Friday, November 30, 2012

irredentism - the long-term wages of piracy...,

archdruid | The topic of last week’s post, the likely fate of Israel in the twilight years of American empire, makes a good example of more than one common theme.  As I commented in that earlier discussion, Israel is one of several American client states for whom the end of our empire will also be the end of the line.  At the same time, it also highlights a major source of international tension that bids fair to bring in a bumper crop of conflict in the decades before us.

The word “irredentism” doesn’t get a lot of play in the media just now, but my readers may wish to keep it in mind; there’s every reason to think they will hear it fairly often in the future. It’s the conviction, on the part of a group of people, that they ought to regain possession of some piece of real estate that their ancestors owned at some point in the past.  It’s an understandably popular notion, and its only drawback is the awkward detail that every corner of the planet, with the exception of Antarctica and a few barren island chains here and there, is subject to more than one such claim. The corner of the Middle East currently occupied by the state of Israel has a remarkable number of irredentist claims on it, but there are parts of Europe and Asia that could match it readily—and of  course it only takes one such claim on someone else’s territory to set serious trouble in motion.

It’s common enough for Americans, if they think of irredentism at all, to think of it as somebody else’s problem. Airily superior articles in the New York Times and the like talk about Argentina’s claim to the Falklands or Bolivia’s demand for its long-lost corridor to the sea, for example, as though nothing of the sort could possibly spill out of other countries to touch the lives of Americans. I can’t think of a better example of this country’s selective blindness to its own history, because the great-grandmother of irredentist crises is taking shape right here in North America, and there’s every reason to think it will blow sky-high in the not too distant future.

That’s the third and last of the hot button topics I want to discuss as we close in on the end of the current sequence of posts on the end of American empire, and yes, I’m talking about the southern border of the United States.

Many Americans barely remember that the southwestern quarter of the United States used to be the northern half of Mexico. Most of them never learned that the Mexican War, the conflict that made that happen, was a straightforward act of piracy. (As far as I know, nobody pretended otherwise at the time—the United States in those days had not yet fallen into the habit of dressing up its acts of realpolitik in moralizing cant.)  North of the Rio Grande, if the Mexican War comes to mind at all, it’s usually brushed aside with bland insouciance: we won, you lost, get over it. South of the Rio Grande? Every man, woman and child knows all the details of that war, and they have not gotten over it. Fist tap Dale.


Big Don said...

C'mon CNu, your basic Mexican-in-the-street, south of the present border, wishes the USA had annexed their whole fkg country way back when. Then there would be no need to jump fences, dig tunnels, traipse thru the dangerous desert with expensive paid-off coyotes, to get their OH-BAH-MUH-PHONES and associated benefit$$$$....

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