Letters From Baghdad

A IST film review

I am, as my regular visitors know, a Middle East student for I am always reading, researching and writing about the situations and events and history of the region.

I do not usually do a review for most people would find the subjects I watch a bit tedious and boring……but from time to time I watch something that I think might interest my readers….

“Letters From Baghdad” is one of those films…..it is a documentary about a wonderful person in the history of the Middle East, Gertrude Bell…..narrated by Tilda Swinton…..her life, her thoughts and her place in Middle East history.

In British diplomatic group photographs of the early 20th-century Middle East, amid the plumes and uniforms and the calm paraphernalia of an empire going to hell in a bucket, there is often a solitary female. The woman is slim, with a head of luxuriant hair, and neatly dressed in billowing muslins or in the pencil silhouette and cloche hats of jazz-age Baghdad.

The woman is Gertrude Bell, who is as responsible as anybody for the rickety national state first known as Mesopotamia, and now as Iraq. As a powerful official of the British administration in Baghdad after the first world war, Bell ensured that an Arab state was founded from the three Ottoman provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra, but one which was too weak to be independent of Britain. “I had a well-spent morning at the office making out the southern desert frontier of the Iraq,” she wrote to her father on December 4 1921.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/mar/12/iraq.jamesbuchan

Anyone that likes history and strong women in history should watch this movie…..

And you do not have to order the movie and wait for it to appear…..

The Old Professor has found a way to watch it immediately…….

http://boxmuvi.us/play.php?movie=tt6086614

Please enjoy and I would like to hear what you think of the person as well as the documentary.

Yep, this is a sneaky way of injecting some history into your weekend…..

Plus a wide screen adaptation of the book about Gertrude Bell, “Queen of the Desert” has been released….I have not watched it yet but I would like to include a trailer for the film starring Nicole Kidman….

Her book of letters are the basis of the movie “Letters From Baghdad”….it is fascinating reading about her life and her love of Iraq and the desert…..

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Those Military Disasters

There have been some marvelous military victories and successes…..and on the other hand there have been some major disasters that our military has participated in……

Nations often linger on their military defeats as long as, or longer than, they do on their successes. The Battle of Kosovo remains the key event of the Serbian story, and devastating military defeats adorn the national narratives of France, Russia and the American South. What are the biggest disasters in American military history, and what effect have they had on the United States?

In this article, I concentrate on specific operational and strategic decisions, leaving aside broader, grand-strategic judgments that may have led the United States into ill-considered conflicts. The United States may well have erred politically in engaging in the War of 1812, World War I, the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, but here I consider how specific failures worsened America’s military and strategic position.

The first disaster in this article is the Invasion of Canada…..

At the opening of the War of 1812, U.S. forces invaded Upper and Lower Canada. Americans expected a relatively easy going; the notion that Canada represented the soft underbelly of the British empire had been popular among American statesmen for some time. Civilian and military leaders alike expected a quick capitulation, forced in part by the support of the local population. But Americans overestimated their support among Canadians, overestimated their military capabilities, and underestimated British power. Instead of an easy victory, the British handed the Americans a devastating defeat.

https://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-five-biggest-disasters-american-military-history-11536

This is the five most disastrous actions according to the article’s author….

Do you have others that should be in this list?

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

John Hancock

How much do you know about American history?

Since the US Constitution is in the news almost daily….let’s look at one of the boyz of Summer that gave us the document……

For instance one of the founding fathers, John Hancock…..what do you know beyond his famous signature?

John Hancock and his signature are two of the best-known elements related to the Declaration of Independence. But how much do you know about the former president of the Continental Congress?

On May 24, 1775, Hancock was named as the presiding officer over the Second Continental Congress, which was meeting in Philadelphia to discuss the military threat posed by the British. A little more than a year later, Hancock was the first to sign the document declaring independence.

Here are 10 facts about the man whose name is now synonymous with impressive signatures.

1. Hancock was a wealthy guy. He was from Massachusetts and his family had money, which he inherited when his uncle died. In fact, Hancock may have been the richest man in New England when he inherited a shipping fortune.

2. He was a bright student. Young Hancock graduated from Harvard at the age of 17. He was also a quick learner in the business world.

3. Hancock should have been a Loyalist, but he wasn’t. With his wealth and social standing, Hancock should have been a leading member of an elite group that didn’t want independence. Instead, he sympathized with people like John and Samuel Adams, who were patriots.

4. John Hancock, smuggler? Well, he may have been an importer, too, but goods like tea that arrived in New England on Hancock’s ships may have escaped paying a duty. The suspicions led the British to seize Hancock’s ship, Liberty, which started a riot. John Adams got Hancock off the hook from the smuggling charges.

5. Hancock also had a role in the Boston Tea Party incident. While Hancock wasn’t on a ship tossing tea overboard, he was at meetings when outrage was vented at the British. He riled up the crowd with a famous statement: “Let every man do what is right in his own eyes.”

6. The British really didn’t like Hancock. The British troops that set out to Lexington and Concord in 1775 may have been hunting for Hancock and his friend, John Adams, as well as for military supplies that were stored for militia use. Hancock had to be talked out of taking the battlefield against the redcoats. And his arrest was ordered by the British after the battles.

7. Hancock was a behind-the-scenes force early in the American Revolution. Hancock raised money for the Revolution, he helped secure troops, and he played a role in getting naval forces organized. But a homesick Hancock left Congress in 1777 to return to Massachusetts.

8. He was the longtime governor of Massachusetts. Hancock was elected in 1780 to lead his state and was its governor for most of the remaining years of his life. He was immensely popular in his home state.

9. Hancock wasn’t at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Hancock had health issues by 1787 and wasn’t in the Massachusetts delegation. But he played a key role in his state’s ratification of the Constitution, when he overcame his own objections about the lack of a Bill of Rights to urge its passage.

10. What’s the deal with the signature? It’s not true that Hancock signed the Declaration in a big way to taunt the King of England. The legend goes that Hancock stated that “King George will be able to read that!” In reality, Hancock was the first to sign in a matter fitting for the president of the Congress. And only one other person was in the room when he signed it, unlike in that famous painting that shows a gaggle of patriots witnessing the event. Hancock did take a big risk: His signature was evidence of treason if things didn’t go well in the war!

They do not make Americans like that any more…..or should I say American politicians?

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

 

07 December 1941

Closing Thought–07Dec19

Most Americans will observe this day as the beginning of World War Two….when the Japanese attacked our fleet in Pearl Harbor.

The date is burned into our history but the reasons for it have eluded us and our educational system for over 75 years.

I would like to take you back through our history with the nation of Japan to help explain what and why the attack was necessary…..

To understand Pearl Harbor, Burke took the audience back to 1853-1854 when U.S. Naval Captain Matthew C. Perry sailed to Japan and negotiated the opening of Japanese ports for trade. After more than 200 years of self-imposed isolation, Japan wanted to engage with the rest of the world.  

To compete globally, Japan needed resources—a theme that persistently pushes the narrative of Pearl Harbor to its climax. Iron and coal were key natural resources in the steam era at the end of the 19th century, but were not available in any significance on the Japanese island. Japan needed to look elsewhere.

Japan engaged in war in 1894-5 with China and in 1904-5 with Russia to secure resources. It was a 1905 win against the Russian Navy that shocked the world and alerted the U.S. that they needed to be prepared for a potential war with Japan.

https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/complicated-lead-pearl-harbor

In case more reading is needed……https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/your-history-book-needs-help-real-reason-japan-attacked-pearl-harbor-99212

Our biggest problem that allow this attack to succeed was out hubris…

The US knew, in the second half of 1941, that Japan was preparing for war in the western Pacific and south-east Asia. Tokyo needed to secure material for its military operations in China – principally oil, tin, bauxite and rubber. But Washington was never aware of the final details of these plans.

US strategists knew, of course, that a Japanese offensive would chiefly target Dutch and British possessions in south-east Asia, because it was there that the raw materials required to fuel Japan’s imperial ambitions were located. They knew, also, that the US’s military presence in the Philippines would at some point come into the crosshairs. For some time, it had been clear that Japan was war-minded. Emperor Hirohito’s expansionist regime had been beating the war drum in Asia since it had entered Manchuria in 1931, and had begun military operations elsewhere in China in 1937. The world had seen the alacrity with which it had forced a humiliated France to submit to its demands in Indochina in June 1940, and had watched Japan sign the Tripartite Pact on 27 September 1940 with the European fascist aggressor nations, Germany and Italy.

https://www.historyextra.com/period/second-world-war/pearl-harbor-advance-knowledge-conspiracy-theory-debunked-did-america-predict-attack-date-day/

Please take a few moments out of your busy day to remember those that fought on that day…..there are not many of the veterans of that day and that war left for us to turn to and thank.

We cannot let their sacrifice and the debt we owe them to die in history by an uncaring nation.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Battles That Changed History

I am a student of war or conflict if you like and I am always looking at the consequences and the results of conflicts throughout history……I ran across an article about the 5 most influential battles in history…..

We take certain things in history for granted: Western civilization’s ancient Greek origins, Rome’s stunning domination of the world for hundreds of years or the democracies which have sprung up all over the world etc.

But the things that seem natural now in retrospect (ancient Greek city-states’ progressive concepts, Rome’s pragmatism and efficiency which also translated to the military plane, democracy’s widespread adoption), might not have happened at all!

Because the fate of millions and humanity as a whole can be altered irrevocably by the actions of a small group of individuals or even just one individual. For example, there is a very strong possibility that Nazi Germany would have won the war if it had not chosen to invade Russia, a decision made by Hitler and a handful of his closest that resulted in crippling economic and political consequences for his regime, along with one of the most disastrous military campaign in history.

So, keeping in mind the many alternate histories that could have easily replaced the one we currently have and cling to, a look at 5 world defining historical battles should prove interesting, as regards what would have happened if they had gone the other way.

5 World Defining Historical Battles

I agree these battles are important but I think there are a couple more that should have been included…..

I think the Battle of Ain Jalut…..in modern day Middle East when the forces of the Mamlukes defeated the Mongols in 1260…..http://factsanddetails.com/asian/cat65/sub423/item2692.html

This battle stopped the spread of the khanate Eastward.

My second choice is the Battle of Britain in 1941 which as most of us know the Nazis failed to bring Great Britain to her knees in World War 2….

Anyone care to add any battles that I may have missed?

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

P.S.  Something a little extra……Iraq has been the center of conflict for 5000 years……

Starting with one of the first civilizations….Sumer…..

By 3000 BC, the Sumerians had developed into the earliest civilization of Mesopotamia. The societies were organized into city-states, which warred constantly over the control of water. Two of these, Lagash and Umma, sat 18 miles apart and feuded for generations over the fertile region known as Gu’edena. In 2525, King Eannatum of Lagash defeated Umma using armored soldiers in phalanx formations, and also chariots pulled by onagers (wild asses), an invention frequently credited to the Sumerians. How do we know of this battle? It was recorded by the king on a stone monument, “the Stele of the Vultures.”

https://www.livescience.com/11314-top-10-battles-control-iraq.html

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Closing Thought–03Dec19

We have all heard our dear president make the wild claim that he is more popular than Abe Lincoln….well there is some good news for all those Trump supporters that are always looking for something they can say about the this president.

A new poll shows that Repubes like Trump better than Lincoln…..and that should tell what a mental capacity the party is appealing to at this time.

President Trump’s polling dream has become a reality. A new Economist/YouGov weekly survey says 53% of Republicans consider Trump a better president than Abraham Lincoln, compared to 47% for Honest Abe, the Hill reports. But across parties and independents, Lincoln still wins by a firm 75% to 25%. Maybe the Economist wanted to test Trump’s 2018 boast to the Sun that he was “the most popular person in the history of the Republican Party. Beating Lincoln. I beat our Honest Abe.”

What he meant was unclear, but at the time he also tweeted that “over 90%” of Republicans gave him a thumbs up, making him “the most popular Republican in [the] history of the Party. Wow!” That was nearly an accurate reflection of a Gallup poll that gave him a 90% approval rating among Republicans—making him the GOP’s most popular modern president save for George W. Bush just after 9/11, the New York Times reported.

Sorry I do not see it!  No accounting for taste!

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Thanksgiving–A Short History

Most of us know T’giving by the myth of the settlers and NAs sitting down to a meal and all was right with the universe and had a happy ending…..

There is so much history around the day…..

Thanksgiving is the oldest national holiday in the United States. However, it’s observation is not a continuous presence in American history. While the celebration of Thanksgiving predates even the founding of the nation, it was proclaimed by George Washington, then ignored by Thomas Jefferson. From then on, it was sporadically observed until Abraham Lincoln, who once again introduced a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving to the United States.

Indeed, it was Lincoln who set the day as the last Thursday in November. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt changed the day between 1939 and 1941, which was highly controversial. The days were called “Franksgiving.” Roosevelt changed the date because retailers communicated to him through the Retail Dry Goods Association and the Secretary of Commerce, that the late date of Thanksgiving that year (the last day of November) might negatively impact retail sales. It was considered bad form to put up Christmas decorations or put on Christmas sales before Thanksgiving.

https://www.blacklistednews.com/article/75563/thanksgiving-the-forgotten-history-of-americas-thanksgiving-and-what-it.html

I just wanted to show my readers that there was more to Thanksgiving than what we are use to in the elementary school play we all have sat through.

Peace Out.

“Lego Ergo Scribo”