Tuesday, July 15, 2014
America would have then expanded just as it did, with Anglo-American forces seizing the Louisiana Territory during the war with France. During the time when Spain and France were allied it is also likely that Anglo-American forces would have seized Florida and possibly even more but that becomes increasingly less likely. With North America supporting the British war effort rather than hindering it, the allied victory over France might have been easier or come a bit sooner and the British Empire might have expanded even more but perhaps in different areas. Would India have been such a priority for Britain, for example, if all of North America was part of the empire, including the cotton states of the deep south, the coal fields of Pennsylvania and West Virginia? Suppose that British North America expanded southward in a way similar to the United States and, just like the United States, was drawn into a war with Mexico over border disputes. In actual history, Britain tried to prevent the war because it would disrupt their lucrative trade with Mexico, however, events on the ground could have provoked such a conflict in any event and there probably would have been less trade with Mexico if what became the United States had remained in the British Empire with the increased inter-imperial commerce that would provide.
In Africa, for example, the foothold in South Africa would have happened in any event as it was a result of the Napoleonic Wars. However, it might have stopped there with Britain content to let the Boers move into Botswana and perhaps the Portuguese might have been able to realize their dream of linking their east and west coast possessions, an aspiration thwarted by Britain in actual history which put some strain on the oldest alliance in Europe. The American Civil War would, of course, have been averted both because energy would be expended toward grander schemes and because the slave areas would have had much more opposition as well as a government that was not averse to giving compensation for slave owners. The war with Spain would likely have been avoided. A young Winston Churchill observed the rebellion in Cuba and came away convinced that the island would be much the worse off under their rule than that of Spain and hoped that the United States would not compel Spain to give up the “Pearl of the Antilles”. Many did not share his view and he later approved of the U.S. conquest of the island (being a lifelong admirer of America) but in the event, it is possible Britain would have stayed out of the conflict so long as Germany or some other colonial rival did not intervene.
Had such a thing occurred, the Russian Empire might not have collapsed, if the war had ended before the situation in Russia became too severe and thus the subsequent Cold War and all the proxy conflicts that entailed would never have happened. Similarly, a swift end to the war might have meant that the German and Austrian empires would have come to terms before being overthrown and so there might have been no World War II at all and we would all be living in a world with a balance of powers rather than one or two superpowers in constant standoff. And yet, if the Social Democrats in Germany managed to use the defeat to their advantage and bring down the monarchy, giving room for the rise to power of Hitler and so on, World War II might have happened anyway. In that event, it would have certainly been a much shorter and more localized war. American strength would have been present at the outset rather than only from 1942 onwards and it would have been focused on Europe alone. This would mean that the war might have ended in a German defeat even before the invasion of the Soviet Union and thus there would have been no Eastern Bloc and Soviet domination of half of Europe. It would also mean a completely different picture of Asia.
Similarly, without the influence of the American Freemasons, Mexico might have remained a monarchy under the Iturbide family though the rest of Latin America (outside Brazil) is more doubtful given that Spain was reluctant to recognize the independence of rebel colonies whereas Britain supported this. Much of Africa would also be a very different picture. Without the United States and Soviet Union competing during the race for de-colonization, the African colonies might have gained independence at a more moderate pace and in cooperation with native elites as Britain tended to favor doing or more newly independent countries might have chosen to maintain ties with the Crown as Commonwealth Realms. And, even in the event that this did not happen, the British Empire such as it was would have remained a dominant force considering that the primary source of strength would be North America and Australia where the people had greater bonds of history, culture and nationality with Britain as opposed to India which did not. In actual history, the loss of India was a blow from which the British Empire never recovered as India was, as one German observer put it, “the strength and greatness of England”. If, however, North America had remained and grown up united with the British Crown, the strength and greatness of the empire would have been in a land more loyal and less likely to cut ties but remain in union with the Crown as Canada, Australia and New Zealand have done.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
|The Battle of Ridgeway|
Monday, May 12, 2014
From around 1800 the British began to take an interest in the region, particularly after the abolition of the slave trade and the stationing of a Royal Navy squadron in the area to interdict slave trafficking. In 1886 the Royal Niger Company was established, spreading its influence in the region and when the local kingdoms fought back there were a number of small colonial wars in which British troops were successful in suppressing opposition and establishing a northern and southern pair of protectorates over the region. With the establishment of a German colony in Cameroon there were increased concerns about security and the two halves were united in 1914 as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. The coastal areas of the south, where the British presence was most concentrated, progressed rapidly, spreading education and higher standards of living while the more isolated north lagged behind. In fact, slavery was not wiped out in the north until 1936 but as the British presence expanded it was wiped out as it was something that would not be tolerated. Especially around the time of World War II, Nigeria grew increasingly prosperous and was considered one of the best success stories for the British Empire. Soon, Nigeria was on the fast-track to independence and in 1954 the Federation of Nigeria gained total autonomy as a Commonwealth Realm and adopted its current flag.
It might have been better if things had stopped right there but, in the wake of World War II, nationalist and anti-colonial sentiment was on the rise all across Africa and soon the demands for total independence and a complete break with Britain were growing. After a change in government, Britain also gave up on any idea of trying to retain colonies or former colonies to create the “Third British Empire” in Africa that Anthony Eden had envisioned. In 1960 Nigeria declared complete independence and became a republic. Unfortunately, things went ‘downhill’ from there. Election results were never widely accepted, accusations of corruption became commonplace and soon the standard method of changing the government was by one coup after another, starting with an attempt by radical leftists to seize power (the usual suspects). Left fought right, north fought south and from 1967 to 1970 civil war raged across Nigeria. The infrastructure built up in the colonial era was all but wiped out, disease returned, starvation set in and these, combined with the fighting and occasional atrocities resulted in millions of Nigerians being killed.
During all this time, and still today, the royals of the old native kingdoms carried on, as best they could, throughout the changing conditions. Some, like Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, who was Chief Justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court and son of King Ladapo Ademola II of the Alake and Egba clans, worked for the government. Some were themselves a focus for violence like Sir Olateru Olagbegi II, King of Owo, who was deposed and when the civil war broke out, his supporters took the opportunity to strike back at his enemies. King Akenzua II of Benin tried to promote peace and reconciliation but most traditional monarchs were pushed aside. Their status has only ever been recognized in an honorary sort of way and they have been forced to either take part in the political struggle or remove themselves completely and focus on religious and cultural affairs for their particular people. For Nigeria as a whole, even when the civil war ended, conditions did not drastically improve as the country came under the rule of a succession of military dictators. This situation persisted until 1999 when democracy was restored along with the previous complaints of fraud and corruption with every election.
It is true that Nigeria has seen immense wealth burst up from the country, not only because of the large market of the country but also with the discovery and exploitation of oil on the Nigerian coast and other valuable resources. However, rather than an orderly marketplace and increased prosperity for the country, this had led to a wealthier government but poorer people and increased violence as factions fight over the profits from oil revenues. Elections continue to be condemned, not only by the losing parties but by international observers as well as being corrupt and unfair. In short, as is seen in so many failed states around the world, Nigeria has all the ingredients to make for a very successful country but is squandering those resources thanks to corrupt and dishonest politicians who care more about themselves than the national wellbeing. Now we have reached the point where 300 young girls can be snatched from their schools, sold into what amounts to sexual slavery and the government is impotent to do anything about it. Moreover, the fact that political leaders put their own pride and public image before the general welfare is proven by the fact that immediately after this happened the United Kingdom offered help to the Nigerian government but was refused.
Why would British assistance be refused when only a short time later the President was practically begging for any help from a number of foreign countries? Who can say what is going on his mind, but I would assume it would involve the appearance of having to accept help from the first country of the former British Empire. However, the fact remains that if one is obliged to call in foreign countries to assist in what amounts to maintaining law and order in your own country, then no matter what the law or international community says, you are not really independent at all. Why keep up the pretense? Naturally, I think restoring Nigeria as a monarchy would be of help but, as I have said before, monarchy is not a cure-all and it would all depend on how it was done. As far as placing a native monarch on the Nigerian throne, that would be a difficult proposition. No one monarch represents the whole of the people and it could lead to more civil strife rather than less. That being said, I will not hear any complaints about the map of Africa being drawn arbitrarily by European colonizers. The independent African countries of today could redraw the map if they wish but I don’t think anyone wants to see the break-up of their country, so that is simply a distraction. So, what about restoring the Queen to the throne as in becoming a Commonwealth Realm again?
Nigeria becoming a Commonwealth Realm with Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign would, of course, be controversial. It could be done but even I don’t think it would necessarily make things better. It certainly could but only if it was done in a much more ‘old fashioned’ way than most would find palatable. First of all, no country likes even the idea or image of being ruled by someone else, that is natural and understandable. My ideal for colonial empires is helping along less developed countries to fully developed status to become self-governing members of a wider family of nations with things in common. By going back to an older style of government, I do not mean that Britain should be put in charge of governing Nigeria. That would never be tolerated and it would not even be good for Nigeria. Things might be run better and it might stop hundreds of girls being kidnapped but it would not improve the quality of the Nigerian ruling class and, frankly, I have not been impressed lately by the ability of the British to govern themselves much less others. However, how I think a Commonwealth Realm for Nigeria could be beneficial is to have some viceroyal oversight for the country. That means a Governor-General who is not just appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, that would be useless. It means having a Governor-General, possibly a royal (British or perhaps even Nigerian) who is impartial and can ensure that things are being run correctly. It does not mean a royal-appointee having power over everyone, but simply have someone there who is not elected, cannot be influenced, who can keep an eye on things to make sure that those who do hold power are following the rules and raise the alarm when they do not.
That, I think, would be the best solution possible that could happen, though of course the odds of such an idea gaining sufficient support would be infinitesimally small. Pride and past grudges should be set aside though. Things have obviously not worked out well for the government of Nigeria or things like these massive kidnappings would not be going on. With a large market, a willing population and natural resources there is no reason for Nigeria to still contain so much poverty or to be incapable of maintaining law and order and keeping its people safe. Something needs to change. Foreign assistance may enable these poor girls to be rescued, but the American Secret Service cannot be the answer to every problem and they cannot solve the fundamental problems that afflict Nigeria. It is time to learn from the past, be frank about past mistakes that have been made, set aside the personal pride of politicians and do what is in the best interests of the country.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
This entitled him to a seat in the House of Lords and, like his brothers, tended to associate himself with the Whigs in opposition to his father the King. This ended up costing him more than he would have ever expected. Having resigned from active duty in the Royal Navy upon entering the political fray, he found it difficult to return to the service he loved. Probably just as a thoughtless show of rebellion, he opposed the British declaration of war on France. It was a stupid thing to do and when he was applied to return to the navy, eager to take part in the war at sea, he was denied. Even after publicly changing his position and speaking out in support of the war, the conflict with France would pass without the Prince being given any significant command or seeing any front-line service. This left him with nothing to do but argue politics in the House of Lords and he would have been much better suited to a career at sea as his political views tended to be scattered and inconsistent. He thought the laws related to marriage and family were too harsh and that the penalties against dissenting Christians were oppressive but saw nothing wrong with the continued legality of slavery in the British colonies. It might have caused some to remember the nickname Prince William was given by his family as a youth; “Silly Billy”.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
In 2003 a proposal to make this agreement law was made public and was to be tied to the disarmament of the IRA. British loyalists were outraged and Sinn Fein rejected the proposal as well (and why accept a deal when the other side seems always prepared to give more) but the traitor Tony Blair was determined to press on. He wanted all loose ends tied up so he could be hailed as the man who brought “peace” to Northern Ireland after all. So, in 2007 a secret operation was put into effect to find and evaluate the “on the runs” by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. None of the public knew anything about this until recently when the deal was brought before a judge at the Old Bailey. It was then that we learned from Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein that some 187 of these republican terrorists had received letters from the British government assuring them that they were in no danger of arrest or prosecution for the crimes they committed as part of the IRA. One of the particular cases to emerge was that of John Downey who was suspected of murdering four soldiers in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing by the IRA. The judge ruled that he could not be prosecuted because of the letter he produced, from the proud traitors in Her Majesty’s government, promising him immunity.
Perhaps it should not be that surprising, given how, aside from these “on the runs” the British government seemed positively giddy to let all republican terrorists go free anyway. Nonetheless, it is positively outrageous that any of Her Majesty’s officials should have endorsed such a plan when dealing with people who were the open and avowed enemies of the Crown and who wished to do any and all harm possible to Her Majesty’s government and any and all of Her Majesty’s loyal subjects. Yet, starting with the actions of Tony Blair (he must have been doing this in his free time when he was not undermining the monarchy and destroying the House of Lords) this represents just one more step in the slow surrender of the United Kingdom to the republican terrorists in Ulster. It would be nice and easy if the Republic of Ireland could somehow be blamed in all this but, shamefully, this is an entirely British affair. It is not as though they are bowing to pressure from the Irish Republic, it is not as though this is a struggle between two powers for a disputed territory. No, this is a surrender to one faction of treasonous republicans who lost their war against the Crown and yet who continue, even to this day it seems, to reap the spoils of victory.
This is positively outrageous and I think it is no exaggeration to say that those responsible are guilty not only of a “dreadful mistake” as “Call Me Dave” Cameron said but of nothing less than treason to their Queen and country because like it or not (and many certainly do not) the six counties are part of the United Kingdom and Her Majesty the Queen is the lawful sovereign over them and any who undertake the death or overthrow of the Queen or the Queen’s legitimate governments are by definition traitors. Given what these people were involved in and given the behavior of the government in endeavoring to set them free, I fail to see how it can be considered as anything else.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The British case, on the other hand, is quite different and yet here again the very document being lauded, the 1689 Bill of Rights, is at least somewhat self-defeating. The only problem with the unwritten British constitution is that the one entity which is supposed to defend it and which, allegedly, has the obligation to defend it has been completely robbed of the ability to do so in part because of those very events of 1688 and the changes which came after (of course there have been plenty of others, and more drastic ones since). At the coronation of every British monarch they must swear to uphold the law and administer justice and yet, because of the perpetual power-grabbing by Parliament, today the monarch is effectively incapable of doing this and, in fact, most legal experts in Britain today would consider it “unconstitutional” and illegal if the Queen attempted to actually uphold the very oath she took at her coronation. Yet, this is only one modern absurdity among many we can see today. Another would be politicians being required to swear allegiance to the Crown yet also being allowed by law to campaign for the abolition of the Crown. We see it as well in the law which makes Parliament supreme while Parliament votes away its powers to the European Union.
The United States, lest anyone think things are better in the “Great Republic” has come to the same thing, and in much less time. Contrary to what various presidents have said, “the buck stops” nowhere these days. The President does something that is illegal (something that violates the Constitution) and yet, the Constitution can do nothing to stop him. The opposition party may ask the Justice Department to investigate but, of course, the Attorney General is a presidential appointee and unlikely to find his boss guilty of any wrongdoing. The Congress is supposed to be able to do something but as any American should know, a thing is only illegal if someone in the *other* party does it. Unless the party opposed to the President controls large majorities in both houses, there is nothing they can do about a President who breaks the law. Most would think that the Supreme Court could do something, and it is probably true that most Americans consider them to now be the ultimate authority in the country (oddly, the institution to which one is appointed and serves for life, making it the least democratic) but, even if someone brought such a case to them and even if they deigned to hear it their ruling must be enforced by the President as they have no power other than to render opinion. As most familiar with American history know, presidents have refused to enforce Supreme Court rulings in the past and, in the right circumstances, there is no reason it couldn’t happen again.
One can debate whether or not another bill of rights would do the United Kingdom any good. Perhaps it would help for a while, perhaps it would not or perhaps it would be twisted to actually do even more harm. What is certain, and it is certain because the current bill of rights has failed in “its” duty, is that it would not be a perfect solution. Nor is their likely to be one so long as the public is limited in its thinking to trusting for the answer to their problems in more politicians (such as in the new House of So-Called Lords) or in more documents to be upheld and interpreted by politicians when the politicians are the very problem. When the monarch has been reduced to ceremonial status and the House of Peers destroyed in all but name, is it any surprise that the professional politicians of the Commons have been able to run wild? The public must awaken sufficiently to stop trusting those who advance themselves by playing on the public vanity. It must awaken to the fact that sometimes the popular majority can get it wrong and that any constitution or code of justice is only as good as those who are charged with upholding it. They must also realize that, even if they cannot consider allowing a monarch to rule or even have a share in governing, it is still a good idea to allow a monarch to say “no” and have that be the end of it. The public wanted that power and they have it. Most now realize something is wrong but they do not want to admit that maybe, just maybe, they are part of the reason why. Looking at the situation today, a monarch would not be unjustified to say to anyone asking for help, in the words of the last German Kaiser, “You’ve cooked this broth, and now you’re going to drink it”.