Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quote of the day

From Richard Shannon, The Crisis of Imperialism 1865-1915 (1974; Paladin Bks. ed., 1976), ch.4, "Liberal Initiatives: Gladstone's Ministry 1868-74":
In many ways the various reforms of the British military system during Gladstone's first ministry exemplify as well as anything the interconnectedness for Liberals of principles of morality, efficiency and economy.... The basic aim of the Liberal military policy was to shift Britain from what may be termed a 'Wellingtonian' posture to a posture characterizable as being on unmistakably Liberal principles.... Of the influences at work the most important were the 'objective' considerations: on the immediate level, a chronic shortfall of recruitment, aggravated by the depopulating effects of the famine in Ireland, traditionally a rich source of enlistment in the British service; and, on a larger view, recognition that the fundamental lesson of the Crimean War was not so much its misconduct as that it registered the end of Wellingtonian or Peninsular assumptions that Britain could be a military power on a par with the continental Great Powers.... The Liberal aim, in essence, was to leave the Indian situation more or less where it was as far as strength was concerned (there was no real alternative) but to bring home the bulk of the rest of the army, reduce it in numbers and expense and make it an efficient expeditionary army which could be dispatched where it was needed instead of being a dispersed aggregation of strategic garrisons.... Thus from being a colonial garrison army with a European interventionist frame of intention, it would become a home army with a colonial or expeditionary frame of intention. (pp.82-84)


hank_F_M said...


I think we come from different perspectives.

A generalized comment on the Cardwell Reforms as a quote of the day. I suppose it fit nicely in the book you were reading. :- )

LFC said...

We already knew that "we come from different perspectives," but I think I might as well explain how I came to post this quote.

I'm reading Joseph Schumpeter's well-known (in some circles) essay on imperialism, which I've never read before (am planning to quote from it in the opening of a forthcoming post and figured I should actually read the whole thing, or at least some of it.) Anyway, in the opening of the essay Schumpeter has a discussion of British imperialism which struck me as weird in parts. (In contemporary valley-speak, I'm like, to myself: "Is this really ******* right? Is what he says about Disraeli right?" etc.) So I decided to pull something else from my bookshelf on the general subject and the Shannon paperback was handy and less unwieldy than a big textbook. And I sort of browsed through a bit here, a bit there, not really succeeding in answering specific questions about Schumpeter's account. And then I went to an earlier chapter in Shannon and I found this passage and it seemed interesting, esp. in light of current debates about U.S. mil. posture and bases -- though not of course in any sense directly analogous. So I put it up. I actually know virtually nothing about the nitty-gritty organizational history of the British army in the C19th, and I didn't know that these were called the Cardwell Reforms (or if I did, I'd forgotten).

I hope that clarifies matters. ;-)