THE FALL OF ATHENS. A BOOK REVIEW  

by Luca Zanchi
 
Some years ago, as I decided to transition from being a Diamanda Galàs’ devoted fan into a scholar studying her art, I struggled trying to understand her cultural roots. How is one to approach the grief, despair, love, longing for justice, courage, and violence that coexisted in such an unusual way in her haunted songs? It is women who seem to be able to turn weeping into controlled, often contemplative lament: “tears become ideas”, I read in a book titled Dangerous Voices: Women’s Laments and Greek Literature (1992) by Gail Holst-Warhaft, undoubtedly one of the most distinguished experts in Greek lamentation and in the relationship between grieving, art, and politics.
 
Love, death, departures, and the fall of great cities, are all recurring themes in the lament genre, and The Fall of Athens, Holst-Warhaft’s new book, incorporates them all into one “song about remembering”. Through a narrative which is both complex, and yet extremely endearing and accessible, she harmonically integrates  heterogeneous texts and literary genres: history, chronicle, classical theatre, autobiography, personal correspondence, poems translated or written by her (of which one is dedicated to Galàs). She leads us through a peculiar oscillation between past and present, personal and political life, stories and history.  She thus provides us with a glimpse of Greece that completes and challenges the classical idea of Greekness, which is too often oblivious of women’s cultural contribution, of popular culture brought through migratory flows, and generally of anyone who was born after Aristotle.
 
The Fall of Athens is also a passionate mosaic of emotional reminiscences, fragments of an intimate dialogue – as she writes, this book is about a country and a city I came to love. I sometimes think of Greece as an aging lover, his beard turned grey, a glint still in his eye.Through her work as a translator and her collaborations as a harpsichordist the author has achieved not only knowledge, but intimacy and political solidarity with Greek musicians, poets, playwrights and directors such as Mikis Theodorakis, Thanassis Athanassiou, Mariza Koch,  Karolos Koun, Iakovos Kambanellis, Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke.  A common thread binds them all, and it is the brave and uncompromising devotion to art, in a culture where, far from being just entertainment, art is dangerous – it can trigger revolutions among its audience,  and bring death and torture upon artists.
 
It is precisely the weaving work of a lamenter to commemorate, praise, denounce, instruct, by intertwining the different languages of prose, poetry, history and biography.  Holst-Warhaft masters these multiple narrative threads, binding the ancient Athens that once generated myths to the contemporary Athens drifting in godless despair. Yet, a spark of hope remains alive, since, as she writes in her book, “A country that bans not just political songs, but everything a composer has written must, I realized, believe deeply in the power of music.”
 
Dangerously empowering is the vibrant material of this book, which couldn’t be more timely for the political and cultural moment in which it has been published.
 
For certain people there comes a day
to utter the great Yes or the great No.
Whoever it is will quickly show
he has the yes in him ready to say;
 
And with conviction and honor, on he’ll go.
The no-sayer never repents what he denied;
he would say no again if he were tried.
Yet his life is weighed down by that proper no.
 
– C.P. Cavafy (translated by Gail Holst-Warhaft)
 
 
RECOMMENDED BIBLIOGRAPHY
 
Holst-Warhaft, Gail. Road to rembetika: music of a Greek sub-culture: songs of love, sorrow, and hashish. Athens: D. Harvey, 1975.
 
Holst-Warhaft, Gail. Dangerous voices: womens laments and Greek literature. London: Routledge, 1995.
 
Holst-Warhaft, Gail. The cue for passion: grief and its political uses. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.
 
Holst-Warhaft, Gail. The fall of Athens. Burlington, VT: Fomite, 2016.
Diamanda Galas
By KORNELIA GŁOWACKA-WOLF
19.06.2015 20:01
Głos nieprawdopodobny, o niewiarygodnej skali, świdrujący mózg, rozrywający serce – od pisku po charkot przez szept, jęk do krzyku, do tego zapętlona transowa muzyka – w Imparcie amerykańska artystka zaprezentowała ekspresyjny i mroczny “Das Fieberspital” oparty na tekstach Georga Heyma i jej własnych.

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Performance muzyczny, nad którym słynna Diamanda Galas pracuje od jesieni, będzie mieć oficjalną premierę podczas Olimpiady Teatralnej w 2016 roku. Teraz przedstawiła na scenie kolejny etap przygotowań, rzec można – spektakl niemal skończony, monodram poruszający, przerażający, dziki. W ramach pokazu work in progress artystka, dysponująca niezwykłą trzyipółoktawową skalą głosu, tylko czasami akompaniowała sobie na fortepianie, częściej tłem dla jej niezwykłego głosu były przetworzone, pulsujące rytmy o niskich i głębokich brzmieniach oraz infradźwięki zapętlonych wokaliz. A jej śpiew, mamrotanie i odgłosy sprawiały przejmujące wrażenie – nie do wiary, że mogły wydobywać się z ludzkich trzewi.Fragmenty poematu “Szpital malaryczny” Heyma – opisującego cierpienia pacjentów w ostatnich stadiach żółtej febry deklamowane po niemiecku przez Diamandę – dodatkowo pozbawiały widza cienia optymizmu.Spektakl odbył się przy wypełnionej po brzegi sali. Widownię zajęli zarówno miłośnicy teatru, jak i wystylizowani goci, przedstawiciele środowiska performerskiego i muzycy. Fascynacji nie krył też Nergal oraz twórcy industrialnej Job Karmy.

Wyborcza.pl Wroclaw News from Wroclaw

 

 

She sounded inhuman: the fascinating vocalist Diamanda Galás

as 06.19.2015 20:01

BY KORNELIA GŁOWACKA-WOLF

photo by Karol Jarek

 

An unbelievable scale, piercing the brain, bursting the heart – from the hoarse squeak to whisper, moan to scream, to the looped trance music – in Imparcie American artist presented the expressive and dark “Das Fieberspital” based on texts by Georg Heym and Galas’ own .

A musical performance, over which Diamanda Galas famous works will be officially unveiled at the Theatre Olympics in Autumn, 2016. Now she presented on the stage the next stage of preparation, so to speak – a performance almost finished– a monodrama– moving, scary, wild. As part of the work in progress show the artist
with the extraordinary triplophonic voice–only occasionally accompanied herself on the piano. Often the backdrop for her extraordinary voice was electronically warped, pulsating rhythms of low and deep sounds, including frenzied, looped vocals. And her singing, muttering and sounds gave a poignant impression – I could not believe that they could be extracted from human viscera.

Excerpts from the poem “The Fever Hospital” by Georg Heym , describing the delerium of patients in the last stages of yellow fever, declaimed in German by Diamanda Galas – further deprived the viewer of any hope of optimism.

The performance took place in a packed courtroom. The audience included both theater -goers and styled guests, representatives of the performerskiego and musicians. Also Galas did not hide her pleasure in meeting Nergal and industrial creators of Job Karma [who attended the performance].

Krzyki, szepty i jęki – demoniczna Diamanda Galas we Wrocławiu

Agata Saraczyńska
12.06.2015 12:25
A A A Drukuj
Diamanda GalasDiamanda Galas (Materiały prasowe. Austin Young)
“Das Fieberspital”, najnowszy utwór, nad którym pracuje Diamanda Galas, jedna z najniezwyklejszych współczesnych wokalistek, będzie miał oficjalną premierę podczas Olimpiady Teatralnej w 2016 roku, 18 czerwca jego fragment przedstawi w Imparcie.
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Krzyk, zawodzenie na przemian z diabolicznym wyciem bądź szeptem, czyli głos połączony z elektroniką i grą na fortepianie – tak zapowiada się performans muzyczny Galas.Tytułowy “Szpital malaryczny” to poemat Georga Heyma, niemieckiego poety urodzonego w 1887 roku w Jeleniej Górze.Twórcy nieprzystosowanego, nieakceptującego kierunku przemian społecznych, profetycznie opisującego upadek Niemiec. Jego tragiczna śmierć – załamał się pod nim lód, kiedy jeździł na łyżwach po rzece Haweli – zainspirowała Zbigniewa Herberta do napisania poematu “Georg Heym – przygoda prawie metafizyczna”.Diamanda Galas jest pod wrażeniem sztuki niemieckiego ekspresjonizmu i poezji Heyma: – Poemat pochodzi sprzed pierwszej wojny światowej, ale stał się metaforą losu ofiar powracających z jej frontów. Opisuje cierpienia żołnierzy w ostatnich stadiach żółtej febry, których zakaźna choroba traktowana jest jak kara za grzech, dopust boży. Podzieleni na zbiory, podzbiory, odczłowieczeni i ponumerowani, pozbawieni opieki oraz współczucia, czekają na śmierć, poddawani dezynfekcji i targani wstrząsami dreszczy. Umierających odwiedza ksiądz, namawiając ich do przyjęcia ostatniego namaszczenia za cenę przyznania się do winy i przyjęcia odpowiedzialności za chorobę.

Performans demonicznej Diamandy na razie jest w stadium “in progress”. Na początku roku dziennikarze i zaproszeni goście mogli Na Grobli posłuchać fragmentu ścieżki muzycznej.

Teraz – w czwartek 18 czerwca – w Imparcie artystka pierwszy raz publicznie przedstawi jego część.

Wystąpi na scenie w kilkudziesięciominutowym spektaklu, w którym grać będzie na fortepianie i śpiewać.

Impart (ul. Mazowiecka 17) 18 czerwca o godz. 20, bilety 40 zł.

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Diamanda Galás
Das Fieberspital
June 18th, 2015 in Wroclaw

Living in a Material World

Madonna fights back against ageism and sexism in the entertainment industry

Madonna performing at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards: “The disgusting comments towards her age and behaviour at the Grammys in February were some of the most regressive made towards a woman in recent memory.” (Photo: Kevin Mazur)

Would it sound better if I were a man? Would you like me better if I was?
— “Human Nature” by Madonna and Dave Hall

This simple yet poignant rhetoric was released as a vinyl-covered slap-in-the-face to the deeply mysoginistic criticism that dogged Madonna after the shockwaves of her notorious SEX book continued to reverberate through the mid ’90s. Nearly 20 years later, the same person receives the same criticism.

Though, the barbs are no longer for merely being a woman who wields her sexuality like a weapon and as a means of brilliant commercial manipulation. Now, the trailblazing frankness has become commonplace for a multitude of female (and male) artists to take for granted and exploit.

But the originator? She should retire gracefully. She’s clearly too old to still be acting like she has for the past 30 years. Right? Wrong.

Pop has long been a merciless arena and is typically viewed as a younger (wo)man’s game. Thematically, pop is about sex and vitality and if someone is able to survive that long in the most cut-throat genre of them all, then should they not be praised? Oh, just not if you’re a woman.

No one is definitively defined by their faith or their sexuality and Madonna’s ever-expanding body of work tirelessly reminds us of this. We can be many different things in our lives and age should never determine that.
Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Kurt Cobain all self-destructed under the pressure, but Madonna has always been too smart for that (a certified genius actually). That anyone could still be offended by her would be cute if it wasn’t a sign of how frighteningly puritanical this world still is.

The disgusting comments towards her age and behaviour at the Grammys in February were some of the most regressive made towards a woman in recent memory. Never mind that Angus Young can still strut around in a schoolboy uniform at 59, or that 88-year-old Tony Bennett can grind on Lady Gaga, or that the Rolling Stones have a combined age of 284.

If watching a nearly 60-year-old woman shake her ass in front of the entire world isn’t feminism, then I don’t know what is.

The comparisons between Madonna and Annie Lennox were mutually degrading. Lennox was praised for a more demure presentation and “acting her age”, while Madonna was shamed for wearing hot pants and being surrounded by a bunch of younger men. Both women, total icons of their craft, represented themselves as they always have: Lennox’s shattering vocal abilities swathed in elegant androgyny and Madonna’s powerful and joyful sexual glamour.

In her interview in the March 2015 issue of the Rolling Stone, Madonna says “It’s still the one area where you can totally discriminate against somebody and talk shit. Because of their age. Only females, though. Not males. So in that respect we still live in a very sexist society.”

But of course this is lamely distilled into two middle-aged women and how they behave. Has pop journalism become this creatively bankrupt that all it we can do is pit two successful and completely different women against each other? The critical need to compartmentalize people — especially women — remains nauseously fervent.

It is so much easier to digest a younger artist paying tribute before we wheel out the elderly originator to give them some condescending applause. Lady Gaga’s “respectable” tribute to the inimitable Julie Andrews at the Academy Awards this year was just that. Polished, surprisingly traditional, and frankly pointless. And to those that say that our sweet Julie was never sexual have clearly never seen the brilliant Victor/Victoria, notably directed by Andrew’s comically gifted husband the late Blake Edwards. It was a much more successful and liberating union than that of Madonna and the notoriously chauvinistic and homophobic Guy Ritchie.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to envision Madonna accepting some sort of tacky tribute. Sure, awards are thrown at her feet, but you just can’t see anyone but her doing justice to such an exhaustive back catalogue.

And why should we fault artists for wishing to create and emphasize new material? People change and so too should the art they create. Sinead O’Connor very publicly announced recently that she would allegedly never perform “Nothing Compares to U” (her biggest hit) in concert again, citing that “not all singers are actors” and that the song had lost relevant emotion for her.

And then there are the collaborators. Madonna has long been accused of merely harnessing the creative vision of a myriad of (usually male) producers. Sure, they are sought out to assist in production, but if you read the credits on her records since the Nile Rogers-helmed Like a Virgin, nearly every track is written and produced by her.

In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Bjork maintained that this remains a deeply ingrained and woefully sexist practice of the music industry. Women simply do not receive the deserved credits for songwriting and production. If Radiohead or Jay-Z seek out Nigel Godrich or Rick Rubin, they are viewed as nothing more than cool guys looking for the biggest producers to work with. But women are always merely the pop puppets. And Quincey Jones is arguably more responsible for Thriller than Michael Jackson was.

But what is it that makes many gay men love Madonna or any such diva so profoundly? I cannot attempt a proper psychoanalysis but can say that, throughout history, homosexuals have always been drawn to strong women and Madonna’s rejection of heteronormative labelling has always struck a deep chord. The sweep of Cleopatra to the chic bitchiness of Bette Davis have always rung truer than the pragmatic appeal of their male counterparts.

But much more than any projective fantasy, Madonna has been a steadfast ally to the LGBTQ community. When the diagnosis of being HIV-positive was a guaranteed death sentence and nearly every major public figure of the era wantonly looked the other way, Madonna — along with Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor and Diamanda Galas — roared in support of a marginalized people that were essentially decimated.

Her vocalized charity towards the matter has been labelled as “opportunistic” and “pandering” over the years. This is a malicious and cheap assessment. One only has to delve into the vulnerability that simmers beneath the pounding dance-pop of Erotica to hear the sorrow for the loss of a generation that made the lower east side a progressive eden for some of the greatest artistic talents of the 20th century. You may say that she’s a shrewd capitalist … of course she is. Who in the industry isn’t? John Lennon certainly didn’t die penniless.

The continuing word that is hurled at Madonna is irrelevant. How sad it is that the video genius, who brought so many underground sounds and images to MTV, now claws to be at the front of the pack she used to lead. Right? Wrong.

As technology develops so too does media and our methods for its consumption. I tend to remember the ’90s in a more positive light than most. There was a certain pre-9/11 idealism that celebrated ethnic inclusivity and equality — specifically on MTV of which Madonna was the reigning Goddess. Back when it, you know, actually aired music videos. This of course has given way to the entitled cynicism of the total media age that we live in. Everyone who can comment will.

Madonna is arguably more important than she has ever been. Why? Not only in releasing her best album in a decade, the sprawling and sublime Rebel Heart, but because people don’t know how to categorize her. Almost anyone who has achieved her level of superstardom is either dead or relegated to the mushy sentiments of some sort of lifetime achievement award.

It’s genuinely shocking for some to see a woman of her age continuing to be provocative, let alone talk about having sex. When I’m that age, I anticipate that stigma will have been vaporized by what she is doing now. In 20 years it will be commonplace for younger artists such as Miley Cyrus to continue to be sexual well into their careers, rather than strictly when they are in their twenties and the Logan’s Run diamond activates. Sure we can make yet another Terminator film and squeeze Arnold back into shape, but Linda Hamilton is no where to be found.

Madonna’s continuing rejection of categories and labels in a society that is rapidly developing a strangle-hold-like obsession with them continues to inspire and amaze. No one is definitively defined by their faith or their sexuality and Madonna’s ever-expanding body of work tirelessly reminds us of this. We can be many different things in our lives and age should never determine that. There is simply no precedent for a career like this.

I cannot wait to see what rules she’ll make and break in the next 20 years. Long may she reign.


Elliott Burton is a critic and columnist who is committed to creating and expanding film awareness.

He is also an accomplished mixed-media artist who graduated from PCVS’s Integrated Arts Program.

Elliott lives and plays in Peterborough.

You can follow Elliott on Twitter at @ElliottAnger.

Articles by Elliott Burton (38)

Read more here.

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State militant group attacked the ancient archaeological site of Nimrud in northern Iraq and damaged it with heavy vehicles, Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said Thursday.

It was the latest in a series of attacks on ancient structures and artifacts in Syria and Iraq that the group has destroyed in the name of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Last week, Islamic State militants videotaped themselves destroying statues and artifacts in the Mosul Museum and at the Nergal Gate entryway to ancient Nineveh. The militants captured the city during its offensive blitz through much of Iraq last June. “The terrorist gangs of ISIS are continuing to defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity after they committed a new crime that belongs to its idiotic series,” the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page, referring to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.

Continue reading the main story
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Nimrud is the sprawling site of a city founded by the Assyrian King Shalamansar I, who died in 1245 B.C. Among the most impressive objects at Nimrud are the colossal statues known as “lamassu,” mythological creatures that depict either lions or winged bulls with bearded human heads. Pairs of the 17-ton statues are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum.
Many of the massive Nimrud statues remain buried at the site. But the ISIS video from the Mosul Museum clearly shows at least one statue from Nimrud being defaced. And the site has many areas that archaeologists have not yet explored.

George C. Papagiannis, the Unesco world heritage officer in charge in Iraq from 2009 to 2011, said the loss of any artifacts from Nimrud was a dark blow to historical preservation. “These extremists are trying to destroy the entire cultural heritage of the region in an attempt to wipe the slate clean and rewrite history in their own brutal image,” he said.

He added that Nimrud was recently nominated by the Iraqi government to be placed on Unesco’s list of world heritage sites, locations chosen for their “universal value.”

Ihsan Fethi, a member of the Iraqi Architects Society, said, “I cannot even describe the immensity of this loss.” He added, “This is one of the most famous and probably one of the most important sites in the world.”

Nimrud is also famous for its bas-reliefs and steles that depict scenes of war and hunting as well as fantastical figures like bird-headed genies. Many of those are in museums. As well, Nimrud was the site of extensive excavations that yielded carved ivory, jewelry, crowns and other artifacts that are stored in the archaeological museum in Baghdad, which in recent days reopened to the public.

But the Nimrud site itself has suffered since the United States-led invasion in 2003, when it was virtually abandoned as Iraqi state structures collapsed. Looters stole and damaged many sculptures. However, Mr. Fethi said, the site was partly safeguarded by its remote location, and until now, its major structures were in good condition.

“Leaving these gangs without punishment will encourage them to eliminate human civilization entirely, especially the Mesopotamian civilization, which cannot be compensated,” the ministry added in its statement.

ISIS Attacks Nimrud, a Major Archaeological Site in Iraq
By ANNE BARNARDMARCH 5, 2015

It called on the United Nations Security Council to come to Iraq’s aid.

The destruction also comes on the heels of several years of wholesale ransacking of Syria’s ancient sites by many parties in the country’s chaotic conflict.

Mohammad Rabia Chaar, a Syrian writer and journalist now living in Belgium, said he had returned to Syria to support the uprising against Bashar al-Assad but became disillusioned in part because of the looting and destruction, and was eventually driven out by threats from Islamic State militants, before they in turn were largely driven from that province last year.

”Go and see Idlib, how all the ancient hills have been destroyed and looted, how bulldozers are digging.” he said. “The feeling of sickness is growing more and more, day after day, against these imperialist Muslims. Daesh wants people with no memory, with no history, with no culture, no past, no future.”

He said that while human lives were worth more than statues, erasing history and civilization was “killing them not physically but because of their thoughts.”

Omar Al-Jawoshy contributed reporting from Baghdad, Tom Mashberg from New York, and Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Lebanon.

Christian Genocide in the Middle East and Public Apathy in America
By Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou
Posted 2015-01-07 20:02 GMT
One of the last diplomats to leave Smyrna after the Turks set the great Anatolian port city ablaze in September 1922 was the United States’ Consul General, George Horton. Reflecting on the carnage and depravity of the Turkish forces tasked by Mustafa Kemal to destroy Smyrna’s Greeks and every physical semblance of their three-millennial presence in the magnificent city on the western littoral of Asia Minor, Horton wrote that “one of the keenest impressions which I brought away from Smyrna was a feeling of shame that I belonged to the human race.” The shame that Horton expressed stemmed from his shock and disgust, both as a witness to the Turks’ genocidal frenzy and as a diplomat aware that several Western governments, including his own, had contributed to the horrors that took place in Smyrna.
The destruction of Smyrna marked the dramatic, fiery climax–although it would not be the telos–of the Turkish nationalists’ genocidal project to annihilate the historic Christian populations of Asia Minor. The mass murder and mass expulsion of the Ottoman Empire’s and Turkey’s Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks from 1915 to 1923 marked the twentieth century’s first large-scale and systematic state-directed genocide, establishing a model that would inspire and be replicated by other criminal regimes throughout the following century. Moreover, the Turks’ policy of genocide encouraged imitation elsewhere, precisely because that holocaust against Christians was astonishingly successful and without penalties for the perpetrators. Indeed, the Turks not only achieved their objectives–the slaughter of three million Christians and the expulsion of another two million from their ancestral homes did, in fact, produce an essentially homogeneous Muslim Turkey–but they did so without any consequences, evading all accountability and any justice.

One of the chief reasons that Turkey escaped responsibility for its crimes against humanity was the complicity, albeit indirect, of several of the Western powers in those crimes. During the First World War, the Allies condemned the Turkish nationalist leadership that controlled the Ottoman Empire for its acts of genocide. However, once the war ended, various Western Allied powers (most notably France, Italy, and the United States), in pursuit of commercial concessions from the Turks, entered into diplomatic understandings with the Turkish nationalists, pushed aside and buried the issue of genocide, and even provided military aid and support to Kemal’s regime, thereby enabling the founder of the Turkish Republic to complete by 1923 the bloody “nation-building” project begun by his colleagues in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

Despite the duplicitous postwar actions of several Western governments, popular sentiment in those same societies was deeply sympathetic to the plight of Christians in the Ottoman Middle East. A remarkable variety of international relief and aid efforts emerged throughout the West, especially in the United States, in response to the humanitarian crisis produced by Turkey’s policy of annihilating its large Christian population. The extermination and expulsions of Christians–Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks alike–in Turkey were widely reported in the United States, producing strident calls by several prominent diplomats, politicians, influential religious leaders, scholars, and the press to respond decisively to the crisis as a moral imperative and a Christian duty. Two years before the US even entered the war, Americans had answered this call to action by organizing the highly publicized, nationwide charity that would become known eventually as Near East Relief, which channeled millions of dollars in aid to Christian survivors of the genocide.

In sharp contrast to the American public’s outrage over the Muslim Turks’ extermination of Christians a century ago, the most recent genocide of Christians in the Middle East by fanatical Muslims, under the moniker of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has witnessed a very different response in American society–apathy.

In the year 2014, ISIS launched a reign of terror against Arab and Armenian Christian populations reminiscent of Turkey’s genocide a century earlier. As Islamic State forces advanced across the northern arc of the historic Fertile Crescent (the territory stretching across northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq), ancient Eastern Christian communities were decimated. An undetermined number of Christians, many several thousands, were killed or enslaved by the Islamic State’s forces in 2014. In order to escape this fate, almost 250,000 Christians fled the areas occupied by the Islamic State. The Islamic State’s cleansing of the Christian populations under its control recalls and reiterates the project of nationalist Turkey, one in which nationalist Islamic forces functioned to create a homogeneous Muslim society in the territory under their control.

Tragically enough, the erasure of Christians in Iraq and Syria in 2014 is only the most recent episode in the wave of violence and persecutions against Christians that has been underway since the fateful United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 catalyzed the state failures and Islamist extremist mobilizations that are producing anarchy in the Near East. During the last decade of bloodshed and chaos in Iraq, and more recently in Syria, perhaps as many as 100,000 Christians have been killed and more than 1.5 million have been made refugees. As a result, Christianity now faces the possibility of extinction in the lands of its origin.

The American government’s response to this humanitarian catastrophe has been characterized by overt indifference. The Bush administration dealt with the embarrassing fact that its Iraqi misadventure had unleashed the destruction of the country’s ancient and large Christian population by ignoring and suppressing that fact. Simultaneously, the Bush government, either deliberately or through sheer folly, implemented occupation policies that undermined the security and prospects for survival of Christian communities in Iraq.

The Obama administration has continued and compounded the fecklessness of its predecessor administration. Most recently, in an effort to erase the humiliation produced by his reckless comment made in late July, that the White House had no policy to deal with the Islamic State, President Obama rushed to launch a policy initiative in early August. In a televised national address, President Obama announced that he had ordered military action against the Islamic State, rationalizing the move to limited air war in Iraq and Syria by invoking the US’ moral obligation to protect Iraq’s Yezidi religious minority from genocide at the hands of the Islamic State. The privations of the Yezidis certainly justified a response and aid, but the genocide and plight of the much larger Christian communities of Iraq, brutalized for more than a decade by the region’s mélange of Islamist extremist groups and actively and passively persecuted by the Baghdad government, were largely ignored in President Obama’s speech.

The US government’s indifference to the genocide of Christians in the Middle East is shocking, but, unfortunately, not surprising. The demonstrated disregard for the suffering of Christians in the Middle East by the administrations of Presidents Bush and Obama is entirely consistent with a double standard established by the moralizing hypocrisy of Woodrow Wilson in the midst of the first genocide of the twentieth century. In fact, American administrations have been willing not only to turn a blind eye to genocide against Christians in the Middle East; they have gone beyond that, by consistently supporting, at least since the 1980s, Turkey’s genocide denial efforts.

Yet, where is the public outrage? Although the US government has remained consistent in its indifference and duplicity on this subject, the attitude of the American public has undergone significant change. A century ago, the Turks’ genocide against Armenians and other Christians provoked public outrage and led to large-scale humanitarian relief efforts in the United States of America. A century ago, America’s civil society leaders, public intellectuals, and media mavens actively promoted awareness of the Turks’ crimes against humanity, and led popular initiatives to rescue Christians from death and suffering. The invocation in the public sphere of Christian duty and moral imperatives was sufficient to produce societal concern and action. In contrast, today, as the Islamic State completes the destruction of the historic Christian centers that Kemal’s forces did not reach, the American public’s response is one of apathy. The apathy is reflected in the measurable lack of public awareness campaigns and in the absence of activism when it comes to coverage about and support for the Christian victims of Islamist violence.

The cultural and intellectual currents, as well as official policies, that have aimed to expunge religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular, from the American public sphere have been corrosive for any commitment to respect for faith and, especially, for assigning value to the survival of Christianity in human civilization. Signs of America’s emerging a-religious culture has also been instrumental in explaining public misperceptions about the Middle East as home only to Muslims and Jews, thereby rendering reporting on Christians in the Middle East largely incomprehensible or meaningless. In a word, the cumulative social and cultural changes attendant to the specific drivers and modes of secularization in America go a long way to explaining the reasons for American public apathy towards the annihilation of the Mideast’s Christians. Indeed, the knowledge, principles, and the very language–“Christian duty,” for example–that produced widespread outrage and drove humanitarian relief in response to genocide against Christians a century earlier have no place in today’s public dialogue, and for some, are viewed as vestiges of an exclusivist American identity that must be terminated.

The domestic politics of faith and US foreign policy concerns regarding religion have contributed to a worrying cynicism in how Washington policymakers engage on the issue of the Middle East’s disappearing Christians. This past August, President Obama introduced the Yezidis–a group unknown to Americans, indistinguishable victims, free from any association with Christianity–to justify limited military action against the Islamic State. Given current American political sensitivities towards Islam and social changes generating ambivalence and hostility towards Christianity, the President (much as with his predecessor) made no clarion call for action to protect today’s Middle East Christians–a group whose experiences in the Ottoman Empire were marked by the same options–pay a poll tax, convert, flee, or be killed–that face the Yazidis and the Christians suffering in the ISIS footprint.

This year, 2015, will be a year of centennial remembrance and commemoration of the Christian–the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek–genocide. It will also be a year of genocide denial, already planned and launched by the Turkish state, as well as by Turkey’s apologists in the US government, American media, and academia. In recognition of this tragic centennial, as well as the unfolding genocide in the Middle East in our time, this blog will return to these issues in several postings throughout 2015.

Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou is Professor of History at Salem State University, where he teaches on the Balkans, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire.

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Today’s Assyrian date: 6764 ,21 (adar) ܐܕܪ

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Outcry over Isis destruction of ancient Assyrian site of Nimrud
Militants’ latest assault in Iraq described as war crime by Unesco and condemned as part of systematic campaign to erase millennia of culture

A look at the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud before it was looted and bulldozed by Islamic State fighters.
Kareem Shaheen in Beirut
Friday 6 March 2015 13.00 EST Last modified on Monday 9 March 2015 16.09 EDT

Activists, officials and historians have condemned Islamic State (Isis) for the destruction of the ancient Assyrian archaeological site of Nimrud in Iraq, with Unesco describing the act as a war crime.

“They are not destroying our present life, or only taking the villages, churches, and homes, or erasing our future – they want to erase our culture, past and civilisation,” said Habib Afram, the president of the Syriac League of Lebanon, adding that Isis’s actions were reminiscent of the Mongol invasion of the Middle East.

Iraq’s tourism and antiquities ministry said on Thursday that Isis had bulldozed the ancient city, south of Mosul, which was conquered by the militants in a lightning advance last summer.

“Daesh terrorist gangs continue to defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity,” the ministry said, using the group’s Arabic acronym.

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Detail of an Assyrian relief from Nimrud showing horses and horsemen of the royal chariot, 725BC. Photograph: Steven Vidler/Eurasia Press/Corbis
“In a new crime in their series of reckless offences, they assaulted the ancient city of Nimrud and bulldozed it with heavy machinery, appropriating the archaeological attractions dating back 13 centuries BC,” it said.

The destruction of the site, which became the capital of the Neo-Assyrian empire, was confirmed by a local tribal source speaking to Reuters.

“I condemn with the strongest force the destruction of the site at Nimrud,” Irina Bokova, the head of Unesco, said in a statement. Bokova said she had spoken with the heads of the UN security council and international criminal court on the issue.

“We cannot remain silent,” Bokova said. “The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime. I call on all political and religious leaders in the region to stand up and remind everyone that there is absolutely no political or religious justification for the destruction of humanity’s cultural heritage.”

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A sculpture of a guardian figure in Nimrud. Photograph: Nik Wheeler/Corbis
Nimrud was first excavated in the 1840s by the British explorer Austen Henry Layard, who unearthed the winged bull gatekeeper statues later sent to the British Museum. The site also contains the palace of Ashurnasirpal, the king of Assyria.

Many of the site’s relics are in the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and other reliefs, wall paintings, clay tablets and ivory furniture recovered in the 1950s and 60s are in Iraq’s national museum in Baghdad, said Augusta McMahon, senior lecturer on Mesopotamia and the ancient near east at Cambridge, and who has carried out excavations in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.

But the Nimrud site itself still hosts large numbers of reliefs and winged bull statues left in their original locations, and the palace grounds were reconstructed by the Iraqi government in the 1970s and 80s, said McMahon, adding that the winged bull statues in particular were probably targeted by the militants.

But she said Isis could not erase the ancient heritage, pointing out that the relics had survived prior invasions. “We still know the names and feats of Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal,” she said. “Similarly, the actions of Isis do not completely destroy memory, even while they destroy unique artefacts.”

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Mark Altaweel, a lecturer in near eastern archaeology at University College London, said the Isis attack probably targeted the palace grounds and the reliefs there. No imagery of the destruction has yet been released by the group.

A tribal source told Reuters that Isis members had come “to the Nimrud archaeological city and looted the valuables in it and then they proceeded to level the site to the ground.

“There used to be statues and walls as well as a castle that Islamic State has destroyed completely,” the source was quoted as saying.

Tom Holland, a historian, told the Guardian: “It’s a crime against Assyria, against Iraq, and against humanity. Destroy the past, and you control the future. The Nazis knew this, and the Khmer Rouge – and the Islamic State clearly understand it too.”

The site’s destruction is the latest assault by Isis against the ancient heritage of minorities that have coexisted in the Middle East for millennia. Last week, the group destroyed ancient Assyrian artefacts in Mosul museum in a video that triggered widespread condemnation and horror. The group had earlier also burned many priceless manuscripts at the city’s library.

Christopher Jones, a PhD student in ancient history at Columbia University who blogs about the neo-Assyrian empire, said: “What is at risk? Everything that doesn’t conform to the most strict Wahhabi standards of acceptability, anything that is beloved by people that Isis doesn’t like, anything that represents non-Isis interpretations of Islam such as Shiism or Sufism, and anything from before the time of Muhammad.”

Sanhareb Barsom, an official with the Syriac Union party across the border in Syria’s Hassakeh province, where the Assyrian community has also come under assault by Isis, told the Guardian: “These are not Assyrian artefacts, these are artefacts for all of humanity.”

Isis kidnapped more than 200 Assyrians in a sweep through villages south of the Khabur river last month, where members of the community had settled after the Simele massacre in the 1930s by the then-kingdom of Iraq.

“They are targeting a people as well as its history and culture,” Barsom said, calling for the intervention of international organisations to save Iraq’s heritage. “It’s an attempt to end the existence of a people in their ancestral land.”

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An ancient statue of a winged bull with a human face. Photograph: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
Thousands of Chaldeans, Iraq’s main Christian sect, fled their historic homes on the plains of Nineveh in the face of the Isis advance, escaping forced conversions. The militant group also attempted to starve and enslave thousands of members of the ancient Yazidi sect living around Mount Sinjar, triggering air strikes by the US-led international coalition.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Afram of the Syriac League. “No one did that before.” He compared the attack to that of the Mongol invasion of the Middle East, saying Isis militants were going further in their destruction of ancient heritage.

“This is as if they are specialised in erasing whatever signals that we were present in any part of this region,” he added.

Afram condemned the lack of action by the international community, saying there had to be a real military action plan, an inter-faith religious campaign to put an end to religious strife, security cooperation, and action by the “Arab armies” to end the crisis. He said the international community was treating the strife in the Arab world as if it were part of a “basketball game”.

“All this world, from the UN to the security council, really cares about nothing, they don’t care about people who are slaughtered on a daily basis,” he said. “I don’t believe that there is an international community, or that there are values anymore.”

David Vergili, a member of the European Syriac Union, said Isis had done “tremendous damage to the social fabric of the Middle East”.

He added: “Preserving cultural and historical heritage in Iraq and elsewhere should be a concern for the whole civilised world as the birthplace and epicentre of our civilisation.”

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BLACK SEPTEMBER
HELLENIC GENOCIDE

www.greece.org/themis/macedonia

The month of September brings with it the end of summer, the beginning of a new year on the Orthodox calendar, and the anniversaries of dates that have ravaged Hellenic civilization and culture. On September 14, we commemorate the Hellenic Genocide. We remember once again the Hellions of Asia Minor who were systematically murdered by the governments of the Young Turks and Mustafa Kemal Pasha.

The destruction of Asia Minor Hellenism began in 1071 when the Byzantine armies were defeated by the Seljuk Turks. In this historical event lies the origin of the Hellenic Holocaust which continues up to the present day. In 1453, Constantinopoulis fell to the Turks. The great, honorable, and brave Constantinos Palaiologos led 5,000 brave Greek soldiers against 80,000 Ottoman Turkish soldiers. The fall of Constantinopoulis, and the fall of the Empire of Trebizond eight years later extended the Hellenic holocaust to all Hellenic regions.

The Ottoman Empire brought with it massacres, torture, slavery, the kidnapping of boys for the Janissaries, the enslavement of women into the harems, and intolerable political and economic pressure that resulted in the further decimation of Hellenism. For even when Hellenes were not massacred, the destruction of Hellenism occurred with the loss of national identity. Conversions to Islam and Turkification contributed to the nightmare of the loss of independence and national sovereignty.

In May 1919, the armies of a a free and independent Greece entered the glorious and long suffering city of Smyrna. For a brief time it appeared that the extermination of the Hellenic race had ceased. During the First World War, the Young Turks began to murder the Hellenic populations in Asia Minor, along with the Armenians and the Assyrians.

Ultimately, Mustafa Kemal Pasha became an instrument of western imperialism and as such Turkish racism earned the unconditional assistance of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy. The murderous psychopath Mustafa Kemal was aided by the western powers while the Greek Army in Asia Minor was cut off by an embargo imposed by the western powers. In September 1922, beautiful Smyrna was conquered by the Kemalists and burned. Over 100,000 Greeks and 30,000 Armenians were slaughtered.

Special mention must be made of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Smyrna. This brave and noble Greek Orthodox Cleric supported the Greek liberators in 1919, and was a voice for the aspirations of a nation that had been enslaved, humiliated, massacred, and denigrated for centuries. When the news broke that the Kemalist aggressors would retake Smyrna, it became apparent that the Greeks and the Armenians would not survive.

Metropolitan Chrysostom was offered refuge by the French Consulate. This Saint refused the offer of safety and chose to share the fate of his flock. Metropolitan Chrysostom was handed over to a fanatical Muslim mob by the crazed and sadistic Kemalist General Noureddin Pasha. He was humiliated by having his beard cut off, and then his eyes, ears, nose, and hands were cut off. Metropolitan Chyrsostom was canonized as a Saint by the Orthodox Church of Greece in 1992. (He is very much AXIOS and deserves to be remembered and prayed for).

When the Kemalist-Young Turks murder machines ceased-over 1,500,000 Armenians, 1,000,000 Greeks, and 800,000 Assyrians had lost their lives. The decimation of Hellenism continued when the west supported Kemal’s plan to ethnically cleanse Asia Minor and Eastern Thraki of well over 1,000,000 Hellenes. In this day and age, we are inundated with stories of ethnic cleansing throughout the world, but there is still no recognition of the horrors that have been perpetrated against Hellenism.

Over 1,000,000 Hellenes were forced to abandon the land and homes where their ancestors and descendants had lived for over 3,000 years. This ethnic cleansing and Genocide was supported by the “civilized” powers in the west and legitimized by the Treaty of Lausanne. Today the world commemorates Aushwitz and the crimes of Stalin, but there are no memorials for the dead of Smyrna and Pontus in those ancient Hellenic lands.

On September 6, 1955 crimes against humanity took place in a country that was a member of the NATO alliance. The Turkish government of Adnan Menderes (of the so called “democratic” party) incited terrorism against the Hellenes of Constantinopoulis and Imbros. First, the Turks bombed their own consulate in Thessaloniki and then blamed the Greeks. Then they organized the fanatics, the criminals, and the parasites, and encouraged them to attack the Greek population, the Churches, homes, and businesses.

In Smyrna, Greek Army officers serving with NATO were assaulted and their wives violated. Throughout these terrorist attacks, the police did not interfere. On September 6 we remember the end of Hellenism in Constantinopoulis and Imbros. In the 1960’s, the Turkish authorities proceeded to finish the job by ethnically cleansing the last remnants of Hellenism.

During these attacks in Constantinopoulis, Imbros, and Smyrna, there were absolutely no condemnations, protests, or sanctions coming from Washington (that universal protector of “human rights” and “democracy”). Following the September 6 pogroms, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles wrote identical letters to Greek Prime Minister Alexander Papagos and Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes urging the “allies” to consider NATO. There was no sympathy for Greece expressed, nor was there any condemnation of Turkey’s blatant aggression.

Hellenism is today being eradicated in Cyprus. Over 200,000 Greeks have been ethnically cleansed in the occupied territories. In 1996, Turkish death squads murdered Cypriots Tasos Isaac and Solomos Solomou. As in Asia Minor in 1922, and Constantinopoulis in 1955, there is not a single protest emanating from the “civilized powers.”

Black September, a month to commemorate and recall our losses, and to reevaluate where Hellenism stands today in Cyprus, Macedonia, the Aegean Sea, and Northern Epirus. The losses of Hellenism have been numerous in terms of lives lost, and in terms of territory that has been conquered. Let us remember, commemorate, and mourn all that has been lost in Asia Minor and Constantinopoulis. Remember Smyrna and Pontus, and the victims of the Hellenic Genocide.

Documentation of the Hellenic Genocide
———————————————————-

Let us remember and honor the memories of those who worked to protect Hellenes, Armenians, and Assyrians from the Turkish aggressors. Let us honor prominent American officials such as George Horton and Henry Morgenthau who worked tirelessly to assist the refugees that fled from Asia Minor. Let us honor them also because their important work remains alive in their important writings and texts. George Horton documented the Hellenic Genocide in “The Blight of Asia”, and Henry Morgenthau documented the ethnic cleansing of Hellenes in his important, “I was sent to Athens”.

Further documentation and texts on the Hellenic Genocide include Edward Hale Bierstadt’s “The Great Betrayal” which was published in 1924, and which Turkish supporters in America worked to discredit. This is a powerful and moving document describing the agony of Asia Minor Hellenism. Journalist Edward Herbert Gibbons has left behind accounts of Turkish Genocide against Hellenism in his 1920 biography of Prime Minister Venizelos.

The American Hellenic Society, an early version of the Greek lobby in America has left behind an important document, “Persecution of the Greeks in Turkey” which describes in great detail the atrocities of the Greeks in Asia Minor during the First World War. Specific atrocities, statistics of the dead in various regions, numbers of victims deported and ethnically cleansed, and the names of Hellenic villages where the Turkish exterminations took place during the First World War are all recounted here.

The American Hellenic Society has also left behind a document submitted by Prime Minister Venizelos, “Greece Before the Peace Congress of 1919”, which was submitted to the victorious powers of the First World War. The Prime Minister makes frequent references to the exterminations of Greeks and Armenians in the case he put forward for the rights of Greece in Asia Minor and Constantinopoulis.

Marjorie Housepian Dobkin’s, “Smyrna 1922 the Destruction of a City” is a briliantly researched account of the events that led to the final extermination of Asia Minor Hellenism. Thea Halo’s “Not Even my Name” is a memoir recalling the Genocide that affected Hellenism in Pontus.

“The Miracle” by Leonidas Koumakis is an invaluable contribution to the documentation of the destruction of Hellenism in Constantinopoulis and Asia Minor. The author recounts the conspiracy against Hellenism during the 1950’s and 1960’s, and describes the ethnic cleansing of Hellenes by the Turkish state. “The Crucifixion of Christianity” by Dimitrios Kaloumenos is a recounting of the September 1955 pogroms in Constantinopoulis and contains numerous photographs of the destruction that serve as an indictment against the Turkish state.

“In 1992, Helsinki Watch published, “Denying Human Rights and Ethnic Identity, The Greeks of Turkey”. The document refers to specific harassment against the Greeks of Constantinopoulis, and Imbros and Tenedos”. The document is further evidence of the ethnic cleansing of Hellenism by the Turkish authorities.

Up to our own day, Hellenism remains under assault. The State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights” has documented the terrorist bombings against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the discriminatory closing of the Halki Seminary.

Cypriot Hellenism suffers under the Turks today. The plight of the Cypriots is recounted in the Documentary film, “Attila 74 the Rape of Cyprus” by film director Michael Cacoyannis. Furthermore, the destruction of Cypriot culture is described in the text, “The Occupied Churches of Cyprus” by a Greek Cypriot priest, Rev. D. Demosthenous.

You can find most of the above books at HEC bookstore www.greece.org

Let us remember the agony of Hellenism.

HEC-Hellenic Electronic Center
www.greece.org

The following article was submitted to us by Sofia Kontogeorge Kostos.

THE NEW YORK TIMES—Magazine, NOVEMBER 9, 1919

M A N D A T E S OR W A R?

World Peace Held to be Menaced Unless the United States Assumes Control of the Sultan’s Former Dominion

B y H E N R Y M O R G E N T H A U
Ex-Ambassador to Turkey

I am one of those who believe that the United States should accept a mandate for Constantinople and the sev-
eral provinces in Asia Minor which constitute what is left of the Ottoman Empire.I am aware that this proposition is not popular with the American people. But it seems to me to be a matter in which we do not have much choice. Nations, like individuals, are constantly subject to forces which are stronger than their
wills. The responsibilities to which individuals fall heir, are frequently not of their own choosing. The great European conflicts in August, 1914, seemed to be a matter that did not immediately concern us. In two years we learned that it was very much our affair. The impelling forces of history drew us in, and led us to play a decisive part. It we could not keep out of this struggle, it is illogical to suppose that we can avoid its consequences.

One of the most serious of these consequences and the one that perhaps most threatens the peace of the world is a chaotic Turkey. Unless the United States accepts a Turkish mandate the world will again lose the opportunity of solving the problem that has endangered civilization for 500 years.

The United States has invested almost $40,000,000,000 in a war against militarism and for the establishment of right. We must invest three or four billions more in an attempt to place on a permanent foundation the nations to whose rescue we came. An essential part of this program is the expulsion of the Turk from Europe and the establishment as going concerns of the nations which have been so long subject to his tyranny. Unless we succeed in doing this we can look for another Balkan war in a brief period perhaps five years.

Another Balkan war will mean another European war, another world war. It is for the United States to decide whether such a calamity shall visit the world at an early date. If we assume the mandate for Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire probably we can prevent it; if, as so many Americans insist, we reject this duty, we shall become responsible for another world conflagration.

Perhaps the most ominous phase of world politics today is that new voices are interceding in behalf of the Sultan and his distracted domain. The Government at Constantinople is making one last despairing attempt to save the bedraggled remnant of its empire. It has reorganized its Cabinet, putting to the fore men who are expected to impress Europe favorably; but it is not punishing the leaders who sold out to Germany and murdered not far from a million of its Christian subjects. The new Sultan has given interviews to the press, expressing his horror at the Armenian massacres, and promising that nothing like them shall ever occur again. More ominous than these outgivings is the fact that certain spokesmen in behalf of the Turk are making themselves heard in the allied countries. Again it is being said that what Turkey needs is not obliteration as a State, but reform.

Probably the financial interests which look upon Turkey as a field for concessions are largely responsible for this talk; the imperialistic tendencies of certain European countries are blamable to a certain extent, for, strange as it may seem, there are still many people in England, France, and Italy who urge that the
Turks, bad as his instincts may be, is better than the Oriental peoples whom he holds in subjection.

If we listen to these arguments, and to the fair promises of the Turkish Government, we shall put ourselves into the position of a society which fails to protect itself against the habitual criminal. Every civilized society nowadays sees to it that constant offenders against decency and law are put where they can do no harm. Yet the Turk is the habitual criminal of history, the constant offender against the peace and dignity of the world, and if we permit him to remain in Europe, and to retain an uncontrolled sovereignty, it is easy to foresee the time when a regenerated Russia will again be dependent on him for a commercial outlet, so that the dangerous situation of the world-order will be duplicated and perpetuated. We cannot hope sanely for peace unless America establishes at Constantinople a centre from which democratic principles shall radiate and illuminate that dark region of the world.

If we look at the Near Eastern situation we perceive that Italy and Greece are reaching out to such distances for territory and power that both, if their ambitions are gratified, will find themselves not only unable to govern the new lands they have acquired, but will be greatly weakened at home through expenditures in the maintenance of troops and Governments in their colonies. The danger is not only that the Balkans will
be more Balkanized than ever, but that Russia, too, will be Balkanized. The only safety lies in setting up a beneficent influence through a strong Government in Constantinople, which would counteract the intrigues and contentions of embittered rivals.

A brief survey of the history of Turkey in Europe will suffice to make clear the danger of accepting in this late day any promises of reform from that quarter. I have always thought that the final word on Turkey was spoken by an American friend of mine who had spent a large part of his life in the East, and who on a visit to Berlin, was asked by Herr von Gwinner, the President of the Deutsche Bank, to spend an evening with
him to discuss the future of the Sultan’s empire. When my friend came to keep this appointment he began this way: “You have set aside this whole evening to discuss the Ottoman Empire. We do not need all that time. I can tell you the whole story in just four words:Turkey is not reformable!”

“You have summed up the whole situation perfectly,” replied von Gwinner.

The reason why this conclusion was was so accurate was that it was based, not upon theory, but upon experiment. The history of Turkey for nearly a hundred years has simply amounted to an attempt to reform her. Every attempt has ignominiously failed. Up to fifteen years ago Great Britain’s policy in the Near East had as its controlling principle the necessity of maintaining the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire. The folly of this policy and the miseries which it has brought to Europe are so apparent that I propose to discuss the matter in some detail, particularly as it is only by studying this attitude of the past that we can approach the solution of the Turkish problem of the present.

From 1853 to 1856 Great Britain and France fought a terrible, devastating war, the one purpose of which was to maintan the independence of Turkey. At this time the British public had before them the Turkish problem in almost the same form as that which it manifests today. As now, the issue turned upon whether they should regard this question from the standpoint of civilization and decency, or from the standpoint of national advantage and political expediency.

The character of the Turk was the same in 1853 that it is now; he was just as incapable politically then as he is today; his attitude toward the Christian populations whom the accident of history had placed in his power was identically the same as it is now. These populations were merely “filthy infidels,” hated by Allah, having not rights to their own lives or property, who would be permitted to live only as slaves of the mighty Mussulman, and who could be tortured and murdered at will. All European statesmen knew in 1852 that the ultimate disappearance of the Ottoman Empire was inevitable; all understood that it was only the support of certain European powers that permitted it to exist, even temporarily.

It was about this time that Czar Nicholas I. applied to Turkey the name, “sickman of the East,” which has ever since been accepted as an accurate description of its political and social status. The point which I wish to make here is that as it was then. The Turk had long since learned the great resource of Ottoman
statesmanship—the adroit balancing of one European power against another as the one security of his own existence.

Yet, there was then a school of statesmanship, headed by Palmerston, which declare that the preservation of this decrepit power was the indispensable point in British foreign policy. These men were as realistic in their policies as Bismarck herself. Outwardly they expressed their faith in the Turk; they publicly pictured him as a charming and chivalrous gentleman; they declared that the stories of his brutality were fabrications; and they asserted that once given an opportunity, the Turkish Empire would regain its splendor and become a headquarters of intelligence and toleration. Lord Palmerston simply outdid himself in his adulation of the Turk. He publicly denounced the Christian populations of Turkey; the stories of their
sufferings he declared to be the most absurd nonsense; he warned the British public against being led astray by cheap sentimentality in dealing with the Turkish problem.

To what extent Palmerston and his associates believed their own statements is not clear; they were trained in a school of statesmanship which taught that it was well to believe what it was convenient to believe. The fact was, of course, that the British public was under no particular hallucinations about the Turk. But its mind was filled with a great obsession and a great fear. The thing that paralyzed its moral sense was the steady progress of Russia.

This power, starting as a landlocked nation, had gradually pushed her way to the Black Sea. There was something in her steady progress southward that seemed almost as inevitable as fate. That Russia was determined to obtain Constantinople and become heir to the Sultan’s empire was the conviction that obsessed the British mind. Once this happened, the Palmerston school declared, the British Empire would come speedily
to an end. It is almost impossible for us of this generation to conceive the extent to which this fear of Russia laid hold of the British mind. It dogged all the thoughts of British statesmen and British publicists. There appeared to be only one way of checking Russia and protecting the British fireside—that was to preserve the Turkish Empire. England believed that, as long as the Sultan ruled at Constantinople, the Russian could never occupy that capital and from it menace the British Empire.

Thus British enthusiasm for Turkey was merely an expression of hatred and fear of Russia. It was this that led British statesmen to disregard the humane principles involved and adopt the course that apparently promoted the national advantage. The English situation of 1853 presented in particularly acute form that question which has always troubled statesmen: Is there any such thing as principle in the conduct of a
nation, or is a country justified always in adopting the course that best promotes its interests or which seems to do so? As applied to Turkey it was this: Was it Great Britain’s duty to protect the Christians against the murderous attacks of the Mohammedans, or should she shut her eyes to their sufferings so long as this course proved profitable politically?

I should be doing an injustice to England did I not point out that the British public has always been divided on this issue. One side has always insisted on regarding the Turkish problem as a mater simply of expediency, while another has insisted on solving it on the ground of justice and right. The part of hu-manity existed in the days of the Crimean war. Their leaders were Richard Cobden and John Bright—men who
formed the vanguard in that group of British statesmen who insisted on regarding public questions from other than materialistic standpoints.

Cobden and Bright saw in the Ottoman question, as it presented itself in 1853, not chiefly a problem in the balance of power, but one that affected the lives of millions of human beings. It was not the threatened aggression of Russia that disturbed them; their eyes were fixed rather on the Christian populations that were being daily tortured under the Turkish rule. They demanded a solution of the Eastern question in the
way that would best promote the welfare of the Armenians, Greeks, Syrians, and Jews, whom the Sultan had maltreated for centuries. They cared little for the future of Constantinople; they cared much for the future of these persecuted peoples. They therefore took what was, I am sorry to say, the unpopular side in that day. They opposed the mad determination of the British public to go to war for the sake of maintaining the Turkish Empire.

The greatest speech John Bright ever made was against the Crimean war. “That terrible oppression, that multitudinous crime which we call the Ottoman Empire,” was his description of the country which Palmerston so greatly admired. Richard Cobden had studied conditions at first, hand and had reached a conclusion identically the same as that of my friend whom I have already quoted —that is, that Turkey was not reform-able. He ridiculed the fear that everywhere prevailed against Russia, denied that Russia’s prosperity as a nation necessarily endangered Great Britain, declared that the Turkish Empire could not be maintained, and that, even though it could be, it was not worth preserving.

“You must address yourselves,” said Cobden, “as men of sense and men or energy to the question— What are you to do with the Christian population? For Mohammedanism cannot be maintained, and I should be sorry to see this country fighting for the maintenance of Mohanmedanism. * * * You may keep Turkey on the map of Europe, you may call the country by the name of Turkey if you like, but do not think that you can keep up the Mohammedan rule in the country.”

These were about the mightiest voices in England at that time, but even Cobden and Bright were wildly abused for maintaining that the Eastern question was primarily a problem in ethics. In order to preserve this hideous anachronism England fought a bloody and disastrous war. I presume most Englishmen today regard the Crimean war as about the most wicked and futile in their national existence. When the whole thing was over, a witty Frenchman summed up the performance by saying: “If we read the treaty of peace, there are no visible signs to show who were the conquerors and who the vanquished.” There was only one power which could view the results with much satisfaction; that was Turkey. The Treaty of Paris specifically guaranteed her independence and integrity. It shut the Black Sea to naval vessels, thus protecting Turkey from attack by
Russia. Best of all, it left the Sultan’s Christian subjects absolutely in his power.

The Sultan did, indeed promise reforms—but he merely promised them. Despite experience to the contrary, the
British and French diplomats blandly accepted this promise as equivalent to performance. It is painful to look back to this year 1856; to realize that France and England, having defeated Russia, had a free hand to solve the Ottoman problem, and that they refrained from doing so. That absurd prepossession that this Oriental empire must be preserved in Europe simply as a buffer State against the progress of Russia entirely
controlled the minds of British statesmen—and millions of Christian peoples were left to their fate.

What that fate was we all know. The Sultan’s promises to reform, never made in good faith, were immediately disregarded. Pillage, massacre, and list continued to the chief instruments used by the Sublime Porte in governing his subject peoples. Again the Sultan maintained his throne by playing off one European power against another. The “settlement” of the Eastern problem which had been provided by the Crimean war last until 1876.

These twenty years were not quiet ones in the Ottoman dominions; they were a time of constant misery and torture for the abandoned Christian populations. Great Britain and France learned precisely what the “integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire” meant in 1876, when stories of the Bulgarian massacres again reached Europe. Once more Europe faced this everlasting question of the Turk in precisely the same form as in 1856. Again the British people had to decide between expediency and principle in deciding the future of Turkey. Again the British public divided into two groups. Palmerston was dead, but his animosity to Russia and his fondness for the Turk had become the inheritance of Disraeli. With this statesman, as with his predecessor, Turkey was a nation that must be preserved, whatever might be the lot of her suffering Christians. The other part, that played by Cobden and Bright in 1856, was now played by Gladstone.

“The greatest triumph of our time,” said Gladstone in 1870, “will be the enthronement of the idea of public right as the governing idea of European politics.” And Gladstone now proposed to apply this lofty principle to this new Turkish crisis. Many of us remember the attitude of the Disraeli Government in those days. We are still proud of the part played by two Americans, McGahan, a newspaper correspondent, and Schuyler, the American Consul at Constantinople, in bringing the real facts to the attention of the civilized world.

Until these men published the results of their investigations the Disraeli Government branded all the reports of Bulgarian atrocities as lies. “Coffee house babble” was the term applied by Disraeli to these reports, while Lord Salisbury, in a public address, lauded the personal character of Sultan. But these two Americans showed that the Bulgarian reports were not idle gossip. They furnished Gladstone his material for his famous Bulgarian pamphlet, in which he propounded the only solution of the Turkish problem that should satisfy the conscience of the British people. His words, uttered in 1876, are just as timely now as they were then.

“Let the Turks now carry away their abuses in the only possible manner, namely, by carrying away themselves.
Their Zaptiehs and their Mudirs, their Bimbashis and their Yugbashis, their Kaimakans and their Pashas, one and all, bag and baggage, shall, I hope, clear out from the province they have desolated and profaned.”

Gladstone’s denunciation stirred the British conscience to its depths. The finer side of the British character manifested itself; the public conscience had made great advances since 1856, and the masses of the British people began to see the Ottoman problem in its true light. Consequently, when Russia intervened in
behalf of the Bulgarians and other persecuted peoples, England did not commit the fearful mistake of 1853—she did not go to war to prevent the intervention. British public opinion at first applauded the Russian armies; when, however, the Czar’s forces approached Constantinople, the old dread of Crimean days seized the
British public once more. Again Englishmen forgot the miseries of the Christians and began to see the spectre [sic] of Russia seated at Constantinople. Again Great Britain began to prepare for war; the British fleet passed the Dardanelles and anchored off Constantinople. England again declared that the safety of her empire demanded the preservation of Turkey, and gave Russia the option of war or a congress at which the treaty she had made with Turkey should be revised.

Russia accepted the latter alternative, and the Congress of Berlin was the result. This Congress could have freed all the subject peoples and solved the Eastern question, but again civilized Europe threw away the opportunity. At this Congress England, in the person of Disraeli, became the Sultan’s advocate, and again the Sultan came out victorious. Certain territories he lost, it is true, but Constantinople was left in his
hands and a great area of the Balkans and a larger part of Asia Minor. As for the Armenians, the Syrians, the Greeks, and the Macedonians, the world once more accepted from Turkey promises of reform. Thus Gladstone and the most enlightened opinion in England lost their battle, and British authority again became the instrument for preserving that “terrible oppression, that multitudinous crime which we call the Ottoman
Empire.”

Had it not been for the Congress of Berlin it is possible that we should never have had the world war. The
treaty let Austria into Bosnia and Herzegovina and so laid the basis for the ultimatum of July 22, 1914. It failed to settle the fate of Macedonia, and so made inevitable the Balkans wars. By leaving Turkey an independent sovereignty, with its capital on the Bosporus, it made possible the intrigues of Germany for a great Orient empire. No wonder Gladstone denounced it as an “insane covenant” and “the most deplorable chapter in our foreign policy since the peace of 1815.”

“The plenipotentiaries,” he said, “have spoken in the terms of Metternich rather than those of Canning. * * * It was their part to take the side of liberty— as a matter of fact, they took the side of servitude.”

The greatest sufferers, as always, were the Christian populations. The Sultan treated his promises of 1878 precisely as he had treated those of 1856. It was after the treaty, indeed, that Abdul Hamid adopted his systematic plan of solving the Armenian problem by massacring all the Armenians. The condition of the subject peoples became worse as years went on, until finally, in 1915, we had the most terrible persecutions in history.

The Russian terror, if it ever was a terror, has disappeared. England no longer fears a Russia stationed at Constantinople, and threatening her Indian Empire. The once mighty giant now lies a hopelessly crippled invalid, utterly incapable of aggressive action against any nation. What her fate will be no one knows. What is certain, however, is that the old Czaristic empire, constantly bent on military aggression, has disappeared forever. When we look upon Russia today and then think of the terror which she inspired in the hearts of the British statesmen forty and sixty-two years ago the contrast is almost pitiful and grotesque. The nation that succeeded Russia as an ambitious heir to the Sultan’s dominions, Germany, is now almost as powerless.

Moreover, the British conscience has changed since the days of the Crimean and Russo-Turkish wars. The old-time attitude, which insisted on regarding these problems from the standpoint of fancied national interest, is every day giving place to a more humanitarian policy. Glandstone’s idea of “public right as the governing idea of European politics” is more and more gaining the upper hand. The ideals in foreign policy represented by Cobden and Bright are the ideals that now control British public opinion. There are still plenty of re-actionaries in England and Europe that might like to settle the Ottoman problem in the old discredited way, but they do not govern British public life at the present crisis. The England that will deal with the Ottoman Empire in 1919 is the England of Lloyd George, not the England of Palmerston and Disraeli.

For the first time, therefore, the world approaches the problem of the Ottoman Empire, the greatest blight of modern civilization, with an absolutely free hand. The decision will inform us, more eloquently than any other detail in the settlement, precisely what forces have won in this war. We shall learn from it whether we have really entered upon a new epoch; whether, as we hope, mediaeval history has ended and modern history
has begun.

If Constantinople is left to the Turk, if the Greeks, the Syrians, the Armenians, the Arabs and the Jews are not freed from the most revolting tyranny that history has ever known, we shall understand that the sacrifices of the last four years have been in vain, and that the much-discussed new ideas in the government of the world are the merest cannot. Thus the United States has an immediate interest in the solution of this problem. The hints reaching this country that another effort may be made to prop up the Turk are not pleasing to us. We did not enter this war to set up new balances of power, to promote the interest of the concessionaires, to make the new partitions of territory, to satisfy the imperialistic ambitions of contending European powers, but to lend our support to that new international conscience that seeks to re-
organize the world on the basis of justice and popular rights. The settlement of the Eastern question will teach us to what extent our efforts have succeeded.

If this mistake of propping up the Sultan’s empire is not to be made again, either that empire must be divided among the great powers—a solution which is not to be considered for reasons which it is hardly necessary to explain—or one of these great powers must undertake its administration as a mandatary [sic]. The great powers in question are the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. Of these only the first two are capable of assuming this duty. Lord Curson has told me personally that for political and economic reasons Great Britain cannot assume the Ottoman mandate. Lloyd George has said essentially the same thing. And Stephane Lauzanne, who speaks in a semi-official capacity for France, said, in an interview Nov. 1 with a correspondent of the times:

“In the offer of a mandate to her America should see more than the selfish desire of Europe to involve her in European affairs. It is true she fears to be the centre of intrigues and difficulties. She fears distant complications. However, the question is nobler and higher than that. America is an admirable reservoir of energy. She holds the secret of that which is best in our modern life—to build largely and to build quickly. She has youth; she has power; she has wealth; she has that which she calls efficiency. We in Europe are old,
poor, enfeebled, divided. It would be prodigiously interesting if America, after she has given us to her power, of her money and her material, should give us also an example.

“And what an example it would be if America were to accept the mandate for Constantinople! Here is a city which is one of the marvels of Europe and of the world, which is the jewel of the Orient, and which after twenty centuries of European civilization remains the home of wickedness and corruption. Every one disputes possession of its hills and harbors, and no one tries to make of it a great modern city which, rid of
international intrigues and rid of politics, would be the shining pole of Europe. Only America can transform Constantinople; only America can establish herself there without suspicion of bad faith and without jealousy; only America can civilize the capital of Islam.

“To do that America has no need of regiments of soldiers or of cannon. She has need only of her workers and her constructors. A Hoover or a Davison would be enough. And America is full of Hoovers and Davisons.”

I recognize the tremendous problems which confront us in our own country. Those problems must and will be solved. But the day is past when the individual citizen can permit absorption in his personal affairs to exclude the consideration of the community’s or the nation’s wellbeing. A new social conscience has maintained itself. And it is equally true that the United States, as a member of the League of Nations, must take an active and altruistic interest in world affairs, however pressing our own problems may seem. The European situation, indeed, is really a part of them. Our associates in the war cannot drift into bankruptcy and despair without involving the United States in the disaster. The losses we would suffer in money would be the least distressing, should the world fall into the chaos which is threatening. If we cannot solve our own problems and at the same time help Europe solve hers we must be impotent indeed.

So much, then, for the general principles involved; what are the practical details of such a mandate? Last May William Buckler, Professor Philip M. Brown, and myself joined a memorandum to President Wilson, outlining briefly a proposed system of government for the Ottoman dominions. This so completely embodies my ideas that I reprint it here, with two slight omissions:

“The government of Asia Minor should be dealt with under three different mandates, (1) for Constantinople
and its zone, (2) for Turkish Anatolia, (3) for Armenia. The reason for not uniting these three areas under a single mandate is that the methods of government required in each area are different. In order, however, to facilitate the political and economic development of the whole country, these three areas should be placed under one and the same mandatory power, with a single Governor in charge of the whole, to unify the separate administrations of the three States.

“Honest and efficient government in the Constantinople zone and in Armenia will not solve the problems of Asia Minor unless the same kind of government is also provided for the much larger area lying between Constantinople and Armenia, i.e., Turkish Anatolia. Constantinople and Armenia and mere fringes; the heart of the problem lies in Anatolia, of which the population is 75 per cent. Moslem.

“The main rules to be followed in dealing with this central district are: “1. That is should not be divided up among Greeks, French, Italians, &c. “2. That the Sultan should, under proper mandatory control, retain religious and political sovereignty over the Turkish people in Anatolia, having his residence at Brusa or Konia, both of which are ancient historic seats of the Sultanate. “3. That no part of Anatolia should be
placed under Greeks, even in the form of a mandate. The Greeks are entitled by their numbers to a small area surrounding Smyrna. Under no circumstances should Greece have a mandate over territory mainly inhabited by Turks.

“The above solution of the problem of Asia Minor means refusal to recognize secret deals such as the Pact of London and the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and especially the Italian claims to a large territory near Adalia. If Greeks and Italians, with their long-standing antagonism, are introduced into Asia Minor, the peace will constantly be disturbed by their rivalry and intrigues. Italy has no claim to any part of Anatolia, whether
on the basis of population, of commercial interests, or of historic tradition.

“No solution of the Asia Minor problem which ignores the fact that its population is 75 per cent. Turkish can be considered satisfactory or durable. The only two countries having any prospect of successfully holding a mandate over Anatolia are Great Britain and the United States.

“The large missionary and educational interests of the United States in Anatolia must be adequately protected, and it is illusory to imagine that this can be done if Anatolia is subjected to Greek, French, or Italian sovereignty.

“Only a comprehensive, self-contained scheme such as that above outlined can overcome the strong prejudices of the American people against accepting any mandate to cure the ills of Turkey and to deliver her peasantry from their present ignorance and impoverishment requires a thorough reconstruction of Turkish institutions, judicial, educational, economic, financial, and military.

“This may appeal to the United States as an opportunity to set a high standard, by showing that it is the duty of a great power, in ruling such oppressed peoples, to lead them toward self-respecting independence as their ultimate goal.”

The Armenians are wholly unprepared to govern themselves or to protect themselves against their neighbors. Mere supervision will not be adequate. What the Armenian State requires is a kind of receivership, and we should take it over to trust, to manage it until it is time to turn it over when it is governmentally solvent and on a going basis. Anatolia should be under a separate management and have its own Parliament; its Executive should be a Deputry Governor under a Governor General at Constantinople. The three Governments should have a common coinage, similar tariff requirement, and unified railroad systems; and in other respects should be federated somewhat as States in this country are.

The commercial importance of such an arrangement is enormous, for Constantinople must continue as Russia’s chief outlet to the world, and it is the gateway to the East. The commercial policy would, or course, be an open-door policy. All nations would have equality of opporturniy in trade and would be free in regard to colonization. As a matter of fact, the commercial situation is of little importance to us. Prior to the war our foreign trade amounted to only about 6 per cent. of our total trade; and although it increased during the war to about 11 per cent., it is likely to recede soon to the neighborhood of 8 per cent. It will consist largely of raw materials, such as wheat, cotton, copper, and coal, which other nations must get from us, whether or no. Foreign trade is a mere incident; our prosperity is not what we are fighting for.

It need not require the extension of large credits from us to put these nations on a sound footing. They could be financed by bond issues issued in each case against the resources of the territories involved. If the United States held the mandates, there would be no difficulty, I apprehend, in floating such issues. And as for the policing necessary, that need be very small, provided a man of strong will and quick decision,
fertile in resources and of unshakable determination, were assigned to the Governorship General at Constantinople. The opportunity would be a great one for an American completely imbued with our institutions. The succession of able pro-Consuls whom we have sent to the Philippines shows that we shall not lack such men. We shall surrender our mandates over these three territories when we have finished our work. We shall not necessarily leave them all at the same time; we shall turn each one over to its people
when the public opinion of the world, expressed in the League of Nations, has decided that it is capable of directing its own affairs. It might be necessary for us to remain in Constantinople longer than elsewhere, and there is reason to suppose that Constantinople will become the Washington of the Balkans and perhaps of Asia Minor, the central governing power of the Balkan confederation. But if left without the guidance and help of outside intelligence and capital, those peoples will necessarily continue to retrograde. They must have security of property if they are to have an incentive to labor. Unless they have that, the blight of Souteastern Europe will remain, and the Turks, originally a marauding band of conquerors, who have held a precarious and undeserved footing for more than 500 years on European soil, will continue to menace its peace and safety. If ever there was a chance to put them out, we have that chance now. The United States is the only Government which can undertake the purification of the Balkans without incurring ill-will and jealousy. We need not indulge in over polite phrases. This is the only nation which can accept these mandates and maintain international good feeling. It is absosutely our fault if the Turk remains in Europe.

The difficulties inherent in this situation can be cured only at the source. The League of Nations, when it comes into being, must not operate exclusively through a central agency at Geneva, because it cannot learn in that way the real difficulties and the wants of dependent peoples. That can be done only in the directest [sic] way, through representatives on the spot. The people, moreover, want to be heard. They are wonderfully relieved after they have had their say. That fact has its touch of pathos, perhaps to some a touch of the ridiculous; bit of a factor of the human equasion [sic] which we cannot afford to ignore. And if we supply
American tribunals, disinterested and just, before which these peoples can state their grievances and their aspirations, we will have taken a long step toward their pacification and stabilization.

###

Typed word for word. (SKK)

(For educational, archival and “fair use” purposes only.)

Please see:

· The New York Times, Editorial -“The Turkish Mandate” – November 9, 1919

· The New York Times – Front Page – By Henry Morgenthau, Ex-Ambassador to Turkey –

“Turk’s Eyes on Europe, Says our Ex-Ambassador” – November 12, 1922 –