TCS Daily


Children of 1919

By Nick Schulz - January 18, 2008 12:00 AM

Editor's note: David Andelman is the author of A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today. He recently discussed his book with Nick Schulz.

Q. It is your sense that 1919 and the Paris Conference are a poorly appreciated period of history. So many troubles in the world today have some roots in that conference. Explain.

A. The diplomats and politicians who descended on Paris in 1919 at the end of what was called then the Great War, came with the stated intention of remaking the world. Moreover, while they were in session, they considered themselves the world's government. Since they had just crushed the Central Powers - Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire including much of what is today the Middle East - there was no one to challenge them in their conceit.

The problem was that without any checks and balances, and with little sense of what the long-term consequences of their actions might be, they created a world very much in their own image and one they could continue to dominate - weak, heterogeneous nations, each heavily dependent on the great powers that had created them for their prosperity or their very survival.

The Allied statesmen gathered in 1919 paid little attention to the needs and wants of the people of these territories they were remaking or, in many cases, creating from scratch - drawing boundaries that today, in the next century, ware are often defending with our own blood. In the medium term, it was a recipe for chaos, the long term, very much a recipe for disaster.

Q. Since so much that emerged from the conference was artificial -- such as the creation of Iraq -- how do nations cope with the legacy going forward? For example, would it be better to let Iraq disintegrate?

A. The best possible outcome today in many parts of the world - but especially in Iraq - would be effectively to undo the errors committed by the Paris peacemakers of 1919. Would this succeed in the case of Iraq? We have only to look at one other region that has already gone through this process - the Balkans, particularly the artificial nation of Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia, as it was constituted in1919 and continued to function until its breakup three-quarters of a century later - was a kaleidoscopes of nationalities, languages and religions, held together for much of its existence by a single communist dictator, Josip Broz Tito. Following Tito's death (and the end of communism in the rest of Central and Eastern Europe), the powerful centrifugal forces that had been pent up since its creation spun it apart into several different nations. The prosperous and advanced country of Slovenia quickly joined the European Union. Neighboring Croatia is now also on its way toward peace, prosperity and eventual membership in the EU. The more fractious nations of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia are still struggling into the post-Yugoslav era.

Iraq is in a very similar position. In the north there is the state of Kurdistan which is prosperous and, if left alone by neighboring Turkey and the remainder of Iraq, stands a very good chance of becoming the Slovenia of what used o be known as Mesopotamia. On the south, are the oil-rich Shi'ite regions of Iraq - also potentially economically self-sufficient. In the center is the smaller Sunni-controlled area centering around Baghdad whose existence is intensely desired and its prosperity likely guaranteed by its immediate neighbor, the powerful Sunni nation of Saudi Arabia.

So the answer is "yes" - not only would it be better to allow Iraq to disintegrate, but actively to encourage its partition could well prove to be the best possible outcome of the current crisis in Mesopotamia.

Q. Were there any other comparable periods of history during which the maps of nations were so fundamentally redrawn and with such wide-ranging consequences?

A. NA. Nearly a century before the peacemakers gathered in Paris in 1919 to create the Versailles Treaty, European leaders gathered in Vienna for the Congress of Vienna. It, too, was supposed to create a world (or at least a Europe which was then effectively the center of the civilized universe) that was peaceful and prosperous, though certainly under the sway of the western powers.

Many of the younger peacemakers who came to Paris in 1919 - individuals like Britain's Harold Nicolson and John Maynard Keynes, America's Allen and John Foster Dulles - came with the expressed hope that the colossal errors made at the Congress of Vienna which perpetuated major power hegemony and the empires that marked much of the 19th century would not be repeated. They were quickly disillusioned and went home bitter and angry.

Q. What was wrong with Wilson's vision for peace?

A. There was really nothing wrong with Wilson's vision for peace - had it been adequately defined and even adequately negotiated. It was not. It was the product of a naïve and idealistic politician of an academic bent with a deeply religious background but little understanding of how the wider world worked or the motives and methods of his counterparts among the leaders of Europe.

On the S.S. George Washington that took Wilson and the American delegation to Europe, he held only one meeting on the entire crossing with his staff and advisors, largely academics that comprised his "think tank," known as The Inquiry. These were the men who would negotiate many of the most difficult issues at the Peace Conference - those who he must help understand and imbue with the spirit of the vision he was asking them to implement. I found several private, unpublished diaries of some of those who were at this meeting with Wilson. Each came away shaking their heads in dismay - that he had little or no understanding of how to implement his grand vision. Without such guidance at the top, fragmentation, disarray and eventual defeat was inevitable at the conference tables of Paris as the leaders of Western Europe successfully divided members of the American delegation, then imposed their will on them.

Q. Had the terms not been so hideously unfavorable to the German people, as Keynes and others asserted, could WW II have been avoided?

A. Certainly Hitler rose to power on a platform of repudiation of the confiscatory provisions of the Treaty of Versailles that were effectively dictated to the German representatives summoned to Paris to sign the document.

Without question, these terms and their implementation, the presence of French troops on German soil to enforce some of the provisions, heightened pre-existing tensions between the two countries. Still, it's likely that a global depression that began in 1929 in the United States and spread like wildfire across Europe would have been all but inevitable anyway.Could its arrival in Germany, however, have been laid so directly at the feet of the Allies and the Treaty of Versailles by a Hitler had the onerous provisions of the Treaty of Versailles been scaled back? That's a central and compelling question that may never be answered. It's entirely conceivable, however, that domestic alternatives to Hitler might have had a stronger case for a more moderate approach without the draconian terms of the Treaty of Versailles overhanging the decades that followed its adoption.

Q. Germany is the most notorious example, but what people or nations had similar gripes in the wake of Versailles and what were the consequences?

A. There was a host of complaints about the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles and the consequences were ultimately as grave in the long run as those that ultimately threw Germany into the hands of the National Socialists.

First there was the case of China, to which I devote a long section of A Shattered Peace. China had long desired freedom from the dominance of neighboring Japan which had mounted a decades-long campaign to acquire large swaths of territory that could accelerate its growth as an empire beyond the narrow confines of its home island territories. The Treaty of Versailles, which gave Japan virtually full mastery of China, was viewed as a catastrophe across that vast nation. The protest riots that began in Beijing and swept across the country laid the foundations for the rise of Mao and the Chinese Communist Party.

Second, across the Balkans and much of Central and Eastern Europe, a host of nations and their peoples - Slovaks, Slovenes, Rumanians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Serbs, Macedonians among others - found their territorial boundaries rigged against them, their populations arbitrarily shifted into new nations where they became immediately disenfranchised minorities, discriminated against, or worse.

In the Middle East, there were similarly disenfranchised individuals - Arabs in Palestine, ruled under a British mandate which awarded the territory to the Jews as their new homeland; various tribes and religions across Mesopotamia and up through Lebanon who found themselves ruled by outlanders.

Finally, there were those disenfranchised peoples who were all but entirely ignored by the peacemakers of Paris - particularly Koreans and Indochinese - and whose demands were short shrift, thereby fueling a host of future conflicts.

Q. We know about some of the losers at Versailles. Who were the winners?

A. Of course, the western powers were the victors. But they scarcely came away winners. Britain and France were prostrate after this debilitating war. Their economies were a shambles. Nearly an entire generation of their young men and been killed or crippled by years of trench warfare. In France and neighboring Belgium, the countryside was devastated, factories destroyed, entire towns and villages leveled.

Nevertheless, there were victors, and winners, among the Allies. The United States and Japan, which entered the war as relatively minor powers, emerged as the great nations of the remainder of the twentieth century. The tectonic plates of global politics were shifting. Japan was to dominate Asia for much of the rest of the century much as the United States was to dominate the western hemisphere and much of Europe and the Middle East. Its industrial machine was all but untouched by the war, indeed strengthened by the years of serving as the armory of the Allies. Equally, its banks had funded the Allied war effort. In Asia, Japan was the victor and the Treaty of Versailles only cemented its hegemony over China and much of the Asian mainland.

Finally, there was Russia, whose new Commiunist leadership under Lenin had withdrawn from the world conflict at a most opportune moment and was now well on its way to assembling what would become the Soviet Union and a Bolshevik nation that stretched from Central Europe to the Pacific. Lenin believed that the failures of the Treaty of Versailles would only accelerate the spread of Bolshevism across Europe. He was not entirely wrong.

Q. To what extent is the present wave of Islamist extremism traced to Paris in 1919?

A. When Feisal ibn Hussein arrived in Paris with T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) representing the Arab people of the Ottoman Empire, the young sheikh from the Hejaz met with some top members of the American delegation. He presented his scenario for a peaceful Middle East - effectively a confederation of semi-independent states, along tribal lines, that he likened to the original conception of the United States (48 states, at the time, each with its own individuality, united by a single central authority). Without that, he warned, there were already rumblings of considerable and violent unrest. He described a group called al-Fatah which he feared could provoke violence across a region embittered by failure of the West to understand their neeeds and wants.

He was not wrong. Indeed the small, weak and dependant nations, their borders drawn by the ill-informed negotiators in Paris and ruled by individuals imposed by their creators, laid the foundations for violent confrontations with the West. Effectively forcing Sunnis and Shiites, Palestinians and Jews to share the same territories where they had for centuries been avoiding each other - or clashing violently on the rare occurrences when their tribal cultures did come into conflict - was a recipe for the type of disaster we are seeing today across the region. The difference? In 1919, these forces had no means of projecting their violent rebellions beyond their region. Today, it is a matter of simple airplane ride and a small backpack for such protesters to wreak havoc on those they see as their oppressors.

Q. Baby boomers who developed their political views during Vietnam might be surprised to know that a young Ho Chi Minh was there. Describe what he was doing and what he took from it.

A. In 1917, a young Vietnamese busboy named Nguyen Tat Thanh (Nguyen Who Will Succeed) arrived in Paris, determined to find some way of winning freedom for his people back home in Indochina. While he waited tables at the Ritz Hotel, serving many of the distinguished delegates and their advisors of the Paris conference, he was also drafting an historic document - "Eight Demands of the Vietnamese People." And he began knocking on doors of a host of delegates, French politicians, anyone who he thought might help win recognition of his demands. All his activities really did was to call his attention to members of the French Surete, who placed him under surveillance.

The only real support he found came from the French Socialist Party, to which he gravitated out of frustration as his political efforts were met elsewhere with stony silence or a derisive wave of the hand. Deeply frustrated, he drifted increasingly toward the party's radical wing, embraced communism and finally fled to Moscow where he became a valuable agitator for the Comintern in the Third World. Decades later, he returned to his native Vietnam to lead a rebellion against its French overlord and adopted the nom de guerre of Ho Chi Minh. How might the history of the 20th century been different had some far-sighted diplomat in Paris understood the needs and desires of Nguyen Tat Thanh and his people.

Q. If American policymakers had a better handle on the legacy of Paris and Versailles, what would they be doing differently today?

A. They would be making every effort to implement the principles that Wilson so eloquently enunciated and so dismally failed to carry out - self-determination for people, natural frontiers, open agreements openly arrived at.

The concepts that Wilson enunciated in his document, "The Fourteen Points" - the principles on which America entered the war in Europe - were valid, indeed essential if the west was to remake the world into a place where lasting peace would replace periodic and increasingly lethal conflicts. Those young diplomats who arrived in Paris full of hope that the vast errors of the Congress of Vienna a century earlier would be avoided and Wilson's doctrine embraced, came away bitterly disillusioned.

Imagine if the Emir Feisal's vision of the Middle East had provided a homeland to Palestinians as well as Jews, to Sunnis and Kurds as well as Shi'ites. Imagine if the negotiators who constituted themselves as the world's government had provided measures of self-determination to Slovaks and Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese - establishing natural frontiers of united, homogeneous peoples. Imagine if the negotiators in Paris in 1919 had sufficient self-confidence in the viability and ultimate strength of their own systems of governance and industry to have opened a line of communication to alternatives like Bolshevism. Finally, imagine if those who arrived in Paris hobbled by secret agreements concluded in the passions of war had elected to tear up these documents. Instead, they would begin again to remake the map of the world and shift the tectonic plates toward a system that depended not on an ineffectual, multi-national debating society on the shores of Lake Geneva called the League of Nations but on the real needs and desires of the people who lived in all these territories.

Today, if negotiators understood the colossal errors committed nearly a century ago and the value of undoing them - not at the point of a gun but around a conference table - we could be moving more quickly to restoring a status quo that depended less on a military solution than on the good will and aspirations of citizens who would guarantee their own peaceful and prosperous future.

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59 Comments

Borders, language, culture
Doc Savage and Buchanan have been proven to be correct with the Balkins and many other artificial nations.

Can't go along with that
This fellow Andelman makes it his thesis that "without any checks and balances, and with little sense of what the long-term consequences of their actions might be, they created a world very much in their own image and one they could continue to dominate - weak, heterogeneous nations, each heavily dependent on the great powers that had created them for their prosperity or their very survival.

"The Allied statesmen gathered in 1919 paid little attention to the needs and wants of the people of these territories they were remaking or, in many cases, creating from scratch - drawing boundaries that today, in the next century, ware are often defending with our own blood. In the medium term, it was a recipe for chaos, the long term, very much a recipe for disaster."

Not In Europe, no. In fact what they were doing in Eastern Europe was an attempt to right the wrongs of empire by creating states based on nationality rather than chance. And in fact that is the route the region has gone. Today we have states even tinier, and more exclusively based on single ethnicities, than we had in the wake of Versailles.

Take the sloppiest one, Yugoslavia. Instead of being a battleground between the Austrians, the Italians, the Greeks and the Turks, it became the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes-- all fellow south Slavs. In 1919 this was considered an improvement over the old borderland status of the region.

The author is much more correct when it comes to the drawing of borders beyond Europe. To the European mind these were peopled by primitives, incapable of self government. The territories were therefore divvied up between the victorious French and British, as Africa had been.

Such boundaries were in fact arbitrary and capricious, and cause problems to this day for the indigenous nationalities. No, Iraq never had any underlying theme. Nor did Nigeria, nor India, nor any of the oher borders drawn in Europe without the consultation of the locals.

Then Schulz asks a question that I think leads us astray:

"Q. Had the terms not been so hideously unfavorable to the German people, as Keynes and others asserted, could WW II have been avoided?"

The problem was not with Germany, but with the existence of Germany and Russia. So long as they opposed one another there was peace. But the very week they got together, there was war across Europe.

Then when they broke apart again, the fate of Germany, in the middle between two allied powers, was sealed.

The tragedy of the world after Versailles was not the creation of small, national states. It was the reluctance of the large ones to stand for anything but their own parochial concerns. The League of Nations was dead on arrival, and there was no supranational force on earth to keep the peace or to preserve the autonomy of the small nations. So they became prey.

Yugoslavia
If Yugo was so united, why did it fly apart so fast?

The Arabs and Jews are all Semitic people and should all get along just fine.

Brother against brother
Yugoslavia was, and is, an impossibly complicated mess to disentangle. They all speak the same language, more or less-- but they all have religious issues that keep them at each others' throats. Just like the Semites.

There's no struggles that get played out quite so dirty as the ones between brothers.

Yugoslavia: Another example of mob rule.
"In the war's aftermath, Serbia became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (1918). It included the former kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Croatia-Slavonia, a semiautonomous region of Hungary; and Dalmatia. King Peter I of Serbia became the first monarch; his son, Alexander I, succeeded him on Aug. 16, 1921. Croatian demands for a federal state led Alexander to assume dictatorial powers in 1929 and to change the country's name to Yugoslavia. Serbian dominance continued despite his efforts, amid the resentment of other regions. A Macedonian associated with Croatian dissidents assassinated Alexander in Marseilles, France, on Oct. 9, 1934, and his cousin, Prince Paul, became regent for the king's son, Prince Peter."

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108157.html


Majority rules right?


Self-determination is a must

The tragedy of Versailles WAS forcing peoples who didn't like each other into artificial boundaries FOR the benefit of the major power, NOT for the benefit of those subjegated.

The tragedy after WWII was allowing the Soviets to invade eastern Europe and North Korea.

Fortunately some lessons were learned from WWII and Germany and Japan were rebuilt. India gained independence and Israel was created and supported by the west.

Unfortunately, after de-colonization in Africa, people who were forced to live together were then in a free-for-all to gain power over other within the artificial boundaries.

When people choose to move and live with other nationalities, as they did in the USA, Canada, Australia, and many South American countries, they create a new nation.

That's why it is so important that immigrants to any country must assimilate or their will be conflict as the Swedes are discovering with Muslims in Malmo.

While it should not be too easy to secede, there should be a defined process so VT could leave the USA or Northern CA could create their own state or Quebec could start their own country. Civil war and strife as what happened in E. Timor or in the US Civil War should not be the norm.


Hanoi Jane will hate this article.
Oh my god, this guy says that Ho che mihn really was a communist instead of just a brave guy looking for freedom for that crappy country! And if Jane Fonda says he just had to go commie because the west ignored him, they why didn't he make the country into a free one years later when he had the chance?

You are a child of 1919, Dietmar.
Do you disagree with the author's main points?

I'm not sure what is new with this book. I had a basic understanding that WWII was a direct result of WWI Treaty of Versailles.

Maybe
but the author is fundamentally wrong about the Congress of Vienna. The Congress was not the slightest interested in the rights of minorities; it was interested in removing the potential for conflicts between the great powers. This is what it set out to do, and by and large succeeded in putting an end to global war for about a century. There would indeed be wars between European powers in mid-century, but these never became an all out war involving all the great powers and hence had little of the massive destruction of the Napoleonic wars. The limitations on the Congress were that still to come was the unifications of Germany and Italy. Those two developments were the principal reasons why the agreements of 1815 ultimately broke down, not minority rights.

child
Yeah, and that's pretty much what this guy is saying I guess. and all that about all the diplomatic bungling etc. seems about right.

What?
Without a doubt WWII was the most damaging and destructive war the world has ever seen. Unlike WWI, or any previous wars, this one was truely global with the lines drawn between multi-national combatants. The Napoleonic wars were nasty, but comparable child's play.

As bad as WWI was, it was less organized and mainly a European war. (No, not entirely. For example, the Japanese never did quite fighting right through the two big wars.)

The worldwide death and destruction of WWII actually made everyone take a breath and decide that this wasn't worth it. The major powers then, finally, learned to get along (sort of).

Read my post again
I wasn't talking about the 20th C but about the 19th. I was simply making the point on which the author was wrong that the Congress of Vienna largely succeeded where Versailles and the League of Nations largely failed.

As a side note, one thing to bear in mind, however. Pre-industrial wars could be extremely destructive, given time. I recall an interesting reference once that by the end of the 30 years war over 75 per cent of all villages in Germany had been destroyed. It is a fact that agricultural production in the Rhineland did not recover to pre-1620 levels until the 20th century. Timur ravaged Iran so thoroughly in the 15th C that one of its largest agricultural areas remains a desert to this day, and the civilian fatalities from his wars are known to total at least 17 million.

"The worldwide death and destruction of WWII actually made everyone take a breath and decide that this wasn't worth it. The major powers then, finally, learned to get along (sort of)."

Only partly. I'm not convinced we're really all that evolved compared with a century ago. What entered the picture was nuclear weapons. Total wars between the great powers became obsolete because there was no way to win.

Ethnic intermixing
In this Balkan stew there was no possible way to spearate out the various parties. They all lived in the same village. That's what made the extermination of the Serbs by the Croats in WW Two so horrible. People did ugly things to their friends and neighbors.

In such situations the only thing you can hope for is to have a wise leader. Tito kept the various parties from going at each others' throats for fifty years.

Then he died-- and they got Milosevic. This is certainly not a case of majority rule. In the Yugoslav breakup there was no majority. And there was no democratic vote.

It was merely a case of unrestrained fratricide, with no wise parent in attendance.

Ignoring the history
"The tragedy of Versailles WAS forcing peoples who didn't like each other into artificial boundaries FOR the benefit of the major power, NOT for the benefit of those subjegated."

It's obvious you're not on the same page as the historians. What happened was precisely the reverse.

The Ottoman Empire was composed not just of Turks, but of Armenians, Azeris, Cherkassians, Kurds, Greeks, Assyrians, Arabs and a dozen other ethnicities. It was replaced by Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. The results were very far from perfect, but they were an attempt at improving the family of nations by adhering to a one people, one state idea instead of just some sprawling empire.

Austria-Hungary was also a conglomerate of South Slaves, Germans, Styrians, Slovenes, Rom, Ruthenes, Tyroleans, Italians and Polish Galicians, just to mention a few of the major groups. Instead it was broken up into states like Czechoslovakia, where most people were of the same group.

The fact that it didn't work was due to the obvious-- there was no place in Eastern Europe where the population was 100% pure. It was all a mix. And nation-states based on ethnicity rather than just raw power never quite worked.

No matter how finely you subdivide a place like Bosnia, there are always several minorities in conflict with each other.

BTW, what happened in East Timor was not civil war or ethnic strife. It was aggression by a powerful neighbor against a tiny place that really was a hundred percent Timorese.

The war to end all wars
We're pretty much in agreement. To a Eurocentric observer, the Thirty Years' War was really the first "world war", when all of Europe was duking it out for control. And the Treaty of Westphalia did a pretty good job of ending that.

Same with the Napoleonic Wars and Vienna. It was so peaceful in fact, that by mid-century all the little nationalities were discovering their identity and starting to clamor for their own nations.

WW One was really the War to End All Wars. It was commonly said that modern technology plus the will to dominate made a world so horrible that no one would ever go to war again. Boy were they wrong.

But technology marches on, and today we have a steady rate of attrition. Around the world, several hundred thousand of us are killed by small arms each year in unsettled areas. And in the truly chaotic zones, like East Africa, the toll can only be guessed at. We are at constant war with ourselves and each other.

All of which makes excellent business for the arms industry, who never miss an opportunity to make things worse. Across the globe, more fires are being purposely set than can possibly be extinguished by men of good will.

Not surprising you would call Tito a 'wise' leader.
If he were so wise, why was he the only one who could be in charge?

Did not go far enough
Even the Czechs and Slovaks did not want to have a country together. Some group!

The issue was forcing people into nations they did not want.

Only one Tito
Your question doesn't make a lick of sense. Tito was the best thing Yugoslavia ever had. He kept them from killing each other for fifty years. Then as soon as he died they started killing each other again.

That's pretty good. What you're asking is why couldn't he have cloned himself.

Trying to make everyone happy
"The issue was forcing people into nations they did not want."

In fact, no. Most of the post-Versailles boundaries were decided by plebiscite. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it means the people voted on which country they wanted to belong to.

The boundaries agreed to by the Germans and Bolsheviks under Brest-Litovsk were an exception. Here, two political powers carved up the territory that lay between them.

You are right, though, that there were still many people left unsatisfied. But there could have been no way to divide Europe so as to have a continent free of irredentism.

Tito was a communist and did not solve the problem.
Surprise, surprise.

Elmer Fudd was a pig, and never shot that wabbit
Naturally you would hold that view. It's narrow minded to the point of being useless.

We could as easily say that Tito was the only communist to ever become an independent. He ran his country his way, not Moscow's or Beijing's. And ruled with an iron fist, but got results. Meaning he took a collection of peoples impossible to rule, and kept them all in line for two full generations.

Tito was successful in the way that Milosevic was not. Milosevic brought his country to ruin, encouraging divisiveness; Tito merely died with no understudy waiting in the background to carry the flag.

" And ruled with an iron fist, but got results"
That's why you like him.

All your talk about majority rule is pure BS.

You really want to be the one ruling with YOUR iron fist.

What a fraud!

getting hard to apologize for dictators
What you said is what all authoritarians say to try to lamely justify dictatorship. You don't like to mention that these guys kept their enslaved citizens captive all those years, buy gee under mussolini the trains did leave on time, and that Hitler, those great autobahns he built and got all those people to work. Leave it to you to be the only one around here to defend fascism.

So is it too late to undo the damage?
So what do we do about all this? Vote for Ron Paul? It seems like, back then, the foreign policy he espouses would have gone a long way toward preventing the messes that we've got on our hands today. Is it too late for the United States to start applying non-interventionism, or are we tragically stuck holding onto the tail of a wolf with both hands (e.g. Iraq, Iran, etc., etc.)?

We are undoing the damage.
Basically it is providing security to allow small nation states to obtain economic freedom.
It worked for Germany, Japan, Korea, and now in the Balkins and Eastern Europe and hopefully in the Middle East.

That's just sad
You guys-- you and Dietmar-- are incapable of seeing nuance. You argue the way Russians tango. Just tell me this: would you rather be living in Yugoslavia 1982? Or Yugoslavia 1992.

Tito was a big improvement over anything that either came before him or came after him. Just like Putin in Russia. Running a place like that calls for special skills.

Obviously their approach would not fit the US. We're governed by guys who operate like the Music Man. Yugoslavia has to be governed by an alligator wrestler.

Nuance
That's why you can't accept standards.

All is relative.

Our need for a government
What I'm saying is that all or nothing interpretations aren't helpful If anything government does that helps people is unacceptable because it's socialism, you negate the reason for government. We invented the stuff so it could help us do things together that we couldn't accomplish individually.

I've noted before that originally the government was created to function as a granary, so each could contribute a tithe in times of plenty, and all could withdraw a stipend in time of need.

Without government, civilization would have died in those early days-- every time there was a drought or a plague. So I submit that it can't be all bad.

Government is supposed to serve, not be served.
Government power corrupts and soon the the people are coerced to serve the government.

The US Constitution started out right, a government created by the consent of the governed.

As the Declaration of Independence states so well:

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/index.htm

Better no government than total despotism as is now happening in DPRK and Zimbabwe and is slowing growing elsewhere.

Majority rules?
Hmmm interesting. I think, perhaps, you know nothing of the history of the rise and fall of Yugoslavia, let alone what the dynamics behind it were. You have a firm conviction that people from a different ethnicity - invented or otherwise - 'just don't get along' and that's the way it always will be. Nuances? Why, that's just weakness!

Czechs and Slovaks
"Even the Czechs and Slovaks did not want to have a country together. Some group!

The issue was forcing people into nations they did not want."

Frankly bizarre. Where on earth did you get the idea they didn't want to live together? A little research will force you to the conclusion that you junped the gun on this one. Once again, your blinkered ideology has led you to an erroneous conclusion.

Two groups with a different language living in a state together? That's just unnatural, right?!

What do nation states matter in the EU?
Do the Czechs and Slovaks want to unite? What is stopping them?

Why bother though with an EU that practically eliminates national sovereignty?

As for border, language and culture, the UK required much blood to 'unite'. The Scots, Welsh and Irish spoke a different language than England.

Quebec, which forces Canada to teach French, has threatened to secede many times.

Evasive, as ever
You said: "Even the Czechs and Slovaks did not want to have a country together. Some group!

The issue was forcing people into nations they did not want."

This is plain wrong. Evidently, you didn't perform even the most elementary research about how and why the split took place. Nor even how and why the state came about. Nothing in Mises or The American Thinker to help you out? Instead you resort to your tired old habit of changing the subject.

How would a country secede from a state in your view? Surely not by means of a referendum with all the dreaded implications of majorities and minorites?

Your the expert. Prove your claims.

Slovakia sided with Hilter in 39
"Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I, the independent republic of Czechoslovakia was created in 1918. This new country incorporated regions of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia (known as Subcarpathian Rus at the time) with significant German, Hungarian, Polish and Ruthenian speaking minorities.[3] Although Czechoslovakia was a unitary state, it provided what was at the time rather extensive rights to its minorities. However, it did not grant its minorities any territorial political autonomy, which resulted in discontent and strong support among some of the minorities to break away from Czechoslovakia. Adolf Hitler used the opportunity and, supported by Konrad Henlein's Sudeten German National Socialist Party, gained the largely German speaking Sudetenland through the 1938 Munich Agreement. Poland occupied Polish inhabited areas around Ceský Tešín. Hungary gained parts of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus as a result of the First Vienna Award in November 1938.

Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus gained greater autonomy, with the state renamed to "Czecho-Slovakia" (The Second Republic; see Occupation of Czechoslovakia). Slovakia seceded in March 1939 and allied itself with Hitler's coalition."


"In November 1989, Czechoslovakia returned to democracy through a peaceful "Velvet Revolution". However, Slovak national aspirations strengthened until on January 1, 1993, the country peacefully split into the independent Czech Republic and Slovakia. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_Republic

If the Slovaks and Czechs got along so well why would the Slovaks take sides against the Czechs in '39?

Who/how was Czechslovakia created in 1918?

"Despite cultural differences, the Slovaks shared with the Czechs similar aspirations for independence from the Habsburg state and voluntarily united with the Czechs."

"The creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 was the culmination of the long struggle of the Czechs against their Austrian rulers and of the Slovaks against Magyarisation and their Hungarian rulers. Although the Czechs and Slovaks have similar languages, at the end of the nineteenth century, the situation of the Czechs and Slovaks was very different, due to the different stages of development of their overlords – the Austrians in Bohemia and Moravia, and the Hungarians in Slovakia – within Austria-Hungary. Bohemia was the most industrialized part of Austria and Slovakia that of Hungary – however at a different level. Despite cultural differences, the Slovaks shared with the Czechs similar aspirations for independence from the Habsburg state and voluntarily united with the Czechs. At the turn of the century, the idea of a "Czecho-Slovak" entity began to be advocated by some Czech and Slovak leaders. In the 1890s, contacts between Czech and Slovak intellectuals intensified."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Czechoslovakia#The_First_Republic_.281918-1938.29

The apparent reason for coming together was to be a stronger nation in Europe. It was political, not cultural.

The reason for the split appears to be cultural differences. Since they created a voluntary union after the break up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they voluntarily divorced after the Soviet Union stopped forcing them together.


Quebec nearly seceded and still may. VT keeps threatening. I believe TX can secede from the USA as it was at one time an independent country and as condition to joining the USA, it has the right to leave.

There is a process in the USA for a part of one state to join another state.

I would support any US state or any other culturally distinct state to peacefully secede. It would have to be by a super majority vote over a period of time.

How did the Czechs do it?

It isn't that I'm an expert, I just assumed it was common knowledge ....
Or at least something that could be looked into BEFORE arriving at a dumb assertion that Czechs and Slovaks wanted separation.

The subject was the break-up of Czechoslovakia and your odd contention that it was as a result of being forced together that led to the creation of an artificial country. But you want to go back to 1939 and point to a Nazi-sponsored independent Slovakia as your evidence. I suppose when you’re looking for anything to back up your point you’ll find the most tenuous connection.

Are you seriously suggesting that a majority of Slovaks desired independence from central and eastern Europe’s most stable democracy of the inter-war period? And before Western interference at Munich?? Doesn’t the brooding presence of Hitler, his manipulation of the Sudeten issue a year earlier and Germany’s plans for a carve-up of the region suggest that Slovak nationalist politicians took advantage of foreign domination to get their hands on the reins of power rather than it being an expression of the popular will? Where were the Slovak and Czech independence movements in the inter-war periods?

Then you describe the split in 1993 as though it was some natural outcome of the end of decades of Soviet domination and that it was fully supported by both nations populations. Preposterous! But more of that later.

I can see that when you research you hunt down that which has the faintest connection to your preconceptions. For instance, rather than google ‘Czechoslovak split’ i.e. the question under consideration, you find a link for the Czech republic! Conveniently, the link skips over the reasons and dynamic behind the divorce and offers some lame description.

If you had researched more honestly to decipher how popular or not the separation was, you would have come to some of the following:

“Many Czechs and Slovaks desired the continued existence of a federal Czechoslovakia. A slight majority of Slovaks, however, advocated a looser form of co-existence or complete independence and sovereignty. In November 1992, for example, a poll found that 49% of Slovaks and 50% Czechs were against the move, while 40% of Slovaks favored it. The poll also found that 41% of Czechs and 49% of Slovaks said the question should have been put to a referendum.”

“Ultimately, the country's fate was decided by politicians. In 1992, the Czech public elected Václav Klaus and others who demanded either an even tighter federation ("viable federation") or two independent states. Vladimír Meciar and other leading Slovak politicians of the day wanted a kind of confederation. The two sides opened frequent and intense negotiations in June. On July 17, the Slovak parliament adopted the Declaration of independence of the Slovak nation. Six days later, politicians decided to dissolve Czechoslovakia at a meeting in Bratislava.”

“The goal of negotiations switched to achieving a peaceful division. On November 25, the federal parliament adopted the Constitutional law on the end of existence of Czechoslovakia, which stated that with the expiry of December 31, 1992, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic shall cease to exist and provided for the necessary technical details.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_Czechoslovakia

As you can see, the dissolution was more a result of the bungling of politicians than any genuine desire for independence. As a side note, the only political party in either the Czech or Slovak lands that advocated outright independence was the Slovak National Party who regularly gained between 11 and 17% i.e. negligible.

Just to reiterate the point that there was no popular desire for separation, there is this on page 1 when I googled ‘Czechoslovak split:

“You might imagine that if the state of Czechoslovakia was to be destroyed the majority of people must have supported it. That was not the case. Polls repeatedly showed that Czechs and Slovaks were in favour of maintaining the federation of their two nations. In fact, a poll conducted just before the critical elections of June 1992 showed that 64 percent of respondents in the Czech Republic and 72 percent of those in Slovakia categorised mutual relations as very good or rather good. Public opinion then was against the separation of Czechoslovakia.”

“It was the political elite in both parts of Czechoslovakia which played the leading role in the country's dissolution. It could be said that the prime mover was Vladimir Meciar, who made constantly increasing demands, putting the continued existence of Czechoslovakia in jeopardy. On the Czech side, the reluctance of Vaclav Klaus to give in to demands made by Slovak politicians - in order to maintain the transformation process to a market economy - further contributed to the split. Both politicians stuck to their own goals throughout the negotiation process and as a result gained political power through the break-up of Czechoslovakia.”

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/35872

Now tell me again: “The reason for the split appears to be cultural differences.” Utter nonsense!

Who decides? The majority or the minority?
“I would support any US state or any other culturally distinct state to peacefully secede. It would have to be by a super majority vote over a period of time.”

A super-majority? And what of the minority who opposed it? Aren’t they being forced against their will to accept the will of the majority? Tut tut!

And how long a period? 5 years? Ten? Twenty? How often would the referendums be? What would be the necessary majority?

Seemingly, one would have to go to ridiculous lengths to achieve independence or separation.

“How did the Czechs do it? “

There was NO referendum, as you should hvae realised by now.
I don't suppose you would have supported the split since no-one, other than a handful of politicians, brought it about.

You don't support people's right to independence?
To pass a US constitutional amendment requires 2/3 vote of each house of Congress and ratification by 37 state legislatures. The last amendment of the US constitution required nearly 200 years to ratify.

"Section 3 - New States

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#A4Sec3

Do you prefer war to secede?

There are peaceful ways for majorities to secede. What makes the US more resistant to such movements today is the freedom to move among the 50 states because everyone speaks English.

Europe has more difficulties in spite of the EU. Language, culture and bigotry still keeps people in their home areas for generations.

As for a handful of politicians, I support a republican form of government. Those politicians were elected by the people, no? If they don't like what the politicians do, they should be fired, voted out.


Where is the beef?
"In 1992, the Czech public elected Václav Klaus and others who demanded either an even tighter federation ("viable federation") or two independent states. Vladimír Meciar and other leading Slovak politicians of the day wanted a kind of confederation. The two sides opened frequent and intense negotiations in June. On July 17, the Slovak parliament adopted the Declaration of independence of the Slovak nation. Six days later, politicians decided to dissolve Czechoslovakia at a meeting in Bratislava.

The goal of negotiations switched to achieving a peaceful division. On November 25, the federal parliament adopted the Constitutional law on the end of existence of Czechoslovakia, which stated that with the expiry of December 31, 1992, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic shall cease to exist and provided for the necessary technical details.

The separation occurred without violence, and was thus said to be "velvet", much like the "Velvet revolution" which preceded it, which was accomplished through massive peaceful demonstrations and actions. This contrasts with the often-violent breakup of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.

Both countries were admitted to the European Union in 2004."

"Dual citizenship between the two states was originally not allowed; only years later did courts make it possible. Only a handful of people have exercised this right. Since both countries are EU members now, this issue has become less important due to the EU Freedom of movement for workers policy. That policy means that EU citizens have the right to live and work anywhere within the EU (subject to some exceptions during a transitional period). In the case of movement between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, this policy took effect from 2004.

People of both countries were allowed to cross the border without a passport and were allowed to work anywhere without the need to obtain an official permit (this was used mainly by Slovaks working in the Czech Republic)."

"No movement to re-unite Czechoslovakia has appeared and no political party advocates it in its programme. Political influences between the countries are minimal. Trade relationships were re-established and stabilized. After a short interruption, Slovakia's mountains are again the target of a growing number of Czech tourists."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_Czechoslovakia

You're damn right I support independence movements
It's you with your hatred of democracy that logically would be against them. Any decision would involve forcing the minority to accept the will of the majority. And I know how much you hate forcing people to do things, right? (Unless the US military is involved, however.)

"As for a handful of politicians, I support a republican form of government. Those politicians were elected by the people, no? If they don't like what the politicians do, they should be fired, voted out."

But that's just it! There was no referendum and no party, except the SNP, was elected on a platform of independence. How do they boot out politicians when the deed has been done before the next election???
So do you agree with the decision to separate the country without the wishes of the electorate?

Your stated position ...
... was that the Czechs and Slovaks had an antipathy toward each other and were forced to live together.

Where in all of the above - which I'd obviously read before I had to spoon-feed it you - does it support your position?

Quit playing games, marjon, and be glad that you've learnt something and perhaps helped to question your preconceptions.

Did I not say I supported a majority?
I support the US Constitution. It requires a super majority, 2/3 of the states and of the Congress for amendments.

What I do not support is the idea of a simple majority of voters for such significant decisions.

Mob rule, simple majorities, have proven to be fickle.

From what I have read, it seems the electorates of Czech and Slovak are not complaining much about the split and DID elect the politicians which made the decision.

Quite unlike the representatives to the EU, no?

There must have been some antithipy in 1939.
Slovaks sided with Germany.

And Czechoslovakia was carved from the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire and from Germany by treaties of external powers which created Yugoslavia.

But if the Czechs and Slovaks were so happy together, why split?

EU
Why shouldn't Normandy or Bavaria or any other region of Europe not consider returning to a fragmented Europe of centuries ago?
Why shouldn't Scotland, Wales and Ireland not want to be their own nation, again?
That's the trend in Europe, is it not? Weakening national sovereignty?

"fundamentally flawed "
"There has been some debate as to whether the breakup was truly democratic. Although the decision was made b both Czech and Slovak leaders who were elected by the citizens of each part of the nation, no question about separation was ever posed to the people of Czechoslovakia. The mandate to separate came through representative democracy rather than a direct plebiscite. There are indications that the majority of the public opinion in both parts of the country was against the break-up. Considering that Czechoslovakia on two occasions (1918 and 1945) and Slovakia once before (1939) were created in a dictatorial and wholly undemocratic way, namely by oligarchs and external fiats, the separation of Slovakia in 1993 was comparatively more democratic than both previous separations and conglomerations. Indeed, it was argued that Czechoslovakia was no more a true nation state than the USSR or Yugoslavia. Such geo-political constructs, which were masterminded by a small minority of citizens and glued together by force, were fundamentally flawed due to the domination of one ethnic group. As such, many historians argue, they were destined to fail."

http://www.slovakia.org/sk-faq.htm

Contrary majoritarian
The one consistenct you have is your abhorrence of deomcracy - mob rule, in your words.

I'll point out a couple of your inconsistencies:

1) You now seem to support a 'mob' if it's 66.666%. Where is your concern for the remaining third that will be FORCED to do something against their will?

2) Your support of 'republican government' - what everyone outside the US calls 'representative democracy' - has led you to turn a blind eye to the destruction of a country against the will of its people. While you would insist on a 'super-majority' for US states you refer to 'republican government' when referring to Czechoslovakia. Sheer hypocrisy!

"From what I have read, it seems the electorates of Czech and Slovak are not complaining much about the split and DID elect the politicians which made the decision."

So it's permissible to break-up a country against the will of the people without their permission, provided they don't resort to armed conflict?? Do you know how ridiculous you sound? I'm assuming the Czechs and Slovaks realised they would have to fight to retain their federation and considering a war was raging in Yugoslavia they chose to let the bungling politicians have their way.

Odd also that you side with politicians against the people. Aren't most of your arguments directed aainst politicians?


Pointless
Do you have some mental block that prevents you looking at the evidence in front of your eyes and adjusting your outlook. It's very sad to see, marjon.

"Slovaks sided with Germany."

How many? A super majority? Where's your poll data to support this? Surely you're not confusing fascist politicians sponsored by Hitler with the general politician. You're being dumb again, marjon.

"And Czechoslovakia was carved from the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire and from Germany by treaties of external powers which created Yugoslavia."

While that's true, Czechoslovakia's stability and functioning democracy prior to outside interference demonstrate that the population, in the main, supported its existence. Only the manipulation by outside powers destabilised the country.

"But if the Czechs and Slovaks were so happy together, why split?"

This is tedious in the extreme! I've already dealt with this. You're behaving like a child! Try reading what I've put in front of your eyes.

So you find a link from the Slovak state to support your predudices
As a newly independent state, do you honestly think it would seek to undermine its own legitimacy? Of course its going to unearth any excuse.

Even this piece is on shaky ground :"no question about separation was ever posed to the people of Czechoslovakia" and "There are indications that the majority of the public opinion in both parts of the country was against the break-up."

So come on, where's your support for super-majorities now?

Before you bring in the 'they're the people's representatives' line, answer me this: Aren't politicians elected on a programme to govern so where was the mandate to destroy the country? Hint: it wasn't in any governing parties' manifestos?

Basically, you're wrong from both points of the argument.

Are you sure you're not a representative of the Slovak government?

typo
"Surely you're not confusing fascist politicians sponsored by Hitler with the general politician."

Should have read 'general population'.

What are you, a socialist?
You support mob rule?

Pure democracy has been proven work only on local levels. Even the Swiss require a majority of Cantons as well as a majority of people.

The USA, a republic, tried to protect itself from the mob rule by creating a Senate. Each state as equal representation and the people of each state have a Congressman with proportional representation.

When elected representatives of the people attempt to pass laws opposed by a majority, they risk losing their office. And many have. Recent attempts to legalize illegal aliens prompted massive outrage from the people forcing the elected representatives to back off.

If the people of Czech and Slovak want to reunite, why not elect politicians who support such an effort?

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