Friday, December 24, 2004

Dammit, can't US companies make anything right? Just 'upgraded' my template for correct viewing with Internet Exploder 6.0, but Blogger seems to bear partial responsibility for irregularities. My apologies to those who had to, or from now on have to, or with other browsers still have to endure the sight of strange edges and colors.

My Quote For The Year

I once was a certain type of nice American liberal. Perhaps you yourself have encountered this type. It is the type that reads the New York Times, often listens to NPR, and enthusiastically voted for Bill Clinton. The type has good intentions. The type wants the best for all. But the type has the unmatched ability to miss the WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF EVERYTHING.

If this type had a giraffe living in its kitchen, it would not see it. Instead, the type would sit there, carefully reading the day's New York Times story about awful people in third world countries with giraffes living in their kitchens. What's wrong with these people? the type would think. How can they allow giraffes to live in their kitchens? From time to time the type would wonder why their house smells so musky lately, and why all the food on high shelves mysteriously disappears.

Jonathan of Tiny Revolution posting on Under The Same Sun

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Extermination Camp

What do you call a place where you close in people with certain characteristics, and then send in soldiers with orders to shoot all people with these same characteristics?

"The US-backed government put rebel losses at more than 2,000, although unit commanders later revealed their troops had orders to shoot all males of fighting age seen on the streets, armed or unarmed, and ruined homes across the city attest to a strategy of overwhelming force."

"The military says keeping men aged 15 to 55 from leaving is key to the mission's success."

The extermination camp described above is Fallujah.

The first-quoted paragraph from an AFP article was discovered by Eli @ Left I.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


I know I should at long last finish my take on the nation state in reaction to Lenin's great post, but now I am in the contrarian mood, Britain-focused and want to be short.

It is said the same number in every databank gives total control of your data to the government.

I don't think so. If the government (or some other evil force) wants to control all your data, what it needs is access to all databases. Whether it is your name, address, or ID number the databases will be scanned for to find your data is in this issue irrelevant.

As someone who lived with an ID card all his life, I could even argue for some advantages, but won't here - none of the purported reasons to introduce it are among them. Instead, I sound my suspicion that the Bliar government more wants the ID card as another shiny happy media-present nothing-of-significance NuLab potemkin-crap that won't achieve anything but may also hide some really important nasty steps off the media limelight; in this instance, they want to demonstrate that they are getting tough on crime/immigrants (crime=immigrants), while they make some (more) moves to permit themselves to look into all kinds of databases unhindered. Moreover, with police state advocates all around the EU recently voting for the inclusion of fingerprints on ID cards (as if those couldn't be faked just like photos) there is some true ID card idiocy around to fight.

I think overall the No2ID campaign is (was?) a good thing, but the fact that 67% of Britons support the emerging police state is even more depressing considering the focus on NuLab-hyped-up superficialities by the opposition.

Depressing Polls

Britain: just resigned police state advocate Interior Minister David Blunkett got 67% job satisfaction and 61% would approve a comeback.

USA: While headlines say "majority now against the war", the answer depends on the question asked - the truth is in the fourth question of the 16-19 December ABC News/Washington Post poll, an unchanged 58% behind staying the course.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Now For Something Completely Different

Earlier this month I got a double CD with late 19th/early 20th century classical music. I have an eclectic enough taste for my playlists to reach from the Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead, Enya, Morricone to Dvorak and Beethoven, but felt like a barbarian - so much goodies I never heard of. Who heard of Joaquin Rodrigo?

And my leftist British readers may shoot me for this, but I can't get some tunes of a certain Sir Edward Elgar out of my head...

Popular Revolutions With Meddlers

An article by Apostate Windbag, quoted and extended by Dead Men Left, offer a view of popular revolutions with Western meddlers I can only agree with.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Lancet Report Reinforced

The only serious critique (by serious I mean scientific, not idiocies by statistical analphabets like Fred Kaplan) of the 'Lancet Report', a medical research published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet that concluded there were more than 100,000 excess deaths after the US-UK(-Australia-Poland) attack on Iraq, was that the pre-war infant mortality rate they got was too low in comparison with previous estimates.

Warfloggers or the Kaplans of this world seized this - "If the pre-war figure was WRONG, so was the difference, there was NO INCREASE, my war is still clean!", they celebrated. However, their argument was a classic non sequitur born of ignorance: for, a figure too low woulkd imply an undersampling of the then worst humanitarian conditions in Iraq, while the measured turn for the worse in the less bad areas is real.

On the other hand, apparently, the previous pre-war data can be doubted, too - I found the following two sentences in an article on the 1997 Iraq census EuroGaullist quoted (see previous post):

The new data on child mortality, of great interest to those who argued that United Nations sanctions were leaving Iraqi children underfed and without access to basic pharmaceuticals, are still being analyzed.

But, Mr. McDevitt said, "on a preliminary basis it looks like the child mortality may not have been quite as high during the mid- to late 1990's as has been thought on the limited information we've had from other sources."

...and thus two warflogger arguments collide again...

Composition Of Iraq Challenge 2.0

I earlier posed the challenge of producing a source for Juan Cole's claim: "Sunni Arabs .. in Iraq .. are 20% at most". The unstated reason I had strong suspicions Mr. Cole is talking hot air this time was: I knew Censuses in Iraq were conducted without a question on religion (nor was a normal sociological sampling possible during Saddam or the Occupation).

In the Comments, EuroGaullist confirmed this by digging up the story of, and data from, the latest Iraqi census: the one of 1997, kept under wraps by Saddam, but parts not looted or burnt handed over to the UN on 8 August 2003 by the American government. After a little digging around, I found regional maps based on this census - which allow me a very rough guess, based on the generally reported regional distribution. With the approximations that

  1. the Sunni Arabs South of Baghdad and along the Saudi border can be matched up with Shi'a Arabs to the North;
  2. the Sunni (and Shi'a) Arabs in Kirkuk can be matched up with Kurds to the South;
  3. Niniveh province (included Mossul) is at least 20% Sunni Arab and 30% Kurd;
  4. Baghdad is half Shi'a Arab;

I get: out of then 22.1 million, 48% is Shi'a Arab, 28% is Sunni Arab, 19% is Kurd, 5% rest. (Note: data is missing in two 100% Kurdish and one 100% Sunni districts.)

So, again: I dare you to find a source implying numbers anything like Juan Cole claims!

Reinforced Proof Of Vote Rigging

Josh Narins is following the story of Clint Curtis, who delivered a sworn affidavit about having written a vote-rigging software for the Republicans - with a professionals' eye. He writes the code now completely available to him seems to do the trick, and he will test it. On the other hand, reporter Madsen was imprecise, Curtis wrote the program as demo - if there was a derived custom version, someone else developed it (further).

Collapsing Empires Addledum

[Small addition at bottom]

It is a well-known fact (but one lost on US neocons) that every empire in history collapsed. However, there is a special case: an empire collapsing and re-emerging again and again.


History is full of tyranns who set out to conquer all countries of the known world, promising to fight the war to end all wars. China owes its speciality to the fact that there was one (the only one) of these bloody megalomaniacs who succeeded: Qin Shi Huang-di.

Plus, the age in which he was born (and which he ended). In the Warring States Period (~475-221 BC), China consisted of a number of kingdoms coalescing into seven major states, which in more than one way remind me of 18th-20th-century Europe. One, they were nation states: Qin Shi Huang-di was later quite conscious about eradicating national feelings by ordering the destruction of historical records - and sometimes by slaughtering the population of a sacked capital to the last child. They were also highly centralised and urbanised, major cities numbered in the hundreds of thousands. There was constant war with shifting alliances, as weaker allies never hesitated to suddenly side with a prior enemy to prevent their stronger partner from gaining hegemony.

What resembles the modern European nation states most was the formation of conscript armies, of course - but bloodthirstyness sometimes exceeded that of the Nazis. The Warring States stand out in the history of non-nomadic people for their extreme level of mobilisation: while the total population of the seven was roughly equal to that of the Persia Alexander conquered, each of the seven had larger armies. In-the-end-victorious Qin had 1 million under military duty out of a total population of 6 million before the final push. In the worst recorded slaughter in 260 BC, Wei kingdom's entire army of 400,000 was obliterated: Qin first won a battle against the invaders, then its king ordered the execution of all surrendered Wei troops.[*]

By 256 BC, Qin controlled some 40% of the territory. Ten years later a king named Zheng ascended to the throne in Qin, made preparations, and in nine years (BC 230-221) conquered everything else - and took up the name Qin Shi Huang-di. He also pushed back the Huns, sent 300,000 to reconstruct prior border walls of the kingdoms into the first Great Wall, another 500,000 on a Southern campaign into barbarian country that first made Canton Chinese, and yet another 700,000 to build the largest (by area and work spent) mausoleum ever built (of which the Terracotta Warriors were part of).

Thus the imperial idea was born, which inspired rulers ever since to re-create a unified China after half a dozen disintegrations, and insire even today's 'communist' rulers to dismiss the rest of the world and think Western dominance is only temporary until China regains its rightful place in the world. For, it is true that the successive imperiums at their height had nothing to match them in the West. This is pretty obvious from the two nomadic imperiums that got in contact with both China and Europe.

Tough the Hun Empire was a match for the early Han Empire (206 BC-AD 25), the later remains weren't - even in the time China splintered into up to 16 states, which is the time one group of Huns was pushed towards Europe. But no Germanic or Roman army could stand in their way (not even at Catalaun, see previous post) until internal conflict made them vulnerable.

Ghenghis Khan prepared all his life against China - then again split in two -, but died before a decisive victory (AD 1227). But his Mongol armies could destroy (and exterminate) Central Asian empires without difficulty, and smaller armies of his successors were unstoppable in laying waste to Europe and the Baghdad Caliphate. It took a number of campaigns over three decades (1211-1234) to conquer the weaker Northern part - while the conquest of the Southern Sung Empire didn't happen until an extremely costy[+] 12-year campaign (AD 1267-1279) by Kubilai Khan.

Now, all this is impressive, but in what way impressive? Do Chinese nationalists justify Nazi (and Stalinist) apologists?

It is one thing the Empire maintains itself, but what about the people - is being imperial subjects better for them? I don't think Chinese history shows that. The crushed rebellions, the civil wars, the periodic re-conquests meant no less bloodshed to them, had they lived and died in smaller states battling each other. Qin Shi Huang-di's empire itself collapsed just three years after his death (210 BC). Two years of civil war was followed by the below described confrontation with the new Hun Empire.

[*] Had Alexander's 30-50,000 men reached China, he would have reached the Westernmost, Qin - I suspect Western history books would be filled with legends of his mysterious disappearance...

[+] Especially in human lifes: by some estimates 18 million Chinese alone.

Early Christianity Addledum

Moving away from the bloodsheds to more interesting stuff, in this section I'll build three rarely known issues upon each other.

Besides Arianism and Athanasianism, there were a lot of lesser streams in early Christianity, for example various Gnostics. They also had a lot of competing holy writings. The Bible today has four gospels, but there were actually dozens of other gospels, and even more lesser texts. The decisions of which one to include in a canon were as much political as of limited scholarly wisdom (no scientific text analysis existed at the time) - but gospels not canonised were ordered to be burnt.

Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code", while lightyears from Umberto Eco's "The Name Of The Rose" in both its literary quality and depth of research, is a great book for popularising some issues known to scholars (and interested amateurs), but issues which major Churches would rather have not enter popular knowledge. Like, that there is quite some evidence of early Christians believing Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife and chosen successor.

In fact there was a Gospel of Mary Magdalene, part of which was found in a Coptic monastery. In this Taoist/Buddhist-sounding wiriting, you find passages like:

5:5 Peter said to Mary, Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of woman.
5:6 Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them...

9:4 He [Peter] questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?
9:5 Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?
9:6 Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.
9:7 Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.
9:8 But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.
9:9 That is why He loved her more than us...

As for other apocrypha: Mary Magdalene takes center stage among disciples in Pistis Sophia (the conflict with Peter features in Chapters 36 and 72). And look at this in the Gospel of Philip:

36. There were three Mariams who walked with the Lord at all times: his mother and [his] sister and (the) Magdalene — this one who is called his mate...

59. ...And the companion of the [...] Mary Magdalene. [...] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples [...]. They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?"

Now these were Apocripha. But here comes the second cliffhanger - Mary Magdalene's special position has clues even in the Bible, in the Gospel of John (NIV version):

19:25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
19:26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby...

We saw the same formulation in the above Apocripha used for Mary Magdalene, but this "disciple whom Jesus loved" mysteriously appears unnamed a dozen times in John - yet, one can guess his/her identity from the above. (A more thorough argumentation by a Dutch scholar can be found here.)

Now on to the third and last topic. Another less well known fact is that all the central elements of the New Testament story of Jesus can be found in dozens of other cults, most of them ignored because they died out long ago. One can make the argument that it was, say, Paul who edited together mythical elements from various Greek, Mesopotamian and Jewish myths, while Jesus never existed or was nothing like in the Gospels.

However, this Peter-Magdalene conflict (also mentioned in the most important rejected writing, the Gospel of Thomas) and the stamped-out Magdalenian tradition seems just too strange to me in a holy book. It seems to be the genuine reflection of some real events - tough, admittedly, it could be later conflicts retroactively written into scripture as parables, something done by both sides.

Athanasian Exclusivists Failed, Arianism Still Lives!

"Beg your pardon!?" - you ask?

You may not have heard the word, but the teachings of all the major traditional Christian churches are Athanasian. While the actual beliefs of many of their followers are innately Arian. So what are these? To understand, you first have to throw out the schoolbook version of the history of Christianity - i.e. that dogmatic purity was achieved at the Council of Nicea (Nicean Creed), which already set the winner, and that thereafter there were only ocassional usurpers ('heretics').

Christianity was legalised in the Roman Empire in AD 313, by Emperor Constantine's Edict Of Milan. Soon after, the dogmatic disputes that already went on before errupted. The two largest fractions collided head-on in Alexandria: the view that Jesus is God was championed by bishop Alexander, while the view that Jesus was separate, a special man was represented by Arius (whom Alexander defeated in the bishop election). In AD 318, Alexander succeeded in banishing Arius.

When the Emperor got enough of disputes and called the Council of Nicea to work out a united Creed, Arian of course couldn't come but was represented by Eusebius of Nicomedia. Alexander sent his trusted secretary and later successor, Athanasius - who got his party a victory, and Eusebius too was banished. Schoolbook history ends here. In the real world, the banished could return two years later, and Arians gradually became the dominant party: in 335, it was Athanasius's turn to be banished, and Constantine The Great was baptised on his deathbed (AD 337) by Arians. Most of his immediate followers, too, were Arians, and persecuted pagans and other Christian sects in Arianism's name!

The turn of luck came with the duo Gratian (Western Roman Emperor 375-383) & Theodosius (Eastern, later all Roman Emperor 378-395). Tough neither can be said to have lived an exemplary Christian life (one could argue that maybe they just appeased the real fanatics, to have a relatively pliant background while they battled Goths, Alemanns and separatists), Gratian fell under the influence of Ambrosius, Athanasian bishop of Milan - and so did Theodosius, a fanatic whom they picked as Eastern Emperor in the first place. A year after the joint declaration of Christianity as the sole religion of all their subjects, the two Emperors called the (First) Council Of Constantinople. There, Arianism was banned, and with the addition of the Holy Spirit to Alexander's Father-Son, the Holy Trinity dogma was created. (BTW, there was also debate on which books are canonical and which apocryphal - but canonical haggling didn't end here.)

End of the story? Far from it. For the German tribes that carved up the Western Roman Empire were mostly Arian Christians at this time! Meanwhile, the Eastern Roman Empire recovered somewhat in almost a century of relatively tolerant times.

Three rulers played a central role in building Athanasian hegemony again. I first mention Byzantine Emperor Justinian (ruled AD 527-565). He was kind of a second coming of Theodosius: he took upon himself to root out the rest of hellenism, paganism and 'heresy' (and this time there was strong focus on Jews too), at the same time reconquered large parts of the onetime Western Roman Empire - emptying the treasury and causing famine in the process. (Procopius, an official historian, privately wrote "Secret History", a book released only after Justinian's death, in which he described the Emperor as the worst-ever ruler on Earth.) After Justitian's death, the newly conquered territories were lost, the Empire almost disappeared.

The center of Western Christianity was finally Athanasianised half a century later. Theodelina, the Bavarian widow of Lombardian king (AD 584-590) Autharia, turned into a strong woman - she ruled for a year, then took a husband and made him - a weak - king (Agilulf, AD 591-616), and after his death ruled again for a decade as regent for her son. She used this time to root out Arianism and lesser sects, pagans.

Finally: there was a German tribe which tough wasn't central at this time, had the potential to change the situation again - when they later conquered much of Western Europe - but Clovis, king of the Franks, let himself be baptised by Athanasian Christians already in AD 496.

However, after the Church failed to put down Protestants like previous 'heretics', and the ascent of Enlightement, religious freedom returned - and with it, Arianism-like interpretations of Christianity re-appeared. In fact, I would say Arianism is now the unofficial dominant religion in Europe (commanding similar numbers as non-believers who include me).

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Why Did The Roman Empire Collapse?

The date of the fall of the (Western) Roman Empire is commonly put at AD 476, and it is usually explained with breaking under massive barbarian invasions.

However, in 476, Rome was no more an empire: at the time it controlled only Italy (barely), and there was only symbolic change: this was the first coup (by German mercenary Odoaker) whose leader no more took up the title of Roman Emperor. The fall of the empire was more of a 40-year process of almost unhindered German conquest: First, the Visigoths attacked the Eastern Roman capital Constantinople in AD 395, after which they roamed all across the Balkans, then Italy, sacked Rome in AD 410, went on to Gaul and Hispania. After two decades they finally settled in Southwestern France AD 418. Second, from 406, a Western German tribal coalition conquered Southern Gaul and all of Hispania. In AD 429, the most powerful tribe, the Vandals (who gave their name to Andalusia) crossed over the Gibraltar Strait, and ten years later, they conquered North Africa until Carthage. Third, the Franks slowly expanded from the North. The Romans had some attempts at reconquest, with little success. (When armies numbering hundreds of thousands met on the Fields of Catalaun in AD 451, both the ''Roman" and "Hun" side was dominated by Germanic allies/vassals.)

But the Roman Empire previously withstood German invasions, even stronger ones. The first was the Teuton-Cimbri invasion 113-101 BC (see previous post). Then the Romans battered German tribes from 19 BC to AD 92 with little success. Small border conflicts flared up into major wars every few decades from 166. From after AD 248, there was practically continuous war, fizzling down temporarily only in the latter years of Constantine the Great. And the worst year was not 410 - it was 268 (or 269 by some calculations).

In AD 268, first, the Ostrogoth Empire (roughly today's Ukraine) with its vassals attempted a grand invasion of the Roman Empire (an event on the scale of Attila's invasions, but almost forgotten). With 320,000 men in multiple armies and navies, they ravaged the Aegean Sea and all of the Balkans. But when the main force met the imperial Roman army at Naissus (today Nis/Serbia), it was crushed. However, and second, the remaining force of 35,000 had to rush into Italy: the 100,000-strong Alemann army descended from the Alps. They were routed at Lake Garda. Third, even before, the Franks conducted a raid all the way down to Hispania - and, fourth, the Roman provincial governor finally defeating them declared a separate Gallic Empire (re-incorporated by AD 274). Fifth, at this time, the Queen of Palmyra had another separatist empire in the Asian provinces and Egypt (AD 260-272). Sixth, beyond Palmyra, the Neo-Persian Sassanide Empire was eyeing events. Seventh, all this was in a time of internal instability, when short-lived soldier Emperors replaced or battled each other in rapid-fire coups. Eighth, a major epidemic was sweeping through the Emire at this time...

So was Rome critically weakened by AD 400? You can get some hints in the South Hungarian city of Pécs, which was built upon the cementery of the Roman city Sopianae (province Pannonia). Many of the tombs and burials were excavated (now protected under UNESCO). Those from the late 4th century show an early Christian culture very different from today. Tombs had painted-wall mausoleums above them, in which family members dined every day. Apocalypse was expected any time. But even more striking is the evidence in skeletons: small and fragile; according to detailed examinations, these people not only suffered from famine, but ill-designed vegetarian diet, too - most likely excessive fasting.

So let's go back one century. Emperor Constantine The Great legalised Christianity in the Edict Of Milan (Ad 313). Tough he did not made Christianity exclusive official religion, and himself was baptised only on his deathbed - and that by a different sect than the one winning at the Council of Nicea a decade earlier (Nicean Creed) -, he already gave bishops the right to overrule judicial decisions, and confiscated the property of some 'pagan' temples. During his successors, the persecution of non-Christians and inter-Christian conflicts worsened, partly ordered by imperial edicts. This Christian jihad, and here emerges the theme I want to throw light at, gradually also turned against secular Hellenic culture - philosophers, libraries, architects.

Though their laws weren't unprecedented, their success in putting edicts into practice - and the definite return to the Nicean Creed - make Western Roman Emperor Gratian (ruled AD 375-383) and Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius I (ruled 378-395, in the last years in the West too) stand out. (Tough, the real man behind both's religious policies was Ambrosius, bishop of Milan.) In AD 380, the Emperors declared (Catholic) Christianity the sole religion of all their subjects, and began to outlaw and root out everything else. (Quite literally, for example Theodosius once ordered 7000 Thessaloniki citizens killed for protesting the arrest of a popular horseracer, for homosexuality - that was too much even for Ambrosius.) The edicts banned worship, statues, books, the Olympics; there were imperial campaigns to destroy all these, death camps for hellenists, destruction of public baths, and so on. (But curiously enough, brothels and gladiator games weren't yet outlawed.) This reached its height in "response" to the plague of AD 390. The result was a terrorised and apocalyptic society, lost industrial knowledge, and a ruined economy.

Thus killed the Roman Empire its own ability to resist.

Conquerors Born On The Edge Of Annihilation

[Part on Teutons revised 30/01/2005]

This is the first article in the history series I threatened you with. Behold, you may skipeth them, but you who ignoreth history, thou art bound to repeat it! Lo', the Dark Ages cometh down upon thou!!!

...sorry, now that the manic net preacher solidified his credentials as prophet of doom, back to the regular broadcast. As illustration to the strange turn of fates mentioned in the title, four examples, walking back in time:

In the early second millennium AD, the Baltic people - living on the Eastern and Southern shores of the Baltic Sea - were still pagans, surrounded by Christians on every side. The Easternmost (in what is now Northeastern Germany) even existed as a kingdom prosperous due to trade, with its capital, the Atlantis of the Baltic, Vineta [link in German] - which was destroyed by a Danish king around 1160 AD. Now, at the same time successive Popes sent Crusaders to Palestine, they also set out to 'convert' the remaining Baltic pagans. This was another bloody chapter in the deadly history of the spreading of Christianity - the main Crusader force was the Teutonic Knights, tough crusading armies came from as far as Hungary.

In the middle of the 13th century, a number of tribes formed a defensive alliance against the Teutonic Knights - the new kingdom Lithuania was born. Which soon after began to expand, and conquered today's Belarus, Central and (in part) Western Ukraine, and neighbouring areas in just a century. In the meantime, the king balked on the religion issue and converted to Catholicism, while most of his subjects were Orthodox - the situation became even more complex when Lithuania united with Poland as dual kingdom.

The greatest (and bloodiest) conquerors of all time arose a few decades before the Lithuanians: the Mongols. The area North of China was kind of a hell on Earth: between regular Chinese attacks that can be best described as extermination campaigns, the nomadic tribes did the same to each other, especially in times of famine. Temujen (born c. 1167), the future Ghenghis Khan, was named for a Tatar chief his tribe (led by his father) catched in a raid. But the Tatar tribe took revenge, poisoning his father and dispersing the tribe. So young Temujen hang out with other tribes, and developed the idea to unite them all - to form a force that could measure up with China, too. In which he succeeded, already with much blood - f.e. killing all adult or adolescent males in the Tatar tribe that almost drove to extinction his own, after he beat them in 1202. (BTW, his palace was unearthed recently.)

Some of the tribes united as Mongols were descendants of the Huns (Xiongnu). Now that people had a varied history - one largely unknown to most Westerners, as the common reference to their Far East endeavours is that the first Chinese Great Wall was built against them. In the 3rd Century BC, Huns came on the verge of annihilation: pressed on by Qin principality/newly unified China from the South, the Tungusic Donghu people [ancestors to the Manchurians] from the East, and the possible Indo-European Yuezhi from the West. But in 209 BC, Modu/Modok, a prince kept as hostage, escaped the Yuezhi, was elected leader, and immediately started the backlash in all directions.

In 200 BC, the first Han Dynasty Emperor Liu Bang set out with the 300,000-strong imperial Chinese main army to avenge a prince's defeat the previous year - but Modu surrounded it at Mount Baidong (South of Datong) with 400,000 men. After a 7-day battle, peace was agreed, but one can guess the real winner from the fact that henceforth Chinese emperors had to send a sister or daughter as wife to the Hun Chenyu (emperor). But battles broke out periodically anyway (and yes, the Great Wall proved to have little practical value). After a century, the great Hun Empire declined. The Chinese messed heavily in the first civil war (~60-35 BC), which pushed a first group (Zhizhi's Huns: later the Kirghiz[*]) Westward, with the rest now under Chinese influence. In AD 48, the latter split into Northern and Southern branches, of which the latter finally became Chinese subjects. In AD 89, a Chinese army smashed the Northern Huns and split them in two, and hunted those who fled West further in AD 91. Those remaining in the North were exterminated in another campaign AD 125-127.

But both the Southern and Western branches rose again. From AD 304, the former even took over a Northern part of the then splintered Chinese Empire (Hunnic Han/Zhao Dynasty). The Western Huns built a country not well known. But they came on the verge of annihilation again: when a branch of the Donghu, the Toba, conquered most of Northern China later in the fourth century AD, they hunted away the Ruruans[*] - who smashed the Western Huns.

After fleeing Huns, probably heavily mixed up with other nomads on the run, crossed today's Kazakhstan - the great black box of Eurasian history, a region probably more war-infested than Northern China or Europe - they entered European historical records in AD 374: first smashing the Alans, a year later the great Ostrogoth Empire (roughly today's Ukraine), establishing their own in its place. During further expansion, no European army was a match for them - yes, not even on the Fields Of Catalaun in AD 451: the Roman account's interpretation can be more than doubted, with the 'losing' army marching on towards Rome. And what stopped them there? Tough later Church legend credits the Pope, there is a more prosaic explanation: not wanting to catch pestilence. (Actually, malaria: due to a mass burial found in Poggio Gramignano, the AD 452 Italian is the best known antique epidemic.) Tho', after Attila's death the next year, infighting led to the freedom of all the subdued people - and armies; just a year later, the Germanic Gepidae smashed the Huns, their remains assmililating all around.

My last example is the Teutons. Teuten->deuten-deutschen, which means "mean(ing[ful men])", that is, German[-speaker]. Around 121 BC, German tribes in the North (around Denmark) suffered a terrible famine. The largest among the affected were the Cimbri [who may be a Celtic/German mix or transition] and the Teutons, lesser tribes included the Germanic Ambrons and the Celtic Tigurinii. So members of multiple tribes set out to find a better place to live. Only problem, those better places were inhabited - so they turned into a ruthless invasion force, and once they did, they aimed for ever better areas.

First they moved to what is now the Czech Republic, where they met resistance from the Boii, a Celtic tribe. Rather than fight it out, this time they moved further South, across the Danube to what is now Austria then the territory of another Celtic tribe, the Noricii. The Romans, then already ruling all of the Western Mediterranean, were called to help in 113 BC, and they sent an army. The invaders again sought to avoid battle, but according to the Roman's own records, the Roman general perfidiously promised to lead them to good lands, in truth leading them into a trap - only to have his forces annihilated. The tribal alliance then moved East and smashed the then central areas of Celtic(=Gallic) culture, in Northern Switzerland - Southwestern Germany[+] - Romans took note when they had to battle fleeing Helvetians. From 109 BC, the Romans again had to confront the real deal, along the river Rhône. In each battle, entire Roman (& allied) armies were eliminated - 120,000 in the worst (Battle of Arausio, 5 October 105 BC).

However, after that, the tribes again began to move, but the Teutons and Cimbri spit. First they took separate tours across Southern Gallia, then in 103 BC they set out for the Po valley along separate routes. Under the lead of Gaius Marius, Romans defeated them separately in 102 and 101 BC. Defeat meant genocide, killing over a hundred thousand in both cases. (Tough, according to the Roman records, part of this was mass suicides to avoid slavery. But some were taken anyway, and there were some last Cimbri among Spartacus's troops three decades later.)

[*] Ruruans: a nomadic people probably closely related to the Huns. At the end of their relocation, they too set up a great Central Asian empire, covering most of the later 'stans - to be smashed when the Turks, then the Ruruan's ironsmith slaves, rebelled AD 546-553. But no grand empire lasted in Western China - after first the Huihe/Uygurs toppled the Gokturks, around AD 840 the Kirghiz took over for a century - then it was the Khitans' turn...

[+] That's why you'll read of Caesar subduing the Celts in today's France & Belgium, while the 19-15 BC conquering of the onetime Celtic core, now sparsely populated by the Germanic Raetians, is at most a footnote in history books. But, tough no written record exists, archeology shows that Germans already pushed Northern Celts across the Rhine in a war around 200 BC.