100 years later: 5 timeless lessons from Joe Hill

A couple of decades ago I was a delegate for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)…..a union organizer and activist…..and back in the early years of the 20th century when labor was starting to organize to help workers and their lives…….labor is still as despised as it was make in the day on difference is they use political games instead of baseball bats to defeat the movement…….back in the beginning  there was an organizer named Joe Hill….

In 1902, after the death of his parents, Joe and his brother Paul immigrated to America where they expected to “scrape gold off the ground.” After working various jobs in New York City, Joe moved to Chicago and found work in a machine shop. Shortly thereafter, he was fired from his job and blacklisted for attempting to organize the workers. As a result, Joel Haaglund changed his name to Joe Hill. He traveled extensively around the country before joining the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in San Pedro, California in 1910.

Joe quickly became immersed in the IWW and devoted his life to the “awakening of ‘illiterates’ and ‘scum’ to an original, personal conception of society and the realization of the dignity and rights of their part in it.” He wrote songs like “The Preacher and the Slave” and “Casey Jones – the Union Scab” to inspire solidarity in the ranks of the IWW and to recruit new members. He encouraged a “conscientious withdrawal of efficiency,” which was not a call for violence, but rather a sprinkle of sand in the workings of machinery, and, more specifically, the efforts of non-union friendly employers.

In 1914, on his way from California to Chicago, Hill stopped to earn some money in the Utah mines. There he encountered three friends who he had met while working in San Pedro: Otto Applequist and the Eselius Brothers. Edward and John Eselius allowed Joe to live at their house as a guest. Otto Applequist was one of Joe’s closest friends and may have been involved in the alleged murder of the Morrison’s. Joe Hill was eventually convicted of murdering John and Arling Morrison, and took his last breath in Utah before the firing squad. His trip to Chicago was eventually completed – in a casket.

There many things that Joe Hill teaches the labor movement……things that can be applied today….things that would make the American worker more important than they are today……

Source: 100 years later: 5 timeless lessons from Joe Hill

How Did The Middle East Come To This?

Yep, I just have to try and give some historical context to the conflicts that are now raging in the Middle East……it irritates me that too many people make judgement calls without the least amount of context to their assertions….I do what I can to try and get people to at least try to understand what is happening and why……

As has been pointed out many times by many people the Middle East has seldom been a calm place in the world….there has been conflicts throughout history and most of them extremely violent….the events happening today in Iraq, Syria, Israel, Palestine and most other areas of the region can all be tracked back to World War One…..more exact the end of WW1 and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

There is a wealth of books, articles, etc out there that can educate the reader on this situation….but the problem is….few people will take the time to try to understand the people and the events that have formed the problems of today’s Middle East….instead they had rather make up scenarios and then run with them…..

Many people and historians point to two documents that help start the Middle East on a path of violence…..the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot Agreement…….

Balfour Declaration…..

The Balfour Declaration was sent as a 67-word statement contained within the short letter addressed to the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour on November 2, 1917. The declaration acknowledged the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine. The statement of the Declaration read as:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Sykes-Picot Agreement…….

In the Sykes-Picot agreement, concluded on May 19, 1916, France and Britain divided up the Arab territories of the former Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence. In its designated sphere, it was agreed, each country shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab State or Confederation of Arab States. Under Sykes-Picot, the Syrian coast and much of modern-day Lebanon went to France; Britain would take direct control over central and southern Mesopotamia, around the Baghdad and Basra provinces. Palestine would have an international administration, as other Christian powers, namely Russia, held an interest in this region. The rest of the territory in question—a huge area including modern-day Syria, Mosul in northern Iraq, and Jordan—would have local Arab chiefs under French supervision in the north and British in the south. Also, Britain and France would retain free passage and trade in the other’s zone of influence.

These two documents did more to inflame the Middle East…but what about the US in all this backstabbing?

Pres. Wilson issued his 14 point plan…….

In this January 8, 1918, speech on War Aims and Peace Terms, President Wilson set down 14 points as a blueprint for world peace that was to be used for peace negotiations after World War I. The details of the speech were based on reports generated by “The Inquiry,” a group of about 150 political and social scientists organized by Wilson’s adviser and long-time friend, Col. Edward M House. Their job was to study Allied and American policy in virtually every region of the globe and analyze economic, social, and political facts likely to come up in discussions during the peace conference. The team began its work in secret and in the end produced and collected nearly 2,000 separate reports and documents plus at least 1,200 maps.

In the speech, Wilson directly addressed what he perceived as the causes for the world war by calling for the abolition of secret treaties, a reduction in armaments, an adjustment in colonial claims in the interests of both native peoples and colonists, and freedom of the seas. Wilson also made proposals that would ensure world peace in the future. For example, he proposed the removal of economic barriers between nations, the promise of “self-determination” for those oppressed minorities, and a world organization that would provide a system of collective security for all nations.

For all his well meaning attempts…Sykes-Picot craps all over his vision of the “promise of self-determination” for the people of the Middle East….

There is a series written by Khaled Diab on the regions history and situations….they are an excellent piece of writing and will add to any readers knowledge of the Middle East……..

Source: The ghost of conflicts past, present and future – Al Jazeera English

Source: The Middle Eastern century that wasn’t – Al Jazeera English

Source: The Middle East’s century to come – Al Jazeera English

The actions by the allies at the end of World War One created the conditions for the conflicts we know today.  Yes, there has always been conflict in the region but post-WW1 created a vacuum that has not been filled and the result is constant conflict and violence.

It is true that hindsight is 20/20…..it is just as true that knowledge can prevent a catastrophe.

Somewhere out there in the blogosphere there is a mental midget rolling his/her eyes at this post…..I am sure there is an insult waiting to happen…..but what the Hell….I have lived with idiots ever since I started this blog…..why would today be any different?

Turn The Page!

 Wars America Should Never Have Fought

I do enjoy my history…..and I hope that my readers appreciate it when I try to give them a little more knowledge that they may already possess….

There are those, which include me, that thinks that the Gulf War of 2003 was a huge mistake and the repercussions are being felt today.

But history has shown that Iraq is not the only war we should have avoided with a passion……actually history has shown that our misadventures in war goes back as far as 1812.

5 wars that the United States could have, and should have, kept out of.

Source: Misfire: 5 Wars America Should Never Have Fought | The National Interest

There are a few ‘minor’ wars that I feel we would have been well advised to avoid that will not be counted by most……the wars of Grenada and Panama come to mind handily.  Both of those wars were fought to prove a point not necessarily to solve a problem.

There may be others……Please if you can think of others throw them out there and we will discuss them.

Will Syria become a ‘new Afghanistan’?

Russia has jumped into the fray in Syria with both feet….the last time they did such a thing was 1979……in a magical land called……Afghanistan.

For you youngsters that have NO idea what I am speaking about……a little historical perspective……..

On December 27, 1979, under cover of an ongoing Soviet military buildup, heavily-armed elements of a Soviet airborne brigade were airlifted into Kabul, Afghanistan, to violently overthrow the regime of President Hafizollah Amin. Within hours after the beginning of this Trojan Horse-type operation, Soviet troops had overwhelmed the elite presidential guard, captured Amin, executed him along with several members of his family for crimes against the people and seized control of the capital.

After about 10 years of sporadic fighting and a major draw on Russian resources troops began a withdrawal and on 15 February 1989 the last of the troops crossed the border into the USSR.

Russia is once again flexing its international muscle by coming to the aid of Syrian president Assad…….the thoughts of Afghanistan return to the minds of the Russian people.

As Russia escalates Syria bombing, the 1980s war that killed 15,000 Soviet soldiers weighs heavy on the minds of many.

Source: Russian fears of Syria becoming a ‘new Afghanistan’ – Al Jazeera English

Now hope will this end?  Will Russia overextend itself yet again?  Is this yet another confrontation with the US using surrogates as was Afghanistan in the 8o’s?

Iraq:  The Early Days

ISIS is on the lips of anyone that cares about the US and its path to the Middle East……ISIS made the transition from Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM) to ISIS in the years between 2003 and 2013….a decade in the making.

The common wisdom blames then GW Bush for his decision to invade Iraq when our true enemies were in Afghanistan, at the time……the truth is that we may blame him but the rise of ISIS after the near defeat of AQM was not all his to bear…..

Granted his appointees were as much to blame as he is……and in most cases more so…..but the real culprits are those appointed mid-level bureaucrats…..or as like to call them….the “Unaccused”.

How about a short history lesson in the days after the defeat of Saddam and the taking of Baghdad…….(you knew I could not pass this up, right?)

In May 2003, in the wake of the Iraq War and the ousting of Saddam Hussein, events took place that set the stage for the current chaos in the Middle East. Yet even most well-informed Americans are unaware of how policies implemented by mid-level bureaucrats during the Bush administration unwittingly unleashed forces that would ultimately lead to the juggernaut of the Islamic State.

This is a lengthy piece but well worth the time it will take to read it……people are always looking for someone to blame for any situation…..we may be blaming the wrong person when it comes to Iraq and the birth of ISIS…..

Source: The Deciders | The American Conservative

I truly enjoyed this article and especially the closing paragraph……

This episode highlights a weakness in the executive branch that is ripe for exploitation under any administration. When the neoconservative Frank Gaffney, speaking about George W. Bush, told Vanity Fair, “This president has tolerated, and the people around him have tolerated, active, ongoing, palpable insubordination and skullduggery that translates into subversion of his policies,” it seems incredible to think that he failed to see the irony of his assertion. But for those who have a deep understanding of how the government works, it is quite possible to undermine a president, then step back and pretend to have had minimal involvement, and finally stand in judgment. But now that the story is known, the American people can be the judges.

I sincerely hope that my readers care enough about their country and their way of life to have read this piece……

Something to think about…..that is if you have the time……

100 Years War: Battle of Agincourt

This week’s history lesson…….

My regular readers know that I have studied War in depth….my doctorate was on war and I have never stopped being interested in the subject.  I also am a huge history buff and especially when a war is involved…

I recently read an interesting piece about the Battle of Agincourt, a battle fought during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453)…….

What started this war…….

Edward III, king of England, asserted that he in fact had a superior claimed to the throne because his mother was Philip the Fair’s daughter. This, then, was one of the primary causes of the Hundred Years’ War. Another cause of the Hundred Years’ War was clearly economic conflict. The French monarchy tried to squeeze new taxes from towns in northern Europe which had grown wealthy as trade and cloth-making centers. Dependent as they were on English wool, these towns through their support behind English and Edward III.

This is the conflict that made Joan du Arc a household name……However I would like to focus on one specific battle….The Battle of Agincourt.

History says that it was a rip roaring victory for the English….that is fine but why was it such a victory?  The Battle of Agincourt is often heralded as one of the greatest English military victories. Here are ten reasons why King Henry V’s army was able to defeat a French force four times its size

Source: Battle of Agincourt: ten reasons why the French lost – Telegraph

A historical act of war: The illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation

Time for the history lesson you all dread…..but buck up and read on…….

We Americans all know that Hawaii is our 50th state…..but if you do not live within its borders….what do you actually know about our newest state?

We are taught about such evens as the Alamo or Valley Forge or the Gold Rush…..but what are we taught about Hawaii?  Basically, it is our 50th state…..period.

My guess is not much more than…… they have great beaches, an active volcano and grow pineapples……did I come close?

As usual with our history there is always so much more…… did you know……..

The truth is that each and every step along Hawaii’s path from sovereign and independent nation, to annexed territory, to state, was done in violation of laws and treaties then in effect, without regard to the wishes of the Hawaiian people. Many people, including President Grover Cleveland, opposed the annexation of Hawaii.

But in the end, simple greed and military interest overrode any concerns or moral right and legality. Hawaii’s legitimate government was toppled using threat of American military force. Hawaii was stolen from her people for the benefit of wealthy American plantation owners and military interests, and the justifications for the crime were invented after-the-fact………

I am always looking for something interesting in history to pass along to my readers….especially pertaining to the make-up of the US and the history that is involved in the making of this country.

I present a short history of the great state of Hawaii……

Source: A historical act of war: The illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation — Secret History — Sott.net