Thursday, May 09, 2002[posted by jaed at 1:02 PM]
Off the wall thought for today: Unite Arabia!
The more I learn about the aftermath of World War I, the more I admire the title David Fromkin chose for his book on the making of the modern Middle East: A Peace to End All Peace.
That's what it was, all right. The treaty of Versailles resulted, twenty years later, in a conflagration in Europe that exceeded the carnage of the Great War. In the Middle East, the French and British split up peoples, moved monarchs and tribal leaders around like so many pawns on a chessboard, and drew borders willy-nilly, because they were afraid Arab nationalism would pose a future danger to their interests.
Great. Look at what we have to deal with instead.
So I'm wondering, in high-handed imperialistic fashion: what if we redrew the borders in the Middle East, and undid some of these arbitrary disasters, with an eye to uniting the Arabs politically? It may seem like a startling idea, but think about it. A unified Arab economy would almost certainly be healthier than the current mix of extraction economies and remittance economies, and a healthy economy, while not a solution to everything, is less likely to breed monsters. A single state, with a single leadership, would be easier for us to deal with than the current squabbling bunch, almost certainly.
Best of all, we could rid ourselves (not to mention the Arabs) of the useless House of Saud, sponsors of terrorism and general makers of violent mischief. Jordan is, even now, much better off than Saudi Arabia - more healthy economy (despite the fact that oil makes Saudi Arabia richer), more democratic institutions, more public participation in government, less general religious insanity. Put the Hashemites back on the throne of Arabia (which is, after all, where they came from, before the British peeled off a piece of the Mandate as a consolation prize for the Hashemite kings after giving Arabia to the Sauds), help establish a constitutional monarchy, and dump the Sauds in the nearest trash receptacle.
In the aftermath of WWII, we undid the disaster that was the Treaty of Versailles - and as a result we have a peaceable and prosperous Germany which has shown no signs of wanting to make war again. Is it possible to have a peaceful and prosperous Arab world that likewise does not want to kill people? Maybe it's time to think about undoing Picot-Sykes.