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Monday, July 17, 2006

The way of colonial war

Cheap words do not impress

I just finished a nice little monograph, the Wars of Empire by Douglas Porch. It's part of the Smithsonian series the History of Warfare, which is really an extended essay on the subject.

But one of the points Porch makes, and it surprised me, is that people didn't really support colonialism. Most of the proponents were 19th Century neocons, who placed great value in aggressive nationalism.

In most cases, colonies were financial sink holes, providing troops and little else. They didn't prove to be viable markets, and governments were often held captive by little supervised commanders in the field.

The deception was so deep that the French would change the names of towns they conquered.

Opposition to colonialization was popular and sank several governments. Unlike today, oppositions weren't afraid to challenge the government, and they sank several expansionist ones. Colonial Wars were never popular and in fact were seen as a waste of time and money.

What fantasists like Victor Davis Hanson and Niall Ferguson forget is that the only people who liked colonies were the soldiers and their friends. Most tax payers had no use for it.

Lies, expense, wasted treasure and failure are the ulitmate results of colonial adventures.

Which why when Bush lauds the "democracy" in Iraq, he looks as deluded as Disraeli did when he prattled on about a large Britain. William Gladstone ran him to ground and out of office on that delusion.

In the end, the hallmarks of colonies were murder, repression and constant violence. When the French killed 500 Algerians in caves, while sensible people were horrified, he was defened by the Army and the colonialists.

If this feels familiar, it is because it is the way of colonial warfare

posted by Steve @ 1:43:00 AM

1:43:00 AM

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