inaccurate map of the terrain. (Page 156) His army landed on the north side of the straits, on the Gallipoli peninsula. The attack was a fiasco. Britain suffered 250,000 casualties in the ensuing fight. (Page 166)

The British had several reasons for bungling their attack on the Dardanelles. The high number of casualties gave them an excuse to steal the world's largest supply of oil.

"The sheer magnitude of Britain's commitment and loss at Gallipoli made it seem vital years later that she should play a major role in the postwar Middle East to give some sort of meaning to so great a sacrifice," said Fromkin. (Page 166)

Britain had another reason to bungle the attack. Britain had promised to give Constantinople to the Russians after the war. (Page 138) Had Britain won the war in 1915, when Russia was still their ally, Britain would’ve had to fulfill that promise. For Lord Kitchener, the British War Minister, that was unacceptable. The only acceptable outcome was for both Germany and Russia to lose the war. (Page 98) And for that, Russia had to switch sides. Only then could Britain break her promise. Only then could Britain prevent the Russians from annexing Constantinople.

For Britain to achieve her goal, for Russia to switch sides, the Russian government had to be replaced with, ironically, a government that tilted away from Britain and towards Germany. It would take some time, but eventually Russia would collapse under the weight of a mismanaged war. Millions of casualties, inflation, and food shortages, those were the necessary ingredients for the collapse. In 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power in what became known as the Russian Revolution.

Russia could have avoided the collapse had her leadership performed better. There was no excuse for the food shortages that Russia suffered from in 1916 and 1917. Russia produced more than enough food to feed her population. The shortages were caused by “speculation, profiteering, and hoarding,” (Page 241) problems that the Russian government should have been able to handle.

“Russia’s failure was a failure of leadership,” said Fromkin. (Page 240)

Amongst the Russian leadership, there was, according to Fromkin, a “lack of patriotism” in some cases and a “lack of competence” in others. Let me be more explicit. They were British stooges. Russia was one head of Britain’s many-headed monster and an expendable one at that.

The Russian Revolution was a fraud. It was not about ideology. The revolution was supposed to be about the dictatorship of the proletariat, the dictatorship of the working class. Such a dictatorship should have allowed the Muslims of Central Asia to choose whether to become independent of Russia. Indeed Lenin had declared that non-Russians deserved the right of self-determination. (Page 475) But Lenin was a hypocrite. He declared that non-Russians lacked a proletariat and until one was formed they were not ready for independence. (Page 476) This is almost identical to what Britain told its Muslims. We'll give you guys independence...some day. For the Muslims of Central Asia, the dictatorship of the proletariat looked no different than the previous dictatorship. They hated Russia. They hated Russia just like the Muslims under British rule hated Britain. (Page 477) To keep them under control, Lenin had to subdue them by employing 250,000 secret policemen.

Britain had another reason for prolonging the war. They had to wait for the 1918 Congressional midterm elections in America. Due to the elections, President Wilson lost control of the Senate, which meant that any peace agreement he made in Europe would have to be ratified by his political enemies. The election was fixed, I believe, to make sure that America would not be able to seize any land in the Middle East. France and Britain wanted the Middle East for themselves. The elections took place right when the armistice agreement was completed. (Page 390) This was not a coincidence. The Europeans were waiting for the election.

Many experts believe the Allies could have won the war much earlier had they simply attacked through the Balkans. But they waited until the summer of 1918 before making their attack. At that point, the French invaded Bulgaria, which collapsed quickly. (Page 363) From there, the French moved north and opened a new front against Germany and Austria. Germany didn’t have the troops to fight on another front and decided to negotiate for peace.

The Germans wondered why the British did not employ this strategy earlier.

“If ever there was a prospect of a brilliant strategic feat, it was here,” said the chief of the German General Staff. “Why did England never make use of her opportunity?…Some day history will perhaps clear up this question.” (Page 265)

Change administrations to change policies

Britain formed their alliance with Russia in 1907, ostensibly in fear of a rising Germany, in reality to make sure the Ottomans would be their enemy. The Ottomans were forced to ally themselves with Germany, as the Ottomans could never join an alliance which contained Russia, their unyielding adversary. But once the war began, to prevent Russia from annexing Constantinople, Britain orchestrated a coup in Russia, a coup that would end the alliance.

What happened in Russia was a tactic commonly used in international politics. Often whenever a country has to change one of its policies, rather than simply changing that policy, a coup will take place, or an election will take place, the existing government will be removed, a new government will assume power and adopt the new policy line.

There are several reasons for using this tactic. Sometimes the existing administration is genuinely committed to the existing policy line. The only way to change the policy then, is to change the administration. In other cases, the tactic is used to prevent suspicion. Even if certain leaders are amenable to switching the policy, if those officials had, in the past, firmly backed the existing policy, they cannot simply change their position without arousing suspicion, without looking hypocritical.

Britain used this tactic three times in 1917, in three different countries, Russia, Britain, and France. In all three countries, the new leadership “held strong views about the Middle East which were totally at variance with those of their predecessors,” according to Fromkin. (Page 231)

In Britain, Herbert Asquith, the man who became prime minister six years before the war began, was replaced by David Lloyd George. During his tenure, Asquith argued that Britain could not afford to administer any new colonies. (Page 141) He seemed less than fully committed to winning the war, as he refused to force young British men to join the military.

His views were meant to bait the Ottomans into joining the war. His views were meant to make the Ottomans believe that they had a good chance of winning the war, and believe that even if they lost the war, they wouldn’t lose much of their territory. Having fooled the Ottomans into joining the war, Britain then switched their government.

His successor, David Lloyd George, on the other hand, was willing to reduce the freedoms of his people in order to win the war. Lloyd George viewed the Middle East as a prize that Britain should seize. (Page 235)

“Where the Asquith Cabinet eventually came to see hegemony over portions of the Middle East as something that Britain merely wanted, the Lloyd George government came to see it as territory that Britain needed,” said Fromkin. (Page 302)

In France, Georges Clemenceau became the new prime minister. Clemenceau focused all his energies on defeating Germany. (Page 236) He believed that France should not waste her time trying to colonize other countries. For him, colonies were a financial and military burden. (Page 237) His opinions provided a great boost for British imperialism. With Clemenceau in charge, Britain was able to seize more of the Middle East for herself. Originally, in the Sykes-Picot Agreement, Britain agreed to give the oil rich land of Mosul to France. But after the war ended, Lloyd George persuaded Clemenceau to allow Britain to have Mosul. (Page 375)

“The fortunes of war and politics had brought into power in their respective countries the first British Prime Minister who wanted to acquire territory in the Middle East and the only French politician who did not want to do so,” said Fromkin.

This was not a coincidence. This was a conspiracy, by Britain, to monopolize the world’s largest supply of oil. Although Lloyd George may have been the only British politician to openly display his imperial ambitions, other British politicians secretly agreed with his ideology, even if they refused to voice their agreement publicly.

Britain, more than any other country, is determined to maintain its reputation and conceal its true, evil nature. British politicians will say honorable words, but when it comes time to act, they will reveal their true nature. To maintain their reputations, and to prevent other countries from adding to their empires, British politicians will denounce imperialism, until their country has a chance to annex territory, at which point they will promote their one politician who supports annexation. And after he has seized all the land available, he will be replaced by someone who opposes imperialism.

In Persia, after the war, Britain secretly orchestrated a coup (Page 460) to extricate themselves from a prior commitment. Before the coup, Britain agreed to construct a nationwide rail system throughout Persia. (Page 456) The system would have been very expensive to build and it would have improved the lives of Muslims. There is nothing that Britain opposes more than spending a lot of money to improve the lives of Muslims. And so Britain organized a coup to abrogate the agreement. After the coup, the new government abandoned the rail agreement and signed a treaty with Russia. And Britain reacted in mock horror to the coup they had engineered.

Armenia

During the war, the British Secret Intelligence Service incited the Armenians to revolt against the Ottomans. To suppress the revolt, the Ottomans began killing and deporting the Armenians in what became known as the Armenian Genocide.

Britain used the incident as a pretext to carve up and consume the Ottoman Empire. They launched a media campaign to discredit the Turks. They argued that the Turks were not fit to rule other races. Many people bought into their propaganda campaign. The U.S. in particular disliked what the Turks were doing. (Page 213)

While the Armenians were being killed, Djemal secretly approached the Allies about seizing power to end the massacre. (Page 214) He was willing to give Constantinople to Russia as long as he could retain Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Cilicia, and Kurdistan. This offer was made in December 1915, when the Allies were evacuating Gallipoli. After what happened there, one might have expected the Allies to accept the offer. But they didn’t.

“Djemal appears to have acted on the mistaken assumption that saving the Armenians—as distinct from merely exploiting their plight for propaganda purposes—was an important Allied objective,” said Fromkin.

Russia wanted to accept the offer. But France turned it down because they insisted on seizing Syria. (Page 214). Britain rejected the offer for the same reasons. They were determined to take control of the Middle East and steal her oil. Their loss at Gallipoli, apparently, was not particularly serious after all.

For evidence that Britain incited the Armenians to rebel against the Ottomans, consider this document (discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=D7651980), which shows that the British government wanted Russia to deploy 120,000 Armenian soldiers against the Ottomans. The document does not explain why Britain wanted to deploy Armenian soldiers against the Ottomans. But logically, Britain must have wanted those soldiers to pose as regular Armenians knowing that would cause the Ottomans to crack down on them. Once that happened, Britain could claim the Ottomans were trying to exterminate the Armenian people.

Three years ago, John Sawers, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, gave a speech about the organization he leads. (www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/oct/28/sir-john-sawers-speech-full-text) He disclosed that SIS worked with foreign nationals. He referred to those people as “secret agents.”

“Our agents are the true heroes of our work,” said Sawers. “They have their own motivations and hopes. Many of them show extraordinary courage and idealism, striving in their own countries for the freedoms that we in Britain take for granted.”

Those “agents take serious risks and make sacrifices to help” Britain.

The purpose of the speech was to persuade the public that SIS needed to keep its activities secret.

“Secret organisations need to stay secret,” said Sawers. “If our operations and methods become public, they won’t work.”

Let’s think about why SIS needs to keep its activities secret. In World War I, their “secret agents” were the Armenians. SIS had them revolt against the Ottomans. The Armenians thought they were fighting for their freedom. But SIS has an ulterior motive for inciting them to revolt. They wanted the Ottomans to massacre the Armenians. The massacre gave the British a talking point, an argument, which says, “The Ottomans can’t rule other people. Their empire must be split up.” This argument allowed the British to annex the largest supply of oil in the world. If the Armenians knew the British wanted them to revolt so the Ottomans could massacre them, a massacre which allowed the British to seize the world’s largest supply of oil, I doubt the Armenians would have revolted in the first place. Now you know why the British are so intent on keeping the activities of their intelligence agencies secret.

Germany and America: two heads of the monster

Had Germany wanted to win the war, they would have done everything in their power to make sure the U.S. military stayed out of the war. That should have been an easy task to accomplish, as the American people opposed joining the war. (Page 255) But instead of keeping the Americans on the sidelines, the Germans did everything in their power to provoke America into joining the war against them, which is exactly what Britain wanted.

In their first blunder, the Germans tried to form an alliance with Mexico. They offered to give Mexico a large chunk of U.S. territory if Mexico joined the war on their side. The U.S. government found out about the plan. They released the details of the plan to the public. The American people were outraged. For their second blunder, the Germans sank three U.S. merchant vessels. (Page 255) That was the last straw. America declared war on Germany.

But America did not declare war on the Ottoman Empire. America only declared war on Germany. (Page 256) America did not become a full-fledged member of the Allies. That meant America would not get a piece of the Ottoman Empire after the war.

“We have no selfish ends to serve,” said President Wilson. “We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make.” (Page 256)

“Every territorial settlement involved in this war must be made in the interest and for the benefit of the populations concerned.” (Page 259)

Lloyd George, meanwhile, had other ideas.

“Wilson proclaimed that the enormity of the war required peace without annexations,” said Fromkin. “Lloyd George took the other view: the enormity of the war required indemnities and annexations on an enormous scale.” (Page 263)

After failing to convince the leaders of Europe to settle the war in an honorable fashion, Wilson took his case to the European public, in the hopes that he could persuade them to adopt his ideals, in the hopes that they would force their leaders to act decently. (Page 259) Boy was he mistaken. The people of Europe were just as bad as their leaders.

It is, perhaps, unfair to single out Europe for condemnation. There were signs that Wilson did not sincerely believe in his ideals. Had he wanted to, Wilson could have forced the British into accepting an honorable settlement for the war. During the war, Britain relied on America for financing and supplies. (Page 253) So much so that John Maynard Keynes declared that by the end of 1916 “the American executive and the American public will be in a position to dictate to this country.” The war did not end until 1918. Had America been virtuous, we would have used our leverage to prevent Britain and France from chopping up and devouring the Middle East. Had America been greedy, we would have seized a good portion of the Middle East for ourselves. America did neither. We did the bidding of the British. We allowed them to mutilate and confiscate the Middle East without getting a portion for ourselves.

The first sign of Wilson's insincerity came at the end of the war, when the Ottomans tried to surrender to America on the basis of his Fourteen Points. The Fourteen Points were a set of principles which, if adopted, would have improved the situation in the Middle East considerably. One of the Fourteen Points said that the citizens of the Ottoman Empire should gain their autonomy. (Page 258)

America never accepted the Ottoman surrender. (Page 367) The Ottomans were forced to surrender to the British. But the Fourteen Points were only available to those who surrendered to America. By refusing the Ottoman surrender, President Wilson was effectively allowing Britain and France to chop up and seize the Ottoman Empire.

Fromkin has a preposterous story to explain why we refused to accept the Ottoman surrender. After the Ottomans made their request, we asked the British if we should accept the surrender. The British never replied. Because the British never replied to us, we never replied to the Ottomans. That’s the story Fromkin would have you believe.

Yet another sign that Wilson was under the thumb of the British came at the peace conference. To distract Wilson, to prevent him from denouncing Britain for her imperialist designs on the Middle East, Lloyd George had him focus on the imperialist designs of France and Italy instead. (Page 391)

President Wilson sent a commission to the Middle East to determine the desires of the people who lived there. He did not send his commission to Iraq, which Britain had control of. (Page 397) The only place the commission went to was Syria, the area claimed by the French.

At the peace conference, Britain declared that America should annex part of Turkey and Armenia. (Page 398) In all likelihood, Britain was being insincere. When Wilson tried to convince America to accept the mandates for Turkey and Armenia, his health failed him (at the peace conference, the word “mandate” was used as a euphemism for annexation). He became partially paralyzed. (Page 398) This made it hard for him to convince the American public to accept the mandates. It could not have helped that the Senate was now controlled by his political opponents. Wilson was probably the victim of a European poisoning program. The purpose was to prevent Congress from ratifying the peace settlement.

The British tried to prevent American oil companies from operating in the Middle East. After the war, Standard Oil Company of New York sent their geologists to Iraq to look for oil. (Page 534) One of the geologists declared that Iraq had “the biggest remaining oil possibilities in the world.” But Britain prevented them from carrying out their mission.

France and Britain secretly agreed to monopolize the oil in the Middle East. (Page 534) For the U.S. government, that was a bridge too far. America wanted a piece of the action. What they got was the Red Line Agreement, which was still heavily tilted in Europe’s favor. European companies received 71.25% of the oil. American companies received only 23.75%. (history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/RedLine) Walter Teagle, the president of Standard Oil of New Jersey, called the agreement “a damn bad move.” (Page 208 of The Prize)

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