Balkanization Reconsidered   Leave a comment

It’s been 25 years since the remnants of communist Europe shattered and the pieces of the former Yugoslavia began eating one another. It was then that some political science or talking head coined the phrase “balkanization” to neatly encapsulate what was occurring.

The word is still used today by media pundits and foreign policy politicians with dread dripping from their voices. We are told we should fear the “balkanization” of many countries — the Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, the European Union … the United States. I’m going to assert that is a wrong-headed phobia that should be reconsidered.

Those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.

Image result for image of balkanizationBalkanization has proven to be a great blessing rather than a curse.  The breaking of large nations or collectives of nations, like the European Union today, has proven the solution to myriad problems.  Consider the British vote to exit the EU. It has the potential of forcing Scotland to choose to exist Great Britain, so we’re warned that this is “balkanization”. Cue the scary music. But, take  moment to think this through. When people feel oppressed by a large governing authority, peaceful independence and continued amicable relations from that authority would seem to be the better alternative to eventual armed rebellion.

Consider the United States. Yeah, yeah, I’m not a mystery. We all know how I feel about secession. But consider this. When our nation was founded, Washington was small and close to most Americans. Had there been cars and good highways back then, you could have visited the capitol in less than a day from when you decided to set out. The federal government at the time was tiny and limited. Today, Washington is a remote imperial city that looks down on the governed and tramples the rights of those subjects and their dis-empowered state governments. It acts an awful like like England did toward its colonies in North America 240 years ago.

Absent a return to the constitutional structures that limit what the federal government and Congress may do and makes the federal government subservient to the states, the “balkanization” of America is the only real solution to the problems we face. That could mean a formal separation of our nation into regional political units or the decentralization of federal power by moving some aspects of it to places other than Washington DC. What if Congress were held in Wichita, Kansas? The regulatory agencies could relocate to Little, Rock. The president could stay in DC, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff ought probably to be moved to Colorado Springs.

No, I am not joking.

Image result for image of balkanizationBalkanization also provides the solution to many thorny international problems.

Iran is an empire with many oppressed nationalities within its administratively created borders..  Fracture this empire, the power of the mullahs who run it would be dramatically weakened. The new nations freed from the yoke of Persian rule might even choose to be friends of their liberators and defenders.

Iraq is also an empire that logically ought to be three separate and consequently more peaceful states. How much blood, treasure, and influence has America spent to keep this artificial creature, “Iraq,” a single unhappy nation?  Balkanize Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and possibly Turkey and a lot of the reason for fighting in the Middle East becomes moot.

Kurdistan, which doesn’t exist right now, would have an estimated population of 28 million, if  carved from the lands in all four of these empires. The Kurds have no plans for a caliphate that will stretch to wherever Muslims live. If we are going to champion causes that don’t ultimately concern us, why don’t we champion their cause? Well, that would be balkanization! Oh, my! Lions, and tigers, and bears!

Pakistan is also an empire with a number of different ethnic groups and languages. That internal tension makes Pakistan inherently unstable. I’m old enough to remember when Bangladesh was “East Pakistan,” half of this artificial nation, which felt, rightly, oppressed by “West Pakistan.” The successful rebellion of East Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh reduced tensions on the Indian Subcontinent. Truthfully, India is more an empire than a true nation, hence the problems with Sikhs and minorities in Kashmir and elsewhere.

Indonesia is an entirely artificial creature of Java hegemony over a vast archipelago that has more distinct language groups than any nation on earth.  Burma is essentially an empire. Most of Asia is a collection of empires that force different ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups into a state that is simply the residue of old European colonial borders. Yeah, China is an empire with diverse ethnic groups that don’t like one another all that much.

Image result for image of balkanizationNigeria is another large empire, creating natural tensions among the tribal and religious groups dividing this artificial country into several parts. The Congo is an empire of many tribes and languages. Angola is an empire. Indeed, most of the larger nations of sub-Saharan Africa are simply empires with ruling tribes and religions. Take a look at a world map sometime and note all the countries with straight line borders. Those are all artificial creations based on some treaty drawn up in Europe or the UN. Giving these peoples their own nations naturally removes a major cause of discontentment and makes true peace easier to obtain.

Some nations have resolved their problems of empire by the mutual consent of the different regions in the nation. Switzerland is a confederacy that is not really a federal state. Language and religion are allowed to be determined by cantons. Belgium exists because the Flemish and Walloon nationalities are content with that nation. Canada accommodates the Quebecois to keep them in Canada.

What America ought to do in the world is to champion (which doesn’t mean we have to go to war) those peoples trapped in empires.  This will weaken those empires and reduce the source of conflicts in the world.

There was a time when the United States was the champion of the oppressed, but that designation went away when we became an empire ourselves. What do the majority of Alaskans have in common with the majority of New Yorkers?

Yeah, hear the crickets? Take a look at the United States map and see how many, particularly western states, have straight-line borders. Welcome to the Empire!

Image result for image of balkanizationA shared affection of the Statue of Liberty or the Brooklyn Bridge is not sufficient reason for Alaska to continue to submit to oppression by the federal government. I would love to be able to visit New York and I’m sure my husband would like to be able to visit his birth-state of New Hampshire or his parents in Texas and Hawaii, but that ability does not require that Alaska be a state under the thumb of Washington. We already have to use a passport to go to the Lower 48, so it’s really no big deal. Some states would choose to get along if our friendship weren’t forced, but because that “cooperation” is at the point of a gun, it is becoming increasingly likely that we won’t break up in a friendly fashion. I don’t doubt that we will break up. I just prefer that we do it peacefully.

 

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Posted September 1, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Secessation

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