Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I am reading The Arabs by Eugene Rogan. Although he is based at Oxford University, he uses Arab sources to describe the history of the Arab people through their own eyes: an interesting contrast with western-centric view that we get in our media.

I have just read a section describing the Ottoman Empire. Like previous empires, the Ottomans did not attempt to control everything in the empire. They appointed a governor in every region they conquered. In return for the honour and power, the governor was required to supply several thousand troops for the imperial army and collect taxes to be paid into the imperial coffers (just like Herod and Pilate).

This system worked well for them, because most of the fighting was done by foreign vassals, yet wealth flowed to the centre of the empire to support the lifestyle of the emperor and his lackeys. The British used the same method in their empire.

The American empire is different. Most of the fighting to defend the empire is done by young Americans sent out to foreign lands, but most of the wealth flows the same way. The taxes paid by the people at the heart of the empire are used to pay for the battles at the fringes. Whereas the Ottomans received taxes from their henchmen, Karzai and Maliki administer funds from American coffers, and cream off a share for their cronies.

This is a funny way to run and empire. I do not know how long it can last.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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