November 1, 2006  

Bad borders

Ralph Peters asserts that while many problems contribute to the “comprehensive failure” that is the Middle East, one of the most important is not addressed: unjust borders [“Blood borders,” June]. He insists “a more peaceful Middle East” depends on redrawing existing political borders so they reflect the national boundaries of major ethnic groups.

Peters rightly criticizes current political borders in the Middle East as “arbitrary and distorted. ? Drawn by self-interested Europeans.” But his proposed new borders are equally as arbitrary and distorted.

His proposal to amend existing borders “to reflect the natural ties of blood and faith” is plagued by inconsistency, inaccuracy and misunderstanding. For instance, Saudi Arabia, a country founded by Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud through military conquest, is described as an “unnatural state,” but not Jordan whose political existence was the creation of the British government.

Peters also writes that “the Kurds [are] the world’s largest ethnic group without a state of its own.” In fact, in neighboring Pakistan and India, alone, there are ethnic groups with populations as large as or larger than the Kurds that lack independent statehood — Marathi, Punjabi, Pushtuns, Sindhi, Tamils and Telugus, for example.

Peters concludes that if the borders of the Middle East are not redrawn “a portion of the bloodshed in the region will continue to be our own.” But it’s his proposal that would ensure greater instability and more bloodshed throughout the Middle East.

Joseph E. Fallon

Rye, N.Y.