Bated Breaths: Government-Change Across The World

Posted in America, China, Current Affairs, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on June 18, 2012

Probably never in history have so many government changes happened in unison. To this add the global crisis in leadership.

A ballot box as a defibrillator?  Revive the Egyptian economy?  |  Cartoon by Luojie from China, Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

A ballot box as a defibrillator? Revive the Egyptian economy? | Cartoon by Luojie from China, Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Between April 2012 and March 2013, four of the five P5 nations with the Security Council veto at UN, will have a change in government. This probably more than in any similar period in history.

For a world, in the middle of The Great Recession, with a global leadership crisis, this period of uncertainty and change, does it mean hope? With empty agendas, greater resentments and despair is more probable.

Take Russia for instance.

A wooden-faced Putin, probably after a botox treatment, has become President amid street protests and allegations of vote rigging – purportedly, engineered by the US.

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russian president on Monday in a glittering Kremlin ceremony that took place less than 24 hours after protesters opposed to his rule had battled police in downtown Moscow.

Putin’s motorcade had sped through empty streets locked down by a heavy security presence on its way to the Kremlin State Palace, where some 2,000 guests had gathered to witness his inauguration for a six-year term.

Those assembled included Putin’s predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, and Patriarch Kirill, head of Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church. The patriarch later blessed Putin’s inauguration in a Kremlin service. Former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was also in attendance.

Police made 120 arrests as some 200 people, including Yeltsin-era deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, protested Putin’s return to the presidency at separate locations near the Kremlin.

Over 400 people were arrested and scores injured as Sunday’s rally against Putin’s rule turned violent when protesters briefly broke through police lines in a bid to take their protest to the Kremlin walls.

Putin was forced to step down in 2008 by a Constitution that forbids more than two subsequent terms, but is silent on further presidential stints. He shifted to the post of prime minister after installing Medvedev in the Kremlin, but remained by far Russia’s most powerful politician.

Russia’s Constitution was amended in 2008 to increase the presidential term of office from four years to six.

The amendment means that Putin could remain in power until 2024, longer than any Russian or Soviet leader since dictator Joseph Stalin. (via Putin Returns to Kremlin Amid Protests | Russia | RIA Novosti).

Soon after Vladimir Putin, it was the turn of France to have a new head of State. Right in the middle of a Euro-zone currency and banking crisis, a new French President has taken over.

Unlike the earlier German-French consensus over austerity, Hollande has made some noises against the austerity-led agenda. This opens a new wave of uncertainty across Europe – and the world.

What can embattled Euro-bankrupts expect? A taste of austerity? A helping hand with growth? What will Euro banks get? A haircut or a debt-cut? Euro-Corporations are left struggling with an over-valued Euro-currency, a stagnant home market and a weak global market.

In the meantime France and Germany are discussing how to manage European crisis.

Socialist Francois Hollande has defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential runoff by just over 1 million votes. He won 51 per cent of the vote against his rival’s 49. The president-elect has already pledged “to finish with austerity.”

Hollande will be the first French socialist president of France since 1995. He will be sworn in as new president of France on May 15.

Francois Hollande capitalized on France’s economic woes and President Sarkozy’s unpopularity. He has also promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than €1million a year, and lower the retirement age to 60.

Sarkozy, who has been in office since 2007, had promised to reduce France’s large budget deficit through budget cuts. It is only the second time an incumbent president has failed to win re-election since the start of France’s Fifth Republic in 1958. (via Hollande wins French presidency with 51.7% of votes — RT).

But Angela Merkel’s problems at home may make her more accommodating – or indecisive.

At the recent State elections, in May 2012, for North Rhine-Westphalia or “NRW” region, Europe largest state, also Germany’s most populous (13m), said a resounding ‘nein’ to Merkel’s party – the Christian Democrats.

This could either mean that Merkel becomes more flexible or worse, diffident. Soon after this wave of government changes across the world, Germany itself will be facing elections – between 27 August-27 October 2013.

These elecxtions are likely to be less than likely to be stabilizing  |  Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen of DryBones at Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image

These elecxtions are likely to be less than likely to be stabilizing | Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen of DryBones at Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image

But the Egyptians don’t have wait for so long. On Saturday, 16th June, Egyptians voted

in the first free presidential election in their history to make what many find an unpalatable choice between a military man who served deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak and an Islamist who says he is running for God.

Reeling from a court order two days ago to dissolve a new parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, many question whether generals who pushed aside fellow officer Mubarak last year to appease the pro-democracy protests of the Arab Spring will honor a vow to relinquish power by July 1 to whoever wins.

“Both are useless but we must choose one of them unfortunately,” said Hassan el-Shafie, 33, in Mansoura, north of Cairo, exasperated like many who picked centrists in last month’s first round and now face a choice between two extremes.

With neither a parliament nor a new constitution in place to define the president’s powers, the outcome from Saturday and Sunday’s run-off will still leave 82 million Egyptians, foreign investors and allies in the United States and Europe unsure about what kind of state the most populous Arab nation will be. (via Egypt makes stark choice for president – Yahoo! News).

Free and fair elections? Secret ballot? | Cartoonist - Marian Kamensky from Slovakia; source & courtesy - cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

Free and fair elections? Secret ballot? | Cartoonist – Marian Kamensky from Slovakia; source & courtesy – cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

Reports are Egyptians are already missing Hosni Mubarak.

While the Egyptian vote will be talking point in the Islamic world, for the Euro-zone, the election in Greece is more important. The day after the Egyptian election, on Sunday, June 17, 2012, the Greeks voted

in an election that could decide whether their heavily indebted country stays in the euro zone or is forced towards the exit, potentially unleashing shocks that could break up Europe’s single currency.

Opinion polls are banned in the final two weeks of the campaign but party officials’ own estimates on election day showed the radical leftist SYRIZA bloc, which wants to scrap the punishing austerity package demanded by international lenders, neck and neck with the conservative New Democracy party, which broadly supports it. (via Greek voters to decide euro future – Yahoo! News).

The one change in Government that is the most difficult to call is in China. The Chinese duo of Hu-Wen, who have presided over the biggest expansion in China’s economy, are at the verge of retirement.

Though they won’t be saying zai jian 再见 – good-bye, see you soon! Sometime between September 2012-November 2012, 3000 delegates of the Chinese Communist Party of China (CCP), will be meeting

For the new nine-member Politburo Standing Committee to be endorsed at the congress, which marks a transition of power after 10 years of rule under President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

People’s Daily, the CCP’s flagship newspaper, said on May 3 that “at present, the elections” of the 2,200-plus deputies to the 18th party congress are going as scheduled. By April 27, 12 provinces including Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Jilin and Shandong have already decided on their deputies (who in fact are not really “elected” democratically but nominated by grassroots party organs and decided by higher authorities).

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily also reported that deputies to the 18th party congress representing the PLA and the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP) have been nominated for the final approval of the Central Military Commission (CMC). There is no problem for other “constituencies” to complete their selections of deputies before June 30 – the set deadline.

The 18th party congress will be held “in autumn of this year”, in contrast to the official announcement of the CCP Central Committee that it would be held “in the latter half of 2012”. In China, autumn is generally considered to run from September to November.

It will be held in autumn or before the end of November following the party’s tradition. According to party rules and adopted practice, the current central committee will hold its last plenary session to endorse the agenda of the 18th congress shortly before its convention. (via Asia Times Online :: Rumor aside, a smooth transition is assured).

It is the economy stupid!  |  Caetoonist:  Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch at Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

It is the economy stupid! | Caetoonist: Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch at Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Definitely, the most widely covered government-change in the world, the American elections in November has set off an avalanche of speculation in world media.

Speculation has been let loose.

A nuclear deal with Iran? An organized retreat from Afghanistan? The eurozone picking up a little bit of steam? Stable oil prices? Forget it. The crucial foreign elector recruited for Obama II at the White House is one Osama bin Laden. Call it the “Obama nails Osama” winning strategy.

No wonder the winning strategy has been subcontracted to the Hollywood/Pentagon combo. Washington lost the Vietnam War, but won it in on screen. Oscar-winning director Kathryn Hurt Locker Bigelow had already started the process of “winning” the Iraq War on screen – at least morally. Now it’s time for her new project – an as yet untitled movie – on the “Get Osama” May 2011 Abbottabad raid and the events leading up to it. With POTUS (that’s president of the United States) as the hero of his own action movie. (via Asia Times Online :: How Osama re-elects Obama).

Obama is definitely worried about an asteroid like Euro-zone crisis derailing his campaign  |  Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant of The Hill, Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

Obama is definitely worried about an asteroid like Euro-zone crisis derailing his campaign | Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant of The Hill, Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Hollywood has been roped in. The hottest of Silicon Valley ‘brains’ have been called in. But, even then,

If the European crisis explodes or an attack on Iran drives up oil prices, the U.S. economy may tank and render moot all of Messina’s careful planning. Or the recovery could pick up steam, or the old gaffe-prone Romney could return and hand Obama an unexpectedly easy win. (via Messina Consults Jobs to Spielberg in Crafting Obama’s Campaign – Bloomberg).

Analysts have been reading the election-motive in the Chicago-Summit or the G* summit that Obama called for , in Chicago.

It believed that a worried

Barack Obama is to press German chancellor Angela Merkel to support a growth package to help bail out Europe at the G8 summit this weekend amid fears in the White House that the eurozone crisis could damage the president’s re-election chances.

Obama is scheduled to meet Merkel, the new French president François Hollande, the Italian prime minister Mario Monti and British prime minister David Cameron at Camp David on Friday evening.

But foreign affairs analysts said that Obama’s leverage with the European leaders is minimal on this issue. Although the US has the economic muscle to help Europe out of its mess, the Obama administration took the strategic decision not to become involved directly.

Instead, Obama is to use the Camp David summit for some quiet diplomacy, hoping to sway Merkel to endorse some immediate actions to help growth. The problem for Obama is that most of the initiatives being discussed in Europe are medium-term or longer, too late to help him if the European crisis impacts on the US economy in the fall, just ahead of the election in November. (via G8 summit: Obama to press Angela Merkel on eurozone growth package | World news | guardian.co.uk).

Soon after the US President is sworn-in to office by February, Pakistan will go for elections. Unless there is an army coup. Or a US invasion.

Probably, Pakistani Government is the only Government in history, which has taken the help of a foreign government, to invade its own country. It all boils down to

cessation of drone strikes is one of the two preconditions of Pakistan for ending the present standoff that has gone on for more than six months and has caused much tension. The second pre-condition is an apology by the US for the November 26, 2011, airstrike at Salala in North Waziristan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. After this ghastly “friendly fire”, Pakistan had closed the transit route for supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan. It remains shut because US President Barack Obama has refused to apologise, and it is doubtful that in an election year he can change his mind.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also faces election some four months after the presidential poll in the US. He is in no position, therefore, to give up either of the two preconditions prescribed by an all-party committee of Pakistan’s Parliament. The man most pleased with this intractable situation must be the all-powerful Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. Ever since the US attack on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden 13 months ago, the Pakistan Army has felt humiliated but has successfully turned the public anger over its failure to prevent the incident against America. The anti-American feeling within the Pakistan Army may not be as strident as among the public, especially the jihadis, but it is strong enough. The general can, therefore, sit back while the weak President is left holding the baby.

It is in this context that one must view also the big blow at the Nato Summit on Afghanistan in Chicago last month to the heavily fraught US-Pakistan ties. The US had seen to it that the invitation to Mr Zardari was delivered at the last minute, when it seemed to Washington that Nato supplies through the southern route would be resumed by the time the Pakistani President arrived at the summit.

When this did not happen, Mr Obama gave Mr Zardari a cold shoulder. At the opening of the summit, he did not even acknowledge Mr Zardari’s presence while welcoming Afghan President Hamid Karzai and even “officials” from Russia and Central Asian republics. Moreover, he denied Mr Zardari a one-to-one meeting. In Chicago, there was understandable concern that the widening gulf between the US and Pakistan might “complicate” the planned exit of Western combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

From then on, bilateral talks between America and Pakistan — which have not broken down even though there are senior members in both establishments who would like to end them — are focused on inducements to Pakistan to reopen the supply line. (via US-Pak: Separated, not divorced | The Asian Age).

On most matter, finally, Pakistan has the last word. Here also we will let Pakistan have the last word.

And a very important word, it may turn out to be.

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1857 – A Year in Hindsight

Posted in British Raj, Desert Bloc, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on April 23, 2012

Global power equations in 1857 favored the British. After a 100 years of continuous war, India’s global diplomatic presence was negligible.

Cartoon from the December 1857 Nick-Nax.  |  Source & courtesy - superitch.com  |  Click for image.

The pain of 1857 in America. Cartoon from the December 1857 Nick-Nax. | Source & courtesy - superitch.com | Click for image.

World in 1857

The year of 1857, was a remarkable period for Britain.

Germany was not yet born. With control over Indian gunpowder production, France had been comprehensively defeated – and relegated to second-grade power.

Haiti’s independence started a ripple effect across the Americas, Caribbean – and even Europe. Spain began losing most of its South American colonies. By 1857, Spain and Portugal were in steep decline.

America was preoccupied with slavery and its slow-genocide of the Native Americans. Ottoman Empire was not in expansion mode. Britain was well-prepared to militarily confront China and India. The modernization of Japan was just beginning.

That left only Russia to oppose or challenge Britain.

Beginning of the End

Russia was tamed by the Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856).

Britain, France, Austria, Ottomans, Sardinia (part of Italy now) combined against Russia. Nearly 600,000 killed in fighting, with disease or battle injuries, the Crimean War was fought by a trigger-happy Europe.

The Russian Foreign Minister, a German in Russian employ, Count Karl Robert Nesselrode, told Sir George Hamilton Seymour, the British ambassador that

“violence which had been supposed to be the ultima ratio of kings, , it had been seen, the means which the present Ruler of France was in the habit of employing in the first instance”.

Further, Count Nesselrode seeking British support pointed out that

France was forcing a confrontation and that in the conflict Russia would `face the whole world alone and without allies, because Prussia will be of no account and indifferent to the question, and Austria will be more or less neutral, if not favourable to the Porte’. Moreover, Britain would side with France to exert its superior naval strength, `the theatre being distant, other than soldiers to be employed as a landing force, it will require mainly ships to open to us the Straits of Constantinople [the passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean through the Bosplate and the Dardanelles], and the united naval forces of Turkey, England and France will make quick work of the Russian fleet.’

An interesting personage in the Crimean War was Hugh Henry Rose (6 April 1801 – 16 October 1885) at the British embassy in Constantinople as chargé d’affaires for the British.

Prevailing Complaint, from the December 1857 issue of the comic periodical, Nick-Nax. “Erie” refers to failing stock in the Erie Railroad & Canal.

Prevailing Complaint, from the December 1857 issue of the comic periodical, Nick-Nax. “Erie” refers to failing stock in the Erie Railroad & Canal.

On Indian Borders

Closer to India was the possibility of Russo-Persian alliance with Indian kings, to take on the British. And the British decided to counter that. Peace in Crimea came about after Treaty of Paris on March 30, 1856, at the Congress of Paris.

After this, the British took on the Persians in the Anglo-Persian War (Nov 1, 1856-April 4, 1857). The origins of this war itself are mired in confusing reasons.

One was the Persian military conquest in 1852 of Herat, now in Afghanistan, but many a time ruled by Persia also. For four years after Persian conquest of Herat, Britain kept quiet. Busy with the Crimean War. After the Crimean war, Britain saw the Persian action, as an extension of the Russo-Persian influence to Indian borders.

The other was the dispute in Persia over Hashim Khan and his wife. Hashim Khan, a part of Shah’s personal bodyguard, was married to the sister to one of the Shah’s wives. Hashim Khan’s wife, married twice previously, became the grist of European gossip  mills. The Shah’s administration preferred charges of deserter against Hashim Khan. The British Embassy provided Hashim Khan with diplomatic cover. The frequent visits to the British Embassy, by Hashim Khan’s wife became a subject of speculation.

The British sent an expeditionary force from India – and the British ambassador, Charles Augustus Murray, presented a charter of demands to the Persian Government. The expeditionary force from India captured coastal towns of Bushehr and the Kharg Island. After a few months of petty fighting in adverse weather conditions, the Anglo-Persian War ended with a treaty. Persia withdrew from Herat. All other issues became irrelevant.

On the Persian campaign were General James Outram, Brigadier-General Henry Havelock. Along with Hugh Henry Rose of the Crimean War, these three people played an important part in the 1857 War in India.

Using unparalleled brutality, they retained the British Empire after two years of ferocious fighting.

But before that

The British in 1857 reinforced their treaty of perpetual friendship with Amir Dost Mohammed of Afghanistan, the Treaty of Peshawar (1855) by an addendum.

Further Britain, withdrew huge amounts of money that were invested in the American markets – precipitating a financial crisis in US (see cartoons linked in the post). Much analyzed and discussed (including Marx and Engels), the 1857 financial crisis severely disrupted US economy.

Britain further reversed it earlier policy of licensing pirates – and instead moved to ban piracy by all countries. This made international waters safe for British shipping and naval force. Piracy was outlawed by The Declaration of Paris, in 1856, ratified by various powers. Initially by Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia and Turkey – but not by Spain, Portugal and the USA.

So, when India exploded into war against the British, it was pretty much alone. International alliances, trade, supplies, treaties were all on the British side.

Fighting against such overwhelming odds, Indian armies fought for nearly two years. Lakhs of soldiers died. Millions of civilians were killed by the British to cut-off Indian armies from their support base – and to force Indians to cease fighting.

The Day After

Th British Raj got the message.

The East India Company was wound up. India became a crown colony.

Overt religious expansionism was jettisoned. Queen Victoria went to great length to convince Indians that the British did not have religious ambitions in India. Christian conversion went intellectually underground. Anti-Indian history and propaganda was encouraged with false theories like Aryan Invasion (Max Muller), Caste System (Herbert Hope Risley), Aryan Conquest of Dravidians (Mortimer Wheeler) being the most prominent.

Another Terrible Failure, from the (New York) Picayune, November 7, 1857.  |  Image & courtesy - superitch.com  |  Click for image.

Another Terrible Failure, from the (New York) Picayune, November 7, 1857. | Image & courtesy - superitch.com | Click for image.

On the Home Front

At the beginning of the year, the British ended the Anglo-Persian War (Nov 1, 1856-April 4, 1857) British concluded peace with the Persian kingdom at Paris on March 5, 1857.

On 31st March, the 19th Native Infantry was disbanded for an earlier action (on 26th February) of holding an armed and un-authorized military drill at Murshidabad – the earlier capital of the Nawab of Oudh, near modern Kolkatta. The disarming and disbanding was done by the Queen’s 84th infantry brought from Pegu, at Barrackpur. This regiment from Pegu (now Bago), Burma, came by an Oriental steamer (later to become P&O) – ‘who made their appearance as if from the skies’.

It was on 5th April, that Mangal Pandey, of the 34th Native Infantry was hung to death.  On 3rd May, the 7th Reserve Infantry (irregulars) threatened to shoot their European officers in Lucknow. On 6th May, 1857, the Governor General’s order to disband the 34th Native Infantry regiment at Barrackpore were carried out.

After Tatiya Tope’s diversionary attack on Rose, and escape of Rani of Jhansi, British forces captured Jhansi – and after the loot, set it to torch. A field surgeon, Dr.Thomas Lowe, attached to the Madras Sappers wrote in 1860, how

The British soldiers were thirsting for vengeance. No maudlin clemency was to mark the fall of the city. The Jezebel of India was there, the young, energetic, proud, unbending, uncompromising Rani

Vishnukant Godse, an Indian traveller, whose Marathi account of the War, narrates,

I offered my evening prayers, ate a meal and went upstairs to see the condition of the city. And what a sight I saw! it looked like a vast burning ground. Fires were blazing everywhere and although it was night I could see far enough. In the lanes and streets people were crying pitifully, hugging the corpses of their dear ones; others were wandering, searching for food while the cattle were running, mad with thirst. All the houses in Halwaipura were on fire, their flames reaching the skies, and as no one was attempting to put them out other houses were catching fire too. I became sick and my head began to go round and round.

Caught in an updraft of cash flow from piracy, slave-trade, sugar-plantations using slave labour, opium, gold finds in Australia, Canada, South Africa (after 1857) – and India’s historic gold reserves Britain was in a unique position of financial prowess.

India paid the price for being positioned badly.

India and the Rise of Germany

Posted in European History, History, India by Anuraag Sanghi on February 27, 2012

As German nation took form in the crucible of European wars and feuds, for a national narrative, Germans turned to India.

Germany – nation and nationalism

The German challenge to the Anglo-French hegemony in the WWI and WWII has obscured German history – especially related to its formation.

For modern Germany, a key event in history was Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz (Dec. 1805). This ended Vatican’s role in Europe’s administration. The Holy Roman Empire, abolished in August 1806, after Austerlitz,  added up to thousand varied kingdoms, principalities, duchies, counties, ruled by assorted kings, princes, dukes and counts, appointed by the Vatican. These included some three hundred independent German state-lets.

To buffer France from Austria and Russia, the French Republic under Napoleon initiated, what European history calls secularization, between 1794-1804. In the secularization process, the French Republic, under Napoleon, took away Church lands in the Rhine region. The administration of these acquired lands was handed over to neighbouring larger rulers. Smaller rulers who lost were compensated by a process called mediatization – or by war.

'Luigi van Beethoven had initially planned on dedicating the Eroica Symphony to Napoleon - till he crowned himself Emperor.

'Luigi van Beethoven had initially planned on dedicating the Eroica Symphony to Napoleon - till he crowned himself Emperor.

In this process of secularization and mediatization (1795-1814), a Confederation of the Rhine emerged in 1803, under Napoleon’s protection. Prussia remained independent. For this consolidation and ‘secularization’ of Germany, Napoleon was respected figure in Germany.

After Napoleon’s defeat (1815), the reorganization of European States by the Congress Of Vienna, led to a larger Prussia along with 38 other states, known as the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund; 1815–1866). Instead of being a French protectorate, this larger German Confederation (Deutscher Bund) was put into the Austrian Empire’s sphere of influence.

The Prussian initiative

While European powers were deciding the future of Germany, what was the climate in German lands?

The German volk themselves saw benefit in German independence and unification of the Kleindeutschland (little or “lesser”, Germany) with Prussian king or the the Grossdeutschland (Greater Germany). Popular support for this idea came in the Wartburg rally (1817), the Hambach Festival (1832) and the German revolutions of 1848. The Frankfurt Parliament attempted to create a German Constitution (March 28, 1849), which did not work out. German unification was attempted by Prussia under the Erfurt Union (1850), but stymied by the Russia and Austria.

Over a period of 100 years (1806-1906), Prussia turned from a principality to nation and morphed into Germany, creating the ‘Borussian Myth’ – Prussia, Borussia in Latin, as the saviour of the Germanic people. The role of Prussian armies under Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, in Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo (June 18, 1815), ensured that Prussian importance would only grow.

One Prussian played a key role in this.

The Prussian initiative – Bismarck unites

In 1862, Otto Von Bismarck enunciated the ‘iron and blood’ Realpolitik doctrine. Realpolitik said that Germans and Prussia must be ready and willing to wage war and spill blood, if necessary.

From: European Politics in Transition - Mark Kesselman, Joel Krieger, Christopher S. Allen, Stephen Hellman - Google Books 2012-02-24 14-59-13

From: European Politics in Transition - Mark Kesselman, Joel Krieger, Christopher S. Allen, Stephen Hellman - Google Books 2012-02-24 14-59-13

To create Germany, Prussia had challenged and defeated major imperial powers of Europe.

First was Napoleon himself. The Prussian role, in the alliance of European powers at Waterloo, was crucial to Napoleon’s defeat.

After defeating Denmark (1864), the Prussians took on the largest European Empire – the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They too, were bested by Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War (1866). The French Empire, again after Waterloo, in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). This time the French Emperor was himself captured by the Prussian armies.

A unified and independent Germany under a Kaiser was ratified by the Treaty of Versailles of 1871 (26 February).

The German narrative

What the Germans lacked was a narrative of their nation.

At the beginning of the 19th century, popular literary figures in German literature, like August von Kotzebue (1761-1819) were completely unconvinced about the German nation. With more than 200 plays to his credit, translated in at least 13 languages, popular in France, England apart from Germany, Kotzebue was a European phenomenon. For his disbelief in the idea of the German nation, at the Wartburg rally (1817), Kotzebue’s books were burnt by eager student German nationalists. Kotzebue’s cynicism provoked a German enthusiast, Karl Ludwig Sand to finally murder Kotzebue.

Even on the intellectual side, respected academics like Hegel thought that the German nation as Gedankenstaat, a state which exists in thought and imagination alone, not in actuality.’ In yet another essay, Hegel sneered, “The vain idea known as the German Reich has disappeared.”

And this was not a German problem alone.

Ole Mother Hubbard

At the dawn of 19th century, European empires, found themselves with barren cultural cupboards.

World powers in their own right, with millions of slaves from Africa, after ‘successful’ genocides in Americas, swollen by hubris and military power across Asia, these European powers controlled capital flows of the world. Gold from the Americas, Australia, India and China gave economic depth to these imperial powers.

For these European empires, archaeology became a ‘playing’ ground.

The ‘Great’ Game

The new-born German nation also, needing ‘culture’, pushed other governments for excavation rights.

For the new-born Germany, the charge into archaeology, was a “national competition and a less belligerent realm for expression of resentment at Germany’s late leap into colonial activity.” Existing archaeological sites in Egypt and Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), apart from Italy, Greece, Turkey were already staked out by the Franco-British Empires. So, the German Emperor personally lobbied with other governments to obtain excavation rights in other countries.

For instance, in 1904, English archaeologist John Garstang (1876-1956) lost out to Hugo Winckler, of Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, (German Oriental Institute) supposedly at the intervention of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm-II for excavation rights at modern Boghazkoy.

These rivalries had a telling effect.

Britons and Frenchmen almost monopolized Egyptian excavation in the 1880s and the 1890′s, but then Germans, Americans, and Italians came in. The turning point came in 1905-1907 with a rush of American expeditions and the founding of the German Archaeological Institute … In Istanbul and its Fertile Crescent provinces, German activity in the army and railroad building spilled over into archaeology. The director of Istanbul’s antiquities service and museum in the 1870s had been a German. German excavations at Pergammon in 1878 and later at Babylon and later at the Hittite capital of Boghazkoi fanned Frenchmen’s uneasiness …

World War I aborted this promising beginning. German property in Egypt was sequestered. After the war, the dispute over Borchardt’s quiet export of the bust of Nefertiti to Berlin flared up. The Eyptians refused to allow German excavation or reopening of the German Archaeological Institute till 1929, when Herman Junker replaced the embittered Borchardt … he clung to his post until 1939 despite British accusations that he worked for the Nazis. (From Whose pharaohs?: archaeology, museums, and Egyptian national identity from … By Donald Malcolm Reid, pages 196-198; ellipsis, underlined text in parenthesis supplied. The rarely told complete story of Nefertiti’s bust.).

Germany alone, it is estimated, spent some four million marks, between 1899-1913 on excavations in the Middle East /West Asia.

After the founding of the Reich in 1871, archaeology became a national enterprise. The IfAK was taken over by the state, and eventually formed the basis of today’s Deutsches-Archaeologisches Institut. Rivalry with France and Britain extended to the scholarly realm, and resulted in governmental support for large-scale excavations by Ernst Robert Curtius at Olympia (1875-81), Carl Humann at Pergamon (1878-86), and eventually Robert Koldewy at Babylon (1898-1914) and Walter Andrae at Assur (1903-1914) in Ottoman Mesopotamia.[5] Wilhelm II was a particularly enthusiastic promoter of archaeology (pp. 192-199) …

Archaeology abroad grew ever more dependent on the diplomatic and financial support of the Reich for massive long-term projects … German prehistorians of the early-twentieth century also maintained that their countrymen represented the purest modern descendants of the ancient Aryans. Thus they contributed to the witches’ brew that would make up Nazi racist ideology.

Truth is stranger than fiction

Competition from Germany was especially very galling for the Anglo-French archaeologists and historians. Hollywood’s portrayals of the ‘German archaeologist’, even today are proof of this. Hollywood could not keep its hand off such a juicy set of characters and incidents.

To this odd and motley crowd of British, French, German and Italian archaeologists, add a character like Sheikh Hamoudi, and you have all the characters needed for a Hollywood potboiler – the Indiana Jones series.

Vendyl Jones, James Henry Breasted, Robert Braidwood, Hiram Bingham III and Roy Chapman Andrews became a mashed up Indiana Jones. For villainy, Hollywood drew upon German archaeologists like Hermann Junker (German archaeologist will do anything for artifacts), Otto Rahn (SS officer after Holy Grail), Ludwig Borchardt (German archaeologist ships home ‘stolen’ artifacts).

From: Christian examiner, Volume 78; Source and courtesy - books.google.co.in

From: Christian examiner, Volume 78; Source and courtesy - books.google.co.in

German archaeologists  became cannon fodder to build a Hollywood caricature as a villain – as Indiana Jones’ protagonist.

What gave this competition a cutting edge, was the Aryan ‘legacy’ that the Germans ‘discovered’.

For this idea of an Aryan nation, Germany turned to India.


Many Germans played a crucial role in this development.

A pioneer in this was Friedrich Schlegel in 1808, whose book Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (On the Speech and Wisdom of the Indians, Heidelberg, 1808) created the Aryan ‘industry’.

August Schlegel, a professor of literature at the University of Bonn from 1818, pursued oriental studies, and set up a Sanskrit printing centre. Between 1823-1830 he translated the Bhagavad Gita in Latin (1823), the Ramayana (1829), the Indische Bibliothek journal – with Reflections on the Study of the Asiatic Languages in 1932. The Swedish crown prince used August Schlegel’s services as a secretary from 1813-1817.

With August Schlegel, was Christian Lassen, who co-wrote a critical, annotated edition of Hitopdesa in 1829-1831. His biggest work was possibly the Indische Altertumskunde (Indian Archaeology), originally in four parts, during 1847-1861.

Baron Alfred von Gutschmid was another Orientalist who contributed to India and Sanskrit studies. Albrecht Weber’s was active in both Sanskrit and German politics .

The other leading light in Germany was Franz Bopp – author of Über das Conjugationssystem der Sanskritsprache in Vergleichung mit jenem der griechischen, lateinischen, persischen und germanischen Sprache (On the Conjugation System of Sanskrit in comparison with that of Greek, Latin, Persian and Germanic) in 1816, which was followed with many works on comparative grammer – between Sanskrit and other languages. Earlier, in 1812, the Bavarian government, financed Bopp for a study trip to Paris, in Sanskrit. There, in Paris, he joined eminent men such as Antoine-Léonard de Chézy (one of his instructors), Louis Mathieu Langlès, Silvestre de Sacy.

Georg Friedrich Creuzer, a professor of philology and ancient history at Heidelberg, did not endear himself to many, when in 1810-1812, he published Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker, besonders der Griechen. Going into 3 editions, Creuzer suggested that behind Homer’s and Hesiod’s mythology were Eastern sources. These ‘sources’ were the pre-Hellenic natives in Greece, the Pelasgians.

The Grassmann brothers, Hermann and Robert were active in German politics – especially during the 1848-1850 period. Hermann Grossmann’s translation of the Rig Veda is still in print. He was also a significant mathematician – which was usually dismissed as incomplete and inadequate presentation. It might be interesting to investigate, how much Hermann derived from Vedic mathematics – which would account for incomplete and inadequate presentation.

The three volume catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts, Catalogus Catalogorum, published between 1891-1903, documented the huge mass of writings in Sanskrit – by Theodor Aufrecht who was not active in German politics.

In Paris, there was Alexander Hamilton, the linguist (1762–1824), a British cousin of Alexander Hamilton, the U.S. Secretary of State for Treasury, under George Washington. In Paris, studying and writing on Sanskrit, Hamilton was for sometime tutor to brothers Schlegel – and assisted Charles Wilkins in translating the Hitopdesa.

There were other Sanskrit scholars and Indologists – whose contribution to German statehood was however minimal. For instance, sponsored by the Russian government, Otto von Böhtlingk (May 30, 1815 – April 1, 1904) a Russian-born, German Indologist and Sanskrit scholar, translated Pannini’s grammer, worked on a Sanskrit dictionary for some 23 years, in collaboration with Rudolf von Roth.

All these scholars were supported by their respective governments – August Schlegel by Prussia, Bopp by Bavaria, for instance. In 1885, Richard Garbe, a German professor at the University of Tübingen, was funded by the Prussian Government, for a trip to India.

Curiously, in India

The best known German Indologist of all time, Friedrich Max Mueller (1823–1900), is famous for never having set foot in the country that he studied and romanticized all his life.

Max Muller’s big role in all this was being the source of manuscripts. Many like William Dwight Whitney supported Max Muller, ‘because Muller’s access to manuscripts in England could prove useful to scholars such as himself’ – and he favoured those German Indologists who toed his line.

Duncker’s Aryan invention

Tying this output together, as a unified story, was an early attempt at creating a German history by Maximilian Wolfgang Duncker (1811-1886). From the publishing family that owned publishing house Duncker & Humblot,

Duncker’s history books started appearing in 1834 – with his Latin publication – De historia eiusque tractandae varia ratione (Translation – Treatment of Rationale for History). Duncker was a member of the Frankfurt National Assembly (1848-49) for the Halle electoral district. Duncker was active in the Gotha Nachparlament (1849) and also at the Erfurt Union Parliament (1850).

In 1852, his Geschichte des Alterthums (Translation – History of antiquity) went into reprints and a recent edition has been re-published. His Vier Monate auswärtiger Politik: Mit Urkunden (Translation – Four months of foreign policy: with documents) sparked a criminal case against him. His 1850 work Die Männer der Gegenwart: neue Folge. Heinrich von Gagern : eine biographische Skizze ; neue Folge (The men of the present: new sequence. Heinrich von Gagern: a biographical sketch; new episode in English).

Duncker compiled the considerable German academic activity in history and philology, to build an extensive narrative, drawing linkages from Greece to India. Using work of eminent Orientalists of their time, like Christian Lassen, Alfred Gutschmid, Duncker’s work preceded Hume’s work.

Duncker as a part of a publisher family, well-connected to the administration, meant he could draw upon the finest German minds of his time. For instance, Duncker shared his bachelor quarters with philologist August Friedrich Pott (1802-1887), an expert on Gypsy Romany language. Potts took care of Duncker, during this period, while he recovered from a bout of typhus.

Another of Duncker’s associate was Droysen (Johann Gustav), whose authoritative book on Alexander The Great, Geschichte Alexanders des Grossen (History of Alexander the Great), (Berlin, 1833 and other editions) pioneered the trend of equating power with greatness. Thomas Carlyle was to subsequently define “history of the world is but the biography of great men”. In Duncker’s inner circle was Hermann Baumgarten, an uncle of Max Weber.

Close to the administration, Duncker occupied various positions of great intellectual influence. Notably, he was the advisor to the Crown Prince, Friedrich Wilhelm (1831–1888) – later to Emperor Friedrich-III – for 99 days.

Maximilian Wolfgang Duncker - His work, position and activity brought him into contact with the movers and shakers of Germany. |  Mind map by InfoRapid Knowledge Portal on 2012-02-25 at 10-17-08  |  Click for a larger image.  For interactive image source, shortlink is  http://goo.gl/ZImBg

Maximilian Wolfgang Duncker - His work, position and activity brought him into contact with the movers and shakers of Germany. | Mind map by InfoRapid Knowledge Portal on 2012-02-25 at 10-17-08 | Click for a larger image. For interactive image source, shortlink is http://goo.gl/ZImBg

But Duncker’s biggest contribution to German ‘story’ was his Aryan narrative.

Max Duncker’s conversion of Yavana king Bhagadatta, to Greek king Apollodotus is at best fanciful. Duncker writes,

from the mention of the Yavanas as the allies of the Kurus, and Dattamira, i. e. Demetrius, the king of the Yavanas. This king reigned in Bactria in the first half of the second century b. c. (Lassen, loc. cit. 1, 557). Another king of the Yavanas who is mentioned is Bhagadatta, i. e. apparently, Apollodotus, the founder of the Grseco-Indian kingdom in the second half of the first century B.C. (Von Gutschmid, ” Beitrage,” s. 75).

Apollodotus, Apaladata on tho Arian legends of his coins, is no doubt the Bhagadatta of the Mahabharata, just as the Dattamitra there mentioned is Demetrius ; Vol. IV. p. 80, n. Among the Indians Menander appears in the form Milinda.

This invention by Duncker has continued from nearly 1860-2010 – for 150 years.

In Mahabharata, the Yavana king Bhagadatta’s elephant, Supratika, plays an important role in the battle of Mahabharata. Bhagadatta’s elephant, Supratika, named after a diggaj, the eight elephants that bear the burden of the world, a result of the Kshirsagar manthan. In which history did ancient Greeks use elephants and know anything about elephants. Capture, breeding, training, and use of war elephants was an Indian monopoly for many a millennium.

Also, Bhagadatta is clearly an important and historical character. Ruling families in Assam, North East trace their lineage to Bhagadatta.

‘Aryan’ history becomes fashionable

At the start of twentieth century, there were swarms of people wanting to study ‘Aryan’ history. Along with cultural dacoits like Augustine Waddell, Auriel Stein, there were the more academic types who wrote a book on India and ‘Near East’ – Nejstarší dějinyPřední Asie a Indie by Bedřich Hrozný.

By the 1920′s under a deluge of archaeological evidence, it appeared that Indian history would run away from its rulers – the British Colonial Raj.

Usurping Aryan Achievements

Aryan history of languages, culture, spread of civilisation, its science and technology appealed to many in the West – and especially White Supremacists.

One hilarious example of this kind Charles Morris, writer of The Aryan Race: Its Origins And Its Achievements. If this book was not a best seller, as ‘history’, it would surely have been best seller as a comedy. Another book – based on the Aryan Invasion Theory, was Lectures of the Arya by Albert Pike.

A set of books written by L. Austine Waddell – again had a single point agenda of usurping Aryan achievements and culture. Wadell declared, “the Aryan Race — now chiefly represented in purest form in North-western Europe.”

One of the first big hits from Hollywood was the 1915 film, DW Griffith’s ‘Birth Of A Nation’. This film on the ‘Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’ enjoys cult status. D.W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation was based on a book by Thomas Dixon, Jr. titled The ClansmanAn Historic Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, written in 1905. Dixon thought (from the book preface) that the rise of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was the “most dramatic chapters in the history of the Aryan race.” Later, this piece of racism was replaced by another phrase – “Carpetbaggers’ political folly” in the film. In the climactic scene, these KKK knights ride to the rescue of the Whites from North and South, to the blaring sounds of Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries.’

Yes, the same music – Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries.’

The common enemy of the united ‘Aryan Whites’ is the liberated black soldier. The original screen title gives the viewer the message: “The former enemies of North and South are united again in common defense of their Aryan birthright.” Remember, this was during WW1.

Thomas Huxley, the British  biologist, known also as ‘Darwin’s Bull-dog’ in “The Aryan Question,” published in the Nineteenth Century Magazine, 1890, page 766:—

“There was, and is, an Aryan Race, that is to say, the characteristic modes of speech, termed Aryan, were developed among the Blond Longheads alone, however much some of them may have been modified by the importation of non‑Aryan elements.”

After, WWII, it became politically incorrect for any White to call themselves as Aryan. That has not stopped White Supremacists, mainly gangs in USA, from calling themselves Aryans.

Today, the Jewish genocide is being blamed on ‘Aryan’ superiority – although, Europe has healthy and living tradition of anti-Semitism of more than 500 years. Evidently, in the land of the Aryans (India), the lack of religious persecution is not relevant. The precedent of Australian Aboriginal and the Native American genocides, Europe’s parallel, are ignored.

Greek Miracle vs Aryan achievements

While Britain and the France, for colonial reasons, were ‘discovering’ the Greek miracle, Germany and the USA started ‘discovering’ the ‘Aryan’ roots’ to Western civilization.

Martin Bernal, author of ‘Black Athena’ trilogy, analyzes Western “amnesia” towards African contribution to Western culture. His thesis traces this ‘amnesia’ to the replacement of Europe’s “Ancient Model”  (Egypt-Greece-Rome model) of historiography with the “Aryan” (India-Mesopotamia-Babylon-Assyria) model.

Simply speaking, the West replaced Egypt as the source of culture with the Aryans. Fact is, neither the cultural achievements of Egypt (from Africa) nor of the Aryan (from India) are for the West to arrogate to themselves.

A writer on this phase of history, Susan Marchand says,

“The Aryan industry, of course, burgeoned. Even the former Kaiser Wilhelm II, in exile, took up the study of the Orient … In a 1928 letter to his friend, the former emperor reported a recent conversation with Oswald Spengler in which Wilhelm had tried his best to convince the herald of Western doom that “we are orientals [Morgenländer], and not westerners [Abendländer].”

With Germany and America on the Aryan train, Britain was hard pressed to control Indian historiography. ‘Fresh’ evidence was needed to show ‘Aryan’ invasion. Indus Valley civilization provided that opportunity.

The task became easier, as Germany lost WWI, and the Ottoman Empire was carved out of existence. The rump state of Turkey went down the ‘Westernization’ path. Neither Germany or Turkey were in any position to oppose Anglo-French historiography. The Egypt-Greece-Rome-Europe axis dismissed the ‘Aryan model’ archaeologists as pan Babylonists. Colonialists have resisted change from the Egypt-Greece-Rome-Europe world view – which was called in question by the excavations and study by Friedrich Delitzsch, Alfred Jeremias, Peter Jensen, Eduard Stucken and Hugo Winckler, whose work has been obscured.

After WWII, the USA no longer supported the ‘Aryan’ model.

German industry gained rapidly after unification. German economy soon challenged Britain and France in industry and technology – without the benefits of the colonies. The Franco-British relationship was settled into an easy duopoly, by the time the German nation emerged. Spain was already an empire in decline and irrelevant to Europe’s power equations. The Dutch, Italians, Danes had accepted their role as junior partners.

That left Germany to confront Britain.

And also, note, Hitler’s name has not been used even once.

The ‘Great’ Game

Meshing and gnashing – The Clash of civilizations

Posted in Current Affairs, European History, History, India, Islamic Demonization, Media, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on February 16, 2011
Huntington's book gave pseudo-intellectual justification started the Western campaign of Islamic demonization. (Image source - http://www.bayesianinvestor.com/books; artist attribution not available at image source)


Mercenary logic

Samuel P . Huntington’s 1993 book, Clash of Civilizations, has a historical ring to it – a hint of something grand. An influential book, it ostensibly examined ‘conflicts between Western and non-Western cultures’ – and brought the phrase, Clash of Civilizations into limelight.

In the post-Soviet World, the book marked the launch of a new Western campaign – Islamic demonization. This book, released some four years after Rushdie-fatwa, provided pseudo-intellectual justification for West’s anti-Islamic campaign.

The America+NATO sponsored ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaign in Bosnia was underway, since 1992. Saturation media coverage of Monica Lewinsky and cigars effectively drowned President Clinton’s role in the initiation of the anti-Islamic campaign – and the news coming out of the Balkans. Deliberate diversionary tactics?

India’s co-option too, into this campaign was planned in significant detail – and successfully executed. 9/11 (September 11, 2001) was still 8 years in the future. The verbal trickery behind Huntington’s Clash of civilizations ‘package-deal’ has gone by without challenge or de-construction in India. This post will cover some Trojan concepts Huntington  smuggled into the mainstream.

A Basic Stance

For one, the definition of civilizations has to be beyond race, ruins and region. Instead, a definition  around differentiated structures – political, social, economic and ethical structures makes comparative analysis possible.

Civilizations tend to repeat political, social, economic and ethical structures. In the last five thousand years, only three civilizational models can be identified and substantially differentiated.

Desert Bloc

The world’s dominant model today, it has been able to nearly erase competing systems from the collective minds of the ruling elites in the world.

Signs of the Desert Bloc’s birth were first evidenced in the Assyrian Empire – its first laws codified by Hammurabi. Dating is contested, and best estimates are that the Assyrian Empire collapsed around c.600 BC. Seven of history’s largest empires used the Assyrian Empire, as a springboard.

The Desert Bloc extends from west of India, across Middle East, West Asia, extending to Central Asia and Eastern Europe – with its core in a region of 1000 miles radius of Palestine. Inventors of religion, world’s three important religions, (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) were born within 1000 miles radius of Palestine, in the deserts of Middle East. Each of these religions were, so to say, ‘backward compatible’. Islam recognizes Christianity, which uses Judeo-Mosaic texts for its foundations.

Anti-feminist, none of the three religions have female goddesses – unlike the two other civilizations specified below. Western Christian world gave women the right to vote, mostly between 1920-1950. Low levels of marital success are institutionalized – and instead prostitution levels are high.

The Desert Bloc depends on extreme competitiveness between its own factions to gain leadership – extending the analogy of survival of the fittest. Some of its defining struggles in the last 1000 years were Islam vs Christianity; Spain vs Portugal; England vs France; USA vs USSR.

Such factions spring up around deified leaders based on a sharp identity – race, tribe, language, region, religion. Significant leadership struggles have broken out between even intra-religious sects – like Catholics and Protestants, Shias vs Sunnis.

A significant marker of the Desert Bloc is concentration of wealth, power and land in the hands of these deified leaders and their inner circle. Unlike the two other civilizational groups, as we will see. This allows Desert Bloc factions to indulge in extremism. Over 90% of the world’s bloodiest wars, genocides, massacres, annihilations, are to the Desert Bloc account.

The Desert Bloc is differentiated by extensive use of slavery, rule by elites, conspicuous consumption (show piece buildings, spectacular technology) et al.

Driven by ‘at-any-cost’ approach, in the Desert Bloc, everything and everyone is expendable to attain leadership position. Driven more by accelerated creation and destruction, Desert Bloc sub-groups have short life spans (Achaemenid Iran, Greece, Rome, Mongol Empire). Greece, Rome, the Ummayyads, Abbasids, Mongolian Empire, Colonial Spain and Britain best represent the Desert Bloc.

Can different factions of the Desert Bloc, like the Christian West and Islam collaborate? The Islāmic Ottoman Empire and the Christian European powers could not get around to colluding with each other. Even the collusion between the Christian European colonizers was  difficult.  Unless it was over carving the spoils, dividing areas for exploitation – like Papal Bulls (between Spain and Portugal) or the Berlin Conference which triggered the ‘scramble for Africa.’

The  Afro Group

Apart from the Indic System, the only other civilization, the Afro Group could resist the Desert Bloc onslaught in the last 1000 years. The Afro Group successfully kept its identity, at a great cost, unlike Native Americans or Australian aborigines.

An iconic photograph of the Soweto uprising. (Image courtesy - le-regent.net; photographer attribution absent at source).

An iconic photograph of the Soweto uprising. (Image courtesy - le-regent.net; photographer attribution absent at source).

They successfully engaged with the Desert Bloc in Haiti, at Battle of Isandlwana (22 January 1879), by the Mau Mau in Kenya.

Monica Schulyer, an assistant professor of history at Wanye State University, (thinks) the name Mau Mau was itself a British invention and means nothing in Kenyan. Members of the independence movement called them selves the Land and Freedom Army.

In modern South Africa, on July 16, 1976, the ‘day began with a march by 10,000 students carrying banners and slogans, saying “Down with Afrikaans” and “Viva Azania” (the name given to South Africa by black nationalists)’. Soon the number swelled to ‘fifteen thousand school children involved in the protests (Tuttle 1)’, rose against imposition of Afrikaans language by White Apartheid rule. Known to the world as Soweto Uprisings, it is without parallel in the annals of history. In the very heart of the modern Desert Bloc – the USA, after centuries of slavery and discrimination, the Afro Group was able to roll back excesses.

Their robust ‘native’ intelligence best describes how Desert Bloc works. In Jomo Kenyatta words,

“When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

Another unit from the Afro Group, Cuba, far from its base in Africa, after breaking from slavery,  successfully resisted coming under political bondage of the Desert Bloc, for the last 100 years. In the ancient world, Carthage checked the spread of Desert Bloc, represented by Greece. Carthage allied with Rome to destroy Greece.

Before that, Nubians brought the Egyptian Empire to heel. The 25th dynasty from Nubia or Kush, south of Egypt (modern Sudan), ruled over Egypt for at least 75 years. Piye, earlier”Piankhy”the Nubian king invaded Egypt (ca. 746 BC) – and started the 25th Dynasty, that probably continued till 650 BC. He was succeeded by Shabaqo (ca. 716-702 BC) and his successors Shebitqo (ca. 702-690 BC) and Taharqa (690-664 BC).

Traditional African structures had diffused land and wealth ownership – unlike the Desert Bloc. There is little proof of concentration of wealth in African structures.

Both, the Afro Group and the Indic System have a much superior record of minimal environmental degradation. The Big 5 in animals – elephant, tiger /leopard, lion, wild bull, rhino exist only in the these two core geographies. Big Game hunters in Africa (from the Desert Bloc, where else) described 5 animals as the Big 5 – elephants, lion, buffalo, leopard and the rhino as the Big Five. These were animals that were difficult to hunt and kill (for pleasure, if you thought otherwise).

This ‘pleasure’ was the operating principle. As a result of this ‘pleasure’, there are only two parts of the world where such Big Five exist. India and Africa. China, the Middle East and of course Europe and America, have wiped entire continents of all these animals.

Modern history, under a Hegelian spell has ignored Afro Group history. Bereft of spectacular structures, visible ‘leaders’ or the recent decline in fortunes, the study of African history has been decided as unimportant.

Indic systems

Based on भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra platform. Indic systems focus on four freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh(liberty)and धर्मं dharma (justice), and stipulates unrestricted access to ज़र zar (gold), जन jan (people) and ज़मीन jameen (land).

Originating in India, based on platform of anti-slavery, distribution of power and diversity, this was the dominant ideology in the world till about 8th century. In Tibet, Songtsen Gampa, the 33rd king, became the first dharma-raja in 7th century – a follower of भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra . The Indic system has been in sharp retreat for the last 500 years – especially after Mughal rule in India. Inspite of sharp reversals in the last 500 years, half the world is still significantly influenced by Indic systems.

Militarily impregnable till about 17th century, Mughal rule established the first beachhead for the Desert Bloc in India.

Strong population growth based on widespread marital occurrence, strong and extensive family structures, are features that have sustained Indic systems in the society, even though some rulers defected to the Desert Bloc.

Indians worship every item of God's creation - not just cows. (Image source - Sri U.Ve. Prasanna Venkatachariar Chaturvedi Swamin)

Indians worship every item of God's creation - not just cows. (Image source - Sri U.Ve. Prasanna Venkatachariar Chaturvedi Swamin)

With diverse liturgical, beatification, sacramental practices, graded pantheism (local deities, semi-divine gods and goddesses with a top layer of the Holy Trinity), faith and belief do not occupy the space or importance that religion has in the Desert Bloc. These are within the realm of individual choice with scattered efforts at proselytization

The Indic system still has significant following in China and most of ASEAN region – notably Indonesia, Tibet, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka. The modern proof of this was the India Independence League (IIL) headed by Subhash Chandra Bose.

In recent times

Each of these megaliths have traditional spheres of influence.

Post-WWII world has been been seriously influenced by the Desert Bloc. The Desert Bloc split into two factions. The liberal-progressive, democratic, Judeo-Christian faction led by America. Significant parts of the world has moved to the Desert Bloc orbit, and adopted the religion of Westernization.

An interesting study is the post-WWII behaviour of the Euro-American faction. After WWII, as British, French and Dutch colonialists were being thrown out of Asia, in country after country, the West was in real danger of losing markets and raw material sources.

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image source - loonpond.com; artist attribution not available at image source)

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image source - loonpond.com; artist attribution not available at image source)

A new power, fueled by a growing migrant population, USA, took the place of tired, old powers – Britain, France and the Dutch. Instead of the openly-exploitative system of European powers directly running colonial governments in these Asian countries, the US installed an opaque system – which is equally exploitative. To impose its writ on the newly independent Asian countries, the US simply destroyed their  economies by war. The USA, then instituted the innovative USCAP Program and ‘helped’ these countries. These countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, et al) were now ruled by overtly independent regimes – but covertly, client states of the USA.

US multinationals and home-grown oligarchs (keiretsus, chaebols, etc.) took over the economy – and sidelined British, French and Dutch companies. To impose this economic model, US armies, using nearly 1 million troops, killed 50 lakh Asians. The takeover of European colonial possessions by the USA was handled over 3 regimes of Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson seamlessly.

Islamic units

The second faction is the Islamic faction. After the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, by the West, after WWI, new renegade groups supported by the West, sprang up. These renegade groups are using extremist  Islam to meld the Islamic faction into a more powerful factor in the global power equation.

Some of these Islamic regimes installed and supported by Western powers have been slowly drifting away from the West – like Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iran, etc. Some other regimes are longer able to call the shots – like the Saud family, or the Iraqi regime.

The other aspect of the Islamic faction is the geographical spread. The primary Islamic region is the Arab region, centred around Middle East /West Asia region. The secondary Islamic region is the Central Asia – earlier a part of the Mongol Empire. Walled in by China and Japan on the East, by Russia on the West and diverse countries in the South, it is a shadow of its former self.

The region with the largest Islamic population is South and South East Asia – concentrated across India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. The South and South East Asia Islamic region has a moderate and non-imperial history.

Hence these three regions (Middle-East region, Central Asian region and South /SE Asian) have evolved differently and have little in common. Hence, the image of the Islamic ‘world’ as a monolithic unit is misleading.

Big trouble in Little China

The other puzzle is classifying China. China under Confucian State model was solidly in the Desert Bloc. After the advent of Buddhism, as the Chinese people became landholders, as they obtained rights to own silver and gold, they moved to Indic system. Marriage and family systems became the norm – instead of exception.

After and under Mongols, for instance the Kublai Khan restricted silver and gold rights – and issued fiat currency. The Chinese State has mostly been Desert Bloc in its tendency. But the Chinese people have great faith in their Buddhist teachers. Will China become a staunch Desert Bloc member like Iran in the past, is still possibly an open question.

Even stevens!

The Assyrian thread

With Niniveh, (also called Asshur) as its capital, the Assyrian Empire, ended in 600 BC. The Assyrian Empire passed through many hands – recreating and renewing itself in the same mould. The name, Assyrian Empire was a Roman modification of Asuristan – the area of current Iraq.

The  Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BC) were the first successor power to preside over the Assyrian Empire, from their capital in Perspolis. Many wealthy Jews were envied for their vast slave holdings. Alexander ousted the Achaemenids to rule over the Assyrian Empire – effectively after the Battle at Gaugemela (331 BC). Daidochi Wars after Alexander’s death and attacks by Rome-Carthage alliance  led to the disintegration of Macedonian rule. Romans, added Western Europe, and ruled over the Assyrian Empire for the next 350 years (60 BC-285 AD), with its capital in Rome.

Rome formally lost the Assyrian Empire when Diocletian was forced to split Roman Empire in 285 AD. Eastern Roman Empire, well-known for its premier city, Byzantium (a cognate of Indian Vyjayanti) mostly had its capital in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) continued to gain power and wealth over the next 400 years.

Various Islamic dynasties (c.700-1300) ruled over large parts of the Assyrian Empire, with capitals mostly in Damascus, Baghdad, till they were deposed by Genghis Khan’s Mongols. After adding China, Mongol factions ruled over the Assyrian Empire for varying periods, between 1300-1600 AD over different parts of the Assyrian Empire.

It was the Mongols who helped in the rise of the West. First, was the trade in millions of slaves from Eastern Europe (the Slavs, hence slaves) by Venetian and Florentine traders, which funelled vast monies into European economies from Egyptian and Byzantine slave-buyers. This wealth from slave trade was the stuff of which tales are told. Shakespeare wrote of Merchant of Venice, Comedy of Errors, Gentlemen of Verona. Leonardo da Vinci,  architect Bramante, sculptor Donatello, Michelangelo, Titian and other famous artists found patrons with the earlier Visconti, powerful Medicis, notorious Borgias, lesser known Sforza (Milan), Pazzi and the Albizzi families. It was this slave-trade that fuelled Renaissance art and culture. Florence, Venice, Milan became major banking centres. Double-entry book keeping became standard, under which any kind of financial picture can be created. Quite unlike the Indian single-entry system.

Mongols brought to the West two major technologies. One, was the Indian decimal system and Indian saltpetre for gunpowder, was the other. Indian mathematics (initially outlawed by European rulers) is the foundation of Western science and technology. Indian gunpowder was their ticket to military power. Wealth from trade in African slaves, conquest, loot, annihilation of Native Americans, using gunpowder, fuelled a 500 year technology boom in the West.

The last significant dynasties that ruled over the ancient Assyrian Empire were Islamic Ottomans and the Christian Austro-Hungarian Empire. These two empires were dismantled after WW1 (1920) by Western allies.

Slavery rarely finds mention in Indian media. Much less is any discussion or understanding about the role of slavery in the rise of the West. A rare Indian columnist with awareness of the slavery factor. Even this discussion about clash of civilizations does not work.

Turning points in 20th century history

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on November 19, 2010
A poster advertising life of the "Abonos Nitrato de Chile" (Fertilizer Nitrate of Chile), 1930.

A poster advertising life of the "Abonos Nitrato de Chile" (Fertilizer Nitrate of Chile), 1930.

Gunpowder monopoly ends

Towards the end of 19th century, newly discovered nitrate deposits (sodium nitrate) in the Atacama desert of Chile came onto world markets. Chile’s nitrates were a crucial intermediate for gunpowder.

Chile’s nitrates broke the British monopoly over the trade in Indian saltpetre for the first time in modern history. French domestic production of saltpetre, barely enough for their own needs, could not challenge Indian saltpetre output that the British monopolized.

Indian saltpetre (potassium nitrate) could be simply refined and used directly in gunpowder – unlike Chilean nitrates. Also Chilean nitrates were limited natural deposits, whereas Indian saltpetre was produced on an industrial scale, accounting for some 70% of global production.

Germans quickly secured supplies of Chilean nitrates. A few years into the WWI, Germans brought the Haber-Bosch process from the laboratory stage to industrial production. The Haber-Bosch process for production of ammonia, gave Germans industrial capacity to produce gunpowder.

Causes for WW1

With this industrial capacity for gunpowder in place, Germany and Turkey, both non-colonial, industrialized powers challenged colonial powers, Britain and France, for access to world markets.

Diagram showing the world nitrogen quantities ...

Image via Wikipedia

The breakup of the Islamic Turkish Ottoman Empire was long seen (1890-1920) as an outcome essential for continued Anglo-French hegemony.

Funding WWI

Against Britain and France, the then dominant world powers, with extensive colonies, were Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire out of Turkey. Once WWI started, US funded both Britain and France. The US plied the Anglo-French alliance with extensive supplies and credit.

Emergence of USA

While millions died in European trenches, the USA bided its time. With mud, blood and disease taking a heavy toll, Britain, France, Germany, Turkey and Russia were soon exhausted and prostrate into a stalemate by the end of 1916. As the fate of WWI hung in balance, USA finally joined the Anglo-French side to gain a share of spoils.

 A soldier evacuated from the battlefront on a stretcher during WW1 - Image courtesy - bbc.co.uk. Click for larger image.

A soldier evacuated from the battlefront on a stretcher during WW1 - Image courtesy - bbc.co.uk. Click for larger image.

Financially unaffected, industrially strong, militarily effective, the US emerged on the world stage.


Soon after WWI, as Anglo-French colonies and markets started opening up, US products gained new customers. Indians started buying Chevrolets, Buicks, Packards in small numbers. Victrolas started playing music in India – and on India. Michelin’s radial tyres from France became a byword in India for long-life. Indian natural rubber started going to Italy’s Pirelli and France’s Michelin.

Impoverishment of India

But Britain, a victorious nation was deep in debt – to USA and Colonial India. US emerged as the largest creditor nation. To settle these wartime debts, debtor Britain and creditor USA worked out a debt-repayment ‘mechanism’. Nothing but financial jugglery, this mechanism slashed the amount due to Colonial India and actually transferred the debt-burden of WW1 onto the backs of Indian peasant.

To settle this debt, Britain took recourse to gold from India. To give impetus to this transaction US supplied Britain with silver – then in abundant supply, in the form of US silver currency coins. This silver was ‘sold’ to Britain at double the market price – under the guise of the Pittman Act. Britain paid its wartime debt to India with this silver – at this inflated Pittman Act price. Abundant silver coins were stuck by the Colonial Raj, which are still available across India in large quantities.

To settle loans taken from USA to fight WW1, Britain extracted scarce gold from India. While payments for Indian exports were made in overpriced silver, the Indian peasant was forced to pay for imports and taxes in under-priced gold.

Starving Indian woman with swollen ankles & feet because she suffers from dropsy as young daughter stands by with swollen belly from hunger during famine crisis. (Photographer - Margaret Bourke-White; Date taken-1946; picture courtesy - life.com). Click for larger image.

Starving Indian woman with swollen ankles & feet because she suffers from dropsy as young daughter stands by with swollen belly from hunger during famine crisis. (Photographer - Margaret Bourke-White; Date taken-1946; picture courtesy - life.com). Click for larger image.

Due to this overpriced silver-under-priced gold combination, a surge in gold outflows started from India. Soon the US banking system was flush with liquidity.

Great Depression

Expecting the closed markets of Anglo-French colonies to open up, US economy expanded trade relations and industrial capacity. This expansion in trade and production of industrial goods was funded partly on the back of inflows of gold from India through Britain.

Finally though, protective barriers did not come down substantially enough – creating industrial over-capacity and excess liquidity in USA. Seeing ‘irresponsible’ bankers, waste ‘hard-earned’ gold on ill-planned trade expansion and production capacities, the US Federal Reserve clamped down on liquidity.

Great Depression followed. To ‘save’ gold-reserves, Roosevelt went further and nationalized gold.

Crime in the 20th century

In turn, Roosevelt’s gold nationalization, sparked a global crime tsunami. Only after the easing of restrictions on gold ownership by 1990, did the crime tsunami subside. The axis of this tsunami of crime was gold smuggling into India and narcotics trans-shipment through India.

A tsunami that engulfed all major economies of the world.


Unresolved issues of WW1 triggered WW2. Germany hemmed in from all sides by British client-states, unable to find markets for its industrial production,  reacted.

Germany, allied with Japan and Italy, proposed creation of larger ‘home’ markets. This was to be done by ‘expanding’ their own borders – to include neighboring countries. As first steps, on 3 October 1935 Italy invaded Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, Germany on 11-12 March, 1938, swallowed Austria; and Japan occupied Manchuria.

The basic assumptions of all the European powers, Japan and the USA were the same. The Confucian-Platonic ideal of superior, wise rulers who ruled over ‘inferior’ peoples.

These militant powers shared the same disregard for human life. Britain wreaked havoc by creating The Great Bengal Famine. Some 40-50 lakh (4-5 millions) Indians died. Hitler rained the Holocaust on the Jews. Some 50-60 lakh (5-6 million) Jews died.

Same difference.

Three faces of stagnation

Production capacity of non-OECD world was destroyed by years of colonialism, WW1 and WW2. Economic conditions after WW2 improved due to relative peace and as countries of the world started rebuilding their economies in the last 60 years (1950-2010).

The last 60 years has seen significant increase in industrial capacity of non-OECD nations. US extended supplier’s credit – using the US dollar, the favored currency of the Bretton Woods system.

A significant portion of economic expansion of OECD economies during 1950-1980 happened as production capacity of the world was rebuilt. The same capacities that were destroyed by colonialism, WW1 and WW2 – especially during 1850-1950 period.


This creation of production capacity in non-OECD countries means economic stagnation and loss of political power for a few decades across OECD. With greater production capacity in the hands of non-OECD producers,  production capacity in OECD-USA must shrink.

Or a WW3 will be ‘needed’ to destroy the production systems of the poorest countries – to ‘save’ the West-OECD.

Creating false agenda's has become a full time job in the West with specialist think-tanks, media organisations and PR firms. (cartoon courtesy - http://polyp.org.uk). Click for larger image.

Creating false agenda's has become a full time job in the West with specialist think-tanks, media organisations and PR firms. (cartoon courtesy - http://polyp.org.uk). Click for larger image.

Red herrings

To get around this ‘problem’ of stagnation, the West has created artificial ‘crisis’ situations.

  1. Population Explosion
  2. Global Warming and climate change
  3. Civil Wars in Africa
  4. Islamic Demonization
  5. Terrorism
  6. Financial meltdowns

Complicating the current situation is the US currency mechanism, called USCAP (by 2ndlook) which favors selected US allies with advantageous exchange rates. China, Asian Tigers, Japan and NATO-Europe have gained significantly from the USCAP program.

The most notable loss due to trade distortion has been Africa’s.

Power Corrupts

During the 20th century, the world had to contend with an intolerable situation. The Anglo-Saxon Bloc (America, Australia, Britain and Canada) accounted for 80% of gold production (between 1200-1800 tons per annum) and controlled 80% of global gold reserves (around 100,000 tons circa  1920) also. Not even Chengez Khan had that kind of control over global economy.

Dawn of a new century

Things change.

At the beginning of 21st century, gold reserves in the hands of all the nation-States, are at a historic low. All the Governments in the world own less than 20%, i.e. 30,000 tons from global gold reserves of 150,000 tonnes.

Another 5 years of aggressive gold buying by global consumers will see this down to possibly 15%-17%. This will severely limit the ability of any State to wage a prolonged war.

A collapse of the currency systems in the world is imminent – in the next 5-15 years. Gold may give super-normal returns in the face of such an event.

Desert Twins - Westernization and Jihad. Problems both!

Desert Twins - Westernization and Jihad. Problems both!

Desert Bloc – beginning of the end?

The 20th century possibly saw the Desert Bloc reach its high-point. The world fully understands the bankruptcy of the Desert Bloc – and it may take some time for the effects of Desert Bloc propaganda to wear off.

Celebrations may, however, be premature. The alternate to Desert Bloc politics – भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra is yet to regain traction.

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