Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Russian NGO fights for Polish Katyn massacre victims!

The Russian NGO Memorial has pledged to pursue all legal means to get Moscow to recognize Soviet responsibility for the deaths of over 20,000 Polish officers in the Katyn massacre of 1940.

This is a turn up for the (history) books. A group of Russians are fighting to get Putin and others to face up to Soviet war crimes.


And for a group of Russians to campaign on behalf of Poles is truly refreshing.

Reuters (no link) reports that Director of the Memorial NGO, Arseny Roginsky, has said that, “A Russian court, specifically a Russian court, must examine all aspects of the crime of Katyn and give its verdict.”

So far, Moscow has failed to acknowledge the extent of the crime, even though the rest of the world thinks it's self evident.

In November, 2005, after years of investigation, Chief Russian Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov announced, to Poles disbelief, that the criminal case was now closed because investigators didn’t find any evidence of genocide in the 1940 Katyn killings.

And in March, 2006, Moscow informed the Polish government that they would not recognize the massacre as an act of political repression.

In April and May 1940, the Soviet secret police (NKVD) executed over 20,000 Polish officers and policemen imprisoned in camps Kozyelsk, Ostashkov and Starobelsk as well as Poles imprisoned in the Western regions of Belarus and Ukraine.

When the Nazis found evidence of the massacre they blamed the Soviets. The Soviets blamed the Nazis. But it soon became evident that, this time, the Nazis were right.
In 1990, Moscow finally acknowledged that NKVD officers did commit the crime, but claimed it was not a 'political crime'.
But a memo sent by Stalin refered to the Polish prisoners as 'counter-revolutionaries', and ordered his, by then, usual remidy to get rid of the problem.

Katyn is a location a few kilometers off Smolensk city where the burial site of one group of victims was first found.

There is something about modern day Russia whch makes it incapable of coming to terms with its past. So it's good to see this Russian Memorial group trying to change that.

There is a link to more photos like the one above taken by Nazis as they uncovered the remains of those who were murdered here.

See a translation of Stalin's order to kill the Polish prisoners here.

It's a no-brainer, Moscow. Own up now! What couild it have been but genocide? And if something is a war crime then somebody has to be prosecuted.

More?
See Memorial NGO web site here.

75 comments:

Transatlantic said...

Now the next logical move is for the Kremlin to find some "foreign spies" infiltrated in this NGO and harass their members. Maybe a little jail for some "corruption" deeds?
Forgive my pessimism, it's just innate when it comes to Putin.
The New European
http://transatlanticpolitics.com

Michael Farris said...

I'm not one for living in the past, but this is unexpected, very welcome news.

As for prosecutions, who's alive that could be prosecuted?

beatroot said...

Mad dad was in WW II (he was sexually active as long as Picasso was)...there are a few of them left. There are lots of nasty little bastards that did a lot of covering up.

But it's really a symbolic move and would be great for Russia's PR.

But if ngenocide is admited there is all sorts of international law issues that Putin could do without.

nemeczek said...

The Russians do not want to recognize the Katyn massacre as genocide (aren’t all massacres genocide? Probably in Russian it is called ‘the Katyn incident’ or something like that) because they are not willing to part with any rubles later on. Besides, it would taint the Russian collective memory regarding their heroism during the IIWW. Their initial admission of guilt was also politically motivated and served its domestic purposes very well, indeed.
I was particularly surprised by a comment made by some Russian official who justified their unwillingness to continue the investigation by the fact that some participants in the massacre MIGHT STILL BE ALIVE. I would think it should be exactly the reason why the investigation should be carried out ASAP. These guys will burn in hell anyway, but it would still be nice to see them punished in this life.

jannovak57 said...

Lets not hold our breath waiting for a symbolic move on the part of the Russian government.

Certainly a courageous stance on the part of the NGO, which in all likelihood will be hammered into silence by the Kremlin. The problem with Russia is not an issue of animosity between peoples but rather with Russia’s rulers. This is a welcome gesture but there is no chance of it getting anywhere. If the Kremlin agrees to call it genocide or more mildly an act of political repression, it would be the tip of the iceberg. What about Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians or for that matter today’s Chechens? This is also why under no circumstance will anyone get prosecuted.

Mr. Putin could handle this by recognizing this genocide but distancing Russia from the actions of the Soviet Union however this wouldn’t be possible as Putin has tried to elevate the Soviet past as a heroic and righteous era of Russian history.

This will continue to be a source of friction in the Polish Russian relationship for years to come.

beatroot said...

Nem
aren’t all massacres genocide?

No. Definition of genocide:

Genocide is the mass killing of a group of people as defined by Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) as "any act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such.

So, no – not all massacres are genocide. It’s all about what was intended.

But Katyn was a genocide.

geez said...

It seems that the pivotal part of the definition centers on "in whole or in part." What constitutes "in part?"

From the defintion, it also seems that there need not be killing involved: "Any actcommitted with intent to destroy..." Does the situation in Tibet qualify as genocide?

If somebody offed Pat Robertson, would he or she be guilty of genocide against the 700 Club?

sonia said...

The really important thing happened in 1990 when Russia acknowledged Katyn as a Communist crime, and not a Nazi one (as they were claiming until then). The subsequent reluctance to acknowledge 'genocide' is simply a defensive measures against paying compensation.

As for punishing the guilty, I feel a bit conflicted about persecuting old men in their 80's who were 20 at the time, and told that they were executing enemy spies. If they are guilty, then so are American prison guards who execute people on death row in Texas and other states...

Anonymous said...

Sonia said: "As for punishing the guilty, I feel a bit conflicted about persecuting old men in their 80's who were 20 at the time, and told that they were executing enemy spies. If they are guilty, then so are American prison guards who execute people on death row in Texas and other states..."

In my opinion that's a complete falsehood on both accounts. It's not "persecuting" 80-year old men, it's PROSECUTING them for atrocities. The fact that they rounded up thousands of people and massacred them is still the main point. Just because they believed they were executing spies doesn't make it right or forgiveable. Prison guards on the other hand are not involved with the executions in any way shape or form except to walk them to the area. That and the people who are being executed were found guilty (rightly or wrongly) through the proper legal channels. I don't want to say that the death penalty is right by any means as I'm 100% against it. But again in my opinion it's still a comparison that cannot be made. I hope they prosecute those people who committed these crimes and they spend the last of their miserable lives in a cage. I don't believe in Hell, or a God, so death is frankly too good for them. I hope they're last days on the earth are just as atrocious as the acts they committed.

Anonymous said...

In Russia the Katyn massacre isn't known as anything. You would be hard pushed to find anyone who knows anything about it or has ever heard of it. They have history very well managed, thank you. But then it's hardly much different in the UK, where we learn that the English singlehandedly captured the Enigma and cracked the code, won the war etc etc.

Anonymous said...

In Russia the Katyn massacre isn't known as anything.

It was rumored, that every Soviet Union leader was given two super-secret things upon taking up the office. The first one were the launch codes for Soviet ICBMs.

The other one were the Katyn documents.

jannovak57 said...

It would be a waste of time to pursue the issue with the Russian government; it will be more productive to inform the Russian public. However many Poles may not like the response they’ll get even from informed Russians such as we lost millions at the hands of the same criminals that perpetrated the Katyn massacre what do want from us.

The history of the Katyn massacre should be taught to Polish children with the same intensity that Isreali children are taught about the Holocaust. Up until 1989 it was the most forbidden subject in the PRL, educators faced jail time and dismissal if caught discussing the topic. The families of those who perished were persecuted as well.

There should be a significant effort undertaken to gain international recognition of the Katyn massacre as an act of genocide, similar to campaigns by the Ukraine and Armenia.

opamp said...

However many Poles may not like the response they’ll get even from informed Russians such as we lost millions at the hands of the same criminals that perpetrated the Katyn massacre what do want from us.

This is the core issue between the Poles and Russians: the Poles believe that they have always been treated exceptionally badly by the Russian authorities (and they are right, because the Russians hold the record in the number of killed Poles), while the Russians reply that their own people were treated equally badly (and they are right on that as well), so the Poles are voicing unjustified (to them) complaints.

jannovak57 said...

Opamp said: “while the Russians reply that their own people were treated equally badly (and they are right on that as well)”

I don’t understand, do you mean that Poles have treated Russians equally badly?

sonia said...

Jannovak,

do you mean that Poles have treated Russians equally badly?

No, it means that the Cheka, the GPU, the NKVD and the KGB has killed tens of millions of Russians since 1917, so the Katyn massacre is like a drop in an ocean of Communist crimes.

And don't forget that the Cheka (who killed the most, especially between 1919 and 1922), was composed mostly of non-Russians (most numerous were Latvians, Jews, Poles and other minorities oppressed under the tsar)...

Harry said...

^ I think he may mean that the Russians treated the Russians as badly as they treated the Poles. Or he may mean that the Germans treated the Russians as badly as the Russians treated the Poles.

I'm not really sure, I never really got the whole taking-pride-in-where-one's-parents-had-sex idea.

geez said...

Harry wrote: I'm not really sure, I never really got the whole taking-pride-in-where-one's-parents-had-sex idea.

<><><><><><><>

Hmmm. But you keep defending UK royalty?

opamp said...

I think he may mean that the Russians treated the Russians as badly as they treated the Poles.

Exactly.

steppx said...

sonia is loose again.......we've needed comedy relief.....and once again, the communists are the source of all the worlds evils.

jannovak57 said...

steppx said... “sonia is loose again.......we've needed comedy relief.....and once again, the communists are the source of all the worlds evils.”

Are you suggesting communists were not responsible for the Katyn massacre? Don’t you feel any guilt for the million murdered by your sick ideology? Considering the topic don’t you feel it’s time for you to apologize for your views?

Perhaps this is too harsh after all there is a school of thought that believes mental illness can manifest itself as communist and or extreme leftists views.

Get help.

steppx said...

jan.....what i said...and I know this is tough, but try to read what was written....is that sonia is nuts. We have (sonia and I) a long debate here at beats blog. Probably you dont know that.

So, as for Katyn, I dont much about it....so I said nothing about it. Just read what was written. Sonia has a tendency to think all crimes in the world are comitted by communists....even El Mozote as I recall.

So Jann....you are truely a bit off the leash my friend. Attributing sickness to leftist views is the last refuge for those without real arguments.
And I love the part about getting help... another typical gambit of the intellectually challanged. Sorry Jann....my positions stand....but do read more carefully and dont waste everyone's time with straw men.

steppx said...

let me add, that in this case....to be fair, Sonia is right about the prosecution. The mention of those executing prisoners in the US is spot on. The bureaucracy of death is always hard to analyse.
My objections to sonia have to do, usually, with attacks on the left and aplogies for fascism. Half a million dead Iraqis....killed by US forces...that kind of small detail.
Anyway, this is just a corrective. i feel sonia made good points here. except to speak of Communist crimes as if they were somehow substantially different from Imperialist crimes.

But again, katyn i know little specific about.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

Jan.

First of all, you call anyone to the left of Adolf Hitler a communist. Steppx, I imagine, would not like to live through what Poles and others went through and would not call himself a communist anyway.

And then you equate ‘communist’ with mental illness!

You use the word \communist’ like those drippy liberals who call anyone who disagrees with them: ‘fascist’.

You are using these terms as a form of abuse which closes off any meaningful debate.

Anonymous said...

"It was rumored, that every Soviet Union leader was given two super-secret things upon taking up the office. The first one were the launch codes for Soviet ICBMs. The other one were the Katyn documents. "

How many Soviet Union leaders have there been since Stalin? YOu can count them on one hand... Proves my point exactly!

Why would they receive the Katyn documents anyway? Why wouldn't they receive documents relating to million poeple killed each year by Stalin's apparatus (according to Solzenitsyn's figures) or the mass graves along the trans-Siberian railway as detailed in Kapuscinski's book 'Empire'. I think Russian leaders had bigger genocidal fish to fry and you have posted a litlle 'made-uppie'.

sonia said...

Steppx,

Sonia has a tendency to think all crimes in the world are comitted by communists....even El Mozote as I recall

I never said that. I never wrote about El Mozote. And I never supported fascism.

Half a million dead Iraqis....killed by US forces

So I guess ALL Iraqis are liars when they ALL claim that the Shiites are killing the Sunnis and vice versa.

No, Steppx, the liar is you.

Roberto D'Aubuisson said...

Sonia wrote: "I never supported fascism."

<><><>

WTF???

jannovak57 said...

Steppx said... “So, as for Katyn, I don’t much about it.... so I said nothing about it”

Now you’re telling us you’re off topic and you rambling about something else. The communist party often classed its western apologists as useful idiots; I think you have established a new class…………..just idiot.

Steppx said…”Attributing sickness to leftist views is the last refuge for those without real arguments.”

Not at all, repeatedly applying the same methods with an expectation of getting a different result is a strong indicator of mental illness. The history of your failed ideological position is certainly in conformity to that pattern.

Beatroot said: “You are using these terms as a form of abuse which closes off any meaningful debate.”

There is no such thing as meaningful debate with the extreme left or communists, no more than you can debate religious believes.

There is only conflict.

beatroot said...

There is no such thing as meaningful debate with the extreme left or communists, no more than you can debate religious believes.

Again, jan, you are stooping to the level of insults.

Not a very intelligent move, nor a good one to win an argument.

steppx said...

Sonia....I recall you saying that El Mozote was actually a result of communists....(if i remember correctly) and that we had all bought hook line and sinker the story of the accepted version. (US trained death squads).

Now, if thats wrong....i apologize. I dont have the thread, obviously, with me. But I also remember you saying "well meaning facists..."...thats a line I DO remember. I expect others do too. So, um, yeah, that qualifies as an apologist position in my book.

In any event, Im not lying. Thats my memory of it....maybe someone else recalls those debates, I dont know.

As for dead Iraqis....are you honestly trying to say that the vast majority of deaths are NOT the result of the US military? And in any event, the occupation is what has jump started inter-factional warfare. People tend not to like armies of occupation.

And how's life in Shoreditch?

fred engels said...

There is only conflict.

*^*^*^*^

Glad to see you agree with me, Jan.

sonia said...

Steppx,

I recall you saying that El Mozote was actually a result of communists....(if i remember correctly) and that we had all bought hook line and sinker the story of the accepted version. (US trained death squads).

I vaguely remember that exchange. It wasn't about El Mozote specifically, about about El Salvador's Civil War in general. My point was that the Communist guerrillas committed as many atrocities as the government forces in El Salvador (if not more).

"well meaning facists..."...

Don't worry. I have wrote about ''well meaning Communists'' too. In both cases, it refers to otherwise decent people who serve a genocidal regime naively hoping they can change it from the inside... (and sometimes not so naively, as in the case of Franco or Jaruzelski regimes' evolution)...

If that qualifies me as an apologist in your little red book, I don't care...

are you honestly trying to say that the vast majority of deaths are NOT the result of the US military?

Yes, and not just me, but every journalist covering Iraq: the vast majority of Iraqis die as result of Shiite-on-Sunni violence. And that violence is the result of Saddam's genocidal policies towards the Kurds and the Shiites. US forces in Iraq now are a bit like firefighters being blamed for the fire...

For someone who says that I have a tendency to think all crimes in the world were comitted by communists, YOU have a tendency to think all crimes in the world were comitted by Americans. Ever heard about 'projection' ?

Roberto d'Aubuisson said...

Sonia, seems like you no longer admire and want to praise me.

Sergey Romanov said...

Correction: not officers, but POWs. Only a handful of about 22,000 victims were officers. About 8,000 officers from three camps (with about 15,000 POWs total in those camps), and an unknown number from prisons.

steppx said...

who-hahahahahahaha.....sonia.....you are good fun.

Listen...I dont want to burst your bubble.... but for openers the US put saddam in power. Helped him kill a couple hundred thousand communists for his opening act. he flew US made helicopters when he gassed the Kurds and got increased tax credits the following year and a word of congratulations from envoy don rumsfeld.
Ive no idea what journalists you read....but I can probably guess. The facts -- and this whole post is off topic...but what the hell -- the fact is that the US invaded Iraq. It didnt liberate it. It now occupies it. And now you want to blame the "civil war" on the Iraqs and their factional grabs for power. I mean, talk about clueless.
In point of fact, yeah, a good deal of the violence around the globe can be traced to US involvment and interference. Iraq is a perfect example. We installed the Shah in Iran too....remember that? And since Blowtorch bob is now on this thread, he can probably help you with history in central america. The absurdity of your claims needs some factual back up. The CIA admits it trained death squads...and helped organize them. But to try and stay on topic....on message as Karl Rove might have it.....
US foreign policy in the middle east has created the violence. And the Lancet study should make you take note of a few things....but beyond that, a recent report, I will get you the link, reinforces the idea that when foreign troops leave, the killing subsides. Quelle surprise i hear you say. No really....thats how it works.
But feel free to provide some back up....like how "all" journalists are saying its the damn arabs own fault....they're just killing each other.

steppx said...

here Sonia....
the entire report (and there is a lot of crap to pour through before you get to the germane numbers) is
www.defenselink.mil/pubs/pdfs/9010quarterly-report-20061216

and here is a short take...
http://www.news.com.au/sundayheraldsun/story/0,,21385686-5005961,00.html

but what you find is that deaths by the resistance and death squads and various other factions are lowest in Kurdish areas...no big surprise....and highest where coalitions forces are highest. Thats a no brainer too, wouldnt you say?

Calling something a civil war when a country has been invaded and is now occupied is simple mendacity.

sonia said...

Steppx,

I have responded to you here on my blog, since the subject at hand has nothing to do with the Katyn massacre.

beatroot said...

Sonia: you can talk about anything you like on this blog but if you start a debate here then you should finish it here. And stop this constant attempt to lure people from this blog to your grubby tits and arses blog. If that is the only way you can get readers who are not just sado wankers then I pity you...

Renegade Eye said...

I commented about some of the points here on Sonia's blog.

steppx said...

renegade eye:
and god knows, it was painful to visit sonia's blog.....but I need to comment HERE on renenge eye's comments.
HE blames the middle east for picking *socialist totalitarian*(his words) regimes over pro-western monarchies.
Gosh....why did they do that (sarcasm intended). Lets take Algeria.....and we ask ourselves, why would those dumb algerians want to get rid of a colonial power who has occupied them for around 150 years? This is obvious.....same reason Iraqis want the US gone (a much shorter occupation...but we used saddam before that). Its absurd to think wars of independence from colonial exploitation -- and in north africa this at times was astoundingly brutal.....are irrational. All people want to throw off occupation....and they shoud be allowed to pick what follows. Algeria -- to win independence, or so one could argue, ended up with the FLN....a very puritanical and in their own way brutal party. I personally cant imagine that deGaulle would have left without this kind of resistance....and no other sort of party provided it. So are the lessons of history.

Colonialism took a number of different forms. From plantations in the west indies to outright ownership of the country...the Belgium congo. But the "great game" (you may google that renegade and sonia) carved up the region according to what suited European powers. The consequences of this *are* still be felt....just not in the myopic manner Renegade eye has it.

the US has involved itself in El Salvador, Guatamala, Panama, Iran, Iraq, Greece, Chile, Zaire, Afghanistan, and on and on. The pattern is almost always to support a Pinochet at the expense of an Allende. To support a monarch like the Shah (and his secret police the SAVAK...who got a lot of US training) or a Trujillo. Lumumba no, but Mobutu yes.
To blame a people for wanting independence from colonial domination....often if not always, quite brutal...is absurd and simply stupid. And it leads to a lack of historical understanding exhibited by apologists for the Iraq occupation.
So finally, yes, the deaths of Iraqi civilians is laid at the feet of the US. Literally and morally. I supplied the links....and its worth a read. Troops withdraw, violence drops. Its simple, really.

varus said...

There seems to be a lot of confusion over the terms Genocide and Massacre. I generally agree with the definitions put forward by Beeatroot: "aren’t all massacres genocide?

No. Definition of genocide:

Genocide is the mass killing of a group of people as defined by Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) as "any act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such.

So, no – not all massacres are genocide. It’s all about what was intended.

But Katyn was a genocide."

However, his conclusion is off, as Katyn was the strategic removal of the officer class of the Polish Srmy. This was desined to pre-empt any furture resistence against the Soviet occupation of the lands east of the Molotov-Ribentrop line. This was undoubtedly a massacre but can it be said to be genocide. Was it the "any act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such." - I think not as, i said before this was strategic and not cultural in motivation.

varus said...

Steppex said"But the "great game" (you may google that renegade and sonia) carved up the region according to what suited European powers. The consequences of this *are* still be felt....just not in the myopic manner Renegade eye has it. "

The Great Gamee was the strategic interplay between Tsarist Russia and Great Britain in the later part of the 19th Century and the early 20th. It involved the borders of northern British India and southern Imperial Russia. It centred primarily around Afghanistan, which acted as a buffer to these two great powers. It therefore had absolutley bugger all to do with Iraq!! Iraq'a present brorders are a result of the breakup of the Ottaman empire following its defeat in World War One. Yes i agree that western powers played a great role in the decision making, but this was through the League of Nation, and not some ad hoc colonial aggreement as Steppex seems to be suggesting.

beatroot said...

Renegade Eye:

Please reply to comments made on this blog ON THIS BLOG.

It's a matter of manners. Cheers.

beatroot said...

Varus:
However, his conclusion is off, as Katyn was the strategic removal of the officer class of the Polish Army.

The revoval of a 'class' is exactly what the definition of genocide which I cited means. If the massacre is to illiminate a a whole or part of a class, race, ethnic group etc then that is genocide. This was not a random massacre it was systematic.

Genocide.

varus said...

To Beatroot,

the officer class, does not fit your definition "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group," What, i am getting at is that when Hitler embarked on Operation Barbarossa, he declared total war, with an intent to anilate the slavic population of eastern europe/russia. However, the removal of the officer class was not in the same vain. It was not motivated by ethnic tension but by good old fashioned imperialistic repression tactics. Stalin worked on simple strategies: 1) I have a problem 2) remove (anialate) problen 3) great no problem!
I am not trying, by the way, to decrease the severity of the crime, i am just trying to get people away from an over use of the term genocide. It has become the norm to refer to a mass killing as a genocide. Where as for me genocide must be denoted by a motivation that is ethnically/racialy driven. Katin was not. It was purely a typical soviet solution to a problem.

beatroot said...

No, no,no...when you try and destroy, in whole or part, the intelligencia of a society )something both the Nazis and Commies tried to) then the intention is to harm, weaken, change the whole society.

genocide.

geez said...

varus wrote: this was strategic and not cultural in motivation.

)))))))

Everything Stalin did is reduced here to "strategy." So then, tha man ain't got no culture.... Actually, maybe CP culture is the larger determinant. Is there anything the party and it's fearless leader does not a matter of strategy or historical necessity?

As to the matter of whether or not it was genocide.... Again, the bit about "or in part" makes its application really wide. Can "in part: even include the removal of a single, significant leader?

And more varus: this was through the League of Nation, and not some ad hoc colonial aggreement

))))))))))

And what African or Arab powers had any juice in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?

varus said...

Geez,

granted, the League did not give any true power to Arab or African nations, but in reality nor does the current UN. Therefore by your argument, does a UN mandated act constitute colonialism?

Yes, the players are often the same, but the game has most definitley changed over the course of the years. Colonialsm and the League are not the same.

As for removal of a specific person, or for that matter a a group (ref inteligencia; Beatroot). If the goal is the utimate destrucrion of the people, and the removal of them from human history; then yes it could be a genocidal act. However, Katin was not designed to remove the Polish people, merley subjugate them under Soviet rule. Therefore a massacre with a purley stratigic motivation and not genocidal.

steppx said...

varus/.....try to find sources more sophisticated than Wikipedia.
Here is a short over-view for you.
http://www.archiveeditions.co.uk/Leafcopy/160-5.htm
Clearly, the original great game....the term came into play a bit later...was England and Tsarist Russia...but quickly extended over the next 100 years to lots of other folks.

The germane point is that the colonial period shaped the borders of the entire region. The great powers of Imperialism carved up the area to suit their needs.

varus said...

Steppx,

I have looked at your source and it seems not to contradict what i said. Russia and Britain were involved in Iraq/Iran border issues, but not as part of the Great Game:
"The complete distaste for compromise shown by the Persians and Ottomans led an exasperated and impatient British Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, to comment in 1851 that "the boundary line between Turkey and Persia can never be finally settled except by an arbitrary decision on the part of Great Britain and Russia".

This was not a reult of rivary between Britain and Russia or any other. Britain and Russia used their weight to settle a matter that threatened regional security. This was different to the great game.

I stick by my original asertion that the ottaman empires and its collapse decided the borders of Iraq.

varus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
steppx said...

no, the borders of iraq were determined by the,.,,at least as a surface gesture...by the league of nations...meaning England france russia etc. The fall of the Ottoman Empire was the excuse....but lets remember what part the UK played in that collapse. But what is your point?> If you want to nit pick on the definition of the great game...fine....I will conceed that usually, or strictly speaking, it was the Tzarist/English battle for mid asia....but its used to describe colonial conquest in north africa as well...and the term New Great Game is used a lot as well. So yes.....the original meaning was for the russian/English 19th century battles. BUT--are you suggesting, as you seem to be -- that colonial powers were somehow NOT responsible for the borders and divisions of the middle east...specificially iraq and iran?

sonia said...

Beatroot,

if you start a debate here then you should finish it here. And stop this constant attempt to lure people from this blog to your grubby tits and arses blog. If that is the only way you can get readers who are not just sado wankers then I pity you

The wonderful thing about the Internet in general (and blogging in particular) is how INTERACTIVE it is, and how it allows ideas to FREELY circulate from one site to another. There is no copyright protection on blogging. I thought that Steppx arguments were an interesting example of a certain political pathology, and I wanted to debate that on my blog in order to share it with my readers and commenters.

You might abhor this inerative cross-pollination, but I revel in it. And overall, for every one of your readers that I allegedly 'steal', there are certainly at least two or three who will visit your site in return. This is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win situation for both sides...

steppx said...

here varus.
Look, my point has been that the colonial powers created the modern map of the middle east....and this is clearly the case. Call it the great game or not....the colonial era began way back...during the original great game....but in terms of the middle east the time line is pretty clear....
http://www.archiveeditions.co.uk/Leafcopy/160-5.htm

http://www.angelfire.com/nt/Gilgamesh/1918.html

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/vance2.html

the final one is most relevant to our debate I think. Im curious about what you mean when you say the collapse of the ottoman empire created the borders? You sort of leave out the essential fact that the UK was given a mandate...as in Palestine....(as france was in Syria) to govern. Modern Iraq is a composite of several Ottoman districts. There was NO Iraq before the British mandate.
So, again, colonialism plays a huge role and casts a long shadow over everything in the middle east. And US foreign policy, in more recent times, does too. As I said, the Shah being a prime example.

varus said...

Steppx,

as far as nit picking goes i was just wanting to clarify that the Great Game is pertinant to Afhanistan and its present perdicament, but can't be used as a general reule of thum for explaining the current Iraqi perdicament.

As for British mandate in Palastine, this was not colonialism. The UK was given this as a realisation of them being a 'Great Power' and having the ability to administer it. Yes, this was a position (great power status) that they arived at as much due to colonial history as anything else, but wasn't in itself colonialism.

beatroot said...

every one of your readers that I allegedly 'steal', there are certainly at least two or three who will visit your site in return.

It's not a matter of 'stealing' it's a matter of keeping debates where they start.

And not much comes my way from your blog (different type of reader, these days, I think).

geez said...

Did the Arab states decide upon their borders?

No, the European states, controllilng the LofN, decided for the Arabs. And benefited from the decision in multiple ways.

That's colonialism.

I do not think that the African and Arab states have such a bad deal in the current UN.

steppx said...

varus.....agree that the term great game should have been used more precisely.
But the mandate in my mind IS colonialism. Its part of a fabric of colonial exploitation and geez is right...the borders were (and this was my point) decided by colonial powers and drawn up according to the needs of those powers and not the people in the arab lands. I think its easy for westerners...myself included....to forget the impact of a 150 years of colonial domination and occupation. Something we may forget but I doubt Arabs do.

Grabaz Styropian said...

Is that picture of Sonia the same as the pictures of Sonia on the Sonia website? Not quite as flattering. The pictures on Sonia's blog being less flattering, I mean.

varus said...

Steppx,

granted the borders were decided by external powers, as much to get rid of a problem (Israel/Palestine) as for the benefits of locals. Granted also that this was done by the same powers who operated a colonial system. However, the fact that the principle actors may have in fact been one in the same does not mean that therefore it was colonialism. By the time of the formation of Israel on November 29th 1947,the British colonial system was well and truly on a downward path. Britain's mandate was not a colonial venture, it was a pragmatic solution to a very tricky problem. I accept that Britain and the "western powers" could have handled the situation better, and it smacked of old school imperial arrogance. Alas, hindsight is a wonderful thing!!

To give a contemporary example,

the UN Security Council is controlled by the permanent five, nothing happens without their approval, or at least refusal to veto. Does this equate to colonialism? No, it is just the reality of power, whether we like it or not. The legacy of colonialism does live on, but it can not be used as 'one size fits all' concept.

geez said...

Varus, why do you insist on comparing today's UN with the LofN?

Sorry, but it's like comparing apples and porcupines.

Sounds like the British, though, were at least a bit like Stalin in imposing strategic, pragmatic solutions to their problems... At least they didn't indulge in wholesale slaughter, I spoze, at least not to the extent as that perpetrated as a matter of course by Uncle Joe.

varus said...

Geez said: why do you insist on comparing today's UN with the LofN?


League? What League? I was talking about whether the formation of Isreal out of Palastine was a colonial act or not. I was using the UN as an example of the present power relations (the reality of the day)

beatroot said...

I find this discussion a bit odd.

Israel was created from the Balfor agreement back in First WW times. It was created in a climate of anti-Semitism in Europe. Poland favoured sending all the Jews to Madagascar!

The British had colonial interests there, and I suppose there was the idea of placing Europeans as a way of controlling Palestine.

But, apart from Zionists campaigning for a ‘Jewish homeland’ the motivation for creating Israel, for the western powers, was to get rid of the ‘Jewish problem’.

sonia said...

Israel was created from the Balfor agreement back in First WW times. It was created in a climate of anti-Semitism in Europe.

'Next year in Jerusalem' was a phrase spoken by Diaspora Jews since the time immemorial. In medieval Europe. In Renaissance Europe. In 19th century Poland. Balfour or no Balfour, anti-semitism or no anti-semitism, Palestinian Arabs were living on borrowed time. Some day, the original owners of the house were bound to return.

Blame Vespasian or Hadrian or some other Roman emperor. The chickens finally came home to roost. Now, it's the Palestinian's turn to live in a dispora for the next 2000 years. They drew History's lottery's bad number...

beatroot said...

That was way too deep (or just plain silly) for me to understand. Explain.

varus said...

Beatroot,
Firstly i agree this discussion has gone a bit of tact. However, you said:
The British had colonial interests there, and I suppose there was the idea of placing Europeans as a way of controlling Palestine.

But, apart from Zionists campaigning for a ‘Jewish homeland’ the motivation for creating Israel, for the western powers, was to get rid of the ‘Jewish problem’.

Are these two points not a litle conflicting. The second agrees with me that Britain's actions in relation to Palastine were not a colonial act, but pragmatism. As you said: to get rid of the problem. However, the first seems to return to the principle that Britain wished to colonise Palastine. - Is it just me, or are these points at odds?

steppx said...

varus...
Actually, in a sense, the UN is often rather colonialist in its functions....but not per se colonial. That said....the mandate in Iraq should be seen as colonial. We are quibbling about semantics in a way....BUT, the western powers making these decisions seems to disregard the desires of the inhabitants of these colonies. Ergo, its colonialism. Was the mandate the same as the british in Kenya? No....but in a sense its part of the same over-all structure of domination.
The US and UK continue to think in terms of the white man's burden. One sees it today in Iraq...why are *we* there? The assumptions of power are easily overlooked....but when you say a "a tricky problem" Im tempted to ask "for whom"?

geez said...

Britain's actions in relation to Palastine were not a colonial act, but pragmatism.

And Stalin's actions in relation to the Ukraine were not a colonial act, but pragmatism?

varus said...

Steppx,

I agree that its a lot of semantics, however, you seem to have taken as red the fact that Iraq is a colony while deciding if it is in fact colonialism: "the western powers making these decisions seems to disregard the desires of the inhabitants of these colonies. Ergo, its colonialism."
But, I agree with the "structure of domination" and the idea of 'we know best'. Perhaps the client kingdom of the British Raj is a more appropriate synonym. Here, the act was not one of colonising (settlers going out from the mother country) but more one of strategic control. And yes, the interests of the locals were largely ignored.

Geez...

The Ukraine was absorbed into the Soviet Union as part of the greater Russian domain. Stalin wanted to de-nationalise, so to speak, the Ukrainian national spirit and create a Moscow centric state... The same can not be said of Britain's acts in Palestine. As far as I can recall, no one wanted to make Palestine an integral part of the British domain. This can be contrasted with the Algerian experience, where it was absorbed en mass into 'Greater France' which had painful repercussions when the call for independence came.

Anonymous said...

Sonia said.. “the original owners of the house were bound to return”

There was no legal or logical basis for European Jews to establish the State of Israel. It would represent the equivalent of American Catholics occupying Italy because of a religious connection to the Vatican. Caucasian Europeans who happen to have Judaism as a common religion invaded Palestine. The Zionist movement influenced the British and American governments to cooperate. Both the British and the Americans were warned by their experts that this would result in long-term problems in the region.

The result is that the Arab world will never come to terms with the existence of the State of Israel therefore forcing the western counties to support it. This support now amounts to America sending four billion in military aid per year and earning the everlasting hatred of the Arab world.

911, the War on Terrorism, Iraq War and Islamic fundamentalism are all directly related to the establishment of the State of Israel.

geez said...

Of course there are differences, Varus.

But you seem to have jettisoned your original frame of reference about Arab borders being drawn, not just those of Israel where your focus has now shifted.

Most Arabs percieve Israel as a client state of the western powers. Not a colony, to be sure, but acting in tandem with western interests. And it wouldn't have been established in Palestine without the western powers sticking it there.

Call it colonialism or call sticky wicketism, it's still about western dominance in and over the Middle East.

varus said...

Geez said:
"But you seem to have jettisoned your original frame of reference about Arab borders being drawn, not just those of Israel where your focus has now shifted."

Well, erm.. As far as straying off topic goes, i think we all have a little - remember the original article, and that little issue with Katyn? - But i agree:
" And it wouldn't have been established in Palestine without the western powers sticking it there.

Call it colonialism or call sticky wicketism, it's still about western dominance in and over the Middle East."

Words are a wonderful thing and we can - and indeed have -spend serveral days arguing over what to call different things: genocide vs massacre; imperialism vs colonials vs strategic domination, and the list continues.
Alas, my attention is now drawn to the most recent topic on Beat's blog: What Poland has gained from Iraq. ... I'm sure we will continue are semantic battles there

beatroot said...

I sat out much of this one, but it was very entertaining. Good stuff.

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