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I have been thinking a bit about post-imperial outcomes.

If look at modern Europe centered empires, we put the ones going through fascism in one pile (Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal), the ones going through strong man illiberal (but not fascist) rule in an other (Turkey post world war one, and Russia post USSR) and look at what we have left, I think it is basically Netherlands (lost Dutch East India during and in the direct aftermath of world war two), France (lost colonial empire in the decades after world war two), and UK (dito). The first two are arguable depending on whether you include the collaboratist governments during world war two, but if we limit ourselves to fascist movements with mainly domestic support, we have these three cases.

Can any conclusions be drawn from these three cases compared with each other empires to gain insight into how to stear a course clear of fascism? Maybe, but I am not sure what it would be. Though there is probably insights that can be had.

  • How hard it is to uphold liberal democracy when the upper class has decided against it. Thinking mainly about Germany and Spain here. Here there are worrying signs in the US, with op-eds arguing that Trump, Brexit etc are signs of to much democracy.

  • The role of troops with experience of wars in establishing dictatorships. Thinking mainly about Italy, Spain and Germany here. Not all veterans of course, not even most, but the kind that goes to Blackwater (or whatever they are called now).

  • The risks and rewards of running on pulling back the empire. Modern empires has advanced propaganda painting the empire as a force for good. Going against that can be hard, but the propaganda image can also be turned around in claiming that this perticular war is bad, as the locals wants us gone. If we look at France and UK in the 60ies and 70ies, pulling troops out and making peace comes with the risk of coup, but continuing colonial wars is unpopular (because empires in decline tend not to win) and creates the conditions for coups through hugh army budgets, veteran units, troop movements and exercises that can be used to start a coup and a general fear of the enemy that can be redirected internally. Over all, I would say that the right policy for a left wing government is to end the wars quickly upon entering government. Appoint generals who are at least sceptical of the war and give them a tight deadline for pulling out. Make peace and stability if you can, but pull out. Add a peace dividend and settle your veterans.
by fjallstrom on Sat Aug 31st, 2019 at 11:04:18 AM EST
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