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The British Experience in the Middle East

This article is more than 19 years old.
photoAs he pushed British troops through the city of Basra and into Baghdad over 86 years ago, Lt. General Stanley Maude said, "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." During and after World War I, British and French troops came into the Middle East pledging to rid it of its corrupt dictators. They ended up imperially redrawing its borders and creating new countries, stoking a region-wide resentment that lives on today.

David Fromkin, Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University, says that differently from the British and the French during World War I, the U.S. will strongly consider what is in the best interest of the Iraqi people. He says the U.S. is not in Iraq to create or expand an empire, or to control the country. But, he points out, the U.S. erroneously believes, like the British and the French did, that people in the Middle East prefer a good government led by foreigners to a bad government led by their own people.

Click the "Listen" link to hear more about the lessons the U.S. can draw from the British experience in Iraq and the Middle East during World War I.


David Fromkin, Fredrick S. Pardee Professor of History and international Relations at Boston University and author of "A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East".

This program aired on April 4, 2003.


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