China is acting just like any empire has
For centuries Britain regarded Home Rule for Ireland as a strategic impossibility, because of its proximity to our shores. Any serious trouble from the Irish was put down with force.
Even after Ireland had become independent, we still claimed a wartime right to intervene. Hence Churchill's threat to invade if Ireland allowed Hitler a U-boat base.
Nor have the Americans ever hesitated to intervene in the affairs of their South American neighbours, if need be by force, most famously against Cuba in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. This, quite simply, is how empires have always behaved, democratic ones quite as much as autocratic ones.
That is why I found it a bit difficult to go along with the current indignation against China, for its use of force in Tibet - a territory rather more contiguous to them then Ireland was to us.
Britain, of course, is no longer an empire. But for most of my life it was and for most of my life I have been writing articles defending its right - indeed its obligation - to behave accordingly. A bit late in the day, then, for me to start condemning China for doing, in its turn, what seemed to me fully justified when we were doing the same or at any rate something similar ourselves.
The British people and the white nations generally gloried in their period of empire, largely impervious to the suffering and humiliations caused to the black, brown and yellow races.
Now, in the 21st century, it is beginning to look as if it may be their turn to enjoy their place in the sun. Younger people can and must protest. But this old hand has not the gall to do so. ·
Comments are now closed on this article