Just one link today, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France, that created the artificial states of Iraq and Syria by drawing arbitrary lines on a map. While the collapse of the Syrian and Iraqi states obviously have more proximate causes, they were always inherently unstable and could survive as long as they did only as brutal dictatorships. Paul Mason in The New Statesman discusses the Sykes-Picot line. Key excerpt:
Today, the easy lesson to learn from Sykes-Picot: don’t draw arbitrary lines across the map. Peoples and nations must have the right to self-determination. This was the principle US President Woodrow Wilson outlined as America entered the war, and which caused the British and French governments to hide the existence of Sykes’ map from Washington.
The harder lesson to learn is: never rely on national stereotypes; never reduce the conflicts of the world to ethnicity alone. There are also class, gender, religion, politics and history – attributes Sykes discounted as he tried to predict how the sub-groups of the Middle East would react to British policy.
The final lessons is: accept responsibility.