Login/Sign up

World Association of International Studies

Post WAIS '13 Concludes
Created by John Eipper on 10/13/13 2:53 AM

Previous posts in this discussion:


WAIS '13 Concludes (John Eipper, USA, 10/13/13 2:53 am)

Day Two of the WAIS '13 conference was as eclectic and delightful as WAIS itself.  We heard presentations from John Torok, Anthony Candil, Massoud Malek, Robert Whealey, Blake Culver, and Roman Zhovtulya.  At 4 PM, a number of us attended the football game between the Adrian Bulldogs and the Alma Scots, where we were the invited guests of Adrian College President Jeffrey R. Docking in the Presidential Suite.  Under warm, sunny skies and the bouquet of autumn leaves, we watched Dog defeat Scotsman 41-6.  The evening concluded with a banquet at Hooligan's Grill, Adrian.

Today we will bid our goodbyes, as I prepare to pilot an enormous college van to the airport and the Henry Ford museum, Dearborn, for WAISers with later departures.

Photos to follow.  My warmest thanks to colleagues who traveled from far and wide to make WAIS '13 a success.  Pax et lux.

Rate this post
Informational value 
Reader Ratings (1)
Informational value100%

Visits: 52


Please login/register to reply or comment: Login/Sign up

  • WAIS '13 (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 10/14/13 3:37 AM)
    Congratulations and kudos to John E for a job well done! Thank you for the videos!

    JE comments: My thanks to Francisco Wong-Díaz for the kind words. I hope he'll be able to join us at the WAIS Golden Jubilee, tentatively scheduled for 8-11 October 2015, Stanford University.

    I'll be uploading and posting photographs throughout the day, but below is a sneak preview from our Sunday visit to the Henry Ford museum (Dearborn), courtesy of photographer extraordinaire Randy Black.  The Bugatti Type 41 Royale, of which only six were manufactured, is probably the most glorious automobile of all time.  I nominate it for the Official Ride of WAIS:

    WAISers at The Henry Ford, 13 October 2013.  From left:  John Eipper, Boris Volodarsky, Anthony J. Candil, Robert Gibbs, John Torok.  Photo Randy Black

    Please login/register to reply or comment:

    • WAIS '13; Belief in the Devil (John Torok, USA 10/15/13 2:44 AM)
      First, thank you to John Eipper for a yeoman job with WAIS 2013 conference organizing and logistics. A superb conference, and a good time was had by all. It was fantastic to see fellow WAISers, hear very diverse presentations, connect with old friends, and make new friends across what some perceive as ideological divides. If October weather in Adrian, Michigan is always like it was for our WAIS weekend, then Adrian perhaps comes close to Heaven on Earth ... lucky John Eipper! Thank you also for the opportunity to watch my first-ever college football game. Go Bulldogs!

      In response to Massoud Malek's post (14 October) on Justice Scalia's belief in the Devil, given the deep and dark history of religious intolerance against Roman Catholics in the United States, is it not striking that six of the nine present sitting Supreme Court Justices are Catholics? They include Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, and Sotomayor. Does this numerical fact alone signify progress in American religious either freedom or tolerance? Is it wholly immaterial to our reading of the Supreme Court's jurisprudence? I would be interested in the thoughts of the religious thinkers and American historians amongst WAISers, as well as lawyerly reflections.

      For Bob Gibbs: What do we want? Rabbit stew! When do we want it? Now! Or perhaps the next conference...

      JE comments: I'm touched by John Torok's kind words. Glad you enjoyed the conference, John! And yes: one of the unique strengths of WAIS is that it provides a venue for people of diverse political views to exchange their ideas in an amiable way. And what better place to do so than at a small-college football game?

      I got behind yesterday on posting the promised conference photos, as Bob Gibbs, Roman Zhovtulya and I spent yesterday in search of a rabbit. (This is an inside joke from WAIS '13...I'll be driving Bob to the airport today and will ask him to explain it to the Forum.)

      But here, as an appetizer of the images to come, is John in Rosa Park's place on that historic Montgomery bus.  As Rosa taught the world, it's a very good place to sit.

      John Torok on the Rosa Parks bus, Henry Ford museum, 13 October 2013.  Photo JE

      Please login/register to reply or comment:

      • Ah, But the Conference Goes On (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 10/15/13 8:18 AM)

        As the last two Mohicans, sorry, WAISers, are still in Michigan leaving only this afternoon, the conference goes on in spite of the fact the the rest of us have already safely reached our homes. And I am sure our fellowship will go on until we meet again, in the flesh, two years later for the 50th anniversary session. I joint John Torok's words of the praise to the Adrian conference 2013 and its host. Everything was absolutely fabulous; thank you John and all participants.

        JE comments:  I'm out the door for my last meeting with the two Mohicans:  Robert Gibbs and Roman Zhovtulya.  I'll be driving Col. Bob to the airport for his flight back to Seattle, and Roman and I will have lunch and bid our farewells.  (Roman flies to the West Coast tomorrow, but I'll be in Adrian all day and won't have the chance to see him.)

        I echo Boris's kind words:  a big thanks to WAIS '13 participants for making the conference a success, and yes:  in WAISworld, every day is a day of enlightened fellowship.

        Please login/register to reply or comment:

    • WAIS '13 (David Duggan, USA 10/15/13 4:24 AM)
      Just a word to thank John E for hosting and MC'ing the WAIS '13 conference. Joan and I had a ton of fun, and it was great to place faces with names. Because of my vanity, I was checking out the live feeds, and at least the non-Q&A version of my Chicago Politics disquisition was not part of that transmitted. Did I miss something?

      JE comments: David Duggan, Robert Whealey, and Anthony Candil are the three WAISers I had the pleasure to meet for the first time in the flesh. David is the only WAISer in history to give two presentations at a WAIS conference. His reflections on Chicago politics and his travelogue on Switzerland's Haute Route were as witty as they were informative--thank you, David!

      Our IT director, Roman Zhovtulya, is still in town, and I'll inquire today about the video file of your Chicago talk, David.

      An announcement: David has agreed to take over a very important role: he will be pitch-hitting from time to time as the WAIS Guest Editor. I invited David for this "honor" a few months ago, as he is a brilliant proofreader who never fails to catch the typo that gets past my pencil. I look forward to David's debut.  Stay tuned.

      Please login/register to reply or comment:

    • WAIS '13 (Michael Sullivan, USA 10/16/13 1:39 AM)
      Just a quick note to send a giant "well done" and huge thank you for the wonderful conference, meals and camaraderie we all shared at Adrian. Nicole and I felt it was one of the nicest adventures we've ever had.

      Meeting WAISers that we only knew via email was such a privilege, as their emails sometimes would leave me with the possibility they were card-carrying commies, socialists, anti-American or terrorist-leaning (just kidding)! I really liked Bob Whealey and his wife Lois. He is a brilliant fellow and a patriot who believes in following the Constitution while being against war. Hard to find fault with his views! His presentation style is classic with a deep, booming voice and the kind I always learned the most from. His command of events and dates is uncanny! A true expert in his field.

      We loved Adrian College and all the wonderful folks we met. I was greatly impressed by President Docking and the "heartbeat" he has set for the College. Please thank him for his hospitality and sharing his President's Box with us at the football game.

      I enjoyed my one-on-one discussions with John Torok, Occupy Oakland, with whom I felt very comfortable, as I found many of his views having merit and I'd have never thought that prior to this conference.

      The banquet at Hooligan's, Saturday night, was really special and the food excellent. WAISers were able to share such a super evening together with the chemistry and setting being so perfect.

      JE comments: I am touched, General! My heartiest thanks to you and Nicole for making the two-day drive from North Carolina.  I am grateful for all you do for WAIS.

      I have been remiss about uploading more of the conference photos, but it's been too much fun goofing off with WAISers! But now, after eight trips to the airport in less than a week (plus one each from Roman Zhovtulya and one of my students), and having bid adieu to the last of the WAISer "Mohicans" in Michigan, I'll sit down with my iPhone and select the most representative images. Randy Black has also sent some excellent shots to share with WAISworld.  Watch this space.

      Please login/register to reply or comment:

    • WAIS '13; on Cat Health Care (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/16/13 2:09 AM)
      It really sounds like WAIS '13 was fantastic. I have seen photos and videos. Congratulations!

      But what about John E's cat? I wait for good news.

      JE comments: Eugenio Battaglia is too kind. Aware that he is a fellow felinophile with several of the furry beasts in his Savona home, I had shared with Eugenio the health scare with Lucek, our 11 year-old male longhair who had stopped eating and had lost about 40% of his body weight. We feared we would lose him during WAIS '13, but after two expensive visits to the veterinarian, he seems to be improving. The diagnosis: acute pancreatitis, plus a nasty case of fleas. A few doses of Cyproheptadine, an appetite enhancer, have restored both his appetite and his playfulness, although he still seems to be in pain. Time will tell if he makes a full recovery--but for now we're grateful he's still with us. Given the bank-breaking vet bills for an originally "free" cat, I regret that there is no ObamaKittyCare.

      Back in August, Lucek took an immediate liking to Paul Pitlick, when Paul and Jan visited our home.  Photo at the link below. I hope he didn't give Paul any fleas!


      Please login/register to reply or comment:

    • WAIS '13 (Anthony J Candil, USA 10/17/13 3:58 AM)
      Sorry for being almost the last one to say how good was to be there in the heart of Michigan with all of you.

      It was a magnificent experience meeting such a bunch of wonderful scholars, so professional and dedicated. I want to thank you all for contributing to make my stay there a real joy.

      In particular I thank John Eipper for organizing everything with Swiss-like precision. It was a joy too to meet Aldona, and your son, and the young man from the Basque Country who is living with you this year. I hope to see you all soon in Austin.

      I want to thank also especially our IT guru Roman Zhovtulya for doing such a wonderful job.

      We'll stay in touch, my friends.

      JE comments: The warm and fuzzies keep coming--thanks, Anthony! It was great to meet you at the conference.

      We'll return to our normal programming today. There are many issues outside of WAIS itself to discuss, including the end this morning to the US government shutdown.  On this topic, next we'll hear from Anthony Candil's fellow Texan, Randy Black.

      Please login/register to reply or comment:

      • Anthony Candil, WAIS '13, and the Spanish Monarchy (Robert Whealey, USA 10/18/13 7:04 AM)
        Let me add that Anthony Candil's presentation on King Juan Carlos at the WAIS conference was the most original talk I have ever heard on Spain.

        I was always suspicious of the idea of monarchy, since I read biographies of Jefferson, Washington, Adams and Franklin. In teaching British history in my classes at Ohio University, I was taken in by the Liberal glorification of Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth II has taken in 99% of the Americans, including my wife Lois.

        I have noticed since becoming a professional historian that the US State Department and both Democratic and Republican leaders since 1945 have created a pseudo-monarchical celebrity in Hollywood. This propaganda allows the corporate elite of Wall Street to fool the uniformed voters who do not do much thinking beyond the age of 18. Anthony's is the first anti-monarchist on principle I have ever met.

        His upcoming book should find a market.

        JE comments: Anthony Candil's talk presented a startling thesis, that the botched 1981 Tejero coup was masterminded by the Court's inner circle in order to solidify the King's legitimacy as a "Defender of Democracy." This is a difficult theory to prove, but if Anthony is correct, the conspiracy worked: Juan Carlos was beloved by just about everyone in Spain until recent years.

        Best wishes to Robert and Lois Whealey.  I had a great time with them in Adrian.

        PS:  I too am an anti-monarchist on principle.  And I believe Anthony Candil and I are not the only small-r republicans in WAISworld.
        Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • Was the Botched Tejero Coup Masterminded by the King's Inner Circle? (Carmen Negrin, -France 10/19/13 4:17 AM)
          In response to Robert Whealey (18 October), it seems that both the Ambassadors of Germany, Lothar Lahn, and of the US, Terence Todman, in Madrid at the time, have confirmed in their memoirs the thesis set out by Anthony Candil. There is also a publication that has come out of one of the assistants of the King, confirming that the king kept his calm all along, even joked while it was happening, simply because he knew perfectly what was going on and was only surprised by Tejero's zeal, which wasn't part of the plan.

          There is also a book, referring to the above-mentionned ambassadors by Jesús Palacios, 23-F, el rey y su secreto (Libros Libres).

          A few years ago, in Las Palmas, I had an argument with Carrillo about the king's role in the coup; he was vehement about the king's innocence, but in one of these publications, Carrillo is mentioned as being part of the plot.

          JE comments: This is very interesting, especially the suggestion that Santiago Carrillo also may have known what was going on.  I hope Paul Preston will join our conversation.

          I also look forward to Anthony Candil's thoughts on the Palacios book.

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Was the Botched Tejero Coup Masterminded by the King's Inner Circle? (Paul Preston, -UK 10/19/13 11:05 AM)
            I find this speculation at best surrealistic (see Robert Whealey, 18 October, and Carmen Negrín, 19 October). Before saying anything more, I think it is important that we do not to see the events of 1975-1981 through the prism of the King's current fall in popularity thanks to shenanigans with elephants and German princesses.

            Back to 1981. The notion that Juan Carlos's inner circle could choreograph the shambles launched by Tejero in order to consolidate his reputation as a democrat is, to my mind, just silly. In the first place, whether Juan Carlos in his heart of hearts was really a democrat is irrelevant. It is certainly the case that, long before the death of Franco, he had been convinced by advisors both Spanish and foreign and by his wife, that a constitutional monarchy was the only possible way of guaranteeing his family's chance of holding on to the throne. Thus, in the complex circumstances described in my book on the subject, he circumvented Franco's plans for the continuation of his regime under a Francoist monarch.

            This placed him on an extremely tense and dangerous political path. From Franco's death until the first democratic elections on 15 June 1977, he played the role of the hinge between the moderate anti-Franco opposition and the more progressive elements of the old regime. None of this would have happened without mass popular pressure for democratisation, but his role in neutralising the armed forces, of which he was commander-in-chief, was paramount. From 1977 to 1981, he played the role of the "fireman" of the democratic regime, constantly battling against military subversion. Accordingly, the idea that it might have been necessary for his advisors to mount the operation of 23 February to consolidate his reputation makes little sense. The idea that it would have been possible to coordinate all the elements involved on that night purely to that end is beyond belief. Why would right-wing generals keen to overturn democracy have the slightest interest in sanctifying the King as the champion of democracy?

            The extreme right in Spain has for years been peddling the idea that the King was privy to the plot but not for the reasons suggested. Seeing him as already a bulwark of democracy, they wanted to besmirch that image and, in doing so, reduce the guilt of Tejero and company.

            In their thesis, the idea is that the King was privy to the plot hatched by General Armada, whose objective was a coalition government presided over by himself. That was certainly Armada's ambition, but there were other plots afoot. There were others, like General Milans del Bosch who had in mind something more like Pinochet's coup in Chile. And then there was Tejero, a loose cannon, who botched the whole thing.

            If the King were privy to anything, it would have been the plans of Armada who had been one of his early mentors and a key element of the royal household until a couple of years previously. Moreover, Armada got other generals on board by telling them that the King supported what he was doing. However, the whole thing falls down on the fact, if Juan Carlos shared the objective of a coalition government presided over by a general, he could have achieved it easily and legally some weeks earlier.

            After the resignation of Adolfo Suárez, deep concern over the deteriorating political situation (Basque terrorism, military subversion, economic problems) was shared by most elements of the political establishment. When the King began his consultations with party leaders over the solution to the crisis, they all showed readiness to participate in a coalition government presided over by a general. So why would Juan Carlos have wanted to risk the international humiliation that accompanied the antics of Tejero?

            For what it is worth, my views are based on considerable research and interviews with Manuel Fraga, Santiago Carrillo, Felipe González and Adolfo Suárez, with the King, with General Armada and with Sabino Fernández Campo, at the time head of the royal household, and with other senior military figures.

            JE comments: Many thanks to Paul Preston for his excellent insight. In a nutshell, if I read Paul correctly, the King's inner circle would not have allowed themselves to be duped into "consolidating" Juan Carlos's reputation as a constitutional monarch.  Moreover, there were just too many unknowns that would have been unleashed by such a complicated conspiracy.  Suppose, for starters, that the Tejero clique had received spontaneous support from other military units?  A civil war could have ensued--which possibly would have toppled Juan Carlos's incipient reign.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Future of Spanish Monarchy (Jordi Molins, -Spain 10/20/13 3:46 AM)
              I thank Paul Preston (19 October) for his insightful post on the Tejero Coup.

              Paul wrote:

              "[The Spanish King] had been convinced by advisors both Spanish and foreign and by his wife, that a constitutional monarchy was the only possible way of guaranteeing his family's chance of holding on to the throne."

              May I ask Paul what, in his opinion, is the "way of guaranteeing the King's family a change of holding on to the throne" under the current stresses Spain faces, especially Catalonia's process of independence, the economic crisis and the unabashed plundering by Madrid extractive networks?

              I am sure many insiders would appreciate Paul's thoughts on the subject.

              JE comments: Paul Preston rarely comments on contemporary Spanish politics, but perhaps he'll take up Jordi's question. Given the grave situation in Spain today, is there any hope for the present monarchy?

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • Future of Spanish Monarchy (Paul Preston, -UK 10/20/13 6:51 AM)
                I have enough trouble interpreting the past without embarking on predicting the future. However, I would say in response to Jordi Molins (20 October) that the one asset of the monarchy has been, despite all its myriad disadvantages, the fact that it offers, in principle at least, a neutral headship of state. With a political class as bitterly divided as is that of Spain, riddled moreover with corruption, this is potentially important. I say "potentially" because it would need to be proven that the heir, the Príncipe de Asturias, is capable of showing independence of both major political parties and showing some sensitivity on the issue of Catalonia.

                However, it is futile to try to predict. It is impossible to know in what circumstances the reign of Juan Carlos will end--abdication, death, massive constitutional change? Both of the main political parties are doing so abysmally in the polls that the next general elections could bring major surprises. Similarly, the Catalan situation could take unexpected turns. Accordingly, it is impossible to foresee the situation that a future King Felipe would face assuming that he ever ascends (or descends, depending on your point of view), to the throne.

                JE comments:  I recall reading somewhere (perhaps on WAIS) that Felipe is particularly unpopular in Catalonia--even more so than Juan Carlos.  Can anyone confirm/comment?

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Was the Botched Tejero Coup Masterminded by the King's Inner Circle? (Anthony J Candil, USA 10/20/13 4:57 AM)
              My apologies if I take a great deal of space to present my arguments to Paul Preston. (See Paul's post of 19 October.) I think this is necessary, even if the whole story is much more complex and difficult.

              About the Jesús Palacios book mentioned by Carmen Negrín, I'd say that it is an excellent book, probably the only one speaking loud and clear so far. And certainly for the peace of mind of Paul Preston, I'd say that Jesús is not involved in any "shenanigans with elephants and faux German princesses." He is a professor at the University of Madrid, and all I can say is that life has not been made easy for him in Spain after he unveiled his books (actually he wrote two, very difficult to obtain). Such are the mysteries of "Spanish democracy."

              Well, let me tell you beforehand that I was reluctant to talk about this issue, because I knew some of the reactions that would ensue. Nevertheless once in, I'll do my best to get out, even though I know it's not an easy task to try to convince someone of such a relevant intellectual height as Paul Preston. I didn't expect a positive comment from Carmen Negrín either, but it is obvious that she knows. And I'm glad she said so.

              I do respect Paul Preston a lot--I've read many, if not all, of his books--and his knowledge is enormous. However that doesn't mean he is always 100 per cent right all the time. I don't know why he qualifies so easily others' theses as silly and surrealistic speculation. I wouldn't ever do that to anybody.

              Paul Preston's comments do not provide any light at all on the issue more than the official version does. What he repeats is precisely the official version Spaniards have swallowed for over thirty years, making the King the "perfect champion of democracy," which he is not.

              First of all, it is not my intention to justify what happened on February 23, 1981. Further, when I use the word "failure," I do not mean a failure of the plot in and of itself, although that certainly was the case; I mean a failure of the nation as a whole, a failure of the state and a failure of the political system existent in Spain in 1981 that allowed some to believe that a coup d'état could be the solution for the country's problems and a legitimate "defense of the Realm." Among those who held this view was the King. To continue believing in 2013 that February 23, 1981 in Spain, was just a foolishness coming out of the mind of some nostalgic generals--actually the two, there were no others, most monarchist generals of the Spanish Army--and a radical lieutenant colonel from the Guardia Civil, is just too naïve and too simple.

              Paul Preston says that long before the death of Franco, the King to be had been "convinced by advisors that a constitutional monarchy was the only possible way of guaranteeing his family's chance of holding on to the throne." I hold the view that, no matter what, Spain without Franco would have had no other alternative than to follow the pattern of Western democracies. What they did was to enforce and enhance the process so that the result would be the convenient one for the Royals, however with the help of others (the opposition parties, and the nationalists mainly). He didn't bother with the right-wing parties because he took their loyalty--like that of the armed forces--for granted. In his mind it wasn't what was best for the country but for him, and for them. The brains behind all the political intrigue--in the best tradition of the Bourbon family of having a "favorite"--was nevertheless the former professor Torcuato Fernández Miranda, one of the King's mentors, who became the engine of all the changes that occurred after Franco's death. The first action the King took, once Franco was dead, was to name Fernández Miranda President (Speaker) of the Congress--Cortes--and head of the Council of the Realm (Kingdom). This gave Juan Carlos control over the Cortes, and provided him with critical assistance to dismantle legally the old regime.

              Juan Carlos appointed Adolfo Suárez as Prime Minister of the government on the recommendation of Fernández Miranda. The choice of Suárez was the culmination of months of assiduous conspiracy. As was the case with Juan Carlos himself, Adolfo Suárez was never democratically chosen by the Spanish people. He was merely singled out by a close advisor to the King, and then following his advice, appointed as Prime Minister by Juan Carlos without further consultation. It was as simple as that and certainly not a good start for an emerging democracy after 37 years of dictatorship.

              Suárez was an unknown provincial who had been the last "Secretary General of the National Movement" (Movimiento Nacional), the body that served as Franco's sole political party. Apparently in 1976, Juan Carlos asked his mentor Fernández Miranda: "Are you sure, Torcuato, that we can trust a man like him, capable of so much duplicity?" Torcuato answered back: "That's why, Your Majesty, that's why we choose him" (from Gregorio Morán, Suárez: Historia de una ambición. Ed. Planeta, Madrid).

              Paul Preston manages the idea that the King "played the role of the hinge between the moderate anti-Franco opposition and the more progressive elements of the old regime. None of this would have happened without mass popular pressure for democratisation, but his role in neutralizing the armed forces, of which he was commander-in-chief, was paramount. From 1977 to 1981, he played the role of the 'fireman' of the democratic regime, constantly battling against military subversion." This is a blatant lie; of course I don't mean Paul lies but that this is the official version. The Spanish military has a long tradition of taking part in politics. Even today it is customary in Spain to accuse the Army and the armed forces in general of intervening in the nation's public affairs and political life and playing a role in the decision-making process. Yet the reality is that the Spanish military as an institution--with the exception of some isolated individual cases--has not taken part in politics at all through the whole second half of the 20th century, and this can be proved.

              Suárez's first cabinet had four military officers, as there was no Ministry of Defense and each branch of the armed forces was represented by its own minister. And yet what was the attitude of the Spanish armed forces? Were they seeking a "change of direction?" The real role and capabilities of the Spanish Armed Forces had been taken for granted for a long time, but the reality was quite different. As WAISer Stanley Payne shrewdly pointed out, one of the numerous ironies and contradictions of the Franco regime's legacy was that it left a very weak and backward military. [1] The numerous senior officers in state agencies functioned as autonomous members and never as corporate representatives of the Armed Forces. In other words, for some generals, politics and not the armed forces was their primary profession. The Franco regime had always been a personal dictatorship and the military, while supportive of the dictatorship, did not have a direct corporate role in Spain's governance. As Payne further points out, at no time in Spanish history did the military lead a serious effort to block effective political change that was carried out through legal channels, and for this they enjoyed strong public support. In 1981 the requisites of the government precluded in one way or another any successful military challenge to the existing political system.

              Moreover, while some military leaders grudgingly accepted political reform out of loyalty to the Monarchy, they also grew increasingly hostile to Suárez's leadership as ETA terrorism intensified. There was a growing sense among them that Suárez had betrayed the nation and that his government was allowing the country to descend into anarchy and chaos. This sense, however, did not necessarily translate into an open challenge to either the newborn democracy or the Monarchy. In the military barracks, like everywhere else in Spain, there was a great deal of discussion of the current political situation, and like the rest of the country nobody was happy with the current state of affairs. Traditionally, the Army was considered the most conservative service--perhaps due to the fact that Franco himself had been an Army officer--but so was the Navy, and certainly there was no talk of challenging the authorities among naval officers. The Air Force, a relatively new and independent service established in 1940 after the Civil War, demonstrated a very prudent and cautious attitude. To a great extent in 1981, citing Payne's well-known analysis of the Spanish military's historic involvement in domestic politics, their potential role was not dependent on the ambitions of a few generals but on "the stability of government institutions and the civic maturity of Spanish society as a whole." [2] In fact, the Spanish military basically saw its responsibility as one of defending the State from external as opposed to internal enemies. This outward focus, combined with the general stability and conservative nature of the Suárez government, made military intervention in the political sphere both impractical and unlikely. So, if there was some kind of uneasiness in the ranks, it was being generated not by the generals but by the one individual whose aim was to guarantee the security of his throne and to ensure that there would be no possibility of his dethronement by future military force.

              On February 23, 1981, not a single Army unit or regular military officer, apart from a few isolated cases and the two key generals, or enlisted men joined the so-called military plot. To continue blaming the Spanish military, particularly the Army, for the attempted coup is patently ridiculous. In any case, at that time, much like today, the Spanish military lacked genuine leadership. Except for a few well-known brigade-level generals--restricted to operational components--there were no senior officers who were truly known and respected by the majority of the Armed Forces, who would have been able to lead a rebellion.

              In Madrid, as in the rest of the country, not a single military unit was deployed apart from a reinforced light cavalry troop that was ordered to take control of the premises of the national television company (RTVE). [5] The regiment was part of the Armored Division which was headquartered close to the RTVE office. The unit itself had no specific orders, save to take control of and defend the television company. After a few hours, following the direct or indirect orders of General Sabino Fernández Campo to the regiment's commanding officer, the troop was withdrawn and returned to its nearby barracks without, as was the case with the units in Valencia, any incident or problem related to its action.

              Not a single Commander-in-Chief of the eight other military districts took precautions or steps similar to those implemented by General Miláns in Valencia. It is telling that not a single one of these generals had been contacted by the plotters either prior to the event or on the day of the episode. Again, it would be difficult to define February 23 as a military coup d'état. If it was, it was certainly an organizational disaster, and this is a very perplexing as General Miláns had a fine reputation as a professional soldier. He also had a first-rate staff which could have planned the whole operation down to the smallest detail and masterfully carried out its execution. Even the Armored Division in Madrid had competent planners who could have supervised it all had it been a real coup. The fact is, it was not a real coup!

              Paul Preston also maintains that "if the King were privy to anything, it would have been the plans of Armada who had been one of his early mentors and a key element of the royal household until a couple of years previously." But of course he was privy to the plans of General Armada! Six people then were deeply involved in the plan, General Alfonso Armada, General of the Judge-Advocate Corps Sabino Fernández Campo, General Jaime Miláns, the King, LTC Antonio Tejero, from the Guardia Civil, and Army Major José Luis Cortina, an old friend of the King from his time at the Military Academy. How most of these players managed to meet is not too difficult to imagine. Four of them were Army officers and could have been in touch now and then in one way or another. Major José Luis Cortina, as a junior officer, was unknown to General Miláns and LTC Tejero, but was well known to generals Sabino and Armada due to his frequent visits, as a former classmate, with the King. LTC Tejero, being an officer in the Guardia Civil and not in the Army, had never been in contact with the others, nor did he meet with them personally at any time.

              Paul Preston even says that "moreover, Armada got other generals on board by telling them that the King supported what he was doing." It was not like that. The only other general Armada apparently recruited was General Jaime Milans. General Miláns and General Armada knew each other well, even if they never got along. They had many opportunities to see each other within an Army environment, and certainly since Armada was assigned to the Royal Household for many years, and Miláns was a recognized monarchist, they surely encountered each other at many social occasions. Nonetheless, it is a fact that General Miláns covertly despised General Armada. While he considered himself a professional soldier, Miláns viewed Armada as little more than a distinguished courtier with no real military spirit. General Sabino Fernández--unquestionably a man of intrigue--had served in several capacities at Army Headquarters as a legal officer, and since 1977 he had been the King's Secretary. He was certainly well-known in Army circles. Armada believed him to be a friend whom he could trust; on the other hand, Miláns had almost no contact at all with him. Sabino had plenty of opportunities to stay in close contact with Major Cortina, especially on those occasions when Cortina visited the King. Nonetheless there are no records of this contact as Sabino took special care not to leave any evidence of their occurrence. [3]

              The plan to involve the Guardia Civil and not the Army apparently seemed a brilliant idea to Sabino, to the King and even to General Armada. The employment of Army units would have involved many problems. To start with, it would have been much more difficult to conceal and would have risked a higher level of confrontation and potential bloodshed as military units had no real training in this type of "surgical operation." At the same time, the Army in that period was not as yet fully "professional," but a force mostly composed of draftees. Consequently, there was considerable risk of provoking substantial collateral damage--due mostly to the prospect of employing sophisticated weaponry or heavy artillery--or the prospect that troops would mutiny or fail to follow orders or that their commanders would be unwilling to rise against the legal authority. This was not the Spain of 1936, and for the Army an armed uprising was simply not on their radar screen. On the other hand, who could possibly perform this act better than the perpetually loyal Guardia Civil? Nothing would work better than the meritorious and professional Guardia Civil--la Benemérita--for a quick and bloodless action such as the one that was contemplated.

              The tactical details of the plot were mainly the work of Major Cortina. The political aspects of the operation were most likely formulated by General Armada in close coordination with the King. Unbeknownst to Armada, they were approved by General Sabino, who was able in that way to insure that the plan would ultimately fail. In the end, this would achieve the real goals of the plot: to protect the Monarchy, to fix it firmly in the Spanish body politic, and to furnish it with the solid legitimacy it lacked by moving it beyond a mere imposition of the late General Franco. After the event, Armada explained that "they"--i.e., Major Cortina--had come to him with the whole plan already laid out and that in the end he accepted it. Arrogantly, he noted that he was chosen due to his moderate attitude, his monarchist credentials and his excellent relations with an array of politicians and businessmen across the political spectrum. According to the historian/journalist Jesús Palacios, Major Cortina's brother, a businessman with many contacts among politicians, especially those in the conservative Alianza Popular led by Manuel Fraga, was a frequent visitor to General Armada.[4]

              No matter how bad the planning and execution had been, all the players involved in the plot went along with it, believing that they were following the King's orders, and that as such, nothing would actually go wrong and they would ultimately be exonerated. This was incredible naiveté on their part. It definitely was not what the King and his Machiavellians had in mind. They in fact needed these foolish scapegoats to go obediently to the royal sacrificial altar believing that they were doing the royal will. Needless to say, they were not told beforehand of the real purpose of the plot. Not even the King's old and trusted advisor, General Armada, was informed.

              General Sabino had coldly calculated both the benefits and risks of the operation, and reached the conclusion that it was less dangerous for the monarchy to stage a counterfeit coup than not to stage one. The idea was not to destroy the parliamentary system as Alfonso XIII had done in 1923 when he accepted General Primo de Rivera's pronunciamiento, but to stage an event predestined to fail that would play to the anxiety of the nation while at the same time redefining the image of the King and safeguarding his throne. When the coup d'état failed because a "courageous" Juan Carlos stood opposed to it, Spain's new democratic polity recognized that the King was indeed a key element of its structure and would continue to be in the future. Certainly the risks were very high and all that could have ended in a very tragical way.

              Up to a point, the faux coup convulsed the nation but beyond putting some bullet holes in the Cortes ceiling, it was a bloodless affair that ended in comic opera failure. On the other hand, as we have argued, the real coup did not fail. In fact it exceeded expectations by allowing the King to finally move beyond the Francoist connection and to accrue a level of legitimacy that would exponentially enhance his power and prestige. As the Spanish writer Javier Cercas has suggested, it was also a coup d'état to invalidate the July 1936 uprising. This is precisely what Sabino and Juan Carlos had envisaged: bringing a genuine end to Franco's legacy and his 36-year regime. This break with the past, however, was only seen in terms of benefiting the Monarch's position and not necessarily the nation.

              There is no doubt in my mind that February 23 reflected a total failure of the new Spanish democracy that had developed after Franco's death. At the same time, the coup intended by LTC Tejero and General Armada was absolutely unnecessary and proof of this was the total lack of support it received from the Spanish citizenry, whose behavior through this whole affair was admirable and responsible.

              On the other hand, the real crime, which is still unpunished, was the real coup behind the coup; the one organized by the King and his Machiavellian advisor and tolerated by the political parties and the media. These "democratic institutions," starting with the Crown, had all behaved in an irresponsible way and did nothing to frustrate the coup if not to encourage it. The Crown, that is the King, his closest advisors and peers, did their best to set into motion a mechanism that would ultimately reinforce their status without being concerned about any unanticipated consequences that could have sent this whole affair out of control and propelled the Nation into unnecessary turmoil.

              In reality the coup was like an espionage novel but a bad one, and the truth was simple: the King asked for a solution to his problem and obsession, Major Cortina set up the failed plot and General Sabino Fernández ensured its failure. Both of these men got away unpunished as, of course, did the King. On the other hand, General Armada's agenda was not to destroy democracy but to redirect it toward a government of salvation supported by the King and made up of representatives of all the political parties. The point was to ultimately reinforce the Monarchy. General Miláns and LTC Tejero made up the operational branch of the idea. Major Cortina was the key tool to unchain the whole scheme. General Sabino was the mastermind behind the real coup, the one that made the players--from General Armada to LTC Tejero--appear as buffoons from another age, and who saved the day, reinforced the monarchy and gave the King the ability to finally shed the stigma of being Franco's heir.

              In reality the immediate price the nation paid was minimal. There was no bloodshed, just a few Army and Guardia Civil officers went to prison--after all they were expendable--and business and commerce came back as usual. On the other hand, it was a shock for most Spaniards, but the general populace handled the situation with calm and common sense. In short, from the Monarch's viewpoint, it was a total success. Who could ask for anything more? The whole issue lasted barely 18 hours and there were even some Spaniards who did not know it was taking place at all. The events got much more attention after the fact than when it was actually taking place. Thousands of pages would subsequently be written about the event, but most of them simply gave what became the official version or what the authorities wanted the public to believe.

              In short, we have to establish that Juan Carlos of Bourbon was appointed Head of the Spanish State by the sole will of general Franco, and nobody else.

              What happened on February 23, 1981, was a remake of the political behavior of the Spanish Royals during the 19th century due to the structural failures of the constitutional system, which made the different political parties find a way to abolish the previous constitutional order whenever they alternate in power, and that's why they call the armed forces to intervene.

              On February 23, 1981, there was neither a military plot nor a military conspiracy of any kind. It was an improvisation, a fake plot to be used as the perfect excuse to make the King appearing as the ultimate savior of the nation. There was not a massive military rebellion, just two three-star generals of proven monarchical beliefs and a restricted show of minimum military force. It was a special operation conceived and suggested by an expert in clandestine special operations, an officer graduated from the Spanish Army Special Operations School, and a close friend of the King: Major José Luis Cortina. And the person responsible for making the fake plot ultimately fail was no other than General Sabino Fernández Campo (6), private assistant and secretary of the King, when he deliberately stopped General Armada from getting into the King's palace--La Zarzuela--once he had managed to tell Juan Carlos that he was on his way. LTC Tejero had already stormed the House of Congress.

              The court martial [7] set up to trying all the military personnel eventually convicted for the attempted coup, known as the Campamento Trial (Juicio de Campamento), took place almost one year later, starting on February 19, 1982, and ending on May 24, 1982, after 48 continuous working sessions and more than 15,000 pages of written documents. It was the longest trial in the history of Spanish military justice. Due to the rank and category of the indicted personnel, some of them being generals, the court martial was directed by the Supreme Council of Military Justice. Almost all the officers convicted were really convinced that the state of near chaos and lack of leadership that plagued Spain in those days had eliminated "de facto" all legal standards that could lay any legitimate claim to obedience, thus making the coup a moral imperative, and even more if they were just following the King's orders.

              My memory is, no doubt about it, a recollection of the past I lived and, as Carl Becker says, there are two histories perhaps, the actual events that once occurred and those I remember. There is also a collective memory developed in Spain but even in today's modern Spain, by contrast, document-based historical research hasn't been available yet to historians. All that remains is what is found in media reports from that time, reports that are not free of bias, omissions, judgments or mistakes. If my individual memory can be faulted for my reliance on my own observation, which can reveal bias or some prejudice, the collective or official history can be discredited as well for the omissions and bias of the authors.

              The enormous aberration of establishing a law--back in 2004 by the former Socialist president Rodríguez Zapatero--to implement a so-called "historical memory" reveals to what extent Spaniards are being told not to remember the past in a way that either tries to present all sides of the story or renders some myths and heroes newly established so far as complex and fallible human beings who perhaps were wrong and not so heroic in the end.

              My fear is no other than not grasping the event in its full dimension, of not being able to describe it on the basis of the appropriate level of observation as "what it really was: an unnecessary and unmitigated disaster."

              Pax and Lux!

              [1] Stanley G. Payne, Politics and the Military in Modern Spain, (Stanford: 1967), p. 453.

              [2] Stanley G. Payne, Modernization of the Armed Forces, The politics of democratic Spain, The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 1986, p.181.

              [3] The King even paid a low-profile visit to the special operational unit of military intelligence under the command of Major Cortina in mid-September 1980. This was certainly out of the ordinary.

              [4] Declarations of General Alfonso Armada, to Jesús Palacios, El Golpe del CESID (Madrid), p. 98. General Armada also informed Palacios that "we shouldn't overlook that in Spain, every time the monarchy has been sustained, it has been so after a coup d'état, even with Juan Carlos, who is a King thanks to the coup made by general Franco!" p. 99.

              [5] The cavalry troop that took over the television company was under the command of Captain Jesús Martínez de Merlo together with Captain Germán Corisco. They were both friends of mine at the time and fine officers, who belonged to the Light Cavalry Regiment Villaviciosa, 14, under the command of Colonel Joaquín Valencia Remón. Colonel Valencia was promoted to brigadier general barely a month after the events, and Captain Corisco became a brigadier general much later. None of these officers were neither arrested nor indicted for any supposed military offense as a consequence of the events on February 23rd. Amazing!

              (6) According to historian Jesús Palacios, in his book 23 F, El Rey y su secreto (Madrid: 2010), General Sabino Fernández Campo unveiled to him that on the very next day--February 24--after meeting the leaders of all the political parties, the King told him, in a conspicuous way, "My goodness, Sabino, what if you had been wrong!" But no worries, neither Sabino nor Cortina were wrong.

              [7] The court martial started one year later, on February 19, 1982, and ended on May 24, 1982, with the sentencing being made public on June 3, 1982. General Miláns, general Armada and LTC Tejero were sentenced to 30 years in jail, and the rest getting penalties between 12 years and one year. Major Cortina was acquitted, and general Armada would be freed in 1988, barely over five years after. All through the time the trial lasted, it was a continuous follow-up of unnerving situations, tensions and even comic moments. The chairman of the court martial was replaced one time, one military prosecutor resigned, two more were arrested by the chairman on the grounds of insubordination, some key witnesses were allowed to testify in writing not attending the trial, and almost 90% of the witnesses proposed by the defendants' attorneys were rejected. It is a fact well known that general Armada asked in writing to the King for permission to speak up and unveil to the court the conversation held between them on February 13, 1981, just to be told not to by His Majesty. Certainly neither the Crown nor its close advisers were called to declare or make a deposition.

              JE comments:  This post from Anthony Candil is almost a full monograph.  It presents a strong case against the official interpretation of 23 February 1981.  (Normally I would divide posts of this length into two or three installments, but I believe Anthony's argument would suffer if I cut it up.)

              Anthony had won me over to his reading of the "coup" during his presentation at WAIS '13, but Paul Preston convinced me otherwise in his post from yesterday.  Now, I'm not sure what to think, but it's been very educational to revisit the events of 32 years ago.

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Tejero Coup 1981; from Gen. Fernando Cano (Anthony J Candil, USA 10/22/13 3:53 AM)
            This is a comment sent to me by Fernando Cano. He is a retired brigadier general in the Spanish Army, and lives in Madrid. I post this to WAIS with Gen. Cano's permission.


            Carmen Negrín has a very interesting point in her WAIS posting of 19 October. The rumors about the possible involvement of King Juan Carlos or his entourage in that event have been circulating since 1981.

            In relation to the position of Santiago Carrillo, I would also bet that he was really aware of "something." And one proof of that--it can be seen perfectly through the images disseminated on Spanish TV that day--is that Carrillo together with Adolfo Suárez and Lt Gen. Gutiérrez Mellado are the only ones to remain standing in their parliamentary positions during the shooting that took place soon after Lt Col. Tejero broke into the Congress with his men.

            What does that mean? Of course, he must have known in advance that "something" was going to happen.

            Besides that, Antonio Candil has perfectly explained this ill-fated part of our recent history.

            Best regards to all,

            Fernando Cano

            JE comments: Many thanks to Gen. Cano for joining the conversation. My memories of 1981 are dim, but wasn't future PM Felipe González the first to dive under his desk when Tejero started shooting up the Cortes? At least that exonerates González from any involvement in a possible conspiracy.

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

        • "Liberal Glorification of Queen Victoria"? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/19/13 4:30 AM)
          With reference to Robert Whealey's post of October 18, I did not understand what he meant by the "Liberal glorification of Queen Victoria." Are we talking of the same imperialist queen who destroyed the independence of the Boer Republics with the first concentration camps for civilians, where they died by the thousands? Or the monarch called the "Irish famine queen" for the poor conditions in Ireland? See also the various Irish attempts on her life, the butcher of the Sepoys, the supporter of the opium wars, and so on.

          Of course, for an American it is extremely easy to be anti-monarchist on principle, while a European might encounter some difficulties. In fact some dynasties have contributed greatly to the building of the nation. For instance, the Savoyard Dynasty was well loved until 1943 for their success in unifying Italy. At present in Italy you probably will find more people who believe that the earth is flat than people who believe in monarchy, but on second thought what can be worse than this present Italian republic--"lay, democratic, antifascist, born from the resistance"?

          JE comments: I think Robert Whealey was referring to the capital-L Liberal, as in the UK political party under Victoria's long-serving PM Gladstone and others.

          Is liberal/Liberal the most ambiguous political term ever?  Even now, in the US, "liberals" and "neo-liberals" are more or less ideological opposites.  In Australia, the Liberal Party is the conservative party.

          Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • "Liberal Glorification of Queen Victoria"? (Robert Whealey, USA 10/20/13 1:51 PM)
            In response to Eugenio Battaglia (19 October), Queen Victoria reigned as a figurehead queen. She consulted with the Conservative and Liberal Party Prime Ministers from 1837 to her death in 1901. Several PMs were elected by a majority of the House of Commons. The voters voted for either the Liberal party leader or the Conservative leader. They did not vote for a celebrity or TV personality. Polling did not exist as a profession.

            British and American historians glorified Victoria as a Constitutional monarch. She was forced to accept the political decisions of the House of Commons and the PMs. The Queen had nothing to say about the Boer Republics. The British Army under the command of the PM decided to invade the Orange Free State and Transvaal.  At the end of war, the two Boer republics were forced to sign a peace treaty that created a new Constitution for the Union of South Africa, of 4 States. Two Boer Republics and two English-speaking states, Cape Town and Natal.

            JE comments: The Boer warriors were already dyed-in-the-wool members of the British Empire by the time of WWI. It was an impressive achievement of turning enemies into loyal subjects. Jan Smuts excelled as a commando fighter during the Boer War, and during the Great War he led the British armies in Southwest and East Africa.  By WWII he was a Field Marshal.  My question: how did the UK achieve this?

            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • How did the British Empire "Win Over" the Boers? (Nigel Jones, -UK 10/21/13 1:55 AM)
              To answer JE's question (20 October) on how the "British Empire" managed to turn Louis Botha and Jan Smuts from Boer Commando leaders who fought the said empire tenaciously and successfully into loyal upholders of the Empire, I think the answer lies in the fact that the British gave the white population of South Africa autonomy, and eventually full independence, and both thought their nation and "volk" could achieve more as a Dominion of a global empire than as a landlocked pair of Boer republics. Botha became Prime Minister of the South African Union in the First World War, to be eventually succeeded by Smuts.

              Smuts's career as an Empire loyalist goes even further than the Field Marshal status mentioned by John Eipper: during both the First and the Second World Wars not only was he a member of the British war cabinets (he was the only person to sign the treaties ending both the First and Second world wars), but was seriously considered as a successor to Churchill as Prime Minister during a low point in Churchill's WWII political fortunes. Smuts's political career in his native land did not long outlast the war--in 1948 his "moderate" brand of white rule was defeated by the more racist Afrikaans National party under Malan, Strydjom and Verwoerd, which introduced the apartheid state.

              JE comments:  Great to hear from Nigel Jones after several weeks.  I'd like to discuss the Boer War(s) in more detail.  Couldn't a case be made that South Africa was the first "modern" example of asymmetrical warfare?  Add tribalism, race issues, and the nasty legacy of concentration camps to the mix, and you have a precursor to the face of war in our times.  I confess to knowing very little about the Boer conflicts, so this will be an instructive conversation for me.
              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • Boer War, British Empire, and Apartheid (David Pike, -France 10/21/13 6:50 AM)
                Nigel Jones (October 21), writing on the Boer War, puts the "British Empire" in quotes in speaking of UK forces fighting in South Africa, implying that this was an all-British effort.

                Without going to Wikepedia to find out what the British breakdown was (oh, for our founding days when CIISers/WAISers wrote without Wikipedias!), I remember the cenotaph to the Canadian volunteers that stands outside McGill University in Montreal. The result in 1910 was the Union of South Africa, not the South African Union. It went straight from USA to RSA.

                As I remember it, after the United Party lost the election, the Eden government warned the new Afrikaner government that, if it introduced Apartheid, the Commonwealth would vote to banish it. I would add that of all the trusts that Elizabeth II inherited from her father, the one that was dearest to her was the concept of a non-racial Commonwealth.

                JE comments: Nigel was citing me when he put the British Empire in quotation marks. I too was scratching my head on exactly what Nigel meant by this choice.

                David Pike remembers with nostalgia the pre-Wikipedia days of WAIS.  (CIIS was the California Institute of International Studies, our original name.)  For me, there will always be a connection between WAIS and Wikipedia; when I took over the editorship in 2006 I spoke on the phone with our colleague Carl Lindgren, who proposed that we write a Wikipedia entry for Prof. Hilton.  I had never heard of Wikipedia prior to that.  The Hilton bio appeared a few months later, after our Founder's death in February 2007.  I am not sure who wrote it.

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • How did the British Empire "Win Over" the Boers? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/21/13 2:26 AM)
              I very much appreciated the patient explanation of Robert Whealey in his post of 20 October. Robert's is an extremely politically correct representation of Queen Victoria, which to me at first seemed to be a fairy tale of a useless constitutional figurehead. (It's funny that a real British constitution was never written.) From that I should also understand that she neither entered into the business of nominating peers and never noticed that her PMs were criminals, at least according our modern understanding.

              JE in his comments asked how the UK achieved the loyalty of the Boers. The answer is easy: it was a question of "Mangia questa minestra o salta dalla finestra"--eat this soup or jump from the window. The Boers never much liked the UK.

              During WWII the Italian POWs, more than 100,000, in Zonderwater (without water, in Afrikaans) in Transvaal were treated very well by the locals. The only problem that the Italians faced was how to avoid being caught while they were having affairs with black women. The local authorities at a certain point were compelled to condemn at least three Italians for such "crimes." Also the German POWs had a good time in South Africa, and that was because of the scant sympathy of the Afrikaners for England.

              South Africa as soon as possible ran away from the Commonwealth on 15 May 1961.

              During my several visits to Capetown and Durban I noticed that between British and Afrikaners there was not much love. A very interesting thing: the Afrikaners seemed to me that they were racists of a very peculiar form. As I say above, there was no love for the British and there was paternalism towards the blacks. (In the United States in the same years I noticed racism with hatred toward the blacks.) After all, at least theoretically, "The Multi-National Development in South Africa" was open racism, but it was spun in the following manner: "Government's approach is not based on a concept of superiority or inferiority, but on the fact that people differ in their historical origins, group association, loyalties, cultures, outlook and modes of life. The real point of issue is the best way of ensuring self-determination and human development." As we well know it did not work.

              My last point. In Capetown in 1971 I bought a Krugerrand for 35 US$ when gold was at 33 US$ per ounce. The lady selling the coins told me to buy more because gold was supposed to rise in price, but I did not like to lose 2$ for each coin. What a damn fool I was!

              JE comments: Krugerrands now run $1300+ for the one-ounce version. This numismatist feels Eugenio Battaglia's pain.

              Returning to Apartheid, I am intrigued by the differing "loyalties, cultures, outlook and modes of life" quote. Eugenio Battaglia doesn't cite the source, but was this the official South African mission statement for Apartheid?  Very troubling.

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • Apartheid (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/22/13 7:24 AM)
                JE asked about a quotation in my post of 21 October. It comes from the book Multi-National Development in South Africa: The Reality, compiled and published by the State Department of Information in Pretoria (1974). Other very interesting books on the subject are Homelands: The Role of the Corporations, with a preface by M. C. Botha, Minister of Bantu Administration and Development and of Bantu Education, and the book Traskei Independence 26 October 1976, with speeches by the various presidents of South Africa, N. Diederichs and Transkei Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima.

                The leader of the Transkei was favorable to Multi-National Development, the Zulus (Homeland Kwa-Zulu) had the king Goodwill Zwelithini favorable as well, while Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, Chief executive Councillor of Kwa-Zulu held an ambiguous position. In 1976 his biography came out, written by Ben Temkin and published by Furnell and sons in Capetown.

                As usual, it looks like Apartheid and its ends were not a clear black/white (in all meanings) issue.

                JE comments: No doubt some of the leadership of the black homelands benefited under Apartheid, but has enough time passed that South Africa's "peculiar institution" can be viewed with more nuance? I'm doubtful, but I cannot be impartial here. My generation and class grew up in the anti-Apartheid struggle. During the 1980s, South Africa was the #1 human rights issue on US college campuses.

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • on Whitewashing Apartheid, Mussolini (David Pike, -France 10/23/13 7:59 AM)
                  When Eugenio Battaglia writes about his own experiences for WAIS, his posts are of general interest. When he attempts to whitewash Mussolini, as he has done on more than one occasion, it is something else. He forgets that the vast majority of WAISers come from two continents that either fought fascism to its death or lived and suffered under its system. Eugenio writes (loosely) about Victoria's "criminal Prime Ministers," no doubt including Gladstone, Britain's Grand Old Man of the 19th century, the longest serving prime minister and the architect of reform bills that set a universal example.

                  Eugenio also wrote (on October 21, Trafalgar Day) that "South Africa as soon as possible ran away from the Commonwealth on 15 May 1961." The 53 sovereign states that make up the Commonwealth of Nations can all "run away" from the Commonwealth any hour of the day or night. From its beginning, membership is by the nation's choice alone. But no state, such as the Republic of South Africa under apartheid, can remain in it if the Commonwealth votes to throw it out.

                  JE comments:  I confess to being equally uncomfortable with attempts to "whitewash" Mussolini, and I can see nothing at all to defend about Apartheid.  However, I have learned a great deal from Eugenio Battaglia about life in Italy under Mussolini, and I've also learned not to lump Italian Fascism together with German Nazism as one monolithic ideological package.

                  WAIS, indeed, is a wide tent.  This point was driven home to me at our Adrian conference, where colleagues left and right engaged in robust, but always cordial, discussion.

                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • Apartheid and "Constructive Engagement" (John Heelan, -UK 10/24/13 3:39 AM)

                    In response to David Pike (23 October), one might also discuss US support to the apartheid regime provided by the Reagan Administration's (faithfully supported by Margaret Thatcher) "Constructive Engagement" policy as part of the US/USSR proxy war being waged in Africa.

                    JE comments:  A question for our International Relations scholars:  has the term "constructive engagement" fallen into disfavor?  I haven't heard it recently.  Skeptics might argue that it was Cold War shorthand to justify the tacit support for "our bastard" regimes.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • on Whitewashing Apartheid, Mussolini (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/24/13 6:32 AM)
                    In response to David Pike's post 23 October, I never forget that the vast majority of WAISers come from two continents that either fought fascism to its death or lived and suffered under its system (Fascism or Nazism?). On the contrary, it is just because of this fact, that the vast majority knows or researches only one side of the truth and even accepts what the Department of Psycological Warfare has written, that I wish to present different facts. These facts may or may not "whitewash" Mussolini. They should be only contested if they are true or false, not if they are merely politically incorrect.

                    Regarding the British criminal Prime Ministers under Queen Victoria, I presume that most will agree that any war of aggression is criminal. Even Gladstone made wars of aggression.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • Thoughts on Victoria, Mussolini (Anthony J Candil, USA 10/25/13 1:39 AM)
                      I cannot refrain from making a comment on what Eugenio Battaglia says (24 October), but certainly I don't agree with him.

                      So far, neither Queen Victoria nor any of her prime ministers have gone into history as criminals of the sort Eugenio is mentioning. All were relevant politicians who did their best for "Queen and Country."

                      Times were very different then, and the so-called "wars of aggression" in today's terminology are not easy to translate into theirs. I'm not sure whether to qualify Gordon's expedition against the ruthless and criminal Mahdi as an aggression, but I'm pretty sure that Il Duce's journey into Abyssinia was an aggression. That was really criminal, especially using chemicals against those poor almost defenseless Abyssinians who didn't even know who the Italians were and why they were attacking them.

                      Not to justify colonial wars per se, but perhaps without Great Britain going overseas especially in Africa or in Asia, the world would be far worse than it is. Great Britain--and Victoria--brought modernization and advance to many of today's countries everywhere, no matter if war came along sometimes. No newborn is delivered without pain and crying, and the making of nations is pretty much like that.

                      Il Duce could have passed into history as a great man. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong path. Queen Victoria fortunately was very different.

                      JE comments:  I invite further thoughts on Anthony Candil's speculation that the world would now be far worse if Great Britain had not gone into Asia and Africa.  Considering Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, India/Pakistan, and elsewhere, it seems to me that the opposite case could be equally as convincing.

                      John Heelan (next in queue) has also sent his thoughts on Queen Victoria.

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • Bantu Homelands (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/23/13 1:27 PM)
                  Following up on my 22 October post concerning the Republic of South Africa and the 37th anniversary of the constitution of the first Independent Homeland Transkei, I would like to make some comments.

                  At that time I was making frequent voyages around the Cape of Good Hope (originally and rightly called Cabo Tempestoso by the Portuguese Seaman Batolomeu Diaz in 1487).  For this reason I followed with interest the illusion of creating free Homelands in South Africa.

                  Theoretically the idea could even be a good one, but it was doomed to failure. For international reasons the Communist Bloc was strongly against the idea, as its success could have meant losing the Eastern Bloc's success in Africa of exploiting antiracist feelings, while at the same time the Western Bloc could not accept a plan which was tinged with racism. Moreover for domestic reasons, the various planned Homelands were not homogenous viable territories but disconnected, mostly landlocked, pieces of land (something like the proposed Palestinian State).  In addition, a large part of the population of these Homelands was not living in them, but in the so-called White Territories.

                  The plan was devised immediately after 1961. In fact the self-government of the Transkei Homeland came in 1963 and it attained full independence on 26 October 1976. Prior to the end of Apartheid, there were four Homelands: Bophuthatswana on 6 December 1977, the land of the Tswana people; Ciskei on 4 December 1981, the land of the Xhosa like the Transkei; and finally Venda on 13 September 1979, the land of the Venda.

                  Other Homelands were KwaZulu land of the Zulu, Lebowa of the North Sotho, Gazankulu of the Tsonga, Basotho Qwa-Qwa of the South Sotho and finally Swaziland of the Swazi.

                  In 1970 South Africa's total population of 21,447,230 was divided as follows: Whites 3.750.716 (54.2% speaking Afrikaans and the rest English), "Coloureds" 2,018,533 mostly speaking Afrikaans, and Asians 620,422 speaking English.

                  The Bantu were divided as follows: Zulu 4,026.082, Xhosa 3,929,922, Tswana 1,718,530, North Sotho 1,600,530, South Sotho 1,453,354, Tsonga 736,978, Swazi 498,704, Ndebele 414,641, Venda 357,875 and others 317,965.

                  In Southwest Africa the total population was 752,406, and the Whites were 90,658.  The main ethnic Bantu were the Owambo 342,455.  Here, too, homelands were to be created.

                  As I said, theoretically some Homelands had enough population, land and resources to be viable states; for instance Transkei with its 41,600 square kilometers of good land from the snowy Drakensberg mountains to the shores of the Indian Ocean had more land than Belgium and the same as Switzerland. I sailed very close to these shores going northward on smaller tankers, following the Countercurrent of the Agulhas. From this view the land was really beautiful.

                  But as I said, the big problem were the various Bantus living outside their Homelands in the so-called White Territories.  For instance, the KwaZulu were practically divided in two. In fact, 51% were living in the Homeland and the 49% in the White Territories, only the majority of the Venda (67%) were living in their Homeland while the great majority of the Southern Sotho (98%) were living outside of their Homeland Basotho QwaQwa.

                  There were many discussion on how to regulate these Bantus living in the White Territories, but it was clear that the system could not really work. Of course, the present situation in South Africa is not easy.

                  JE comments: My vague memory of the South African "homelands" is that they were met with repugnance by the outside world. They were viewed as disconnected, glorified ghettoes or reservations, and an attempt to maintain Apartheid by exiling the black population. A question: did the Apartheid regime attempt to "spin" these homelands as fulfilling the ideals of national self-determination?

                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • Bantu Homelands (Jose Manuel de Prada, -Spain 10/24/13 6:08 PM)
                    In response to Eugenio Battaglia (23 October), the South African homelands could never have worked, and were one of the more destructive tools of a perverse system.

                    Their creation was part of a land-grabbing dynamic that had begun earlier in the century.

                    They were always ruled by puppet regimes controlled by Pretoria, which would not tolerate any deviations.

                    There is a very eloquent photo by David Goldblatt showing exhausted black workers traveling at night in a bus from Johannesburg towards their Bantustan because, due to the curfew imposed by the system, they could not stay in the white area.

                    And they surely had to do it every day for most of the week!

                    The apartheid system in South Africa, like the "equal but separate" system in post-Reconstruction USA, might have had the chance of enduring a few extra decades as serious dysfunctionalities, if the practice would have really followed the theory in what regards the "equal" part.

                    But that is never the case. The segregated poor become poorer, have the worst services, the worst schools, etc., and are seen just a cheap and docile labor for the "superior" segment of the population.

                    The legacies of the crazy social engineering experiment that was apartheid are still visible in South Africa today, even in the landscape, and will be visible for generations to come.

                    JE comments: Veteran WAISers will remember José Manuel de Prada, who has re-connected with WAIS after several years. José Manuel spent two years doing research in South Africa (2010-2012), and is now back in Barcelona. He sent a personal update in a separate e-mail, which I will post tomorrow.

                    Great to hear from you, José Manuel! I'm glad that our discussion on South Africa has inspired you to write.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • Environmental Legacy of Fukushima (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/26/13 3:28 AM)
                      The discussion over whether Queen Victoria or Mussolini were themselves criminal in all the nasty deeds performed by their manipulative underlings is quite interesting. Indeed it is a problem every powerful nation must grapple with after the fact. That is unfortunate, because some of the nasty behavior toward other people usually greatly benefits a few at home but hurts the perpetrating nation financially as well as in terms of life and limb.

                      On a more alarming subject, the Fukushima disaster is increasingly taking global proportions, and the worst seems to be just starting. Here again we have another case of special interests trying to make greater profit and being careless with the risk of major disaster to be suffered by innocent people and the environment.

                      Because of Japan's dependence on fishing, the Fukushima disaster might destroy it economically for the next 20 years. British Petroleum has destroyed the Gulf of Mexico fishing industry and helped destroy several states' economies. Based on the information below, the results from the Fukushima disaster will make the BP experience relatively minor and short lived.



                      JE comments:  According to the first link above, 300 tons of radioactive water are being dumped into the Pacific from Fukushima every day.  Most of us (like myself) assumed that the problem was "contained" long ago.  It's crucial to remain aware of these environmental threats.
                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • Environmental Legacy of Deepwater Horizon Spill (Randy Black, USA 10/28/13 1:40 AM)
                        In his rush to condemn "special interests in Japan," Tor Guimaraes (26 October) made the claim that "British Petroleum has destroyed the Gulf of Mexico fishing industry and helped destroy several states' economies."

                        A number of news organizations, state tourism boards, agriculture agencies, coupled with US and state fisheries reports, demonstrate that Tor's claim is false.

                        While there are a number of selected sites along the Gulf Coast that continue to experience mild-to-severe problems with their Gulf-related fishing industries, overall, the fishing industry is recovering or has recovered from the Deepwater Horizon accident. The following facts demonstrate that fishing in the Gulf is booming and that tourism has never been better.

                        Contrary to Tor's assertion, in no case has any state's economy been destroyed due to the Deepwater Horizon accident of 2010.

                        While specific, targeted areas have seen various crops of fish, crabs, shrimp and oysters off by up to one third, overall, Tor's blanket claim of destruction of an entire state's economy is a gross exaggeration. In fact, many Gulf of Mexico "crops" are up as compared to the year-over-year numbers.

                        From CNN, April 28, 2013 in Alabama:

                        "Recent research at Alabama's Dauphin Island Sea Lab found that young shrimp and blue crabs off Bayou La Batre, the state's major seafood port, showed no sign of decline since the spill.

                        "...across the four states that saw the most impact--Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida--shrimp and finfish catches were up in 2012 compared with the average haul between 2007 and 2009.

                        "Blue crab was off about 1%. And while oysters region-wide remained 17% below 2007-09 figures, the company says that the flooding that hit the region in 2011 has been blamed for some of that downturn, again by dumping more fresh water into the coastal estuaries."

                        Source: http://science.time.com/2011/06/14/scientists-predict-record-gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone-due-to-mississippi-flooding/

                        (RB) Louisiana's oyster catch, to be fair, is off about one third from 2009. However, other "crops" (including shrimp) in the Gulf were not damaged to that extent.

                        On tourism, according to several sources including various state tourism boards and BP, "...tourism records along the Gulf Coast, set in 2011, were broken again in 2012. Tourist spending in New Orleans during 2012 was the highest in history at $6 billion, a $512 million increase over 2011, the previous record year. The Horizon accident occurred on 20 April 2010.

                        "In Alabama, revenue per available room and condo unit in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in 2012 was the highest in history and were above 2009 levels by 25 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Florida had a record 89.3 million visitors in 2012, according to preliminary data from Visit Florida. The previous record was set in 2011 when 85.9 million visitors came to Florida."

                        In Florida, "...Red Snapper recreational catches, which are highly regulated, numbered more than 2 million for 2012 according to the state agency that licenses such matters. Overall weight of the each red snapper that was caught has increased from approximately 3 lbs. in 2007 to more than 8 lbs. in 2013, according to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center's ACL database."

                        (RB) The catch numbers are so positive that the various regulatory agencies are considering shortening the "season."

                        Moreover, in 2011, the year immediately after the Deepwater Horizon spill, the National Marine Fisheries stated, "that the 2011 seafood catch in the gulf of Mexico [reached] its highest volume since 1999.

                        "Menhaden, often described as a keystone species showing and helping determine the viability of many local species, rose dramatically in Louisiana. It jumped from its 10-year average of about 900 million pounds of catch since 2001 to about 1.3 billion pounds in 2011. Sales of menhaden at Louisiana docks jumped from the $47.9 million average to $100 million. --ibid.

                        "...in terms of the money garnered for its landings, Louisiana came in fourth, trailing Alaska, Massachusetts and Maine. Louisiana earned $339.3 million from its overall fisheries landings compared to Alaska's $1.9 billion, Massachusetts's $570.7 million and Maine's $426.5 million.

                        "The oyster numbers for Louisiana show 11.1 million pounds in 2011 compared to the 12.6 million pound annual average since 2001. But, the amount garnered for that catch was up from the 10-year average of $36 million to $41.6 million in 2011.

                        "Overall, US oyster landings yielded 28.5 million pounds valued at $131.7 million--an increase of 424,000 pounds and $14.1 million compared to 2010. The Gulf region led in production with over 18.2 million pounds of oyster meat, nearly 64 percent of the national total.

                        "Louisiana shrimp catch in 2011 did drop compared to the 10-year average, but white shrimp sales were about $5 million above the decade average, according to National Marine Fisheries Service data.

                        "Louisiana white shrimp catch fell from its 10-year average of 64.3 million pounds of head-on weight to 52.6 million pounds in 2011, but the amount garnered at the dock for that catch jumped from the $93.7 million annual average to $98.3 million in 2011.

                        "Louisiana brown shrimp catch also dropped from the 10-year average of 43.5 million pounds to 39.2 million pounds in 2011. And brown shrimp sales also fell, declining from the $43 million average to $34.5 million in 2011. But despite those brown shrimp declines, the 2011 numbers still are much greater than the three previous year totals and, like all fisheries catch, variation is very common year over year, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Sources include the New Orleans Times-Picayune.


                        JE comments:  I'm sure BP is citing these numbers, too.  The Eipper clan is scheduled to spend some time in New Orleans over winter break.  I'm looking forward to the shrimp and oysters!

                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                        • Environmental Legacy of Deepwater Horizon Spill (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/03/13 10:28 AM)
                          While I would love to accept Randy Black's positive spin on the BP destruction of the US Gulf Coast environment and fishing industry, I can only find the content of his October 28 post quite one-sided. My wife and I have traveled to the Gulf, and our last visit was heartbreaking. Many of the beaches looked very nice, with fresh sand and brand new palm trees. They looked great except strangely, the beaches were empty of people. In our last trip a few months ago, around Biloxi (Mississippi) and Dauphin Island (Alabama), we went to the beautiful beaches only to find a layer of oil-polluted sand two inches below the surface. We cut our trip short.

                          There is a video documentary interviewing fishermen, small business operators, and local residents of the wide area. Their testimonials about the social, economic, financial destruction they have sustained is upsetting to any true patriot. I listen to them and independent scientists before the BP-manipulated media sources or even the federal government, which enabled a disaster of such proportions to happen for no justifiable reason.

                          Compared to Randy's way of thinking, even directly involved Republican speakers are closer to the truth. One report says, "But even though BP's slick new ads show sparkling beaches and flourishing marshes, the perception that everything is fine in the Gulf is far from the truth. Last week Garret Graves, top coastal advisor to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, said the state 'still has 200 miles of oiled coast,' including 'very clear, retrievable oil in coastal areas,' and called the current conditions ‘unacceptable.'"

                          Perhaps Randy may read a few more scientific and/or less biased sources such as:



                          JE comments: My apologies to Tor Guimaraes for the delay in posting this response to Randy Black. It's been a very busy week.

                          BP's spinmasters probably cringe every time someone describes their latest "green" advertisements as "slick"...get it?

                          Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • Bantu Homelands and "Self-Determination" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/25/13 6:11 AM)
                    In response to JE's comment to my post of 23 October, if South Africa's Apartheid Government had really wanted to fulfill a policy of national self-determination for the various Bantu peoples, this would have been very difficult, as the situation was extremely complicated internally and externally.

                    The first complication was the history of the various settlers. In 1487 when Bartolomeu Diaz reached Cabo Tormentoso, in all of South Africa there were only a few Bushmen and Hottentots. Then the white Europeans arrived by sea, not friendly among themselves, while the Bantus started to move in from the North. They too tended to quarrel among themselves. The two main peoples met around 1750 somewhere near the Fish River, one thousand KM Northeast of Capetown. On top of it, the unions of the Khoisan (Hottentot-Bushmen) with Asians (many Indonesian Muslims), Whites and Bantus gave rise to the "Coloureds," and finally the Indians too, at first temporarily but after 1961 for good.

                    The various Bantus peoples--Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, etc., were further divided in tribes. For instance, when the Transkei became independent, in addition to the ruler Matamzima there were also five kings or paramount chiefs.

                    I am a strong supporter of the national state and of the right of peoples to self-determination. Therefore I want to believe that those who proposed the Homelands did so in good faith. From the declaration of the Apartheid Government, it is clear that it realized that an independent white state was possible only if at the same time the Bantus could have an independent equal national growth. Interestingly, the fourth point of the declaration states: "Permanent White guardianship or supremacy over a number of Black peoples is not only impossible, but also morally unjustifiable."

                    Unfortunately this plan was too late and lacked courage, willingness to make sacrifices and funds.

                    It was too late because by the time that the plan was devised, at least 33% of the Bantu peoples were living mixed among them and in the so-called white territories.

                    The plan lacked courage and the whites' willingness to make sacrifices, as the various Homelands, except for the Transkei, were not really viable States. Even if some idea of consolidation was considered, they were too small and too divided.  For instance, the situation of the two Homelands Transkei and Ciskei, both inhabitated by Xhosa, came about because the Whites did not want to give the Xhosa the town of Port Elizabeth. Thus the two Homelands remained divided by a corridor that included Port Elizabeth. The situation of the other Homelands was even worse.

                    In order to have a successful Homelands Plan, it would have been necessary not only to unite Transkei with Ciskei but also to give to the KwaZulu all the Natal, while the Northeast of the State of Transvaal and the North of the Cape Province should have been given to the remaining Homelands, so the Tswana, Sotho, Wenda, Tsonga, and Swazi could have lived in an single territory state. We already have seen and probably will see in the future terrible disgraces, due to the existence of divided states. Of course many Whites would have remained inside the Homelands, and they did not like this.

                    Also, it would have been necessary to invest a great deal of money in the Homelands, as they were mostly based on farm economies. It would have been necessary to industrialize these areas in order to attract the persons who had emigrated to the White Territories.

                    Therefore the plan, even if the individual who devised had done so in good faith, could and did not work. This was chiefly because of pettiness, but most probably also by the bad faith of too many in the Apartheid Government.

                    JE comments: I'm going to lean towards José Manuel de Prada's interpretation (24 October) of South Africa's Homelands plan--that it was motivated only by a "faith" that white control could be maintained in the choicest territories of South Africa, while keeping the black majority "abroad" yet nearby for a supply of cheap labor.

                    I'll also acknowledge that those of us who came of age in the 1980s cannot view Apartheid with anything other than revulsion.  Is it possible to view this regime from a more nuanced perspective?  Like with Jim Crow, I just don't see how.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • Bushmen and "Hottentots" (Jose Manuel de Prada, -Spain 10/26/13 2:16 PM)
                      I don't know what Eugenio Battaglia (25 October) means by "only a few Bushmen and Hottentots" (sic!).

                      Those peoples, the Bushmen (also known now as San) and the Khoikhoi ("Hottentot" has always been a derogatory designation), owned most of what is now South Africa.

                      It is sad that even today they are referred to as some kind of vermin the Dutch found when they landed in Table Bay in 1652.

                      The khoikho were gradually dispossessed and reduced to serfdom by the Europeans.

                      The Bushmen were far more aggressive, and in certain areas, for example the Sneeuberg (what we could call the north-eastern frontier), the fierce resistance of the Bushmen stopped the advance of the trekboers for decades.

                      As is the case of the Bantu-speaking peoples, the Bushmen are a constellation of peoples speaking different languages (most of them now extinct).

                      "Bushman" or "San" is an unsatisfactory generic designation.

                      In most areas, the Bushmen ended up being also reduced to serfdom by people who didn't see them as human beings.

                      They were always victims of ruthless violence and some of these Bushman nation succumbed to genocide.

                      Most of the now so-called "Coloureds" are of Khoisan descent, and still are among the poorest and more disadvantaged inhabitants of South Africa, even under ANC rule, as they are not considered to be "true Africans" and are seen as an acculturated rural proletariat that, to make things worse, speaks mostly Afrikaans, the despised "language of the oppressor."

                      Yet that is nonsense, many of them are direct descendants of the First Peoples of Southern area, and at least in some areas they still possess a distinctive culture.

                      Anyway, the history of South Africa is far more complex than Eugenio Battaglia's sketch can give you to understand.

                      As for the policy of homelands, the National Party ideologues that devised it had as much good faith in them as Hitler when giving Theresienstadt to the Jews.

                      The Apartheid ideology is indeed revolting; there is absolutely nothing redeemable about it.

                      The people who devised and supported it had a "siege mentality" and, as the Nazis in Germany, were absolutely convinced of their superiority over the non-white majority among which the lived.

                      JE comments: A question for José Manuel de Prada: does the South African majority see Afrikaans as more of an oppressor language than English, or are they viewed more or less in the same light?

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • Afrikaans and English as "Language(s) of the Oppressor" (Jose Manuel de Prada, -Spain 10/28/13 1:56 AM)
                        In answer to John Eipper's question of 26 October, yes, Afrikaans is perceived by the South African majority as more of an oppressor language than English.

                        Of course, English speakers also contributed to the oppression but, historically, the British, who took permanent charge of the Cape colony in the early 19th century, were perceived as relatively benign colonizers in comparison with the usually more ruthless Afrikaners.

                        Then, the fact that English is a world-wide language, and is spoken in many African countries, contributes to its being seen more positively.

                        Afrikaans, on the other hand, comes from Dutch and is quite an isolated language spoken only in South Africa and, to a lesser extent, in Namibia.

                        To make things worse, Afrikaans was strongly promoted by the National Party since 1948 as an essential element in the Afrikaner identity.

                        In 1975 they even built a monument to it, which still defaces the beautiful landscape around Paarl as you drive towards Cape Town from the north.

                        We must not forget also that the immediate cause of the Soweto uprising in 1976 was the absurd decision of the Apartheid government to impose Afrikaans as the medium for instruction in Black schools.

                        This fact fatally connects the language with what in South Africa is known as "The Struggle."

                        Yet Afrikaans is not only the language of a substantial number of of those that struggled to oust the National Party.

                        Even in its origins it is the language of the oppressed, being a creole form of Dutch that was developed among the Malay and Black slaves of the Dutch farmers, and also among their Khoikhoi and Bushman serfs.

                        From them, it passed to their masters, probably because the children of these farmers were very early entrusted to the care of servants and slaves.

                        I am now in the process of learning it, and can say that is is a beautiful and fascinating language, especially as it is spoken by the Cape Muslim and the people of Khoisan descent in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape provinces.

                        It is very musical, and has, of course, assimilated many elements (vocabulary and structures) from the Khoisan and Bantu languages, and also from Malay.

                        (These contributions are grotesquely downplayed in the symbology of the above-mentioned Taalmonument.)

                        Unfortunately, today--at least in the areas where I conduct my research--the bad quality of the South African public school system, which fails to give the learners a decent level of English, makes of Afrikaans a liability for the progress of these very impoverished communities.

                        In today's South Africa, if you speak decent English, which is now the dominant language in the country, you have more employment opportunities than if you just speak Afrikaans (or Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, etc., for that matter).

                        JE comments: I'm intrigued by José Manuel de Prada's observation that Afrikaans in tangible ways can be viewed as the language of the oppressed. Economic forces all lean towards English, and might become the final nails in the coffin of Apartheid.  Monuments notwithstanding, might we one day see government cultural initiatives designed to preserve Afrikaans?

                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                        • Future of Afrikaans (Jose Manuel de Prada, -Spain 10/29/13 8:25 AM)
                          To JE's question "might we one day see government cultural initiatives designed to preserve Afrikaans?" (28 October), I answer: "I hope so!"

                          I've been trying to promote this, since in 2011 I found out that the oral traditions of the /xam Bushmen that until then were considered to be completely vanished, were still very much alive, albeit transformed and transmitted in Afrikaans.

                          So the oldest knowledge in the land (transformed also, of course), that of the First Peoples, is being transmitted in Afrikaans.

                          This by itself should be enough to dismantle the cliche of Afrikaans as the language of the oppressor.

                          (Demographically speaking, the oppressed form the largest group of Afrikaans speakers, another powerful reason why it is nonsense to view it at the language of the oppressor.)

                          Unfortunately, to the ruling party this idea is not politically attractive, and I suspect that the present guardians of the language, the Taalrad and other similar institutions, are not very enthusiastic either about the prospect of considering this to be one of the merits of Afrikaans.

                          To me, and I'm not the only one to think like this, Afrikaans should be seen as an African language, as African as isiXhosa or Sesotho.

                          JE comments: Afrikaans cannot be classified as anything other than an African language, but as so often is the case, politics will get in the way.  I'm reminded of a (very white) kid who was my student fifteen years ago.  He was born in South Africa and grew up in Detroit.  He always checked the "African-American" box on applications.  Very few people in our dour institutions found this to be amusing. 

                          My thanks to José Manuel de Prada for teaching me (and all WAISworld) a great deal about Afrikaans and its speakers today.

                          Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • South Africa in WWII; S Africa and Franco's Spain (Anthony J Candil, USA 10/23/13 1:39 AM)
                Eugenio Battaglia (21 October) is right on his perceptions about Afrikaners and people of British origin, but among all the Commonwealth troops, nobody fought the Nazis harder than South African troops during the Second World War. Bravery and courage of the South African soldiers exceeded all expectations, and more than once they saved the day, especially in North Africa fighting Rommel.

                In particular I'd like to mention the South African First Infantry Division, which initially under command of an Afrikaans general, Dan Pienaar, later on, in 1943, was transformed into the 6th South African Armored Division, this time under command of a British-origin officer--William Henry E. Poole, and fought with equal bravery in Italy.

                In my view, South Africa was always a very reliable member of the British Empire until things became sour due to the Apartheid policy.

                By the way, South Africa had a very peculiar relationship with Franco's Spain, and it was common to see South African officers training together with Spanish officers from the mid-1960s up to the end of the Franco era.

                I know also there were some common projects between Spanish and South African defense industries in those days, especially artillery and armored vehicles.

                Strange relations!

                JE comments: Very interesting. I also recall that South Africa cooperated militarily with Pinochet's Chile through the 1980s. Given South Africa's pariah status among most nations until the end of Apartheid, it is not surprising that it established close ties with right-wing authoritarian regimes.

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • How Did the British Empire "Win Over" the Boers? (Robert Whealey, USA 10/21/13 3:54 PM)
              JE adds to my 20 October comment on the Union of South Africa as of 1910 and asks, how did the UK achieve this?

              It was not just the House of Commons, the PM, and the Cabinet, but also Jan Smuts, who knew that the principle of democracy is the art of compromise. In 1919 the British Empire became the Commonwealth, and the Union achieved the same rights as Canada, Australia and the other white dominions. India received Commonwealth status in 1947 at the end of World War II.

              JE comments: The "white dominions"--at the time of Versailles, there was no attempt to hide this type of thought.  How many wars, from Algeria to Vietnam to Iraq and Syria, could have been avoided if Versailles had extended the principle of self-determination to all peoples?

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

          • Queen Victoria (John Heelan, -UK 10/25/13 1:57 AM)
            Eugenio Battaglia wrote of Queen Victoria (19 October): "Are we talking of the same imperialist queen who destroyed the independence of the Boer Republics with the first concentration camps for civilians, where they died by the thousands? Or the monarch called the 'Irish famine queen' for the poor conditions in Ireland? See also the various Irish attempts on her life, the butcher of the Sepoys, the supporter of the opium wars, and so on."

            Perhaps Eugenio needs to review English history a little. Re the Boer Wars: "The Gladstone government in Britain had no desire to escalate the war and an agreement was reached which gave the Boers independence but under British ‘suzerainty.'" But later, "on 10 October 1899 the British Government received an ultimatum from the Boers demanding that the additional British forces be removed from the British colonies at the Cape and Natal. The ultimatum gave the British 48 hours to act or the Boers would declare war." And, "on the expiry of the 48 hours, the Boer forces invaded the British colonies and within a short time had besieged the important towns of Mafeking, Kimberley and Ladysmith." Eugenio is perfectly correct about the iniquity of the concentration camps which are as a stain on the British character, as were camps in Eritrea (1890), Libya and Somalia (1930s), and Italy itself (1940s).



            Re the Irish famine, I fail to understand how Victoria could be held responsible for the potato blight that was the proximate cause of the famine. She herself donated over £60,000 (in today's money) to famine relief and urged the governments of the Commonwealth to donate as well. As a result, the British Famine Relief raised over £200,000 in 1847 (or about US$ 221,000,000 in today's money).

            Re "the butcher of the Sepoys"--the collapsing of India Mughal Empire, growing conflict between religions (especially the activities of Christian evangelists) and general social unrest were triggered into the "Indian War" by Sepoy "greased cartridge" incident, and Delhi was besieged by thousands of rebels seeking to restore the Muslim Mughal Empire. (The grease was reputed to be pig fat that was forbidden to the mainly Muslim Sepoys. British officers dismissed these claims as rumours, and suggested that the sepoys make a batch of fresh cartridges, and grease these with beeswax or mutton fat. This was rejected. The British commander, rather arrogantly, failed to take proper steps to reassure the Sepoys about the nature of the grease to be used.)

            Re the Opium Wars--where is the evidence for this? I suspect that as a constitutional monarch, Victoria was bypassed by Palmerston, who had been persuaded by traders making money out of opium (such as William Jardine) to launch a military expedition to protect the trade.  (Shades of Middle East oil?) The Chinese Commissioner, Lin Zexu, wrote to Victoria twice asking for her help to prevent military action--both were intercepted by the politicians and neither was delivered. (Palmerston later took direct control of India after the rebellion and turned it into a colony.)


            JE comments:  A thought:  we wouldn't be conducting this global conversation in English if it weren't for Great Britain's colonizing zeal.  Shades of Caliban--"you taught me language, and my profit on't is, I know how to curse..." (?)
            Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • English as Lingua Franca (John Heelan, -UK 10/26/13 3:45 AM)
              JE commented on 25 October: " A thought: we wouldn't be conducting this global conversation in English if it weren't for Great Britain's colonizing zeal."

              I suspect today's popularity of English in the educated classes has more to do with the 20th-century means of spreading information from the United States rather than 19th-century colonisation by Britain. From the middle of the last century, the United States was the powerhouse of technological application but still monoglot. In my particular high-tech sphere, all technical hardware, software and applications manuals emanated from the US and were written in English. Without those manuals, it was not possible to use or repair machines in the rapidly expanding world of computing. It was not until well into the 1980s that technical manuals were translated into languages other than English. Prior to that, it was necessary for non-English speakers to be able to read English texts to use the machines and software.

              Further, the rapid spread of US multinationals from the mid-1970s onwards required their non-Anglophone employees to be (almost) bilingual, because all international meetings were held in English. Working in Germany and other European countries at the time, I found it difficult to practise my smatterings of various European languages during working hours. As a result, I could travel, eat and get my face slapped OK but usually could not take part in local language discussions because they were in English.

              These two elements were reflected by an increase in the teaching of English in universities, colleges and technical high schools to prepare students for careers in high technology and allied fields. (Even on a lecture tour in East Germany in the early 1970s--delivered in English with simultaneous translation into German--I found that students guffawed at my weak jokes long before the translators were able to translate them into German!)

              The Enlightenment (17th-18th centuries) was spread by the availability of books and pamphlets, but required readers to have grasp the language in which they were written--e.g. it was not until the late 1830s that De Toqueville's famous De la démocratie en Amérique was translated in New York to become Democracy in America. So perhaps one of the stimuli for the popularity of English today was the by-product of mid-20th-century media used by US entrepreneurs in spreading high-technology on a global basis?

              JE comments:  Absolutely:  to the computer industry we could also add aviation and air-traffic control.  Don't commercial pilots worldwide have to communicate with the ground in English?  (But the establishment of English as the lingua franca in the 20th century would never have occurred without Britain's colonizing zeal centuries earlier!)

              When he has the chance, I hope John Heelan will share a face-slapping anecdote or two...

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • English as Lingua Franca, Cont. (John Heelan, -UK 10/27/13 4:07 AM)
                When JE commented on 26 October, "But the establishment of English as the lingua franca in the 20th century would never have occurred without Britain's colonizing zeal centuries earlier," presumably he is referring solely to Britain's colonies in North America? (smile)

                Had the other colonizing nations been more successful in that territory, perhaps the lingua franca of US entrepreneurs today would be French, Dutch or Spanish?

                JE comments: Yes--a few butterfly wings fluttering differently centuries ago, and we'd now be WAISing in Spanish!  It's strange that the second most successful imperial language, Spanish, has acquired a tacit "victim" status in the United States.  I'm not unbiased here, but Spanish is far more logical than English, and would be a more suitable universal language for its spelling and pronunciation alone.

                And what if France had won the Seven Years' War?  Or if the Dutch had decided not to trade Manhattan for Suriname?  Bring on the butterflies...

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • English as Lingua Franca (Robert Whealey, USA 10/28/13 2:19 AM)
                  In response to John Heelan (27 October), colonialism is one strand in creating a world language. Latin was number one in Europe up to 1687, when Newton wrote his physics and philosophy in English. Scientific and technological advances are then the second strand for establishing a Lingua Franca. The third strand is the course of diplomacy and imperialism among the great powers. Latin was replaced as a Lingua Franca for diplomacy at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. At the Peace of Paris in 1919, English replaced French as a language of diplomacy. The Tripartite Pact was signed by the fascist powers, 1940, by Germany, Italy and Japan, but the treaty was drafted in English in order to bring Japan into Hitler's global war. The German language lost its status by losing two world wars.

                  Adam Smith in 1776 began a fourth trend for Lingua Franca in a Europe-centered free market. American corporations became transnational corporations in 1927 with a global oil oligopoly. The Chinese can only buy into the system with the English language.

                  JE comments: The Germany-Italy-Japan Tripartite Pact was drafted in English? Fascinating--there's a logic here, but it also strikes me as ironic.

                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • English as Lingua Franca (Siegfried Ramler, USA 10/29/13 3:19 AM)
                    I have mixed feelings about the world-wide dominant role of English. On the one hand it facilitates international communication in every domain. English is a necessary communication tool offering practicality and efficiency. On the other hand the convenience of English tends to impoverish cultural understanding and access to scholarship. The speaker of English, whether in tourism, trade, general diplomacy, research and academia, tends to manifest what I would call an inclination to language arrogance, whether consciously expressed or not. This is particularly a phenomenon of the English-speaking tourist who travels with the expectation that English will be mastered wherever he or she travels. However, given the danger of generalization, there has been a marked improvement in the English speaker's attitude since the 1960 publication of William Lederer's bestseller, titled The Ugly American.

                    JE comments:  Through the legacy of Nuremberg, Siegfried Ramler has done more than anyone in WAISworld to establish English as the global language.  I'm grateful that he's joined this conversation. 

                    I also hope WAISers will join me in wishing Siegfried a happy 89th birthday tomorrow, 30 October.  Many happy returns, Siegfried!  And thank you for giving me the gift of your friendship.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • English as Lingua Franca; on Computer Languages (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/30/13 1:39 AM)
                      Feliz aniversario, Siegfried Ramler!

                      To add to Siegfried's comments (29 October) about the pros and cons of a dominant language, indeed language influences life in some special ways. I remember reading many years ago that the third generation computer language COBOL was viewed among foreign programmers as a status symbol, because it required the English language as background. To American programmers who programmed in first and second (closer to the machine)-generation languages, COBOL was a sissy language, since it was designed to be more like English (more user-friendly).

                      JE comments: And BASIC (Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), when it became popular in the 1970s, made COBOL seem like it was for tough guys.  Complex "languages" or skills tend to be appreciated the most by specialists, as they limit access to their turf by outsiders.  WAIS IT guru Roman Zhovtulya is a champion of simple solutions to technology problems, but I hope he will comment on this topic.

                      And for our dear friend Siegfried Ramler:  Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • English as Lingua Franca; the Ugly Anglophone Tourist (John Heelan, -UK 10/30/13 2:05 AM)
                      Siegfried Ramler (29 October) mentions "the phenomenon of the English-speaking tourist who travels with the expectation that English will be mastered wherever he or she travels." Unfortunately, this is true and getting worse. Language learning at the college level (apart from Spanish) was described recently as being in free-fall. ("La lengua de Cervantes" survives due to its continuing to be the UK's favourite holiday destination.)

                      The net result is that many of my monoglot compatriots believe that if they speak English louder and slowly in a foreign country, it counts as a "foreign language." An amusing by-product of this paradigm is that the level of spoken English in these situations seems to rise to that of a "class" or two higher than the normal demotic of the speaker. Eavesdropping on English conversations in nearby restaurant tables, I often hear the normal conversation being in working- or middle-class tones. It not only increases in volume but also suddenly becomes "BBC Received Pronunciation" with upper-class overtones when speaking to the waiter.

                      The most cringe-making incident took place in a famous restaurant in Marbella. A generally obnoxious compatriot at the next table declaimed loudly to the waiter, "Let me show you how to make a proper champagne cocktail, old chap!" He thereby took him to the bar and showed him--equally loudly for the benefit of the restaurant, no doubt--what he should do. I was embarrassed for the waiter, who suffered the humiliation in silence but was doubtlessly thinking "¡que coño!" as many other diners were.

                      JE comments: "Proper" is a loaded word, oozing with judgment. I hope John Heelan will comment, but I believe it sounds even more obnoxious to Americans than to our British cousins.  Few things pique American pride more than a Brit instructing us on the "proper" way to do something.

                      Here's a lesson from Tourism 101:  don't insult the people who serve your food.  One thing's for certain:  that outspoken tourist's "proper" champagne cocktail also contained some clandestine waiter spit.

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • English as Lingua Franca; the New Face of Tourism (Cameron Sawyer, USA 10/31/13 3:50 AM)
                        John Heelan's points (30 October) beg the question of how people are supposed to communicate when they are traveling as tourists?

                        International tourism has changed profoundly during my lifetime. In my youth, most tourism in Europe was either native English speakers traveling around, or Northern Europeans going south. When my family spent a summer traveling around Europe in the 1960s when I was a child, we studied phrase books for each country before we got there. We mostly communicated in very poor Italian in Italy and very poor Spanish in Spain, for example (my mother spoke pretty good French, so France was not a problem). The people you encountered, in those days, in everyday situations, rarely spoke English, so the burden was on us, and very little real communication took place ("dove e la stazione?"). However, it always seemed to me that we were showing respect to the natives by having made the effort at least to memorize a few mangled phrases, and to have not assumed that they would have gone to the trouble to learn English just for our benefit.

                        Fast forward a number of decades. Volumes of tourism have increased by orders of magnitude, and native English speakers no longer dominate, not hardly! First came the Germans, then came the Japanese, and now we have the Chinese and the Russians and really everyone else, too. I hardly see people with phrasebooks anymore. Contrary to John Heelan's experience, however, I have not observed any special presumptiousness about the English language among traveling native English speakers. What seems to have happened is this: the Russians and the Chinese and everyone else have gone to a lot of trouble to learn English, at least some phrases, so that they can communicate when traveling. In this day of cheap air travel, when you can go to a different country, speaking a different language, every vacation, or even every day if you like, the old phrase book system has broken down, and English as a lingua franca has taken its place. What I have seen is not Brits or Americans presuming that the whole world should speak English--which would be rather arrogant, since native speakers didn't go to any trouble to acquire the language--but Russians and Chinese getting frustrated with, say, French people, because they went to the trouble to learn a little English, and now what is this? This French person didn't even bother? Now what?

                        In this day of cheap international air travel and cheap mass tourism which is now accessible to billions of people, some kind of lingua franca is the only solution. The more people learn one universal language, the more people can communicate with each other, and the greater the value of that language, hence still more and more learn it, and so forth. We passed the tipping point long ago with English in this role, and so it is only natural that the proportion of the world population speaking English will only grow. I am a believer in learning languages, and the more the better, but there's nothing fundamentally wrong with having one universal language. Communication is good.

                        I was recently in Kazakhstan, where Russian continues to be used as the universal national language (it's called the "official language" of Kazakhstan; whereas Kazakh is the "national language"). Russian is also the regional lingua franca throughout Central Asia, and the Former Soviet Union, for that matter. Not nearly everyone speaks Kazakh, although knowing the Kazakh language is now fashionable and many non-speakers are learning it. The Kazakhs pride themselves on speaking an especially pure and sophisticated Russian (which they do, unlike the way Russian is spoken in Transcaucasia). Young people universally speak English. This seems to me like a superb approach, giving Kazakh people means to communicate with almost anyone, opening the whole world to them, while giving them a stake in different linguistic and cultural groups. Surely it's well worth the trouble of learning three languages.

                        JE comments: Three languages seems to be the norm for WAISers. A very good thing--though may I smugly add, we are far from "normal."

                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                        • Language and Tourism (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/31/13 11:07 AM)
                          I completely agree with Cameron Sawyer's attitude and behavior during world travels (31 October), except I may be a little more extremist. To me the most fun comes from communicating with the natives in their language, following their customs (within reason), and learning from them. My wife gets somewhat annoyed, but I am perfectly happy to make a joke out of myself sometimes. Once, without trying, I made a bus load of Chinese commuters laugh their head off while I was trying to speak Chinese to my guide. I just cannot make some of the necessary sounds, so it becomes a diplomatic time bomb. Thus Chinese became the first language I tried to learn and gave up for fear of insulting someone.

                          JE comments: Languages I've given up on: German (though I hope to return someday), and Japanese (alas, I'll save that for my next life).  Am I holding a grudge against the Axis powers?


                          Please login/register to reply or comment:

                        • English as Lingua Franca; Language and Tourism (Charles Ridley, USA 11/07/13 3:39 AM)
                          I usually make the attempt to speak the language of the country I am visiting. On our trip to Europe at the time of the WAIS conference in Torquay (2011), I did my best in the UK, although I sometimes fell short.

                          I got along fairly well in Paris, as I was a French major during my first two years at Bates College. While my German is weak, I also tried to carry on in German when possible, particularly when ordering meals in restaurants. However, I found Danish, in spite of its close similarity to English, a bit too much of a challenge. In general, restaurant menus are a severe challenge because of the idiomatic ways in which dishes are described. The sincere attempt to speak in the language of a given country did elicit sympathetic responses on the part of native speakers even in Paris, particularly when I was looking for an art gallery in that city in which a Japanese-American friend was to exhibit some of his paintings.

                          However, it is extremely difficult to start from scratch in the language of a country one is visiting for the first time.

                          Language learning materials are something of a problem these days. The best are based on State Department language textbooks, which do not seem to be available on the market any more.

                          JE comments: Great to hear from our dear friend Charles Ridley, who as I recall got on admirably with the natives of Torquay! Charles brings up an important point: when you are starting from scratch as a tourist, there's not much you can do other than learn a few of the simplest "survival" terms. This was the case for me a few years ago in Hungary.

                          Please login/register to reply or comment:

                      • "Proper" and its Proper Context (John Heelan, -UK 10/31/13 4:27 AM)
                        JE wrote on 30 October: "'Proper' is a loaded word, oozing with judgment. I hope John Heelan will comment, but I believe it sounds even more obnoxious to Americans than to our British cousins."

                        Perhaps the received import of the word is just as bad on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK it is usually delivered as an implicit insult with a slight sneer and a knowing look.

                        I have written before about the US innocent usage in the UK of the word "quite" as in "quite good." Instead of meaning "very good" as often intended, a UK interpretation is "Mmm! This is unexpectedly and surprisingly well cooked! Wonders will never cease!" This is usually a cue for a rapid exit of the cook to the kitchen, followed by slammed doors and clashing sounds of pots and pans.

                        There is a difference in usage excuse for "quite" but no excuse for "proper," especially when delivered to somebody who prides themselves on their professional service as do Spanish waiters.

                        JE comments: As an aside, I've noticed that very few under the age of 30 know what a "proper noun" is.  Nor do they understand the proper English usage of the apostrophe.

                        Please login/register to reply or comment:

                        • Other Forgotten Subtleties of English (Paul Preston, -UK 10/31/13 9:00 AM)
                          To add to John Heelan's and JE's list (31 October), what about those on both sides of the Atlantic who don't know how to differentiate between number and amount? Or those politicians who seem to think that "going forward" means "next," "in the future" or "from now on."

                          Even more alarming is the substitution of specific emphatics (he did, didn't he; we showed them, didn't we) with a bizarre translation of ¿verdad?, vero? Nicht wahr, n'est-ce pas etc.--"isn't it" is usually pronounced "init."

                          JE comments:  Shall we open the floor for other language pet peeves? For some time I've been planning a Safire-style post for WAIS on the rise of the "solution" as a weasel word for anything people want you to buy--as in "IT solutions," retirement portfolio solutions," or with a nod to the season, "your Halloween candy solutions."

                          An interesting topic, init?

                          Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • English as Lingua Franca (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/29/13 3:44 AM)
                    I agree with the spirit of Robert Whealey's 28 October post, and wish to advance a few points. The statement "the German language lost its status by losing two world wars" is only indirectly correct. By losing the wars, Germany lost its prominence in science and technology, two key motivators for any Lingua Franca.

                    Second point, through political and/or military power a nation may force (push) its language on other people, but that does not seem to work as well as other nations learning a foreign language due to more advanced knowledge (pull).

                    Third, advances in specific knowledge areas like mathematics, physics, and chemistry, which have their own specific languages, are important motivators toward a Lingua Franca, but perhaps not as intensely as new knowledge in the social sciences. For example, new managerial concepts require extensive understanding of the original language. Also, I find it amazing that a most powerful cultural influence is from youth culture, completely divorced from useful practice in any way.

                    JE comments: Youth culture specifically manifests itself in music, where English is overwhelmingly dominant, as well as Hollywood. These "soft power" phenomena have probably contributed more than anything to the global dominance of English in the last 50-60 years.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

            • Concentration Camps in Italy (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/27/13 3:23 AM)
              My thanks to John Heelan for his excellent post of 25 October. However, referring to his comments on the Boers, I could not understand how one state can maintain its independence while being under the "suzerainty" of another state.

              Another thing that I do not understand is when John is referred to concentration camps for civilians of Italy in 1940. Perhaps he wanted to refer to the concentrations camps (overseas) arranged for the Italian civilians resident in England who were immediately rounded up on the declaration of war by the British Government? A strange fact: included among those rounded up in concentration camps were antifascists.

              JE comments:  "Suzerainty" is an oxymoronic term for a vassal state that enjoys a limited amount of self-rule.  Puerto Rico is in such a relationship with the United States, although officially it is a "Free Associated State" (another oxymoron).

              Please login/register to reply or comment:

              • Concentration Camps in Italy for Italian Civilians (David Pike, -France 10/31/13 6:12 AM)

                Eugenio Battaglia moves into denial mode (October 27) in questioning the existence of "concentration camps for civilians of Italy in 1940." Long before 1940, Mussolini sent his Italian civilian opponents to places such as the Lipari Islands. The prison created in September 1943 in the Risiera San Saaba outside Trieste became the only SS camp to be created in Italy, but Italian fascists certainly took part in its creation and in its operation until the very last weeks of the war. A brief look in Wikipedia gives you a score of concentration camps set up in Italy for Italians.

                JE comments:  I think this is the link we seek:


                I'm especially curious about the Nocra camp in Eritrea, which operated for more than 50 years (1890-1941).  To be sure, the establishment of this camp predates Mussolini.  Another camp I knew nothing about:  Danane outside Mogadishu, Somalia (1935-'41), where over 3000 prisoners died.

                Please login/register to reply or comment:

                • Concentration Camps in Italy for Italian Civilians (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 11/01/13 2:14 AM)
                  With reference to the post of David Pike (October 31), the political opponents (practically all of them communists) sent by Mussolini to Lipari and other small islands (a fate that happened to Mussolini too in 1943) were not sent to concentration camps, but for the most part to houses where they received pay. Some could stay with their families and according to them could maintain contact with their political colleagues. They were practically the same residences which now are being sought out by tourists.

                  The problem is not with concentration camps per se, as each nation had concentration camps for POWs. The problem is that some view the Victors of WWII as not having concentration camps for military or civilians, when we well know the truth of their existence. As just one example, we know the terrible fate of the Germans and International Waffen SS who, per Eisenhower's order, at the end of the war were not considered POWs but DEFs (Disarmed Enemy Forces) without the protection of any international rules. Among them there were also German civilians. The terrible conditions in the camps for said DEFs caused one million deaths, according to James Bacque in his book Other Losses; of course this does not include the concentration camps of the USSR.

                  About the concentration camp of Arbe for Jews, it was only for their protection as they escaped from Croatia to the area occupied by the Italians in order not to fall into the hands of the Germans or the Croatian Ustashas. Many Jews escaped to the Italian-occupied zones in Greece and France as well, but in these cases they were not placed in concentration camps but just in apartments in the towns. On September 8, 1943 many Jews passed to Italy from France.

                  In spite of all German (and Ustasha and Vichy) protests, until 1943 no Jew who escaped to the Italian zones ended up in German hands. There are plenty of testimonies from Jews in favor of the Italian Army.

                  Anyway it is an old and predictable story. For instance, everybody remembers the gassing ordered by Mussolini during the war against Ethiopia. These few episodes were retaliation against the enemy for its use of Dum Dum bullets, supplied by a Western Country, and their barbaric treatment of the POWs, but nobody wishes to remember what Churchill said after the gassing of the Iraqis in 1920: "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas as a permanent method of warfare. I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes."

                  JE comments:  Could these island prison dachas really have been so comfortable--and with a stipend to boot?  If so (and throw in WiFi so I can edit WAIS), sign me up to be Mussolini's political prisoner!

                  Eugenio Battaglia does bring up an uncomfortable historical truth:  poison gas was seen as somehow "fitting" for non-white peoples.  The first deployment of chlorine, at Ypres by the Germans in 1915, was against a largely Senegalese brigade in the French army.

                  Please login/register to reply or comment:

                  • Italian Concentration Camps; on Poison Gas Use (David Pike, -France 11/01/13 10:00 AM)
                    Eugenio Battaglia began this exchange by questioning the existence of Italian concentration camps "for Italian civilians" (October 27). In reply I referred to the island of Lipari, whose Italian civilian prisoners included some notable anarchists: Curzio Malaparte and the founders of Giustizia e Libertà: Carlo Rosselli (murdered by Mussolini) and Emilio Lussù (the latter a novelist of sufficient repute to be required reading in the senior Italian course at McGill). A favorite treatment of prisoners on Lipari was massive doses of castor oil. Having made his point quite clearly, Eugenio now slides away from it, into something quite different: prisoner of war camps. Such camps amount to the concentration of military prisoners, yes, but they are known as POW camps (Stalag/Oflag, etc), and they abide by the Geneva Convention. They are not to be referred to as concentration camps. As for the SS (whether Waffen or Allgemeine /Totenkopfverbände), it was not Eisenhower but the top Allied leaders in unison that classified them as a criminal organization whose members were denied the presumption of innocence. I hope we don't have a discussion about that.

                    Eugenio then trundles out James Bacque, and only Bacque, as an historical source, without looking into what academic historians have concluded about Bacque. Bringing up Bacque is based on the principle that if you are politically incorrect, then you have something important to say. Then we come to a whitewash of Italian fascist atrocities in Slovenia and Croatia, where the surviving records (in Trieste I studied them) are abundant.

                    I am glad I can agree with Eugenio in another area, where he refers to Southeastern France under its ten-month Italian occupation. Both French and non-French Jews who were living in the Italian Zone have made it clear that they were far better treated by the Italians than by the Vichy French, not to mention the Germans who took their place in September 1943.

                    A final reply to our editor where he wrote that "poison gas was seen as somehow ‘fitting' for non-white peoples." A study of the press in the Western democracies in the 1930s would show that people were indeed horrified by the use of poison gas in Abyssinia. You can learn a great deal from the study of the press.

                    JE comments: I was trying to make a more modest point: that it may have weighed less on the German conscience that their first "experiment" with chlorine gas was against the Senegalese.

                    Please login/register to reply or comment:

                    • Italian Concentration Camps Revisited; Response to David W. Pike (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 11/02/13 4:50 AM)
                      With reference to the 1 November post of David Pike, I'd like to clear up a few points:

                      Carlo Rosselli was not murdered by Mussolini but by the French Cagoule. Some will say that the murder was probably at the request of Ciano; see, for example, Wikipedia. Others have speculated that communists were responsible, because the Rosselli brothers wanted to return in Italy and denounce the crimes of the Communists in Spain. In any case, in 1937 the Rossellis were absolutely not a problem for Mussolini or Ciano, who really had no reason whatsoever to have them killed. Furthermore Mussolini never ordered the killing of any of his enemies. The other case charged to Mussolini was Matteotti, who was murdered in 1924, but this crime was arranged by some ambiguous fellows who might have been connected with the oil companies and the Monarchy. They were caught in few days and ended up in jail, but if you hate Mussolini you may say anything, including that he had a very cold penis so he had to wrap it in rabbit fur.

                      That the imprisoned people, like Rosselli, Malaparte, Lussu etc., were treated with castor oil is not even alleged by the Italian Communists. Castor oil was used as a weapon by the Fascists during the "biennio rosso"--two red years--1919-1921, when there was a de facto civil war in Italy.

                      The DEFs were all German soldiers and not only SS.  More DEFs died (1,000,000) than the actual number of SS. I do not care what academics think about Bacque. What is important is that he brings a crime out in the open, as you cannot deny the presumption of innocence to an Army and condemn millions of people, including some civilians, to starvation without shelter.

                      The so-called atrocities of the Italian forces in Slovenia and Croatia were retaliations against the atrocities committed by the communist partisans, but one should remember that the Croatians started killing Italians in 1869, when 14 seamen of the hydrographic ship Momzambano at Sebenico were lynched, while Italian properties/shops/fields in Dalmatia were destroyed. Mussolini had not yet been born.

                      JE comments: Mussolini never ordered the killing of any of his enemies? I suspect we'll have some pushback to Eugenio Battaglia's claim.  And we'll probably see a reference or two to rabbit fur...

                      In any case, I must be away from the computer for the next 28 hours, so I wish all of WAISdom a pleasant weekend. Postings will resume tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, 3 November.) Pax et lux to all!

                      Please login/register to reply or comment:

Trending Now

All Forums with Published Content (45694 posts)

- Unassigned

Culture & Language

American Indians Art Awards Bestiary of Insults Books Conspiracy Theories Culture Ethics Film Food Futurology Gender Issues Humor Intellectuals Jews Language Literature Media Coverage Movies Music Newspapers Numismatics Philosophy Plagiarism Prisons Racial Issues Sports Tattoos Western Civilization World Communications


Capitalism Economics International Finance World Bank World Economy


Education Hoover Institution Journal Publications Libraries Universities World Bibliography Series


Biographies Conspiracies Crime Decline of West German Holocaust Historical Figures History Holocausts Individuals Japanese Holocaust Leaders Learning Biographies Learning History Russian Holocaust Turkish Holocaust


Afghanistan Africa Albania Algeria Argentina Asia Australia Austria Bangladesh Belgium Belize Bolivia Brazil Canada Central America Chechnya Chile China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark East Europe East Timor Ecuador Egypt El Salvador England Estonia Ethiopia Europe European Union Finland France French Guiana Germany Greece Guatemala Haiti Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran (Persia) Iraq Ireland Israel/Palestine Italy Japan Jordan Kenya Korea Kosovo Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Latin America Liberia Libya Mali Mexico Middle East Mongolia Morocco Namibia Nations Compared Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria North America Norway Pacific Islands Pakistan Palestine Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Polombia Portugal Romania Saudi Arabia Scandinavia Scotland Serbia Singapore Slovakia South Africa South America Southeast Asia Spain Sudan Sweden Switzerland Syria Thailand The Pacific Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan UK (United Kingdom) Ukraine USA (America) USSR/Russia Uzbekistan Venezuela Vietnam West Europe Yemen Yugoslavia Zaire


Balkanization Communism Constitutions Democracy Dictators Diplomacy Floism Global Issues Hegemony Homeland Security Human Rights Immigration International Events Law Nationalism NATO Organizations Peace Politics Terrorism United Nations US Elections 2008 US Elections 2012 US Elections 2016 US Elections 2020 Violence War War Crimes Within the US


Christianity Hinduism Islam Judaism Liberation Theology Religion

Science & Technology

Alcohol Anthropology Automotives Biological Weapons Design and Architecture Drugs Energy Environment Internet Landmines Mathematics Medicine Natural Disasters Psychology Recycling Research Science and Humanities Sexuality Space Technology World Wide Web (Internet)


Geography Maps Tourism Transportation


1-TRIBUTES TO PROFESSOR HILTON 2001 Conference on Globalizations Academic WAR Forums Ask WAIS Experts Benefactors Chairman General News Member Information Member Nomination PAIS Research News Ronald Hilton Quotes Seasonal Messages Tributes to Prof. Hilton Varia Various Topics WAIS WAIS 2006 Conference WAIS Board Members WAIS History WAIS Interviews WAIS NEWS waisworld.org launch WAR Forums on Media & Research Who's Who