chapter  3
The Middle East Imbroglio, 1919−1921
Pages 27

It is to be doubted whether many of Churchill’s contemporaries perceived the momentous transitions in the British Empire through which they lived, and still less likely that they understood the economic, political and military processes which caused them. In an age when the real economic benefits of Empire were in decline, Churchill continued to believe, in fact until the end of World War Two, that ‘the Empire was a possession that gave to Britain a world position and prestige that she would not otherwise have enjoyed, and whose absolute retention was essential’.1 As Professor Plumb has observed, he regarded the Empire as an immutable part of Britain’s destiny and mission: ‘For Churchill, the past confirmed the peculiar genius of the English race and proved its right to be rich, Imperial, and the guardian of human freedoms’.2