Il pomo della discordia. La politica imperiale della Gran Bretagna, il Baluchistan e il Great Game

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] The apple of discord. Britain's imperial politics, Baluchistan and the Great Game

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The book deals with its issue of the defence of imperial India, mainly focusing on Baluchistan, seemingly a marginal area, but highly relevant due to both its political and military importance. It is formed of five chapters, interlinked at both logical and chronological level. This structure aims to deal -– beyond the mere succession of the events –- with the dynamics and factors that have shaped their evolution, their inherent logic (or, conversely, with their lack of logic), and the aims that actors involved in different times have tried to pursue. Chapter 1 provides a broad historical framework of British security, explaining the main tracts of London’s "Grand strategy", their foundations, and the way in which they conditioned its development. A special attention was paid to the role of the Indian possessions, both under the EIC and the Crown. Chapter 2 provides a geographic, ethnic, and political sketch of Baluchistan between mid-19th and the beginning of the 20th century, to highlight the main tracts of its social organization and power distribution, and their implications on Indian security. The chapter is based on coeval documentation (printed and in the records), compared with present-day literature, and aims (1) to describe the political and social reality of 19th century Baluchistan, (2) to show how it was perceived by British authorities, and (3) to point out how this perception affected their political actions. Based on India Office records, chapter 3, 4, and 5 provide an analysis of British policy in and towards Baluchistan in -– respectively -– 1870-92, 1892-98, and 1898-1914, focusing on the dynamics that -– within the framework of British foreign and security policy -– presided the action of both the Raj authorities and their representatives. The beginning of the fist world war was chosen as final term because the conflict started the desegregation of British "traditional" security system, and more generally the final stage of British "relative" decline. Moving from the premise that security problems are political problems, the book does not aim to deal with specific military issues, unless they are useful to understand deeper political implications. In fact, the evolution of Baluchistan security policy helps to highlight some typical characters of British strategic elaboration process (its contingent nature; its adaptive structure, the relation existing between domestic power dynamics and the evolution of Indian policy, etc.) that, in other areas, are often less visible. London's international success between the beginning of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century largely rested on its skill to mix –- in foreign and colonial politics -– military and diplomatic dimension. However, to a deeper analysis, the age of the "Pax Britannica" appears not so peaceful as it seemed; neither the almost absolute supremacy that the Royal Navy enjoyed on the high seas, nor the sheer dimensions and strength of the Empire itself, ever were a total guarantee against both the emergence of new competitors or the resurgence of old ones. In this perspective, India was especially vulnerable. From many points of view, the Raj benefited from London's international position; London’s support allowed it a certain freedom in its intercourses with the neighbouring powers, while the broad-based consensus that the empire enjoyed at home, always prevented its decisions from being openly contested. However, the problem of Indian security always remained an Indian one, i.e. a problem that political and military leaders had to solve using Indian resources only. The fact that the Raj's northwestern borders were the only area vulnerable from a land attack did not change this state of things; on the contrary, it made it worst, charging it –- from grassroot to the top –- with very special emotional tones. However, evidences clearly show that military leaders generally played a limited role in
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] The apple of discord. Britain's imperial politics, Baluchistan and the Great Game
Original languageItalian
PublisherISU - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Number of pages252
ISBN (Print)9788883112645
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • "Great Game"
  • "Sardar-i system"
  • Anglo-Russian relations in Asia
  • Baluchistan, History, XIX-XX century
  • Baluchistan, Storia, XIX-XX secolo
  • British India tribal policy
  • British India, international relations
  • British India, military and security policy
  • Great Britain, international relations
  • Great Britain, military and security policy
  • Khanate of Kalat, History, XIX-XX century
  • Khanato di Kalat - Storia, XIX-XX secolo
  • Politica dell'India britannica verso le tribù
  • Politica militare e di sicurezza dell'Impero britannico
  • Politica militare e di sicurezza dell'India britannica
  • Relazioni anglo-russe in Asia
  • Relazioni internazionali dell'India britannica
  • Relazioni internazionali della Gran Bretagna
  • Robert Sandeman


Dive into the research topics of '[Autom. eng. transl.] The apple of discord. Britain's imperial politics, Baluchistan and the Great Game'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this