Friday, July 15, 2011

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Forward to Ch.1

  • "a succession of ambitious Tsars and ruthless generals crushed the Muslim peoples of Central Asia and occupied their lands. Fearing that the Russians would not stop until India too was theirs, the British sent young officers northwards through the passes to spy on them. At times the Great Game spilled over into Afghanistan, Persia, China and Tibet" - xv

  • 1807: "intelligence reached London which was to cause considerable alarm to both the British government and the [East India] Company's directors. Napoleon Bonaparte, emboldened by his run of brilliant victories in Europe, had put it to Paul's successor, Tsar Alexander I, that they should together invade India and wrest it from British domination" - 2-3
  • "diplomatic missions were dispatched [by the British] to the Shah of Persia and the Emir of Afghanistan, through whose domains the aggressor [Russia] would have to pass, in the hope of discouraging them from entering into any liaisons with the foe." - 3
  • "Indian hill men of exceptional intelligence and resource, specially trained in clandestine surveying techniques, were dispatched across the frontier disguised as Muslim holy men or Buddhist pilgrims. In this way, often at great risk to their lives, they secretly mapped thousands of square miles of previously unexplored terrain with remarkable accuracy. For their part, the Russians used Mongolian Buddhists to penetrate regions considered too dangerous for Europeans." - 5
  • "The Afghans, Moscow found too late, were an unbeatable foe." - 7
Chapter 1: The Yellow Peril
  • 1206: "The dreadful Mongol whirlwind had been unleashed on the an illiterate military genius named Teumjin, formerly the unknown chief of a minority tribe, whose fame was destined shortly to eclipse even that of Alexander the Great. It was the dream of Genghis Khan, as he was to become known, to conquer the earth, a task which he believed he had been chosen by God to carry out. During the next thirty years, he and his successors almost achieved this. At the height of their power their empire was to stretch from the Pacific coast to the Polish frontier. It embraced the whole of China, Persia, Afghanistan, present-day Central Asia, and parts of northern India and the Caucasus. But more important still, and particularly to our narrative, it included vast tracts of Russia and Siberia." - 12
  • "taking advantage of its reduced circumstances and military weakness, Russia's European neighbors began to help themselves freely to its territory. The German principalities, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden all joined in....Crushed thus between their European foes to the west and the Mongols to the east, the Russians were to develop a paranoid dread of invasion and encirclement which has bedeviled their foreign relations ever since." - 13
  • "If Catherine [the Great] failed to add either India or Constantinople to her domains, she nonetheless took a number of steps in that direction. Not only did she win back from the Persians the Caucasian territories which Anne had restored to them, but she also took possession of the Crimea, that last surviving stronghold of the Mongol empire." - 21
  • "To conquer India we must first make ourselves masters of Egypt." - 22, Napoleon Bonaparte

No comments:

Post a Comment