Thursday, June 28, 2007

Two Important Scholars

Michael Coren - see had two excellent guests on his show tonight.

Author Bat Ye'or and Historian David Littman
Topics discussed were the Jewish Refugee Crisis in 1948 (from the Arab World - 900,000 Jews fled this region), bias against Israel at the UN (Littman spoke at length about this - he is involved in a NGO associated with the UN) and the rise of Jihadist culture in Europe.

For more on Bat Ye'or go to:
For more on David Littman's writings check out and - Looks at the Hamas Charter.

Its rather heart warming to read of individuals of such a high academic calibre especially when so much of the academic discourse available of late is of such poor quality.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Russian History Quiz

Russian History

1. This Leader was deported in 1926. Who was he?
2. In which Town were the Tsar and his family executed?
3. This General set up a regime in Crimea from March to November 1920. Who was this General?
4. Lenin introduced this Policy in March 1921 to weaken the peasant revolts that had broken out against the Bolsheviks all over the country. What was this Policy called?
5. Which two colours fought the Russian Civil War?
6. At which Naval base did a revolt breakout in March 1921?
7. Which position did Josef Stalin achieve in April 1922?
8. This one-time ally of Stalin was ousted from the Politburo in 1929. He would die in the purges in 1938. Who was he?
9. Which Plan was adopted in 1928?
10. Which two individuals ruled Russia in a triumvirate together with Stalin after the death of Lenin?
11. This man’s death began the Great Terror of the Purges. Who was he?
12. Which Region became an autonomous Jewish state in 1934?
13. Which type of farms were favoured by Stalin and Co. in the Five-Year Plans?
14. What term did Stalin use to label all peasants who opposed his agricultural reforms?
15. This man was the Chief Prosecutor during the Great purges. Who was he?

Answers to Russian History

1. Leon Trotsky.
2. Ekaterinburg
3. General Wrangel.
4. The NEP or New Economic Policy. It was a mixture of socialism and capitalism.
5. The Whites and the Reds.
6. Kronstadt. It was put down by both Trotsky and Tukhachevsky.
7. He became Secretary General of the Communist Party.
8. Nikolai Bukharin.
9. The First Five-Year Plan.
10. Zinoviev and Kamenev.
11. Sergei Kirov.
12. Birobidzhan
13. Collective Farms.
14. Kulaks
15. Andrey Vyshinsky.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

10 Worst Britons

This is an Old One from BBC History Magazine but its certainly thought provoking. I like the century by century focus.

Reproduced from original source:

'Worst' historical Britons list

The full list is:

1900-2000: Oswald Mosley (1896-1980)He was elected as an MP for first the Conservatives and then Labour before becoming disillusioned with mainstream politics and founding the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932.

1800-1900: Jack the RipperThe name given to a serial killer believed to be responsible for the murders of at least four prostitutes in Whitechapel, East London, in the second half of 1888. His identity has never been established.

1700-1800: Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-65)A younger son of King George II, he was given the nickname "Butcher" for the merciless manner in which he defeated the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 and quelled the Jacobite Rising.

1600-1700: Titus Oates (1649-1705)In 1678 he made up a story about a Catholic plot to murder King Charles II which led to scores of people being rounded up and several innocent men being executed. He was later convicted of perjury and jailed.

Sir Richard Rich, Lord Rich of Leighs (1496/7-1567)Throughout his life he shifted his political and religious allegiances to further his career. During Henry VIII's reign he gave evidence against Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher which helped to convict them of treason, for which they were executed.

1400-1500: Thomas Arundel (1353-1414)Archbishop of Canterbury in 1397 and from 1399 until his death, he persecuted the Lollards, a group calling for reform of the Catholic Church by promoting a lay priesthood and translations of the Bible.

1300-1400: Hugh Despenser (The Younger) (died 1326)He became one of the richest men in the kingdom by ruthlessly eliminating his enemies and greedily seizing land in South Wales. He was executed as a traitor.

1200-1300: King John (1167-1216)He captured and apparently murdered his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, who was his rival for the throne after the death of Richard the Lionheart in 1199.

1100-1200: Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (c.1120-70)He divided England by quarrelling with King Henry II over the rights of the church. He was assassinated by four knights from Henry's court in Canterbury Cathedral.

1000-1100: Eadric Streona (died 1017)King Aethelred II's chief counsellor betrayed his country by switching sides when the Danish king Cnut invaded England in 1015.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Monument to Victims of Communism

Its about time.

By Jacob June 15, 2007

Washington D.C. -- Holocaust victims have one. So do the fallen of World War II and Vietnam. But what of the estimated 100 million who perished at the hands of the last century’s greatest tragedy, communist totalitarianism?
Until recently, these silenced masses -- victims of Soviet gulags, Vietnamese concentration camps, Cambodia‘s killing fields, the East German, Cuban and North Korean police states -- had no fitting memorial to remind the world of their unjust, and often inhuman, fate, let alone of the ideology that abbreviated so many lives. That changed this week with the dedication in the nation’s capital of the world’s first memorial to the collective victims of communism.
It is a long time coming. The memorial is largely the fruit of the labors of Lee Edwards, a writer and a fellow in conservative thought at The Heritage Foundation. Long known for his opposition to communism -- in his well-regarded book, The Conservative Revolution, Edwards proposed the notion that “communism should be defeated, not simply contained” as a core tenet of conservatism -- Edwards credits his wife Anne with coining the idea for the project in January of 1990. “I could see even then that memories about communism were fading,” Edwards said in an interview. “These things worried me.”

for the rest of the article go to:

Monday, June 11, 2007

History in the News

I scanned the internet recenly for some new history stories of interest. Here are a few that are worth looking into:

Napoleon's sword sells for 6.5 million dollars.
There is clearly still some life in the Little Corporal.

A look at Hemingway and Orwell in Spain
Contrasts in personality

The Other D-Day
How D-Day almost backfired

On Churchill and Zionism
A worthwhile article from Peter Hitchens - the better of the two Hitchens brothers.

A look at the relationship between Eisenhower and MacArthur in the 1930's

Monday, June 4, 2007

40th Anniversary of the Six Day War

The following is list of some wonderful articles on the Six Day War.

Prelude to the Six Day War by Charles Krauthammer
There has hardly been a Middle East peace plan in the past 40 years -- including the current Saudi version -- that does not demand a return to the status quo of June 4, 1967. Why is that date so sacred? Because it was the day before the outbreak of the Six-Day War in which Israel scored one of the most stunning victories of the 20th century. The Arabs have spent four decades trying to undo its consequences.

For the rest go to:

Soviet Involvement: A New Interpretation

One of the great enigmas of the modern Middle East is why, 40 years ago next week, the Six-Day War took place. Neither Israel nor its Arab neighbors wanted or expected a fight in June 1967; the consensus view among historians holds that the unwanted combat resulted from a sequence of accidents. Enter Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez, a wife-husband team, to challenge the accident theory and offer a plausible explanation for the causes of the war.
For the rest go to:

Quotes from the Aftermath:

“If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Straits of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent, maritime passage must be preserved for all nations”. - US President Lyndon Johnson - June 19th 1967

"The biggest outcome of the Six Day War was that the State of Israel wasn't destroyed. For the Arabs, the biggest outcome was the discrediting of the Arab nationalist idiom, the movement which had dominated the previous half century.... - [more...] Michael Oren

The USSR wanted to create another trouble spot for the United States in addition to that already existing in Vietnam. - [more...] Ahron Bregman

"... It is undeniable that Soviet warnings about imaginary Israeli "troop concentrations" on the Syrian border prodded Nasser to action. And it is quite impossible that Moscow could have believed what it was saying. " [more...]- Abba Eban

"There was an atmosphere of fear and anxiety in the public, and what bothered me and bothers me ever since was how a nation with such military might can suddenly lose its confidence about its ability to fight back and win, when war becomes inevitable." more...] - Ariel Sharon (then an army general)

"Very soon", I told my grandchildren, "the soldiers will come home; there will be peace; we will be able to travel to Jordan and to Egypt and all will be well." I honestly believed it, but it wasn't to be." - [more...] Golda Meir

... While many individuals and groups did speak up to draw attention to the real threat Israel faced, one group was conspicuously silent - the Christian church. - [more...] Dave Blewett

...this [Soviet] warning was deliberate disinformation, part of a plan approved at the highest level of Soviet leadership to elicit Egyptian action that would provoke an Israeli strike. - abstract from - [more...] Isabella Ginor

"For the Arab world the question is ... how we can best make peace with Israel in such a way that many Arabs believe that they can still destroy Israel..." - [more...] Michael Oren

June 5, 2007 will mark forty years since the Six-Day War. As we approach that anniversary, we can expect Israel’s critics, enemies and alleged friends, to intensify their demands for Israel to relinquish and evacuate the “occupied territories”. - [more...] - Rachel Newuirth.

"The greatest success of the Diaspora in the post-Holocaust era: the saving of Soviet Jewry. That would not have happened without the Six Day War...[more...] -Yossi Klein-Halevi

...on a more positive note, in uniting Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, also opened up the holy places of the world's three major faiths to a degree of freedom of access and worship they had never known in all the centuries of Muslim rule." - [more...] Calev Ben David

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Middle East History Quiz

1. Ismail became Shah of which Persian Dynasty in 1501?
2. During his reign from 1520 to 1566, the Ottoman Empire peaked. Who was he?
3. Sultan Mahmud II worked to weaken this group within the Army of the Ottoman Empire. Which Group was this?
4. Sultan Abdul Hamid II undertook the building of this railway designed to make pilgrimage to Medina easier. What was this Railway called?
5. Which Country expanded into Turkestan between 1860-70?
6. Which Country did the reformer Muhammad Abduh play a leading role in?
7. In which country did Abd al-Qadir lead a revolt against the French between 1832 to 1847?
8. After 1261, the Abbasids continued as Caliphs in this Egyptian City. Which City was this?
9. An alternative name for the Nusaryi Shiites, of which Hafez al-Asad was a member, is what?
10. What was the most common name of Ottoman rulers?
11. A military junta led by this man in Iraq replaced the Monarchy in 1958. Who was this man?
12. This man became King of Morrocco in 1961. Who was he?
13. These two countries formed the United Arab Republic in 1958. Which two countries were they?
14. This man replaced the Ayatollah Khomeini as the Spiritual Leader of Iran in 1989. Who was he?
15. This Lebanese President-Elect was killed by a bomb in 1982. Who was he?

Answers to Middle Eastern History Quiz

1. The Safavid Dynasty. He would rule until 1524.
2. Suleiman the Magnificent. He was known to the Turks as Suleiman, the Law-Giver
3. The Janissaries.
4. The Hijaz Railway. It linked Damascus to Medina.
5. Russia
6. Egypt
7. Algeria. It failed and he was forced to surrender in 1847.
8. Cairo. Their dynasty would collapse c. 1517.
9. The Alawi (or Alawites).
10. Mehmed. There were six of them. There were five Murads.
11. Abdul Karem Kassim. He in turn was overthrown in 1963.
12. King Hassan II. He would die in 1999 and would be succeeded by his son, Prince Sidi Muhammad, who would be crowned King Muhammad VI.
13. Egypt and Syria. Syria would pull out in 1961. Egypt would still keep the name until 1971. It then changed to the Arab Republic of Egypt (ARE).
14. The Ayatollah Khamenei.
15. Bashir Gemayel. He was replaced by his older brother, Amin Gemayel, as President. Bashir was 34 at the time of his death.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The British Empire in 3 minutes

Empire Name: British Empire (1700 - mid 1970s).

Type of Government: Strong Constitutional Monarchy. Prime Minister as head of government wielding the real power.

Golden Age: 1860-1910.

Periodic Breakdown:

1750-1815: Empire expands in India, Canada, the Caribbean and Africa. British Navy rules supreme after the Battle of Trafalger (1805). Major setback – loss of American colonies through revolution.

1815 – 1860: Empire continues to expand. Period of Pax Britanica. Britain separates herself from the continent and focuses on building her global Empire. Agents of Empire include: the Army, the Navy (especially gunboat diplomacy), Missionaries, Corporations (such as the British East India Company, small time businessmen and Politicians.

1860-1914: The Golden Age. Empire is the most powerful force on the planet. There are British colonies on all the continents (except Antarctica). Setbacks occur in the Crimean War which force a second period of isolation. However relations with France continue to improve. The chief rival emerging in Europe is Germany who having defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War will start to rival the Brits at sea especially during the post-Bismarck era. The US is emerging as an economic force to be reckoned with.

1914-1918: Brits are victorious in First World War and take over many possessions once controlled by the Ottoman and German Empires. Victory comes at a high cost. The war in itself resulted in a tremendous loss of life and forced the Empire into a debt held by the US.

1918-1939: Class warfare further weakens Empire. The coming of the Great Depression worsens matters. Pressure for local rule escalates throughout Empire.

1939- 1945: If not for the US and the Soviets the Brits would surely have lost much of their Empire to the Germans. It didn’t happen but after WWII British governments would be forced to focus on domestic issues that was accompanied by a retreat from Empire.

1945 – Early 1970s: The Two World Wars have combined to weaken the Empire. Britain is very much a second rate power behind the USA and the Soviets. The development of the bomb gives the Brits a boost but not for too long. A humbling diplomatic defeat in the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956 (at the hands of the Americans) weakens the Empires authority as more nationalities win their independence from London.

Main sources of strength: The Royal Navy, first comers to the Industrial Revolution, Protestant work ethic, early restrictions on totalitarianism, liberalism, a disciplined army, its dynamic use of technology (such as cable laying for communication, railroad building), a global vision and its education system.

Weaknesses: Class distinction, Pomposity of rulers, supply lines overextended, fought too many land wars.

Important Figures (To name but a few)

Duke of Marlborough
Horatio Nelson
Viscount Palmerston
Benjamin Disraeli
William Gladstone
Queen Victoria
Field Marshal Kitchener
Winston Churchill
David Lloyd George
Cecil John Rhodes
George Goldie
Joseph Chaimberlain
Marquess of Salisbury
William Pitt
General Charles Gordon
Robert Clive
Duke of Wellington
Robert Peel

Wars won: Ashanti Wars, Boxer Rebellion, Burma Wars, Chinese campaigns of General Gordon, Indian Campaigns (including the Mutiny and the Sikh Wars), Conquest of Yemen, Kaffir Wars (South Africa), Malay campaigns, Maori Wars, Napoleonic Wars includes Peninsular War, Nigerian War, North American War (Part of the Seven Years war), Opium Wars (I and II), Second Anglo-Boer War, Seven Years War, Sudanese Campaign, War of the Spanish Succession (includes Queen Anne’s War), Wars to control East Africa, World War I, World War II, Zulu Wars

Wars Lost: American Revolution, First Anglo Boer War, the Easter Rebellion and the Early Afghani Campaigns.

Inconclusive Wars fought:
Crimea, War of 1812 and the later Afghani Campaigns.

Reasons for Decline: The economic, political and social costs of World War I and World War II, the Rise of the USA, Germany and the USSR as competing global powers, overextension of resources, nationalist rebellions across the Empire.

Key Contributions to World Civilization:

Spread concept of liberal democracy throughout Empire even if it didn’t always apply it.

Building of an infrastructure in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, to name a few.

Provided a fertile environment for scientific, artistic, industrial and cultural progress.

Acted as a bulwark to the many totalitarian regimes that it faced in Europe ie. Napoleonic France, Nazi Germany, Czarist Russia, Second Reich Germany etc.