War by Other Means

David Warren:

My rule of thumb, on wars, is to fight them with your enemies, when absolutely necessary; but never with your friends, and in particular, never in order to create new enemies.

It is worth thinking carefully about the Clinton-Bush policy in the Balkans, which so far has led to the alienation of Russia, the creation of Islamic states in Europe, and the encouragement of separatist movements everywhere. The ideology seems to be that, if a territory is dominated by a certain ethnic or religious group different from that of the majority in the nation of which it is a part, it deserves self-determination, and may become an independent state. This has implications not only for the Palestinians, the Basques, and the Chechens, but also for Muslim separatist movements in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Kashmir, as well as for Kurdish rebels in Turkey, many tribal groups in Africa, and so on. Indeed, how can we simultaneously strive to keep Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites in the same state in Iraq and insist on Kosovo’s right to independence?

At issue is nothing less than the survival of the nation-state as a unit of political organization. If Kosovo, Kashmir, Kurdistan, etc., have a right to independence, what about New Mexico? Paris’s banlieus? New York’s Little Italy? San Francisco’s Chinatown? Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill?

The point isn’t that such independence movements are likely or politically viable. It’s rather that validating the underlying principle would turn immigration and self-segregation into powerful political weapons. You want some of your neighbor’s territory? Just send in the immigrants, make sure they don’t assimilate, let them achieve critical mass, and then have them insist on self-determination. This is already happening in many countries in Europe. There are activists who want to see what is happening in the American southwest similarly.

Once immigration is perceived as a slow-motion invasion, war by other means, the only rational thing to do is to restrict it radically and to create institutions to guarantee that immigrants integrate and assimilate. The latter is probably a good idea in any case—at least to the point of encouragement, if not insistence—though it flies in the face of multiculturalist dogma. The former would be unfortunate, I think, but seems inevitable if nations want to remain intact—and if they haven’t already ceded control to organizations such as the European Union that have their own reasons for wishing to undermine the political authority of the nation-state.

2 thoughts on “War by Other Means

  1. I agree generally that we should be wary of splitting up nation-states just because we could make divisions down to the level of the city or even neighborhood in many European countries, and we still wouldn’t have national boundaries matching the geographic boundaries of ethnicities. You can always sub-divide nationalities further.

    I think of the Catalunya question in Spain. Consider the Catalan-speaking areas. Valencia, a city in the southwest of Catalunya, insists that what they speak is NOT Catalan, but Valenciano (it’s really just a slightly different dialect of Catalan), and they don’t want to be part of a larger Catalunya. This infuriates Catalan nationalists who decry ‘Valencianisme.’

    But one area where I may disagree with you is on the issue of alienating Russia. I think we may find ourselves in the position of having to alienate Russia a great deal more often as she slides into fascism under Putin, and I don’t think we should hesitate to if the situation does call for it. Creating Muslim states in Europe isn’t a good idea, but not because it alienates Putin. I’m afraid he’s alienated by anything that isn’t fealty.

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