British Prime Minister Lloyd George at the end of World War I, on the region that would become Iraq:

We might abandon the country altogether. But I cannot understand withdrawing from the more important and promising part of Mesopotamia. … What would happen if we withdrew? … After the enormous expenditure which we have incurred in freeing this country from the withering despotism of the Turk, to hand it back to anarchy and confusion, and to take no responsibility for its development would be an act of folly and quite indefensible.

Quotation encountered in Desert Queen, by Janet Wallach, the story of Gertrude Bell, whose life does not sum up easily.


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