The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Promises Promises

Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca

Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca

At the end of World War I British Middle East policy was in the akward position of the “chickens coming home to roost,” in that they had promised everything to almost everybody in order to gain maximum support of the allied effort in World War I, and for Britian in the post-war world.  Three important agreements that the British made were first, the HusseinMcMahon coorespondance with the Arab leadership; second, the Sykes-Picot agreement with France; and third, the promises to the Zionist movement contained in Balfour declaration.  All three greatly effected the post-war Middle East for years to come.  Did the British understand what they were doing?  Why didn’t the British forsee the long-term effects of the conflicts they were creating?  Which of the agreements continues to have the most important direct effect on the state of the Middle East?

May 6, 2009 - Posted by | A652, Current Events | , , , , , , ,


  1. One of the problems with the agreements made by the British is that there were competing camps within the British empire. The British in Cairo, India, and the homeland all had slightly different agendas. The desire to win the war mixed with the fears of what would happen to the millions of Indian Muslims if the dismantling of the Ottoman empire was not handled correctly led to competing documents. Since the British factions all sought to meet their own ends and wanted to please everybody, they ended up pleasing nobody. The Balfour declaration is probably the agreement that continues to have the most important direct effect on the Middle East today. The dust has settled from the Sykes-Picot agreement, but conflict in the Middle East is still driven largely by the results of the Balfour declaration.

    Comment by Wayne Wilson | March 30, 2009

  2. The more I read the more I find Britain and France the root of problems we are dealing with today. The overexpansion and colonization of their respective empires led to poor post planning and virtually no “end-state.” Despite occupying countries throughout Africa, the middle east, and Haiti there has been minimal evidence that demonstrated efforts to develop civil military technologies. By not building solid infrastructure, education, or skills, most of the indigenous populations relied on current cultural, religious, and tribal orientations. This is turn left these countries relatively undeveloped (compared to the rest of the world)and rather than sharing ideas left these countries rather “archaic” in their development. This contributes to these countries susceptability to hostile regimes, and radical idelogies proliferation in their respective domains.

    Comment by Daniel Meyerhuber | April 2, 2009

  3. History makes it easy to point fingers at the colonial powers for all of woes we have come to know concerning the “Palestinian issue.” However, as I see it, the Zionists had a better marketing strategy, were well organized, had a powerful lobby in England and the United States and quite honestly spoke the same language as the western powers in the post-World War I era. On the other hand, the disunited Arab front had no unity of effort, absolutely no vision or marketing strategy dealing with Palestine and spoke in proverbial, antiquated terms (showing themselves incapable of establishing a nation or the modern infrastructure required to support its people). The Arab world still has not learned from this lesson in dealing with the west. For as much as they would like to eliminate all western influence from their geographic sphere, now (as then), they have failed to realize marketing and globalization (interdependency). Studying the history of Palestine in the aftermath of World War I really drove this point home for me.

    Comment by Andrew Jones | May 6, 2009

  4. Drew –interesting analysis. Do the Israelis still have the corner on the marketing strategy?

    Comment by dimarcola | May 7, 2009

  5. Absolutely not. I believe that over time the greater Arab community has learned how to influence and manipulate the international community–especially concerning the Palestinian plight. Ironically, to get their share of the marketing message out, the Palestinian radicals turned to acts of terror in order to make the international stage (news broadcasts). As for the American market, I do believe that the Israeli lobby (or Zionist lobby, if you prefer) has a stronger marketing capacity due to historical western ties and values as well as our aversion to the shock and terror tactics that we often associate with the Palestinian movements.

    Comment by Drew Jones | May 8, 2009

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