Monday 18 February 2013

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Tapestry, above: Cyrus II of Persia (Old Persian:  Kūruš; New Persian: کوروش بزرگ  c. 600 BC or 576 BC–530 BC), commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia and the Caucasus. From the Mediterranean sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, King of the four corners of the World. He also pronounced what some consider to be one of the first historically important declarations of human rights via the Cyrus Cylinder sometime between 539 and 530 BC.

The reign of Cyrus the Great lasted between 29 and 31 years. Cyrus built his empire by conquering first the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire and eventually the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Either before or after Babylon, he led an expedition into central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that were described as having brought "into subjection every nation without exception". Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, as he himself died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in December 530 BC. He was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II, who managed to add to the empire by conquering Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short rule.

Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. It is said that in universal history, the role of the Achaemenid empire founded by Cyrus lies in its very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects.[8] In fact, the administration of the empire through satraps and the vital principle of forming a government at Pasargadae were the works of Cyrus. What is sometimes referred to as the Edict of Restoration (actually two edicts) described in the Bible as being made by Cyrus the Great left a lasting legacy on the Jewish religion where because of his policies in Babylonia, he is referred to by the people of the Jewish faith, as "the anointed of the Lord".

Cyrus the Great is also well recognized for his achievements in human rights, politics, and military strategy, as well as his influence on both Eastern and Western civilizations. Having originated from Persis, roughly corresponding to the modern Iranian province of Fars, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran. Cyrus and, indeed, the Achaemenid influence in the ancient world also extended as far as Athens, where many Athenians adopted aspects of the Achaemenid Persian culture as their own, in a reciprocal cultural exchange.  SEE  Hour 1, Blocks A-D,  The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist

JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW

Hour One

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist; 1 of 4

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist; 2 of 4

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist; 3 of 4

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist; 4 of 4

Hour Two

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa'ida since 9/11 by Seth G. Jones; 1 of 4

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa'ida since 9/11 by Seth G. Jones; 2 of 4

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa'ida since 9/11 by Seth G. Jones; 3 of 4

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa'ida since 9/11 by Seth G. Jones; 4 of 4

Hour Three

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  The Honored Dead: A Story of Friendship, Murder, and the Search for Truth in the Arab World by Joseph Braude; 1 of 2

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  . The Honored Dead: A Story of Friendship, Murder, and the Search for Truth in the Arab World by Joseph Braude; 2 of 2

Joseph Braude’s The Honored Dead: A Story of Friendship, Murder, and the Search for Truth in the Arab World,  Washington Post:  By Barnaby Rogerson, August 25, 2011.  Mention “Casablanca” and what reaction do you get? The Berg­man-Bogart movie always strikes a chord, often eliciting a “Play it again Sam” or the humming of “As Time Goes By.” Dig a little further, and a learned reader might remember the Casablanca landings in World War II and the subsequent Casablanca Conference to plot Allied strategy.It has always been one of the ironies of Moroccan history that none of these enduring images of Casablanca had anything remotely to do with the Moroccan people. Not a single scene of “Casablanca” was shot in North Africa, nor were any Moroccans used in its production.The Casablanca landings were an Anglo-American military assault on a colony of Vichy France, and the Casablanca Conference was an affair of Western statesmen, including President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

In recent years, a fourth Casablanca has been added to the memory bank of the West. The Casablanca bombings in 2003 are listed alongside the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the one-day series of London blasts in July 2005 as an after-shock of militant Islamic terrorism in the wake of 9/11. Unlike the film or the World War II events, the Casablanca bombings are perceived as a piece of Moroccan history, even if many of the targets were connected with the West: hotels, clubs, cultural centers, cemeteries and restaurants. The 14 young Moroccan terrorists participating in the attacks were linked to Casablanca’s notorious shanty-towns. The attacks continue to smolder within Casablanca society.

Joseph Braude dipped into the shadows of Casablanca when he embedded with a detective unit there. He set out to give a balanced overview of modern policing in the chaotic city but got sucked into a murder case and dug out a bizarre chain of inconsistencies that ultimately revealed the unseen edges of Moroccan culture. In “The Honored Dead,” he takes readers through every twist and turn in the investigation of a humble watchman’s killing at a warehouse by a young Moroccan soldier and delivers a telling portrait of power and justice, even if he never unravels the final enigma of the murder itself.

At first, Braude seems like a loose cannon full of neurotic fears and fantastic speculation, such as worries that Islamic terrorists are linking up with drug smuggling cartels in South America and Northern Morocco. At the same time, he seems intent on creating a sense of mystery about himself: He refers to his earlier freelance work for the FBI, his Iraqi accent, his Sephardic background, his Middle Eastern research and a lost Muslim friend, Ali. In a state of agitation, he confesses to the reader, “Maybe I need to relax. I’ve been in Morocco fifteen days,” prompting me to worry that I was exploring the dense social fabric of Morocco not with an experienced expert but with a naive, Bogart wannabe. The impression wasn’t helped by some blood-chilling — and dubious — quotations from the prophet Muhammad, a crude understanding of Morocco’s ancient Arab-Berber duality and some outright historical muddles about why the Portuguese built fortresses in Morocco.

But fortunately I read on and, to my delight, my first impressions gradually dissolved, to be replaced by fascination with the tale and finally by gratitude for Braude’s telling of it. For Braude has crafted an ingenious, moving, respectful and ultimately honest book about Morocco and its people. He has an ear for the elegant phrases that show the dignity of Arab life and an eye for the telling vignette, whether it is the presence of a proud sitting room inside a slum hut or the conversation of officers in a police station caught halfway between violent authority and paternalism. In retrospect, I saw that Braude’s initial style, dressed in the language of TV cop shows and film noir scripts, was a tool to capture the reader’s interest, which is not always easy to do when it comes to North Africa. As the adage goes, the French and the Spanish are too involved to be dispassionate, while the Germans and the English are not involved enough to be interested. So thank God for the unquiet American.

It was refreshing that Braude followed one bizarre murder trail rather than produce a broad anthropological portrait of Casablanca. The single-mindedness allows the reader to gradually build up an emotional attachment to one specific family as an entry point to all of Moroccan society. As one is served fascinating helpings of mystery, sexual deviancy, magic and political conspiracy — all wrapped up in a whodunit — Braude instructs us in Moroccan diplomacy, its interaction with Israeli-American policy, and the intricacies of the Moroccan government and police work. He also looks insightfully at the roles of women, faith, corruption, employment, migration, patronage and education in today’s Morocco.  After reading Braude’s “The Honored Dead” you will have a fresh image of Casablanca as a fascinating, complex modern city.

---Barnaby Rogerson’s most recent book is “The Last Crusaders: East, West, and the Battle for the Center of the World.”

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:   Assassins of the Turquoise Palace by Roya Hakakian; 1 of 2

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Assassins of the Turquoise Palace by Roya Hakakian; 2 of 2

Hour Four

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama's America by Bruce S. Thornton; 1 of 2

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama's America by Bruce S. Thornton; 2 of 2

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad by Melanie Kirkpatrick; 1 of 2

North Korea remains one of the most isolated and repressive countries in the world.  Each year, though fleeing the country is a capital offense, a brave few attempt an escape to freedom using a secret network of safe houses and routes from North Korea to Southeast Asia.  In her book Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad, writer Melanie Kirkpatrick tells the harrowing stories of North Korean defectors who attempt to escape from a place she calls "hell on Earth."

"Sometimes I go to sleep at night thinking about the horrible stories I'd heard about life in North Korea," Kirkpatrick tells NPR's Neal Conan. "But at the same time, it's very positive to think that after six decades of totalitarian repression, there are people who are still longing for freedom and have the courage to go after it."

For those lucky enough to cross the border successfully, the danger doesn't end there. Kirkpatrick says North Koreans stand out in China because they don't speak the language and are often smaller because of decades of malnourishment. "The first thing the North Korean will do before he actually begins his journey is put on Chinese clothes. His helpers will cut his hair to make him look more Chinese," Kirkpatrick says. "In the case of women, the rescuers teach the North Korean women how to apply makeup," she says. "They often keep them in a safe house for a couple months so that they can gain weight and ... blend in better when they actually begin their journey across the country."

Sold as a Bride

Kirkpatrick tells the story of a woman she calls Hanna, who was kidnapped from North Korea and taken to China, where she was sold to a Chinese man as a bride. "After 30 years of a one-child policy and Chinese couples' preference for boys, there is a severe shortage of young women in China today," Kirkpatrick says. "And the one thing many young men want most in life is a bride. So they place an order for one from North Korea."  Hanna escaped with the help of a South Korean pastor who helped her get to Southeast Asia, and she eventually made it to New Jersey.

Asia's underground railroad is similar to the system that helped African-American slaves escape to the North in the 19th century. It is operated mostly by Christians; some brokers and human traffickers are involved for the money. Many of the people involved have Korean heritage. Kirkpatrick's book tells the story of Adrian Hong, a Yale student who founded an organization in the mid-2000s called Liberty in North Korea to help people along the underground railroad. During one operation, Hong and six North Koreans were arrested in China. He was able to get diplomatic assistance and spent only a week or two in jail. The North Koreans had a more difficult time, but after the U.S. applied pressure, the Chinese government let them go to South Korea.

Between 24,000 and 25,000 people have escaped North Korea, but Kirkpatrick says there are still 25 million in the country. Those who escape serve as conduits of information and have educated the outside world about the reality of life in North Korea. "The North Koreans who escape have found ways to get information back into North Korea," Kirkpatrick adds. "And in doing so, they're helping to open up that country, which has been sealed for six decades."

Melanie Kirkpatrick is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. She served as the deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal editorial page from 2006 to 2009.

Monday  18 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad by Melanie Kirkpatrick; 2 of 2

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