Monday, December 06, 2004

Wherefore Art Thou Uncle Chunky?

"Now, every army has its share of lunatics. The litmus test is how their political masters treat them"

Delightful line from Max "Hardcore" Hastings in today's Guardian. Max tries to paint the war in Iraq as a re-run of Gordon's empirebuilding in Sudan. Militarists run amok. There are some interesting parallels to be teased out, but Max seems to be a tad too fond of the Imperial yoke (whiich could be pretty rotten, whatever Fergie says), and a tad too interested in his theory that only atheists shoulld be allowed in politics (we agree).

We'd be of the opinion that colonial rule was not a blazing success, if only because we're descended from the governor of Southwestern Sudan, who appears to have been so mad he disdained from wearing underwear for his last three decades and claimed that tonic ruined the flavor of gin.

We also think that one big problem with empires is tat they're never as blind to ethnicity as their defenders claim. As Philip Gourevitch notes in his book, the Belgian and French rulers of Rwanda tended to divide up their subjects on the basis of artificial racial distinctions, and the British were equally anxious to create a system of "ins" and "outs" for the purposes of divide-and-rule.

The problem? Blowback. Your subjects are now armed with cards telling them exactly which of the other bunch they have to kill. That said, Sadaam seemed to be perfectly able to make those calculations.


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