The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 August 2006

Quote of the week

The road to Splitsville? Tam considers the possibilties:

P.J. O'Rourke once wittily remarked that Tito had a brilliant strategy to keep Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and all the other constituents of his polyglot ersatz nation from killing each other. His plan was a brilliantly simple one: he did it for them. After he was gone it didn't take long for the denizens of the synthetic republic of Yugoslavia to start rummaging through sock drawers and digging behind loose bricks in their fireplaces to drag out long-dormant grudges and start beating each other over the noggin with them. The country went to pieces so fast that nations as far away as the USA were hit with the shrapnel.

The situation in post-Saddam Iraq is starting to look depressingly similar. Now that Saddam is no longer available to kill them wholesale, his liberated subjects (liberally goaded by outside agents provocateurs from various Muj factions) are happily back to slaying each other on a more retail scale. This of course raises the troubling question as to which is the proper approach for us: Do we keep applying splints and bandages and hope the country knits itself together stably over the long term? Or do we accept the centripetal forces at work and try to manage the fragmentation, letting the country split itself into the three chunks it's so desperately trying to fragment into, and thereby focus our attention on the breakaway republics that need it most? Either way is a gamble, and the potential payoff for each path has its upsides and downsides.

Iraq's borders are just as synthetic as Yugoslavia's were. It may be that partition might work: certainly the Czechs and the Slovaks aren't shooting at one another, but then they weren't shooting at each other to any great extent during the brief existence of Czechoslovakia. If the Bush administration is wise — a lot to hope for, I suppose, but work with me here — they're already thinking about the possibilities.

Posted at 10:01 AM to QOTW