Tuesday 28 June 2011

Back To The Future

The maps of the world are ever changing and have been down the ages. The map of Europe in 1920 was very different from that of 1910. Today the map is different from that of 1980 in some respects. It is very different from that agreed by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

Before then the dynastic wars of major family groupings had led to persistent alterations in who ruled which territory in Europe and by what means. After 1815 as the British and other Europeans went on an imperial spree the maps of much of the world as they are now were created often with scant regard for either geography or local population.

One area where British officials rode roughshod over the wishes and hopes of the locals was in the Near East in what is now Iraq and the Gulf States. For a long while Britain was the “protecting” nation with ships and men on the ground to enforce the new political entities. More recently this has been done by the US Navy.

One consequence of all this is that there are a lot of groups now who feel that they have a claim either from recent history or from much longer ago to this or that patch. Argentina who disputed The Falklands with Britain not long after it became independent still claim that the 1833 declaration of British rule is wrong and they should have the islands on the grounds of geographical proximity.

The Spanish still cannot accept that Britain’s interest in Gibraltar since the early 18th Century should be maintained, again despite the wishes of the locals. In many parts of the world one claim or another can go back a long way. In the Near East Iran or Persia maintains its claims from the ancient past and the situation there is very complicated, see this 1700 word article from The Oil Drum which is a bare summary.


To come to more homely matters, if the elite in Brussels do not see Europe in quite the same way as the elites within the “nation” states this should be no surprise. It is all about power, money and control in any order you prefer. The picture above is one that appeared in the Mail to much howling at the moon by Richard Littlejohn.

Sorry, but you pay a lot of geezers a lot of money to sit in offices to dream up ideas that take their fancy and then push them at the suckers who might buy the deal and this is what happens. It is very like buying promotional offers from newspapers.

The Arc Manche Partnership Zone pictured above is not new. For those of us who think that the 12th Century at the height of the Medieval Warm Period might have been fun, all that good cheap English wine, it reminds me vividly of the central core of the Angevin Empire. Add more territories around to the north and to the south, Anjou, Poitou, The Vexin and Aquitaine and you have it all.

Unluckily, the elite who were running it were too embroiled in other matters to concentrate on keeping what they had, Crusades, the throne of France and other adventures to control what were really unprofitable waste lands inhabited by pastoral tribes as well their internal family disputes. So the Angevin Empire did not last.

The problem with this is that the Angevin Empire pattern does not sit well with the Empire of Charlemagne, nor with any other of Europe’s passing imperial structures, the original Roman Empire, the later Spanish/Austrian based Holy Roman Empire, the Napoleonic, The Third Reich or others.

With the EU turning into yet another passing ramshackle imperial structure that might collapse because of its own internal contradictions and inability to make either policy or decisions that are effective or make sense we cannot know what the future may bring.

One thing is certain is that if you leave making the maps to detached and power crazed elites who do what the hirelings of their then court suggest it will all end in tears and trouble.

1 comment:

  1. "With the EU turning into yet another passing ramshackle imperial structure"

    A great disappointment for me is the lack of BBC input into debates of this kind. It's something the Beeb should do very well, technically at least, but it can't or won't because it has a seat at court.