September 11, 2013
Stop Blaming Colonial Borders for the Middle East’s Problems

Recently the Daily Show joined the growing consensus of commentators declaring that arbitrary, carelessly drawn imperial borders are to blame for all that’s wrong with the Middle East today. In doing so, they demonstrated that it’s easy to be incredibly funny and dangerously wrong at the same time. There’s plenty to criticize about the legacy of colonialism, but dwelling on colonial borders only increases the risk that our future interventions in the region will further undermine its already fragile states.
The idea that better borders, drawn with careful attention to the region’s ethnic and religious diversity, would have spared the Middle East a century’s worth of violence is especially provocative at a moment when Western powers weigh the merits of intervention in the region. Unfortunately, this critique overstates how arbitrary today’s Middle East borders really are, overlooks how arbitrary every other border in the world is, implies that better borders were possible, and ignores the cynical imperial practices that actually did sow conflict in the region.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Stop Blaming Colonial Borders for the Middle East’s Problems

Recently the Daily Show joined the growing consensus of commentators declaring that arbitrary, carelessly drawn imperial borders are to blame for all that’s wrong with the Middle East today. In doing so, they demonstrated that it’s easy to be incredibly funny and dangerously wrong at the same time. There’s plenty to criticize about the legacy of colonialism, but dwelling on colonial borders only increases the risk that our future interventions in the region will further undermine its already fragile states.

The idea that better borders, drawn with careful attention to the region’s ethnic and religious diversity, would have spared the Middle East a century’s worth of violence is especially provocative at a moment when Western powers weigh the merits of intervention in the region. Unfortunately, this critique overstates how arbitrary today’s Middle East borders really are, overlooks how arbitrary every other border in the world is, implies that better borders were possible, and ignores the cynical imperial practices that actually did sow conflict in the region.

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

  1. a513b1 reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. secretstaache reblogged this from theatlantic
  3. jelanibucknell reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    "The militarization of these ethnic and religious identities, rather than the failure of perfectly placed state borders...
  4. publikenemy-10 reblogged this from theatlantic
  5. queenbeeofgettingby reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    So true
  6. leflamablanca reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    I agree to an extent but I think to be more forward would be to say that the borders are to numerous. Before colonialism...
  7. kinryuzan-raimon reblogged this from theatlantic
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  11. monstertesk reblogged this from jryork
  12. jryork reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Very important article.
  13. givecaesarhisdue reblogged this from theatlantic
  14. thequeenofdiamonds07 said: This is the most pseudo academic article I’ve read.
  15. spikejonzer reblogged this from theatlantic
  16. neimadxt reblogged this from theatlantic
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  18. victoriousscarf reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Okay on one hand I think this article makes some really good points about how perhaps not /entirely/ arbitrary these...
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  20. singlemanmedia reblogged this from alec-c-c-combo-breaker