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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

300
THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM
CHAP.
Assuming that the Party of Independence would agree to such conditions as not too excessive a price for ridding Egypt of the " usurpers/' withdrawal represents a policy more easy perhaps to defend from the point of view of selfish British Imperialism than from that of advanced Liberals to whom Imperialism is anathema. For though the mere material difficulties in carrying it into eflect would be enormous, it has the attraction of following, for the moment, the line of least resistance. But to state it should be enough to show that we cannot adopt it without a dangerously hasty, if not dishonourable, repudiation of all the responsibilities we have assumed during the last thirty-eight years. Self-determination may be an admirable principle, but only unreasoning faith can urge that it is of universal application or that it should be applied to peoples as incapable of expressing themselves as the Egyptian masses still are. The leaders of the Party of Independence have themselves shown by boycotting the Milner Commission that they were afraid to let it bo put to the test of any close inquiry into the wishes or even into the conditions of life of their people. Many of the; method* of agitation and of intimidation practised by the Party of Independence and its at least tacit condonation of violence have grown painfully reminiscent of the methods of the " Young Turk " Committee of Union and Progress, which was equally lavish in 1908 of democratic assurances of " Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," with the* results that we know. Should we really promote the evolution of the Egyptian people towards nationhood by handing them over to a party which is appealing more and more openly to the reactionary forces of the Mamie world ? What would be the effect in Palestine and Syria and throughout the Middle East ? Or should we servo tho cause of universal peace if, after having for the first time now secured international sanction for British control, we were suddenly to renounce it altogether, without any regard for the welfare of the foreign communitieH established in Egypt who look to us for the protection of their