Our Grandfather’s Map
This September we observed the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War. The political, diplomatic and military maneuverings surrounding an act of terror would ignite a war that would cost nine million people their lives. The Allies became engaged in the First World War because a border had been crossed, Belgium sovereignty had been violated, people died in order to preserve a principle that was symbolized by a line on the map.
This September we also observed the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. Hitler’s political, diplomatic and military maneuverings surrounding a pseudo-act of terror would ignite a war that would cost fifty-five million people their lives. The Allies became engaged in the Second World War because the Germans violated Poland’s sovereignty, people died in order to preserve a principle that was symbolized by a line on the map.
Although the result of the Second World War did not produce a free Poland, nor did we see a free Poland during the Cold War. Poland was one of the sparks which started the events that eventually produced the end of the Cold War. The Analyst and Observers during this time thought the end of history was near, the lines on the map would become less significant due to a new world order called globalization. We all hoped no one would have to die in order to preserve a principle symbolized by a line on the map.
We were wrong; the First Gulf War was fought because the political, diplomatic and military maneuverings of Saadam Hussein’s Iraq had to be stopped in order to maintain the principle of sovereignty. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait crossed a line on the map. These lines represent Middle Eastern and African states which were constructed during colonial times and are artificial. The Allies hoped to make the costs extremely high on the Aggressor to discourage any leader who would change these lines on the map by force. It was hoped by the leaders in the Post-Cold War environment the borders would be left alone so no one would lose their life fighting over a line on the map. This seemed to work; until 2013 and the start of the events that have lead up to the formation of ISIS.
This September we have observed on the contemporary scene political, diplomatic and military maneuverings surrounding an act of terror by Islamic State (ISIS). Some have argued this is a direct result of the Allied invasion of Iraq. I am sure the invasion and the mistakes the Allies (especially the U.S.) made contributed to the anarchy we see, however, the lines on the map that symbolize states in the Middle East no longer represent the principles of sovereignty. The Allies have been fighting trying to preserve these states since the First World War.
As the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chief of Staff testified before the U.S. Senate on September 16th, their answers struck me; they both seemed fixated on the border between Iraq and Syria even though the border is non-existent and it is just a line on the map. Before we send people to die for a line on the map, shouldn’t the map reflect the actual sovereignty of the States involved in the region?
Instead of war, maybe we should encourage the merging of the Sunni area into a Sovereign State or have the Saudis or a Sunni majority state administer the area? Could this be why there are no Arab states willing to put ground forces in the area? The people in the region see, the states as constructed, are going to have to reform or die. They are waiting to see if the established sovereign states (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Gulf States) will reform and fight ISIS or perish. On the other hand, the Allies who are calling for a coalition of ground troops (but not their own) are arguing for a war to preserve states who are not really sovereign and whose boundaries are represented by our Grandfather’s Map. This ideological divide must be solved before we send people to die because of a principle represented by a line on the map.
September 17th 2014