Posts Tagged ‘World War I’

Letter From New York 04 24 15 2015, a big year for anniversaries…

April 24, 2015

First of all, my apologies…

I thought the Bruce Jenner/Diane Sawyer interview was last night and it is tonight. I misread the paper yesterday. Sorry about that.

But it is tonight and the Kardashians are gathering to watch it together. He’s their stepfather. Bruce says that 2015 is going to be a wild ride. And I am sure that it already has been for him.

2015 is a big year for a lot of things.

Los Angeles has a large Armenian community and thousands of them marched today to remember the Armenian Genocide. The centenary of that gruesome event is happening today.

2015 is also the centenary, celebrated tomorrow, of Gallipoli. The Allies in World War I wanted to break the back of Turkish participation by capturing Istanbul. They landed at Gallipoli and remained there for months, unable to advance, starving, dying and suffering from dysentery. Something like 45,000 Allied troops died there as did 80 some thousand Turkish troops.

Charles, Prince of Wales, and his son, Prince Harry, are there to lead the British delegation to the remembrance. Australians and soldiers from New Zealand died in the thousands there too. It was the their military debut on the world stage and it is remembered every year there and on the centenary, the Prime Ministers of both countries have traveled to Gallipoli to be present for the ceremonies.

While that conflict has long been ended, the one in Yemen seems nowhere near ending. The Houthis have advanced and the Saudi led coalition has bombed back. 150,000 Yemenis have been displaced and the country is collapsing. Nearly everything they need has to be imported and right now almost nothing is coming in as cargo ships are detained in the waters off Yemen.

A number of Afghans and Pakistanis were arrested in Italy today, accused of planning to carry out Al Qaeda attacks, including one aimed at the Vatican.

In the United States there has been a huge buzz all day about the demise of the Time Warner Cable and Comcast merger. Called off today, it once looked like a sure thing. But since the deal was announced the media revolution that is occurring caused the spotlight to shift from cable homes reached to broadband houses served. If the deal had gone through, the combined companies would have owned, according to some estimates, as much as 57% of broadband service to US costumers.

That was too much for anyone.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota was a lonely voice a year ago in disapproval of the deal. He is hardly alone now.

Feeling a bit isolated today is Ed Miliband, Labour’s candidate for Prime Minister of Britain. He set off a row by claiming in a speech that the migrant disaster in the Mediterranean could be traced back to a lack of planning after the fall of Gadhafi. The Tories declared he had reached a new low.

We’ll see. The elections are two weeks away. A new low could be just around the corner.

Not going to Poland are the Night Wolves, a Hell’s Angels sort of biking group in Russia that is very fond of Putin as Putin is fond of them. They planned to ride through Poland on their way to celebrate Soviet victories in World War II, 70 years ago this year. Nope, said the Poles. Russia is “indignant.”

Less indignant will be some parts of American society now that Abercrombie & Fitch is set to dial down the sexiness of their advertising. No more male shirtless models everywhere.

The NASDAQ had its highest intraday moment in history today, propelled by Google, Amazon and Microsoft, the tech triumvirate. They all soared on individual good news.

Good news here is that sun is out. I saw “Ex Machina” last night and it was good; not what I expected but good and disturbing at the end.

In about an hour I will head over to Penn Station to take the 5:47 train up to Hudson. Lionel and Pierre will be home this weekend to attend a birthday party and we’ll all go to the Dot tonight.

Should be a good weekend.

Letter From New York August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

Or, as it seems to me…

The sun is playing hide and seek, darting in and out from behind clouds, a day that is both dark and bright, mood changing by the minute. The creek flows by, clear and steady; in a southeasterly direction, which I was informed yesterday, was very good feng shui. I’m pleased to hear that; we all need as much good feng shui as we can manage to find.

I didn’t realize it until I was scanning the headlines from the New York Times on my iPhone while having my first cup of coffee but yesterday was the 100th anniversary of World War I, the war that was to end all wars. Which, of course, it didn’t. It was merely a prelude to that greater catastrophe, World War II.

A century ago and we are still reaping the effects of that whirlwind.

The Russian Tsar was toppled in 1917 and, with his family, assassinated in 1918. Out of the ashes of the Russian Empire grew a very brief democratic government that gave way to the Soviet Empire. The German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, rolled into exile in the Netherlands on a private train where he remained for the rest of his life. The last Austrian-Hungarian Emperor abdicated. The last Ottoman Sultan got the boot in 1922.

Borders were remade.

The Ottoman Sultan decided to side with Germany and Austria-Hungary, which was not a wise decision. When the war ended, his Empire was carved away. The British chopped up the Ottoman Empire for their own purposes. The British did a lot of that, doing things for their own purposes. The sun had not yet set on the British Empire. It took World War II to finish that off.

Iraq was not Iraq before the end of World War I; it was a province of the Ottoman Empire. Jordan was born out of the great carve up of the old Ottoman Empire as was Syria.

Germany lost territory and a swath of Poland cut the country into East and West. The Austrian-Hungarian Empire was no longer an empire. Austria and Hungary became separate countries. A new country called Yugoslavia was created, as was Czechoslovakia.

The new Soviet Empire was diminished from what the old Russian Empire had been; new countries arose out of the demise of the old Tsarist domain. The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were no longer subservient to Russia. Finland was no longer a Russian Grand Duchy, declaring its independence.

After the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine, America began to lean toward the Allies, entering the war in 1917. Its role in helping win the war established America as a global power and manufacturing powerhouse. It was the beginning of the American century.

Many of the best and the brightest of a generation of Europeans died during that war. The ones who survived wrote some of the greatest war stories ever told. Hemingway gave us A FAREWELL TO ARMS and Erich Maria Remarque gave us ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. F. Scott Fitzgerald became the chronicler of “The Lost Generation.” The war years were followed by the Roaring 20’s, a grand party partly fueled by a need to find distance from the horrors that had been.

World War I gave us modern warfare: tanks, gas, war planes. It wasn’t the War to End All Wars but it set the tone for all wars to follow. It gave new meaning to the horror of war. The great players in the Second World War all were present during the First War. Hitler was formed in the trenches of World War I. Churchill’s role in the catastrophe of Gallipoli marred his reputation, only fully redeemed by World War II. Stalin was formed in the crucible of the war and the subsequent Russian Revolution. Roosevelt had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy and itched to have a military command, a hope blunted by Armistice.

It was a century ago. But it seems so much of now started there, a remaking of the world order that we are still sorting out.