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Island 7 April 2011http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=22621

Colonial Africa 1914

The current division of the Middle East and North Africa into different countries is largely the result of decisions made by European countries. This indeed goes for Africa as a whole, for the carve up of that continent took place when colonialism was at its height, and there could be no local input with regard to the drawing up of boundaries in the drawing rooms of Europe. The most notable example of this occurred at the Berlin Conference of I think 1888, which handed over the Congo as his personal property to that rapacious old rascal, Leopold of the Belgians. But the process had begun before, and continued well into the 20th century.

By and large however those divisions were almost accidental. It was in the settlement after the First World

Turkish Empire 1300 - 1922

War that strategic considerations dominated, with the dismembering of the Turkish Empire. While there were many reasons for that War, not all of them entirely amoral, one principal reason for fighting it to a total finish of the enemy was the urge to destroy the old land empires, the German, the Austrian and the Turkish.

The first two occupied much of Central and Eastern Europe. Given all the rhetoric about freedom, as well as geographical considerations, it would not have done for the victorious European powers, Britain and France, to have carved up those empires for themselves. Instead they created a number of independent states, though these had to be large enough to withstand possible future aggression. Hence the portmanteau nature of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, and the relative size of Poland and Romania.

With different races in a more distant location however empire could reassert itself. Thus, contrary to the promises extended to the Arabs by Lawrence of Arabia and his ilk in the main theatre of action against the Turks, there was no question of independence for the Arabs. Total subjugation would however have been impossible, given the propaganda that had been encouraged, and so various mechanisms were devised to make control less obvious. There were Mandates which meant direct control, and Protectorates, which meant effective control, though there was a titular ruler with absolute monarchical powers, subject only to direction by the local representatives of His Imperial Majesty in London. Read the rest of this entry »

UK Riots 2011

The recent riots in Britain have taken many Britons by shock. The general reaction of the British people has been adverse, and understandably so. No one wants law and order disrupted, and there is ample evidence that many of those involved in the riots have been engaged essentially in plunder.

However, there were obviously also people who saw rioting as a way of registering a protest. Initially there were strong feelings based on the killing of a man by the police. I have no idea what actually happened in that incident, and I hope the inquiry that has been started will not only find out what happened, but will also do so in a manner that carries conviction. Sadly the history of official British inquiries suggests that their capacity to inspire confidence is minimal.

We all know what happened in the first ‘Bloody Sunday’ inquiry and, even though a second inquiry finally finished after several years, and seemed to many Britons to have moved nearer to the truth, the reaction of Bernadette Devlin suggests that doubts still remain, with the overall responsibility for brutality transferred to individuals, and no proper examination of the policies involved.   Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

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