How a better Middle East would look
By Ralph Peters
International borders are never completely just. But the degree of injustice they inflict upon those whom frontiers force together or separate makes an enormous difference Â often the difference between freedom and oppression, tolerance and atrocity, the rule of law and terrorism, or even peace and war.
The most arbitrary and distorted borders in the world are in Africa and the Middle East. Drawn by self-interested Europeans (who have had sufficient trouble defining their own frontiers), Africa's borders continue to provoke the deaths of millions of local inhabitants. But the unjust borders in the Middle East Â to borrow from Churchill Â generate more trouble than can be consumed locally.
While the Middle East has far more problems than dysfunctional borders alone Â from cultural stagnation through scandalous inequality to deadly religious extremism Â the greatest taboo in striving to understand the region's comprehensive failure isn't Islam but the awful-but-sacrosanct international boundaries worshipped by our own diplomats.