In a famous passage in a speech to the House of Commons in 1922, Winston Churchill characterized the aftermath of the Great War:
Great Empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed. The position of countries has been violently altered. The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violent and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world; but as the deluge of the waters subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again.
Churchill's purpose was to call attention to what he saw as the unique persistence of the antagonism between Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland, which had been going on since the original colonization of Ulster by Englishmen and Scots in the seventeenth century. As Churchill himself would have been fully aware, a similar metaphor would have been apt to describe the parallel emergence in Central and Eastern Europe of many historical local antagonisms, given new scope by the collapse of the Hohenzollern, Hapsburg, Romanov, and Ottoman Empires. And, as colonial secretary, he had been dealing in the Middle East with conflicts among peoples to whom reference to Biblical times, to the Arab Conquests, or to the Crusades were perfectly natural, and in no sense mere antiquities. Fermanagh and Tyrone were not exceptions--they were typical. Human history is like that.