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The British Empire

Britain coloured one fifth of the world red with blood

Beginning with trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, the British Empire, at its height in the 19th and early 20th century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire controlled over 412 million people, 23 per cent of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35.5 million km2 (13.7 million sq mi), 24% of Earth's land area.

The American War of Independence ensured Britain lost its colonies in North America by 1783. British attention then turned towards Asia where the East India Company defeated the Mughals at the Battle of Plassey 1757. After the defeat of France in the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), Britain emerged as the main naval and imperial power of the 19th century and expanded its holdings. It pursued trade concessions in China and territory in Asia. Jardine and Matheson imported opium from India and supported by the British Navy captured the forts that guarded the Pearl River between Guangzhou and Hong Kong, in January 1841, Hong Kong became a British possession. The opium wars c.1840 ensured Britain created 13 million opium addicts in Chinese Treaty Ports, Canton, Ziamen, Fuzhou, Nongbo and Shanghai. The dowager empress was forced to concede Hong Kong for 100 years. The chaos of the Taiping rebellion with 30 million deaths followed. China was embroiled in war with Japan 1894-5; the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 and revolutions to overthrow the Qing dynasty in 1912, a revolution in reaction to foreign domination of their country. The period of relative peace (1815–1914), excepting the Crimean War 1854-56, ensured the British Empire went global. Britain dominated world trade effectively controlling Asia and South America.

When Britain defeated France in north America in 1757 it became an empire. The Treaty of Paris 1763, returned Quebec to France. Britain's tenuous hold on north America was marked by taxation without representation, the rise of the minutemen and the inevitable rise of the 'second sons' including George Washington to prominence in the Continental Army. The Carolinas Ossomocomuck tribe and Powhatans dealt successfully with the English colonisers. The American war of Independence was significant because the British Army won almost every battle, yet, could not reinforce their army, because, France, in revenge for defeat in North America, blockaded the American ports, including Yorktown, where Lord Cornwallis, who slaughtered the Irish in 1798, would not appear to surrender to the Continental Army. The Iroquois, 'the Six Nations' allies of the French had to relocate north to French Canada to escape British vengeance.

The Balfour Declaration in 1919 to secure a homeland for the Jews sealed the fate of the Palestinians. Britain had no moral right to give another country to the Jews. The bombing of the King David Hotel 1948 ensured Britain abandoned the nascent Jewish state the same year. The current turmoil is the British legacy for the relentless internecine, intractable feuding. Israel, the last colonising nation, has no constitution, no international borders and has no regard for international law, imposing apartheid on its captive Palestinians.

Egypt was invaded by Britain because, in 1882, it threatened to default on its bondholders including those belonging to Prime Minister Gladstone. Britain held onto Egypt during WW2 until by 1952 rioting signaled the rise of Nasser and forced the British out. Britain and France invaded Egypt in 1956 to seize the Suez Canal from Nasser. The US interdicted this invasion and both nations made their last imperial gamble and so lost their prestige. World domination devolved to the US.

Burma, where George Orwell served as a colonial policeman, recounted in Burmese Days, was typically seething with unrest as it is today. Mahatma Gandhi a lawyer in South Africa suffered extreme discrimination in South Africa and determined to dispose of the British and secure independence for his native India. The Mughal empire only tolerated The English as long as they were useful. India and Israel sent agents to Ireland to better understand Ireland's exit from the Empire. Gandhi told Lord Mountbatten to 'Get out of my country' and so succeeded. in 1947 one million died - the cost of partition to create India/Pakistan. Malaya post WW2 suffered a 10 year vicious insurgency thereby bankrupting Britain.

The Irish rebelled 6 times in 1641,1798,1803,1848,1867 and then, finally in 1916, Britain was so disturbed that it allowed an independent Ireland in 1921, retaining Northern Ireland which causes untold trouble to the present time. The massacre of 'nominally British civilians' by Presbyterian British paratroops in Ballymurphy,1971 and in Derry, 1972 were hidden from the British public until Ken Loach's film Hidden Agenda revealed the awful truth. British divide and rule, cf , Ireland, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan generated ethnic feuding. Benjamin Disraeli who converted to Protestantism to become Primed Minister hated the Irish, this laissez faire attitude had led to one million famine fatalities 1847-52. British justice:- Birmingham 6, Renault 5, Guildford 4 and Winchester 3 is sordid, refer to Saville Enquiry. The conquest of Ireland accompanied the enduring success of Irish culture over English colonisers.

The Zulu wars, again provoked by Britain to misappropriate land led to the Zulus' defeat of British troops at Islandwana in 1879. This defeat was hidden from the British public by the 'heroic stand' at Rorke's Drift. Individual Zulu warriors were shamefully slaughtered by British lancers. Britain provoked an incident to invade Boer lands in 1898. This was a pretext to secure the Kimberley gold and diamond mines. 500,000 British soldiers took on 40,000 Boer farmers. Britain expected an easy victory. Not so. At Spion Kop, 37 attacking British lancers were killed by Boer sharp shooters in a short few minutes. Most British casualties succumbed to diseases. Britain set up concentration camps where 28,000 Boer women and children died, so, Britain became a pariah nation. Hitler's Konzentrations Laager improved on this British innovation.

Cecil Rhodes had no regard for law or morality, intended to make Africa British from Cape to Cairo, he failed. Hiram Maxim and Johnny Vickers, their machine guns were used to mow down native peoples. Rhodes machine gunned the Matabeles in Matabeleland then declared this area free for white settlers.

The Saxe-Coburg-Gothas, Hanoverian Herzogen, the current British Monarchy, changed their names to Windsor during WW1, the war between cousins, embarrassed by their German origins.

La guera de las Malvinas 1982 a war provoked by a recalcitrant Thatcher, in order to keep her in power, was entirely avoidable. In 1971, Britain was returning Las Malvinas to Argentina and immediately reneged on the deal. People died needlessly and uselessly. Why?

Slavery, the extinction of native peoples worldwide, divide and conquer this is the legacy of the British Empire. Did anything good come from the British Empire? Yes, indeed the conversion from Empire to Commonwealth. A World Financing System? No so, world trade is dominated by the USA. A world language, no, English is in relative decline. Ask the British, why, if they colonised the world, are they so upset if these colonised people follow then home? The British Empire was a racist rapacious, and violent force that enslaved, exploited and erased people and cultures all over the world. Brtiain is an island empire in decline.

The US took over from Britain after WW2 systematically destroying, in sequence, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. US foreign policy, a hegemony - 'send in the marines' must change - the world wide refugee problem is the result of US foreign policy.

The Ascent of Money, A Financial History of the World, Niall Ferguson, Penguin, 2009


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