The Brits “retained significant control (over Iraq) … until the late 1950s. Yet by repeatedly putting its faith in unpopular rulers who could be depended upon to ensure a steady supply of oil, London inadvertently set off several nationalist explosions. A string of army coups, starting in 1958, eventually led to Saddam Hussein.”
In Nigeria, Britain distrusted educated natives “and decided to grant resources and autonomy to more traditional tribal chieftains, who were intent on pursuing local, not national interests. Britain’s decision to join the Islamic north of the country with non-Muslim settlements in the south fed tribal conflicts and insurgencies that have lasted to this day.”
In the Sudan, “British authorities ruled the north and south separately, ultimately to calamitous effect. Southern Sudan has recently become a separate country after decades of bloodshed, and the last 10 years have seen unconscionable war and genocide in the Darfur region, which was mindlessly tacked on to Sudan during World War I.”
Quotes from Isaac Chotiner’s review of Kwasi Kurateng, Ghosts of Empire in the New York Times, March 4, 2012.