Skip to content

Results:

1 - 10 of 217

Documents

November 9, 1962

Memorandum from William R. Tyler to the Secretary [Dean Rusk] through U. Alexis Johnson, 'Turkish and Italian IRBM's'

Seymour Weiss would push back against any efforts to remove the Jupiters, but he and others realized that President Kennedy had a “keen interest” in the matter and that Secretary of Defense McNamara had ordered that action be taken (assigning his General Counsel John McNaughton to take the lead). Nevertheless Weiss and Assistant Secretary of State William Tyler presented Secretary of State Rusk with a memorandum making the case against action on the Jupiters or at least postponing their removal until a “later time.” Paralleling arguments made during the crisis by Ambassadors Hare and Reinhardt, Tyler pointed to the “symbolic and psychological importance” of the Jupiter deployments. While Tyler noted parenthetically that the Italians had “given indications of a disposition to work toward the eventual removal of the Jupiters,” the U.S. could not phase them out “without general Alliance agreement,” including Italy and Turkey’s consent, “unless we are prepared to lay ourselves open to the charge of abrogation of specific or implied agreements.” Rusk was in the know on the secret deal, but his reference to a “later time” was consistent with it and signing the memo would have placated Tyler and Weiss.

June 1, 1967

Lecture about the Situation in Persia by Dr. Bahman Nirumand, followed by a Discussion, on the Eve of the Shah’s Visit to West Berlin (Excerpts)

In West Germany as in other capitalist democratic countries in what now is called the Global North, an increasing number of students were more and more radicalized in the 1960s. They were not exceptional: in some countries—think for instance of Italy—some workers underwent a similar evolution. Moreover, some students and workers met and communicated in various forms and place like cafés, dorms, or factories, where some students had to work. And both students’ and workers’ radicalization led them in various ways away from established social democrat, socialist, and communist parties.

But there were differences, too. In West Germany, so-called “new leftist” German students like Rudi Dutschke (1940-1979) were from the early 1960s most distinctly influenced by texts by decolonizing actors-intellectuals like Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928-1967) and Frantz Fanon (1925-1961). Their worldview was shaped by fellow students from recently decolonized and postcolonial countries, as Quinn Slobodian’s Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (2012) shows. Among these students were Iranians, for many Iranians wishing to study abroad opted for West Germany following World War II. This pattern built on sturdy modern political, economic and cultural Iranian-German relations from the nineteenth century to the early Second World War. Hence, in the 1960s, West Germany became a key arena for Iranian exile politics. In the university town of Heidelberg, Iranian students with France- and Britain-based colleagues in 1960 founded a body that would be known as the Confederation of Iranian Students, National Union (CISNU) from 1962, when US-based Iranian student bodies joined and Tehran students were associated. CISNU was in the 1960s-70s a leading force outside Iran opposing Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980; r. 1941-1979)—a story told by Afshin Matin-Asgari’s The Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah (2002). In parallel, in the 1960s the shah was able to become the autocratic ruler he had wanted to be from the 1940s.

In West Germany, one analysis of the shah’s state was the ironically titled Persien, Modell eines Entwicklungslandes [Persia: Model Development Country], publishedin spring 1967 by Bahman Nirumand. Born in 1936, Nirumand was a high school and then university student in Germany from 1950 to 1960, then moved back to Iran to work as an academic and journalist, and in 1965 escaped back to Germany fearing arrest for co-leading the underground Marxist-Leninist group Goruh-e Kaderha. In his book Persien, he argued that changes like the land reform of 1963 are a reformist façade hiding an anti-democratic repressive capitalist regime, which is backed by equally repressive capitalist Western states led by imperialist Washington. In fact, to him, Iran illustrated how Third-World and First-World elites together repress their people—a truly global pattern.

To be sure, Vietnam constituted the key anti-imperialist cause for organizations like the Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund (SDS), which in 1961 had been evicted by the mainstream Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) and by 1966 was part of West Germany’s ausser- (i.e. extra-) parlamentarische Opposition. Even so, when the German government announced a visit by the shah for early June 1967, the SDS soon decided to support Iranian student protests. These were legally “problematic” because West Germany’s 1965 Aliens Act drastically limited foreigners’ right to political activism. What began as a teach-in about Iran in West Berlin on June 1 and as a protest against the shah on June 2 became aturning point in postwar German history. On June 2, the police did not only condone pro-shah loyalists’ violence against the demonstrators. It also shot dead a demonstrator, Benno Ohnesorg, intensifying students’ fears about a fascist rebirth and causing the student movement to grow swiftly and become more radical.

The text printed here is a translated excerpt from the German-language audio file of the teach-in on Iran of June 1 at the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. Opened by Gabriele Kuby (born 1944), a member of the FU’s General Students Committee, the teach-in featured Nirumand, who spoke for about an hour and a half on the world’s current economic-political condition for which Iran was a case in point, and Hans-Heinz Heldmann (1929-1995), a German lawyer representing Iranian and other foreign students politically active in Germany. Followed by a few notes on other political matters, these two lectures were then discussed by the students; Dutschke, since 1965 a leading SDS member, drew a parallel between Vietnam and Iran. Attended by about 2,000 students, the teach-in had a strongly mobilizing effect on the protests the next day, June 2.

March 26, 1965

Palestine Delegation in Peking

Formed in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was not the first Palestinian organization after the nakba (catastrophe), the escape from violence and the Israeli expulsion of a good half of Palestinians in 1948. The two most important earlier organizations were Harakat al-Qawmiyyin al-‘Arab (Arab Nationalists Movement [ANM]) and Harakat al-Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastini (Palestinian National Liberation Movement [Fatah]).

Founded in 1951 in Beirut, ANM became committed to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) and his version of pan-Arab nationalism, which it saw as the means to liberate Palestine, opening a separate Palestinian branch in 1959. (In 1967, it would give rise to the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which split in 1968, one wing forming the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP)).

Rejecting Arab states’ tutelage, Fatah was officially born in 1959, though organizational activities began in 1956 and though it built on military cells operating from Egyptian-ruled Gaza from the early 1950s. After Arab armies’ crushing loss against Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 killed any remaining hopes, weakened since the early 1960s, that Arab armies would liberate Palestine, Fatah grew in strength. In 1969, it took command of the PLO. The latter had been founded in 1964 for several reasons. Nasser hoped to weaken Fatah and Syria, a state then in competition with him. Also, the PLO served (upper) middle class Palestinians some of whom—like Ahmad al-Shuqayri (1908-1908), Palestine’s representative to the Arab League and the PLO’s founder and first chairman—had played a Palestinian political role until 1948 and wished to do so again. And these men and women believed Palestinians needed their own statist entity, as Yezid Sayigh’s monumental Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949-1993 (1997) notes.

In 1965, PLO delegates led by Shuqayri for the first time visited the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as reported in the English issue of the multi-language international organ Peking Review. Already in 1964 a small Fatah delegation led by Yassir Arafat (1929-2004) had accepted an invitation to visit Beijing, founding an office there. Sure, upon its establishment in 1949 the PRC had de jure recognized Israel, following the lead of the Soviet Union that acted as its older brother in the communist camp. (Israel in turn was the first Middle Eastern state to recognize the PRC, in 1950.) But after the PRC and the USSR split in 1960, Beijing amplified its anti-imperialist rhetoric and policies versus the Soviet Union and the United States, as Gregg Brazinksy’s Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War (2017) has shown. It was in this context that it from the mid-1960s delivered arms especially to Fatah and the PLO—it soon also would train fighters—and that it politically embraced the Palestinian cause. The PRC framed this policy as that of one “revolutionary people” helping another one, a story strand in Paul Chamberlin’s The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order (2012). By the early 1970s, however, Chinese support became more lukewarm. Moreover, after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976), relations with Israel cautiously warmed, though remaining surreptitious until the establishment of full diplomatic ties in 1992.

1961

Ahmed Sa‘id, 'Returning from Cuba' (Excerpts)

The author of the Arabic-language book from which this excerpt has been translated, Ahmed Sa‘id (1925-2018), was from 1953 until the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War the inaugural director and main announcer of the Cairo-based Arab nationalist Sawt al-‘Arab. This radio was a crucial public relations instrumentfor the post-revolutionary Egyptian government and the by far most popular station in the Arab world in the 1950s-60s. Consequently, Sa‘id was a household name to Arabs.

While most Arabic books on non-Arab decolonization movements and, related, anti-imperialistmovements in the 1950s and 1960s concerned African states, there was much interest in other countries, too. One was Cuba, where a revolution that had started in 1953 succeeded on January 1, 1959. For realpolitik reasons Cuba early on became a Soviet ally, and eventually in the 1960s turned communist, though it continued to pursue a rather fiercely independent foreign policy including armed engagements in Africa, as Piero Gleijeses’ Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976 (2003) showed. Egypt, on the other hand, repressed its domestic communists, though entertaining considerable ties with the USSR and defining itself as a socialist state. Thus, when Sa‘id accepted a Cuban invitation to attend the revolution’s second anniversary celebration, it was not leftism that attracted him most. Rather, he in this book depicted Cubans as fellow fighters in a continuous revolution against US-led imperialism, a political battle superseding any cultural or linguistic differences.

2018

Elaine Mokhtefi, 'Algiers: Third World Capital. Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers' (Excerpts)

The author of the book from which the below excerpts are taken, Elaine Mokhtefi née Klein, is a US American of Jewish origin born in 1928 in New York. She became politically involved there in the late 1940s. In 1951, she moved to Paris, where she worked as a translator for various anti-racist and anti-colonial movements. It was in the French capital that she met Algerian independence activists and became involved with the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), which was founded in November 1954 and started Algeria’s independence war. She participated in the 1958 All-African People’s Conference in Ghana (for which see also the entry on Frantz Fanon’s FLN speech). In 1960-1962, she worked in New York for the FLN. FLN representatives stationed in the United States sought to contact US politicians and officials, and in New York successfully lobbied at the United Nations headquarters during its war against France, as Matthew Connelly showed inA Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era (2002). Moreover, already at this time the FLN was deeply involved with various other anticolonial liberation movements, as Mokhtefi’s fascinating book illustrates. When Algeria became independent, in 1962, she moved there. She worked in various official capacities, inter alia for the Algeria Press Service. And due to her New York experience and command of English, she often was asked to work with representatives of foreign independence movements, including the US Black Panther Party (BPP), whose presence in Algeria in 1969 and its effect on the BPP’s take on the Arab-Israeli conflict has been studied in Michael Fischbach’s Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color (2018). Many such movements were assisted by the Algerian government, which saw itself as a player in multiple overlapping anticolonial and postcolonial frameworks, including African unity, Arab unity, Afro-Asianism, and Third Worldism, as Jeffrey Byrnes has shown in his Mecca of Revolution: Algeria, Decolonization, and the Third World Order (2016). Mokhtefi was for political reasons forced to leave Algeria in 1974, accompanied by her Algerian husband, the former FLN member Mokhtar Mokhtefi. They settled in Paris, and in 1994 moved to New York.

July 2, 1957

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy in the Senate, Washington, D.C., July 2, 1957

On July 2, 1957, US senator John F. Kennedy made his perhaps best-known senatorial speech—on Algeria.

Home to about 8 million Muslims, 1.2 million European settlers, and 130,000 Jews, it was from October 1954 embroiled in what France dubbed “events”—domestic events, to be precise. Virtually all settlers and most metropolitan French saw Algeria as an indivisible part of France. Algeria had been integrated into metropolitan administrative structures in 1847, towards the end of a structurally if not intentionally genocidal pacification campaign; Algeria’s population dropped by half between 1830, when France invaded, and the early 1870s. Eighty years and many political turns later (see e.g. Messali Hadj’s 1927 speech in this collection), in 1954, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) launched a war for independence. Kennedy did not quite see eye to eye with the FLN.

As Kennedy's speech shows, he did not want France entirely out of North Africa. However, he had criticized French action already in early 1950s Indochina. And in 1957 he met with Abdelkader Chanderli (1915-1993), an unaccredited representative of the FLN at the United Nations in New York and in Washington, DC, and a linchpin of the FLN’s successful international offensive described in Matthew Connelly’s A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era (2002). Thus, Kennedy supported the FLN’s demand for independence, which explains its very positive reaction to his speech.

And thus, unlike the 1952-1960 Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969) that officially backed the views of NATO ally France and kept delivering arms, the Democratic senator diagnosed a “war” by “Western imperialism” that, together with if different from “Soviet imperialism,” is “the great enemy of … the most powerful single force in the world today: ... man's eternal desire to be free and independent.” (In fact, Kennedy’s speech on the Algerian example of Western imperialism was the first of two, the second concerning the Polish example of Sovietimperialism. On another, domestic note, to support African Algeria’s independence was an attempt to woe civil-rights-movement-era African Americans without enraging white voters.) To be sure, Kennedy saw France as an ally, too. But France’s war was tainting Washington too much, which helped Moscow. In Kennedy’s eyes, to support the US Cold War against the Soviet Union meant granting Algeria independence. The official French line was the exact opposite: only continued French presence in Algeria could keep Moscow and its Egyptian puppet, President Gamal Abdel Nasser, from controlling the Mediterranean and encroaching on Africa.

1936

Salim Khayyata, 'Oppressed Ethiopia, or The Start of The Final Fight Against Colonialism in the Period of its Downfall' (Excerpts)

Following a year-long buildup of tensions, Fascist Italy conquered Ethiopia between October 1935 and May 1936 in a brutal war that included the use of airplanes and chemical weapons. Its “success” came 40 years after Ethiopia had defeated Italian troops, making this ancient African center of Christianity a paragon of successful anti-imperialism. The war formed part of broader Fascist Italian aspirations in the Mediterranean and Africa, renewing Ancient Rome’s empire. European powers, including the French and British empires, and other countries condemned Italy’s attack, and at the League of Nations adopted some economic sanctions against Italy. After all, Ethiopia had become a League member in 1923. But those sanctions were feeble, exemplifying how inter-state power politics could bypass the League’s collective security engagements, doubly if an aggressed country was non-white. (In fact, France had signaled it would not react massively already before Italy’s attack.) Italy withdrew from the League and concluded separate deals with France and Britain, which above all wished to keep Italy content to deal with the emerging Nazi challenge of the post-World War I order in Germany and on the continent.

However, the war triggered massive protests around the world, most intensely by African and leftist organizations. It was the most serious proof to date of the threat posed by Europe’s extreme right-wing-ruled states, especially Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Arabs, too, commented extensively on this case, as Haggai Erlich’s Ethiopia and the Middle East (1994) has shown. People who like the Egyptian Yusuf Ahmad had Muslim sensitivities condemned Ethiopia for always having maltreated Muslims and opined that for them, Fascist rule would be preferable. Ahmad’s book, Al-Islam fi al-Habasha [Islam in Ethiopia] was financed by Italy and praised inter alia by Shakib Arslan (excerpts of a book of whose are included in this collection). Critique of Italy’s colonial war came mainly from liberal nationalists and leftists. Among the latter was Salim Khayyata.

The text printed here is a series of key excerpts from the introduction to his Arabic book Al-Habasha al-mazluma, aw fatihat akhar niza‘ li-l-isti‘mar fi dawr inhiyarihi [Oppressed Ethiopia, or The Start of The Final Fight Against Colonialism in the Period of its Downfall]. Born in 1909 in the United States to migrant parents, Khayyata returned with them to Tripoli, Lebanon, in 1922. He became a member of the Communist Party of Syria and Lebanon (CPSL). As noted in Tareq Ismael’s The Communist Movement in the Arab World (2011), the CPSL was founded in 1924, following French North Africa (1919), Egypt (1922), and Palestine (1923). A writer, Khayyata published inter alia in the leftist journals al-Duhur and al-Tali‘a, both of which he also edited for some time in the 1930s. (This collection’s document on the 1939 Anti-Fascist Congress in Beirut is from the latter journal.) Torture in a French prison in Lebanon early on in World War II left him very impaired mentally. He passed away in 1965.

February 1927

Statement of the Delegation of the "Etoile Nord Africaine" ("North African Star") by Hadj-Ahmed Messali

The presenter of this address, Ahmed Ben Messali Hadj (1898-1974), is known as the “father” of Algerian nationalism, one of whose foremost biographies is Benjamin Stora’s Messali Hadj, 1898-1974 (2012). Having served in the French army in 1918-1921, Messali Hadj for economic reasons moved to Paris. There, he met his French wife, the leftist Emilie Busquant. In 1925, he was recruited to the French Communist Party’s (PCF) colonial commission. In June 1926, he co-founded, and became Secretary General of, the Etoile Nord Africaine (ENA), which at first demanded political and legal equality for France’s Muslim North Africans. As this text shows, demands shifted by February 1927. That month, ENA functionaries including Messali Hadj travelled to Bruxelles. Together with leftists and delegates from three dozen colonized countries, they participated in the founding conference of the League against Imperialism (LAI), which was initiated by the Moscow-headquartered Comintern and organized by the PCF and the German communist Willi Münzenberg; the experience in Bruxelles of one non-Arab delegation, India, has been analyzed in Michele Louro’s Comrades against Imperialism: Nehru, India, and Interwar Internationalism (2020).

It was in Bruxelles that Messali Hadj held the below address, speaking ex catedra as his notes had disappeared. The LAI was soon paralyzed by discord between communists and activists for whom allying with communists was a means to an anticolonial end; in 1936, it dissolved. Even so, it was the first truly international attempt to combat imperialism, as shown by the edited volume The League against Imperialism: Lives and Afterlives (2020). As for the ENA, it in 1928 cut its ties with the PCF, being too independent-minded and -organized and vexed that the PCF, following the Comintern line, was moving away from ENA’s ideas about self-determination. In 1929, the French government outlawed ENA. In the 1930s Messali Hadj became closer inter alia to Shakib Arslan, translated excerpts of whose work Why Muslims Lagged Behind and Others Progressed is included in this collection. Even so, in 1936 to early 1937 a rebranded ENA shortly joined the leftist French Front Populaire, but then again was closed down. Messali Hadj reacted by establishing the clandestine Parti du Peuple Algérien (PPA), which—a shift—demanded absolute Algerian autonomy within the French Republic.

Condemned by the Vichy government to hard labor in 1941, Messali Hadj returned to Algeria in 1945. He continued to play a leading political role, founding in 1946 a PPA successor, the Mouvement pour la triomphe des libertés démocratiques. But from 1954, his star declined. By 1957, the Front de Libération Nationale, the new organization that in November 1954 started the War of Independence, ravaged the Mouvement National Algérien that Messali Hadj had founded that month, too. Politically neutralized, he stayed in France. He was allowed to return to Algeria only after his death, in 1974, for burial in his hometown of Tlemcen.

May 18, 1925

J.V. Stalin, 'The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the Far East: Speech Delivered at a Meeting of Students of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, May 18, 1925'

After World War I, several communist movements tried to replicate the Bolsheviks’ take-over of Russia in European countries, most importantly and most often in Germany. All failed. As a result, the Soviet leadership and communists worldwide from around 1920 focused more energies on colonized countries, especially in Asia. As most of these seemed to lack the economic and sociopolitical conditions necessary for a communist revolution, the aim was to weaken if not overthrow European imperial rule, serving the interests of both the USSR and the local petit bourgeoisie, peasants, and few industrial workers. The perhaps greatest price was China. Moreover, India was seen to be (exceptionally) ripe for direct communist action.

Communists and some anti-colonial nationalists were also active in and across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, often sharing resources while being networked with the Communist International. Abbreviated as the Comintern (also the Third International), the latter was thekey international communist organization: founded in 1919 in Moscow, headquartered there, and employing through its dissolution in 1943 thousands of professional cadres from around the world, principally from Europe and Asia, as Brigitte Studer’s Reisende der Weltrevolution: Eine Globalgeschichte der Kommunistischen Internationale (2020) shows. Also in the Soviet Union, the year 1920 saw the landmark Congress of the Peoples of the East, in Baku. And in 1921, the Communist University for Laborers of the East (Kommunistichyeskii univyersityet trudyaschikhsya Vostoka, KUTV) opened its doors in Moscow. It became the first full-fledged Soviet training center for Soviet Muslims and for foreign communist cadres, principally from Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, and it impacted Soviet views of the East, as Lana Ravandi-Fadai and Masha Kirasirova have shown in “Red Mecca” (2015) and “The ‘East’ as a Category of Bolshevik Ideology and Comintern Administration” (2017), respectively. The text here is the English translation, published in 1954 in the collection J. V. Stalin: Works: Volume 7, of a Russian text published in 1925 in the principal Soviet newspaper, Pravda, rendering a speech that the 1924-1953 Chairman of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) held to KUTV’s students in 1925.

January 24, 1967

Conversation between Hysni Kapo and Kang Sheng in Beijing on 24 January 1967, at 10:00 am

Hysni Kapo and Kang Sheng discuss the Cultural Revolution, the Red Guard movement, and purges inside the Chinese Communist Party.

Pagination