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?”
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?”
A complete mischaracterization of Pat Buchanan, who is a Catholic paleoconservative. I do realize neocons hate him.
If he ever was a Catholic paleoconservative, he long ago ceased to be. He is a neopagan, with Catholic liturgical tendencies. Have you ever heard of Eugenio Pacelli? Ask him if Buchanan is a Catholic?
By the way, Buchanan endorsed Romney. That should tell you everything you need to know.
Many conservatives endorsed Romney in the election.
Pat has been solid on the issues that matter. He has done a lot to promote our cause.
Considering that he never made any such apologies perhaps you should give up hard liquor.
He certainly did. Also affirmative action.
“This urge to spread democracy is, IMNVHO, a perversion of Christian Evangelism”
You’ve described the problem exactly.
It’s an Idol for a number of people, Democracy as the Messiah that will bring peace to the whole world.
But democracy as we practice it is a product of America’s British culture, the Magna Carta and all that, meeting the necessity for self government out in the hinterlands of North America. It developed out of the culture that grew here in the colonial era.
The idea that it can be transferred to any country on Earth is a peculiarly modern belief held by people who have no understanding of how powerful religion and culture are in shaping of societies and how they govern themselves.
Even our German cousins didn’t take to democracy when it was imposed on them after WWI. They were used to having a strong leader, and it didn’t take them long to jettison the Weimar Republic in favor of a strongman.
You have to be a real true believer to buy the idea that Islam, an even more alien environment where religion and government and culture are all one, can become a liberal democracy.
Buchanan is very much a Catholic. That fellow you are debating is full of something other than facts.
I learned long ago not to waste my time with character assassins. David Frum made a name for himself doing that, and unlike those on the Right who hailed Frum as a great conservative journalist I saw through him right from the start.
I watched the Buchanan-is-a-Nazi crowd start the game in Commentary Magazine back in the 80s. Commentary’s main Buchanan attacker was a former leader of the communist front Young People’s Socialist League named Joshua Muravchik.
Part of the game was a Catholic-Jewish fight and being neither I just watched it as an observer. One of first ‘fights’ was a Jewish demand that Catholics remove a nunnery from the grounds of one of the Nazi camps where Polish Catholics had been exterminated alongside Jews.
People who weren’t around to read the attack on Buchanan as it developed don’t know that the Buchanan haters were also attacking Ronald Reagan at the same time. They claimed that Buchanan had Reagan lay a wreath on an SS grave at Bitburg and attacked both Reagan and Buchanan for being sympathetic to Nazis.
Of course Buchanan had nothing to do with the Bitburg ceremony, memory tells me that it was Dick Darmon, but that has never stopped the Buchanan haters from repeating the same story over and over. And I never saw any apology for their smear of Reagan, who was honoring the German dead as a sign of good will to our Cold War allies.
And then there was the elderly auto worker who was charged with being a Nazi camp guard based on Soviet documents. The fact that the Israeli Supreme Court didn’t buy the accusations any more than Buchanan did gets ignored as well, but who knows, maybe they were closet Nazis. Everyone who gets in the way is a Nazi.
But the whole subject is tiresome, it’s all the same sort of smear job and facts are of little interest to the haters anyway. They have an agenda and for them the end justifies the means.