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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Fourteen

       "As Jackson struggled to rescue Armenians and as he watched their property and wealth being confiscated, Morgenthau was dealing with Talaat Pasha back in Constantinople.  He continued to try to reason with the minister of the interior, telling him that after the war he would have to meet with 'public opinion everywhere, especially in the United States.  Our people,' he said, 'will never forget these massacres. . . You are defying all ideas of justice.'  Not only was Talaat unreachable, but at one point, he changed the subject and made an astonishing request.  Knowing that many Armenians with American ties had life insurance policies with the New York Life Insurance Company and the Equitable Life of New York, Talaat said to the ambassador:  'I wish that you would get the American life insurance companies to send us a complete list of their Armenian policy holders.  They are practically all dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money.  It of course all escheats to the State.  The government is the beneficiary now.  Will you do so?'  Outraged by this, Morgenthau lost his temper, told Talaat he would never get such a list from him, and stormed away.

       But even Bernau had not seen what Aurora Mardignian experienced north of Aleppo in Diyarbekir, where the killing squads played 'the game of swords' with Armenian girls.  Having planted their swords in the ground, blade up, in a row, at several-yard intervals, the men on horseback each grabbed a girl.  At the signal, given by a shout, they rode their horses at a controlled gallop, throwing the girl with the intent of killing her by impaling her on a sword.  'If the killer missed,' Mardignian writes, 'and the girl was only injured, she would be scooped up again until she was impaled on the protruding blade.  It was a game, a contest,'  the traumatized survivor wrote in her memoir, and after the girls were dead, the Turks forced the Jews of the city to gather up the bodies in oxcarts and throw them in the Tigris River.

       As he watched from his office day by day, {Consul Oscar} Heizer was shocked at what Jesse Jackson had referred to as the Ottoman government's 'gigantic plundering scheme.'  Again, to Morgenthau, he described how the Armenian houses in Trebizond were 'being emptied of furniture by the police one after the other.  The furniture, bedding and everything of value is being stored in large buildings about the city,' he reported.  Since there was no attempt at labeling or properly storing any of these objects, Heizer reported, the idea that the government had any plan to return anything to the Armenians was 'simply ridiculous.'  Like Henry Riggs, who described Turkish women plundering Armenian goods in Harput, Heizer also watched a 'crowd of Turkish women and children follow the police about like a lot of vultures and seize anything they can lay their hands on.'  As soon as the more valuable things were taken out of a house by the police, the women and children would rush in and take the rest, leaving every house stripped clean.  'I see this performance every day with my own eyes,' Heizer wrote the ambassador;  'I suppose it will take several weeks to empty all the houses and then the Armenian shops and stores will be cleared out.'  And the government's commission, which was supposed to be overseeing all this, had no intention of returning any of the goods to the Armenians.
       Leon Surmelian watched his family life and his comfortable home with its Parisian furnishings and carpets and piano disappear overnight.  The young boy also watched in despair as the Turks confiscated his father's pharmacy:  'We almost wept when we saw the shutters of our pharmacy drawn in broad daylight. . . . Poor father, they had taken his pharmacy away from him,'  and everywhere, 'the city was dead, the stores closed, the streets deserted.'  When Surmelian escaped from captivity a year or so later, he sneaked back to his family's house, only to discover that it had been picked clean of every item.  As he walked the empty rooms he was haunted by the absence of what had once been his childhood home.  'Even the linoleum had been stripped off the floor,' he exclaimed.  He soon dicovered that every Armenian house in the region had been plundered and walls and floors torn up in the search for hidden treasures."  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian  pgs260-61, 262, 267.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Character of the Happy Warrior

Who is the happy Warrior?  Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be?
--It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright:
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is dilligent to learn;
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
But makes his moral being his prime care;
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
In face of these doth exercise a power
Which is our human nature's highest dower;
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
Of their bad influence, and their good receives:
By objects, which might force the soul to abate
Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
Is placable--because occasions rise
So often that demand such sacrifice;
More skillful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As tempted more;  more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
--'Tis he whose law is reason;  who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill,
And what in quality or act is best
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He labours good on good to fix, and owes
To virtue every triumph that he knows:
--Who, if he rise to station of command,
Rises by open means;  and there will stand
On honourable terms, or else retire,
And in himself possess his own desire;
Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;
Whom they must follow;  on whose head must fall,
Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,
Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
A constant influence, a peculiar grace;
But who, if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
Is happy as a Lover;  and attired
With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;
Or if an unexpected call succeed,
Come when it will, is equal to the need:
--He who, though thus endued as with a sense
And faculty for storm and turbulence,
Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
Sweet images!  which, wheresoe'er he be,
Are at his heart, and such fidelity
It is his darling passion to approve;
More brave for this, that he hath much to love:--
'Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
Conspicuous object in a Nation's eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,--
Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not--
Plays, in the many games of life, that one
Where what he most doth value must be won:
Whom neither shape of danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpast:
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead unprofitable name--
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause:
This is the happy Warrior;  this is He
That every Man in arms should wish to be.

                                             William Wordsworth

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reverse Harringtonism

     James Harrington, author of The Republic of Oceana, the Whig classic, is sometimes compared to Karl Marx because he saw a logical link between economic wealth and political power.  That is to say, Harrington believed that the wealthy should have more political power.  A good Harringtonian would say that people who pay more taxes should have more say in an election.  What the contemporary United States practices is reverse Harringtonism.  With Motor Voter, Americans who are on public assistance recieve more encouragement to vote than citizens that aren't.  In other words, people who are poor at making money are the people who elect our leaders.  Is it any wonder we elect spendthrifts who spend money like water? 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Hornet's nest

        Thomas Joscelyn at The Weekly Standard indicates that, contrary to previous claims by State Department officials, Al Qaeda was involved in the Benghazi attack that claimed the life of Ambassador Chris Stephens and three security staff.  Ben Qumu, a onetime inmate of Guantanamo Bay, has now been identified as being among those responsible for the attack, which was claimed at the time to be caused by a YouTube video, but is now thought to be linked to the Obama administration's arms smuggling to Syrian rebels.
         The Syrian nonsense has thus claimed four lives, and would have cost the United States far more had President Obama persisted in his intended goal of military action against Russia-supported strongman Bashir al-Assad.  The United States is overextended, both economically and militarily, and still shows no basic understanding of its limits in the twenty-first century.  We foolishly destabilized Egypt and Libya, and were we not checked, we would have stirred a hornet's nest in Syria.  Benghazi is proof that, even when one forbears smashing the hornets' nest, it may yet be stung.

Update:  Al Qaeda flag once again flies over Fallujah.  So much for Bin Laden's death being the end of the road for Al Qaeda.