Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Going Indie

On Thursday, Scotch voters will vote on independence from Britain, and if the polls are right, and human stupidity triumphs as usual, there is a good chance they will chose secession. I guess I've already hinted that I think this is a bad idea. I can't think of another occasion on which a nation, united in language and culture for hundreds of years, has decided to tear itself apart on such a flimsy pretext - essentially, so far as I can see, because Scots watched one too many Mel Gibson movies.

The partition of India was much better motivated, but equally idiotic and certainly more catastrophic, at least in the short run. Pakistan was essentially the creation of one man, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. His rationale was that it would be intolerable for Muslims to live in a democratic nation where they would be outnumbered and outvoted by Hindus.

The idea of partition was disliked by many thoughtful British, essentially all Americans, and many others. Britain agreed to it, I imagine, because it was too exhausted to mediate an alternative and perhaps because it hoped to exploit its old colonial tactic of pitting Hindu against Muslim.

American journalist Margaret Bourke-White scored an early interview with Jinnah and was not impressed:

Jinnah’s expectation of US aid for Pakistan, American officials’ concerns about anti-Americanism, and Bourke-White’s cynicism about Pakistani objectives around the time of the country’s inception together seem like the prologue to a story with many repetitions. The Life correspondent discerned in Pakistan a persistently voiced “hope of tapping the US treasury,” which led her to wonder “whether the purpose was to bolster the world against Bolshevism or to bolster Pakistan’s own uncertain position as a new political entity.”

Ultimately, in Bourke-White’s opinion, “it was more nearly related to the even more significant bankruptcy of ideas in the new Muslim state— a nation drawing its spurious warmth from the embers of an antique religious fanaticism, fanned into a new blaze.” 4

Haqqani, Husain (2013-11-05). Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding (pp. 10-11). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Events have hardly proved her wrong.