[Marxism] CSM: America the breakup artist

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 3 10:10:16 MDT 2008

(Tibet, too, of course.)

America the breakup artist
US support for partition movements is opening a can of worms.
By Juan Gabriel Tokatlian

from the June 3, 2008 edition


Buenos Aires - Sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacred
concepts to every nation. Without them, the basis for international
relations crumbles. That's why it's so troubling that the United
States is in effect stimulating a partition movement across the

Washington's encouragement of Kosovo's split from Serbia, its
consideration of a possible Sunni-Shiite-Kurd spatial separation in
Iraq, and its vigorous support for Taiwan demonstrate America's
penchant for promoting – or at least sanctioning – partition.

Such policies are a product of America's "freedom agenda." Promoting
democracy worldwide often means supporting efforts for greater
independence and self-determination. But taken too far, Washington
ends up embracing partition – and opening a Pandora's box.

The good news is that the US has an opportunity to correct course in
South America. Just this past Sunday, Bolivians in two states voted
overwhelmingly for autonomy measures. The vote echoes the result from
a similar referendum recently in the eastern state of Santa Cruz.

Proponents see it as upholding autonomy. The government deems the
ballots illegal and separatist.

The US strategic signal should be clear and loud: Partition is
neither good nor welcome in the Western Hemisphere. It should also
make clear that autonomy is not the same thing as secession.

In Bolivia, the argument for autonomy – which is positive – is
accompanied by an undercurrent of partition. Washington should not
legitimate this undercurrent. Instead, it should work diligently in
favor of eventual autonomy. Thus, close diplomacy with Bolivia's
neighbors, such as Argentina and Brazil, is crucial.

In the past 50 years, the world has seen an avalanche of new
nation-states. Not South America. From the mid-19th century, through
the 20th century, only one new state formed there: Panama in 1903.

Nevertheless, there is growing concern in South America about the
possibility of secession in the Andean Ridge (Venezuela, Colombia,
Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia) as well as in the Southern Cone
(Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay).

An uneven globalization process has weakened the state, broadened the
economic gap between the haves and have-nots, aggravated social
tensions, and eroded national identity.

What's more, amid this the emergence of a vigorous ethnic agenda with
the partial collapse and replacement of traditional elites is
generating a new phenomenon in the region. It's one that encourages
geographic fracture, political division, and symbolic self-rule.

The White House must search for key partners in South America to face
the complex and conflicting social demands that are pushing several
countries to state disintegration and geographical dislocation.

It is important for the US to indicate that it understands that
regional, cultural, and ethnic autonomy breeds prosperity, equality,
and security. Secession, on the other hand, often leads to the

In Bolivia, conflict management, economic commitment, and
precautionary political involvement will be more effective than
unilateral, last-minute force deployment and military intervention.
Both the US and Bolivia's neighbors should make more material,
political, and symbolic efforts to promote unity.

During the cold war, the partitioning of countries was ideologically
based: two Germanys, two Vietnams, two Koreas, two Yemens. Today, it
has become both ethnically and geopolitically motivated and

The US message in favor of secession may generate unpredictable
consequences that could, in turn, affect its own security. To keep
Pandora's box closed, the US and the rest of the West need to
practice pragmatism, not ideology; unity, not partitioning.

• Juan Gabriel Tokatlian is a professor of international relations at
the Universidad de San Andrés, in Buenos Aires.

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