Last Saturday I felt in need of a morale boost so I quietly annexed a rather expensive box of dried figs from the larder which someone had brought as a prezzie. I did this without upsetting anyone in the house and without my wife even noticing! These two elements are essential for any successful annexation:
- Ensure that you’ve got local support (my sister wanted to help me empty the box) and…
- Only go ahead if you know you can get away with it (nobody saw me and I ate the evidence anyway to leave no trace).
This is of course much like recent events in the Crimea… Russia held a slightly lopsided referendum to show everyone that the locals wanted to be annexed, and then they invaded knowing that no one would be able to stop them. In the West, we wagged our fingers and said ‘naughty – naughty’, postponed a lunch party for G8 members and temporarily stopped some cash-rich oligarchs from shopping at Harrods and obtaining centre court tickets for Wimbledon. Of course, this leniency is all because Russia has lots of valuable gas and stuff that Europe looks at with envious eyes.
I suppose it’s a bit like the rich school bully whose parents have a 120 inch home cinema and a lovely swimming pool. Yes, he’s nasty and picks fights on smaller neighbours but he knows we’ll all be nice to him again after a few days, because we all want to go for a dip in his private pool and watch Gravity on the huge telly. This isn’t the first annexation in history and it certainly won’t be the last. Over the years, some countries have got away with it and some have not—all depending upon who’s annexed what from whom and from where in the world the annexing’s being viewed. However, there’s one word to describe ‘annexation’ and that’s ‘stealing’—in other words taking something that isn’t yours.
Rather than a paltry box of figs, I suppose I could have tried to annex something of greater value such as my garage’s newest Mercedes, but that would be straightforward ‘theft’ and I should be locked up. Besides, such blatant stealing is morally indefensible and not the right way for anyone to behave.
But sometimes it gets more difficult to say with certainty what’s right and what’s wrong. For example, you go to a party and secretly stuff a carrier bag with loads of sausage rolls and saté chicken to take home afterwards. I don’t think I’d benefit from much local support if I was spotted shiftily hiding behind a potted palm with an empty Tesco bag. However, no one might ever know. In which case would this count as annexation or liberation or grubby petty theft?
I admit it’s unlikely, but just imagine that France spent zillions of propaganda euros over a long time to finally convince the Channel Islands they’d be better off leaving the UK and becoming part of France… Assuming they held a snap election to demonstrate a majority of local approval, could France then legitimately take over Guernsey Harbour? Would this be theft, ‘scullduggery’ or legal annexation? And no doubt the same annexing argument could also apply to Spain and Gibraltar or even Argentina and the Falkland Islands? What about England making a move for Peebles and Jedburgh from a newly independent Scotland who don’t want (and can’t pay for) all of their border territories? Or Norway quietly liberating the Shetland Isles and perhaps even West Dorset annexing Weymouth and Portland? All these possibilities have some degree of logic and will all generate exceedingly forthright nationalistic views.
Nobody wants to go to war any longer over territorial disputes (good thing too!), so I can see more boundary arguments being solved by common sense and mutually agreed swapping or ‘shared common annexation’. I reckon the next fifty years will see quite a bit of such convenient chopping and changing throughout the world. That’s how the Crimea will end up of course… pragmatism will rule. Possibly this won’t apply however to Weymouth and Portland who I hear might all follow UKIP and become an independent nation. Joke. Well, not quite yet anyway…