Sunday, March 02, 2003[posted by jaed at 8:12 PM]
Regime change considered as border change
A 1999 Ralph Peters article considers the case for advocating border change:
In our addiction to stasis and our obsession--for it is nothing less than that--with "inviolable" interstate boundaries carved out by imperial force in a different age, we are putting ourselves on the side of the empires we destroyed. America thoughtlessly supports oppression because we find the lines on the map familiar and convenient. The ghosts of kaisers, kings, and czars must be howling with glee in hell.Peters is mostly talking about Eastern Europe here, but this is also something I've been thinking about in regard to the Arab countries. It's pretty clear to me that functionally, "Arabia" is a single nation, borders or no borders. The borders that exist now were drawn arbitrarily by imperial Britain and France, for reasons pretty much completely unrelated to any realities of that territory.
All the discussion of postwar Iraq has assumed its borders will remain inviolable. But is this really the best assumption to make if we want the result to be a stable, peaceful, prosperous region? I'm not at all convinced.
Even if we leave aside the Kurd/Arab conflict and many Kurds' desire for a state, Iraq has serious internal divisions among its Arab population - divisions that are reflected geographically. (It's not the only Arab country that's in that situation.) It may make more sense in the long run to think in terms of a loose confederation making up an Arab nation than in terms of keeping the Picot-Sykes borders inviolate.