Thursday, 17 August 2017
MOTHER'S BRIEF HISTORY OF WORLD CONFLICT, AND THE ONE COMMON DENOMINATOR
'Mummy, why is there war in the Middle East?'
'Well darling, at the end of Word War I, the Western Allies broke up the Ottoman Empire, which had existed for hundreds of years and included most of the Islamic world - claiming ownership of various territories. Then at the end of World War II, they created a new country in the middle of one of those territories, right or wrong, and called it Israel. Then they spent 70+ years arming that country to the teeth, whilst simultaneously making sure the fragmented Muslim states around it stayed poor - who naturally allied with their enemies. It's a pressure cooker. They've been fighting ever since.'
'And Saudi Arabia? They're one of those surrounding nations, aren't they? Why aren't they poor too? How do they wage war and assert control?'
'With weapons and bombs supplied to them by Britain. They, like Israel, are supported with Western finance.'
'I see. What about Pakistan? I hear there's problems over there. What's that all about?'
'Well, before those World Wars, Britain conquered and ruled India. Pakistan was another Muslim nation forced out and brought to heel. When Britain finally gave it all back because it could no longer sustain its empire, it decided which bits Pakistan got and which India got. They've never been happy about that. They've been fighting ever since.'
'Oh dear. And North Korea? Why do they hate America so much?'
'Well, at the end of World War II, America and the Soviet Union - today known as Russia - split the country in two, taking half of it each. One prospered, and one didn't. And America punished the North for 70+ years for its enduring ties to Russia. Like in the Middle East, it's a proxy war between sabre-rattling super-powers. They've been fighting ever since.'
'Why all the problems in Africa?'
'Well, the British Empire and several other European nations - later America too - conquered the continent, divvying it up, selling off all its resources, and trading its people as slaves. Bit by bit, the continent was plundered, and when those powers gave up control, it was deliberately handed over to various competing tribes and left in turmoil, so the continent could never become strong, and illicit trade & supply deals could continue behind closed doors benefiting Western interests. They've been fighting ever since.'
'Wow. OK, what about closer to home? When you were growing up, there were problems in Ireland, weren't there? I've read about bombings and all sorts. I can't imagine it. Why were Irish people so angry?'
'Well... before it was called Britain, England spent centuries inflicting war and hardships on Ireland. Scotland and Wales too. Separated by sea, many people wanted Ireland to be its own independent country, and they spent centuries fighting back, until the English - now calling themselves British - were forced to retreat to all but a scrap of land, that is now called Northern Ireland. But Britain refused to let go of it, as a point of principle. And they've been fighting over it ever since.'
'Why are people talking about it now?'
'Because the dispute didn't really matter when we all became part of the EU, we all became Europeans - one people.'
'Is that why there haven't been any wars in Europe since World War II?'
'A big, big contributing factor - yes. Also, while we were united as one continent, Europe was a match economically and militarily for any of the emerging super-powers like Russia, China, and The USA. Britain was one of the most important nations at the table too. Now The EU is splintering, Britain and America are wobbling, and Russia is starting to lick its lips greedily.'
'So being part of the EU kept Britain safe - and Europe safe, and helped Britain to become secure and wealthy again in the carnage following the World Wars?'
'Yep, that's about it.'
'Why on earth would Britain give that up, or behave so ungraciously now?'
'Good question son, good question.'
'Have the EU started any wars, or pillaged anywhere?'
'No... no they haven't. They mostly just create laws to protect average citizens in every European country.'
'Hmm. All seems very strange to me Mum.'
'What's that dear?'
'If you look at everything we just talked about, all the wars occurring today - or a good deal of them any way - there seems to be one inescapable common denominator.'