Julia Lovell finds something funny in the Opium Wars
Great Britain has many reasons to feel great about itself. Its empire was the largest in history and covered over a fifth of the world's population. It had more colonies than any other European power. It came, it saw, it divided, and it conquered.
It raped and it reaped, it slaughtered millions of people, massacred entire populations, and caused civil wars with impunity. Racism was its state policy. It sucked the life out of its colonies and reduced them to what we now call third-world nations. It drew and redrew boundaries and created whole new countries randomly on a whim. Most conflicts in the world today can be traced back to British Imperialism: the Kashmir issue, the Sino-Indian border dispute, Tibet, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Sudan - the list goes on.
Yes - Great Britain can be proud. It had the largest empire in the world. It had managed to keep its European competitors in check. There was no known threat to its global dominion. It seemed that Great Britain was destined to rule the world.