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.