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Memories of the 28th Century

Ending the Mideast Troubles

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I was going to write about this some time ago, but someone convinced me to steer clear. Well, it’s looking nastier than usual and getting worse, so maybe I should throw in my five trillion dollars’ worth.

A common characteristic of humans is hating anyone they consider different from them. The difference can be anything from skin color to physiognomy to abstruse point of philosophy, and the degree of difference makes no difference in how much they hate. Such hatreds are purely voluntary and are reversible. People who greatly hate each other can change their attitudes very quickly and completely. But some of the hatreds are based on the ownership of scarce resources, and these can be more persistent. But if one’s friends and allies have those scarce resource, then everything is fine, or can be.

The problems in the Mideast are variable, but they all come down to “Us versus Them”. In Syria it’s Sunnis against everyone else. In Iraq it’s Sunnis versus Shi’ites and the Kurds distancing themselves. In Palestine it’s Jews versus Christians and Muslims. If we were to simply eliminate all religions established since Sumer, then the disagreements would be gone, except for the Kurds separating themselves from Iraq, but they’ve been doing that for a few thousand years now. If, however, we could convince those various people of that region that they are all the same, then the hatreds of differences would disappear. It is difficult to hate people that you regard as being just like you.

That wouldn’t be as big a change as it may seem, because Islam was derived from Judaism, and Judaism was derived from the Assyrian religion, which was derived from Sumerian religion, which was derived from something else, but there are no records of the path from the primordial worship of Sky Father, but polytheism would suit that region better. Having many Gods and Goddesses would mean that the religious sects wouldn’t be as large, and there might be secondary tie-ins between one God and another, so there would be less direct opposition between Gods, and hopefully that would also be the case with the sects. I don’t expect that this would end the fighting, but it would chop the legs from under many of the people involved.

The second step would be to separate some of the combatants. Moving nations around used to reasonably common. The ancients did it frequently. Sometimes it was to put a people to better use guarding something, and sometimes it was to end strife between neighbors; the Hebrews were transported at least once. That custom was used as recently as during World War II, when the Soviet Union moved some people thought to be less than completely patriotic away from the front; the Chechens were treated that way, but they were eventually allowed to return to the North Caucasus. Who to move and where to move them will be an interesting parlor game, when we get around to actually doing it. But I think that the participants in the main conflict should be well separated; we should send the Israelis to Mercury and the Palestinians to Pluto. We could all of Palestine with cobalt dust, so that it would be uninhabitable for a fair number of thousands of years, and we could say good-bye to one problem. The Kurds should either be moved to the middle of Australia or given their own country; the Australians don’t want to give up part of their country, so it should be Kurdistan. There are several small minorities in Syria, and some of them should be sent back where they come from. Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, and Turkmen should be chucked out and sent home. Iraq has a similar problem with minorities, and getting rid of them would make many people less unhappy.

We would also want to move boundary lines around. The present borders were the lines that the Ottoman Empire used for its provinces, and those were designed to split troublesome groups between provinces, so they’d be smaller problems. Syria should only include the settled areas; the desert would be part of Jordan. Jordan would expand to include the desert parts of Syria and Western Iraq. Iraq would be just the area along the rivers but not including the Kurdish areas, which would become part of Kurdistan. Kurdistan would include the Kurdish region of Iraq, adjacent parts of Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Armenia would be expanded to its extent before the Turks drove them out of their traditional home around Lake Van.

O.K., now we have Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Kurdistan, and Turkey straightened out. The recent problems in Egypt have been caused by overpopulation, and the religious things were minor, but including them in the old faith area would help everyone, but the population problem will persist. Libya is a relatively easy matter. The Eastern and Western regions of Libya (Cyrenaica and Africa to the Romans) have been different for millennia, so let’s either separate them into what they were in Roman times or move the population of one area to some other part of the world; Siberia could use some more people. But that’s far enough into the Maghreb. It might be a good idea to rearrange the Arabian Peninsula, but it isn’t as necessary as cleaning up Iraq and Palestine. We could try to give instructions in democratic institutions: elections, freedom of speech, and so on, but that would take centuries. Even without democratic institutions we would have a region without a major religion, and the ethnic groups that had been most fractious will be separated from their traditional enemies. And many of the minor groups that were not integrated into the community will be sent back where they came from. There might be some problems with the distribution of water and other resources, but enough people would be chucked out to make it a little more tolerable.

In addition to bringing peace to the Mideast, sending the Circassians home might result in their old homeland slipping loose from Russia, and having nice people like the Circassians right near the Chechens might keep them from acting up. We can hope.

Someone’s idea for redrawing the Mideast map
I do not approve of this resubdivision, because it retains Israel, makes Kurdistan much too large, and creates an independent Baluchistan.