Imperialisms, Old and New: Sykes-Picot and the United Nations

Foreign policy expert (and Reason contributor) Michael Young had an op-ed out last week on nationalism and imperialism in the Middle East. Writing in The National, Young argues that Western imperialism should not be blamed for the problems of the Middle East today. Young argues that the power vacuum left by the collapse of the Ottoman Empire guaranteed that violence … Continue reading Imperialisms, Old and New: Sykes-Picot and the United Nations

“The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa”

We explore the consequences of ethnic partitioning, a neglected aspect of the Scramble for Africa, and uncover the following. First, apart from the land mass and water bodies, split and non-split groups are similar across several dimensions. Second, the incidence, severity, and duration of political violence are all higher for partitioned homelands which also experience … Continue reading “The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa”

BC’s weekend reads

Sectarianism and the New Shiism Why Islamic State Militants Care So Much About Sykes-Picot The Bullshistory of “Sykes-Picot” Never Alone: Let’s Retire the Word “Isolationism” Morals and the Free Society: On Cultural Group Selection The Creeping Militarization of American Culture

“If we have to choose between ISIS and Assad…”

  …we’ll take ISIS. ISIS has flatbed trucks and machine guns. Assad represents the strategic arch from Tehran to Beirut, 130,000 rockets in the hands of Hezbollah, and the Iranian nuclear program. That’s from Michael Oren, a prominent Israeli lawmaker and a former ambassador to the United States. I got the quote from an excellent bit of … Continue reading “If we have to choose between ISIS and Assad…”

Asking the Wrong Question

How do the United States and others achieve victory against Islamic State without empowering sectarian actors who will seek to poison the reconciliation that Iraq needs to hang together? That’s the question posed by Craig Whiteside, an associate Professor of Theater Security Decision Making for the Naval War College at the Naval Postgraduate School, over at … Continue reading Asking the Wrong Question

From the Comments: A libertarian solution to Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) and the civil war in Syria

I have 3 scenarios in mind, and multilateralism is a must for all of them. 1) I’m still a proponent of recognizing the separatist aspirations of Mideast factions and introducing new, smaller states into the international order (haphazard though it may be). This was done after WWI but in the wrong manner. There was an … Continue reading From the Comments: A libertarian solution to Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) and the civil war in Syria

Bernard Lewis, Edward Said, Facts, Ideology, and the Middle East

I recently came across an excellent interview conducted by Evan Goldstein, who is the editor of Arts & Letters Daily and the Chronicle of Higher Education, with Bernard Lewis, who is an eminent historian of the Middle East from Princeton. There were three things that stood out to me in the interview: 1) the potential for ideological … Continue reading Bernard Lewis, Edward Said, Facts, Ideology, and the Middle East

From the Footnotes: Ignorance of Islam and of the Decentralization of Power

There are widespread calls for an Islamic reformation such as Christianity experienced in the sixteenth century, but the Reformation cleaved Christianity into two major traditions and many splintered sects; each grew independently of the others, eroding any hope of a Christian center that could rein in extremes. After its early division into Sunni and Shi’a, … Continue reading From the Footnotes: Ignorance of Islam and of the Decentralization of Power

The New Caliphate in the Middle East: When Islamists experiment with libertarianism (and why the West should do the same)

Richard Epstein, the legal scholar and libertarian Republican known for his erudite wisdom in the fields of law and economics and tort law, has recently joined in the chorus of Right-wing critics attacking Senator Rand Paul (and President Obama) for arguing that the US government does not have enough information to carry out an attack … Continue reading The New Caliphate in the Middle East: When Islamists experiment with libertarianism (and why the West should do the same)

The state alone cannot be blamed for “sham Arab democracy”

Rami Khouri has a great piece about the effects that The State has on Arab democracy in the Beirut-based the Daily Star. Khouri argues that states in the Arab world are designed for a top-down approach to governance whereas the traditional legal and political institutions of the Arab world are bottom-up (“indigenous” as well as “inclusive”) creations. The inability of Arab … Continue reading The state alone cannot be blamed for “sham Arab democracy”

Creative Destruction in the Levant

Creative destruction ain’t just a place for the marketplace, baby! The National Interest has an article out by Mark Donig on “The Twilight of Sykes-Picot.” It’s a great piece that basically acknowledges the end of an era (European imperialism and cartographic arrogance), and what this will mean for the United States. Sykes-Picot is an agreement … Continue reading Creative Destruction in the Levant