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Sunday, October 23, 2005 

"Partition is the consequence of failed colonialism."

So says Shahin M. Cole, via Juan Cole in a post on the civil war now being set up by a Bush administration eager to jettison the mess it's created (more details from Al Jazeera, by way of Richard Delevan). This has more than an air of familiarity to an Irish audience, as it no doubt does to Indians and Palestinians - the imperial power swiftly departing an alien land, leaving with its final act of callousness a political figleaf doomed to bloodshed.

The Bush 43 years have brought into power PNAC and their scheme for what amounts to an American empire, with latter-day apologists for the old British one (following their high-priest, Niall Ferguson) lining up to bestow their blessing on the whole enterprise. The White Man's Burden, and all of that. They would do well to be careful what they wish for, in case the effort at a second Englishman's Empire ends in much the same protracted humiliation as the first.

We'll end with some relevant W.H. Auden, concerning the British retreat from India:


Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on his mission,
Having never set eyes on the land he was called to partition
Between two peoples fanatically at odds,
With their different diets and incompatible gods.
"Time," they had briefed him in London, "is short. It's too late
For mutual reconciliation or rational debate:
The only solution now lies in separation.
The Viceroy thinks, as you will see from his letter,
That the less you are seen in his company the better,
So we've arranged to provide you with other accommodation.
We can give you four judges, two Moslem and two Hindu,
To consult with, but the final decision must rest with you."

Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day
Patrolling the gardens to keep the assassins away,
He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate
Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date
And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect,
But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect
Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot,
And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,
But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided,
A continent for better or worse divided.

The next day he sailed for England, where he could quickly forget
The case, as a good lawyer must. Return he would not,
Afraid, as he told his Club, that he might get shot.

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)



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