Saturday, April 28, 2007

Policy of Balkanization can be a slippery slope

Very interesting commentary on globalization, immigration, and "balkanization" policy. -Angela

Mansour El-Kikhia: Policy of Balkanization can be a slippery slope
Web Posted: 04/26/2007 06:35 PM CDT

San Antonio Express-News

The term Balkanization refers to the policy dividing a region or a body
"into mutually hostile states or groups."

It was first employed by the European powers after World War I to break up
the Ottoman Empire into modern nation-states. And while they succeeded in
creating the state, the major obstacle that doomed the policy was their
inability to create the nation.

The Ottomans allowed for free movement of people in their empire. Turks,
Bulgars, Croats, Serbs, Armenians, Arabs, Kurds, Greeks and a host of
other nationalities were able to live in close proximity to each other. In
some instances, it was possible to carve out swaths of territory with
homogeneous populations, but that was a rarity. Few countries in the
Balkans are homogeneous in spite of years of war and, in some instances,
violent ethnic cleansing.

Lately we have been hearing more voices advocating the Balkanization of
the Middle East by applying it first to Iraq. The argument that Iraq was
made up of three separate states that Winston Churchill put together is
farcical. Long before the British Empire, there was an Iraq with Baghdad
as its capital, as there was a Syria with Damascus as its capital. Cairo
or Al-Fustat has been the capital of Egypt for more than 1,000 years. I
need not talk about Palestine, Yemen or Arabia.

The Middle East and other countries of the world were not a British,
French or European invention. Many of those communities were already there
but not along the lines drawn by the British or French. Indeed, the
imposition of a European vision on the global structure, and the redrawing
of many of the borders, was the genesis of many of the problems the world
is now experiencing.

The world is changing, and globalization is rapidly changing Europe and
the United States. Many in both societies believe they are under siege.
And they are right.

Europe and the United States are undergoing transformations that will
fundamentally change their societies. Africans are moving in droves to
southern Europe. All attempts at limiting their migration have failed, and
for the first time in European history, Europeans are forced to meet these
new immigrants on their own terms. We now have offspring of Arabs,
Africans and Indians, as well as other nationalities, born in European
countries and holding full rights but not the same culture or worldview.

The same is true for the United States. Samuel Huntington argued the
United States is being overrun by Latinos. He is right; Latinos are
reclaiming the southern part of the United States. California now has a
Latino majority, and Texas and Florida are soon to follow. Latinos have
become a huge, influential minority demanding respect and equal rights.

For many years, the United States used and abused its southern neighbors.
It siphoned resources, never anticipating that it would also acquire the
population. And while there are those who complain about the influx of
Latinos into the United States and want to set up fences and walls,
American agri-business is complaining that it is facing huge shortages in
produce pickers, and the American construction industry is screaming about
the shortage of construction labor.

Wall or no wall, Latinos are here to stay, and the sooner the United
States recognizes them as citizens of this community the better off it
will be. It will not be the nation of the 19th century but of the 21st
century with a multicultural, multicolored population.

Huntington, get over it. And the same goes to fascist politicians in
Europe: You are not going to send back immigrants, so you had better learn
to appreciate their foods, tastes, cultures and looks.

Only one or two countries in the world are capable of reversing this
trend, and that is due to an abundance of people. China is literally
reoccupying areas where Chinese are a minority for fear of multicultural
influences. Indeed, the Chinese government is moving waves of Chinese
among the Uyghur of West China, as well as in Tibet and all surrounding
areas. Uyghurs and Tibetans will soon vanish as indigenous peoples.

However, a question that continues to nag me is how willing those people
calling for the Balkanization of the Middle East will be in advocating the
Balkanization of Europe and the United States.

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