======================================================================== Cybernetics in the 3rd Millennium (C3M) --- Volume 5 Number 3, May 2006 Alan B. Scrivener --- www.well.com/~abs --- mailto:abs@well.com ========================================================================

The Eastern Question

(Part One)

Istanbul was Constantinople Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople Been a long time gone, Constantinople Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night Every gal in Constantinople Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople So if you've a date in Constantinople She'll be waiting in Istanbul ... Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks. -- They Might Be Giants, 1990 "Flood" (music CD) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002H7V/hip-20 ) This issue of Cybernetics in the Third Millennium expands upon ideas from volume 2 number 11, Nov. 2002, "War Games, Money Games, New Games and Meta Games," ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/c3m_0211.txt ) especially the section called "War Games" which begins: War games have been with us for a long time. The Olympics began as a kind of war game, bolstering the strength of Athens' youth in peacetime through competition. The familiar carousel of wooden horses and a brass ring to grab began as a military simulator, to teach knights to hit a target (the ring) with a lance while riding a galloping horse. When I began a stint of consulting on visualizing bio-terrorism threats in the fall of 2001, I felt a need to learn more about the antecedent events that created a world in which suicide bombers could and would threaten the only remaining superpower with the largest slaying of citizens (military or civilian) in its history. I first went to the Middle East history, rereading the encyclopedic but brief "Near East: 10,0000 Years of History" (1968) by Isaac Asimov. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0395065623/hip-20 ) It reminded me that parts of this conflict go back to before there were people that we now identify ethnically as either Arabs or Semites, let alone religiously as Moslems or Jews. Then I got to thinking, and remembered that a roommate of mine once suggested, that since I was a "smart guy" and liked complicated things, I might enjoy researching the so-called "Eastern Question" in British foreign policy in the 1870s. Almost 30 years later I decided to take that advice. (Another roommate offered an identical argument when he recommended I read "Finnegan's Wake" by James Joyce; it's advice I also decided to take almost 30 years later, but that's another story.) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0141181265/hip-20 ) I also remember watching a movie -- I think it was the Peter Sellers comedy classic "The Mouse That Roared" (1959) -- ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00009MEKJ/hip-20 ) with the same "Eastern Question" roommate and there being a scene in which a group of diplomats is waiting outside a Duchess' castle for an audience, and they amuse themselves in their chauffeur-driven car by playing the board game "Diplomacy." ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005EBA0/hip-20 ) In this game exactly seven players, representing the nations England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary and Turkey, re-negotiate the volatile conditions leading up to World War One in Europe, and then set to fighting. Unlike the similar board game "Risk" about global war, this game incorporates diplomatic strategy into the play of an otherwise military war game. My roommate laughed, and told me the game dealt with the "Eastern Question" he'd mentioned. More recently I've learned that this "Eastern Question" dealt with the planned division of the Middle East and the Balkans among European powers following the anticipated breakup of the Ottoman Empire of Turkey, which had ruled those regions for a millennium. At last I have dived into the subject matter, begin a read of the turgid history "Disraeli, Gladstone, and the Eastern Question; A Study in Diplomacy and Party Politics" (1935) by Robert William Seton-Watson. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393005941/hip-20 ) The author looks back with the hindsight gained from having personal papers from leaders of the several sides available for study. One thing I am learning is that in London, Disraeli believed that keeping Turkey strong and Serbia in the hands of the Turks (along with the rest of the Balkans) would prevent Russia from overrunning the region (and gaining a Mediterranean military port), while his political rival Gladstone believed that the Serbs and other Balkan nations could defend themselves from Russia (with the help of British allies) if they became self-governing, and would be loyal and stable allies as well. Nearly everyone in British foreign policy underestimated the loyalty and aid (by way of espionage) given to Russia by Christians in the Ottoman Empire, who were persecuted by the Turks and often helped by the Tzar of Russia, sometimes at a great sacrifice. This all came to a head in 1875, when the Serbs revolted and later that year a Sultan sold to Britain his minority stake in the otherwise- French-owned Suez canal in Egypt, which connected the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. (When the text gets too dense for me to bear, I imagine it being read aloud by Colonel Critchlow Suchbench.) ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/031123_06.jpg ) And that's as far as I've read. My roommate was right, it is fascinating. Since writing the above I finished reading "Disraeli, Gladstone, and the Eastern Question; A Study in Diplomacy and Party Politics" (1935) by Robert William Seton-Watson. I tried to talk to people about it. Among Americans, I was met with total ignorance and disinterest. When I tried to explain my reading to a dear relation at a family dinner, she said, "You remember that guy in the movie 'Airplane' [(1980) directed by Jim Abrahams and David Zucker] ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000B5XOWA/hip-20 ) who kept telling people his life story until they each tried to kill themselves? Well, that's how people will react if you try to tell them about that book." About the only thing I've ben able to get U.S.-educated folk to sit still for is a comparison of the traditional British coat of arms, including the lion and the unicorn,
( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/crest2.gif ) with the unicorn and lion in the "Alice" books, ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/7.4.jpg ) and how they in turn resemble the politicians Disraeli and Gladstone, especially as caricatured in "Punch" magazine, ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/disraeli_gladstone.jpg ) which isn't that all surprising when we realize that both the "Alice" illustrations and "Punch" cartoons were drawn by John Tenniel. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Tenniel ) Martin Gardner elaborates on this in the footnotes of "The Annotated Alice" (book, 1960). ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140289291/hip-20 ) But as by chance I talked to immigrants from Serbia, Russia, Turkey, and Persia (Iran), products of those country's educational systems, they all knew about the war between Russia and Turkey that began in 1877, and the Treaty of San Stephano which ended it in 1878, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_San_Stephano ) followed by the Treaty of Berlin in which the rest of the European powers got concessions for not making trouble with the whole deal. (This is how Britain ended up with Cyprus, for example.) They had been taught much more detail about the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and its effect on the European balance of power, because the way this phase of history played out impacted their own fortunes, both national and personal. As I explored this disparity in educations I pondered whether this would make the so-called "Eastern Question" a great or a terrible topic for this 'Zine.


We don't want to fight, But by Jingo if we do, We've got the ships, We've got the men, And got the money too. -- Irish music-hall singer G. H. MacDermott, 1878 (at the London Pavilion during the diplomatic crisis) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingoism ) Originally the term "Jingoism" meant a British attitude that they were the greatest of the Great Powers and so should be able to work their will, with "gunboat diplomacy" if necessary. It arose, of course, during the first pinnacle of crisis events surrounding the "Eastern Question" -- the end of the Tenth Russo-Turkish War in 1878. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Turkish_War ) (The second pinnacle was the start of World War One, also known as the Eleventh Russo-Turkish War.) And Jingoism is what some have called the United States' latest adventures in the Middle East, but few have known about the historical parallels they were invoking. As I pondered the events of 1877-78 in contrast to 2001 and since, I noticed lessons we might learn from the errors of the Russians and the British. The conflicts were precipitated by atrocities against Christians in Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria and other territories "controlled" by the Ottoman Turks. (Part of the problem was than the Ottomans didn't really have much control of the Circassian irregulars who were the actual "troops on the ground" and had their own agendas and loyalties.) With apparent delusions of Russian support, several of these territories revolted, only to be crushed in counterattacks and massacres. Russia invaded Turkey with the proclaimed motive of rescuing these Christian civilians. The Tzar had a big problem. As far as I could tell, he was a good man, and really was acting to protect innocents, under severe pressure from his wife and mother as well as Russian Orthodox religious leaders. But all the other European Powers knew Russia wanted a port in the Mediterranean, and part of their containment strategy was to prevent this. So they doubted the Tzar's motives and assumed the whole thing was a land grab. (The Tzar's other problem was he ran out of money to pay troops just as they were approaching the Turkish capital of Constantinople, also known as Istanbul and Byzantium.) Queen Victoria and her minister Disraeli had a far different problem. Britain's long term strategy in containing Russia continued to involve support for the Turkish government. So they felt obliged to claim the atrocities in the Balkans were faked. This outraged their political opponents, whose moral leader was Gladstone, and led to even more missions to investigate massacres and even more embarrassment for the British government. So Disraeli's dilemma was that by placing the continued survival of the democratic government first in his priorities, he was lead to the conclusion that a Turkish alliance was vital. But in a democracy he was subject to criticism because of the "moral side effects," if you will, of the policy, and that entire debate was held publicly. As a consequence there were almost no surprises for the Tzar from the British side. Nevertheless, by the sheer might of the British Navy Britain still had leverage, and Disraeli convinced the Tzar to retreat from Bulgaria, restoring it and Macedonia to Ottoman rule, and the massacres resumed. The analogy to today is clear to me: in America's recent history we've taken the strategy of Disraeli, by supporting cruel dictators around the world who were pro-American, including the likes of the Shah of Iran, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Reza_Pahlavi ) and ended up with a whole lot of baggage from the moral side-effects, such as the 1979 Iran hostage crisis for starters. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Hostage_Crisis ) But now, our man Bush has been invading countries while assuring the world that we're only doing it to protect innocents, and like the Tzar is faced with enemies who doubt his motives. But he also has a democracy and a free press to contend with, so his political opponents as well as his foreign opponents -- and even ex-allies -- accuse him of a power grab. I thought these ideas were relevant, but I didn't quite know where to go with them, so I put the essay aside for, as it turned out, three years. Only now do I feel like I have the answer to the question "so what?" figured out. LOOK BULLWINKLE, A MESSAGE FROM THE FUTURE! San Diego -- Earth city destroyed by the first ever act of nuclear terrorism [in 2157]. It is estimated that it will not be inhabitable again until the mid 2300s. -- "Babylon 5" Encyclopedia ( www.oinc.net/B5/Enc/display.php?san-diego ) My friend Bruce Webster sends me & some other folks a "link o' the day" email quite frequently. Recently he sent a link to what was in a fact a short-short science fiction story about terrorism and time travel, by novelist Dan Simmons. ( www.dansimmons.com/news/message/2006_04.htm ) In introducing the material Bruce says: I find this all the more interesting because I've been studying the Peloponnesian War for the last few years (two editions of Thucydides, Donald Kagen's book, and now Victor Davis Hanson's book)...and, of course, I wrote a book based on Sun Tzu. I don't agree with all of his assessments and predictions -- but, like Simmons, I've studied enough history (and in particular military history) to have grave concerns with how the West is dealing (or failing to deal) with the ongoing conflict of civilizations. "The Century War" is an apt term--and something to ponder in light of those who want us out of Iraq (and the Middle East) in six months. The time traveller appears in 2005 and talks about the sci-fi novel "Replay" (1998) by Kenneth Greenwood, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/068816112X/hip-20 ) in which a time visitor from the late 1980s to the early 1960s wonders if there are other like him, and so had: taken out personal ads in major city newspapers around the country. The ads were concise. "Do you remember Three Mile Island, Challenger, Watergate, Reaganomics? If so, contact me at . . ." So then THIS time traveller, at the beginning of 2005, gives the list: Terri Schiavo, Katrina, New Orleans under water, Ninth Ward, Ray Nagin, Superdome, Judge John Roberts, White Sox sweep the Astros in four to win the World Series, Pope Benedict XVI, Scooter Libby. and then comes back a year later to say "told ya' so" and give a new list, of future terror targets: Galveston, the Space Needle, Bank of America Plaza in Dallas, Renaissance Tower in Dallas, Bank One Center in Dallas, the Indianapolis 500 -- one hour and twenty-three minutes into the race. The Bell South Building in Atlanta. The TransAmerica Pyramid in San Francisco . . . the Golden Gate Bridge, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the New Reichstag in Berlin, Albert Hall, Saint Paul's Cathedral . . . When the narrator complains that they can't ALL be destroyed in the 21st century, the time traveller replies: I'm talking about your next fifteen years. And I've barely begun. Now I don't quite find this believable. I think since 2001 we've been slowly ungalvanized into inaction by our declining level of fear. One good direct hit on U.S. soil would turn that around, making us once again united with resolve. But it was food for thought. He taught me a new word: dhimmitude. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhimmitude ) He drew some parallels with the Peloponnesian War and our Iraq War, which made sense. (The Greeks didn't want it bad enough; the defender always has a home field morale advantage.) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peloponnesian_War ) But the really intriguing question, to me at least, was "When did America's war with radical Islamists begin?" Simmons had his time traveler give the answer: Historians in my time know that it began on June 5, 1968. -- which was the assassination of Robert Kennedy -- and predicted a 100-year conflict we would end up calling the Century War. (More later on "When did America's war with radical Islamists begin?") This got me to thinking about other science fiction commentary on our current predicament, whether intended or not. The series by George Alec Effinger that begins with "When Gravity Fails" (1987) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0765313588/hip-20 ) portrays a universe of planets colonized by humans ruled by dictatorships under Islamic law. This implies that we are in the middle of a struggle that will determine the culture of the cosmos. I also thought of Robert Heinlein's politically radioactive novel "Starship Troopers" (1960). ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0441783589/hip-20 ) According to the current Wikipedia article on the book, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers ) Heinlein wrote the book at a time when he was responding to protests over A-bomb tests by forming a counter-group to demand MORE nuclear weapon testing. As I described in C3M Vol. 4 No. 5, "Cyberpunks in Cyberspace" ~ or ~ "The Future of Science Fiction" ( www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047/c3m_0405.txt ) this novel was written in the xenophobic and conformist fifties, and even by the sixties seemed painfully reactionary and very out of fashion. It described a society in constant warfare against killer alien bugs that cannot be negotiated with. Society has reorganized itself so that you can't vote unless you've served in the military. When director Paul Verhoeven (who gave us "Robocop") made the movie version in 1997 ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000648WZ/hip-20 ) it was plainly a satire, done with a straight face but with tongue in cheek. The society portrayed seemed absurd, and the killer bugs they fought a dark, paranoid fantasy. Of course, now, post 9/11 it's not so absurd. Most of the satire seems to have drained away from this movie, and it has transformed into a run-of-the-mill sci-fi action movie, like many war movies before it. Its value as anti-war propaganda is now gone, and it has seemingly become pro-war instead. Indeed, Heinlein himself ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein ) has become a bit of a Patron Sci-Fi Saint to neo-cons, which annoys those of us who knew him as a libertarian. His novel "Beyond This Horizon" (1942) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0671318365/hip-20 ) contained another glaringly politically incorrect idea. It described a future time in which the history of humans on Earth includes a past attempt -- still in our own future -- to use selective breeding to eliminate violence from the race. A "violence gene" was identified and those with it were not allowed to bear children. When the point was reached where most of humanity was nonviolent, the remaining violent types revolted and slaughtered everybody else. (Who could fight them?) All further humanity was descended from this violent minority. This kind of scenario used to sound far-fetched, until the recent discovery using biotech that a large number of men in central Asia share a Y chromosome which likely came from Genghis Khan, as reported in "Adam's Curse: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Destiny" (book, 2003) by Bryan Sykes. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393326802/hip-20 )


Babylon, the mud-brick city with the million-dollar name, has paid the price of war. It has been ransacked, looted, torn up, paved over, neglected and roughly occupied. Archaeologists said American soldiers even used soil thick with priceless artifacts to stuff sandbags. -- Jeffrey Gettleman, 18 April 2006 "Ruined Treasures in Babylon Await an Iraq Without Fighting" New York Times ( www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060418/ZNYT03/604180407 ) My New Year's Resolution this year was to read "Moby Dick" (novel, 1851) by Herman Melville. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553213113/hip-20 ) I keep a copy at work, and at the end of each workday I read at least 3 pages; at this rate I should make my goal. Early in this process I happened on this surprising passage: ...doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this: "Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States. "WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL." "BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN." It was remarkable how his two sample headlines from 150 years ago (between which he sandwiched his personal news) resembled those of today. I was reminded of sci-fi author Neal Stephenson's latest three- volume opus, "the Baroque Cycle" (2003 - 2005). ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0380977427/hip-20 ) My wife has theorized that this work, written much like cyberpunk sci-fi but set in the 16th and 17th centuries, was an attempt to get geeks to pay more attention to history. In any case, I decided that I needed to pay more attention to history. I dusted off the "Eastern Question" material and took a fresh look. I finally broke down and bought a copy on eBay of the out-of-print book "The Near East: 10,000 Years of History" (1968) by Isaac Asimov. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0395065623/hip-20 ) Years ago in the 1970s, and again in 2001, I checked it out of the library and read it. I'd even made photocopies of the maps, showing the ebb and flow of empires over the Fertile Crescent. (The following link shows a map from a Bible study web site which is a fairly close fit to Asimov's maps.) ( www.hope.edu/bandstra/RTOT/CH1/CH1_F3.JPG ) In 1982 I attended my first World Game with Bucky Fuller, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Game ) ( www.osearth.com ) and there I saw a short hand-animated movie of the growth of world population over the centuries. To get an idea what I'm talking about you can look at some more recent content on on the internet, a still picture of U.S. population distribution, ( www.census.gov/geo/www/mapGallery/images/2k_night.jpg ) and a short, small animation of world population growth, ( desip.igc.org/mapanim.html ) but this particular animation was using a Dymaxion Projection Map ( www.bfi.org/node/25 ) and had colored dots for quantities of people. Inspired by this, I imagined an animated movie, showing the rise and fall of empires. I figured each region being centrally taxed could be in a different color, and the capitals where the tax money was taken could be represented as cylinders of the same color, sized to represent the annual income in units of grain. It would like a little like an image my friend Jeff Sale produced ( san-diego.siggraph.org/events/RobotRaces/02.jpg ) for Operation Desert Bloom (a somewhat unrelated project). ( www.wavzresearch.com/projects.htm ) My intuition told me that such an animation would lead to new insights as well as increased public curiosity about ancient history. A few years later I found out that guerrilla educators Charles and Ray Eames had done a hand-animated map of the perimeter of the Roman Empire in 1979 that they called "Atlas" -- it is now on DVD in the collection "The Films of Charles and Ray Eames." ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009S2K92/hip-20 ) This is a step in the right direction. This ancient history stuff may seem far removed from the important issues of today, until you look at a map of the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys ( www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/baghdad_rivers_1944.jpg ) and how they define the region around Bagdad, where the news media tell us American troops are being wounded and killed regularly.


The island of Cyprus, madame. World famous for beauty, and long, tragic history. Been conquered many times, conquered by Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians; also conquered by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Turks. Purchased from Turkey by your esteemed self, the British Empire. -- opening lines from the movie "Exodus" (1960) directed by Otto Preminger ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006FDAU/hip-20 ) When my wife read Asimov's history of the Near East, she said, "It's like it's drenched in history and it keeps re-drenching." As the dialog from "Exodus" highlights, wave after wave after wave of conquerors have swept through the region. The history of the island of Cyprus, just a few hundred miles from the Mediterranean shores of Syria, Lebanon and Israel, serves as a microcosm of the history of the ancient world. ( www.cyprusexplorer.com/history.htm ) as does the similar but different history of the island of Malta, south of Sicily and north of Suez. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta ) Both had prominent roles in the Crusades, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades ) and served for a while as home bases for the Knights Hospitaller. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Hospitaller ) The Crusades offer much to ponder as we Americans ask the rhetorical question about the Islamic Militants, "Why do they hate us so much?" Another thing worth pondering is the instructive story of Hassan i Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hassan_I_Sabbah ) Some Middle East scholars consider him a bogey-man created by Westerners, but if so then he is an instructive bogey-man. As a blogger summarizes: R. Anton Wilson reported that the sect founder Hassan i Sabbah would use very strong cannabis & opium to drug some of his converts; they would wake in a beautiful garden with delicious food & drink, tended by gorgeous maidens. After satiation in this paradise (which unbeknownst to them was a secret cloistered garden in the middle of Hassan's castle) they would again be drugged, to wake up back in Hassan's halls. He would tell them they had experienced a taste of the paradise that awaited them after death, if they followed his Ismaili teachings. In this way, they would become fanatically devoted to the sect, acting as deep-cover agents, sometimes for decades, in the courts of other rulers until such time as they got their orders to kill such-an-one, which they did with enthusiasm, looking forward to their joys in the afterlife! ( monkeyfilter.com/link.php/11700 ) For these reasons the words "hashish"" and "assassin" are reputed to come from his name. I've also heard tell that Hassan would send loyal adherents to infiltrate the inner circles of other leaders, sometimes for decades, awaiting the signal -- a inverted numeral 4 -- to assassinate their lord. Every now and then some generals would decide to eradicate Hassan from his desert fortress. Inevitably on the first night of the march the general would find a flaming dagger in his bed -- or several -- well-known sign of Hassan's infiltration. The wise would turn back.


I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. -- Thomas Jefferson, September 23, 1800 letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush (inscribed in the rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.) ( en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson ) Sometimes you find things in the weirdest places. I'm not even going to tell you where I ran across the book "Jefferson's War: America's First War On Terror 1801-1805" (2004) by Joseph Wheelan ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0786714042/hip-20 ) during my travels, except to say it was in a store you would only find in the American South. I didn't buy it then, but it's subject matter gnawed at my brain and I ended up tracking it down. I was astonished. Exactly 200 years before George W. Bush faced the problem of Islamic Militants, U.S. president Thomas Jefferson had created the country's first permanent navy to attempt to solve the same problem. ( www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1960/2/1960_2_26.shtml ) As Wikipedia explains ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_pirates ) in its "Barbary pirates" article: Though at least a proportion of them are better described as privateers, the Barbary pirates were pirates that operated out of Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers, Sal and ports in Morocco preying on shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea from the time of the Crusades as well as on ships on their way to Asia around Africa until the early 19th century. Their stronghold was along the stretch of northern Africa known as the Barbary Coast (a medieval term for the Maghreb after its Berber inhabitants), although their predation was said to extend as far north as Iceland, and south along West Africa's Atlantic seaboard. As well as preying on shipping, raids were often made on European coastal towns. The pirates were responsible for capturing large numbers of Christian slaves from Western Europe, who were sold in slave markets in places such as Morocco. Sultan Moulay Ismail had a very substantial fortified palace built almost entirely by Christian slave labour obtained through the actions of Barbary pirates. * * * Barbary pirates and the U.S. Navy When the U.S. became a country it had little in the way of a navy to protect its merchant ships, so in 1784, Congress appropriated $60,000 as tribute to the Barbary states. But continued attacks prompted the building of the United States Navy, ... Philadelphia, leading to a series of wars along the North African coast, starting in 1801... The United States Marine Corps actions in these wars led to the line, "to the shores of Tripoli" in the opening of the Marine Hymn. When Jefferson tried to negotiate with the Barbary states, insisting that America had no quarrel with them, he was told that the doctrine of "jihad" justified Islamic pirates preying on Christian ships. "Jefferson's War" covered all this material in more detail. It told the amazing tale of American adventurer John Eugene Leitensdorfer, in turns a U.S. diplomat, businessman, Moslem monk, soldier of fortune and street magician in the Islamic world. He was involved in a rear action in which: Marine Lt. Presley O'Bannon . . . planted the Stars and Stripes atop the battlement at Derna, the first American flag-raising on hostile soil. It also told of initial setbacks, of the U.S. Navy not acting with enough resolve, due to the illness of the fleet commander, bad weather, and usurping of power by a junior officer who preferred the social life of British Malta to actual warfare against Barbary pirates in their home ports. The junior officer was later court-martialed upon his return to the United States, but the damage was done -- the Barbary states laughed at the U.S. Navy and demanded more tribute. Meanwhile Tripoli, one of the Barbary states, seized some British citizens as a negotiating ploy, and Lord Nelson (yes, THAT Lord Nelson, of Trafalgar fame) sailed in to the capitol's harbor and began to shell the city with incendiaries. When the monarch, Yusuf Qamaranli, sent negotiators in boats Nelson rebuked them, and continued the shelling for a long afternoon. When Nelson finally agreed to negotiate Yusuf had to return the hostages, apologize, pay a fine, and promise never to do it again. Apparently the Americans learned from the British example, because when the U.S. ship Philadelphia was captured by Tripoli the Americans refused to pay tribute. As a sidebar to an article about the Barbary Berry ( www.lewis-clark.org/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=1349 ) explains: The critical point came in February of 1804 . . . Lieutenant Stephen Decatur boldly sailed his ship Enterprise into the harbor at Tripoli and burned the U.S. frigate Philadelphia, to void its captors' demands for tribute, incidentally avenging his own brother's death with the blood of a few privateers. He carried off the whole engagement at the cost of only one man wounded. (It was Decatur who said later, at a banquet celebrating his victory: In matters of foreign affairs, my country may she ever be right, but right or wrong, my country, my country. which of course has been shortened to "my country right or wrong.") Next the U.S. supported an attack by Yusuf's deposed brother Hamet, which included the battle in the aforementioned Derna. When Hamet's army was marching on the capital, U.S. warships attacked from the harbor, and Yusuf was quick to sue for peace. At that point the U.S. abandoned Hamet, surely a shameful chapter in the history of American foreign relations, but it could have been worse. Hamet could have triumphed and been installed as an American stooge. (More on stooges and other toadies later.) These events ultimately inspired: the Tripoli Memorial, the oldest U.S. military monument dedicated to the six naval officers killed during the Barbary War. It stands behind Preble Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. As well as a song by Francis Scott Key written to the same tune as "The Star-Spangled Banner" but nine years earlier: In conflict resistless each toil they endur'd' Till their foes shrunk dismay'd from the war's desolation: And pale beam'd the Crescent, its splendor obscur'd By the light of the star-spangled flag of our nation, Where each flaming star gleam'd a meteor of war, And the turban'd head bowed to the terrible glare. Then mixt with olive the laurel shall wave, And form a bright wreath for the bow of the brave. I dare say it's a rare American who knows this. (But I'll bet it's taught to school children in Iran, as further proof the we are "Great Satan." For the Islamic Militants this whole jihad must seem like a feud with an Alzheimer's patient: "What quarrel do you have with us?" we keep asking.) And that's when America's war with Islamic Militants began.


Ain't never gonna do it without the fez on, oh no. -- Steely Dan, 1976 "The Fez" (song) on the album "The Royal Scam" ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00003002D/hip-20 ) And now for something completely different. I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a big time fad gearing up, especially in Southern California, that is sometimes called Tiki Culture. Though it has its roots in the old Tiki fad of the 1940s and 50s, it's an new thing. Some of the 20-somethings doing it seem like the same people who were into lounge music, rockabilly, and Betty Page when they were each trendy. The old Tiki fad had its roots in all the G.I.s who got sent through Hawaii to the South Pacific in World War Two. Some of them moved to places like Long Beach and became aerospace workers after bringing Hawaiian brides back with them. When I went to a few events put on by the Kama'aina ["old timers"] Club of Orange County in the 1980s, ( kamaainacluboc.tripod.com ) ( www.hiccsc.org/members/kamaaina ) which keeps alive native Hawaiian traditions in Southern California, I saw quite a few Haoles (Anglos) married to Hawaiians. But aside from the old timers with their interest in authentic Hawaiian culture, the casual fantasy-tiki fans moved on to other things, and by the 1980s when I lived in the L.A. basin the old tiki style buildings were being torn down. I actually lived in a deteriorating Polynesian style complex called the Kona Garden Apartments in Bellflower. I saw tiki style bowling alleys, motels and liquor stores being torn down, and even dined a few times at the legendary Kelbo's near Pico and Sepulveda, ( www.critiki.com/cgi-bin/location.cgi?loc_id=204 ) before it was converted to a strip club. There was a short-lived tiki revival in the mid 1990s ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002TWF/hip-20 ) but it didn't really "take." Perhaps it was too soon after the old tiki fad's demise. But now in the "oughties" the Tikis are making a bigtime comeback. Last year at a Disneyana convention (google "Disneyana" if you're curious what that is) I stumbled on "Tiki Magazine" and bought a copy. ( www.tikimag.net ) From it I learned of an event in San Diego, my neck of the woods, called "Tiki Oasis 6" ( www.tikioasis.com ) held at the classic Polynesia-themed Hanalei Hotel. ( www.hanaleihotel.com ) ( www.geocities.com/tjssbn618/Hanalei.htm ) Thanks to the internet, this time the tiki fad is spreading very quickly. ( www.tikiroom.com ) With some friends and family I went to the afternoon vendor show at "Tiki Oasis 6." ( www.cultoftheeye.com/gallery/Tiki-Oasis-6 ) One of my friends found a booth publicizing a semi-covert, apparently satirical "Cult of the Eye." ( www.cultoftheeye.com ) "How do I become a member?" my friend asked. "First you have to get a Fez," and the directed him to their partners in a nearby booth, Fez-O-Rama, who sold him a Fez. ( www.fez-o-rama.com ) This was a real "hmmm" moment for me. What is it about a man in a Fez? Those mysterious Barbary states like Tripoli had -- and have -- men wearing Fezes all over the place. ( www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/g700000/g707157.jpg ) And why does the search for the Tiki seem to lead to the man with the Fez? Even that classic fake Hawaiian record "Exotica" (1957) by Martin Denny ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000000IAP/hip-20 ) begins with Polynesian themes but eventually transitions to Arabian Nights. The song "Caravan" -- famous for its use in magic acts -- is played with a traditional drum solo, sounding like camels carrying rugs, and belly dancers at the oasis. (Could it be the allure of the Island Orgy eventual leads to the desire for the Harem?)


"Allah be praised, I've invented the zero." "What?" "Nothing, nothing." -- "Why Man Creates" (short film, 1968) ( imdb.com/title/tt0063804 ) Doubtless American culture is filled with stereotypes of Middle Easterners, from Peter Lorre as Ugarte ( www.zelluloid.de/filme/bilder.php3?id=1487 ) in "Casablanca" (movie, 1942) directed by Michael Curtiz, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6305736650/hip-20 ) ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casablanca_%28film%29 ) to cartoon character Morocco Mole, ( community.webshots.com/photo/434390663/1434411159066044909AkObrA ) to the comedy portrayal Libyan terrorists, ( www.thephatphree.com/_photos/50rides/38.jpg ) in "Back To the Future" (movie, 1985) directed by Robert Zemeckis. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006AL1E/hip-20 ) Indeed, scholars have pointed out that many Westerners even have anxieties about Christian nations that used to be under Moslem rule until the last century or two, which includes most of the Balkans. It's as if these countries have acquired some kind of sinister influence from Ottoman rule. These anxieties manifest in highbrow literature such as "Dracula" (novel, 1897) by Bram Stoker, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0451523377/hip-20 ) as well as lowbrow "B" movies such as "Cat People" (1942) and "The Curse of the Cat People" (1944) directed by Robert Wise. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000A0GOF0/hip-20 ) A number of so-called "lodges" or men's clubs in America seem to have Middle Eastern roots, such as the Masons, Shriners and Demolay, and there are secret societies such as the Rosicrucians and the Golden Dawn, that all seem to harken back to spiritual secrets (sometimes sinister) brought back to Europe by Crusaders. Neal Wilgus' "The Illuminoids" (book, 1979) looks into the super-secret "Illuminati" supposedly brought from African mystery religions -- as well as Moslem mysticism -- by the Knights Templar and others, and spread through the West as a sort of parasite on Freemasonry. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0671819496/hip-20 ) Alchemy is said to have similar roots. See "The Sufis" (book, 1964) by Idries Shah. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385079664/hip-20 ) But some of our stereotypes are positive. American school children are taught that the Arab world produced excellent mathematics ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_mathematics ) and astronomy, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_astronomers ) as well as chemistry, medicine and navigation. ( home.att.net/~a.f.aly/renaissance.htm ) I have also noticed a number of spiritual paths that seem both uplifting and beautiful which have grown up within the Islamic tradition, such as the Dervishes, ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dervish ) the Sufis (though they might deny it), ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sufism ) and the followers of spiritual master Meher Baba. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meher_Baba )


The old man had left the laboratory a mess. What engaged my attention at once was the quantity of cheap toys lying around. There was a paper kite with a broken spine. There was a toy gyroscope, wound with string, ready to whirr and balance itself. There was a top. There was a bubble pipe. There was a fish bowl with a castle and two turtles in it. "He loved ten-cent stores," said Miss Faust. "I can see he did." "Some of his most famous experiments were performed with equipment that cost less than a dollar." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, 1969 "Cat's Cradle" (novel) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/038533348X/hip-20 ) One of the myths in the post-9/11 era is "They hate us because we are free." A related myth is "our freedom of thought makes us strong, because we end up doing the best science." In other words, America invented the assembly line, the airplane, the transistor, the laser, and the atom bomb because we don't have a state-sponsored religion, like the Iranians, or a state-controlled definition of our language, like the French, or state-censored communications, like the Chinese. Might makes right, but science makes might, and free minds make science. If this is really true, then any attempt to restrict American's free thought is a threat to our national security! But with both these myths I think the reality is far more complex. The Bush administration has bent over backwards to send the message "we are not at war with Islam," but some of the American people have not agreed. A question that is raised in the blogosphere is: "Is Islam Itself a Threat?" ( www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=4209 ) My own personal take on the "why do they hate us?" question is that "they" (our enemies among the Islamic Fundamentalists) recognize that they they are engaged in a centuries-old struggle with "the West" for the hearts and minds of the people of Earth, even if we don't. By "the West" I mean a package deal that includes Christians, Jews, and Secular Humanists and the institutions of what is usually called "Liberal Democracy," including the universal near-support for a fundamental human right: The Right To Be Left Alone. Why they hate us so fiercely, and are willing to use such desperate tactics, is because we're winning so totally, with about a 1300-year technical head start. Our superior technology forces them to use the tactics of Asymmetric Warfare: terror and suicide. This technical struggle predates Moslems, Christians and Jews, predates Arabs and Israelis, and traces back to ancient empires like the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Amorites, and the Assyrians, and mostly in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers within 500 miles of modern Bagdad. The cycle of history frequently followed this pattern: happy agrarians in the valleys use the irrigation system to grow a surplus of food, allowing some citizens to be defenders, others to advance agricultural knowledge, others to just become lazy and self-indulgent. Over time the pressures to defend and innovate and subside, until one day fierce nomads with superior breeds of horses and superior alloys of metals in their weapons sweep down and try to slaughter everyone. They move in, figure our the irrigation system, start growing more than they need to survive and soon become the new happy agrarians. Cycle repeats. Much later this ongoing series of conquests leads to the Roman Empire, and eventually the British Empire on the Western side, and Turkish Empire in the East. The big puzzle is how the Occident got so far ahead of the Orient after coming from behind in the first Millennium. I found a book, "What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East" (2003) by Bernard Lewis, ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060516054/hip-20 ) but it really didn't answer the question. Jared Diamond, in "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" (book, 1997) ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393061310/hip-20 ) explains the even bigger technical advantage of the West over the third world, like natives in the Americas, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa, by a convoluted argument involving the domestication of animals in Europe and Asia giving those peoples stronger immune systems. My friend John Z. says the answer is in "Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages" (book, 2003) by Richard E. Rubenstein ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0156030098/hip-20 ) and also recommends "Victory of Reason" (book, 2005) by Rodney Stark. ( www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400062284/hip-20 ) As he explains it to me, Rubenstein's thesis is that the church in the early middle ages was faced with questions the scriptures didn't answer, so they endorsed the known writings of Aristotle which were few and seemed harmless. But during the Renaissance many more of his writings were found, and the church was forced to accept them as well, and this lead to a growth of "Natural Philosophy," the search for knowledge of the Creator by studying the created, which became Western science. Islam was better at filtering our heresy, and so didn't mutate the way most of Christendom did, into an interlinked industrial/capitalist society. Next time: what all this has to do with cybernetics. TO BE CONTINUED... ======================================================================== newsletter archives: www.well.com/~abs/Cyb/4.669211660910299067185320382047 ======================================================================== Privacy Promise: Your email address will never be sold or given to others. You will receive only the e-Zine C3M from me, Alan Scrivener, at most once per month. It may contain commercial offers from me. 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