Armed Forces Journal on redividing the Middle East:
The author of this demented piece waxes indignant about the injustice of the
present set-up in the Middle East and its roots in self-interested European
colonialism (such people always forget Woodrow Wilson's role in all of this).
However, it doesn't seem to occur to him that one very obvious problem with
the present division of the Middle East is that it was imposed by imperialist
states. It is not only that it was done with total disregard for ethnic facts
on the ground. The underlying notion of such a critique, at any rate, is the
problematic assertion that people need to be apart from those of different ethnicity
and together with those of similar ethnicity - the "natural ties of blood
and faith" as the author has it. This position totally ignores the recent
history of the Middle East, the shifting identifications based on ideology,
nationality, religion and ethnicity, with each acquiring priority in different
circumstances. The problem is that imperialist states have always treated the
people of the Middle East as a substrate on which they may operate or a dangerous
rabble which they must suppress. The will to dominate has usually been presented
in such gushing terms, but the tone results less from a surfeit of idealism
than from the pressing necessity to frustrate and thwart the perpetually impending
catastrophe: that the people of the Middle East will select their own polities,
control their own resources, choose their own governments. Sure, the author
is dreaming, but not idly so: and he's
not the only one.
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