69 million page views

There is no acknowledged standard for how and by whom borders should be set.

Reader comment on item: The "Shocking Document" that Shaped the Middle East Turns 100
in response to reader comment: This sound like Left-wing Utopianism

Submitted by Michael S. (United States), May 13, 2016 at 14:35


That is what is so puzzling to me. Westphalian countries definitely need boundaries; they are set in every case by an outside power, and they are always set for some political expedient. Do I need to cite examples?

1. The USA. Our boundaries were originally set by the Peace of Paris in 1783. Obviously, Paris is not in America. Most of the boundary areas were Indian areas, occupied by the Abnakis, Sioux, Creek, etc., and were arbitrarily drawn along rivers and lines of lattitude. The Canadian colonies were separated from the others as a political expedient, to establish a place of refuge for displaced Tories.

2. China. The present PRC boundaries were essentially set in 1959, with the forceful annexation of Tibet. The Uighurs, Tibetans, Mongolians and others are essentially non-Chinese people, and they are divided between China and neighboring countries such as Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Taiwan is also recognized as part of China by most countries; but as a political expedient, it is given de facto recognition. The South China Sea islets are not, but China has occupied them.

3. Russia. Vladivostok is over 4,000 miles from St. Petersburg, about the same as from London to New Delhi. The vast eastern reaches were annexed largely during the 1800s, around the same time that India was annexed to the British Empire. The boundaries of Russia have been drawn and re-drawn many times during the past 100 years; and there are still many conflicts. Many minorities are included in Russia, such as Mongols, Chechens and Ossetians. The Ossetians have been arbitrarily divided between Russia and Georgia, in a state of legal limbo.

4. Israel. Need I say more?

There are no "pure" states. Even the Swazis and Sothos are divided between countries, and they both have states named after them. The "British" are now black, white, brown and yellow, as are the French. French speakers are in Belgium and Switzerland, and Germans in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The world's youngest state, South Sudan, was arbitrarily carved from North Sudan along lines drawn by the British; because other than those lines, there WERE no boundaries other than the points of competing spears. Two major peoples are included in that country, the Nuers and Dinkas, each with languages, religions and DNA that are unique in the world; but there is no satisfactory boundary between the two.

You know that during World War I, the Turks were engaged just as much as the British and French, in a struggle of aggrandizement; yet you've singled out the Christian British and French. The Turks did some dividing and conquering of their own, overriding the Sykes and Picot boundaries. They massacred and drove out the Armenians and Greeks, and subjugated the Kurds. Later, just before World War II, the French puppet Syrians handed over Hatay Province to them, which contained few Turks.

According to UN Resolution 242, Israel was guaranteed "secure, defensible borders". Most of these were settled by subsequent treaties between Israel and its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan; yet no country in the world, including the US, Jordan and Egypt, recognizes these as the boundaries of the Jewish State. If your article is implying that modern-day Sykeses and Picots in Britain and France have no business messing with Israel's borders, I wholeheartedly agree; but neither do the Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese. The strength of Israel's borders lies in the character of the Israeli people who defend them. Without that, there would be no borders and no Israel.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)