British Empire. Planned or Not ?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Mar 31, 2008.

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  1. Gents in another thread I was arguing that Britain/UK is too small a Nation to be involved as a First Class World Power, or words to that effect.
    I made a statement that The Brit Empire was not Planned but , Just Happened.

    Was there ever a Master Plan or was I correct in the basis of my statement ?
  2. Correct.
  3. Bullshit.
  4. Hi md,
    Succint retort, but 600 years of history can not be dismissed so easily :lol:
  5. My impression was the empire was a series of business ventures where we thought we could make some quick coin by opening up colonial markets and make the rules so they were favourable to us. Not really a grand plan, just a series of very similar plans to make money. But this is only a very vague and fuzzy view of history.
  6. Morning LS
    I have always understood that the British Empire originated mainly as an outcome of the Wars with Spain and the subsequent desire to aquire colonies/territorial possessions.
    Jw's assertation that the UK is a small Nation is of course correct, but the British Empire was at one time the largest ever in the history of the world.
    If only WW1 had not happened (and it could have been averted) :oops:
  7. Gents
    Thanks for your prompt replys.
    I do not think that there ever was a Master Plan to create an Empire.
    However at some point it 'Became nessasary' to hold on to the countries under 'British Governance' for reasons of 'Trade'.
    I do remember someone on this board saying that Lord KItchener said words to the effect of
    'If Britian and Germany fight, the victor will be the USA.'
    He was said to be speaking to the Kaiser of Germany at the time.
    WW I all but bankrupted UK and WW II certainly finished the proccess.
    Now as a small Island Nation we are no longer a World Class Power, excellent as our Troops are, and in my personal opinion should get out of the Power Projection game around the world.
  8. That's more or less how I've always understood it.
  9. I also forgot to mention the desire to "get there before the French did". Always a good rule of thumb. :D

  10. The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.”
    Woodrow T. Wilson

    And USA as a victor went on to build its own "empire", not in a classical sense of the word, but by means of "Power Projection" games. And since UK is in the orbit of US influence UK will continue to take part in US games until the time US imperial power will wane or UK will outlive its usefulness.
  11. Not planned. All the rhetoric about "imperial destiny" came after the event - it started off as a combination of smash-and-grab raid and import-export business.

    Once the locals got uppity about the Brits making too much money and exploiting cheap labour, we had to ensure "our man" stayed in power in various regimes. When that didn't work, we had to biff them and take control. And got landed with an empire.

    When the locals started getting really stroppy and the whole thing got too expensive, it was dropped.

    If people look back at our activities in Iraq and AFG in two or three centuries' time, I'm sure they will see it as part of the long continuum of British attempts to maintain informal control over unruly parts of the world. The longer it lasts, the more the similarities are striking. When the British went into Egypt in the 1880s, they insisted it was a temporary occupation - and they tried to leave (IIRC) a total of 17 times during the next 80 years (yikes).
  12. A great book to read on this subject is 'Empire: How Britain Made The Modern World' by Niall Ferguson, basically I got the impression that it wasn't planned to start off with, just a means of obtaining money, then we got into 'Hundred Years War 2: The Empire Strikes Back' with the frogs in the 18th century, and we started picking off their colonies to deny them economic resources in the 7 Years War etc, and it was only really in the 19th century it became a planed, organised thing-a lot of it was built on private finance initiatives like the East india Company, and the paucity of communications in that era meant that ambitious local officals would engage in a bit of unofficial imperialism as the opportunity arose. Also, those who say Britains too small to be a great power, well we were regarded as a backward, small state in the mid-17th century, and we ended up the greatest power in the world, so I'd say its not so much about size as what you do with it (or at least thats what I tell the missus)!! So from that, by the mid-23rd century we should be global number 1 again ;-)...
  13. "The British Empire was acquired in a fit of absent-mindedness" as some historian once said (maybe Churchill?)
  14. At its peak, the British Empire covered a quarter of the worlds land surface and a third of its people came under British rule. Not bad for a small island.