Listen to the story.
Aaron Schachter: There have been dozen of us interventions around the globe since our nation was founded. It started even before we were fully independent, with an invasion with what is now Canada, in 1775, and a raid on the Bahamas, in 1776, but when it comes to sending troupes to a foreign lands we've got nothing on the British. A new book suggests Britain gets the dubious distinction of having invaded more countries than any other. In fact the book claims that there are only 22 nations in the world that have never suffered British military attack, our resident history buff news editor Chris Woolf however thinks Britain has invaded even more countries. Chris what mistake did you spot?
Chris Woolf: Well the one that leaped out at me of course was Sweden cause who could forget the Gottenburg expedition of 1808.
Schachter: Shocking really
Woolf: When we sent a small force to go bully the king of Sweden to help us in the war against Napoleon, the French emperor, and then I was thinking also possibly the book, its a lovely book called, "All the Countries We Ever Invaded and the Few We Never Got Around To" by a British chap called Stuart Laycock; he also lists Guatemala as never having been, well, subject to state sanctioned military activity of a kind-of hostile nature. So for an example like Guatemala I'm pretty sure when British had a few logwood cutters trying to set up a colony in whats now Belize, also raided were the neighboring coastline of Guatemala, so that still leaves 20 countries not invaded.
Schachter: Now we're using the word invaded but these are not all countries where Britain has gone in, like India, and set up shop.
Woolf: No its pretty much anywhere that the Brits have gone in, or even Brits that have been, in the days of freelance military state sanctioned military types who have gone off and done things in countries where they're not welcome. You know, for example we licensed privateers, like Frances Drake, to go and singe the king of Spain's beard wherever Spanish interest could be found… by raiding all places in the Caribbean, and even on the Pacific coast of the South America. And there was a little distance between the crown and these nasty people but they was still pursuing…
Schachter: Not much
Woolf: No, well, of course Frances Drake, when he got back. was knighted by the Queen from his great circumnavigations for all the loot he brought home and shared with Her Majesty.
Schachter: Ok so you fancy yourself as a history buff you've wowed us already, how about a test?
Aaron Schachter: Alright one of the 180 countries that Britain has invaded… tell me when were how: Brazil.
Woolf: Brazil that's a tough one.
Schachter: Ha stumped you
Woolf: Not quite because there was a campaign in 1762 between Spain and Portugal where the British sent some forces to go assist Portugal; Brazil and being a Portuguese colony and the fighting stretched a crossed what's now Uruguay and southern Brazil.
Schachter: Obviously you can say anything and I would have no idea…
Woolf: Well if, listeners to this; can you can come up with any challenges- it would be great to hear them.
Schachter: How about South Africa?
Woolf: Well South Africa; several attacks when it was occupied by the Dutch. The Brits would try to take it, and finally succeeded in 1796 and then of course it was occupied as a British colony for over a hundred years, and there were several wars against the African people living there and then the white settlers, the Dutch white settlers, the Brits had three wars with the Boers, as they were called.
Schachter: So which country has Britain invaded the most?
Woolf: Well Ireland has probably suffered the longest continuous military occupation over 700 years, it certainly wasn't welcome present for most of the people there, but the country that suffered the most repeated attacks is of course, France, our nearest continental neighbor and of course that's probably the source of the traditional animosity between the Brits and the French
Schachter: Chris we are treating this a bit lightly in lieu of the book that came out but this is deadly serious business
Woolf: It is, and of course the Brits have a little pride in the accomplishments of their service personnel much in the same way Americans do and one always likes to think its a virtuous cause, but obviously that's not always the same memory of the people on the other end have. just last year there was an investigation into the British canton urgency campaign in Kenya in the 1950"²s that sadly documented all kinds of atrocities and abuses that sustain on any country so yes of course one shouldn't take this too lightly.
Schachter: The worlds Chris Woolf, as you can tell from the accent, a member of the British Empire. Thank you
Woolf: You're welcome.