Published on 30 Apr 2016
Check out HistoryBuffs review of Lawrence of Arabia: http://bit.ly/NickOfArabia
Big thank you to Nick from History Buffs for this collaboration. It was really fun!
T.E. Lawrence better known as Lawrence of Arabia is one of the biggest legends of World War 1. His adventures in the Middle East during the Arab Revolt were made into a movie and a bestselling book. But how did Lawrence actually end up in Cairo? And what was his relationship with Faisal?
May 1, 2016
April 29, 2016
Published on 28 Apr 2016
The secret agreement between France, Britain and Russia that was signed this week 100 years ago was a turning point in the relations to the Arab world. It negated all future promises made by the British and still has consequences 100 years later. The Middle East was becoming more and more important to the British in 1916 and people like T.E. Lawrence are starting to become major players in the background.
April 27, 2016
Published on 26 Mar 2016
The victorious Suleiman begins to consolidate his empire and his home. With Ibrahim and his favorite concubine, Roxelana, by his side, he reorganizes the empire and begins his great work: a book of laws. But Hungary still stands untaken, and he must have it.
Suleiman had made so many decisions out of earnest love, but now he could only look back with regret…
Suleiman returned from his campaigns to find that two of his sons had died of illness that year, but also that his favorite concubine had borne him a new son. Her name was Roxelana, and although she was only a Polish slave, he loved her deeply and soon elevated her to become his legal wife, the Hürrem Sultan. He also promoted his best friend, Ibrahim, up the ranks until he finally appointed him grand vizier. With these two ruling at his side, he felt ready to take on the world. But Ahmed Pasha, his second vizier, was jealous of Ibrahim. He’d expected to get the position of grand vizier for himself, and when he didn’t, he asked for a governorship of Egypt instead – which he then used to mount a rebellion against Suleiman. His rebellion triggered a wave of uprisings through the empire. Suleiman sent Ibrahim to quell them all, which he did, and then reorganized the provinces to break up the power blocs that had acted against his sultan. At the same time, Suleiman had begun working on a great work of law, reforming the hodgepodge legal heritage of the Ottmans into a unified code that would guide the empire for the rest of its days. While it was still in progress, he saw an opportunity to reach for Hungary again and he took it. His troops marched through a torrential downpour of rain until they encountered the Hungarian troops on the Field of Mohács. Impetuous nobles had pushed the young King Louis II to take the field and go on the offensive, despite being outnumbered and outgunned by the vast Ottoman force. Their brave but foolhardy charge failed, and the Ottomans surrounded and destroyed them. Although Suleiman wept over the corpse of the young king, calling his death a tragedy, he did not shy from claiming his victory and declaring Hungary his own.
April 23, 2016
There are Muslims in Israel for the same reason that there are Muslims in India. They are the remnants of a Muslim colonial regime that displaced and oppressed the indigenous non-Muslim population.
There are no serious historical arguments to be made against any of this.
The Muslim conquests and invasions are well-documented. The Muslim settlements fit every historical template of colonialism complete with importing a foreign population and social system that was imposed on the native population. Until they began losing wars to the indigenous Jewish population, the Muslim settlers were not ashamed of their colonial past, they gloried in it. Their historical legacy was based on seizing indigenous sites, appropriating them and renaming them after the new conquerors.
The only reason there’s a debate about the Temple Mount is because Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and ordered a mosque built on a holy Jewish site. The only reason there’s a debate about East Jerusalem is because invading Muslim armies seized half the city in 1948, bombed synagogues and ethnically cleansed the Jewish population to achieve an artificial Muslim settler majority.
The only Muslim claim to Jerusalem or to any other part of Israel is based purely on the enterprise of colonial violence. There is no Muslim claim to Israel based on anything other than colonialism, invasion and settlement.
Israel is littered with Omar mosques, including one built in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, because Islam is a colonial entity whose mosques testify to their invasive origins by celebrating colonialism as their true religion. The faith of Islam is the sworn religion of the sword.
Islam is a religion of colonialism that spread through invasion, settlement and conquest. Its caliphs, from the original invaders, including Omar, to the current Caliph of ISIS, wielded and wield religious authority in the service of the Islamic colonial enterprise.
Allah is the patron deity of colonialism. Jihad is just colonialism in Arabic. Islamic theology is nothing but the manifest destiny of the Muslim conquest of the world, colonial settler enterprises dressed up in the filmy trappings of religion appropriated from the culture of conquered Jewish and Christian minorities. Muslim terrorism is a reactionary colonial response to the liberation movements of the indigenous Jewish population.
Daniel Greenfield, “Islam is Colonialism, Palestine is Colonialism”, Sultan Knish, 2016-04-10.
April 22, 2016
Published on 21 Apr 2016
With the spring in Russia and the Caucasus came the thaws on the Eastern Front and all the way down to Mesopotamia. The soldiers had to adapt to survive let alone fight. The Battle of Verdun still rages on though the French are not moving more airplanes to the area to break the German air superiority.
April 20, 2016
Published on 19 Mar 2016
Knowing that most of Europe is preoccupied with internal struggles, Suleiman launches his wars against Hungary and Rhodes while they’re cut off from outside reinforcements.
Suleiman wanted to erase the failures of his predecessor, and extend the Ottoman Empire into Europe…
The boy king of Hungary had given Suleiman the perfect pretext for war by killing his envoy, and he’d done it at a time when Hungary was especially isolated from the rest of the continent. The Holy Roman Empire and Papal States were being torn apart by the declarations of Martin Luther. Spain and France were busy fighting each other. Suleiman even ensured that Venice would stay out of the dispute by offering them a lucrative trade treaty with his empire. Though he felt certain of victory, he still studied every route and painstakingly worked out the logistics of moving his army. He would not risk failure through carelessness. Yet the siege from his cannons could not bring down the walls of Belgrade, so he turned to treachery: eventually, the Orthodox Serbian contingent in the city gave him access in order to escape the oppression of the Catholic Hungarians. Suleiman massacred the Hungarians, but honored his agreement with the Serbs and let them leave. Then he turned to Rhodes. He offered them a chance to surrender in advance, but they refused. The Knights of Rhodes were after all a sacred order, equal in discipline to his janissary forces. They fought hard, repulsing several attempts by the Turks to invade through collapsed walls and repeatedly refusing Suleiman’s offers to let them surrender. But at last they wore down and agreed to terms of truce. Suleiman allowed them to leave along with any Christian subjects who wished to go with them. It had taken him two years to complete his wars, but he had succeeded.
At Sultan Knish, Daniel Greenfield calls for the establishment of a true Palestinian state:
A Palestinian state has never existed during any period in human history. Let’s change that.
The United States has spent billions of dollars trying to create a Palestinian state. It’s time that we finally got our money’s worth.
We’ve been putting money in the broken Palestinian slot machine in the metaphorical Palestinian casino (the real one was shot up when terrorists turned it into a base) for decades. It’s time to finally get our Palestinian jackpot.
But to make it happen, we need to be realistic.
Forget the peace process. Forget negotiations. They’ve never worked before. They’re not going to now. And there’s nothing to negotiate anyway.
There are almost a million Jews living on territory claimed by the PLO. Removing them would be the single greatest act of ethnic cleansing against an indigenous population today. It would also be impossible. But the same people who insist that the United States, a country of 318 million, can’t deport 11 million illegal aliens, think that Israel will somehow deport 1/8th of its own population if they just chant loudly enough about “occupation” outside Jewish businesses in London or San Francisco.
Ethnically cleansing 8,000 Jews from Gaza/Gush Katif led to nationwide civil disobedience, riots and, eventually, the fall of a political party and three straight terms for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Now imagine trying to deport 800,000 people from their homes simply because they’re Jewish.
And it wouldn’t just be the Jews alone being rounded up into trucks, buses and maybe boxcars.
52 percent of Arabs in East Jerusalem would rather be Israeli citizens than live under the PLO. Are we support to deport 100,000 Arabs from Jerusalem to make way for this imaginary “Palestinian” state?
How much ethnic cleansing do we have to do to make the Islamic colonial fantasy of Palestine real? It’s not going to happen.
Let’s create a real Palestinian state instead. And I don’t mean the PLO’s President for Life Mahmoud Abbas going down to the UN to give another speech. Abbas is on his 11th year of a 4-year term. The US spent $4.5 billion promoting “Palestinian democracy” and the last PLO election was ten years ago.
April 10, 2016
Published on 12 Mar 2016
A young Suleiman ascends the throne of the Ottoman Empire. He wants to be a benevolent ruler, but he must prove that he is no pushover.
Perhaps it all began when Suleiman’s father died…
Suleiman’s father, Selim I, had pushed the borders of the Ottoman Empire further than any before him. Suleiman and his childhood friend, a Greek named Ibrahim who’d once been his slave, had to race back to Constantinople to claim the throne before news got out. Suleiman immediately bestowed gifts on the janissaries and court officials whose favor he would need for a successful reign, but he also carried out executions against those he suspected of treachery. He could not afford to be too kind. Indeed, his rule was challenged immediately by a revolt in Syria, which Suleiman crushed with overwhelming force to secure his reputation as a powerful leader. He wanted to stretch the empire even more, to bring it into Europe, which brought his attention to Hungary (his gateway to Europe) and Rhodes (a thorn in his side in the Mediterranean). The young prince of Hungary gave him the excuse he needed by executing an Ottoman envoy who’d come to collect tribute. Suleiman prepared his troops for war.
March 15, 2016
Published on 5 Mar 2016
By the time Narses was sent to join him Italy, Belisarius had been away from Constantinople for a very long time. The royal family wasn’t sure if they could still trust him, or if his repeated victories had gone to his head, so they sent Narses (who had been in Constantinople and earned their trust) to keep an eye on him. But this laid the groundwork for disputes that would unravel the military effort there. John looked down on the “barbarian” Ostrogoths and did not consider them a threat, so he viewed the war in Italy as a political battlefield between his friend Narses and his commander Belisarius. Although Procopius defends John’s courage and capability as a cavalry commander, John did not see the bigger picture in Italy and his actions interfered with Belisarius’s overall strategy even though Narses and his family connection to the previous emperor helped keep him safe from repercussions. Belisarius wound up doing the same thing when he refused Justinian’s orders to leave Italy immediately. And in the end, the arrival of the plague – Bubonic Plague, the Black Death – interfered with all their plans. Although we believe Theodora’s actions helped hold the empire together, historians like Procopius take a much darker view: he thought she went power-mad and ruined everything. It’s also worth taking a moment to point out that Theodora was a miaphysite Christian, not a monophysite as we described her in this series. We’ll clarify the difference in a future series on Early Christian Heresies, but for right now we decided to simplify. And there was one thing we left out of this series, a story we love about how Justinian succeeded (where so many had failed) in getting silk worms out of China by bribing monks to smuggle silk worm eggs away in their canes. He helped found a silk industry that brought a lot of money to the empire, and helped it survive longer than it might have otherwise.
March 12, 2016
Published on 27 Feb 2016
Faced with a crumbling empire, Justinian remained determined to realize the dreams of his youth – even though he was now over 65 years old and without Theodora by his side. He worked tirelessly to bring revenue back to the empire, and with money in hand he could finally deal with the forces that threatened it. He assembled his last company, an odd selection of leaders for his army, made up of men who were either old, or inexperienced, or even known for failure – yet they succeeded. His instinct for choosing the right person for the job did not fail him, as one by one his last company made peace with Persia, tamed the Balkan threat, and reclaimed Italy from the Ostrogoths. But fate was not yet done with him. A wave of natural disasters and the return of the plague shook the empire while its foundations were still being rebuilt, and left it vulnerable to an invasion by the Bulgars. Justinian turned to his old friend Belisarius, calling him out of retirement for one final campaign. As always, Belisarius succeeded against the odds, but it would be his last fight. One by one, all of Justinian’s close friends and advisors died of old age. Increasingly alone, he spent his last years trying to consolidate his empire and struggling to reconcile the Christian church. Finally, after one of the longest reigns in Roman history, Justinian died in 565 CE. His reign was a great “What If:” What if all those disasters hadn’t struck? Would his grand ambitions have succeeded? He accomplished so much with the expansion of empire, the construction of the Hagia Sophia, and his overhaul of the legal code. But in the process, he risked – and perhaps lost – everything. He emptied the treasury, overextended the borders, and left the empire vulnerable to the Ottomans years later. Good or bad, his legacy reaches through the centuries to touch our lives today.
March 11, 2016
Published on 10 Mar 2016
The fierce battle of Verdun is still going on and the initial surprise momentum of the German Army under Erich von Falkenhayn is lost. Battles for hill tops and forts turn into carnage where even the winning side is loosing too much men to go on. The Siege of Kut is growing ever more desperate as the there is virtually no food left for the British Army. And in all that Portugal is joining the war.
March 10, 2016
Pick a vague concept. “Israel” will do nicely for now.
Player 1 tries to associate the concept “Israel” with as much good karma as she possibly can. Concepts get good karma by doing good moral things, by being associated with good people, by being linked to the beloved in-group, and by being oppressed underdogs in bravery debates.
“Israel is the freest and most democratic country in the Middle East. It is one of America’s strongest allies and shares our Judeo-Christian values.
Player 2 tries to associate the concept “Israel” with as much bad karma as she possibly can. Concepts get bad karma by committing atrocities, being associated with bad people, being linked to the hated out-group, and by being oppressive big-shots in bravery debates. Also, she obviously needs to neutralize Player 1’s actions by disproving all of her arguments.
“Israel may have some level of freedom for its most privileged citizens, but what about the millions of people in the Occupied Territories that have no say? Israel is involved in various atrocities and has often killed innocent protesters. They are essentially a neocolonialist state and have allied with other neocolonialist states like South Africa.”
The prize for winning this game is the ability to win the other three types of arguments. If Player 1 wins, the audience ends up with a strongly positive General Factor Of Pro-Israeliness, and vice versa.
Remember, people’s capacity for motivated reasoning is pretty much infinite. Remember, a motivated skeptic asks if the evidence compels them to accept the conclusion; a motivated credulist asks if the evidence allows them to accept the conclusion. Remember, Jonathan Haidt and his team hypnotized [PDF] people to have strong disgust reactions to the word “often”, and then tried to hold in their laughter when people in the lab came up with convoluted yet plausible-sounding arguments against any policy they proposed that included the word “often” in the description.
I’ve never heard of the experiment being done the opposite way, but it sounds like the sort of thing that might work. Hypnotize someone to have a very positive reaction to the word “often” (for most hilarious results, have it give people an orgasm). “Do you think governments should raise taxes more often?” “Yes. Yes yes YES YES OH GOD YES!”
Once you finish the Ethnic Tension Game, you’re replicating Haidt’s experiment with the word “Israel” instead of the word “often”. Win the game, and any pro-Israel policy you propose will get a burst of positive feelings and tempt people to try to find some explanation, any explanation, that will justify it, whether it’s invading Gaza or building a wall or controlling the Temple Mount.
So this is the fourth type of argument, the kind that doesn’t make it into Philosophy 101 books. The trope namer is Ethnic Tension, but it applies to anything that can be identified as a Vague Concept, or paired opposing Vague Concepts, which you can use emotivist thinking to load with good or bad karma.
Scott Alexander, “Ethnic Tension And Meaningless Arguments”, Slate Star Codex, 2014-11-04.
March 8, 2016
Published on 20 Feb 2016
Theodora had kept the empire together, but it was deeply scarred. The Plague had killed a quarter of the citizens and imperial revenues were in dire straits. In Italy, the Gothic tribes had rebelled again under the united leadership of Totila, while the disorganized Romans failed to mount an effective defense. Italy quickly fell back into Gothic hands, and even when Justinian sent back Belisarius, he could barely raise an army and didn’t have the money to support his few conquests. Eventually he had to be recalled to defend Constantinople, and Rome was lost forever. A similar rebellion occurred in Africa, but was mercifully quelled. And then Theodora died. Justinian wept at her casket. He refused to remarry and designated a nephew-in-law as his successor. Even in mourning, he managed to organize a defense against Persian aggression and reorganize the Empire’s tax system to bring revenue back into the coffers he’d drained for grand monuments and expensive wars. As his final tribute to Theodora, he attempted to heal the divide between Monophysite and Orthodox Christians, which had been one of her life goals. He went about it by pressuring the Pope to join him in condemning the Nestorian religious leaders who’d championed monophysite beliefs at the Council of Chalcedon. The Pope reluctantly agreed, but as he feared, it did not heal the divide in the east and only created new controversy in the west.
March 3, 2016
Published on 13 Feb 2016
The first recorded outbreak of the Bubonic Plague occurred in Pelusium, an isolated town in the Egyptian province, but soon it moved on to Alexandria. Alexandria was the breadbasket of the Empire, and ships carrying grain (and plague-bearing rats) spread across the Empire. The Plague reached Constantinople to disastrous effect: 25% of the population died. Justinian set up a burial office but even they couldnt keep up with the demand. When they ran out of burial land, they started piling corpses into ships and setting them afloat; they even packed them into the guard towers along the wall. So few people survived that when word got out that Justinian had contracted the plague, hope seemed lost… until Theodora stepped up. She had always been a force within the Empire, Justinian’s co-regent, and now she used that power to fight off the plots against him and keep the Empire together. She dealt ruthlessly with anyone who threatened them, and since many people wanted Belisarius installed on the throne as Justinian’s heir, she recalled him and pushed him out of power. She managed to keep the Empire from disintegrating into Civil War and became the symbol of hope and perserverance for a sorely demoralized city. And then, miraculously, Justinian pulled through.
February 18, 2016
Published on 6 Feb 2016
A comet flew over the empire for forty days, heralding bad news to come. Raiders struck from the west, coming within mere miles of Constantinople. But the biggest threat lay in the south, where a border dispute threatened to reignite the war between the Romans and the Persians. Since Belisarius was still in Italy, Justinian had to send other generals to attempt to resolve the matter peacefully. Both failed spectacularly. The Persian king Chosroes (Khosrow) seized on this as a pretext for invasion. But instead of laying expensive sieges to the cities, he simply extorted them for tribute in exchange for being left alone by his army. As he advanced north, he took advantage of every opportunity to mock Justinian and remind him how little power he had to push the Persians back. Finally, the city of Antioch refused to surrender to Chosroes and he made quick work of it, convincing Justinian at last of the need to pay his own tribute to the Persians to make them go away. This bought him enough time for Belisarius to return, but even his great general was unable to make much progress. At last, he found himself pinned down in an un-winnable fight… which the Persians mysteriously decided not to engage against him. They did not want to risk contact with the Romans, whom they feared were rife with disease.