Imperialism: #

Imperialism is the God given prerogative of powerful nations over their inferiors. Most emerging empires aspired to grow by colonising weaker states to extend their dominant hegemony. Persians, Greek, Roman, Ottomans, Russian and many others expanded by conquest – might is right. Perhaps the most pernicious invaders were the European, beginning with the Portuguese, Dutch, French, English and Belgian. They managed to alienate most of Asia and then the shameful scramble for Africa, destabalising the world order giving rise to local insurrections and causing the First World War which managed to provoke the second one. Despite Woodrow Wilson’s plea for self-determinations of all people, wealthier countries could not resist the temptation to prey on smaller ones. Despite the high resolve of the formation of the United Nations, the renewed Geneva Conventions, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens, the initial expansion of the Comintern and the hysterical reaction of the West created the paranoid rise of anti-communists who resorted to questionable tactics to abolish this perceived threat.

Greek #

The Greek civilisation had at least three stages, the Minoan 2000, BCE, Mycenaean 1400, and Athenian 700 BCE. Each city state tended to prey on weaker ones.

Minoan, Mycenaean, Athenian #

Minos, legendary ruler of Crete; he was the son of Zeus, the king of the gods, and of Europa, a Phoenician princess and personification of the continent of Europe. Minos obtained the Cretan throne by the aid of the Greek god Poseidon, and from Knossos (or Gortyn) he gained control over the Aegean islands, colonizing many of them and ridding the sea of pirates. He married Pasiphae, the daughter of Helios, who bore him, among others, Androgeos, Ariadne, and Phaedra, and who was also the mother of the Minotaur.

Minos successfully warred against Athens and Megara to obtain redress after his son Androgeos was killed by the Athenians. In Athenian drama and legend Minos became the tyrannical exactor of the tribute of children to feed the Minotaur.

Roman #

Rome gradually expanded its Empire by conquering the ancient world gloriously and integrating diverse people successfully.

The Romans made the most significant, long lasting contributions to our Western Civilisation. Rome is sometime called the Eternal city, because it is one of the longest established ruling centre of the world, lasting 1000 years in the west and another 1000 years in the east centred at Constantinople.

Lasting legacies

Art and Architecture, a diverse multicultural and multi-state empires – virtues such as dignity, humanity, honesty. Their enduring legacy includes Latin, one of the contributors to the English language, the absolute primacy of law to maintain order and harmony. We are linked to them through a great chain of human experience.

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Venetian #

For hundreds of years during the Middle Ages, the spice trade in the West was dominated by the city state of Venice. Venetian merchants shut out all others from the marketplaces in Alexandria, and then Constantinople, where the Arab merchants offered their exotic wares for sale while concealing what they knew of their origin. In 1453, however, in a devastating siege, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks and was sacked by the invading army, ending what remained of the Byzantine Empire. The fall of Constantinople placed the spice trade entirely in the hands of the Ottomans, who soon raised taxes and increased tariffs to virtually shut off the spice supply to ‘infidel’ Europe.

Genghis Khan #

Genghis Khan was the most successful conqueror in world history, and he redrew the boundaries of the world. His empire lasted 70 years.

“In twenty-five years, the Mongol army subjugated more lands and people than the Romans had conquered in four hundred years. Genghis Khan, together with his sons and grandsons, conquered the most densely populated civilizations of the thirteenth century. Whether measured by the total number of people defeated, the sum of the countries annexed, or by the total area occupied, Genghis Khan conquered more than twice as much as any other man in history. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford.

The Horde by Marie Favereau, shows how Khan and his Mongol successors built an empire that, at its peak, covered some 9 million square miles of territory, making it the largest contiguous land empire in world history:

“The Mongols interfered with the economic organization of their subjects and projected their power further than any other im­perial formations of their time. Yet the Mongols understood that control over craft production, currency, traders, harvests, and crops had to be flexible and supple, and respectful of the practices and traditions of dominated peoples. Thus, for instance, when Mongols conquered new territories, they usually minted coins that were familiar to the locals and were easily accepted in existing circuits of exchange. Furthermore, the Mongols did not try to extract value from subjects no matter the cost to the subjects – that is, the Mongols did not enslave their subjects and work them to death, as much later colonial regimes in the Atlantic world did. Rather, the goal of Mongol imperial oversight and intervention was to motivate and empower subjects to produce and trade across the empire, thereby enriching their Mongol overlords. Why was there no clash between globalization and empire building during the height of Mongol domination? This is a phenomenon that needs explaining, and I believe the explanation lies in the unique imperial policies of the Mongols.

“Scholars have begun to sweep away old stereotypes of marauding plunderers showing instead that the Mongol Empire was a complex political, social, and economic entity resembling a federation or a common­wealth.

The empire was full of mutual influences, as its various portions shaped each other. But that does not mean the empire was a monolith. Its diversity emerges in microhistorical accounting. The empire fostered several enduring nomadic regimes.

The small scale, the voices of individual people and the scenes of their lives, provides details that inform world­wide history.

Portuguese #

“During the late fifteenth century, however, the Portuguese discovered a sea route to the East by pushing south along the coast of Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope, conquering numerous east African cities and founding the colony of Goa on the western coast of India in 1510. A few years later Portuguese adventurers seized cities in Indonesia, where they constructed fortified settlements to dominate and control the local spice trade.

Soon Portugal was one of the richest nations in Europe, boasting a complex trade network that extended around the world. But in its very success was the kernel of Portugal’s down­fall: the nation had a population of only two million, and the Eastern spice trade, with its continuous wars, shipwrecks and deaths from disease, took a heavy toll on Portugal’s small population of males.

To keep the enterprise running, Portugal hired foreign sailors, who soon shared the knowledge of this astonishing wealth. Others also wanted a share of the spice trade.

“Beginning in 1519, in one of the greatest voyages of all time, a Spanish expedition led by the disaffected Portuguese nobleman Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the world by sailing around South America, crossing the Pacific Ocean and establishing a Spanish presence in the Spice Islands. Despite their quarrelling, the Spanish and Portuguese reaped great profits by monopoliz­ing the spice trade in Europe for decades.”

Dutch #

In the 1600s, the Dutch reached preeminence in the world in commerce and culture. They reached out across the world as well, from North America to Africa and the East Indies. In all, in the 17th and 18th cen­turies, the East India Company shipped an estimated one million people to the East Indies, “of whom approximately half never returned”:

“[In the 1600s, the Dutch] mastery of over­seas commerce was making their small nation the most prosperous in Europe: only their relatively slow approach to the possibilities in the Americas might have appeared surprising. But once engaged, the Netherlands became for a while a major player in the Atlantic world. Suddenly the Dutch were everywhere – in Portuguese Brazil, the islands of the Caribbean, the ‘Wild Coast’ of Guyana, and the trading stations of West Africa – just as they were in India, Java, and Formosa, and they were effective managers of population displacements.

The British #

The British Isles were likely first invaded by the Celts, around 1000 BC. They were an Indian European ethnic civilisation originating in Central Europe. Under several leaders including Queen Boadicea they managed to repel Roman invasions until 61 AD. Once the Roman Empire fell, the Angles and Saxon, Germanic tribes filled the vacancy.

The Viking raids, from about 700 terrified the British, suffering losses of livestock and anything not bolted down. In 1066, William the Conqueror put an end to these raids and colonised England for the Normans. About 300 years later, Edward III, proclaimed home rule and England gained its independence, never to be conquered again – despite Napoleon and Hitler’s attempts.

Europeans practised an erasure of recognition and rights of idigenous cultures.

Ireland was William the Conqueror’s first failure, however subsequent Monarchs have all attempted, without full success to subjugate the Irish.

The Irish were a second-class part of Britain. Technically it was a nation within Great Britain and not a colony. Its status was very different from that of Scotland in that it could not compete with Britain in exporting its produce.

During the civil wars of the 1640s the Catholics in Ireland sided with the English royalists. After the royalist army fell to the Puritan rebels and Charles I was executed, Oliver Cromwell punished the Irish with a campaign of atrocities that was followed by a disastrous famine. A policy of colonization from England was then established

India and China presented the problem to early colonisers of such large populations greatly outnumbering the Europeans. Strong traditional culture heritages and religion also made them more challenging to subdue. In the Americas and Australia, smaller populations, made it easier for European invaders to outnumber the indigenous populations (giving the natives minority status) by conquest and disease.

Japan managed to ward off European invaders by killing Catholic missionaries but were eventually overcome by Commodore Perry in 1853. Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch traders engaged in regular trade with Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries. Persistent attempts by the Europeans to convert the Japanese to Catholicism and their tendency to engage in unfair trading practices led Japan to expel most foreigners in 1639. For the two centuries that followed, Japan limited trade access to Dutch and Chinese ships with special charters. No empire long endures, even if few anticipate their demise. Every kingdom is born to die. The 15th century belonged to the Portuguese, the 16th to Spain, 17th to the Dutch. France dominated the 18th and Britain the 19th. Bled white and left bankrupt by the Great War, the British maintained a pretence of domination as late as 1935, when the empire reached its greatest geographical extent. By then, of course, the torch had long passed into the hands of America.

Europe’s colonization of Asia was lent impetus by the Ottomans’ strengthening grip on trade in the eastern Mediterranean and the development of the joint-stock company.

European imperialism was predicated “on the era’s systematic forays into physical anthropology and human classification laid the foundation for the noxious race science that emerged in the nineteenth century. So did the rise of materialism: it became harder to argue that our varying physical carapaces housed equivalent souls implanted by God. A heedless sense of universalism, in turn, might encourage the thought that the more advanced civilizations were merely lifting up those more backward when they conquered and colonized them. Kant’s views seem to have evolved. In her study Kant and Cosmopolitanism (2012), the Dutch scholar Pauline Kleingeld persuasively argued that, in the 1790s, he moved away from hierarchical notions of human difference, perhaps partly under the influence of interlocutors like Georg Forster and Johann Gottfried Herder. He now offered a clear rebuke to slavery, imperial conquest, and great-power dominion. Given that slavery and imperialism are age-old practices, it may be more significant that so many Enlightenment figures opposed them than that some of them, in some respects, accommodated them”. From: Justin E.H. Smith’s book, Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason. Imperial Delusions by Fara Dabhoiwala From the late eighteenth century onward, the British justified their empire with a continually updated ideology of moral purpose and historical necessity.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

“When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us close our eyes and pray.’ When we opened them, we had the Bible, and they had the land.

Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness, writes: > “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look at it too much.

At the height of the British Empire, just after the First World War, an island smaller than Kansas controlled roughly a quarter of the world’s population and landmass. To the architects of this colossus, the largest empire in history, each conquest was a moral achievement. Imperial tutelage, often imparted through the barrel of an Enfield, was delivering benighted peoples from the errors of their ways—child marriage, widow immolation, headhunting.

A letter from Tudor to Churchill crystallizes all the insouciance, cynicism, greed, callousness, and errant judgment of empire.

He tells Churchill that he’s just commanded his troops to slaughter Adwan Bedouins who had been marching on Amman to protest high taxes levied on them by their notoriously extravagant emir. This tribe was “invariably friendly to Great Britain,” Tudor writes, a touch ruefully. But, he adds, “politics are not my affair.”

Russian #

From about the tenth century, Russia began its expansion east and south. Each of the Romanov Czars prided themselves in growing the empire.


More on Czars:

During her reign, Catherine the Great Russia expanded her territories into Belarus, Poland, Lithuania. By pushing the Ottoman, the sick old man of Europe back she reclaimed the Crimea in the mid 1700’s. Her chief advisor constructed Potemkin villages to impress Catherine with an external façade to make her believe the country doing well.

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Vladimir Ilich Lenin established the Comintern, or Communist International with the stated purpose was the promotion of world revolution. In 1943, during World War II, Joseph Stalin dissolved the Comintern to allay fears of communist subversion among his allies.

However, Stalin claimed as much territory as he could in east Europe, raising fears of the spread of communism. The west perceived this as threat to capitalism and re-acted in an hysterical and paranoid manner.

American #

“The American Dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.

Based on the Myth of a new Eden in creating a new heaven and a new earth, as part of discovering a new continent with the possibilities of forming an ideal society, the myth, after dismissing Atlantis or Utopia, focussed on America.

The new American Adam, according to R.W.B. Lewis,

is a radically new personality, an individual emancipated from history, happily bereft of ancestry, untouched and undefiled by the usual inheritances of family and race, an individual standing alone, self reliant, and self propelling, ready to confront whatever awaited him with the aid of his own unique and inherent resources.”

America was founded by dissident idealistic religious sects who sought to free themselves of the restraints of Old Europe: Parochial nationalism, intolerance of non orthodox religions, rigid class systems and petty traditions that restricted daring business ventures.

In the United States’ Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers:

"…held certain truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Wolfe said,

"…to every man, regardless of his birth, … golden opportunity ….the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him.”

As all idealistic ventures of creating a new paradise on earth, this myth came in danger of turning from a dream to a nightmare due to corrosive values of selfish entrepreneurs in creating a disparity of wealth through privilege.

President Thomas Jefferson announced “essential principles of our government” is that of “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

The Monroe Doctrine, ,1823, demanding noninterference of foreign nations in the affairs of the two American continents, arose from the issue of how to deal with plans by several European nations – France and Spain, to retake South American countries that had rebelled and declared indepen­dence from Europe. England wanted to launch a joint operation with the United States to prevent the European incursion.

President Monroe, responded by insisting that if any action were to be taken, the United States would take it alone. Neither England nor any other foreign power had any business meddling in the West.

The beginning of America’s overseas expansion to 1898, when it acquired sovereignty over Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines after the conclusion of its war with Spain. Yet as Bulmer-Thomas shows, the US empire went offshore much earlier. During the 1810s and 1820s, Americans carved out the state of Liberia in West Africa, allegedly as a refuge for free American blacks; the country in fact functioned as an American colony.

The US established an imperial presence in East Asia as early as 1844, with privileged access to Chinese ports and went on to acquire dozens of “guano islands” in the Pacific, where abundant bird droppings provided a rich source of fertilizer.

During the 1890s, saw the annexation of Hawaii developing into what Bulmer-Thomas calls America’s “semi-global empire,” built not on territorial acquisition but on the maintenance of client states and various other forms of international interference, including military bases that supported occasional armed interventions in local conflicts and multinational corporations run mostly by Americans.

Until well into the First World War, American maintained a splendid isolationist policy until reluctantly drawn into the war. Again it took the attack on Pearl Harbour before America became involved in WW II.

Despite Woodrow Wilson’s idealistic attempts to foster a fair peace at Versailles and Eleanor Roosevelt’s contributions to the United Nations and the Declaration of the Rights of Citizens in 1945, it was the perceived threat to the Russian Comitern’s expansion that resulted in an hysterical and paranoid reaction. The Military Industrial Complex, the F.B.I and the C.I.A. became unchecked monsters who usurped civil governments from the late 1940’s.

The paramilitary pursuits of the C.I.A.—including assassination attempts, coup plots, and drone strikes—seldom end well.

In the agency’s seventy-five years of existence, a lack of accountability has sustained dysfunction, ineptitude, and lawlessness.

American moral decline of a once great nation, has led to diminished authority on the world stage and to the ushering in of today’s unfolding global power shift.

Why America is seen more to “contravene the principles it enjoins others to follow” and why many regard it as “the greatest threat to world peace today”.

The blame is not laid squarely at the feet of the current US Administration filled with its chest-beating hawks; but instead at the decades of American leadership since the end of World War II. Play by the Rules details the history of coups and interventions the US has orchestrated to topple governments around the world; of building up its own military might; and of shutting down any dissenting voices of reason from within.

All in the American interest and all about US-first. Today’s incoherent leadership is just a symptom of that philosophy.

American leaders urge others to conform to rules they made, but don’t observe.

Step by misguided step, from the atom bombing of Japan, followed by the fixation of defeating Soviet and Chinese communism in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia to the “war on terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq, the march of American folly now turns its armed force on its own citizens. America has 800 military bases around the world, having fought in 60 countries since 1980.