Dear Readers: This week on Canto Talk we will be chatting with friend, fellow SLOB, and “Deadliest Blogger” Barry Jacobsen about a wide variety of topics that touch upon the complexities of the international scene. Tune in this Thursday (May 16th, 7 pm PST/9 pm CT/10 pm EST; click HERE for podcast link).
The look back at history will focus on THE GREAT MUTINY AT MEERUT, INDIA 1856
In response to growing tensions within the British East India Company’s Bengal Army, mutiny and violence erupted at 5pm among the Sepoy (Indian) soldiers stationed at the Meerut depot. Within hours, the garrison town was a blazing scene of horror. Buildings were a fire, houses of the British officers and their families were looted, and British officers and their families murdered by their own men.
Within weeks the whole of the Bengal Army would join in the mutiny, besieging small groups of British officers and civilians (particularly at Cawnpore and Lucknow). In Dehli, the senile heir of the last Mughul was proclaimed Emperor by the muntineers and native princes who joined the revolt against British authority.
However, the other two East India Company armies (the Madras and Bombay armies) did not rise against the British Raj, but remained “true to their salt”. Nor did the Sikhs of the Punjab, annexed to the Empire just 9 years earlier. Instead, Sikh units fought beside the British as they counter attacked and steadily regained the initiative.
Indian Nationalists today refer to the Great Mutiny as India’s First National Uprising. The Mutiny did attract the support of various Indian princes eager to assert their independence of Britain; particularly Nana Sahib of Bithur and the heroic Rani of Jhansi, who led her troops dressed in men’s clothing! But the hoped-for general uprising throughout India never materialized; and the majority of the East India Company’s Sepoys remained loyal.
At Cawnpore on the Ganges, 900 besieged British nationals (300 soldiers and 240 civilian men and 375 women and children) found themselves in an untenable situation. Surrounded, cut-off, and without water and little shelter from the blazing sun, they crouched behind a feeble rampart four feet high made of loose earth. They were subject to constant sniping and periodic assaults. Finally, offered safe-conduct down the Ganges by Nana Sahib they surrendered. Once on the banks of the river, as they began to load into rafts meant to take them to safety, the British were attacked by the mutineers and a massacre ensued. The surviving women and children were taken prisoner, and forced into a confined prison. Later, as a British relief force approached, these prisoners were butchered and their bodies thrown into a well.
The Massacre of Cawnpore (combined with multiple other instances of British women and children being killed by the mutineers) deeply outraged the British soldier’s Victorian sense of chivalry and “fair play”. In response, as they recovered lost territory and progressively crushed the uprising, the British exacted a vicious and bloody vengeance on the mutineers and any Indians who assisted them.
The heroes of the Mutiny (Havelock, Outram, Lawerence, Campbell, Rose) were lionized by British public opinion. They fought and succeeded against great odds to survive the initial surge of assaults; and to suppress the uprising and prevent its spread. Ultimately, the odds were in the British favor. Britain possessed perhaps the finest army in the world (in three years she would defeat China in the Opium War, adding Hong Kong and Shanghai to their Empire). Indeed, in nearly engagement the British and Sikh regiments defeated many times their number of otherwise well-trained Sepoy armies. Beyond their army, Britain’s navy was twice as large as any other, and virtually ruled the seas. This combined with a sense of righteousness and widespread public support back home ensured that Britain would spare no expense or effort in bringing the leaders of the Mutiny to justice and reasserting her control over India.
For a deeper analysis, go to:
We will also be touching upon the situation in Syria: If you think America should go to war in Syria, you haven’t been paying attention
Now there come demands for an escalated U.S. intervention in Syria, as if none of these precedents need to be considered. Yes, the advocates of involvement usually don’t seek direct military action. True, they are upset at the death of 70,000 people, with the number certain to rise higher. This is not a partisan issue. The Obama government’s policy helped create this mess by helping to build up an Islamist leadership in Syria. But the Obama administration’s current apparent reluctance to escalate involvement is a good idea, though perhaps motivated by the wrong reasons.
Yet what are the arguments on the other side?
● Does the United States want to fight on some level to install a radical Islamist regime in Syria that is certain to be anti-American?
● How will Americans feel if their aid and weapons are used in the future to murder Alawites and Christians, perhaps some day invade the Kurdish autonomous area, help terrorists in other countries, shoot down civilian airliners by such terrorists, and suppress moderate Sunni Muslims?
● Do Americans really expect gratitude or friendship or strategic cooperation from revolutionary Islamists for their help in winning the civil war?
● Is the United States then going to give billions of dollars to rebuild Syria’s economy for an Islamist regime?
● Does the United States have the necessary influence and leverage to force Jabhat al-Nusra’s (Syrian al-Qaeda) allies to abandon it? No. It already tried to do so and failed miserably.
● Despite all the vague talk about moderate fighters, how many such people actually exist? Ironically, most of them are defectors from Assad’s army, who don’t have such a pro-democratic record. But the main drawback is that they are very weak and disorganized. Talk of setting up a zone under their control is absurd. In fact, the latest trend is the massive defection of soldiers from the “moderate” Free Syrian Army, which is the great hope of U.S. policy, to al-Qaeda!
Of course, when you are talking about international news, it is always fun to throw North Korea into the mix:
North Korea replaces hardline defense chief with a little-known army general
North Korea has replaced its hard-line defense minister with a little-known army general, according to a state media report Monday, in what outside analysts call an attempt to install a younger figure meant to solidify leader Kim Jong Un’s grip on the powerful military.
Jang Jong Nam’s appointment is the latest move since Kim succeeded his late father in late 2011 that observers see as a young leader trying to consolidate control. The announcement comes amid easing animosities after weeks of warlike threats between the rivals, including North Korean vows of nuclear strikes.
All-in-all, it promises to be a most riveting show!