History is still with us.

History, to fundamentally contradict Francis Fukuyama, never ever ends.


The start of 2011 has been characterised by uprisings and instability across the Arab world.


Compare the current area of instability with this one.


Just looking at both maps a century apart indicates that we are, today, living with the mistakes and follies of past leaders.

Tonight planes from Britain and France with the legal authority of the United Nations Security Council are in action against military targets in Libya.

In 1919 Britain and France were still world powers.

Then the League of Nations was the attempt to create an arena for nations and polities to settle their differences peacefully.

It was in the Middle East and North Africa that huge mistakes were made by the League.

With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire the victorious European powers in the Great War, Britain and France saw imperial opportunities. The partitioning of the empire was a political act planned from the latter years of the Great War. The disaggregation of the Istanbul centred empire created new nations of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, “Transjordan” Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Oh dear. It was the Ottomans who first faced down Islamic fundamentalism in the 18th century when they suppressed the first wave of Wahhabism in the Arabian Peninsula.

By allowing the Ottoman Empire to disintegrate and grabbing  territory for themselves Britain and France were creating problems in the region that are still with us.

Although the League started with stated lofty ambitions its grand vision died in the deserts of Abyssinia as they failed to impose an oil embargo on Mussolini’s Italy.

Had the League done so then his tanks would have ground to a halt. Instead they were allowed to slaughter the poorly armed tribesmen loyal to Haile Selassie that comprised Abyssinia’s army.

The best the League could come up with was a “Moral Embargo”. This meant that arms were denied to both sides the invader and the invaded.

Later Benito Mussolini stated that had the League imposed an oil embargo then the invasion would have literally been stopped in its tracks.

The League failed to stand up to the aggression of up and coming fascist dictators like Mussolini and Franco in Spain.

It did not go unnoticed in Berlin.

Now we are still dealing with the chaotic disaggregation of the Ottoman Empire and the self-interest, stupidity and hubris of the victorious European powers after the Great War.

There are no good choices in this Libyan escapade none at all.