Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Chs. 3,4

Chapter 3: Rehearsal for the Great Game
  • see Captain Charles Christie's Mission to Herat and Lieutenant Henry Pottinger's observations of Baluchistan and Kerman
  • "Early in 1812, to the immense relief of London and Calcutta, the alarming partnership between Napoleon and Alexander had broken up. In June of that year Napoleon attacked, not India, but Russia, and to the astonishment of the world suffered the most catastrophic reverse in history. The threat to India had been lifted. Or so it seemed to a wildly rejoicing Britain." - 56
Chapter 4: The Russian Bogy
  • March 30, 1814: "Alexander, convinced now that he had been ordained by the Almighty to rid the world of Napoleon, was not content simply to drive them back beyond his own frontiers. He pursued the French half-way across Europe to Paris, entering it in triumph" - 58
  • "If one man could be said to be responsible for the creation of the Russian bogy, it was a much-decorated British general named Sir Robert Wilson....It was on his return [from Russia as the official British observer] to London that Wilson drew official wrath upon himself by launching a one-man campaign against the Russians." - 59
  • 1817: Wilson publishes A Sketch of the Military and Political Power of Russia; "In it he claimed that the Russians, emboldened by their sudden rise to power, were planning to carry out Peter the Great's supposed death-bed command that they conquer the world." - 60
  • "Although Wilson had no lack of supporters among the intelligentsia and the liberals, who abhorred Alexander's authoritarian rule, and from newspapers and journals of like view, he was largely shouted down. Nonetheless his book, much of which was based on false assumptions, gave birth to a debate on Russia's every move which would continue for a hundred years or more....The first seeds of Russophobia had been sown." - 61
  • 1813: Treaty of Gulistan, "the Shah was obliged to surrender almost all his claims to Georgia and Baku, as well as renouncing all naval rights on the Caspian Sea....All that the Shah got in return, apart from an end to hostilities, was an undertaking from the Tsar that he would support the claim of Abbas Mirza, his son and heir apparent....the Shah had no intention of honouring this treaty which had been forced upon him by his aggressive neighbours" - 66

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