Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Course of Empire

I'm reading a new book, The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830-1970 by John Darwin. An early quote:

It was also the case that British expansion had no master-plan. It had almost always been true that colonial schemes or their commercial equivalents were devised not by governments but by private enthusiasts in search of wealth, virtue or religious redemption. Sometimes they dragged Whitehall in their wake, to get its protection, secure a monopoly or obtain a licence to rule through a charter or patent. By ‘insider-dealing’ in the political world, they might conscript Whitehall's resources for their colony-building. Sometimes Whitehall insisted on an imperial claim on its soldiers’ or sailors’ advice, or to appease a popular outcry. But, once entrenched at their beachhead, the ‘men on the spot’ were hard to restrain, awkward to manage and impossible to abandon.

Darwin (2009-10-15). The Empire Project (p. 3). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

That last sentence explains exactly why the Israeli expansion into the West Bank is likely to end in catastrophe.