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Ed Webb

Caribbean Nations to Seek Reparations, Putting Price on Damage of Slavery - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • In a 2008 biography he wrote of an antislavery campaigner, Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, described the trade in human beings as an indefensible barbarity, “brutal, mercenary and inhumane from its beginning to its end.”

    Fourteen Caribbean countries that once sustained that slave economy now want Mr. Hague to put his money where his mouth is.

    Spurred by a sense of injustice that has lingered for two centuries, the countries plan to compile an inventory of the lasting damage they believe they suffered and then demand an apology and reparations from the former colonial powers of Britain, France and the Netherlands.

  • Britain has already paid compensation over the abolition of the slave trade once — but to slave owners, not their victims. Britain transported more than three million Africans across the Atlantic, and the impact of the trade was vast. Historians estimate that, in the Victorian era, between one-fifth and one-sixth of all wealthy Britons derived at least some of their fortunes from the slave economy.
  • Caribbean nations argue that their brutal past continues, to some extent, to enslave them today.

    “Our constant search and struggle for development resources is linked directly to the historical inability of our nations to accumulate wealth from the efforts of our peoples during slavery and colonialism,” said Baldwin Spencer, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, in July this year. Reparations, he said, must be directed toward repairing the damage inflicted by slavery and racism.

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  • The current French president, François Hollande, conceded last year that France’s treatment of Algeria, its former colony, was “brutal and unfair.” But he did not go so far as to apologize.
  • Some Caribbean nations have already begun assessing the lasting damage they suffered, ranging from stunted educational and economic opportunities to dietary and health problems
  • “Reparation may be awarded only for what was internationally unlawful when it was done,” Dr. O’Keefe said, “and slavery and the slave trade were not internationally unlawful at the time the colonial powers engaged in them.”
Ed Webb

Will Syria War Mean End of Sykes-Picot? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 0 views

  • The Entente powers defeated the Central powers, the latter comprising first and foremost Germany but also, importantly for the future of the Middle East, the Ottoman empire, which ostensibly controlled the Levant — what today comprises most of what we know as Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Iraq. The Entente victory essentially allowed for the implementation of Sykes-Picot.
  • various Western-dominated conferences solidified the main components of Sykes-Picot into the mandate system, which was officially meant as a mechanism of transition for Middle Eastern peoples and their allotted territories toward independence, but in reality it just replaced Ottoman suzerainty with that of British and French colonial control.

    What emerged were largely artificial constructions that reflected British and French competition and imperial (mostly geostrategic and oil pipeline) interests rather than the natural ethnic, religious, economic and geographic contours of the region itself. It was to all intents and purposes the imposition of the Western-based Westphalian nation-state system onto the Middle East. Centuries of pre-existing orientations were cast aside.

  • for the most part the Ottomans, despite the stresses and strains that confronted them in the 1700s and 1800s leading up to the Great War, bargained and negotiated their way with local powers to produce relative stability
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  • alien Western political, economic and even sociocultural constructs were superimposed on most of the inhabitants of these new countries
  • It took the United States more than 100 years to become a somewhat stable, prosperous country, and this was accomplished despite a horrific civil war but also while separated by oceans from much of the rest of the world — not on the doorstep of Europe endlessly fighting balance-of-power wars, — and sitting on highly coveted ground consisting of two-thirds of a new source of energy that would power the 20th century.
  • what kept these artificial creations together was the on-the-ground military presence of the British, French and eventually the Americans. And when one of these three was not present, military dictatorship filled the void that emerged from colonialism, political immaturity, imperialist machination and the lack of a national identity
  • events of the past decade in the post-Cold War world altered this equation. The military dictatorships have been removed or are under siege, first with the US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and culminating with the events of the so-called Arab Spring of 2011. We seem to be witnessing much of the Levant returning to its constituent parts, where the nation-state as a unit of analysis may no longer be valid. Iraq is once again on the verge of breaking down following the removal of US troops.
  • We may be witness to a generation-long process that will remap much of the Middle East. Perhaps outside powers will once again intervene to enforce new borders. If they do, will they get it right this time? Perhaps the indigenous peoples will continue to write their own history … and their own borders. Maybe all of this is inevitable no matter what regional or international powers decide to do
Ed Webb

Britain's colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition - Home News -... - 0 views

  • as many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy
  • Some families used the money to invest in the railways and other aspects of the industrial revolution; others bought or maintained their country houses, and some used the money for philanthropy.
  • The British government paid out £20m to compensate some 3,000 families that owned slaves for the loss of their "property" when slave-ownership was abolished in Britain's colonies in 1833. This figure represented a staggering 40 per cent of the Treasury's annual spending budget and, in today's terms, calculated as wage values, equates to around £16.5bn.

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  • To have two Lord Chancellors in Britain in the 20th century bearing the name of a slave-owner from British Guyana, who went penniless to British Guyana, came back a very wealthy man and contributed to the formation of this political dynasty
  • The database is available from Wednesday at: ucl.ac.uk/lbs.
  • Slavery on an industrial scale was a major source of the wealth of the British empire, being the exploitation upon which the West Indies sugar trade and cotton crop in North America was based. Those who made money from it were not only the slave-owners, but also the investors in those who transported Africans to enslavement. In the century to 1810, British ships carried about three million to a life of forced labour.

    Campaigning against slavery began in the late 18th century as revulsion against the trade spread. This led, first, to the abolition of the trade in slaves, which came into law in 1808, and then, some 26 years later, to the Act of Parliament that would emancipate slaves. This legislation made provision for the staggering levels of compensation for slave-owners, but gave the former slaves not a penny in reparation.

  • in 1838, 700,000 slaves in the West Indies, 40,000 in South Africa and 20,000 in Mauritius were finally liberated
Ed Webb

British have invaded nine out of ten countries - so look out Luxembourg - Telegraph - 0 views

  • "Other countries could write similar books – but they would be much shorter. I don't think anyone could match this, although the Americans had a later start and have been working hard on it in the twentieth century."
  • The only other nation which has achieved anything approaching the British total, Mr Laycock said, is France – which also holds the unfortunate record for having endured the most British invasions.
  • Mr Laycock added: "One one level, for the British, it is quite amazing and quite humbling, that this is all part of our history, but clearly there are parts of our history that we are less proud of. The book is not intended as any kind of moral judgment on our history or our empire. It is meant as a light-hearted bit of fun."

    The countries never invaded by the British:

    Andorra

    Belarus

    Bolivia

    Burundi

    Central African Republic

    Chad

    Congo, Republic of

    Guatemala

    Ivory Coast

    Kyrgyzstan

    Liechtenstein

    Luxembourg

    Mali

    Marshall Islands

    Monaco

    Mongolia

    Paraguay

    Sao Tome and Principe

    Sweden

    Tajikistan

    Uzbekistan

    Vatican City

Ed Webb

Mitt Romney's Search for Simple Answers - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    Colonialism not mentioned explicitly. Bizarre, given the particular context of Gov Romney's remarks.
Ed Webb

Britain destroyed records of colonial crimes | UK news | The Guardian - 0 views

  • The documents show that colonial officials were instructed to separate those papers to be left in place after independence – usually known as "Legacy files" – from those that were to be selected for destruction or removal to the UK. In many colonies, these were described as watch files, and stamped with a red letter W.
  • The documents show that colonial officials were instructed to separate those papers to be left in place after independence – usually known as "Legacy files" – from those that were to be selected for destruction or removal to the UK. In many colonies, these were described as watch files, and stamped with a red letter W.
  • As independence grew closer, large caches of files were removed from colonial ministries to governors' offices, where new safes were installed.

    In Uganda, the process was codenamed Operation Legacy. In Kenya, a vetting process, described as "a thorough purge", was overseen by colonial Special Branch officers.

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  • Clear instructions were issued that no Africans were to be involved: only an individual who was "a servant of the Kenya government who is a British subject of European descent" could participate in the purge.
  • Many of the watch files ended up at Hanslope Park. They came from 37 different former colonies, and filled 200 metres of shelving. But it is becoming clear that much of the most damning material was probably destroyed. Officials in some colonies, such as Kenya, were told that there should be a presumption in favour of disposal of documents rather than removal to the UK – "emphasis is placed upon destruction" – and that no trace of either the documents or their incineration should remain.
Ed Webb

What Gingrich Didn't Learn in Congo - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    In shocking news, Newt probably speaks and reads French.
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