the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world











2005 October 3


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“Mine!” is an expression best left to five-year-olds. They have the ability to look cute even when they are screaming it, over an object whose ownership is at best dubious, confronting a person whose claim is at least as good. When adults scream “Mine!” over a disputed object, it is not especially cute. It is, in fact, one of the ugliest things that humans do.

It is for this reason, among others, that I strongly hope that Iraqis endorse the proposed constitution this month. I think that it is, while far from perfect, quite an improvement over what I expected. Objections that it is a step backwards from the بعث Bacþist constitution come from the ignorant, and mostly the willfully ignorant, since a constitutional protection under صدام Sad:ām was utterly meaningless, as all informed persons know. There was certainly no enlightened treatment of women or religious minorities under صدام Sad:ām, and to suggest so is to make excuses for murderous fascism, and to insult the intelligence of anyone who has ever bothered to read about صدام Sad:ām’s العراق ’al-Cirāq, to say nothing of insulting those who lived through it. The شيعى Šīcī electoral majority in العراق ’al-Cirāq has behaved largely like the Christian electoral majorities in the West, who show repeatedly that people are largely conservative and will support social liberalization only gradually. Would that it were otherwise, surely; but we cannot wish for a بعث Bacþist return on the grounds that on paper (and only so long as it was convenient), the بعث Bacþists were secular moderns. The بعث Bacþists were, in fact, medieval barbarians.

Some of those opposed to the constitution are offended, in fact, by the liberality of it. This includes the شيعى Šīcī radicals and the foreign جهاديون ĝihādīūn, who are sworn enemies of each other in most areas but sound quite similar in their insistence on a theocratic state, to be based on their own backwards interpretation of God’s will and securing their own power therein. It is recognized that their demands are hideously illiberal, and to appease the جهاديون ĝihādīūn in particular by granting them a theocracy is conventionally viewed as unacceptable.

What I like most about the constitution, and what so many seem willing to sacrifice to the demands of terrorists, is federalism. In fact, I believe in the immediate dismemberment of العراق ’al-Cirāq, since the longevity of a bad idea does not make it any less bad. العراق ’Al-Cirāq was a bad idea. Those who have benefitted most from it are fighting hardest to preserve it; but these are not individuals we should be obliging under any circumstances, and certainly not under the threat of continued butchery of the innocent. I understand that people the world over, educated and not educated, open-minded and not open-minded, believe that there is something inherently good and worth preserving about the status quo, and in this case the status quo in international relations. But to insist that العراق ’al-Cirāq remain united just because it has been so in the past is thoughtless. To insist so to appease terrorists is something I would not expect to hear from a world that claims to be at war with these terrorists.

In any case, the شيعيون Šīcīūn and the Kurds have agreed on a federal عراق Cirāq, and the Kurds in particular are giving up independence de facto to join this federal عراق Cirāq, while the شيعيون Šīcīūn would dominate a democratic and centralized عراق Cirāq and are thus seen to be making a sacrifice as well. The faction in العراق ’al-Cirāq that is opposing this, to one extent or another, is the سنى Sun:ī عربى Carabī faction; though, needless to say, the opposition of rank-and-file سنى Sun:ī اعراب ’Acrāb is taken for granted, when in fact all we know is that self-appointed leaders and distraught fanatics are opposed to a federal عراق Cirāq. Why so? They benefitted most from صدام Sad:ām’s rule and from centralization, and have the most to lose under a federal system. And yet the constitution provides for a sharing of the natural wealth that comes from areas dominated by شيعيون Šīcīūn and Kurds. There it is: the شيعيون Šīcīūn and Kurds have agreed among themselves to share the oil of العراق ’al-Cirāq with the سنى Sun:ī اعراب ’Acrāb, who, when in power under صدام Sad:ām, were content to share this wealth entirely with themselves. The only exceptional provision is one for limited redress of past deprivations, targeted towards شيعى Šīcī communities who were most left behind under صدام Sad:ām’s policies. That would be hard to argue with, as it is impossible to argue that سنى Sun:ī عربى Carabī communities were privileged by صدام Sad:ām, were developed with relative largesse while the شيعيون Šīcīūn and Kurds were punished. The سنى Sun:ī اعراب ’Acrāb are not content with past economic favoritism and their present freedom from صدام Sad:ām’s totalitarian state. They demand an equal or even disproportionate share of العراق ’al-Cirāq’s future wealth, too. And, it seems clear, some of them simply want the بعث Bacþists back. At their most vile, they want to tyrannize العراق ’al-Cirāq again, and have the whole pie for themselves. “Mine!”

Extremists in both Palestinian nations have suffered recently. אריאל שרון ’Arī’el Śaroŭn, formerly no one’s idea of a moderate, has beaten off a challenge by the demagogue בנימין נתניהו Binjamīn Netanjahū, who has been looking to take the leadership of ליכוד Līkūd and the premiership of ישראל Jiśra’el from שרון Śaroŭn on the strength of anger over ישראל Jiśra’el’s abandonment of غزة Ğaz:aĥ. נתניהו Netanjahū was counting on support from those fanatics who screamed the loudest as the ישראלי Jiśra’elī colonists were removed from غزة Ğaz:aĥ. These fanatics expect the rest of us to believe, first, that there really is a God, second, that this God has a special place in His heart for one specific ethnic group, and third, that in promising them the land of כנען Kĕnacan He was particularly including an obscure Mediterranean coastal strip near the سيناء Sīnā’ peninsula. That is one fancy too many, I fear.

فتح Fatah has outpolled حماس Hamās two to one in local elections in the West Bank. فتح Fatah is corrupt to the core, and if فتح Fatah is moderate it is only relatively so, since its policies regarding ישראל Jiśra’el are rightist and nationalist by ישראלי Jiśra’elī or Western standards. But at least it is no حماس Hamās. حماس Hamās is crediting the ישראלי Jiśra’elī pullout to its policy of slaughtering ישראלי Jiśra’elī innocents, and while that may be a justifiable claim, it is a despicable act to be claiming at all. حماس Hamās are intolerable radicals, and they are, by and large, terrorists. Those who are not actually practicing suicide bombing (since those individuals are, by definition, dead) are strong supporters of suicide bombing by others. They are religious radicals and Jew-haters, and having a حماس Hamās government drawn from its present composition would make it difficult even for the most determinedly pro-عرب Carab Western states and citizens to stand by them. But then it takes a fairly virulent form of Jew-hating to put off those in the West who are themselves not too keen on Jews.

It is important to remember, as I have pointed out before, that the فلسطينيون Filastīnīūn are not a distinct people. They are اعراب ’Acrāb. To the extent that there is anything distinct about them, they are already a majority in another state, الاردن ’al-’Urdun:. But the فلسطينيون Filastīnīūn are culturally more or less the same as the other اعراب ’Acrāb in الاردن ’al-’Urdun:, as well as those in لبنان Lubnān and سوريا Sūrīā. Their local dialect may differ from that in القاهرة ’al-Qāhiraĥ or الجزائر ’al-Ĝaza’īr, but their lingua franca does not, their history does not, their religion does not, and their race does not. And the اعراب ’Acrāb, we must remember, are not aboriginal to Palestine, while the Jews are. The اعراب ’Acrāb are aboriginal to the عربى Carabī peninsula, and their presence in Palestine, as well as القاهرة ’al-Qāhiraĥ and الجزائر ’al-Ĝaza’īr, is a result of, if we could all say this together, occupation and colonization. Yes, that was a long time ago. But in principle the اعراب ’Acrāb have no greater right to the غزة Ğaz:aĥ strip than those weeping brainwashed children who were dragged out of Jewish settlements by the ישראלי Jiśra’elī army.

The truth is that no one has a right to the غزة Ğaz:aĥ strip, or the West Bank, or Jerusalem, or any other piece of land. And no race, nation, or sect has a right to any piece of land either. So to decide between competing claims of that sort is impossible. That has not stopped insufferable zealots on both sides of the concrete wall from rending their shirts over the great injustice of being denied absolute control over all land within an arbitrary boundary. “Mine!”

Ελληνο-Κύπρος and Ελλάδα have succeeded in what ought to be impossible: making Türkiye look like a victim. The Türk nation is nearly united in its apparent desire to oppress the Kurds forever, to deny them self-determination and even a distinct identity. Türkler are nearly united in denying the truth of the Հայ Haj genocide committed by Türkler. Powerful elements of the Türk nation have fought even an attempt to discuss the issue, even as the government tries to convince the West that it is ready to be admitted to the Western club. Türkiye is no Italia, not by a long shot, but it is suffering political turmoil; and there are many backwards forces of nationalism and bigotry that could yet emerge from that turmoil in power, particularly given the popular sentiment for nationalism and bigotry that is apparent.

But the admission of Ελλάδα and, more recently and more offensively, Ελληνο-Κύπρος to the European Union have done exactly what was predicted, giving Ελληνικη chauvinism the force of Western policy. The Ελληνοκύπριοι rejected a Cypriot-reunification plan that favored them, because it did not favor them enough. They have the numbers to dominate in a reunified state, and they are demanding to be allowed the privilege. In the meantime, they are pleased with the status quo, in which the Kıbrıslı Türkler are excluded from international life, even though they embraced the reunification plan that sacrificed their legitimate right to self-determination on the altar of geopolitical myth. The Έλληνες are in, the Ελληνοκύπριοι are in, and they will use their insider power to keep out the Türkler until the Türkler accept Ελληνικη superiority. That is the deal on the table, say the Έλληνες; take it or leave it.

The other European Union states are not tragically bound by the consequences of their own mistakes in the admission of Ελλάδα and Ελληνο-Κύπρος. The consequences were not merely predictable; they were frequently predicted. The Europeans embrace the Ελληνικη argument for self-serving reasons. First, they, too, have an investment in geopolitical myth; they all have some minority whom they would deprive of self-determination. They all have some territorial claim that they would not see compromised by countervailing precedent. Second, Türkiye is large and underdeveloped, and would, they suspect, be a huge drag on western Europe financially, as well as populous enough to carry great demographic and democratic weight. Third, they are not overly fond of مسلمون Muslimūn. Harmless and cuddly مسلمون Muslimūn getting massacred in Srebrenica causes much handwringing and perhaps some genuine regret. But the prospect of diluting the Christian nature of Europe is unthinkable to many of the Christians in power in the West. Those who are nationalist and sectarian do not want such an alien presence in their midst. Those who are internationalist and mostly secular will have less on which to build their common European home, if Christian heritage is removed from the equation. In a sense, then, the Έλληνες are merely fronting for European chauvinism, holding the Green Line for Christendom against the eastern hordes. That is the bargain; the Έλληνες have to look selfish, but their Western allies will assure their success. They will get the Türkler to submit, and they will get Kuzey Kıbrıs, or there will not even be talks about Türkiye joining the European Union. “Mine!”

I hate to avoid responsibility. I hate to be the sort of person who gives up in exasperation. But being human, like the exhausted parent, I am occasionally tempted to throw my hands in the air and exclaim: “Fine! Take it! I don’t care anymore.” But this is a sad temptation, and like the exhausted parent, I would soon come to regret it. We must resist the idea that these insistent groups should be given what they unjustly and unreasonably demand. We know that by taking it, they are taking it from the rest of us; they are taking it, more immediately, from someone else nearby whose claim is probably just as good. If we let them have it, they will just demand more, as always happens. They will seize more and more until there is nothing left to seize. In the end, we must establish the principle of collective ownership, that the planet belongs to all of us and that as the collective owners we tolerate its use by some on condition of responsible stewardship in the interests of all.

In the near term, though, we must divide the world as minutely as necessary to give as many as possible a sense of self-determination. That means that Kosova, in the upcoming final status talks, should have the full range of options, including independence and merger with Shqipëria. It means that Sahrawis in the Western Sahara should get their long-promised referendum for independence from Morocco. It means that Türkler in Cyprus should be given the freedom to live on their own or as a part of Türkiye, without either one being therefore excluded from the European Union. It means that Kurds in Türkiye, العراق ’al-Cirāq, and elsewhere should be free to leave their respective states without leaving the lands on which they have lived for so long, and should be able to form a greater Kurdistan if that is what suits them. It means that an عربى Carabī state should be established on the West Bank, in غزة Ğaz:aĥ, and in East Jerusalem, but that it should not expect to reclaim lands in ישראל Jiśra’el or even the whole of the West Bank. It means that the سنى Sun:ī اعراب ’Acrāb in العراق ’al-Cirāq should accept their status as a minority in an oil-rich عراق Cirāq, or settle for dominating a poor, insignificant desert country north and west of بغداد Bağdād. It means potential independence for Euskal Herria, བོད Bod, Puerto Rico, Kalaallit Nunaat, Tatarstan, 香港 Hèung Góng, and Québec; the recognition of the independence of ஈழம் Īzam and 臺灣 Tâi Oân; the partition of northern Ireland, Україна, and Kaśmīr. It means lots of other changes to the state of the world, but all of them following from one big change in principle. We must assert, as loving parents would, that the world’s children can scream “Mine!” as much as they like, but that they will still be required to share, and anyone who won’t share can just go without. That usually gets their attention.



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