Josephus, Ancient Historian I

Lead: In an era of high drama and conflict the Jewish historian Josephus was an active participant.

Intro.: "A Moment In Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in A.D. 37 to a prominent family of Judean priests, Josephus began preparation to carry on the family tradition. He later wrote describing himself as a diligent student and his education as primarily religious and he became a priest at the age of 19. In Judaism during this period there were three theological parties struggling for influence within the community and he affiliated himself with the largest and most vigorous. Josephus became a Pharisee.

 

 

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Modern Middle Eastern Map III

Lead: In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. He justified this because he claimed his small neighbor was a creation of the British after World War I. He neglected to say that so was Iraq.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: During the war, to protect its colonial lifeline in the Middle East and with millions of troops tied down in the trenches of Europe, Britain encouraged rival Arab clans to attack Turkish forces in Arabia, Palestine and Syria. They recruited Emir, later King, Husayn ibn Ali, of the Hejas, the western region of the Arabian peninsula, Husayn’s sons, Abdullah and Faisal, and Ibn Saud the bitter rival of the Husayn family whose Bedouin warriors boiled out of the Arabian heartland to attack Turks and Arab alike. To each Britain made promises of territory carved from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In addition, to secure Jewish help in the war against Germany, in 1917 British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour expressed support for a Zionist homeland in Palestine.

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Modern Middle Eastern Map II

Lead: It is possible that the Middle East might have avoided becoming embroiled in the First World War had it not been for the scheming of Enver Pasha.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.            

Content: Despite internal weakness, the Ottoman Empire, which for centuries prior to 1900 had dominated a large part of Middle East, still ruled at least nominally upward of twenty million people in the Balkans, Turkey, Palestine and Transjordan. Yet, the many problems and persistent conservatism of the Empire had generated efforts at reform and occasional revolts. The most significant rebellion came in 1908 led by a secret society within the Army known as the Young Turks. One of the organizers of the Young Turk Revolution was Enver Pasha. Coming from meager origins, Enver joined the Young Turks as an apprentice officer and in 1913 led the coup d’état that restored his party to power. He became Ottoman Minister of War in 1914 and just before the outbreak of hostilities in Europe secured a secret treaty with the Germans.

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Modern Middle Eastern Map I

Lead: After centuries of domination, by the twentieth century, the Ottoman Empire’s amazing long grip on power in the Middle East was slipping.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the 1300s there emerged from Bithynia a province in what it now northwestern Turkey, an alliance of fierce warrior clans led by Osman, a local prince of considerable leadership ability. He began the absorption of nearby territory and founded a dynasty that took its name from the Arabic form of his name, uthman or Ottoman. After centuries of almost constant expansion, the Ottoman Empire at its height stretched from the gates of Vienna to the Persian Gulf, south to Egypt and west to Tripoli. By their military power and administrative genius the Ottoman Turks to a certain degree imposed a form of control over this region, widely diverse as it was in language, religion and culture. Such control, however was short lived. After the death of the greatest of the Ottoman sultans, Suleyman I in 1566, decline began. Internal economic problems and factional disputes accelerated the Empire’s weakness so that by 1900, while it governed in excess of 20 million people, in the words of essayist David Fromkin, its rule was more imaginary than real.

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Afghanistan IV

Lead: After a period of relative quiet in the early 20th century, Afghanistan re-emerged as an international flashpoint in the twilight of the Soviet Union and as fertile ground for a re-invigorated Islamic fundamentalism.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Afghanistan marks 1919 as its year of independence. Exhausted by World War II, the British stopped interfering in Afghan affairs and until the 1970s the region was disengaged from international affairs, forty of those years under a single ruler, Mohammad Zahir Shah. In 1973 he was deposed by a cousin and former prime minister, Mohammad Daoud, who in turn was overthrown in a Communist coup in 1978.

 

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Afghanistan III

Lead: The history of British imperial interference in 19th Century Afghanistan is replete with useless wars, miscues, mismanagement, ineptitude and disastrous choices. Afghanistan’s attitude toward the outside world is in many ways shaped by this record of incompetence.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Brits viewed Afghanistan only from the perspective of the jewel in the Crown, the Indian sub-continent. The region northwest of present-day Pakistan was not an essential player in central Asia save as it was perceived as a buffer state deflecting threats, mostly Russian, to the imperial enterprise in India. Britain treated Afghanistan as a trip wire and its policy there reflected its relative unimportance.

 

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Afghanistan II

Lead: For more than a century after 1800 the region known today as Afghanistan was the field upon which Britain and Russia played a great game of diplomatic and military conquest.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Historians literally used to it call the ‘Great Game” although recent scholarship has described the competition as more of a myth. There is little doubt that Russia was seeking to expand its influence and power in central Asia and that brought it into conflict with Britain, only recently shorn of its thirteen colonies in North America and seeking to strengthen its holdings in India and South Central Asia.

 

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Afghanistan I

Lead: At the crossroads of commerce and international conflict, near heart of central Asia, is Afghanistan. It is stark, rugged and beautiful, with untapped natural resources and a population, divided internally, but fiercely independent when facing outside invasion.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Afghanistan is mountainous, arid, and despite being landlocked, is surrounded and attached by borders to some of the most contentious and powerful nations in the world. It is slightly smaller than the state of Texas and is rich in undeveloped natural resources including coal, copper, iron, and recently discovered natural gas and oil deposits. It is primarily an agricultural country, with grazing, grains, and vegetables, and most importantly, much of the world’s supply of opium.

 

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