Ethnic Wars: History Still in Operation

One egregious Neocon fantasy was the idea that the spread of democracy might bring "The End of History," with war being abandoned in favor of peaceful trade. Of course this is yet another example of the stupidities that come from ignoring the facts of history and biology.

Among our most intractable sources of conflict are ethnic tensions. Of course people of different ethnicities and cultures do manage to live peacefully with each other much of the time, but that other 20-50% causes a heck of a lot of carnage. The recent conflict over Georgia is only epsidode one zillion in this story. Much of the story of the human race is the story of ethnic conflict and reulting genocide.

Genocide is actually such a deeply embedded component of human nature that it didn't really even have a name until it was turned upon the most literate and accomplished culture in the Western world - the slaughter of the Jews in the Holocaust. That disturbed the world enough that the laws of war got around to forbidding it.

There were plenty of other genocides in the twentieth century, the greatest probably being the slaughter of the Kulaks and others in the great terror in Soviet Russia. Millions died in the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians as well, and in Cambodia. Millions of Africans were murdered by various Europeans in Africa, and Africans have proved nearly as adept in murdering each other.

No doubt Arun will criticize me again for biologizing everything, but it seems to me that such a widespread behavior can only be explained by biology, and that any attempt to eradicate it is doomed without recognition of that fact. Competition for resources, I believe, is the underlying reality, that and the biological instincts that promote that competition.

These gloomy thoughts, and others, were prompted by reading from the Greg Mortenson book Three Cups of Tea.

The recent overthrow of Musharaf in Pakistan can be seen as an advance for democracy, but one of the key players in that was Naswar Sharif, who, if I recall, was the bozo who decided that it might be a good idea to restart the India - Pakistan war by infiltrating Indian Kashmir in the high mountains. India's reply resulted in indiscriminate slaughter of thousands of villagers as well as soldiers - the usual pattern in such events.

The trouble with ethnic conflicts is that every side winds up with plenty of real and justified complaints. Pakistan continues to infiltrate terrorists, and India has always refused to hold the elections it promised in Kashmir.

Pakistan is a relatively small and backward country, with a population and GDP dwarfed by the huge and rapidly growing Indian economy, but nuclear weapons mean that a major miscalculation by either side could lead to horrendous slaughter. Just a few years ago, it seems likely that the government of India, under the influence of Hindu nationalists, was on the brink of launching such a war in response to repeated Pakistani provocations before its economic class talked some sense into it.

The discouraging thing is that measures used to promote peace - promoting health and economic development - only increase the population pressure. Almost the only measure I have much hope for is educating girls - educated women have fewer children.

This has been a long and rambling post that hasn't gotten much of anywhere, but it beats thinking about the not insubstantial likelyhood that Americans will elect another unprincipled and reckless idiot as President.


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