Monday, July 25, 2011

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Chs. 5-9

Chapter 5: All Roads Lead to India
  • "The glittering riches of India have always attracted covetous eyes" - 69
1. 500 BC - Darius of Persia
2. 300 BC - Alexander the Great of Macedonia
3. 997-1026 AD - Mahmoud of Ghazni (part of Afghanistan), 15 raids
4. 1175-1206 AD - Mohammed of Gor (northern Pakistan), 6 invasions
5. 1398 AD - Tamerlane's troops sack Delhi
6. 1526 AD - Babur the Turk invades from Kabul, establishes Mogul Empire
7. 1739 AD - Nadir Shah of Persia
  • "Were it even possible for an enemy to succeed in constructing a fleet of materials conveyed, at vast trouble and expense, from the interior of Syria, or the shores of the Mediterranean...there is no harbour which could protect such a fleet from the attack of our cruisers." - John Kinneir, British risk assessor of sea invasion - 71
  • "All roads ultimately led through Afghanistan, whatever [overland] route an invader came by." - 73
  • "Unlike Wilson, Kinneir was not fully convinced that Tsar Alexander was planning to seize India: 'I suspect that the Russians are by no means desirous of extending their empire in this quarter; it is already too unwieldy, and may probably, ere long, crumble into pieces from its own accumulated weight.' He considered Constantinople a far more likely target for Alexander's ambitions." - 74
Chapter 6: The First of the Russian Players
  • September 21, 1819: Captain Nikolai Muraviev sets off across the Karakum Desert in a caravan to attempt to win over the Khan of the Turcomans at Khiva - 79
  • December 13, 1819: Muraviev returns to the eastern side of the Caspian Sea after the Khan agrees to send envoys to Tiflis, Georgia - 86
  • Muraviev's "journey was destined to mark the beginning of the end of the independent khanates of Central Asia." - 88
Chapter 7: A Strange Tale of Two Dogs
  • "It was in the course of the second of three long journeys he [William Moorcroft] made in search of these horses -- this one to the Kailas region of Tibet -- that something happened which gave birth to an obsession that haunted him for the rest of his life....he was greeted by two strange dogs which he knew at once to be of European origin....The two dogs had once belonged to [Russian] soldiers....From then until his death in 1825, Moorcroft was to deluge his superiors in Calcutta with impassioned warnings about Russian intentions in Central Asia." - 90
  • "What Moorcroft did not realise was that their many months in Ladakh spent trying to negotiate with the Chinese across the mountains [for access to Bokhara through Chinese Turkestan to avoid the current conflict/civil war in Afghanistan] had been pointless almost from the start. For the artful [Mehkti] Rafailov...had successfully poisoned the minds of the senior Chinese officials against them" - 98
Chapter 8: Death on the Oxus
  • "If the British did not get their hands on Afghanistan first, he [Moorcroft] warned, then the Russians almost certainly would." - 99
  • February 25, 1825: after proceeding through the Khyber Pass and travelling north along the Oxus River, "Moorcroft and his companions were able to make out in the distance the unmistakable line of minarets and domes which they knew were those of Bokhara, the holiest city in Muslim Central Asia." - 101
  • "It was hoped that these ['lavish gifts, including guns and furs, watches and European porcelain'] would create an appetite among rich Bokharans for more such goods. For the Russian factories...were becoming desperate for new markets. The home market was too small and impoverished to absorb the rapidly growing volume of goods being produced, while their British rivals, using more sophisticated machinery, were able to undercut them in both Europe and America." - 102
  • "To St. Petersburg the Great Game was as much about commercial penetration as about political and military expansion" - 102
Chapter 9: The Barometer Falls
  • "Both Tsar and Shah had looked upon the Treaty of Gulistan, which the British had negotiated between them in 1813, as no more than a temporary expedient which would allow them to strengthen their forces prior to the next round." - 109
  • November 1825: Governor-General Yermolov sends troops to occupy a disputed territory between Erivan and Lake Sevan that was not addressed in the Treaty of Gulistan - 109
  • "Not only was St. Petersburg embroiled on the side of the Greeks in their struggle for independence against the Turks, but at home, especially within the army, it was facing serious disorders following the sudden death of Tsar Alexander in December 1825....Abbas Mirza decided to strike the Russians while they were off their guard. Suddenly and without warning a 30,000-strong Persian force crossed the Russian frontier" - 110
  • "The original purpose of the pact between London and Teheran had, so far as the British were concerned, been the protection of India from attack by an intruder marching across Persia...the pact contained an escape clause....they were only obliged to go to the Shah's assistance if he were attacked, and not if they were the aggressor....Thus was Britain able to wriggle off the hook, for the second time in twenty-two years." - 111
  • "Under the terms of the peace treaty it had been agreed that Armenians living in Persia might, if they so wished, return to their homeland now that it had become part of the Russian Empire, and was therefore under Christian rule." - 112
  • "If the Ottoman Empire were to break up, with Russia occupying Constantinople and commanding the straits, a scramble would follow among the major European powers, including Britain, France and Austria, for what was left. Not only might a general European war result, but with British and French bases in the eastern Mediterranean, Russia's flank would be permanently threatened. It would be altogether safer to let the Sultan keep his ramshackle empire intact, even if he were to be made to pay for the privilege." - 115

No comments:

Post a Comment