Techniques of Informal Empire
‘I IMAGINE we shall some day have to extend — or abandon — this settlement.’ ‘Complete annexation or total abandonment are I fear the only alternatives.’ In such stark uncompromising terms politicians were sometimes inclined to view Britain’s dilemma in West Africa. As Carnarvon admitted, it was ‘a very evil choice to have to make’. In the Malay Peninsula and Melanesia-Polynesia, where Britain had little territory, the choice seemed to lie between annexation or disengagement from the consequences of piecemeal intervention. Each case was, of course, different. But, as civil servants and politicians contemplated the future, they were tempted to reduce the question to simple terms: forwards or backwards? Should we expand, or should we retire to a secure, unambiguous and inexpensive position?
KeywordsNiger Delta Gold Coast Malay Peninsula British Subject Foreign Power
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