Skip to comments.THE UNRAVELING OF SYKES-PICOT (Patrick J. Buchanan)
Posted on 05/28/2013 2:36:07 PM PDT by neverdem
The thrice-promised land it has been called.
It is that land north of Mecca and Medina and south of Anatolia, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.
In 1915 — that year of Gallipoli, which forced the resignation of First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill — Britain, to win Arab support for its war against the Ottoman Turks, committed, in the McMahon Agreement, to the independence of these lands under Arab rule.
It was for this that Lawrence of Arabia and the Arabs fought.
In November 1917, however, one month before Gen. Allenby led his army into Jerusalem, Lord Balfour, in a letter to Baron Rothschild, declared that His Majesty’s government now looked with favor upon the creation on these same lands of a national homeland for the Jewish people.
Between these clashing commitments there had been struck in 1916 a secret deal between Britain’s Mark Sykes and France’s Francois Georges-Picot. With the silent approval of czarist Russia, which had been promised Istanbul, these lands were subdivided and placed under British and French rule.
France got Syria and Lebanon. Britain took Transjordan, Palestine and Iraq, and carved out Kuwait.
Vladimir Lenin discovered the Sykes-Picot treaty in the czar’s archives and published it, so the world might see what the Great War was truly all about. Sykes-Picot proved impossible to reconcile with Woodrow Wilson’s declaration that he and the allies — the British, French, Italian, Russian and Japanese empires — were all fighting “to make the world safe for democracy.”
Imperial hypocrisy stood naked and exposed.
Wilson’s idealistic Fourteen Points, announced early in 1918, were crafted to recapture the moral high ground. Yet it was out of the implementation of Sykes-Picot that so much Arab hostility and hatred would come — and from which today’s Middle East emerged.
Nine decades on, the Sykes-Picot map of the Middle East seems about to undergo revision, and a new map, its borders drawn in blood, emerge, along the lines of what H.G. Wells called the “natural borders” of mankind.
“There is a natural and necessary political map of the world,” Wells wrote, “which transcends” these artificial states, and this natural map of mankind would see nations established on the basis of language, culture, creed, race and tribe. The natural map of the Middle East has begun to assert itself.
Syria is disintegrating, with Alawite Shia fighting Sunni, Christians siding with Damascus, Druze divided, and Kurds looking to break free and unite with their kinfolk in Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Their dream: a Kurdistani nation rooted in a common ethnic identity.
Shia Hezbollah controls the south of Lebanon, and with Shia Iran is supporting the Shia-led army and regime of Bashar Assad.
Together, they are carving out a sub-nation from Damascus to Homs to the Mediterranean. The east and north of Syria could be lost to the Sunni rebels and the Al-Nusra Front, an ally of al-Qaida.
Sectarian war is now spilling over into Lebanon.
Iraq, too, seems to be disintegrating. The Kurdish enclave in the north is acting like an independent nation, cutting oil deals with Ankara.
Sunni Anbar in the west is supporting Sunni rebels across the border in Syria. And the Shia regime in Baghdad is being scourged by Sunni terror that could reignite the civil-sectarian war of 2006-2007, this time without Gen. Petraeus’ U.S. troops to negotiate a truce or tamp it down.
Sunni Turkey is home to 15 million Kurds and 15 million Shia. And its prime minister’s role as middle man between Qatari and Saudi arms shipments and Syria’s Sunni rebels is unappreciated by his own people.
Seeing the Shia crescent — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad’s Syria, Nuri al-Maliki’s Iraq, the Ayatollah’s Iran — imperiled by the potential loss of its Syrian linchpin, Tehran and Hezbollah seem willing to risk far more in this Syrian war than does the Sunni coalition of Saudis, Qataris and Turks.
Who dares, wins.
Though the Turks have a 400,000-man, NATO-equipped army, a population three times that of Syria and an economy 12 times as large, and they are, with the Israelis, the strongest nations in the region, they appear to want the Americans to deal with their problem.
President Obama is to be commended for resisting neocon and liberal interventionist clamors to get us into yet another open-ended war. For we have no vital interest in Assad’s overthrow.
We have lived with him and his father for 40 years. And what did our intervention in Libya to oust Moammar Gadhafi produce but a failed state, the Benghazi atrocity, and the spread of al-Qaida into Mali and Niger?
Why should Americans die for a Sunni triumph in Syria? At best, we might bring about a new Muslim Brotherhood regime in Damascus, as in Cairo. At worst, we could get a privileged sanctuary for that al-Qaida affiliate, the Al-Nusra Front.
As the Sykes-Picot borders disappear and the nations created by the mapmakers of Paris in 1919-1920 disintegrate, a Muslim Thirty Years’ War may be breaking out in the thrice-promised land
It is not, and it should not become, America’s war.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”
Buchanan always puts the interests of America first, don’t you wish everyone did. Involvement in war in this area is not in America’s interest. If they want to kill each other, get out of the way.
I know quite a few criticize PB here but he generally makes points worthy of consideration that have some context, logic, and reason. I’d rate this historical recounting of how we got here among his better efforts. It seems we, the US, have again bumped into Winston Churchill’s legacy, just as we did in Iraq. There can be no doubt that WC cast a long shadow across the 20th Century affairs of the world but it is interesting how his influence persists into the 21st Century. For both good and ill, a rare man.
I’m certainly not allying myself with Obama but rather with common sense when I say we just allow Syria to devolve as it will, perhaps as H.G. Wells described. The previous poster was spot on about “tar baby”. At most, we should ensure Israel’s continued security (a point of my departure with PB) but not with American blood.
Buchanan praises Obama for wanting to stay out of Middle East conflicts, but is that actually the case?
We are, I hope, a Christian nation. We are therefore supposed to convert the heathens to Christianity. THEN, the ex-murderous savages, having been saved, can better find find democracy on their own. This where GW and the Bushes went wrong.
Example: Islam and democracy are not compatible.
We don’t need this new war. We didn’t need the last one.
With the King of Saudi dead, we will have enough trouble.
I think Buchanan is a bit optimistic ... Bam-Bam appears to desire an alliance with the muslim brotherhood.
Dishonest reading of current history.
“President Obama is to be commended for resisting neocon and liberal interventionist clamors to get us into yet another open-ended war. “
Except Pat, Obama instigated the overthrow of Egypt and Libya and Syria as well. So Obama can get screwed.
Buchanan - read his article and he outs himself as a bald-faced anti-american liar. An agreement between the British, the French, and with silent approval of the Soviets. And Buchanan blames it on Woodrow Wilson and the U.S. I can find no evidence Wilson and the U.S. I am no great fan of Wilson. But Buchanan is pure and simply lying to promote his communist anti-U.S. agenda. Why doesn’t he move to one of the countries he likes - Russia, Germany, Palestinian encampments. I’d much prefer him to lie from there.
The world is paying a heavy price today for late 19th and early 20th century European Adventurism.
"Rebels" is such a romantic word. Robert E. Lee, George Washington, Garibaldi ... none of whom massacred IIRC the Christians or anyone else when they captured a town or won a battle. These filthy bastards are not "rebels," they are jihadists. I stand with Team Putin on this one. No matter how bad Assad is, he is better than what That Mombasa MF is trying to put in their place.
By the way, I and a whole bunch of McCain's contemporaries can testify to this man's idiocy, ineptitude, lack of character, and unfitness for public office. When the North Vietnamese captured this incredibly inept pilot and all-around hell-raiser, a sigh of relief went through the Naval Air Service.
He never puts the United States first. The man hates the U.S, and all it stands. His apologies for Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Hitler, Arafat make me sick.
1916. No Soviets. The tsar was still around.
He doesn't blame Sykes-Picot on Wilson. Quite the opposite, he says it contradicted Wilson's ideas.
I'm not sure if borders actually are going to change now, but at this point, getting involved doesn't look like a good idea.
One hour documentary detailing British double dealing during the first world war and its effects on the ME.
Let’s start with the proposition that Bashar Assad is a horrible, brutal dictator.
The rebels are worse. Tehre is a long pattern in US foreign policy, going back at least to China in the 1940s and running through Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Egypt, and other countries of intervening to topple a nasty but friendly dictator to replace him with a more brutal and unfriendly regime. We should not make the same mistake in Syria.
Pat’s commendation of Obama is misplaced. Obama desperately wants to get involved to topple Assad, but like Woodrow Wilson and LBJ, he wants it to look like he was forced in by a provocation.
Pat is dead right that our involvement in Libya led to the slaughter of four Americans in Benghazi, and the Republicans need to say so. This is yet another reason why we should not get involved in Syria.
But as Pat says, it’s not our war.
When I was in high school, someone asked me who I thought would win if the Soviet Union went to war with Red China. Without hesitation, I said, “We would.”
“No, you don’t understand,” my friend said. “The war is between the Soviets and the Chinese. We’re not involved.”
“That’s exactly why we would win,” I said. “We just watch our enemies destroy each other.”
“Buchanan praises Obama for wanting to stay out of Middle East conflicts, but is that actually the case?”
No, but like Wilson, he wants to make it look that way, while doing the opposite.
John McCain is the biggest doofus in the Republican Party. He's a clueless fool.
Erroneous reading of current history, not, IMO, dishonest.
Which is exactly what The Won and his puppeteers wanted.
That’s just a dishonest evaluation of Buchanan, IMO.
It’s a 100% honest evaluation of Buchanan. It’s time people start calling him on the stuff he says. I don’t know if he is ignorant about history, or if he deliberately lies about historical facts, but he’s perpetuating falsehoods to promote his own left wing, anti-U.S., anti-Catholics, anti-Western, anti-Jewish point of view. Sorry, I am not afraid to call him on it.
That there’s funny, I don’t care who ya are!
Thanks for the link.
I think someone who was okay with the kidnap and assignation of Pope Pius XII, and a force that wanted to rid Europe of Catholicism qualifies as anti-Catholic. Especially for someone who was raised Catholic.
I know one thing... old pat would like it if he lived in 1938 Germany.
You’re entitled to your opinion. But where are the facts? It is obvious you don’t like Buchanan’s position of putting America first and staying out of local wars.
In fact, this current civil war in Syria is actually helping the U.S. Among other things, it's distracting Iran and Syria with their proxy war there. It's sucking all the energy of the Middle East into Syria.
I do, however, doubt Buchanan's claims that President Obama is such a hero in that regard. First of all, the President may get us into that war soon. Secondly, how come Buchanan gives him a pass on Libya? We had no reason to invade Libya. We only aided Al Qaeda by doing it. We were giving money to Gadaffi immediately before that.
It seems like Buchanan isn't always for putting the U.S. first and staying out of local wars first. He's quite the neocon when it suits his purpose. Maybe people should call him miniMcCain.
Lord Balfour, in a letter to Baron Rothschild, declared that His Majestys government now looked with favor upon the creation on these same lands of a national homeland for the Jewish people... Vladimir Lenin discovered the Sykes-Picot treaty in the czars archives and published it, so the world might see what the Great War was truly all about.... it was out of the implementation of Sykes-Picot that so much Arab hostility and hatred would come and from which todays Middle East emerged.Too bad he didn't manage to work in the Illuminati, the CFR, and Protocols of the Elders of Sion.
You have to find another source for info. Buchanan was against the war in Libya.
See:Its Their War, Not Ours by Patrick J. Buchanan, March 08, 2011
In my readings of Buchanan, he has been unfailing in his defense of traditional Catholic orthodoxy. I’d like to see where he attacks traditional Catholicism.
I think he would have made a decent president
Pat Buchanan’s goal for the past fifty years has been the preservation of American freedom and power.
Jewish Virtual Library: Sykes-Picot Agreement -- (in official terminology, the 1916 Asia Minor Agreement)... between the British and French governments pertaining to the partition of the Ottoman Empire among the Allied Powers... Russia was also privy to the discussions and consented to the terms. The agreement became official in an exchange of notes among the three Allied Powers on April 26 and May 23, 1916. In a subsequent stage Italy, too, gave her consent and the notes, which had been exchanged between April 10 and September 27, 1917, and were confirmed in the Treaty of St. Jean de Maurienne... Sir Edward Grey, the British foreign secretary ... "Our primary and vital object," he emphasized, "is not to secure a new sphere of British influence, but to get the Arabs on our side." ...In the years that followed, the Sykes-Picot Agreement became the target of bitter criticism, both in France and in England. Lloyd George referred to it as an "egregious" and a "foolish" document. He was particularly indignant that Palestine was inconsiderately mutilated... The true progenitor of the Sykes-Picot Agreement was the McMahon-Hussein correspondence. From this point of view Arab criticism is even less justified. The two negotiations showed meticulous consideration for Arab interests and blended it with healthy realism. The power vacuum created by the destruction of the Ottoman Empire had to be filled by a new authority; the alternative was chaos... During the discussions Sykes and Picot took note that the Jews throughout the world have "a conscientious and sentimental interest" in the future of the country. Zionist aspirations were passed over. This lapse was severely criticized by William R. Hall, head of the Intelligence Department of the British Admiralty. He pointed out that the Jews have "a strong material, and a very strong political interest in the future of the country and that in the Brown area the question of Zionism [ought] to be considered." ...The agreement was officially abrogated by the Allies at the San Remo Conference in April 1920, when the Mandate for Palestine was conferred upon Britain.
Never heard that..... Always watched him on Crossfire as a kid, but I know little else about him.
I always thought he was a conservative/ libertarian type.
Never heard the anti catholic, which would totally change my opinion if true
Oh, then why is he painting President Obama as some kind of anti-war hero in this article?
Agreed. The guy misread Buchanan’s article.
Patrick Cockburn: Is it the end of Sykes-Picot? -- Whatever the uprising has since become it began in March 2011 as a mass revolt against a cruel and corrupt police state. The regime at first refused to say much in response, then sounded aggrieved and befuddled as it saw the vacuum it had created being filled with information put out by its enemies. Defecting Syrian soldiers were on television denouncing their former masters while government units that had stayed loyal remained unreported and invisible. And so it has largely continued. The ubiquitous YouTube videos of minor, and in some cases illusory, victories by the rebels are put about in large part to persuade the world that, given more money and arms, they can quickly win a decisive victory and end the war... By savagely repressing demonstrations two years ago Bashar al-Assad helped turn mass protests into an insurrection which has torn Syria apart. He is probably correct in predicting that diplomacy will fail, that his opponents inside and outside Syria are too divided to agree on a peace deal. He may also be right in believing that greater foreign intervention is a clear probability. The quagmire is turning out to be even deeper and more dangerous than it was in Iraq.
Pat Buchanan IS Catholic.
The same reason Antiwar.com also posted the op-ed — he’s a CINO.
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
Not sure why Pat is concerned about the Jewish People in the first couple paragraphs, Sykes-Picot mad no suggestion of a state for the Palestinians (those were the Jews back in the day). It simply divided the region into areas of French, British, and Russian (they defaulted) influence. Palestine (where the Jews lived) to be administered internationally. Zionist concerns were not an issue. They did emerge with the British Mandate, and the San Remo conference, which abrogated Sykes-Picot officially, and established Jordan cut from the Jewish homeland Sykes-Picot did not address.
“Buchanan praises Obama for wanting to stay out of Middle East conflicts, but is that actually the case?”