Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kazakhstan

In the west we know very little about Moslem Kazakhstan (Tony Blair could tell us a thing or two; he's earning a fortune doing PR work for them), and yet this is a country as large as the whole of western Europe, with every known geography and climate at some point, and extensive mineral resources that have barely been tapped yet.

Ethnically it includes Russians and Chechens as well as Koreans in significant numbers (why Koreans? the answer lies in Resolution No. 1428-326CC of the USSR Sovnarkom and VKP(b) Central Committee of August 21, 1937, which "legalised" the mass deportation of Koreans in the Soviet Union, migrants from the 1850s mostly, but now numbering around two hundred thousand, to unpopulated areas of the Kazakh region, offically because of hostilities between the USSR and Japan, to the latter of whom the Koreans were thought by the paranoid Stalin to hold loyalty) leaving only about a third of the population indigenous Kazakhs, and while the Chechens and Koreans seem happy enough, the post-Soviet Union Russians are not; they are required to speak the Kazakh language and even pass language-tests if they wish to work for government agencies.


The country exports oil, and provides three key oil pipelines, one that runs from Tengiz in the west to Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, the second from Baku through Tblisi to Ceyphan, and a third which takes oil to China. When Communism collapsed, those who managed state agencies simply took over their ownership in a private capacity (this is true across the entire Soviet bloc), thereby creating an aristocracy of oligarchs who used the wealth to establish power, and simultaneously keep the rest of the people very poor.


The former Communist Party is still in charge, and still runs the show in the same old way, though there are theoretical opposition parties and the media is entirely free to say nice things about the leadership without fear of censorship or retribution. The current debate in the press is about President Nazarbayev’s suggestion that Kazakhstan might change its name to Kazakh Eli; the current suffix is a Persian word meaning “country”; the latter a Kazakh word meaning the same, but the point is a further affirmation of Kazakh identity. Nazarbayev, incidentally, was also President in the Communist era, so the fact that Kazakhstan was the last Soviet satellite to become independent is not surprising. The President also serves as Commander-in-Chief of the military, and has the power to veto any legislation passed by Parliament – so a perfect replica of the system in the United States of America. The country was a major base for nuclear weapons under the Soviets, but returned all of them within four years of independence, had destroyed all related facilities by 2000, and is a world-leader in the campaign against nuclear weapons; yet one more reason why the Kremlin hates Kazakhstan so much (though, as the picture to the right suggests, there does seem to be an incongruity here: is this mosque actually constructed out of nuclear warheads?)




Marks For: Many


Marks Against: Fewer





Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press


Kyrgyzstan

Caught geographically between Russia and China, this Moslem land of ethnic Siberians mixed with indigenous Kyrgyz and migrant Uzbeks does not have it easy. There is some oil and slightly less gas, and there may be some gold though it hasn’t been developed yet; but beyond that, there is very little on which to build an economy. After the fall of Communism it tried to establish a democracy, but failed, and the country quickly dissipated into corruption and the feudal mentality of its rulers, especially President Akayev, until the people got sick of him and drove him from power in 2005. His successor, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, did little to improve things, and was himself removed in a popular revolt in 2010.

Kyrgyz national costume is one of the most gorgeous in the world, as are its lakes and mountains, and the country is unique in hosting both Russian and US military bases at the same time; or it did until this year, when the Americans left, no longer needing the air base as it was pulling out of Afghanistan. It probably wouldn’t have had its lease renewed anyway, after Comrade Putin agreed to cancel the whole of Kyrgyzstan’s debt in exchange for a fifteen-year extension to the Russian lease. Cold war still intact!


Marks For: 1


Marks Against: 3



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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kuwait

My oldest memory of Kuwait is a report on BBC television news, back in the late 1960s or possibly the very early 1970s, in which the camera crew drove the full length of a bread queue that began in the desert and ended in the centre of Kuwait City, a journey of well over five miles. Hard to imagine that today, with Intracen, the International Trade Centre which is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, praising Kuwait's planned strategy to assist in reducing poverty world-wide, and UNICEF statistics placing Kuwait among the highest in the world pro rata for literacy, including female literacy, for education in general, as well as life expectancy, and a median income level that is eight times that of the world's poorest nations. 

It should have been impossible then too, given that Kuwait found oil in the 1930s, and sits on the Persian Gulf, so exporting the mineral is easy. But Kuwait had been blockaded by the British in the Great War, because it sided with the Turks; then the pearl industry collapsed during the Great Depression; and in the meanwhile attempts by Saudi Arabia to conquer and annexe Kuwait had driven it into an expensive and protracted war. 

Britain finally gave up its protectorate in 1963, leaving Sheikh al-Sabah in charge, and the country has remained an emirate ever since, which is to say a feudal kingdom in which the royal family pretty much owns and governs everything, only members of the royal family can get important jobs, whether in government or elsewhere, and the vast wealth, as ordinary Kuwaitis will tell you, stays mostly inside the family. 

Very few websites in the official media will make this sort of observation however, because Kuwait is key to western interests in the Middle East, and not only for its oil. Alongside Saudi Arabia, Iraq too has for decades claimed Kuwait as part of its territory, and in 1991 it took a US-led coalition of absurd size and strength to force the Iraqi invaders back. Twelve years later and the troops were back, this time to finish the job they had failed to finish last time – the removal of Saddam Hussein from the Iraqi Presidency, a classic piece of American foreign policy in which they see a bad situation, step in where they are neither wanted nor needed, and make it worse; the current war with the IS, or ISL, is the result, as the Taliban of Afghanistan were the result of that interference.

The same paradoxes that apply to the economy and the power structure apply across everything else in Kuwait, and it may serve as a useful model for making distinctions between beneficent and benevolent dictatorship. A beneficent dictator is one who holds supreme power, but still does good things for his people - Fidel Castro's Cuba offers a good example of this, with its universal health and education provisions amongst the best in the world, and vastly superior to that liberal democracy America. A benevolent dictator is one who holds supreme power, and likes to present himself (it is usually, but not always, a he) as one who is doing good things for his people, but actually isn't. 


Kuwait, for example, was the first Arab state to have an elected Parliament, though you don’t get a seat if you are not part of the royal entourage. Its women are emancipated compared to any other Arab country in the region; but this is the equivalent of saying that King John was a liberal democrat because he signed Magna Carta. It probably has the freest press too, though a glance at Amnesty International's most recent report on Kuwait will remind you that Einstein's theories of relativity are not only applicable in physics ("Peaceful criticism of the Amir, other state authorities or Islam remain criminalized. Those targeted for arrest, detention and prosecution include human rights and political reform activists. Authorities have used a telecommunications law to prosecute and imprison critics who expressed dissent using social media, and curtailed the right to public assembly. The government continues to withhold nationality and citizenship rights from tens of thousands of Bidun people, and has arbitrarily stripped several critics and members of their families of their Kuwaiti citizenship. Women face discrimination in law and practice. Foreign migrant workers, who comprise over half of the population, lack adequate protection under the law and are subject to discrimination, exploitation and abuse. The death penalty remains in force for a range of crimes; no executions have been reported...")


Kuwait pays the price of needing America and Europe to sustain its economy, and its very existence. I simply note that, women having been granted the right to vote at a time of political and economic tension, that right was removed when the tension eased, and then re-granted, though there is no quota, as there is in some other Arab Parliaments. Women are still expected to wear the ancient hijab while using the latest technologies; one more perfect illustration of the paradoxes.


 

Marks For: 3

Marks Against: 6

  

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Kosovo

Go to nationsonline.org and Kosovo does not exist, not even a mention on its page about Serbia. Go to Wikipedia and you will learn that "Kosovo is a partially recognised state in Southeastern Europe that declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008 as the Republic of Kosovo." "Southeastern Europe" is simply a typical error of Wikipedia, in this case of grammar and spelling. "Partially recognised" is an interesting choice of terminology. So utterly tentative is the existence of this self-declared independent state within Serbia, it even has its own website dedicated to the matter of recognition, http://www.kosovothanksyou.com/, on which, at least at the time of penning this blog, one hundred and ten member states of the United Nations received much appreciation, each in their own language, for their having joined the list of recognisers, the latest the Solomon Islands, though the truth is that most of the recognisers are European Union members for whom the expansion of the growing empire of the EU into those territories that once belonged to the Soviet Union is rather more significant than any specific concern for the countries that will make up that expanded empire and keep Comrade Putin at bay - and most of the other recognising countries are small, dependent states around the world; dependent, that is, on one or several of the members of the European Union.

Why exactly there is a country, or at least an attempt at a country, named Kosovo is by no means easy to explain, especially as most Kosovans are actually Albanians, and not Serbs, let alone whatever a Kosovan might be, at all - at the very most, at any previous point in its history, an autonomous province. But to declare independence one has to become independent of somebody, and in this case, as noted above, it was Serbia, a land that had itself ceased to exist after the First World War, when the Hapsburgs united it with Vojvodina and transformed it into Yugoslavia, only to find itself divided up amongst the lands of Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia and Italy when the Nazis swept across Europe, and then reunited, but with somewhat different borders, when Tito's Communists took power, and then collapsed altogether into genocidal civil war when Tito was finally allowed to die, at which time Serbia attempted to seize control of the entirety of Yugoslavia, and did manage to retain some of itself as well as Montenegro, but lost Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo to independence. Serbia and Montenegro remained together as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until 2006, when Montenegro too went its own way.

On the other hand, it is not in the slightest bit difficult to explain why there is a group of people, who may or may not be ethnically Kosovans, but who nonetheless decided to call themselves Kosovans, and to form an independent country separate from either Serbia or Yugoslavia. The explanation lies in two words, of which one is Slobodan and the other Milošević, the leader of Serbia after the fall of Communism, who launched a wave of genocide against Albanians in the province of Kosovo - you can read the full text of his 1989 speech at Gazimestan here, marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, a speech of which Hitler would have been very proud, though he would have said "Jew" where Milošević said "Kosovan".

The full mess of the Balkans War that raged through the 1990s is far too complicated to explain here, and easiest to follow by looking up the archives of the various war crimes trials that ensued, several of them still in progress. It is a very long list!



Kosovo's "missing remembrance"
Was the declaration of independence as an autonomous state worthwhile? Was the long war and the hundred thousand plus deaths worthwhile? Probably, but not certainly. Kosovo is landlocked and only partially recognised. Backed by Russia, Serbia still refuses to do so. The United Nations cannot formally recognise it because eighty-five of its members do not do so. Ten per cent of its population are ethnic Serbs, who live in separate areas, protected by UN peace-keepers. Of the ninety per cent who are ethnic Albanians, about ninety per cent live in abject poverty. Most of its land is mountainous, which does not bode well for the development of its agricultural economy. That it has a 35-year-old woman President may be an indication of youthful vigour and forward-thinkingness, or it may just have been that she was the only non-partisan candidate in a Parliament riven by ideological differences, and therefore an expedient compromise. Moslem-Christian tensions continue to add fuel to the fire as well: the Serbs are predominantly affiliated with the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Albanians are mostly Moslems, and there is a Roman Catholic minority as well. No Jews, they were exterminated jointly by all Yugoslavs in the 1940s. Some Roma though, making up about 3% of the population - the attempt at exterminating them in the 1940s somehow failed, but not for lack of trying. Genocide and ethnic cleansing have a long history in this region. Actually, if you want to go back and look at the Battle of Kosovo and the era of the Crusades, they are this region's history.


Marks for: 3 for effort


Marks against: minus 3 for everything else




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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kenya



When Kenya became independent in 1963, its first President, the former liberation leader (former terrorist; the status changes once you take power, though in his case the description was always as fraudulent as his son's later election victory) Jomo Kenyatta was hailed as the Nelson Mandela of his day, and words like Mau-Mau quickly disappeared from the news broadcasts, replaced by Uhuru ("freedom"), and the rose-coloured hope that a new era in Africa was beginning.

Kenyatta was not his name of course; he was born Johnstone Kamau Ngengi, in Ichaweri in what was then British East Africa, in 1894, but took the nom de guerre as a statement of intention and conviction, naming himself for the future country that he planned to lead, though actually a "kenya" is the Kikuyu word for "a beaded belt", a "mucibi wa kinyata" in the Kikuyu language, though actually Kenya is named for Mount Kenya, its highest mountain, though actually it isn't named Mount Kenya at all, but Mount Kirinyaga, and there are several other stories around the name as well, including the one about the German explorer Johann Krapf whose guide was Kamba not Kikuyu and so called the mountain Klinyaa, which means "a gourd", though actually the guide misunderstood what Krapf was pointing at, and really did mean the gourd, though actually...the tales go on and on, and end eventually, with Jomo (which means "burning spear") Kenyatta doing what no European Christian had ever believed an African could do, which was disproving the "noble savage" theory, and telling the Christian Europeans in their own language to get out of his country.

How did he manage this act of historical implausibility? The question is important, because its answer provided a model for the breaking of colonial and imperial power, and because the failure to continue with the model has proven disastrous in post-colonial and post-imperial Africa: he did it by employing the theories of the western powers against them, which is to say he did it by using properly the institutions of democracy.

As General Secretary of the Young Kikuyu Association, and as the founder of the first newspaper produced exclusively by and for Africans, he agreed to testify before the Hilton-Young Commission, which had been sent to East Africa to investigate the possibility of federating Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda as a single British East African Territories, making the case that the British had no rights over these lands; and then travelled to England, hoping to testify again there - but was refused. Taking full advantage of finding himself in Europe, he attended the conference of the International Trade Union of Negro Workers in Hamburg, spent some time in Berlin, and several weeks in the Soviet Union, which latter should not be forgotten in the wake of independence.

Back in Kenya in 1930 he persuaded the British, in spite of opposition by the Christian missionaries, to yield control of Kikuyu schools to the Kikuyu themselves - taking away thereby the key method of control through intellectual conditioning by which all power-groups perpetuate their authority. The following year he was granted the permission he had previously been refused, and returned to England to testify before the Parliamentary Commission on the 
British East African Territories; he stayed in England for the next fifteen years, married an English woman, studied at the London School of Economics, and published "Facing Mount Kenya" in 1938, a set of seminar papers for a course on anthropology in which he did what no African, nor any European writing about Africa, had ever done before: he described and explained the culture of his own people, without apology, asserting the right of Africans to speak for themselves, examining his cultural heritage with pride. It was soundbited by his critics as "cultural nationalism", 
and meant derogatorily, but the very label gave it stature, because his "cultural nationalism" was really no different from theirs, and no one was going to complain about a Frenchman who presented French culture with respect and esteem, nor an Englishman doing the same about England. 

Kenyatta spent the war years physically on a farm in southern England, but intellectually he never left Africa. With Kwame Nkrumah (later the first President of Ghana) and George Padmore (Trinidadian journalist and a man well worth the trouble of a google-search; though I can save you that trouble if you click here to June 28th in my "Book Of Days" blog), he founded the Pan African Federation and organized the fifth Pan African Congress at Manchester in March 1945, with the theme "Africa for the Africans." He finally went home in 1947, where he was appointed as the head of the independent Teachers' Training College at Githanguri, and President of the Kenya African Union.

Democratic methods at every point, making the case and using the accepted institutions to do so; Ghandhi was doing much the same in India, and though the British did not like this onslaught against their "imperial rights", there was little they could do to prevent it, because it never stepped outside the law. Would independence have been achieved this way? Probably, eventually, but it would have taken time. This was Gandhi's paradox as well, and it too serves as a model for the trials and tribulations of much of the Third World today. By the early 1950s, inspired by the work of men like Kenyatta, those who lacked his patience had taken up arms against the British, forming the Mau-Mau among other paramilitary organisations, undertaking "terrorist" activities, and leaving the British little choice but to declare a state of emergency and arrest all the leaders, Kenyatta amongst them. In what was little more than the farce of a show-trial, Kenyatta was falsely accused, and found guilty, of leading the Mau-Mau, and sentenced to seven years hard labour.

With hindsight, we can see that this trial marked the end of British rule, precisely because the Great Democracy had resorted to undemocratic methods to thwart the legitimate democratic aspirations of those who were employing the methods of democracy rather more fastidiously than themselves - that sentence is complex, I know, but it summarises the principal failure of politics throughout the world and throughout history. And the British clearly understood it, because over the next several years,
in 1954, 1957, and again in 1960, desperately trying to reinstate faith in their democratic virtues, they rewrote and rewrote the Kenyan Constitution, and on each occasion conceded more and still more autonomy to the ever-growing demand for even more, until independence became inevitable, and the demand by the Kenyans that Kenyatta be released to lead them likewise. He was let out of prison in 1959, but restricted to house arrest for two years in the Northern Frontier District town of Lodwar, a last attempt to show who had the power, though it was fatuous. In March 1960 the Kenya African National Union was formed and elected Kenyatta as its President in absentia. On August 14, 1961, after nine years of detention, Kenyatta assumed the presidency of the Kenya African National Union party, won a seat in the Kenyan Legislative Assembly the following year, served as minister of state for constitutional affairs and economic planning in the first coalition government, and won the 1963 elections by a landslide. Kenya became formally independent on December 12th, 1963, the 34th African state to break free of European colonialism and imperialism. Democracy, not terrorism, had won.



Democracy in Kenya, 2007/8












But alas only temporarily. Today, Kenyatta’s son Uhuru is in power, when he is not refusing to attend a human rights tribunal in The Hague, for his part in the multitudinous deaths that followed the rigged election that brought him to power – not that the man he defeated was any better. The transition to autocracy was in fact led by his father, who turned out not to be a saint after all; it was he who established single-party rule, and his successor in 1969, Daniel Arap Moi, who consolidated it, by making KANU – the Kenya African National Union – the only legal party. Confident of continuing victory, other parties were reinstated in the 1990s, and the country was opened to “free and fair elections” in 2002, and amazingly Uhuru Kenyatta lost, which began what has been effectively a civil war ever since, between KANU and NARC, the National Rainbow Coalition, including the armed conflict after the 2007 elections which are now the subject of discussion in The Hague; Kenyatta is the first serving President to be called, and to attend, a war crimes trial, although, of course, the court, which is a tool of white imperialism, is biased against Africa, as Kenyatta has repeatedly proclaimed.


Marks For: 12,000 (the number of Mau-Mau killed by the British).


Marks Against: 6,173,433 (the number of votes, representing 50.51% of the total votes cast, by which Uhuru Kenyatta prevented Raila Odinga from gaining the Presidency in 2013; independent observers placed both men's total votes at around 16% lower than the final tally)



Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

Juan de Nova Island

Juan de Nova Island, also known as Saint-Christophe, is a tropical island, flat and densely forested, around two square miles in size, located in the narrowest part of the Mozambique Channel, about one-third of the way between Madagascar and Mozambique. 

The Spanish name is a relic of history, designed to fool outsiders; geographically the island is situated within the territories of Madagascar. But you were not fooled, were you? You were correct when you made the assumption that, yes, Juan de Nova Island is owned by France. The original Juan de Nova actually worked for the Portuguese, as an admiral in their navy, though he was himself Spanish. He found the island in 1501, but the French grabbed it in 1897, and mined it for guano, which contain phosphates. Now it is mostly sea-turtles and terns of various types, and the wreckage of a former military base which I doubt the French would find worth rebuilding, because what could there possibly be in the Antarctic to make them want to keep this outpost nearby anyway?


Marks For: 2


Marks Against: 2




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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jordan



Properly known as Trans-Jordanian Palestine, it was stolen from the Palestinians by the British in 1923, and given illegally to an exiled Saudi Prince named abd-Allah as his personal fiefdom. In 1946 the theft was given international recognition when Palestine was formally removed from the name, and the Palestinian people from any chance of recovering their homeland, let alone equal status with their fellow countrymen and women. The now fully independent Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has continued to receive vast quantities of military aid from the British (it has topped the British military aid list annually for several decades), principally to ensure that the Hashemites are able to defend themselves against any attempt by the Palestinians to recover their land.

British military aid also enabled Jordan to annex the West Bank, including Jerusalem, in the war to prevent the legal inception of the States of Israel and Palestine in the late 1940s. Jordan returned the West Bank to Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War; in 1988 it permanently relinquished Jordanian claims to the West Bank; in 1994 it signed a peace treaty with Israel – and yet there has been no move of any kind to deal with the more pressing issue, the inexcusable denial to the Palestinian people of more than 90% of their homeland, leaving them only with the sub-sea-level sterility of the West Bank, mob-rule in the style of "On The Waterfront" on the waterfront of the Gaza Strip, refugee camps throughout the Middle East, and the fortunate few who are living under democracy, with high standards of health and education, in Israel.

British defence aid was particularly significant during 1970 and 1971, when Jordan was embroiled in a civil war between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, led by Yasser Arafat, and the Hashemite loyalists under the Jordanian king – a heroic attempt by Palestinians to reclaim their national heritage from iniquitous Saudi imperialism. Sadly, the Hashemites were victorious, cementing their illegal occupation of Palestinian land by removing the PLO and its supporters to refugee camps in the Lebanon in July 1971. Although some ostensible Palestinian representation has been artificially implanted into the Assembly, Jordan is an autocratic state whose Parliament has no power, and Palestinians in that Parliament, like Palestinians in general in Jordan, are regarded as second-class citizens in a system that is comparable with apartheid.


Marks For: 0


Marks Against:10




Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press


Johnston Atoll

Another of the several isles, atolls and islands which constitute the United States Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex and as such are managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior, the others being Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, the Midway Islands and Palmyra Atoll. A major contribution to wildlife conservation and the saving of the planet from global warming - and if you'll believe that, you'll believe anything! I am seriously thinking of undertaking a PhD on the significance of bird-shit in 19th century world history - I have a deep suspicion that it may not be more important than either imperialism or colonialism, but that neither of those would have taken place without it.

One might naively have presumed that owning islands in the middle of the Pacific was a military stratagem, a convenience for refitting aircraft carriers and launching drones and testing missiles, but let me assure you that all those reasons, indeed the only reason, was pure bird-shit. Guano, to use its technically correct name. Vast quantities of the stuff, accumulated over millennia by the flocks of birds that fly over the Pacific every year. The British and Americans both laid claim to Johnston Atoll in the 1850s, though it was the latter who undertook the mining for the next thirty years, which was all it took to deplete the resource and render the island no longer of  interest. That is to say, no longer of interest as guano. But what use owning an island if you can find no useful use for it? There must be something. Surely. Let the CIA tell its own tale:
 
"Johnston and Sand Islands were designated wildlife refuges in 1926. The US Navy took over the atoll in 1934. Subsequently, the US Air Force assumed control in 1948. The site was used for high-altitude nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s. Until late in 2000 the atoll was maintained as a storage and disposal site for chemical weapons. Munitions destruction, clean-up, and closure of the facility were completed by May 2005. The Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Air Force are currently discussing future management options; in the interim, Johnston Atoll and the three-mile Naval Defensive Sea around it remain under the jurisdiction and administrative control of the US Air Force."
Mars and the Moon will look like this 100 years from now as well
To which one can only say again what I said at the beginning, and especially in relation to my opening paragraph: "bird shit!"


Marks For: 0


Marks Against: U+221E (not a typing error; look it up for yourself)




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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jersey

The entry for Guernsey more or less applies here, plus, in small addition...

The Bailiwick of Jersey. Like the other Channel Islands - the only British soil occupied by German troops in World War II - the term represents the last remnants of the medieval Dukedom of Normandy that once held sway in both France and England. Jersey is a British crown dependency, though it is not part of the UK or of the European Union; nevertheless, the UK Government is constitutionally responsible for its defense and international representation.


Not being part of the UK allows Jersey to have its own semi-official national anthem. Written and composed by Frédéric Bérat, a remarkable Napoleon Buonaparte lookalike, it makes no mention of Jersey and is really an anthem for Norman nationalism, except that there is no Norman nationalism, save only among a small number of residents of Jersey, who sing it, at island sports' events, and even, because obviously "God save The Queen" would be confusing, at the Commonwealth Games, at which Jersey has participated since 1958, as part of the Channel Islands, and even won a gold medal equivalent once (in Auckland, in 1990, when Colin Mallett took the Open Full Bore Rifle Queen's Prize, whatever that is).







                                               "Ma Normandie"

                             Quand tout renaît à l'espérance,
                             Et que l'hiver fuit loin de nous,
                             Sous le beau ciel de notre France,
                             Quand le soleil revient plus doux,
                             Quand la nature est reverdie,
                             Quand l'hirondelle est de retour,
                             J'aime à revoir ma Normandie,
                             C'est le pays qui m'a donné le jour.
                             J'ai vu les champs de l'Helvétie,
                             Et ses chalets et ses glaciers,
                             J'ai vu le ciel de l'Italie,
                             Et Venise et ses gondeliers.
                             En saluant chaque patrie,
                             Je me disais : « Aucun séjour
                             N'est plus beau que ma Normandie,
                             C'est le pays qui m'a donné le jour.
                             Il est un âge dans la vie,
                             Où chaque rêve doit finir,
                             Un âge où l'âme recueillie
                             A besoin de se souvenir.
                             Lorsque ma muse refroidie
                             Vers le passé fera retour,
                             J'irai revoir ma Normandie,
                             C'est le pays qui m'a donné le jour.

For any American reading this, and wondering if there is a connection between Jersey and New Jersey, the answer is yes. New Jersey was granted as a colony jointly to John Berkeley, the 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, and to Sir George Carteret, the bailiff of Jersey who defended his birthplace against the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, and even proclaimed Charles II king of Jersey when Charles I was executed, until surrender became inevitable, he fled to France, was briefly imprisoned, fled to Venice, where he remained in exile until the English civil war finally ended, and was among those who led Charles II in triumph into London for his coronation. Carteret was rewarded with a place on the Privy Council, and a grant of land, the New Netherlands, which he renamed New Jersey; the town of Elizabeth, new Jersey, was named for his wife. He was also one of those who bought land further south, and named it Carolina for the king; he is remembered there through the eponymous Carteret County. That part of the university of California which is named Berkeley is not, however, connected; that was Bishop George Berkeley, and you can click the link on his name to read the completely absurd and arbitrary non-reason why the good bishop found his name, and his poem - though not its title, which would at least have had some merit - attached.



Marks For: 2

Marks Against: 2





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