Saturday, September 30, 2017

Reader Survey

It looks like my blog has gotten a few readers in the last few weeks. I am not sure if it is actually reviving or not. But, it appears I may again be up to a half a dozen readers. So maybe it is time to do another reader survey. I haven't done one since I was in Ghana, a country I left well over a year ago. So if you ever read this blog leave a comment about what you would like me to write more about.

An extended answer to Rex Gildo on Ethnic Germans in the Red Army

This is a fuller answer to Rex Gildo regarding ethnic Germans from the Volga and other regions of the USSR in the Red Army at the start of the World War II than I gave in the comments. First, of course during the first months after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Soviet citizens of German heritage fought bravely in the Red Army. They were particularly prominent in the defense of Brest on 22-29 June 1941.German soldiers in the Red Army included not only Volga Germans, but ethnic Germans from as far away as Kyrgyzstan. The Soviet government began to remove them from the ranks in July and ordered all of them removed on 8 September 1941. The Stalin regime then conscripted them into the labor army and sent them to places like Bogoslavlag. In total about 30,000 ethnic Germans fought in the Red Army between 21 June and 8 September 1941 before being expelled from the ranks and sent to labor camps as members of the labor army. I go into considerably more detail about the labor army including the mobilization of German Red Army soldiers for forced labor here.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Life in Post-Referendum Kurdistan

I have been busy with work. I have four classes to teach on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays along with office hours on those days. This last week I had meetings as well on Tuesday and Thursday. Which meant I worked ten to eleven hour days from 7:00 am to evening. On Wednesday, however, I just had a short meeting with an honors student. So I slept in late,went to the bank, and then to the bazaar where I got some books. I also finished revising the first set of proofs of a journal article that day. So I can get a lot done if I don't have to teach any classes. That is a huge argument in favor of course release. Life on the ground here in Kurdistan isn't any different for me now than it was before the referendum.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Happenings in Kurdistan (Independence Referendum)

Yesterday was the independence referendum here. The day was rather uneventful in Sulaimani. Although I am worried that prices will go up if the Iranians and Turks close the borders and stop the export of goods to Kurdistan for any length of time. In particular I am wary about the cost of food increasing dramatically as a result of shortages created due to the borders being closed. But, so far there hasn't been any run on food stocks at the local stores yet.

The Persecution of Ethnic Germans in the USSR during World War II

I have now put up a pre-publication version of my article, "The Persecution of Ethnic Germans in the USSR during World War II" on my site. The article was published in The Russian Review, vol. 75, issue 2 (April 2016), pp. 284-303.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Three Days and Counting

The big news here is the independence referendum scheduled for Monday, three days from now. My prediction is that the referendum votes overwhelmingly for independence. What happens after that is anybody's guess. But, I am not worried.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Miracle ;-)

This blog almost never gets any comments because almost nobody ever reads it. But, my post on the Bruce Gilley article in Third World Quarterly got five comments. Of course this wasn't an accident. I deliberately manipulated the result by posting the link to my post at a half a dozen far more popular and more influential blogs. I am sure nobody found it any other way. Also I am positive that with one exception that none of the people that commented or read that post will comment or read any future posts by me on this blog. But, the experiment does show that there isn't yet a total boycott by North American based academics on reading anything I write. That is a step up from my initial hypothesis.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Over half way done with the work week

This week I gave three tests and submitted two journal articles. Last week I only submitted one journal article. This semester I have fewer 102 classes, two instead of three, but I have more students overall. I have a total of 117 students in my four classes. Tomorrow I don't have to teach any classes. However, I fear that most of the day will be used up marking exams instead of writing.

Friday, September 15, 2017

First Thoughts on the Bruce Gilley Controversy

I will probably write something more substantial on my blog about Bruce Gilley's recent article, "The Case for Colonialism" published in Third World Quarterly. But, just a few preliminary thoughts. First, it appears that the editors published it despite the fact that three peer review reports recommended against publication. Second, while a case could be made for reevaluating colonialism he doesn't make it. His examples of places he claims were better under European rule are just about the worst ones possible. He uses Guinea-Bissau which he claims was worse after independence than under the Portuguese and blames it on Amilcar Cabral the leader of the independence movement. Except, Cabral was murdered before Guinea-Bissau achieved independence. So it is hard to see how any failures of the independent state are his fault. Another example he uses is Belgian Congo. Now, most of Congo's time as a modern independent state was under the horrible misrule of Mobutu installed in 1965 with the help of the former colonial rulers and US. But, as bad as he was it is hard to consider it worse than Belgian rule over the Congo where excess premature deaths due to forced labor and other forms of colonial oppression ran into the millions. Another example he uses is Kenya where he explicitly praised the British crushing of the Mau Mau (not Mau as he states in the article) uprising in the 1950s. The suppression of this revolt involved the mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands of not just rebels but Kikuyu civilians in concentration camps. Another million plus were confined to enclosed villages. Arbitrary killings and torture of detainees was routine and qualitatively didn't differ from some of the worst abuses in Nazi and Stalinist camps. Again, independent Kenya hasn't had a perfect human rights record. But, it never put hundreds of thousands of people in concentration camps like the British did not long after they had helped hang former German officials for the exact same crimes against Europeans following the defeat of the Nazis. Finally, this isn't a left vs. right debate. It is hard to classify the Mau Mau for instance as any type of leftist movement. Rather, any evaluation of colonialism including the brutal Soviet version in places like Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia needs to come to terms with the actual history of colonial rule.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Update for the week

I have been busy with teaching four classes and using my two free days to take care of administrative work and get some real writing done. Last night there was a faculty get together at Pine House for appetizers. The night before that there was a presentation on US, Turkish, and Iraqi policy towards the upcoming independence referendum here in Kurdistan. The upshot was that nobody other than the Kurds and I guess now the Israelis supports Kurdish independence. I don't think this should matter really. If the Kurds really want an independent state then they should just declare it and start building it regardless of what the US, Russia, Turkey, Iran or anybody else says.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

First Day of Classes Fall 2017

Today I had my first day of classes. In the morning I have two 100 level classes and in the afternoon I have two 300 level classes. So I have four hours of lecturing in total between 8 am and 3:15 pm on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Interestingly enough a number of students have me for both my back to back 300 level classes. I am not sure as an undergrad that I would have wanted two classes by the same professor in the same semester yet alone having them one right after the other.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

The Mountain

Yesterday after I got back from the bazaar I got a call from a friend to come meet him at a cafe. Once there he asked me if I wanted to go up to see the mountain.  I said, yes. So another guy came and picked us up and drove us to the top of the mountains surrounding the city. There is an open air eatery there where they grill fresh food for you. I had the fish. From the mountain top you can see the whole city of Sulaimani lit up.

Friday, September 08, 2017

This morning's walk

This morning I walked to the bazaar. It took me about 80 minutes. By the time I got to City Star I was pretty thirsty and purchased two liters of water, half of which I drank immediately. At the park in front of the gate to the bazaar I had some tea, some spicy Nepalese noodles, and read about the Kurdish armed struggle against the Baath regime during the 1970s and 1980s. Then I walked to the center of the bazaar and had some more tea. Finally, I walked back to the gate and took a cab home.

Thursday, September 07, 2017


Today I got up early and took the first bus to work at 7 am. Then I wrote 680 words for an article due in mid-November. From 9am to noon  I sat through my first meeting of the semester. I thought I was going to have two meetings today. But, the second one got canceled to be rescheduled later. So I left campus and walked to the mall at about 3pm to try the new fried fish sandwich at B to B. It was really good, especially after I squeezed a whole lemon over the fish.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Getting back in the groove

Yesterday, I went back to the office and started working again. Today, I finished everything I need to get done before Saturday, most notably the creation and revision of this semester's syllabi. So the work front is proceeding forward.

After I decided to stop working yesterday afternoon and started walking home I got a call from a friend to meet him at a cafe near the bazaar. The highlight of the meeting was dinner at an eatery specializing in grilled chicken. The chicken was very moist, tender, and flavorful. It was served with delicious crimson tomatoes.

Monday, September 04, 2017

B to B

Today I walked down to Majidi Mall to the new B to B where some of my friends now work. They used to work at the old B to B at City Center. The new B to B is a lot nicer looking inside than the old one.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Back in Suli

This morning I arrived back in Suli safely. It isn't as hot as I expected it to be. The electricity and wifi are working in my flat. I also managed to for I think the first time ever successfully change the chip in my phone.