Did Britain Wreck the World? | Newsweek International | Newsweek.com

Did Britain Wreck the World? | Newsweek International | Newsweek.com

Of course they did! What an inane question! However, let’s briefly examine why people might be of this opinion.

Take India as our first case. In 1857, Great Britain, after years of frustration at not getting what they want from the Indians, basically takes control of the entire subcontinent. The British Raj is then formed. Britain would remain in control for about 90 years, indelibly marking Indian culture. How do you think Indians ended up in Suriname and the northern coast of South America? After the British ceded control of India to the native population, they further exacerbated religions divisions by separating Muslims and Hindis. The Brits actions also set the stage for the Civil War that eventually created Pakistan and Bangladesh.


Our second case involves the Middle East, specifically the creation of Israel, the division of Palestine, and drawing of political boundaries. After World War I and the subsequent demise of the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain and France divided the spoils. They didn’t really pay that much attention, drawing lines that separated people, families, and grouped enemies together. In fact, in one notable story, in separating Greeks from Turks, the Brits confused vegetation types with ethnicity thereby drawing political boundaries on wrongly interpreted map information.

Finally, we have Africa. Outside of Ethiopia, most of the countries of Africa had little say in how their political boundaries were laid. The Berlin Conference of 1883-1884 essentially divided African continent among the more powerful European states, Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Spain. From this, Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria would become British offspring.

But the British had help. The French help establish the slave trade, and they were also the first to stop. The French were complicit in the division of the Middle East and Africa. The French were also responsible for the division of Southeast Asia. Remember French Indochina?

And we cannot forget the contribution of the Spanish throughout Latin America. Without Spanish Conquistadors rampaging throughout North America unabated, who would have decimated the native populations or Christianized them? Yeesh!

In closing, the adages of “to the victors go the spoils,” and “the victors write the history,” are proven true by the weight of evidence behind Great Britain. Supporting characters, France, Germany, and Spain, provide ample substance to further substantiate these phrases.

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