What do Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan have in common? Although it’s true that the United States has conducted recent military interventions in all of them, the more fundamental answer is that they are all artificial countries. That is, they are each made up of feuding ethno-sectarian groups or tribes.
And perhaps the instability caused by those realities has been a beacon for the American superpower’s imperial attention. Of course, solving all of these countries’ “issues” would probably not stop the United States government from finding chaos elsewhere to police, thus continuing to squander tens of billions of its taxpayers’ dollars. However, resolving the conflicts in those nations would likely help the war-ravaged peoples who live there.
In the long-term, to deal with such quarrels–which are usually caused by ethnic, sectarian, or tribal clashes—one needs either to address the underlying causes so that the various peoples can live together or to move toward a separation of warring groups and political decentralization. The former solution is often difficult because the various groups are usually fighting over control of a strong central government that can be used by one group to oppress the other or others politically, economically, or militarily. Thus, those attempting to solve such crises should give more attention to the second solution.
Yet the second solution is often avoided because some of the great powers, often meddling in such local disputes, get nervous about eventually succumbing to any precedent for breaking up existing states. For example, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom all have restive areas that might benefit from more autonomy. Although not having the same problem, the American superpower believes that such political decentralization sets a precedent for destabilizing the entire international system.
However, the great powers are denying reality. Political decentralization has been an international trend since at least the de-colonization movement began in the 1950s, has continued through the break up of the Soviet Union and East Bloc in the 1990s down to the present, and has not been stopped by movements for economic integration—for example, the European Union. In fact, the efficiencies of economic integration have made it more feasible for smaller political units to have greater autonomy or even become independent. In the European Union, Scotland may go its own way from the United Kingdom, and Belgium may break up into smaller political entities.
Also, in the case of Iraq and doubtless other cases in which talk of separation and political decentralization would arise, elite Westerners espousing multiculturalism would probably yell “apartheid.” Yet apartheid in South Africa was forced separation at gunpoint by one group (whites) against African and mixed race groups.