- 18 Oct 17
With the threat of secession looming in different parts of the world, a period of dramatic instability seems likely. We have been here before, of course. But at a terrible, brutal cost...
So, violence on the streets in Catalonia and perhaps secession from Spain? A few thousand kilometres to the east and the Kurds are in the process of doing just that from Iraq. Clearly, many of the compromises and land (and resource) grabs that followed on the wars of the past two centuries didn’t work. Indeed, in many cases you could say that they created the wretched world we now inhabit and the only people to truly benefit were arms manufacturers and oil dealers.
When the Great War ended, the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and Russian empires were no more. The arbitrary lines drawn on the world’s map created myriad new “countries”, many of which made no sense at all to those living on the ground, especially, but by no means exclusively, in the Middle East, where the divvy-up haunts us yet.
Even the winners lost. Whose flag fluttered over what square was a sideshow. The deaths of so many millions of young men in the trenches and margins utterly changed the demographies of the war-weary states. Migration rebuilt labour forces. Women emerged from the shadows into work and public life. And so on.