January 19, 2015


Terrorism in Paris, Sydney the legacy of colonial blunders (Stephen Kinzer  JANUARY 18, 2015, Boston Globe)

It is a mistake to see the various political and military conflicts now shaking the Middle East as isolated from each other. All are part of a broad struggle to shape a new map of the region. That map will look quite different from the one that Bell and her fellow imperialists bequeathed to us.

Some countries in the Middle East are doomed. They are unfortunate accidents of history. Lamentably, their collapse will take years, with an immense cost in human suffering.

The prospect of Israeli and Palestinian peace may seem more distant than ever. But a two-state solution is still the only path forward.

Syria, which was created as a French protectorate, exists today only in name. Iraq, originally dominated by Britain, is likely to be the next to go. The way these countries were created -- by outsiders concerned only with their own interests -- all but guaranteed that they would ultimately collapse.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, Yemen is in deep turmoil. Bahrain is quiet only because its Sunni government has temporarily managed to suppress the Shiite majority. Even long-stable Oman may be in trouble after its ailing sultan passes from the scene.

Two small countries that also emerged from the imperial spasms of the 1920s, Lebanon and Jordan, may survive the coming years of war, but that is far from guaranteed. In the outer ring of the region, the long-term future of Libya is bleak, and Pakistan's prospects are highly uncertain.

The most intriguing candidate for collapse is Saudi Arabia. [...]

In a region full of fake, made-up countries, one Muslim power is sure to survive: Iran. It is the opposite of a fake country. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are less than a century old. Iran has existed -- more or less within the same boundaries, with more or less the same language -- for 2,500 years. Colonialists never managed to divide it, and it stands today as an island of stability in a volcanically unstable region.

If you could go back in history and change just one thing, you could do worse than making Woodrow Wilson focus on self-determination instead of the League of Nations--sovereignty instead of transnationalism.

Posted by at January 19, 2015 2:08 PM

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