[LMB] mostly OT: Turkey (and a very Milesian bit of Turkish history)

Tel teldreaming at gmail.com
Sun Sep 11 22:07:13 BST 2011


On Sun, Sep 11, 2011 at 7:15 AM,  <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:
> On Sat, Sep 10, 2011 at 05:54:02PM -0700, A. Marina Fournier wrote:
>
>> Should have said the Turkish *Govt.* was relatively modern until now.
>
> Denying the Armenian genocide, treating the Kurds about as badly, if in
> different ways, as Israel treats the Palestinians... then again, one can
> hardly call such behavior non-modern, really.

"Modern until now"... heh. There is a certain mindset which equates
banning headscarfs with being enlightened (and refraining from doing
so as a horrible descent into barbarity) which... mmm. Disagree. Their
current government is not great, but the coup-happy militarists are
not particularly better.

There's an interesting story involving the giant post-WWI mess between
Greece and Turkey (not the finest moment for either), involving one of
the Great Short Guys of History, Asa Jennings, who was a YMCA
secretary from Utica left to mind the shop in Smyrna/Izmir right
before the Turks showed up and the city burned down. Not very
physically imposing - 5'3"ish, somewhat hunchbacked, with
tuberculosis. Vast numbers of Greek/Christian refugees were trapped in
the city with a nasty fate awaiting them. Jennings was pretty upset
with this and somehow wangled an audience with Ataturk by being
extremely persistent and extracted from him permission to evacuate the
(non-fighting-age-male) refugees. Of course, he didn't have any ships
or anything, and he was on a very short deadline, but he managed to
pay an Italian ship to get a few thousand to Greece. When he got to
Greece there were plenty of Greek ships there, but they were not
interested in helping because the commanders were in the process of
planning a coup. He finally found one friendly Greek captain who let
him radio the Greek Prime Minister to try to free up the ships for the
rescue mission into hostile territory. He insisted on then waking the
Prime Minister and Cabinet up to have an emergency meeting, which then
determined the mission was too dangerous. Jennings found that totally
unacceptable and threatened to go public with the fact they were
leaving hundreds of thousands of people to die. He eventually ended up
commanding over fifty ships, which they only let him have if he went
with them and promised to pay for them if he broke any, and over a
year or so rescued a truly vast number of people from historic Greek
settlements along Turkey's shoreline. He may well have (mostly, there
were still a whole lot of dead) prevented something on the scale of
the Armenian genocide from happening.

After the war, the Greeks appointed him as their representative to
resolve POW issues. So did the Turks. This made his job a bit easier
than most negotiators.

Anyway, interesting guy.

-Tel, whose main impression of Istanbul was the feral cats everywhere.



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