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  • Does the Daily Telegraph know British history?

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on October 17th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Link via Daily Pundit:

    Iraq’s Sunnis must recognise new realities

    The truth is that a number of Sunni Arabs – notably those who were active Ba’athists – have yet to make the mental adjustment that their new status demands. Deep down, they still feel entitled to run the whole country. In much the same way, a number of Indian Muslims argued, in the 1930s, that, since the British had taken India from the Moguls, the entire subcontinent ought to be handed back to them. In time, of course, they realised that they would be better served by an autonomous Muslim polity. By the same token, Sunni Arabs will one day bless the federalism that their leaders currently decry. For, though they have yet to accept it, they are the minority now.

    I don’t think that this really is the comparison the Daily Telegraph wants to make:

    India had traditionally been regarded as the most valuable component of the British Empire, and its possession as proof of British world power. Yet the war had strained Britain’s capacity to direct a global empire and this helps explain Britain’s agreement to Indian self-government after the war.

    However the transition to independence was not smooth and Britain failed to achieve a constitutional settlement which both the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League could accept. As a result, Imperial India was divided into the modern states of India and Pakistan. Communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims erupted into violence which the British could not quell and in which many thousands died.

    There is no good reason to think that the Iraqi Sunnis will follow the example of the majority of India’s Muslims and try to form a state of their own, leave alone at this cost. But you really have to wonder why the Telegraph chose this particular bit of history, and on top of that seems to think they are citing an encouraging precedent. They really ought to know better, considering that it is an important part of British history. Maybe they chose to remember that Britain gave up on its colonies in a relatively graceful manner, and to forget the more unpleasant side effects.