Reckon things have changed

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by OldRedCap, Apr 15, 2007.

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  1. In 1847, a man called Don Pacifico, a Portuguese Jew living in Greece, had his house burned in an anti-Semitic riot. He appealed to the Greek government for redress (the sons of some ministers had been involved) and got nowhere. But he chanced to have been born on Gibraltar and thus was, technically, a British subject. And so he turned to the British government. And, though to most Englishmen's eyes a century and a half ago no one could have seemed less English than this greasy dago Jew moneylender, Lord Palmerston began a naval blockade of Greece—on the grounds that Don Pacifico was a British subject like any other—until the government in Athens backed down. In Palmerston's words, "As the Roman in days of old held himself free from indignity when he could say Civis Romanus sum, so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him against injustice and wrong." Civis Britannicus sum: that was all Don Pacifico had to say.
     
  2. If Pam was around today I'd vote for him. How can you not admire a man who refused to live in Downing St because it would curtail his chances of letching out of his bedroom window. Ah, gunboat diplomacy.... happy days.
     
  3. At least we still had a credible Navy in those days.
     
  4. Ah, but Greece was a shambles and an embryonic nation in those days.

    But good for Palmerston! - who, incidentally was extremely pro-Jewish, and a leading 19th cent. Zionist, which must have swayed him in this instance.
     
  5. Greece was also riven, at the time, between factions looking towards Russia as a patron, and factions 'loyal' to the UK. Britain was more concerned, I think , with showing Ivan (and by extension, Yanni) who was boss in the Eastern Med than with the property rights of Levantine Shylocks (as DP would then have been regarded). Remember that Britain held the Ionian Islands until 1865- and with them naval control over the Western sea route to the Balkans.

    Post-Crimean War (during which thousands of Greek volunteers fought for Russia, the leading Orthodox power) Britain became top dog in the Near East. The opening of the Suez Canal, then our nabbing of Cyprus and Egypt cemented Britain's hegemony there, much to Russia/France's chagrin.

    Once that happened, we took a more laissez faire approach to Balkan pogroms...