‘I have no doubt about it: England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves to take the Austro-Serbian conflict as an excuse for waging war against us….the stupidity and ineptitude of our ally (Austria-Hungary) is turned into a snare for us….The net has been suddenly thrown over our head, and England sneeringly reaps the most brilliant success of her persistently prosecuted purely anti-German world policy against which we have proved helpless…From the dilemma raised by our fidelity [to Austria], we are brought into a situation which offers England the desired pretext for annihilating us under the hypocritical cloak of justice…A magnificent achievement which even those for whom it means disaster are bound to admire.’ — Comments attributed to Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany (1888-1918), upon his belated and fateful realization war was inevitable and all Germany’s efforts to avoid it were preempted, and then undermined at every turn by the “Secret Elites” of the British Empire—dutiful servants of his uncle King Edward VII (1901-1910)—who unbeknown to him had been stealthily plotting the destruction of his beloved Fatherland for two decades prior.
[Source: The Kaiser and his Times, Michael Balfour, 1972]
‘Yet it is necessary…to feign, greatly, and to dissemble, for men are so simple, and so prone to obey the exigencies of the moment, that he who deceives will always find someone ready to be deceived.’
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
‘The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.’
Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1907
Dedicated to: Walter Edward Berryman (1894-1915), the author’s great-uncle, who was mortally wounded at Gallipoli April, 1915, later dying in Alexandria on the 5th, May, 1915.
— The War of the Over-Privileged Belligerents —
Whilst it may not always be treated as accepted wisdom, Winston Churchill‘s indelible sound-bite ‘History is written by the victors’ is an all too familiar refrain for many people when engaged in everything from casual after-dinner discourse, to studied dissection of, past events. It is up there with George Santayana‘s ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’, and Henry Ford‘s ‘History is (more or less) bunk’.
Although less familiar, for his part Churchill—presumably musing on how one might not simply influence but arbitrarily pre-determine, the collectively desired outcome of grand political machinations—had this to say: ‘the first quality that is needed is audacity’. As we’ll see, all of these insights referencing the nature and substance of war have singular relevance to the narrative herein.
With this in mind, if Gerry Docherty and James Macgregor‘s meticulously researched, myth-busting ‘must-read’ Hidden History – The Secret Origins of the First World War is anything to go by, the Great Pontificator was right on both counts.
Which is to say, whether writing (or rewriting) history, or demonstrating “audacity” in the pursuit, preservation and expansion of empire—along with literally dictating the official record of such endeavours in that regard—Churchill and his conspiratorial contemporaries (the so-called Milner Group, or as referred to by the authors, the “Secret Elites”, and around whom the book’s central narrative revolves), arguably have few peers.
As the first epigraph above amply illustrates, when on the eve of what was to become known as The Great War the ‘pfennig’ finally dropped for the naive, hapless Kaiser Wilhelm, he was all but moved to marvel at the sheer mastery of the grand Machiavellian deception he’d been subjected to by the British.
Yet the Kaiser and his advisors, diplomats and generals barely knew the half of it! If ever any great power, nation or empire was in contention for fatally underestimating or misreading the machinations and motives of its main rival and ostensible enemy, Germany has to be leading contender for first prize in the modern history narrative. The ‘Brits’ played the ‘Krauts’—and most of the rest of the world including my own country Australia, one of the Empire’s numerous dominions—like a finely tuned ‘Strat’ in the hands of the estimable Jimi Hendrix at the top of his game!
It’s no exaggeration to say then that in this cognitive dissonance inducing account of the intrigues leading to the Great War’s outbreak, these two Scotsmen have debunked virtually everything we think we know about it. To be sure they are not the first to provide a revisionist interpretation of the causes and origins of this most pivotal and consequential of events. They in fact openly acknowledge those who have bravely traversed similar pathways, some at the expense of their own academic standing and professional well-being, a not uncommon outcome for those who dare to challenge the victors’ official version of events.
Which is to say that the art and practice of historical revisionism in the pursuit of greater veracity and authenticity is not a job for the faint-hearted or career minded. To paraphrase establishment historian/poster boy and devotee of empire Niall Ferguson (albeit in this instance commenting on historical prognostication rather than revisionism), such proclivities remain a ‘highly inefficient market’, for which ‘the rewards are paltry’. Those cited include Sidney Bradshaw Fay, Harry Elmer Barnes, John S. Ewart, and Carroll Quigley, to name a few. Quigley was the better known of these; he wrote two seminal tomes, Tragedy and Hope, and The Anglo-American Establishment, the latter especially delving into the imperial cabals who comprised Alfred (Lord) Milner‘s Secret Elites (aka “Milner’s Kindergarten”). And although the authors go further and deeper, it is to Quigley they acknowledge their biggest debt.
(Quigley is equally well known as a mentor of sorts to one Bill Clinton, a distinction about which one might surmise the eminent historian, if he were still with us, would have decidedly mixed feelings to say the least.)
Yet if nothing else—and there is plenty “else” in this story—their particular achievement becomes all the more remarkable when one visits their website. Herein they take us beyond the beginning on the War in 1914—where the book’s narrative effectively ends—and go on to provide us with details of how Britain then conspired to prolong the War for as long as possible, and the continuing machinations of those involved in starting it to that end. With the book and the Hidden History website (still a work in progress) taken together then, if there is a more complete, well documented and authentic history of the First World War, it’s difficult to think of any that approach their work in ambition, scale, and significance.
As for the Secret Elites then (whose inner circle included the reigning Rothschild patriarch of his era Lord Nathan Rothschild, aka “Natty”), Quigley for his part was unequivocal (albeit interestingly, less so about their motives than their methods). After noting that, ‘…this secret society was created by Cecil Rhodes and his principal trustee, Lord Milner, and continues to exist to this day’, he presents a succinct introduction to the overarching Hidden History narrative:
‘No country that values its safety should allow what the Milner group accomplished — [that] a small number of men would be able to wield such power in administration and politics, [to] exercise such influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and [to] monopolize so completely the writing and teaching of the history of their own period.’ [My emphasis]
In their Introduction the authors waste little time preparing us for what follows. After noting on the one hand that ‘[T]he history of the First World War is a deliberately concocted lie’, yet duly acknowledging the ‘very real sacrifice, heroism, horrendous waste of life, [and] misery that followed’, they continue to plough the field of ugly reality that was the prelude to the Great War:
‘…the truth of how it all began and how it was unnecessarily and deliberately prolonged beyond 1915 has been successfully covered up for a century. A carefully falsified history was created to conceal the fact that Britain, not Germany, was responsible for the war. Had the truth become widely known after 1918, the consequences for the British establishment would have been cataclysmic’. [My emphasis]
As a former (now partially ‘rehabbed’) history teacher, this unflinching expose is something to behold. I now have to contend with the uncomfortable reality that most of what I’ve taught my students over the years about this event was indeed, “bunk”. Courtesy of my own “studied dissection” of the people, situation and circumstance of modern history in general—itself triggered by another more recent history diverting event, that of 9/11—this, at once appalling yet strangely liberating, realisation admittedly has been a work in progress for some time. The upshot is that in good conscience I could no longer teach the history prescribed by the current curriculum here in Australia or anywhere else in the Western education system, the content of which few expect is likely to change anytime soon.
— The Great Gamers of Whitehall —
Be that as it may, Docherty and Macgregor have in one fell swoop peeled away any remaining scales from my eyes. Those readers prepared to consider this alternate, yet utterly convincing narrative, will I suspect experience a similarly jarring epiphany. In this the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign (to which I will return), for want of a better phrase, the timing is ‘perfect’.
As any writer and researcher on such matters must know, understanding the real origins of this War to End all Wars (itself a designation qualifying at once as one of history’s cruelest deceptions and bitterest ironies) has always been critical to grasping what is happening now geopolitically with the U.S., or more specifically, with the unholy Anglo-American-Israeli alliance. It is also crucial in determining where things could be heading in the not too distant future, and what is likely to transpire in the process.
In order to more fully appreciate the driving forces at play in England behind the adoption of such a strategy, a stroll down memory lane is necessary. Since Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 at Waterloo in Belgium, the British Empire began playing the “Great Game” in earnest, and we can say it even presaged the position that America found itself in when the USSR collapsed in 1991. Britain’s great imperial unipolar moment had arrived then, and she had the motive and the means to take full advantage of the opportunity if she was up for playing the “Game” for keeps, a preparedness about which we can now say there was never any doubt. The designation “Great Game” alluded to the geo-strategic rivalry between the British Empire and the Czarist (Russian) Empire for control of Central and Southern Asia from circa 1815 until the latter period of the 19th Century. The region is still considered to be the most strategically important piece of real estate on the planet, not just because of the geography itself, but also because of what’s in the ground, a situation that is unlikely to change anytime soon.
This reality was more recently and infamously laid bare by Zbigniew Brzezinski in his 1997 manifesto The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, essentially an instruction manual for world domination by Uncle Sam and an updated riff on the Great Game played so assiduously by its parent empire. (Readers might wish to read an earlier post that provides further insight into the Brzezinski Doctrine and its contemporary significance.)
After the seemingly inexorable rise of Germany in the wake of that country’s unification in 1871 into the nation state we know it today, quite a few of England’s ruling elites became unnerved by the threat this development ostensibly heralded for Britain’s global supremacy, specifically, its ability to maintain pole position in the Old/New World Order. At all costs and by whatever means, Britain was utterly determined no country (or alliance of countries) would threaten her designation as the Empire du jour, the one on which it was famously said ‘the sun never set’.
Accordingly, circa 1890 especially, Germany’s remarkable economic, technological and industrial growth—along with its military expansion and presumed imperial ambitions—would become Britain’s sole foreign policy obsession, albeit one more malevolent than ‘magnificent’. It was in this milieu that the Secret Elites first congregated in 1891 to plot the Empire’s trajectory, one that would ultimately lead to the Great War. The “Great Game” was still on, but the chief rival —if not the endgame—had changed. Such was their resolve, the Secret Elites had already ‘prophesied’ that not only was war with the Teutonic upstart inevitable, they embarked on a mission from God, King, Country and Empire to ensure that that prophesy became self-fulfilling.
The goal here then was nothing less than that of ruthlessly crushing Germany before it even got out of the imperial starting gate, and it is an indication of the determination of the British to achieve this objective they were prepared to engage the support of their former rivals the Czarist Russians. Given this milieu, the odds were stacked again Germany from the off. Yet as it transpired the hapless ‘Deutsch-landers’ still didn’t see it coming, such was the scale and depth of Britain’s duplicity. This itself is no small indication Germany’s own imperial ambitions such as they were, were not as ambitious and certainly not as threatening as the Secret Elites made out at the time, nor as the history books and the conventional wisdom would have us all believe.
For those of us who still retain images of the “evil, beastly” Hun poisoning the water wells in Waterloo 100 years after that eponymous battle decided the course of history (which it could well be said brought them to that very point), and skewering babies on the end of bayonets after raping and disemboweling their mothers whilst their fathers, brothers and sisters looked on, prepare for some reality checks. In this it is instructive to note it was the Great War that gave provenance to one of the great truisms in the history of conflict, expressed in the phrase “Truth is the first casualty of war”.
Moreover, if in the here and now this all sounds unnervingly familiar, that’s because it probably is, a point to which we will return.
— The Disposable Heroes of Hegemony —
As for the war itself, it was the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 that at once reveals the hidden agenda of the Secret Elites in bringing about the war. At the same time it showcases much of the central narrative about how and on what basis it was conducted thereafter. Whilst aptly described by one Aussie Gallipoli veteran Charles Watkins as an “amateurish, do-it-yourself cock-up”, doubtless Watkins and his fellow Diggers (veterans) were unaware said “cock-up” was never meant to succeed from the off, and probably remained so until their dying day. From the perspective of the Secret Elites, we might safely say the “failure” of the Gallipoli campaign was one of the most successful gambits of the war.
Simply put, the whole endgame of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign was designed to fail. It was initiated by the British to hoodwink their Russian allies into thinking they had a chance of defeating the Turks and [of] capturing Constantinople, thus acquiring their long desired warm water port and theretofore facilitating their own expansionist ambitions. This however was something the Great Gamers in Whitehall never had any intention of allowing. It was all a ruse to keep the Czarist regime from suing for peace, as by November 2014, having already lost over a million men, the Russians realized they had bitten off much more than they could chew. As early as this point they were still a long way from realizing the trust they had placed in the Whitehall mob may have been misplaced. As Docherty and Macgregor point out in a post on their blog,
‘If Russia gained access to the Mediterranean, the Black Sea fleet might at some future point sail to the Suez Canal and threaten the life-line to India. That was utterly inconceivable. The British Empire could have been seriously threatened if Constantinople was in Russian hands. No British government could have survived in power if it surrendered Constantinople as a consequence of a secret deal.’ [My emphasis]
In short the whole Gallipoli thing had little directly to do with the overarching strategy of winning the war; indeed, it had everything to do with prolonging it. Given what followed for the next three and a half years—not to mention the long-term blowback from the war overall—the implications of this alone are staggering. One imagines that if any of the Aussie and Kiwi (New Zealand) Diggers who survived this campaign (and indeed the longer war), had ever been apprised of the real backstory behind its genesis, most would have had singular difficulty believing it. Doubtless they’d have been appalled even more so to discover the lengths to which the Secret Elites—the Empire’s self appointed Praetorian guard-dogs—went both in the planning stages and during the Gallipoli campaign itself to guarantee that it failed.
And for those who might’ve been inclined to consider an alternative to the “cock-up” theory of the Gallipoli tragedy, it is impossible to imagine how this would have affected them. Either way, even now we might ‘cue the sound’ of long departed Anzacs*—to say nothing of Britain’s own veterans, along with those of all other countries involved—spinning furiously in their eternally designated plots of land (at least those ‘fortunate’ enough to be identified and [to] receive a proper burial) at such knowledge or more broadly, any suggestions the larger war was fought for reasons other than the ones they believed in and did actually fight for. Lest We Forget indeed!
In a follow-up article published on the eve of the ANZAC Centenary, Docherty and Macgregor present in graphic detail the backstory behind the Great War’s arguably greatest travesty, which given its overall conduct, is a big call to be sure. After observing Gallipoli ‘was a lie within the lie’ that was the First World War, they then grimly observed the following:
‘The Gallipoli landings went ahead on 25 April 1915 with the terrible slaughter and wounding of many incredibly brave young men, dispensable pawns on Imperial Britain’s chessboard….By late 1915….the British government began withdrawal from the corpse strewn peninsula. The last Allied troops were taken off on 9 January 1916, leaving behind 62,266 of their comrades. The majority of the dead on both sides have no known graves. Many of the 11,410 Australians and New Zealanders who died suffered unspeakable deaths, [were] deliberately sacrificed on the altar of British imperialism.’ [Emphasis added]
— The Kids in the Kindergarten —
From at least 1904—shortly after the Second Boer War (itself little more than a dress rehearsal for the showdown with Germany), and fully ten year’s before the eventual outbreak of the War—Lord Milner’s “Kindergarten” clique literally conspired then at every turn to spark this cataclysmic conflagration. To say they left no stone unturned in their efforts to realise their grand plan is no overstatement.
Although many abound, one example will suffice herein. This was the dogged manner in which various members of the Secret Elites coerced, cajoled and curried favour in the pre-war years with the various dominions and colonies specifically amongst their respective media outlets and leading politicians of the day—Australia, India, New Zealand, Canada to name the obvious ones—to ensure that once war began, there would be unstinting loyalty from all and sundry to the cause of empire. It was, of course an astonishing political, diplomatic and propaganda achievement, yet one we can now safely say, came at great cost for all those dominions and colonies, with little or nothing to show for it. To be sure, one of history’s greatest snow-jobs perpetrated in the cause of perpetuating the empire.
It should be noted that, as First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, of all of the Cabinet ministers the aforementioned Churchill was according to the PM at the time Herbert Asquith, ‘the most eager for war….[he was] bellicose, and demanding immediate mobilization’. Indeed, so hot to trot for the conflagration was our chap ‘Winnie’—man who by any measure is ‘deserving’ of his own revisionist narrative—that even after Cabinet demured at one crucial point in their pre-war deliberations to give him permission to mobilise the Royal fleet, he went ahead and did so anyway! A warmonger to be sure, and many would argue even at this stage, well on the way to a deserved—yet rarely acknowledged—reputation as a war criminal par excellence.
Of course as history also records, Churchill went on to become Britain’s wartime leader in the fight against Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, himself no less than a singular creation of the Secret Elites and their immediate successors. Although a story for another time, in this we can safely say all Churchill was doing was cleaning up the mess he and his ilk had so assiduously worked to create from the off. But without American treasure, and especially Russian blood—not to mention that of all the other allies—this time it would be England that had bitten off more than it could chew. Yet as history tells it, ‘winning’ the Great Game was very much a Pyrrhic victory for the Empire. By 1945 it had gone all pear-shaped for the British as a direct result of imperial overreach brought on by monumental hubris, avarice, contempt and greed, fuelled by an absolute, insatiable—and ultimately corrupting—lust for geopolitical dominion, human exploitation, and unbridled power even Lord Acton (he of the popular “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” dictum) might never have imagined the human condition capable of mustering, (ahem) absolutely or otherwise.
And now with Uncle Sam intent on playing his own version of the “Great Game” (swap China, Iran, and Russia for Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire)—with the remnants of the Old Empire now playing no mean ‘second fiddle—we’re clearly heading toward another Great War scenario. Which is to say one does not need to ‘frock up’ like Nostradamus to see where this might be heading. With current world events and developments uncannily echoing those of the time and which are still being defined by its ongoing blowback, for the imperially inclined, the Great War is the gift that just keeps on giving. Just ask the neoconservatives and their fellow travellers the liberal interventionists in Washington and the broader Beltway! In so many respects these folks are all rightful heirs of the Secret Elites, and guardians of their treacherous, cold-blooded, apocalyptically malignant legacy. And if these folks continue to have their way, the next War to End all Wars may actually live up to its name, something they all appear to be completely oblivious to or unconcerned about. Which brings to mind Albert Einstein (who plainly had nukes in mind) when he said, ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.’
— The Resurrection of Perfidious Albion (In Another Guise) —
For even casual surveyors of the present geopolitical landscape, this should not come as a big surprise. As Hidden History shows, it was America’s current partner in criminal imperial enterprise that created the original business model of Modern Empire two hundred years ago and spent the next hundred years finessing it. The Americans didn’t just learn from the masters. Many would argue the ‘pupils’ are hell-bent on showing their former ‘teachers’ a clean pair of hegemonic boot-heels, that is if they haven’t already arrived at the station as it were.
In his 1993 book called A Century of War – Anglo-American Oil, Politics and the New World Order, F William Engdahl brings this to the fore. After noting the “peculiar genius” of English foreign policy lay in its “skillful manipulation” of the shape-shifting alliances and relationships within Europe especially, and more broadly globally, when they perceived such relationships to be shifting in one direction or another (and in Europe such seismic shifts in alliances were a work in more or less perpetual motion), Engdahl had this to say:
‘English diplomacy cultivated this cynical doctrine, which dictated that England never held sentimental or moral relations with other nations as sovereign respected partners, but rather, England developed her “interests.” English alliance strategies were dictated strictly by what England determined at any given period might best serve the definition of English “interest”‘. [Emphasis added].
Docherty and Macgregor’s book underscores Engdahl’s assessment unequivocally. All of which is to say that, if from Napoleon’s time the British Empire played The Great Game, then since 1945, and especially in earnest after the Soviet Union imploded in 1992, America has taken complete control of the way the “game” is played, decides who gets to play (or more precisely, who has to play and on whose terms), and makes up its own rules as it goes along. And after 9/11, it has been open slather. Well might we say, ‘Meet the New Empire, same as the Old Empire!’
And if starting the Great War itself and then blaming the Germans was not enough, the British (along with the French, and the Johnny-Come-Lately Americans) compounded the tragedy exponentially by imposing on Germany via the 1919 Treaty of Versailles a set of impossible reparation conditions and penalties. According to American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen this knowingly—yes knowingly—set the stage for the Next War to End All Wars (aka World War II) 20 years later. Of course this war—the most obvious example of the blowback to be had from the Original War to End all Wars—was one which lasted two years longer, killed and/or wounded over twenty million more people, created considerably more havoc and devastation across an even greater expanse of our favourite planet, and ushered in the nuclear age. And it should be noted, even more blowback. The Cold War and War on Terror anyone?
Moreover, not only to the WWI ‘victors did the spoils go’, said “victors” also got to write the history, almost all of which is “bunk”. Hidden History provides unimpeachable corroboration to that effect. That is, the Secret elites then convinced the world it was all Germany’s fault, a monumental lie that we have all been swallowing for one hundred years. And we are still force-feeding the current generation the same lie, through our education system, through our media, and via our political discourse. Even in its current decrepit, decayed state, the ancien regime of “Perfidious Albion” that was the British Empire still has a lot to answer for. And then some! Why? Because we’re all still paying for it now, and will be for some time to come! And they are still up to their old antics in a geopolitical ‘old habits die hard’ kinda way, albeit though in junior partnership with their imperial progeny across the Big Pond, with whom the “special relationship” appears to be very much “Johnnie Walker”.
(In a forthcoming post, in addition to examining Britain’s role in prolonging the war after it started—along with effectively aiding the German war effort so as to discourage then from suing for peace—we will be taking a close look at Guido Preparata’s Conjuring Hitler: How Britain and America Made the Third Reich. It is in this book—one which is in many respects Hidden History’s essential companion piece cum ‘sequel’—we really come to grips with the hitherto little discussed and even less acknowledged origins of that ‘special relationship’ in the post-WW1 era. Suffice it to say, the sight is not a pretty one.)
Even at this point though, the big question here for us all is this: Will current or future generations of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians—or anyone else—on Uncle Sam’s imperial alliance dance card continue to buy into the Great Game 2.0? Given our own history of unstinting, obsequious support of the two Empires in question and the execrable wars that inevitably result from their respective, recidivistic hegemonic ambition, the answer to that query appears obvious.
Whether it was in the Second Boer War or the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan or any other execrable, avoidable conflict in between and beyond, it seems then the best way for us to truly honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice is to both understand—and then come to terms with—the real reasons why our forbears were fighting, crying, bleeding and dying. It certainly was not in the cause of democracy, freedom, life, liberty, peace, love, understanding, human rights, and the pursuit of happiness. It never has been. It never will be! If we cannot come to terms with this long dormant reality, “Lest we Forget” becomes a meaningless refrain, a hollow, empty chant.
For Australians and New Zealanders alike, from this pivotal point onwards—i.e. 2015—when it comes to both commemorating, extolling and embracing the ‘virtues’ of the ANZAC tradition (as distinct from the myth), and bowing our heads every April 25 in solemn remembrance of our ‘baptism of fire’ as a nation at Anzac Cove (not to mention in the putrid, blood-drenched, interminable trenches cum graves along the Western Front) it now behooves everyone of us still—young or old, veteran or non-veteran—to come to grips with a fuller understanding of the real history behind the First World War and Britain’s hitherto hidden, yet wholly reprehensible, role in planning, triggering—and then as already noted, actually prolonging—that conflict.
And since it is the aforementioned Churchill that is the most remembered—and least deservedly revered—of the Great War plotters, it seems apposite to include herein—then ‘riff on’—a pricelessly pompous piece of Winstonian profundity, to wit: ‘Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.’ The duplicitous old blowhard should know! Truth be told, Churchill and his coterie of conspirators didn’t so much as ‘stumble over the truth’ before picking themselves up and ‘hurrying off as if nothing had happened’; they assassinated said truth with extreme and amoral prejudice, then buried it deep in the ground and did everything in their power to ensure that no-one—in their own lifetimes and decades beyond—would ever exhume and examine what was in the hole.
In this though with Hidden History, the jig is well and truly up. They then went on to create their own reality and convince themselves and everyone else who would listen (of whom there was no shortage) there was no other reality than their own. With this in mind, we might paraphrase the aforementioned ‘Hank’ Ford; for Churchill and his ilk—along with their imperial heirs on either side of the Big Pond playing the Great Game as we speak—one imagines it was, and still is, very much a case of, “you can have any version of history you like, as long as it’s ours!”
— Never mind the reality, feel the myth! —
There can be no doubt Docherty and Macgregor deserve our eternal gratitude for bringing this appalling—and for many, inconvenient—truth to our attention. Yet despite being published over two years ago, all indications point to this book having all but been buried by the Western mainstream media, with negligible reviews forthcoming in that time. Consequently, I fear their story will never reach that all-important critical mass of folks that will be required to bring those still playing the Great Game of Empire to account. Until and unless that happens, we are doomed to keep repeating history, until such time as ‘history’ finally catches up with us and destroys us. In such an instance there will be no victors, just victims.
It is appropriate to round off with another word about Gallipoli, an event that occupies a not dissimilar real estate in the consciousness of Australians and New Zealanders as the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima does for the Americans. In the separate article cited earlier, after noting that in Britain, New Zealand and Australia, Gallipoli has been turned into an “heroic-romantic myth“, Docherty and Macgregor maintain it is a myth nonetheless “promoted by court historians and pliant journalists in order to hide the stark truth.”
Although the myth derives from Gallipoli, it goes way beyond that event. There is the unquestioning reverence for our military and our easy propensity to unstintingly celebrate our military history and those who made it. And to be sure, many will appreciate the role that “court historians and pliant journalists” played. Some things never change of course.
Much of this ‘reverence’ though one suspects is often both as feigned as it is strained, and appears the first and last refuge of too many people—especially in the media and in political circles—whose insight into our involvement in the various military conflicts is scant at best. Moreover, their knowledge of the reasons for why these conflicts erupted in the first instance, on what basis they have been conducted (by both sides), along with the political exigencies and economic realities that have been the true causes of these conflicts, one might argue is even less complete. As far as they are concerned, it seems here it may just be a case of, ‘never mind the reality, [just] ‘feel’ the myth’!
To underscore the mythical—indeed, pseudo-mystical—aspect of our reverence for all things “war”, the dismissal earlier this year of SBS journalist Scott McIntyre in Australia for private comments he made on social media which went against the grain of accepted ‘reality’ that is the essence of that seemingly indestructible, unassailable ANZAC myth, is a testament to the collective power it commands in our national identity and the manner in which it fuels our individual personal pride in what it means to be mindful of, and connected to, that same identity. It is almost akin to denying the Holocaust! Far from being just a parochial Australian based news-story, such was the fallout from the McIntyre sacking that even Glen Greenwald from the Intercept in the U.S. weighed into the controversy, and to the extent it might be required lends additional weight to the notion that these issues are universal, regardless of the war and the reasons for it, regardless of who was involved and why, and irrespective of the outcome. After defining “mandated worship not just of its military but of its wars” as the “real religion” of the supposedly “secular West”, Greenwald added:
‘The central dogma of this religion is tribal superiority: Our Side is more civilized, more peaceful, [and therefore] superior to Their Side…McIntyre was fired because he committed blasphemy against that religion.’ [My Italics]
Although a familiar one, Greenwald’s analogy of ‘war as religion’ is apposite to be sure. In his excellent essay “Are Nations Really Made in War”, Australian historian Henry Reynolds muses on this seemingly universal theme by citing any number of people who’ve extolled such sentiments. Not least of these is British historian J.A. Cramb. Interestingly, Cramb died the year before the Great War erupted, and his two major works were published posthumously; Germany and England in 1914 and The Origin and Destiny of Imperial Britain in 1915. In the first tome, Cramb ‘waxed pious’ intoning that in war man had…
‘…a possession” which he ‘values above religion, above industry and above social comfort’, and he further ‘riffed’ on the ‘the might, majesty, and the mystery of war’. In the second book he spoke of the ‘intensification of life’ engendered by armed conflict, and spoke of the battlefield as ‘…an altar; the sacrifice the most awful the human eye can contemplate or the imagination with all its efforts invent’.
One wonders whether Cramb, had he experienced first hand, or even lived to witness with his own eye the horrors of the trenches and/or had a loved one or two who “sacrificed” themselves to said “horrors”, would either “contemplate” or be able to imagine after the fact holding to the same view and for the same reasons. In the final analysis, it appears then that that aforementioned ‘collective power’ (or ‘religious’ fervour) prevails for all the wrong reasons. And as McIntyre found to his professional detriment (and doubtless personal dismay), woe betide anyone who dares question it, or to inject a reality check into any discussion about our military past. Predictably if not understandably, in such a milieu, McIntyre was treated as a heretic for his historical iconoclasticism.
With this in mind, it just might be time for us all to reassess the whole basis upon which we commemorate not just Gallipoli but the Great War itself, not to mention all the other ones that followed in its wake. I cannot imagine a more appropriate point to begin that journey of understanding than to read Hidden History. And when they bring themselves to do so, I imagine that many will read it and weep! For those folks who take the time to do so, I suspect that Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand, Veterans’ Day in America, and Remembrance Day in the U.K. and similar commemorative days elsewhere will assume a whole new meaning and import next time they come round. As it should. Even if one accepts the established—and Establishment—record of events before, during and after the Great War, it is patently obvious how seminal it was in the overall scheme of things. In a sense The First World War was the Pandora’s Box of Modern History. But in the wake of the revelations in Hidden History, it amongst other things opens up a myriad range of possibilities of what might have been.
Most importantly though, it provides us something of a Rosetta Stone of sorts by which not just to interpret (or reinterpret) modern history. And as indicated, Docherty and Macgregor’s interpretation also provides a prism through which we might view current events, and where they are almost certainly will lead humanity if we do not call to account the “Secret Elites” that determine the current geopolitical firmament. The aforementioned Pandora’s Box once opened, cannot be closed of course.
But at the bottom of the Box there was one thing left behind—hope!
Methinks we’re going to need much more than simple “hope” to survive the next Great War.
*Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
From Great Games, Come Great Wars