Quotulatiousness

October 19, 2017

Iran vs Saudi Arabia (2017)

Filed under: Middle East, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Binkov’s Battlegrounds
Published on 13 Oct 2017

Find out how a match-up between two middle east powerhouses would unravel. With a special accent on a hypothetical scenario without other countries being a factor

October 15, 2017

The end of the Bronze Age

Filed under: History, Middle East, Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Colby Cosh linked to an article discussing a convoluted survival from about 1180BC (the image was preserved, but the work itself was destroyed in the late 19th century), which casts some light on the fall of the great Bronze Age cultures of the eastern Mediterannean:

Luwian Hieroglyphic inscription by the Great King of Mira, Kupanta-Kurunta, composed at about 1180 BC.
Credit: Luwian Studies

The 35-cm tall limestone frieze was found back in 1878 in the village of Beyköy, approximately 34 kilometers north of Afyonkarahisar in modern Turkey. It bears the longest known hieroglyphic inscription from the Bronze Age. Soon after local peasants retrieved the stones from the ground, the French archeologist Georges Perrot was able to carefully copy the inscription. However, the villagers subsequently used the stones as building material for the foundation of their mosque.

From about 1950 onwards, Luwian hieroglyphs could be read. At the time, a Turkish/US-American team of experts was established to translate this and other inscriptions that during the 19th century had made their way into the collections of the Ottoman Empire. However, the publication was delayed again and again. Ultimately, around 1985, all the researchers involved in the project had died. Copies of these inscriptions resurfaced recently in the estate of the English prehistorian James Mellaart, who died in 2012. In June 2017, Mellaart’s son Alan handed over this part of the legacy to the Swiss geoarcheologist Dr. Eberhard Zangger, president of the Luwian Studies foundation, to edit and publish the material in due course.

[…]

The inscription and a summary of its contents also appear in a book by Eberhard Zangger that is being published in Germany today: Die Luwier und der Trojanische Krieg – Eine Forschungsgeschichte. According to Zangger, the inscription was commissioned by Kupanta-Kurunta, the Great King of Mira, a Late Bronze Age state in western Asia Minor. When Kupanta-Kurunta had reinforced his realm, just before 1190 BC, he ordered his armies to storm toward the east against the vassal states of the Hittites. After successful conquests on land, the united forces of western Asia Minor also formed a fleet and invaded a number of coastal cities (whose names are given) in the south and southeast of Asia Minor, as well as in Syria and Palestine. Four great princes commanded the naval forces, among them Muksus from the Troad, the region of ancient Troy. The Luwians from western Asia Minor advanced all the way to the borders of Egypt, and even built a fortress at Ashkelon in southern Palestine.

October 10, 2017

QotD: The base conditions for democratic society

Filed under: Government, Law, Liberty, Middle East, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The absolutely vital elements of a successful democratic component of government (note – component of a system, not the entire system): is that there be a literate population; a free and enquiring press; a well developed and just rule of law; and a tradition of give and take being acceptable to the society.

Tribal societies have none of these things. That is why democracies have consistently failed in African countries where tribalism is still the most important element. (In fact politics in some of these places is still largely a competition between which tribal groups served in the imperial militaries, versus which served in the imperial civil services. With very bloody competition between the two.) The fact that illiteracy is rampant; free presses almost non-existent; and the rule of law where judges are not beholden to tribal interests, or simply threats, doesn’t exist: makes democracy impossible to sustain.

Muslim culture has none of these things. A system where a woman’s evidence in court is one third of a man’s – and dhimmitude is recognized even if slavery officially isn’t – is unlikely to have these things. And for literacy, free press, or rule of law, see Africa, but doubled.

It is also possible to suggest that without a clear understanding of the logic of natural laws, you can’t have a democracy. The fact that Muslim scholarship specifically rejects natural law on the basis that Allah can cause anything, so there are no ‘natural laws’, means you cannot have these things. The reason the Muslim world lost its scientific supremacy of the 11th and 12th centuries relates specifically to their decision to turn their back on empirical evidence. Without that basic understanding, I do not believe democracy is possible. (In fact that basic approach helps explain why democracy is actually anathema to good Muslims, and why Boko Haram literally means ‘Western education is evil’!)

So the concept that an ‘Arab Spring’ could work in the Middle East is a sad indictment on the Western media and ‘intelligentsia’s’ failed understanding about how democracy works.

In fact the entire deluded Western project of attempting to impose ‘republics’ on tribal societies as part of post-colonialism, is an indictment on the western fantasy that republics are workable, let alone good things.

Let’s face it, no western republic, even in the most educated, literate, and rule of law-abiding parts of the Anglosphere, has survived a first century without a collapse and or bloody civil war. The most ‘successful’ Western republics have included the American (see above), French (see above), Weimar (heard of the popularly elected Adolf Hitler?), Italian (50 governments in 50 years), Greek (how’s that brilliant financial planning going?) and Polish (are they on their 3rd, 4th, or 5th?). Those are the good ones. 90% of all republics ever founded in Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, or the Middle East, have collapsed into dictatorship, civil war, mass murder, or ethnic cleansing, within 20 years of being set up.

And that’s what we thought would work in the Middle East?

Nigel Davies, “The ‘Arab Spring’, 1848, and the 30 Years War/s”, Rethinking History, 2015-09-19.

October 7, 2017

The Trojan War – A tale of Passion and Bloodshed! l HISTORY OF SEX

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

IT’S HISTORY
Published on 23 Sep 2015

The Trojan War is one of the most epic and passionate legends set in Greek Mythology. Legend has it, that Prince Paris fell in love with the beautiful Helena, wife of King Menelaos of Sparta. He took her to Troy, which sent all of the rest of Greece, including the famous warrior Achilles after the city. We’ll explain which incidents on the battles are actually proven and how sex, powerplay and love is interpreted to have led to blood shed more than once during Antiquity. Join Indy for our new episode of BATTLEFIELDS!

October 6, 2017

Sabotage In The Desert – Battle of Broodseinde I THE GREAT WAR Week 167

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Middle East, Military, Railways — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Great War
Published on 5 Oct 2017

While the regular British forces were advancing towards Jerusalem and Baghdad, T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt were causing havoc behind the lines. This week 100 years ago, they were continuing to attack the important Hejaz railway which was one of the vital supply routes for the Ottoman Army. On October 4, the Battle of Broodseinde was fought near Ypres and the costly British victory there caused real headaches for German general Erich Ludendorff.

October 5, 2017

The greatest general you’ve probably never heard of

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

I missed this article when it was posted in September: Iskander Rehman discusses the life and times of Byzantium’s greatest general, Belisarius:

Belisarius begging for alms. Painting by Jacques-Louis David, 1781.
(Via Wikimedia)

In 1780, the great neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David completed one of his finest works. Entitled “Belisarius Begging for Alms,” the oil painting depicts an aging warrior, blinded with a hand outstretched, seated at the base of a colossal Roman monument. His feet are bare, his beard unkempt, and his armor draped in coarse rags, dull in sheen. A slender walking cane rests to his side, propped against a stone slab bearing the name of a famous former general — Belisario, or Belisarius. A beautiful woman, her face etched in concern, drops a few coins into an upturned helmet, and whispers words of consolation. Her husband, a man in the vigor of youth and full military regalia, is in shock, his arms raised and his mouth open. He has just realized that the stricken veteran is his former commander, the legendary Belisarius himself.

Although his name is not as well known as it once was, Belisarius has long been considered one of history’s finest tacticians. Under the orders of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, the sixth century general reclaimed vast tracts of Western Roman territory, from northern Africa to the Italian peninsula. Frequently outnumbered and leading an eclectic grouping of warriors composed of romaioi (Eastern Romans), foederati (Barbarian allies), and ethnikoi (specialist ethnic troops), the Thracian commander greatly expanded the footprint of the Byzantine empire at a time when many thought that Rome’s ancestral lands had been irredeemably lost. The fact that many of these conquests, as we shall see, only proved fleeting, has, if anything, only burnished his myth, transmogrifying the soldier into something of a crepuscular icon — Western Europe’s last great Roman protector before the advent of the so-called Dark Ages.

For Liddell Hart, Belisarius was also the consummate practitioner of the so-called “indirect approach” and the “master of the art of converting his weakness into strength; and the opponent’s strength into a weakness.” T.E. Lawrence, an avid reader of the ancient military classics, considered “the Thracian genius” to be one of “three really first-class Roman generals in history” (the other two being Scipio Africanus and Julius Caesar) and encouraged his friend, Robert Graves, to write the novel Count Belisarius. This piece of historically informed fiction retraces Belisarius’s military campaigns and was much admired by Winston Churchill, who is said to have often turned to it for guidance during the fraught early years of World War II.

Who was the man behind the myth? And why do the tales of Belisarius’s life and military exploits continue to resonate, firing the imaginations of great men from David to Churchill and Lawrence of Arabia? What insights can be gleaned, not only from his campaigns, but from the Eastern Roman Empire’s strategic literature more broadly?

September 11, 2017

Smug Canadian vanity over helping (some) refugees may harm a larger number of more desperate refugees

Filed under: Cancon, Middle East — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Jonathan Kay in the National Post:

By my anecdotal observation, these accounts are not overblown. At Toronto dinner parties, it’s become common for upscale couples to brag about how well their sponsored refugees are doing. (Houmam has a job! The kids already speak English! Zeinah bakes the most amazing Syrian pastries — I’m going to serve some for desert!) Syrian refugees aren’t just another group of Canadian newcomers. They’ve become central characters in the creation of our modern national identity as the humane yang to Trump’s beastly yin.

Given all this, it seems strange to entertain the thought that — contrary to this core nationalist narrative — our refugee policy may actually be doing more harm than good. Yet after reading Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World, a newly published book jointly authored by Paul Collier and Alexander Betts, I found that conclusion hard to avoid. When it comes to helping victims of Syria’s civil war, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

[…]

What’s worse, the lottery-style nature of the system means that refugees have incentive to take enormous risks. German Chancellor Angela Merkel received lavish praise for admitting more than 1 million Muslim refugees in 2015. But the data cited in Refuge suggest the tantalizing prospect of first-world residency is precisely what motivated so many refugees to endanger their lives by setting out from Turkey in tiny watercraft. We like to believe that generous refugee-admission policies are an antidote to the perils that claimed Alan Kurdi’s life. The exact opposite seems more likely to be true.

Moreover, the refugees who make it to the West do not comprise a representative cross-section of displaced Syrians — because those who can afford to pay off human smugglers tend to be the richest and most well-educated members of their society. (Betts and Collier cite the stunning statistic that fully half of all Syrian university graduates now live outside the country’s borders.) This has important policy ramifications, because refugees who remain in the geographical vicinity of their country of origin typically return home once a conflict ends — whereas those who migrate across oceans usually never come back. Insofar as the sum of humanity’s needs are concerned, where is the need for Syrian doctors, dentists and nurses more acute — Alberta or Aleppo?

[…]

But logically sound as it may be, the authors’ argument also flies in the face of our national moral vanity. Scenes of refugees being greeted at the airport by our PM offer a powerful symbol of our humanitarian spirit. Having our PM cut cheques to foreign aid agencies? Less so. While focusing more on supporting Syrian refugees who’ve been displaced to other Middle Eastern countries would allow us to do more good with the same amount of money, we’d also be acting in a less intimate and personal way — and we’d get fewer of those heartwarming newspaper features about Arab children watching their first Canadian snowstorm.

And so we have to ask ourselves: In the end, what’s more important — doing good, or the appearance of doing good? If we’re as pure of heart as we like to imagine, we’ll seek out the policy that saves the most people, full stop. And Refuge supplies an outstanding road map for getting us there.

September 10, 2017

In search of silphium, the lost herb of the Roman empire

Filed under: Africa, Environment, History, Middle East — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Zaria Gorvett recounts the story of a Roman-era herb that was at one point literally worth its weight in gold:

Long ago, in the ancient city of Cyrene, there was a herb called silphium. It didn’t look like much – with stout roots, stumpy leaves and bunches of small yellow flowers – but it oozed with an odiferous sap that was so delicious and useful, the plant was eventually worth its weight in gold.

To list its uses would be an endless task. Its crunchable stalks were roasted, sauteed or boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Its roots were eaten fresh, dipped in vinegar. It was an excellent preservative for lentils and when it was fed to sheep, their flesh became delectably tender.

Perfume was coaxed from its delicate blooms, while its sap was dried and grated liberally over dishes from brains to braised flamingo. Known as “laser”, the condiment was as fundamental to Roman haute cuisine as eating your food horizontally in a toga.

[…]

A coin of Cyrene depicting the stalk of a Silphium plant. (Source: 1889 edition of Principal Coins of the Ancients, plate 35, via Wikimedia)

Indeed, the Romans loved it so much, they referenced their darling herb in poems and songs, and wrote it into great works of literature. For centuries, local kings held a monopoly on the plant, which made the city of Cyrene, at modern Shahhat, Libya, the richest in Africa. Before they gave it away to the Romans, the Greek inhabitants even put it on their money. Julius Caesar went so far as to store a cache (1,500lbs or 680kg) in the official treasury.

But today, silphium has vanished – possibly just from the region, possibly from our planet altogether. Pliny wrote that within his lifetime, only a single stalk was discovered. It was plucked and sent to the emperor Nero as a curiosity sometime around 54-68AD.
With just a handful of stylised images and the accounts of ancient naturalists to go on, the true identity of the Romans’ favourite herb is a mystery. Some think it was driven to extinction, others that it’s still hiding in plain sight as a Mediterranean weed. How did this happen? And could we bring it back?

September 3, 2017

The Bronze Age Collapse Explained

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 11 Jun 2016

If you are like many people these days, you fawn over the latest episode of The Walking Dead, enjoy movies like the Hunger Games, or lost your mind during Mad Max Fury Road. We seem to think a lot about what the apocalypse for our society might be like. Well, what if the apocalypse already happened… say 3,200 years ago.

Read More:
Dickinson, Oliver (2007). The Aegean from Bronze Age to Iron Age: Continuity and Change Between the Twelfth and Eighth Centuries BC
Cline, Eric H. (2014). 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

Step Back is a history channel releasing videos biweekly that endeavors to go past the names, dates, and battles you might find elsewhere. It invites you to take a step back, consider the past and how it connects to today. We search for the quirky, unconventional, and just plain weird parts of our collective story.

August 25, 2017

The End of the Bronze Age

Filed under: History, Middle East, Science — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 28 Sep 2015

Around 1200 BC, the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean went into major cultural decline: The Late Bronze Age came to a sudden end.

Kingdoms that had wielded immense power completely disappeared. For several centuries after this, agriculture was people’s only means of subsistence. These were pivotal changes in history. Explaining them remains one of the big challenges in Mediterranean archaeology.

In this video, the foundation Luwian Studies presents a comprehensive and plausible scenario of what might have happened.

August 22, 2017

An unwelcome kind of “how to” article

Filed under: Middle East, Railways — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

R.G. Edmonson on a recent innocuous “how to sabotage a railway” article distributed through Inspire, a quite westernized publication for Al Qaeda supporters and sympathizers:

The Middle East Media Research Institute recently translated a complete how-to guide for making derail devices for use on railroads and transit systems. (via Trains magazine)

These step-by-step instructions, design guidelines, and templates look like any from a how-to-magazine. Then you realize it’s a how-to derailment instruction guide courtesy of Al Qaeda.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Media Research Institute, the information came out Aug. 13 and 14 in a recent issue of Inspire, Al Qaeda‘s glossy magazine. Institute officials say the terrorist magazine urges attacks by “lone wolf” operators on rail and mass transit system, and provides detailed instructions for making a concrete device to derail trains.

According to the institute’s translation, Ibrahim Al-Asiri, the chief bomb-maker for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, “we will be focusing on targeting means of transportation … Jihad groups and organizations may have the ability to target international means of transportation. As for the Lone Mujahid, his abilities may be limited to targeting internal means of transportation of a country.

The translation of Al-Asiri continues, “O Mujahideen, it is time that we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their Air transportation. Continue to bleed the American economy to more losses, increase the psychological warfare and make it worry, fear and weaken much more.”

Translators say Al-Asiri said that “the large numbers and numerous types of means of transportation will always set an environment of looming danger everywhere.” The attack will lead to more extensive and costly security measures, and the loss of rolling stock could force some companies into bankruptcy.

The Bronze Age Collapse – Lies – Extra History

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 12 Aug 2017

How did the Bronze Age Collapse affect civilizations other than the four discussed in our series? When trade fell apart, why didn’t those who relied on bronze switch to forging with other metals? James and Soraya look back on these questions on Lies!

August 19, 2017

Baldwin IV – The Leper King of Jerusalem – IT’S HISTORY

Filed under: History, Middle East, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 27 Jul 2017

On today’s episode on It’s History we take a brief look at Baldwin IV – the 12th century ruler of Jerusalem bound with an incurable disease. Suffering from leprosy Baldwin was known to charge into battle with his right hand paralyzed and yet managed to achieve victory. Learn more about this truly astounding figure!

August 5, 2017

History of Writing – The Alphabet – Extra History

Filed under: History, Middle East, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on Jul 29, 2017

Where did the alphabet come from? How did it develop, and why? The writing systems first developed in Sumer provided a basis for the written word, but their system of characters also inspired a shift to single phoneme systems where each letter represents a distinct sound.

August 2, 2017

QotD: The fundamental problem of the Middle East

Filed under: Government, History, Middle East, Quotations, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The Western media and intelligentsia don’t seem to have a clue that the issues in the Middle East are not related to competing political ideologies, but to competing religious tribalism.

The ongoing conflicts throughout the region, and in other parts of the world, are not about democracy versus monarchy; or fascism versus communism; or imperialism versus freedom. Or indeed any of the other childish ideologies Western journalists fell in love with during their undergraduate post-modernist deconstructionalist courses by failed ex-Trotsky’s, who simply can’t accept that the last century has proven how appalling and basically evil their over-simplistic ideologies are. (Yes Comrade Corbyn, that’s you and your gushing twitteratti I am slamming!)

In fact the problem in the Muslim world is that they are entering the third decade of the Muslim Civil War.

The Sunni’s and Shia’s are at about the point that the Roman Catholics and the Protestants were at in Europe in the 1620’s to 30’s, and it is only going to get worse. That war was ideological, and paid very little attention to national boundaries. This one is the same. The Christian 30 Years War is about to be repeated in a Muslim civil war, and 30 years might be an optimistic number.

Interestingly the Christian’s split over 3 or four centuries, into Orthodox and Roman, then split again into Albigensian and Protestant etc. Eventually it got to the point, after 14 or 15 centuries of slow development, that major conflict broke out. Is it co-incidence that the Muslims have followed a similar path? Is it inevitable that after 14 or 15 centuries of existence, they too are having a major internal conflict? Or is it just that a century of renewed prosperity and development (largely brought on by Western intrusion into their secular affairs) has given them the semi-educated proto-middle class who traditionally stir up revolutionary stuff they don’t understand?

Whatever the reasons, stupid Westerners are eventually going to have to admit to a few realities:

  1. No matter how much you fantasise about the functionality of republics and democracy, you can’t impose systems that don’t work in places that don’t have the necessary pre-requisites.
  2. No matter how much literacy or free press you do manage to push in, you can’t impose rule of law and understanding of natural law on societies that have very specifically rejected such concepts for 8 or 9 centuries.
  3. No matter how much your secularist ideologies (developed from safely behind 2 millennia of Christian teaching that accepts rule of law and natural law) is offended, you cannot expect a similar acceptance from people whose cultural development of such beliefs is several centuries behind the West.
  4. No matter what you want to believe, the Muslim civil war is happening.

Let’s hope we really are at least half way through the 30 years…

Nigel Davies, “The ‘Arab Spring’, 1848, and the 30 Years War/s…”, rethinking history, 2015-09-19.

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