The Great Game - Myth or Reality?
The term «The Great Game» is used to describe British and Russian rivalry for influence and control in Central Asia during the period from the mid-19th until the early 20th century.
The accounts of the main protagonists – and some histories of the period – suggest that this was a fraught and tense period in relations between the two Empires. This paper seeks to demonstrate that, seen against the wider canvas of British-Russian relations in the latter part of the 19th century, the influence of these explorers and adventurers was marginal and that the official record of diplomatic intercourse between the two Powers indicates that there was never any real danger that their respective inroads in Asia would lead to armed conflict between them. The drama lay more in the contest between the ‘peace’ and ‘war’ factions within each country than in relations between the central governments themselves.
If there was a ‘game’, the paper attempts to show that the Russians played it better than the British. The former succeeded in pacifying the region; the latter went from disaster to disaster in Afghanistan.