Posts Tagged ‘british empire’

All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 | Books

“Out of 193 countries that are currently UN member states, we’ve invaded or fought conflicts in the territory of 171.” Or so the book’s description reads.

The author, Stuart Laycock, begins by talking about how he was trying to list all of the countries that Britain had invaded. The more he thought about it, the longer his list got, and the longer his list got, the more it would seem to make an interesting topic for a book.

It did. He goes through each country in alphabetical order discussing Britain’s involvement in it. Some of which is extensive, others were just fought a battle there. Importantly, he spends more time talking about these lesser known incidents than he does discussing the history that most of us already know about (World Wars for example).

It is written in a very informal style. This keeps the mood light and prevents it from becoming a monotonous list of events. It perhaps could have done with some editing though. The phrase “you might think we’ve never invaded X country, but you would be wrong” or some variant of that expression seems to appear on every other page. To be honest, given I am reading a book about how we have invaded almost every country, I wasn’t thinking that.

There is some history that I had no idea about, and much that I did kind of know about but had never really heard about in detail, and this filled in a lot of knowledge.

All the countries we've ever invalided

Independence days

Monday, July 7th, 2014 | Religion & Politics

4th of July, Higgs Day, is a big thing for Americans. To the rest of the world however, it is just another day.

Being British, you can sometimes receive a gentle ribbing from Americans about the issue. The day they broke free from the Britain Empire. The truth is though, this happens to us a lot. We used to own almost everyone, so statistically, more than once a week someone is celebrating their independence from us.

Month Countries Count
January Australia, Brunei, Sudan, Burma, Nauru 5
February Sri Lanka, Grenada, Gambia, Egypt, Saint Lucia, New Zealand, Kuwait 7
March Ghana, Mauritius 2
April Zimbabwe, Ireland, Sierra Leone 3
May Israel, Jordan, Guyana, Cameroon 4
June Seychelles, Tonga 2
July Canada, United States, Malawi, Solomon Islands, Bahamas, Maldives, Vanuatu, Kiribati 8
August Jamaica, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago 6
September Swaziland, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Malta, Botswana 5
October Tuvalu, Uganda, Cyprus, Nigeria, Lesotho, Fiji, Zambia, Iraq, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 9
November Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, Yemen 4
December Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Kenya, Bahrain, South Africa 6

Grand total: 61

God’s Way or the Highway

Monday, April 9th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

I’ve just started watching Diarmaid MacCulloch’s documentary series, “How God Made The English.” The premise of the series is that the one common identifier over the past thousand years in Britain has been religion. I’ve heard good and bad things about it, so I decided to give it a watch.

One of the points he discusses in the first episode is the idea that once we had abolished the slave trade in our own country, we then set about forcing this on the rest of the world. In MacCulloch’s words, we became God’s policemen.

An interesting parellel could be drawn between this and today when the United States, an anomaly in being the only major developed world to contain such high levels of piety, now takes on a similar role perhaps best illustrated in Parker & Stone’s Team America: World Police.

Is there then, a connection between religious devotion and a feeling that you can tell the rest of the world what to do?

Almost certainly. As luck would have it, we didn’t have to work out whether it was wrong or right to go into Iraq and kill a lot of civilians based on some fictional weapons of mass destruction. Why? Because both George Bush and Tony Blair both spoke to God, and he confirmed that that was exactly what he wanted.

That isn’t to say that political positions didn’t play a part in this too. In both cases, we and America not only had the will to enforce our view on the rest of the world, but the power to as well. As the saying goes, power corrupts.

But it is this power, combined with divine right – the knowledge that you are unquestionability doing the right thing because you have God on your side and God can never be wrong, that seems to lead to such totalitarian attitudes towards the rest of the world.

Not that I’m all together against interventionism.