February 09, 2014
When it comes to foreign interventions, it is probable that in the long run benefits received are a greater cause of resentment than tangible harms done: for unsolicited benefits received are felt as even more of a wound to amour propre than harms, whose evil is at least manifest.
Whatever else may be said about Lord Cromer, he was a man of ability and integrity. He devoted his life to his task and wrote with clarity both of expression and vision. Here is part what he wrote in his last annual report on the state of Egypt, in 1906:
I am by no means convinced that Panislamic sympathies extended very deep down in Egyptian society; and I am quite confident that, had there been any real prospect of effect being given to Panislamic theories, a very strong and rapid revulsion would have taken place. Recent events have amply borne him out. But, he continues: However this may be, it is clear that Panislamism is a factor in the Egyptian of which account has…to be taken. Panislamism is generally held to mean a combination of all the Moslems throughout the world to defy and to resist the Christian power. Viewed in this aspect, the movement certainly requires to be carefully watched….It may possibly lead to sporadic outbursts of fanaticism in different parts of the world.
I once attended a lecture by an eminent economic historian who extolled Lord Cromer for having restored Egyptian finances to the point that Egypt was able to borrow money on the world markets at a low rate of interest, thus enabling it to complete infrastructural projects that would have been impossible without cheap loans.
True, no doubt. Cromer was a man of integrity and foresight; but this is somehow wildly beside the point, for he averted nothing.