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An idea whose time has come

By Bruce Walker
web posted November 14, 2005

What is the solution to our national security problems? Balkanization. Those unfamiliar with history (almost anyone who has passed through public schools and our system of universities) may never have heard that term, but it was all the terror in foreign ministries throughout most of the 20th Century. But Balkanization has worked in the Soviet Union, where constituent republics have become peaceful, free and relatively democratic. It has worked in the "Velvet Divorce," the naturally ending of that unnatural union of Czechs and Slovaks in the former Czechoslovakia. The smaller states of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia work better than the old polyglot Yugoslavia. Pakistan and Bangladesh get on better than the single nation of West Pakistan and East Pakistan ever did.

Balkanization would work well in Iraq: split this unnatural imperium into three natural nations of Shia, Kurds and Sunnis. America could offer to defend each from aggressive invasion by the others, but then leave these nations, naturally suspicious of each other, to rely upon American friendship as the sure guarantee of political success.

Neighboring Iran should also be Balkanized into natural nations of Baluchi, Arabs, Kurds and other people who never belonged in a Persian-speaking greater population who barely constitute half of Iran. These new nations would have a powerful interest in keeping Teheran non-nuclear, and America could provide them with all the muscle and influence to keep the mullahs in line. Eventually, as Baluchistan and Kurdistan thrived while the Persians remained poor and grew poorer, the Persian government would be forced to reform (allow genuine freedom) and so implode.

The world is filled with nations that are not nations at all, but would Balkanization create hostility to America? More hostility than now? How? What this policy would do is to make some peoples truly our friends, make it dangerous to be our enemies, and knock anti-Americanism back on its heels. Democracy and freedom are wonderful concepts, but national independence of captive peoples has vastly more appeal.

With few exceptions, those who rant most against us stand on shaky ground. China, for example, not only occupies Mongolia and Tibet as colonies, but about 125 million other captive peoples who speak different languages and have different traditions. Ironically, it was the Left that coined the term "national liberation movements." If will adopt that policy, then we will win this Fourth World War.

Balkanization is also the answer to Muslim unrest in France and other parts of Europe as well. Some conservative pundits have fretted that Muslim radicals, who effectively control many French towns now, may soon demand autonomy. The French government should go much farther than that. It should define geographically three or four areas of France which are heavily Muslim and insist that a plebesite be held to determine whether the areas should become independent nations or should be subject, fully, to French law.

If the people vote to be French citizens and part of France, then that point should be rhetorically hammered home constantly: you not only immigrated into France, but you want to remain part of the French nation: so shut up. If the people voted to establish modest independent nations (between the size of Montenegro and Luxemburg), then the new citizens of these new nations could control their own destinies, but not the politics of France or the welfare benefits produced by the French taxpayer. Border guards could let in guest workers, but "rioting" across national boundaries could, and should, be treated as a formal act of war against France.

Is there a danger that this might spread to America? No, there is a hope that this might spread to America. What Europeans called Balkanization is what we called sovereign state governments, the best antidote for people living together unhappily (if you don't like it, move to another state) and the best guard against an overbearing federal bureaucracy and judiciary.

Balkanization is good and we should encourage it everywhere and in almost every condition. Small nations cannot afford terrorism, nuclear weapons making, oppression of their own peoples, or whining about how wretched they are. So let us Balkanize the unhappy parts of Asia; let us encourage the French and other Europeans to pursue the successful path of Balkanization that followed in the wake of the end of the Cold War as a way to solve indigestible minorities. And let us revive the idea of sovereign states, which will solve many of our problems as well. It is an idea whose time has come.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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