Comment: These urgings, these

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These urgings, these

These urgings, these “humanitarian” pretenses, these hypocrisies, by the great powers to the smaller powers, remind me of what the English Richard Cobden said more than 150 years ago in a similar situation:

But what I wish now to express . . . [is] that the Italians should be left free to manage their own affairs; that they should be as secure from intervention—that they should enjoy the privilege of non-intervention in the management of their own affairs, just as entirely and as sacredly as the great Powers themselves. I know what is the excuse that is made by those great Powers for interfering in the affairs of Italy and the smaller States; they do it under the pretence of preserving order,—the hypocritical pretence, I have no hesitation in calling it. Do the great Powers preserve order themselves? . . . Do they preserve the earth from bloodshed? . . . I will face the chance of disorder. I say that if the Italians cannot settle their own affairs without falling into discord, why should not they be allowed even to carry on civil and domestic tumult, or even war itself, without any other Power pretending to take the advantage and entering their territory? . . .

Well, I say, that which you allow to the great Powers, allow to the smaller Powers; and I say this, not merely in the interest of those Powers themselves, but of humanity, for . . . there can be no chance of peace, and no prospect of any abatement of those vast military efforts that prevent the people from enjoying the fruits of their industry, until you have the principle of non-intervention recognised as applicable to every small State as sacredly as to a large one. . . .

But we all know that if the more powerful nations choose to send secret emissaries, and spend money in corrupting or debasing the least instructed part of the community, it will be very easy to produce disorders in those countries. . . . But, I say, if they should fall into disorder by such means, or because they have not within themselves for the moment the elements of self-government (and, God knows, it must be difficult to find them, with so little experience as they have had in such matters), that is no reason—it is a hypocritical pretence, it is no reason—why the stronger Powers of the Continent should go and interfere in their concerns. . . .

[W]hat would have become of us as a nation, if some great Power from the Continent, immediately that we fell into civil war or commotion, had planted a large permanent army on our shores, and had insisted on taking the power out of the hands of the people—the power to remove their grievances—the power to rescue themselves from disorder?. . . [I]f, instead of those contests . . . we had had a French army, or a Spanish army, or the two united, placed in the city of London to control our operations, to dictate to both parties? They might have preserved peace, but where would have been our liberties.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality. - John Randolph of Roanoke