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tv   Book Discussion on The Guardians  CSPAN  September 12, 2015 1:00pm-2:06pm EDT

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>> watch for the authors in the near future on booktv. >> columbia university professor susan pedersen is next on booktv. she recalls that paris peace conference after world war i and the creation of the league of nations. >> the great war had been a war of empires come into the victorious allied powers it seemed as if the militaristic and aggressive empires had been defeated while the oppressive empire that had been the ally, the russians, had fallen by the
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wayside in the throes of revolt. it seemed as if the good empires thought of themselves as having reluctantly acquired their possessions, and to administered these for the good of their people a triumph. now it is up to the victors to clean up the mess that was left so to speak. was to happen to the broken into your pieces left leaderless by the collapse of the central powers? preston wilson had stressed the self-determination of nations as when it is 14 points but this idea came up against demands by the allies to have the outlying provinces other former enemies as spoils of war and also against the idea that the population of these former colonies were sometimes it seemed rather paternalistically as not yet ready to govern themselves. how would the countries that the victorious nations send to versailles a deal with these
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problems? how would they abide these lands among themselves? how would they be administered? with the territories be granted independence or would've thought to need a a period of tutelage before they could join as full members of the family of nations? perhaps most important of all, how would the people who lived in the states react to their newfound status? with the league of nations tried to do to solve these problems is the subject of the lecture tonight. one of a sort of semi-series which commemorates the 100 anniversary of the first world war and its aftermath. susan pedersen's new book, the guardians -- "the guardians: the league of nations and the crisis of empire" tells us the story in the light of new research, new scholarship, and modern ideas about the first world war. susan pedersen is the james shankman professor of the core
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curriculum at columbia university. she teaches comparative european history, british history, and international history. she has written several books including a recent one about early 20th century member of parliament and women suffragists eleanor. these welcome susan pedersen. [applause] >> thank you for coming today. i have to say it's a real pleasure to come to new york public library because about half of his book was written at the center for writers and scholars across the street at the schwartzman building to have this incredible debt of gratitude to new york public and am a loyal member. it's now a century as you note since the firs the first world n europe we've seen a lot of commemorations but those were mostly about the war in europe. we don't always remember that
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this is also a world war. the story i'm going to tell you today starts from that fact. so let me start by taking you back 100 years and reminding you of some of the less remembered theaters of the war. germany cutting empire in 1914 and it actually wasn't a small one. new zealand started to scramble to seize those colonies by sending a ship to western somalia and bloodlessly deposing the german administration in late august. you can see western samoa right over there. then the australians voted the germans out north of australia. the australians than planned to head north to jeremy pacific island but they found the japanese got their first. those are the ones in that little marked area.
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then they were the african possessions. british and french troops moved into togo and cameroon, the shaded areas. dividing the territory between themselves. south african troops moved across the orange river into southwest africa. the belgians with a lot of their homeland under german occupation must have enjoyed seizing we want and burundi, in part of germany africa but they were demands for carrier and food costs terrible family. the german general kept up a guerrilla war against the british and south african forces, devastating the local populations. let's remember the middle east campaigns, too. britain's indian army fought a bitter campaign against the ottomans in mesopotamia, now
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iraq, in 1916 britain made a secret deal with france defining postwar years in the east but look for local allies, too. they found one in the sheriff whose son faysal, senior, brought their troops on the arab side. british troops were in jerusalem. at the end of 1918 they let faysal proceed into damascus. windows conquest began from every occupying empire was bent on annexation. so why weren't they annexed? there are really two reasons. one is that woodrow wilson brought the u.s. into the war promising to annexation. but the second is that the war saw great anti-colonial movement with populations from ireland, korea claiming the right to govern themselves.
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by 1918, britain had made a lot of rash promises. promising an arab state to king hussein to support for a jewish national home, and even the right to choose their governors to african populations. by 1918, british officers were with the zionist organization in palestine to assess the possibilities of jewish immigration but britain was also subsidizing faysal's new government in syria. with wilson at their site, britain decided to quote my self-determination for all it was worth, as foreign secretary put it, and annexation slid off the table. instead of the paris peace conference, a compromise was agreed. the german and ottoman territories would not be granted self-government because as the cabinet said their people were quote not yet ready to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world. but the territories couldn't be
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annexed by the. instead, it would be given to first, so-called advanced nations who would governed under mandate from the league of nations. three classes of mandates were defined. the middle east territories were supposed to be giving advice and counsel by britain and france as they learned to govern themselves. the african territories occupied by britain, france and belgium were supposed to be governed under certain humanitarian and economic requirements such as a repression of the slave trade and slavery, and free trade. finally, the transport territories of southwest africa and the pacific occupied by japan and the dominions were handed over without too many stipulations at all in all administering powers had to report to the league which was set of the commission evaluated them and alert a league council, which is like the security
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council, to any concerns. it's important realize neither governors nor governed really welcome this. at the peace comprehensively the british and americans were enthusiastic and when he is rejected the peace treaty, most of the occupying powers hope the whole thing would go away. the british colony -- colonial secretary who is supposed to get the mandate drafted to the. the french are determined just to be squatters, he concluded. unlike most squatters they will become owners. the middle east populations thought they'd been promised independence and the tutelage. there was a rising in iraq in the spring of 1920. and in damascus, syrian nationalists proclaim independence and elected faysal king. the allies alarmed patched up the quarrels and came to terms. in april 1920 britain and france met and confirmed the carved up
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agreed in 1916. britain been sent herbert samuel to palestine as high commissioner, still climbing international authority for the mandate it had written. but france had given up on the idea of an arab state. and once they could shift troops from north africa attacked faysal's army and forced them out of syria. this is the general. british officials who i thought to the war with faysal felt a bit bad about that. in 1921 they engineered his coronation as king of iraq. that league was not consulted about much of me this and didn't oversee. just looked up into the mandate system wasn't clear. the interesting thing is this oversight system got set up anyway. why? because that league assembly and all the people who believed in the league insisted on a.
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after milner at the imperial officials bowed out, league bureaucrats set up the system themselves. i fall 1920 with reports were arriving in geneva at the mandate commission was meeting. the book i'd just written is a history of that system of league oversight, of the effort to put in feudalism under international supervision. it asks a simple question. what difference did that make? if you do a change of people recovered because empires ran to two tied. the british governed much like they did uganda. the south africans supplied rule in southwest africa like they did at home. nor was rule under mandate necessarily tim titler and gent. australia rent a harsher labor regime and mandated new guinea than they did in their colony right next door. but rule under mandate was more public and noisier. that's the main point. what was truly knew about the mandate system was th a level of
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international scrutiny, debate and publicity it generated. the imperial powers had to report annually to the league and send administrators to geneva to answer the questions of this body. department mandates commission of the league of nations. as you can tell from this picture this is no group of wild eyed radicals, with the exception of the women who was put on i at this is that they simply to represent women, and other representatives from the international labor organization, most of the members were former colonial governors. most were serious minded men, accustomed to command. they served without term and it proved much more outspoken and troublesome than anyone expected. the commission in turn was supported by this group, now five, 710 -- soon 10. the staff are the people who do
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the research and write the reports that the commissioners are too lazy to write an answer the mail. the director of that section was the man on the far right, as was american political scientist and a really, really good choice. the professor in geneva from a former instructor in government at harvard, he was ever lovely trilingual, had friends all over the world and was determined to uphold every letter of the cabinet. he wasn't above working behind the scenes to find allies. it's thanks to him colluding with british internationalist that the regime came to what is most surprising part, a petition process to people under mandate or even interested outsiders could petition if they felt the rules were broken. meet, for example, the members of the zero palestinian congress gathered in geneva in 1921, two totally angry they were about the expulsion of faysal from syria. there secretary would set up an
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office in becoming indefatigable petitioner. acting as a magnet for complaint covered by a vigilant press, the mandate system became the arena were arguments over imperial rule was authentic that's what the systematic. this book investigates that 20 year conflict. let me pause to share with you the worry that scuttles across the historians brain as she gets to work on this project. this is simply, how on earth am i going to manage something so huge? i can draw on experts on different territories i have to track the working of the system myself. if i want to get the whole picture, i need to look at it from all sides. that is, from the standpoint and the archives of the imperial powers of local movements and of the league. if i really want to dig up what difference the system makes i have to look at all three. but wait a minute.
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there were seven mandatory powers and 14 mandated territories. so how can i research this? the answer i realize this in the question, what difference does international oversight make. if that's the question, you have to start by digging out with the overseers see. so i had a selection principle which one might put this way. if a tree falls in the mandated territory and geneva hears it, i hear it. this meant that what i needed, what i needed to pay attention to every territory, i didn't have to pay for an equal attention nor pay attention to everything that happened in them. i could and should concentrate on things that attracted the attention of geneva. so one of the first things i did was count how much time the commission spent on each territory. you can see from this slide essentially that they worried most about palestine, syria, southwest africa. the other ones on the other side they don't care about.
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once i have my focus and my issues, i did examine do not just from geneva but on every level, the imperial, the international and the local. this took me 1 10 years and the research tk me everywhere, not just to geneva, london and paris but to berlin, brussels and jerusalem. but for better or worse i think that long archival track worked enabling me to write an international history of a significant experiment. what conclusions came out of that? briefly, as amended system wasn't halfway house between imperial rule and independence. it was something different. an attempt to construct an international order that really was an imperial order. alee give empires. that is, to subject imperial rule to international norms but based on the assumption that most of the nonwhite world would be under imperial rule for a long, long time.
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the british led this effort, convinced their practices were generalizable and best. but against expectation, and this is the second point, that process of internationalization are from stabilizing imperial role made it controversial and vulnerable. almost any scandal that erupted in a mandatory territory made its way to geneva. imperial rome was the subject of relentless talk. nationalists came but that also led the imperial powers to consider other arrangements. empire may not be a burden but international oversight was sure a burden. economic ties and client states begin to look like attractive alternatives to internationalize the imperial rule. so the book tells his story in four parts. first it just looks at the construction of the regime, powers and personality who made it, the petitioners who took it on. the next three parts are about how it worked from 1920 until its collapse in 1939.
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for the rest of my time i will keep you a hint of that story. let's go back to the early 1920s and eavesdrop on the commission as a cut to work on its first real crisis. we shouldn't be surprised this would involve south africa. for of all the powers, south africa was the most dead on annexation. during the war, south africa documented german atrocities, to make the case for its own rules once the mandate was secure, policy change. german settlers were urged to stay and offered south african citizenship, and additional native lands were handed over to watch the africans were confined to shrinking reserves and their weapons taken away. then a heavy tax was imposed on hunting dogs to prevent them from living off the land and forced them to labor on white farms. by 1922 these policies have driven a group of about 1500
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people knew the orange river. you can see it listed right there at the south of the country. into real despair. it also brought one abraham morris to get administration attention. morris was a famous guy locally. he fought against the germans and the acted as a scout the south africans during the nation. he was in south africa when he crossed the orange river into the mandated territory in 1922 with some companions and a few rifles, the new administrator of the territory were worried. when they refused to surrender more, he gathered a policy of some 200 whites and rode out to force compliance. to air places of in south africa bombed the encampment killing women and children and maddening that corralled animals.
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about 100 men with rifles then headed for the orange river but were tracked down by the name. most were killed. southern namibia was a remote land but when airplanes drop those bombs, a scandal exploded of course bombing have been used before in colonial campaigns the southwest africa was different. it was under mandate. supposedly governed according to the sacred trust. liberal south african papers picked up the story and then the international press. at the slave society sent a petition. then one of the few black delegates at the league announced south africa to 1922 league assembly that mandates commission was asked to investigate. the commission spent 1923 growing the south africans. those debates were published and we can set the system worked, both to discipline into rehabilitating terri row. virtually the whole commission
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agreed the south africans had used unnecessary brutal force. only the portuguese member insisted that violence was justified, and went his colleagues disagreed delete their views to the south africans, packed his bags and gone. nor did the commission to back the italian members admitted there will have to be a complete break with imperial practice. when his colleagues objected, he pleaded exhaustion and went home. it was left to the british member, the famous colonial governor, sir frederick lou gardiner, who persuaded the commission of a south africa have lapsed from imperial best practice, there was a model for what that practice should be. he clarified it meant strong part to ballistic administration that would keep both settlers and concession to companies in check, prevent forced labor, and appalled traditional authority.
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his views dominated the mandate commission in the 1920s and one accommodation of the league assembly. that consensus delegitimized the south african regime which found itself under constant criticism. that's the mandate commission meeting in 1924. it's important remember though that this vision of trusteeship wasn't accounted for particularly progressive. lugard's predecessor on the commission had wanted to bring all band-aids to independence as soon as possible but lugard disagree. the danger of going too fast was much greater than the danger of not going fast enough, he thought. racial assumptions undergird the thought. africans would require white guidance for a long time to come. but what should put them into a population of a demented rejected paternalism and demanded self-government? in the mid- and late '20s the commission concluded that question.
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first in 1925 and local syrian revolt against rule became a national rising. friends put down by care, this use of human shields and bombardment, including of damascus. second, a passive resistance movement against new zealand's rule by virtually the entire population of western samoa was met by new zealand with incomprehension and then repression. this is the season troops removing the insignia of the mao movement. and then this is a test of the men killed in a demonstration. >> this movement proved impossible to repress. when the men were banished and took to the hills, the women took over, and this is the
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leadership and committee of the women's mouth. in both cases it was internationalize the spring massive petition drives and ended up before the commission. in both cases, representatives came to rome or geneva where the commission was meeting to make a case. but in both cases the commission defended the mandatory power. why? because the movements called into question the regime's foundational assumptions. that is, serious and samoas said they could govern themselves, but the cabinet said they couldn't. and when they said they could come those appeals violated the covenant. the mandate commission would not entertain such arguments. they refused to receive all off nelson of the samoa and try to even though he traveled halfway around the world to talk to the. they dismissed the petitioners as unscrupulous and agitators. privately lugard admitted he
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believed charges of torture by the french troops but he thought as long as those states cooperated, central reports, applied to petitions, pledged their devotion to the sacred trust, the mandate commission should support them. the league's publicity apparatus sent those perceptions around the world. any. of the early 20s, the mandate system worked to stabilize the imperial settlement. so how did it come and stay to undermine imperial authority? the third part of the book, the simple edge is that germany joined the league. why was this so significant? germany had owned most of those territories. in 1919, germany had been required to surrender its colonial empire. it became, in other words, the first postcolonial great power. it didn't want that distinction. all parties in germany except the communists consider procedures unjust.
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all resented the argument that germany will have been particularly brutal. all were committed to recovering the territory. led by germany's former colonial governors and generals, senior writing and try up to the brandenburg gate in 1919 am a the colonial movement took off. in 1924 when the pragmatic -- decide to bring germany into the league, the colonial associations argued that he should get the colonies back as a price. the foreign ministry disagree but it wasn't because they didn't have a colonial strategy. the colonial lobby wanted their territories back by the foreign ministries goal was to rebuild germans target in the past, colonies have been essential to the effort. if the train was program for trade liberalization and economic integration proceeded, maybe they could do it differently. that is, germany could use the
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economic equality clauses of the mandates regime to rebuild its commission in africa. to carry out that plan germany needed a seat on the mandate commission. to complete discuss of all the other mandatory powers, britain felt germany would cause less trouble inside than out. in 1927 after intense diplomacy, the director of the confederation of german industry joined the commission as the german member. his appointment was unpopular with the colonial lobby. they wanted one of those intransigent excavators in the post but the foreign ministry found an excellent and rightly so. his presence strengthened into a lock on the commission buddies s correct manner, good english and otherwise conventional views shield them from attacking although intensely busy, treachery prepared scrupulously for every session. pulling the commission towards a
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more robust assertion of legal authority. the first part of that was economic. the mandates was was operate under the open door. that is, to get equal economic rights to all league state. these were policies britain favored in west africa, even for germany joined at the league, britain not finding other buyers had sold the plantations in its part of cameroon right back to the german owners. now, germans went back and german firms rebuild their dominant positions in the african carrying a tray. but the commission went further than that. it became much more aggressive about combating annexation. the mandatory powers made three such moves between 1925-1933, and in every case germany tried to block them. first in 1925, belgium passed the law turning rwanda and
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burundi into provinces of the congo only to be forced by the commission to back down. in a second case, south africa tried to incorporate southwest africa's railways and harbors into its own system, but the mandates commission forced a revision of that law. finally, germany and league mobilization helped destroy british plans to amalgamate kenya, uganda and tanganyika. this was impossible, the commission said, for britain was not sovereign in tanganyika economic bring it into its empire. if necessary, the german government added, it would take this case to the international court at the hague. if germany to that case, britain's law offices warner privately, it might will win it. in 1929 and the most important decision related to mandates, the league did, the council ruled that mandatory powers were not sovereign in territories under league oversight. so the period of germany's
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league membership proved the mandate system's most innovative period. in the foreign ministry determination to use the system to reassert german power, to do so by upholding league norms of economic liberalization and anti-annexation, can we see foreshadowed the international order that would emerge after 1945. ..
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this is in the baghdad. >> the effort to limit imperial power was over by the mid-30s. the mandate system turned out to be an exception. why was this the case. the last part of the book is about how it came apart. again, the simplest explanation is hitler's obsession. in 1933 hitler took german out of the league. all reside immediately. there is more to it than that. even before germany left the league, that agenda of economic had been compromised. britain and france both responded by throwing protection around their empires. although the mandate remains a free trade zones, they began to look like anomalies.
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trade slowed to imperial lines. by 1930 5/2 of british trade was in the empire up from one third years earlier. liberal economists worried it would threaten peace us are called have not nations that made demands for territory. this was the con tax for two landgrab that broke the league. japan's attack on manchuria in 1931 and in the lease in 1935 did it just destroy the league security, it. when it justified their actions they did so adversely of the covenant. when the league about japan the aggressor, japan replied it was building a state in a lawless territory. italy subjected ethiopia with bombs and poison gas. this didn't keep them from claiming they were bringing civilization to a backward region.
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both states exited the league. those arguments didn't work. appealing to the league to save his country from italian barbarism had public opinion if not military might on his side. that's in geneva. he didn't just attack claims it on his own. he denounced the idea there is a hierarchy of people anyway. apart from the kingdom of the lord there is no nation on earth the period to any other. the mandate system which was backward in advance had always slid into a language of superior and inferior. now that language was irredeemably painted. western cartoonists pointed that out over and over. further damage was done by the british and french interest in colonial claims. a project known as colonial
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appeasement. we know this was a nonstarter. hitler was determined on eastern expansion and didn't care about colonies. many of his entourage did. including his economics minister who laid out the case in an influential article in foreign affairs. it suited hitler to give the colonial movement his head. the mid- 30s saw an enormous outpouring of propaganda in germany. brightly colored posters in train stations remind a passerby's that their colonies could provide raw material and laid the ground striking charts compared to huge expanse of territory joined by other colonial terror powers by german state. rallies were held.
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movements flourished among germans in the former column. so southwest africa. all of this may not have persuaded hitler but it persuaded plenty of people in britain and france. that is what the nazis wanted. french intelligence reported germany's colonial propaganda was directed at london. the british press published articles about how to bring germany back into the imperial and elite club. the times of london wrote 160 articles on this in 1936 alone. some tried to get the ball rolling. historian and dir. of research devised a plan to redistribute colonies under an expanded system of international control. in february 1936 he took it to germany. meeting with experts and winning
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a 90 minute audience with hitler. did the cabinet take up the colonial revision because of the intense public debate? timing suggests yes. in february chancellor told the cabinet he would gladly trade for peace. the day after hitler's true reoccupied the ryland he told prime minister stanley baldwin that the time is come to consider transferring colonies. one day later, baldwin set up a secret committee on imperial defense to do that. chapter 11 this book tells the sad story of british and french consideration of various proposals to give germany african territory. at that account shows both sides were diluted. no deal was possible. possible. it took the british too long to understand that. the last proposal was devised by
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now prime minister. on march 3, 1938. all african territory below the 30th parallel and above, chunk of real estate that includes belgium and portuguese africa, as would be put into a common pots and redistributed with germany getting some. in exchange britain needed german cooperation. hitler responded but promised a written response. instead german troops marched into vienna where most germans in cameroon. hitler we learned the hard way would not be deflected from his plans. it signaled a rejection of the
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international order britain have been trying to reconstruct. from 1936 to 38. british politicians had tried to use the colonial issue to lure germany back into the international fold. the whole purpose of fold. the whole purpose of colonies as far as the nazis were concerned was to limit german dependence on an anglo political order. this episode ended in failure. after all even if lou guard found it unthinkable to turn 5 million africans over as he put it, like cattle to a country that has shown ruthless cruelty, it seems plenty other people were willing to turn africans over to the nazis. nothing discredited the mandate system more.
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the mandate system had by that time, lost its main battle as well. during the during the late 30s when britain found itself under attack for its inability to manage the worsening crisis in palestine, it to lost heart. i can't detail the complex story of britain's palestine policy here. it pleased no one. between 1936 and 1939 in 1939 britain found itself on defense in geneva. it took a major reason walt for his unwillingness to limit immigration. then it was attacked by that mandates commission and the league council for not cracking down hard enough on that revolt. although it did ship in troops and do its best to restore order. >> only to try that plan attacked in geneva both by
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liberals and those seeking refuge for jews. when it finally proposed, this is this national session on palestine. when it finally proposed to end that to cause consternation. especially among palestine's now now sizable jewish population which felt betrayed. at this point, britain gave up on the mandate system. if they are in violation of the mandate british policies told geneva that they demand the mandate be rewritten. this was an admission of billiard. they had written article 22 of the covenant. they had written.
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they had written most of the mandate text. now they blamed the league when those proved unworkable. after 1945 britain would try to hang onto some part of its financially shattered empire. it's enthusiasm for international oversight was over. i have gone on too long let me wrap up. what i have tried to do is recover the history of a forgotten significant effort. we can see it worked in different ways in different periods. depending depending on who was in the room. it started out under lou guard working to generalize british imperial ideas. then in the german. it worked to limit imperial authority. that move was cut short by the depression and by the demand of the revision states by more territory at their own. the mandate system didn't go away though. the middle east territory became independent.
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the other ones became trust territories except southwest africa. i don't want to suppress continuity too much, the the trusteeship regime of the un was different. moving states to independence was an explicit part of its charter. most important important it's dominant figure was not british colonial governor. it was an african-american political scientist. he became director director of the trusteeship in the un. it is sort of fitting this a bunch became lou guard successor. he had been a graduate student at harvard in 1932 when he decided to conduct a comparative study of mandate and colonial rule. just like i did he went off to geneva to go through the records and then headed to togo and a colony to compare french administration in two places. his dissertation won the top prize at harvard in 1934.
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it was a meticulous and empirical account but it was a sharp criticism of the mandates regime. he found that mandated territories were on the margins that are in colonies. he concluded that was not enough. they were still governed too much like colonies. their systems were too exploited in their regimes to oppressive. who on earth could think let civilized rulers. africa might be weak but it's people were identical and aspiration is when stern people. africa was capable of self-government as was anywhere else. they didn't think that would happen anytime soon. 1930s were 30s were the doubles decades. the european empires were strong
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in the fascist states demanding territory everywhere. they couldn't know that a mere ten years later he would be writing or a few years after that he would be running the un office charged with preparing those territories for self-government. he already concluded that empire was to be superseded and not internationalize. whatever order would succeed the league it would have to be built on the principle state of equality. he was waiting in the wing and he he wasn't going to change his mind. his is another story. thank you very much. [applause]. >> will take some questions. >> thank you for your talk.
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one of the principles that came out was self-determination. and the parties, the victors didn't give a nation of 30 million people in the middle east a state. that is t kurds. this problem in this failure by the victors is still causing trouble today in southeast turkey, in northern iraq, and in northern syria. why didn't they consider the kurds for estate. question. >> guest: really part of what you're asking is why were all the territories in the middle east not giving
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self-determination. that is a complex subject with a long answer. a major part of it was when the americans pulled out, frankly the british and the french pretty much impose the mandate system on the middle east. the hope had been the americans were to actually accept mandates and particularly mandates in the middle east. once the british realized there would be no american presence in the middle east as of administering power, their only partner could be the french. so the french or british settlement of what is what was imposed on the middle east. that ended up ended up with armenian and kurds not receiving territories as well as the territories that were were not granted
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government. it also has something to do with different british ideas of what kinda states their building. they try to build it unified state in iraq. and we've seen that, apart ever since. that was the effort. take those three and craft them together into a single state. that created difficulties because of the kurdish north. we are still living with that. >> thank you for new-line presentation. i think the lack of instantaneous questions is a reflection of how well you covered the material. let me put the united states back into the equation. do you think if the
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united states participated in the league it would have made any impact in the mandate system and its downfall. second we are contrasting with what the united states is doing in territories that administered since the philippines. >> guest: that is an interesting question. i have to beg off on the second part of the philippines i thought this was an overwhelming project that if i brought more territories into it it would have been unmanageable. the question about the americans is very interesting. i think it isn't quite right to say the americans were not present in geneva. the americans had an incredibly privileged position because they could choose to be a non- member and then be in whenever they wanted to be in. so, the americans had a lot to
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do with writing the league covenant, with with what the mandate system look like and they contracted individual treaties with every mandated mandatory power to grant themselves equal rights even though they were not a leak member. america also was critically important to the league because it funded a lot of the work of the league through the carnegie and rockefeller endowment. all of these foundations were led by people who believed in the league and work through philanthropic and voluntary organizations and think tanks to try to keep the american presence alive. the the league library wasn't out by carnegie. there were league members, in fact the first british secretary of the made a point of hiring
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americans and keeping him there so he could keep channels of communication open to the us. at at the beginning that didn't work very good they were unwilling to talk to geneva but over time there was collaboration. some behind the scenes but some more explicit. there is a league council in geneva. i think there would have been quite a different story if the americans had stayed in because american and british ratings were closer then british and french. the british and and french operated quite differently as imperial powers. with the americans gone it had to be an anglo-french system.
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>> iraq got its independence and its 30s, syria, lebanon, sometime in the 40s. >> would it be fair to say that the mandate got their independence before most other colonial areas #. >> guest: that's a good question i think you probably can't say that as a rule, it is more territorial. the middle east territories moved to independence and that independence was brought about essentially, not iraq which is a different case but the rest of a by the war. in africa the mandated territories became independent
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basically on the same timeframe as the other colonial territories in africa. western samoa samoa is a bit of an exception. it is a very interesting place. if one were to say what should have been a state in 1919, my vote would been western samoa. it was the first pacific territory to move to independence. that makes a lot of sense. the samoans petitioned in 1917 said why are we given these people to run us, we can just do this or sell. >> i have had some occasion to take a look at the mandate system as an operated in the bismarck specifically, the
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gazelle peninsula area on new britain. i have had occasion to speak to the descendents of several australians operated coconut plantations in the area. they told me that relations between the australian coconut growers and their native workers were usually pretty good, and pretty productive. i going to tell me that is not an accurate perception? >> guest: i don't have personal experience of that obviously. i can tell you what the records in the archives would lead one to conclude.
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australia operated an indentured labor system. in new guinea. so workers were under usually two to three year contracts. whether personal relations under that system are good or not will depend on the personality of the people they are working for. the concern of the mandates commission was always a free labor concern, they felt that indentured servitude, indentured labor was skating on the edge of what was supposed to be pre-labor practices of the regime. i have to say, australia looked at the kind of censure of the south africans came under. they tried quite hard to avoid that.
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if you look at for instance at how, whether the local administration would crackdown, the australians would tend to try to do that which was interesting. that was not the case in southwest africa i think it is a mixed bag. >> i would ask you, the islanders would say australian was too stringent to a fault. which in turn made japan's
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seizure of them a lot easier. >> guest: that is an interesting point, it is something that i've been quite curious about. there's almost nothing written on this, one or two articles and they tend to confirm that point, that australia did a by by the requirements of the mandates system. that became a huge problem they are also reluctant to look closely at the japanese mandated island. there were lots of charges of fortification. it. it was hard to get into them. have almost no information and sewed non- fortification ended up being the problem. the trusteeship system did not work that way. it was trust territories could be fortified and because of that
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experience. on the other hand it is part of understanding what the league was like. the leak was set up to try to make war impossible. they are not not going to say it is completely fine to build fortification and trust, they're trying to d militarize them. even the french who raise their troops out of west africa. so non- fortification and non- militarization was a real requirement. >> given the model that we made in the middle east recently do you think we were smart to state out of the engagement over there in the past? >> guest: that is a great question. i'm not the type of historian who does contemporary affairs. it is way beyond me.
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i have to say, i always felt looking at this, this is a global system, no one stays out if you know what i mean. you can not participate in which case you live with the consequences of a system that is made by other people. so america ended up, will end up involved in things even if it chooses not to take a role in planning that. that is certainly what happened in the case of the mandate system. i don't see how i can say their clear lessons you can apply from the story.
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>> stay home. [laughter] >> it says ralph howard is it supposed to be howard? >> it is supposed to be howard, he was a graduate student at harvard, he was also on the faculty at harvard, he was a graduate student at harvard but he was on faculty at howard. i can't go on about it here it is in the book. howard university had a collection of of brilliant political scientist and historians, alan locked, in the 30s. they were some of the first scholars of the mandate system. it is it is a very interesting batch of people. he was there, it made made sense he would be writing his dissertation as something that was seen as-is this a way to foresee independence.
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>> what lessons do you think the people who are crafted the united nations took away from the experience? >> guest: for the mandate system or for the relationship between the international organization and empires, there was much more explicit belief in the united nations, at least in a fair number of people involved in the united nations that the imperial order was on its way out. so the trustee council work differently from the mandate system. the main lesson is that it has
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to be all land. what is interesting about the league is that states kept picking up their blocks and going home. now if you are a state, there is hardly any state that doesn't want to be part of the united nations. in the league, because it began as an alliance, a wartime alliance and some of its main personnel were borrowed from inter- allied bodies, it started out as that in relation to the latin american state, the americans and then later to the revisionist powers were very complex. what the nations has done is allow a veto on the great powers
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but that means everybody stays inches that's a different way of approaching things. the league had great trouble making decisions because it operated according to unanimity. >> thank you for the presentation, i want to ask if you could talk about the difference of the british empire and the french. he said they're quite different. >> guest: that is a huge question for the british it is interesting, they thought of themselves as an empire, but also as of the global police. the british didn't have, there is also an alliance of
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independent states as well. at this point the british had six separate states essentially as members of the league. south africa, australia, new zealand, canada, and even india, were and even india, were independent members of the league. even though india didn't meet the powers of self government, the british got them in as members. they operate as a block. the french are in competition with that because of the powers of that. france and britain have different economic attitudes essentially. britain is everywhere, it is not a regional power so it operates and tends to favor more liberal
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trade policies because it moves all over the globe. at the time, france wasn't like that it had an empire in southeast asia and in central africa. that was the main chunk of territory. they just operate a bit differently and they compete, as well as collude. we tend to think of them as colluding but if you look in 1918 to 1921, the anglo-french relations are terrible. >> should we stop? thank you.ardown
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>> you are watching 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books on c-span's w books tv for sears readers. >> we are joined by a professor at brooklyn college and theofso author of the rebellious life of mrs. rosa parks. prior to december 1, 1955 wass rosa parks rebellious? >> absolutely, her rebellious spirit starts as a young person, as a kid, for instance she grows up in a home with herla grandparents and mother. her grandfather asked her what she thinks of the violence, her grandfather will sit out at night with


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