Friday, April 21, 2006

Brothers of the Forest

Brothers of the Forest. I just discovered this great post. I deals with the resistance to Soviet rule in the Baltic states after they were illegally annexed by the Soviet Union in the early 1940s. I did not realize that there was such a long running resistance movement.

Also, take a look at the blog this post appeared in. It is Laika the Space Dog. There are other great history related posts there as well. I will be stopping by and reading here from time to time now.

History of Pakistan

History of Pakistan. This site is a brief essay on the history of the Asian nation of Pakistan. Unfortunately, it is mostly a modern history as it primarily focuses on the 20th Century.

Wikipedia notes, "The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Urdu: اسلامی جمہوریۂ پاکستان) is a country located in South Asia that overlaps with the Greater Middle East. It has a thousand-kilometre coastline along the Arabian Sea in the south and borders Afghanistan and Iran to the west, India to the east and the People's Republic of China in the far northeast."

From the site:

Pakistan, along with parts of western India, contain the archeological remains of an urban civilization dating back 4,500 years. Alexander the Great included the Indus Valley in his empire in 326 B.C., and his successors founded the Indo-Greek kingdom of Bactria based in what is today Afghanistan and extending to Peshawar. Following the rise of the Central Asian Kushan Empire in later centuries, the Buddhist culture of Afghanistan and Pakistan, centered on the city of Taxila just east of Peshawar, experienced a cultural renaissance known as the Gandhara period.

Pakistan's Islamic history began with the arrival of Muslim traders in the 8th century in Sindh. The collapse of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century provided an opportunity to the English East India Company to extend its control over much of the subcontinent. In the west in the territory of modern Pakistan, the Sikh adventurer Ranjit Singh carved out a dominion that extended from Kabul to Srinagar and Lahore. British rule replaced the Sikhs in the first half of the 19th century. In a decision that had far-reaching consequences, the British permitted the Hindu Maharaja of Kashmir, a Sikh appointee, to continue in power.

Pakistan emerged over an extended period of agitation by many Muslims in the subcontinent to express their national identity free from British colonial domination as well as domination by what they perceived as a Hindu-controlled Indian National Congress. Muslim anti-colonial leaders formed the All-India Muslim League in 1906. Initially, the League adopted the same objective as the Congress--self-government for India within the British Empire--but Congress and the League were unable to agree on a formula that would ensure the protection of Muslim religious, economic, and political rights.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Almohads

Almohads - This site has a profile and timeline of the Muslim Berber movement which replaced the Almoravids, and became the leading political power in North Africa and Spain in the 12th and 13th centuries. It originally comes from the Enyclopedia of the Orient.

The Almohads were inspired by their founder Ibn Tumart. His main belief was a form of unitarianism which denied the independent existence of the attributes of Allah as being not equatable with his unity. Hence, he then concluded, they therefore were a polytheistic idea and sacrilege.

Evidently, this idea was important enough to gain considerable political power in Africa and Europe for several generations in medieval times.

From the site:

Muslim Berber movement that developed into the leading political power in North Africa and Spain in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Its teachings were based upon Ibn Tumart's interpretation of Islam, and its success was not only a result of its own power so much as it was due to the downfall of the preceding Almoravid empire.

The central core of the Almohad movement – it could be called a rebellion against the Almoravids, actually – was the opposition to the position of the leaders of Almoravids as jurists. While large parts of its theology was rather unclear, one principle stood out: tawhid, the uniqueness of God.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Dominion of British West Florida and Tips for Creating an American Separatist Cause


Well, separatist fantasies never seem to go away in the USA. In past posts, I have made notes about dubious separatist causes in Alaska, Hawaii, and Texas. I have not posted on those claiming the Confederate States of America still legally exists but they are out there too. All make the same claims about violations of international law in the method the USA annexed the land and incorporated it into the USA. They use (I would argue misuse) the word "occupation" which is bandied around frequently by their followers and on their web sites.

I found a new one! It is the Dominion of West Florida. It claims to represent the people of the Republic of West Florida which existed briefly for 72 days in 1810.

Here is a brief summary of their legal claim courtesy of Wikipedia:

1) The Treaty of Versailles of 1783 granted the Territory of Florida (The British colonies of East and West Florida) to the Spanish King, who was deposed by Napoleon, leaving no rightful successor to claim the territory.

2) The Treaty of Transfer of Florida to France signed by the Spanish prohibited Third party transfer of the Territory and the territory claimed by the Dominion of British West Florida was not included in the transfer.

3) The annexation of West Florida by Presidential Proclamation, without the usual and required Congressional and Territory actions, was invalid under the United States Constitution, and international law.

Part 3 there is the interesting one. This is similar to claims by Texan and Hawaiian nationalists that their "nations" were acquired illegally by a joint resolution of the US Congress and Congress does not have the power to annex territory in that manner. Hence, the annexation is invalid under American and international law. Or so they theorize...

The United States sent the army down to secure West Florida for the United States. The government of the Republic of West Florida gave up under protest. Their partisans now claim that this constituted an invasion of the Republic of West Florida and was an act of war. The American presence in West Florida to this day then constitutes an illegal military occupation! The claim is then that the American government as represented in West Florida is de facto but not de jure.

Alas for these West Florida nationalists, the international community has recognized American sovereignty over West Florida since 1810 or shortly thereafter. As international recognition is the basis for determining sovereignty, there is nothing more to debate. I guess if a valid currently recognized sovereign nation wanted to grant the West Floridians recognition this could be reopened but I kind of doubt it.

Another wacky separatist cause pertains to the Wake Islands. There are a group of people in the Marshall Islands claiming the islands as the Kingdom of EnenKio. The Open Directory Project description of the site actually reads, "Site of the Government of the Kingdom of EnenKio. Information about the Aboriginal people, and the US occupation of the atoll." Of course, there never has been an aboriginal people of the Wake Islands. But again, I really enjoy how the word occupation is thrown about. The government of the Marshall Islands has disavowed this cause.

I guess if we get creative, every part of the USA is under illegal occupation by the USA. Here is a list of tips for creating your own American separatist cause! (These tips would work for non-American parts of the world too.)

1. Look over every treaty, agreement, document, or ruling that impacts the current legal status of the area in question. Go back as many centuries as you need to find the right dirt. Can you find even a single instance where someone forgot to dot an "i" or cross a "t"? Is there any technicality (no matter how minor) that could be highlighted? If so, congratulations! You can now claim that American sovereignty is illegal under American and international law and that all subsequent legislation by the USA is not binding.

2. Has even a single American military member been in your area since the time you can "prove" American ownership of you area is bogus? If so, you can now claim an invasion happened and can throw around the word occupation. It does not matter if shots were fired. The mere presence of American soldiers constitutes an act of war.

3. Did the people of your area actually vote to join the USA? If not, claim the annexation as illegal and undemocratic. If so, did it happen after the "occupation" began? Did people (or their descendents) who were not citizens of your area prior to American "occupation" participate in the vote? If so, dismiss the election and declare it invalid as the "occupiers" rigged the election by voting too.

4. Put up a web site bolding stating your "facts." Claim to be the legitimate representative of your nation under occupation. Be sure to put up lots of pages detailing the alleged violations of international law and showing American aggression. Be sure to get your site listed in as many places as possible. Be aggressive in search engine optimization. (Create a blog or two too!)

5. Have a forum at your site. Use it to repeat your claims over and over again and link to any website or news article which in any way could be twisted to support your arguments. Ruthlessly use ad hominem attacks on anyone who posts anything you disagree with. Calling them ignorant of international law and history or even racist should do the trick.

6. Head on over to Wikipedia, learn the ropes, and start inserting your version of history in every article you find! If you are subtle, good at edit wars, and have a lot of patience, you can make a real difference.

7. If you are brave, start up your own national bank and start issuing money and loans. You can also sell passports! When you get busted, use this as evidence of continued American aggression and attempts to silence your movement. Be sure to highlight on your site the "political prisoners" the USA puts in jail. (Go ahead and sell stamps too!)

8. Distance yourself from other separatists groups. Some Hawaiians, Texans, Alaskans, etc. may be claiming occupation but in your case it is real. You may all use the same arguments but there are important differences. Also, deny you are a separatist. Since your area was never legally American, you are not separating or seceding. You are asking to be restored. Further, make clear your area never has been and is not currently legally American.

And so on. Critical thinking skills are sorely lacking amongst a large portion of the American population. They also tend to believe in conspiracies and other crazy ideas. They also do not know much about international law or history so you can surely get many of them to accept your version as fact. You should have a lot of success in getting attention and believers!

I really should start my own separatist cause. With my knowledge of history, the Web, and how to play the separatist game, I could have a lot of fun! Or maybe not...

Update 19 July 2007: The list has been expanded to eleven at Illegally Occupy This! Miland Brown's Tips for American Separatists Updated.

Ainu - Spirit of a Northern People

Ainu - Spirit of a Northern People. The Ainu are the original indigenous people of Japan. This site is an online exhibition of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History exploring the ancient origin of the Ainu, their relations with the Japanese, and the Ainu cultural rebirth. The exhibit itself was from 1999.

The Ainu are native to Hokkaido which is north of Honshu in Northern Japan, the Kuril Islands, much of Sakhalin, and the southernmost third of the Kamchatka peninsula. Wikipedia notes that early contacts with the Japanese were friendly but later became violent. The article reads, "At first, contact with the Japanese people was friendly and both were equals in a trade relationship. However, eventually the Japanese started to dominate the relationship, and soon established large settlements on the outskirts of Ainu territory. As the Japanese moved north and took control over their traditional lands, the Ainu often gave up without resistance, but there was occasional resistance as exemplified in wars in 1457, 1669, and 1789, all of which were lost by the Ainu. Japanese policies became increasingly aimed at assimilating the Ainu in the Meiji period, outlawing their language and restricting them to farming on government-provided plots."

There is evidence that the Ainu may have been among the first settlers of North America as Kennewick Man is believed to be of Ainu origin.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sirens Mark Great Quake of 1906

Sirens Mark Great Quake of 1906. One hundred years ago today, one of the worst natural disasters in American history occurred. A large earthquake, estimated at 7.8 on the Richter Scale, hit the city.

The death toll is hard to know. CNN noted, "Historians say city officials, eager to bring people and commerce back to the city, radically underestimated the death toll. Researchers are still trying to settle on a number, but reliable estimates put the loss above 3,000, and possibly as high as 6,000."

The quake hit early in the morning when most people were still in bed. CNN wrote, "The foreshock sent people scrambling, and the main shock arrived with such fury that it flattened crowded rooming houses. The epicenter was a few miles offshore of the city, but it was felt as far away as Oregon and Nevada. In 28 seconds, it brought down the City Hall."

What followed was equally as devastating. Fires broke out in many parts of the city. Some fires were started by natural gas lines breaking. Other fires were the result of arson. The fires lasted for 4 days and nights.

Looting was also rampant. Mayor Eugene Schmitz ordered that looters be shot on site. Reportedly, some 500 people were shot.

It took San Francisco years to recover. However, it was rebuilt quickly enough that it was able to host the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The city also adopted the symbol of the Phoenix for the city flag and seal to represent a rise from the ashes.

More information on this historical disaster can be found at the 1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance official site

Monday, April 17, 2006

1961-1963 Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath

1961-1963 Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath - This site contains an extensive collection of U.S. government documents from the period, including list of key players, glossary of abbreviations, and sources.

The CIA has an article about this event as well. It is Soviet Deception inthe Cuban Missile Crisis and it was written by James H. Hansen.

Here are some additional primary documents relating to the Cuban Missile Crisis: 1. Address by President Kennedy, October 22, 1962 , 2. White House Statement on Continuation of Missile Build-up in Cuba, October 26, 1962, 3. Second Letter from Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy, October 26, 1962 , 4. President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev, October 27, 1962, 5. White House Statement, October 27, 1962 , 6. Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy, October 28, 1962, 7. Statement by President Kennedy on Receipt of Chairman Khrushchev's Letter, October 28, 1962, 8. President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev, October 28, 1962, 9. Address by President Kennedy on Cuba, November 2, 1962, 10. President Kennedy's Statement on Cuba, November 20, 1962

Of note, Wikipedia claims that Russians refer to the event as the "Caribbean Crisis," while Cubans refer to it as the "October Crisis." Various commentators (Melman, 1988; Hersh, 1997) also suggest that the Cuban Missile Crisis enhanced the hubris of American military planners, leading to military adventurism, most decidedly in Vietnam.

It is hard to believe how close the world came to nuclear war in 1961. My hunch is that President Kennedy would have invaded Cuba if Khrushchev had not backed down. How different would the world be now if you want to play the alternative history game?