Thursday, June 02, 2005

Those who forget the past are...Wait, it'll come to me.

The British created Iraq in 1918, confident it would become a beacon of enlightenment unto the Middle East, that it would nurture moderate Arab regimes, that its monarchs would serve as peacemakers between Zionists and Arabs in Palestine, and that it would anchor the region in the wider interests of a far-flung empire. The experiment persisted for forty years, and it failed...

from Forty Years in the Sand: What happened the last time freedom marched on Iraq by Karl E. Meyer, Harper's Magazine June 2005

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? How about George Nathaniel Curzon describing the British Empire in 1894: "...under Providence, the greatest instrument for good the world has ever seen." And George W. Bush in 2002: "Our nation is the greatest force for good in history."

Lawrence of Arabia in a letter to the London Sunday Times:

The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information...Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster.

Again, sounds familiar. Except of course that T.E. Lawrence and most Englishmen were honest about their imperial motives.

I recommend Mr. Meyer's article to you. And my student assistant just asked me what a Conquistador is.