The Sykes-Picot Address

May 15 - Four-score and seven years ago today, Mark Sykes and Georges Picot carved apart on the Asian continent an old empire: conceived in secrecy, and dedicated to the proposition that Britain and France should score a piece of the action.

Now we are engaged in a great global war, testing whether that area, or any area so conceived and so dedicated, can overcome its troubled past and learn to prosper. We have seen the great battlefields of that war on television.

I have come to dedicate this page as a final condemnation of those shortsighted twits who carved up the Ottoman Empire in such a way as to guarantee a century of war and horror. It is altogether fitting and proper that I should do this.

But, in a larger sense, I cannot dedicate—I cannot consecrate—I cannot hallow—this page. The bumbling idiots, both dead, who wrangled that agreement have consecrated it, far above my poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what I say here, but it can never forget what those jackalopes did on May 15, 1916.

It is for we the morons, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work of perpetuating the names of Sykes and Picot in infamy. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before all of us—that from these damn fool dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave no a single measure of foresight—that we here highly resolve that those fools shall not escape blame-free—that the blight they bore, an abhorrence under God, shall live in infamy forever—and that the peoples of the lands of the former Ottoman empire shall enjoy governments of the people, by the people, and for the people, and that Imperial cartography shall perish from this earth.

And may we never have to clean up their mess again.

* * *

It was on this date in 1916, if you haven't already figured that out, that Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Georges Picot of France, with Russia's assent, confirmed their agreement to carve up the tottering Ottoman Empire between them.

America wasn't in on the deal.

* * *

Emmitt Smith turns 34 today, and shares his birthday with Eddy Arnold (1918), James Mason (1909), and Joseph Cotton (1905). That's as good excuse as any to rent a copy of The Third Man.

This is your last shopping day before International Pickle Day!

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

[close window]
[Daily Briefing Archive]