August 26, 2013

HOW WWI WAS LOST:

Democracy and Islamic law : Should a nation be defined by language and territory, by ruling party or by faith (Roger Scruton, 8/22/13, BBC)

To understand what is happening in the Middle East today we must look back to the end of World War I. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had been destroyed, and from the ruins emerged a collection of nation states.

These nation states - including Austria, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia - were not arbitrary creations. Their boundaries reflected long-standing divisions of language, religion, culture and ethnicity. And although the whole arrangement collapsed within two decades, this was in part because of the rise of Nazism and communism, both ideologies of conquest.

Today we take the nation states of central Europe for granted. They are settled political entities, each with a government elected by the citizens who live on its soil.

When the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, so too did the Ottoman Empire, whose territories embraced the whole of the Middle East and North Africa.

The victorious allies divided up the Ottoman Empire into small territorial states. But very few of these have enjoyed more than a temporary spasm of democracy. Many have been governed by clans, sects, families or the military, usually assisted, as in Syria, by the violent suppression of every group that challenges the ruling power. [...]

The result of imposing national boundaries on people who define themselves in religious terms is the kind of chaos we have witnessed in Iraq, where Sunni and Shia fight for dominance, or the even greater chaos that we now witness in Syria, where a minority Islamic sect, the Alawites, has maintained a monopoly of social power since the rise of the Assad family.

Thus David Fromkin's title: A Peace to End All Peace
Posted by at August 26, 2013 5:19 AM
  

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