Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ALL countries are artificial constructs

Nasser Wedaddy wrote a piece on the situation in Mali that attempts to address the ludicrous notion that our involvement in Libya is responsible for the jihadi war in that country. It was nice to see someone addressing that nuttery, but it stuck with the "Blame the West" theme so prevalent in the Muslim world. I wrote a comment long enough that I decided to post it to this blog.

Thanks for writing this informative piece. I do take issue with one of your themes, however:  "no one is willing to recognize that Mali, like most of Africa, is an artificial construct."

ALL countries are artificial constructs. The entire idea of nations is new - most historians agree that it is largely a 19th century phenomenon.

For example, at the time of the 1789 French Revolution, only half of the French people spoke some French, and 12-13% spoke it "fairly." France wasn't a country, it wasn't a nation, it wasn't a people. It consisted of many different peoples, tribes, if you will. Sure, there was a French "state," but it consisted of monarchs who were perpetually fighting for more land for themselves. Same for the rest of Europe. Countries were created by nationalist movements that aren't much different than what you see in the Arab world or Africa. They were fueled by culture. The 19th century Völkisch movement in the German-speaking areas is a perfect example.

World War I evolved out of this new world order, as Europe was adjusting to its new reality. It nearly annihilated itself in the process, but it created the European Union so that if one country tried to destroy another, they'd all fall. So far, it's worked.

The tendency to blame everything on Western colonialism is tiresome. The people who are thrown together in Mali - just like in the rest of Africa and also in the Arab world - are equally to blame for their problems. Why can the people of Bavaria live in the same nation as the people of Saxony without trying to kill each other? Saxony's economy and culture are different from that of neighboring Bavaria because it suffered from the horrors of communism.

We cannot live in a world where the solution to every gripe and every argument results in the formation of a new country. We also can't live in a world where we let murderous jihadi thugs take everyone back to the Stone Age. And we're certainly not going to get anywhere with the Blame the West(TM) attitude of so much of the Muslim world.

The real solution to the jihadism problem is to include them in peace negotiations. They are always excluded as "evildoers" who have no right to exist. It leads to feelings of marginalization and anger that allows their ranks to swell and hardens their ideological impulses.

But it takes courage to make peace. Unfortunately, the world is full of cowards.

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