August 13, 2014

REAPING WOODROW'S WHIRLWIND:

A Crisis a Century in the Making (Vali R. Nasr, 8/10/14, NY Times)

After World War I, the region's Arabs were not allowed a proper foundation on which to build stable, functional nations. And in more recent decades, they have been largely unsuccessful in doing so on their own.

Those painful facts are most obvious now in Iraq, where sectarianism has been undoing all of America's past efforts to forcibly plant a pluralistic democracy in soil made arid by longstanding grievances, inequities, tribal identities and violence.

The Arab world today is the product of maps drawn by the British diplomat Sir Mark Sykes and his French counterpart Fran├žois Georges-Picot in 1916, and sanctified at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. European rule over Arab states that were only nominally independent followed; this left these states struggling with legitimacy ever since. When the Europeans left, they were followed by dictators who talked of nationalism, but failed to convince their own citizens that they were important participants in the nation.

That was because the arbitrary boundaries had left these new Arab states open to perpetual internal clashes based on rivalries among tribes and religious sects. Their leaders spoke the language of modern nationalism, but their states never quite united. So they turned to domination by one tribe or sect over others.

Contra the neocons and Realists, the solution to the Middle East's problems does not lie in delaying democracy further. Posted by at August 13, 2014 6:23 PM
  
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