Courtesy Reuters

AT a time when world politics are dogged by the issue of "colonialism," it is well to remember that empires--in other words, colonial systems--must be counted among the most potent forces of civilization in world history. There have been, it is true, purely destructive empires. The Assyrians, the Mongol imperium, the brief and horrible Nazi experiment were deadly to others and finally to themselves. But the expansion of Chinese imperial power coincided with the civilizing of the primitive tribes. India flourished in peace and art and letters under its imperial dynasties. The Western world still draws many of its laws,

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