Thursday 3 December 2015

Yugoslavia anyone? A future for Syria and Iraq ...

Hmm, so the West (Britain and France) created two huge artificial political "nations" named Syria and Iraq by simplistically drawing lines on a map during and after World War I - largely based on competing imperialist claims to oil but almost completely ignoring the ancient tribal/cultural differences of the regions within those artificial "nations" they created. And now, surprised at the lack of homogeneity and the inherent violent internal rivalry caused or inflamed by their short-sighted creation and exacerbated even further by their bungled attempts to "fix" what was already wrong to begin with, the West's proposed solution is to simply bomb one of the most bitter factions into submission.

Yeah right, like that's gonna work ... because a sure way to stop people being bitter about perceived inequality and injustice - so bitter in fact that their desperate situation provides a fertile breeding ground for extremists to gain power - is to make them even more bitter. 

'Islamic State' is a symptom of the frustration of that wider faction, not the cause. A lasting solution to the crisis in Syria and Iraq can only be achieved by addressing some of the basic causes of the bitterness and hostility rather than merely snipping at the symptoms. One of those causes was compounded by the political insensitivity of the West in the early 20th century.

Nations that have formed and evolved naturally over the ages tend to have done so because the overwhelming majority of its population throughout its territory broadly shares a common culture. But a "nation" created artificially by outside powers may have no such natural unity. The fabrication of arbitrary political boundaries that ignore substantial internal populations of opposing cultures can so easily be a recipe for injustice, violent friction and even genocide. Where the government of that "nation" is a dictatorship, the result can be humanitarian disaster and even where it is ostensibly a democracy, the result can be the subjugation of a very sizeable minority to the overall will of a hostile majority and widespread abuse. 

There may come a time when Syria and Iraq can overcome the difficulties of fairly and peacefully accommodating a diverse population but, in the meantime, it may be worth considering proposals to divide the territory at least temporarily into districts that more sensitively reflect the current gulfs. 

But I guess bombing people is so much easier than the West admitting the borders were totally mucked up in the first place, helping to renegotiate them properly and sensibly to reflect the reality of people rather than just oil this time around, and redrawing the stupid map.

Yugoslavia anyone? Maps - and the practice of lumping inherently incompatible cultures all together into the artificial "nations" created by them - are NOT immutable. When the old cartographic divisions so obviously ain't working and instead are causing human suffering on a massive scale, change them!


My apologies for veering from the primary topic of this blog but I am somewhat irritated by the reluctance of the West to fully acknowledge its part in contributing to this situation and to take responsibility for helping to resolve it in a sensible manner.

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