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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

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LIMITATIONS  OF  BRITISH CONTROL
tlons of war " were going to create, and they persisted for a, long time in believing that the Occupation into which they had drifted would and could be merely temporary. In accordance with that belief, they not only pledged themselves* repeatedly to a speedy withdrawal, but anxiously explored every means of escape compatible with the responsibility they had assumed towards the people of Egypt by military intervention. But the longer we remained in Egypt the more the conviction forced itself slowly on their reluctant minds that withdrawal would simply mean the relapse of Egypt either Into the state of chaos from which our military intervention had rescued it, or into the old system of misgovernment a,nd oppression which had ultimately plunged it into chaos. The whole structure of government and administration had gone to pieces, and if it was ever to be restored, it had to be built up again from the very foundations. Neither in the interests of Egypt nor in our own interests was it possible to abandon the country to its fate, and if we did abandon it, there was yet another danger to be reckoned with. At the first opportunity, which would assuredly not have been slow to arise, some other Power would have stepped into the place we had vacated. There was Turkey with her suzerain rights which Abdul Hamid was always plotting to assert, though the nerve to do so effectively always failed him at the crucial moment. There was Erance with Russia behind her, who had not yet forgiven us for the loss of lier former position in Egypt, though she had only herself to thank for her own refusal to share in the " operations of war " which had placed us in occupation of the valley of the Nile. There were, it is true, other Powers, such, as Germany, whose attitude for the time being was less unfriendly and whose ambitions would not then have been served by our withdrawal from Egypt. But whereas all the Powers had actually acquiesced, however reluctantly in some cases, in the British Occupation, it was difficult to foresee what might be the consequences of
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f; H i f- ^ 'rds in Ceylon. He told me frankly that though he had distrusted us intensely