Saturday, March 28, 2015

Imperial Appetites

Where today the international community sees failed or failing states as a problem, in the age of imperialism the powers saw them as an opportunity. China, the Ottoman Empire, Persia, all were weak, divided, and apparently ready to be carved up. So was Morocco, which was becoming increasingly anarchic by 1900. The death of the strong and capable Sultan Hassan I in 1894 had left it in the hands of a teenager, Abdelaziz. “He is not bad looking, but podgy and puffy; good features and good clear eyes,” said Arthur Nicolson, stationed there as a British diplomat. “He didn’t look unhealthy, but like a boy who ate too much.” 50 Abdelaziz proved unable to keep control of his subjects. While his administration grew increasingly corrupt, powerful regional leaders asserted their independence, pirates attacked merchants along the coasts and bandits raided caravans in the interior and kidnapped the rich for ransom. Late in 1902 a rebellion threatened to topple the whole rickety regime.

Macmillan, Margaret (2013-10-29). The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 (Kindle Locations 3290-3297). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.