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1 electrotek  Mar 29, 2015 12:16:48pm

North and South Yemen should have never unified to begin with. South Yemen used to be a shining beacon of light during British rule and Marxist rule, ironically enough.

2 Higgs Boson's Mate  Mar 29, 2015 12:36:18pm

Divvying up the pieces of the Ottoman empire among nations already notorious for their abysmal and completely unsympathetic treatment of their colonies was a huge mistake. Although I don’t know what the alternatives could have been at the time I believe that that one was among the worst.

3 lostlakehiker  Mar 29, 2015 3:27:43pm

re: #2 Higgs Boson’s Mate

Divvying up the pieces of the Ottoman empire among nations already notorious for their abysmal and completely unsympathetic treatment of their colonies was a huge mistake. Although I don’t know what the alternatives could have been at the time I believe that that one was among the worst.

Some situations don’t have easy right answers. Leaving those pieces to the rule of the Turks wasn’t an option. Putting them under new colonial rule was the answer that Britain and France arrived at when it came to Palestine and TransJordan, and that didn’t work out very well.* Setting up new, independent nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq was another idea, but then the question became who would rule? And naturally, one’s friends during WW1 would go to the head of the line for that. Or if that didn’t work out, then whoever best played the game of Strongman would wind up on top.

That didn’t work out well either. The problem in all cases was that good government arises organically out of the virtues of the people and out of their long experience with self rule—-and even then, it’s a crap shoot. If their virtues have been corroded by long experience of corrupt misrule [by Turkey in this instance], and their experience of self rule is just about nil, quick success is going to be a very long shot.

Russia is a failure when it comes to good government, even though it had a far more technically advanced civilization and it had at any rate a history of not being ruled by foreigners.

Iran is a failure, even though it too has a somewhat technically advanced civilization and has also at least not been ruled much by foreigners. (OK, OK, Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire and he and his successors ruled for a spell. But that was a Long Time Ago. And other incursions such as the joint Soviet-British intervention during WW2 to secure a supply route for Lend Lease also didn’t put much of a stamp on Iran.

France’s original revolution spiraled down into a hideous mess of arbitrary executions and foreign wars of plunder and ideology.

What were the odds that things would work out for the Middle East? The game of statesmanship and foresight is so difficult, starting from conditions such as where things stood after WW1, that good play was pretty much beyond human reach.

*Britain wasn’t actually all that bad as colonial powers went. India emerged from British rule as a working society that made a success of sorts of self rule, for instance. Hong Kong and Singapore and Malaysia, likewise. The Brits, and the Arabs, would have had reason to think that things might go no worse for them than they’d gone up to then for those places, and hoped that they might have eventually ended up with histories such as those nations have since experienced.


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