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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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    Use history wisely

    I am writing to make some comments on Yusra Tekbali’s column “”U.S. Iraq partition plan undermines Iraq’s makeup”” (Friday). Although I am addressing Ms. Tekbali’s article in particular, my comments apply to a tendency pervasive in Wildcat columns and, sadly, journalism in general: the gross simplification and interpretation of history to convey a simple argument.

    I do not wish to debate Ms. Tekbali’s overall position on Sen. Biden’s proposed plan. I simply wish to point out that her comments on the plan being undeniably driven by Western imperial motives directly comparable to those seen in the aftermath of World War I represents a highly skewed and unsubtle characterization of a history with which the average Wildcat reader is not likely to be especially familiar.

    In her article, Ms. Tekbali asks: “”If the division of Middle Eastern land into artificial factions has proven to be a disaster, why is it a model Congress wants to emulate?”” Well, the fact of the matter is, the Biden plan – though it may very well be motivated by an imperialist divide-and-conquer plan – would be an exact reversal of historical Western strategy in the region. Lloyd George, Churchill and Clemenceau and other key Western political figures in the decade of and after WWI specifically tried to avoid dividing areas like modern Iraq or the Balkans into small entities based on ethnographic divides because this would make them susceptible to the kind of division of multiple sources of external influence Tekbali points out will likely ensue should the Biden plan go through. Thus, artificial borders were set up attempting to band together traditionally hostile religious and cultural groups in order to consolidate a broad area of Western influence to protect our interests in the region against potential competing powers. The Biden plan of breaking down a large area into smaller ethnic-based regions, whatever its ulterior motive, would be the first major reversal of this strategy. In light of this, the quoted statement from the article makes no sense – Congress would not be emulating a pre-existing model for the 20th century in this region, because the prior model was exactly opposite.

    Though I agree in principle that the United States should not continue dirtying its hands in imperialist endeavors, this line of argumentation is inaccurate, sometimes rather strange or self-contradictory, and takes advantage of the potential ignorance of readers. I would be pleasantly astonished to see the Wildcat make an attempt to reverse the common trend of journalistic historical revisionism through selective summarizing.

    -Daniel L. Sullivan
    psychology senior

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