Even the British, renowned for the caliber of their imperial civil service, usually operated in stunning ignorance of the people and cultures they ruled over, certainly so in the case of the Arab world. Which is probably why they, too, were so often taken by surprise -- by the Sepoy Mutiny, the Battle of Isandlwana, the Easter Rising, the Iraq revolt, Palestinian resistance to Zionism, the list goes on and on.The difference, though, is that we live in an age in which it is easier than it ever has been to know things. Billmon's point is that empires tend to ignorance of conquered-therefore-inferior peoples, but when acquiring the rudiments of a subject is so insanely easy I'd expect that informed imperialists would be a dime a dozen.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Billmon writes, while dealing with US ignorance of what the hell's up: