Thirty years ago an American friend complimented me on the wisdom of my country's government. He waxed eloquent: The new policy of decolonization, he believed, was the finest thing that had happened in Britain's history for centuries-perhaps in her entire history. A new and more- powerful realm, he thought, would arise, based on freedom and mutual respect. A new clutch of nations would be hatched, harbingers of an era of coherent and cohesive world development. And Britain would be the greatest beneficiary of all. For her creative talents and calm commonsense, I was told, would be concentrated essentially on her own needs. Britain would be the workshop, trader, banker of the world and, more than all that, a beacon of intellectual life-another, greater Athens. I had my doubts.
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