"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A half-hour history of Europe

A half-hour history of Europe - History Extra

"‘Argument can be made one reason why Europe was relatively peaceful in the 19th century is because stasis [?] diverted them all abroad. I mean, Germany certainly encouraged France to go abroad on the ground that she wouldn't then worry about Alsace-Lorraine. So you could say that they just turned their violence elsewhere’...

‘Yes, you could and you'd be right. There're all kinds of ways in which we suppress, overcome, cope with violence. It's called diplomacy and it’s called nation building and so on. But the fact is in the 19th century Europe became very powerful, it became technologically more advanced than most other states. It was therefore in a position to as you say, conquer them. Although I have to say, I’m not a defender of the Empire here, it was not as violent as some of the battles, I mean there was nothing that we did to other people that compared with the 30 Years War which we did to ourselves. Or for that matter, the First and Second World War. Europe’s capacity for violence against itself was supreme’...

‘I was quite interested in your off-the-cuff three or four sentences about all of these teenage knights that went out and had wars because this was a great thing to do and so forth. Perhaps you could say, not entirely seriously, that war has, there had been more peace, because statesmen became older’...

‘Alexander I, Edward III - all these people, they were all young men… Alexander the Great... Louis XIV… they became the most belligerent - Frederick the Great certainly - when they were, all the hormones were jambling and they were getting up and showing off and being virile and whatever. And of course being male. And I do find that a curious feature of Europe’s history related to kingship - people tend to die young and therefore their sons were even younger. So maybe just a by the way phenomenon, but it is true that they were very young...

When the war was over, and as you say old men tended to rule the roost, however briefly, the peace, so-called, tended to last two generations and it was about 50 60 years, almost like clockwork, the next war comes along. And that suggests to me that this habit of violence, this inclination to violence has a lot to do with the memory of horror, the memory of war. It's not just a measure of how politics is working’...

Probably all states - Frederick the Great said it, Louis XIV said it. It is the nature of power to want to expand, that's what power does. In Europe you've got these very confined borders, you’ve got a lot of people. And on the whole technology was advancing, populations were growing, they were up against each other, they end up fighting. I think it’s as simple as that...

England or Britain's history in Europe is quite different from that of France, Germany, and other countries and is different because we were an island. And we're an island, and therefore don't rub up against our neighbors in the same way. And the wars Britain fought, really since 17th century were on the whole accidental wars. They were not wars of aggrandisement. There were aggrandisement abroad - extra continental, but we didn't fight wars in Europe, except as a mercenary for other people...

The Islamic incursion - we have to be careful about terms here - round the Mediterranean in the Eighth century and so on, was as complete as it was. Almost none of their conquests reverted to Christianity. These were Christian territories. Almost none of them reverted to Christianity. They penetrated right through almost Vienna in the north and of course up through Spain into France in south... the whole of North Africa, the whole of the Levant went over to Islam. The consequence of that was that Christendom shrank by about a third, that’s not in any history book I’ve read... Islam was very, very important to European history, because it defined Europe... we're no longer the Eastern or Southern Mediterranean...

‘Was it less violent than Christianity? Was that one reason it was perhaps a bit more successful and permanently successful?’...

‘I don't know the answer to that... all religions change at the time, not least Christianity... the Coptic Christians in Egypt… you can worship as you wish. Whereas the Church in Constantinople was endlessly excommunicating them and telling them they were distance [?] and heretics, and so on.’...

People who are genetically attuned to having strong leaders... even today, when we are sort of supposedly programmed and conditioned to democracy or to some concept of democracy, when democracy errs or when democracy is appearing to fail or not deliver as promised, the concept of the strong leader. comes out.

What I am more puzzled by is why it appears to be so much stronger in Eastern Europe then Western Europe. I mean, it's clearly the case that Slavs have a natural tendency to seek a strong leader whereas certainly the British, but also the French and the Germans, are basically sceptical and anyone gets too much power, they sort of go for them...

It was certainly programmed into the DNA of Russia's leaders. From Peter the Great it’s very explicit. Peter the Great, Catherine the Great. They all state - oh, I think all this Voltarian Rationalism and possibly even democracy is fine, but not for Russia. Russia is so big, the Boyars have caused enough trouble, it's so big, it must have a strong leader and strong central government. That's just essential and ironic thing is that it was Russia that took Communism most to its heart because Communism offered a framework for strong central leadership and it does to this day...

‘All of these forces brought the continent of Europe closer to self-destruction in the twentieth century. Yet more people died in the Thirty Years War of 1618 to 1648 than ever died - one third of Europe - than ever died in the wars of the Twentieth Century.’"
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