The European Central Bank: Fighting a War on Two Fronts

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Better a Zanzibari or a Moor? Both sovereigns battled formidable foes — one for a moment, the other for what seemed an eternity. Neither prevailed in the end. It’s a toss-up to be sure, but the Zanzibaris knew a thing or two about getting back to the good life on the Indian Ocean and mitigating the loss of life. The briefest of histories on the Zanzibari-British War proves it the shortest (40 minutes) in recorded history. Sultan Khalid bin Barghash, upon the August 25, 1896 death (rumored poisoned) of his cousin, pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini, seized control of the Spice Islands. This succession violated an 1886 treaty requiring the sultan candidate to obtain the permission of the British consul. Khalid refused to stand down and vacate his position and palace (and harem). As such, at 09:00 East Africa Time on August 27th, the Royal Navy contingent attacked the 2,800 Zanzibaris defending the palace. By 09:40, the palace afire and 500 casualties sustained (vs one British Petty Officer who quickly recovered), a cease-fire was declared. Khalid attained asylum in neighboring German East Africa, a.k.a. Tanzania, and Britain’s man for the job, Sultan Hamud bin Muhammed, was tasked with repairing his, ahem, harem.

Minor acts of defiance, such as the Spice Islands kerfuffle, have nothing on God when there are those who dare question the mighty one’s identity. In the case of the Iberian Religious Wars, which kicked off in 711, all it took in the end – some 781 years later – was a powerful pairing. If you’ve ever traveled to Portugal and Spain, you would agree it’s a land worth conquering and calling your own. Depending on the winds, it’s also where the Muslims living in Northern Africa, first landed when crossing the Mediterranean from modern-day Algeria and the cleverly named Morocco, for the Moors, of course. If you’re counting major battles in the ‘Reconquista’, you should start in the year 718 and the Battle of Covadonga. Christian King Pelayo of the Visigoths first defeated the determined Muslim army in Alcama. As the centuries passed, it became apparent to the Catholic Church that more than colonialism was at play. While no doubt, the declaration of a ‘holy war’ right up there with the Crusades ratcheted up the pressure on the Moors, it wasn’t until the masterful marriage of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castille in 1469 that sufficient forces could be assembled to finally defeat the invaders at their last stand on the island of Grenada in 1492.

As evidence mounts that another island nation, once an empire, is now bracing for continued conflict over its independence whilst the mainland slides into recession, it’s increasingly apparent Christine Lagarde will be fighting a drawn-out war on two fronts. With his presumed successor waiting in the wings, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi has all of three months to prepare the battlefields.

 

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Danielle DiMartino Booth is CEO and Director of Intelligence at Quill Intelligence

For a full archive of my writing, please visit my website — www.DiMartinoBooth.com

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