Was the Civilizing Mission truly meant to civilize the people of Central Asia?

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It truly was the great game. It was the struggle that took place between the two superpowers - Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia over the lonely passes and the blazing desert of Central Asia. I would say that the great game was much like an enormous game of chess; with Russia seeking to expand its borders and Great Britain seeking to safeguard its interests in India. While it was never made clear in Hopkirk's book that the true Russian dream was the conquest of India and not of Central Asia, but I think that it was indirectly implied. When Younghusband met colonel Yanov he recounted "and he showed me, marked in green, a large area extending right down to our Indian watershed" (Hopkirk 465). This was the area that the Russians claimed to be their own or the area that they were going to conquer. Also, in many other encounters when a British officer and a Russian general met, the Russian general always mentioned how anxious his men were to face their ultimate battle with the British on reaching India.

I think that Hopkirk in his book "The Great Game" has been very successful in giving a detailed description of this incredible tale of high adventure and political intrigue, conveyed here through the exploits of Cossacks, Muslim guerrillas, courageous travelers, spies, mapmakers and soldiers. The thing that is noteworthy about this book is the wealth of information that Hopkirk provides and still manages to make it interesting to the reader. He tells a complete story, but expands on issues and events that are both interesting and important.

In my paper I will talk about the Russian and British conquest of this area for financial gain or, as the imperialists liked to call it, the "Civilizing Mission". I will try and prove that the true reason behind the imperialist conquests of Central Asia was neither the salvation of its people nor the so called Civilizing Mission, but making economic gain through finding new markets for their goods, and stopping other imperialists from gaining their conquered territory. In a way it was like the Cold War of the 19th century fought between Britain and Russia. While both countries wanted to take over each other's territory and trade, they always denied it and lied about it to each other.

The so-called "Civilizing Mission" believed that it was the duty of all Christians to bring their message of salvation to others less fortunate. British and Russian rule, being based on Christian principles, was the ultimate benefit that could be bestowed upon the barbaric peoples of Central Asia. They (Christians) believed that it was their duty to free these people (Central Asians) from the rule of Muslim tyrants who knew no mercy and did not recognize sympathy and forgiveness of any kind. It was these convictions that drew the imperialists to Central Asia.

I say that the imperialists were never really interested in civilizing Central Asia because, throughout the book, whenever the two imperialist nations conquered any area and signed a treaty with the ruler of that area to have peace between them. The imperialists' terms only focused on keeping the other imperialist country out of their area - territorially and financially. The imperialists would prevent the other imperialist from entering their territory and were prepared to use force if necessary. They made it legal only for their own goods to be sold in their conquered areas of Central Asia; whether it was the treaty with the Emir of Bukhara (Hopkirk 397,426,429), or the Shah of Persia (Hopkirk 36). Their treaties never really focused on improving the life of the ordinary man economically or socially, which I believe was the true purpose of the Civilizing Mission and not finding new markets for their goods.

In fact treaties of such sort and the influence of the imperialists made the life of the ordinary man in such areas a lot worse. Firstly, they would have to live through the burden of war; which became a very frequent event since one...
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