Futurs d'antan, Futuribles Journal n° 378

Entreprises, travail - Géopolitique

The Berlin-Baghdad Railway… at the Heart of German Strategy in 1914-18 (Future of Yesteryear)


In 2010 a book by the American historian Sean McMeekin, The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power 1898-1918 (Cambridge [Mass.]: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010) was published, telling the story of the Berlin-Baghdad railway in the early 20th century and its role in the political, economic and military strategy of the great powers at the time. In terms of subject matter, this work in a way represents, as Bernard Cazes argues, a corrective to a counterfactual developed by the writer John Buchan in his book Greenmantle of 1916 (Thirsk: House of Stratus, 2001; new edition). He presents some of its salient points here that will undoubtedly be of interest to geopolitics buffs, showing, in substance, how Germany, drawing on support from the Ottoman Empire, attempted to de-stabilize its enemies of the time by encouraging jihad in French and British colonies and Zionism in Russia – a strategy that would have paid off if the work on the Berlin-Baghdad railway had not fallen so far behind schedule.

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