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October 04, 2008


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Noel, the link to the Cambridge Journal doesn't work... and I have a feeling that the link to Liberman's book should actually be in reference to the Nazi conquest of West Europe, not to the Soviet occupation of East Europe?

The numbers that Liberman quotes would seem to support Alan S. Milward's conclusions on the role of Norway among the new satellite economies of the Third Reich. Basically, under the German occupation, the country became a showcase of failed exploitation. There were ambitious plans of long-term industrial investments which presented a short-term net loss and a financial burden on the Third Reich, including the plan to make use of the Norwegian aluminium resources. The wasting of resources was aggravated by the constant turf wars between the central government of the Reich and the local Reichskommissar Terboven, who both had conflicting ideas on how to make use of the Norwegian economic resources.

And, of course, with its long, exposed coastline, Norway became a massive strategic liability for the Third Reich from day one, and even more so after 1942-1943. The unsuccessful raiding of the Murmansk convoys hardly compensated for the necessity to keep the place occupied and maintain first-class troops stationed in the country to ward off a potential Allied landing and the impending Soviet offensive.

... anyway, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Panama Canal, simply something that I remembered after checking the book online. Pardon the digression.

Purely out of curiosity, do you have any corresponding figures of the Suez canal at hand, to see how well Disraeli's financial coup and Gladstone's military investment paid off in the long term? Not to mention what was the cost of Eden's failed adventure when compared to the previous profits from the Canal, as well as any hypothetical future profits?

In short, when comparing the two examples of the Panama canal and the Suez canal, which empire was more cost-effective? Apparently the United States?

Back to the Second World War; interestingly enough, I'm pretty sure that not a single Finnish economic historian has estimated of how well this country managed to exploit the occupied Soviet Karelia after 1941. I suppose that not very well; setting up new, Finnish-language public schools costs money, investments on agriculture cost money, and internment camps also cost a lot of money (aside of being just plain bad PR).


J. J.

The Liberman book covers both the Nazi and Soviet empires; I decided to link to White et. al., because White's article is better.

Eugene White is a also a great economic historian whose work needs more popular plugs. Not that this forum rates as popular.

As for Suez, that's an article I'd love to co-author. Hint, fellow academic.

Let's be clear here Noel. First, imperialism isn't a thing of the past. And, second, the consensus may be that imperialism does not pay when viewed from the vantage point of the nation as a whole, but it does indeed pay for the minority financial interest groups who have undue influence over state policy. There is little doubt about that.

After all, it doesn't take a lot of common sense to figure this out. Why would economic powers engage in imperialism around the globe for literally centuries if it was not paying? It certainly pays for some, even if it creates problems for the imperialist nation as a whole.

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