Catholic-Church-in-Latakia.jpg

An International Peace Zone in Syria – A Proposal

The government of Syria will collapse. The Middle East needs a haven for Christians and those of the various minority brands of Islam. Nation states in the region have been largely unstable. An example of economic as well as religious freedom can only help.

I therefore suggest that a Coalition of the Caring establish an International Peace Zone on territory currently assigned to Syria, based around the port city of Latakia. (Th…

  1. ctlaw

    We sort of tried that with a little corner of “Syria” called “Lebanon”.

    Would you forcibly remove all mainstream Shia and Sunnis? Would you then tightly control borders to keep them out? Druze would presumably stay. What about Kurds?

  2. raycon and lindacon

    The Syrian Spring will have the usual outcome.  Once the chaos subsides, the Muslim Brotherhood, in it’s Syrian iteration, will be in control.

    Next stop?  Jordan. 

    And the circle will be complete.

  3. Zafar

    What I would like to see in this  International Peace Zone is precisely democracy, because what else but the people’s will being expressed in Government will ensure that future conflicts will be resolved politically rather than through violence?

    To clarify wrt minority sects in Islam: Alawites (in Syria) aka as Alevi (in Turkey, 30% of the population) aka just plain Shia (in Iran, majority of the population, and Lebanon, >40%).

    As for ‘place of refuge’ for Middle Eastern Christians – Egyptian Copts alone are between 8 million and 16 million people. The whole of Syria is 26 million.  Is it realistic to take a small part of Syria and make it some sort of limbo (not a country, no political process) for ME Christians rather than encouraging secular (or at least non-oppressive to minorities) regimes in ME countries?  

    The Lebanese refuge for Christians worked out particularly badly.

  4. iWc

    I think that a new homeland for Arab Christians is a GREAT idea.  But someone needs to have the gumption to actually make it happen, and then defend it against the inevitable onslaught.

  5. Donald Todd

    genferei: The Middle East needs a haven for Christians and those of the various minority brands of Islam.

    It would seem that there is a need for two places, one for Christians, and another for Islamic minorities.  Given the Islamic zeitgeist to kill Christians or have them submit to dhimmitude (a second class status), keep them separate.

  6. genferei
    Zafar Avoiding democracy results in huge social tensions because there is no mechanism to keep Government responsive to the people’s needs and desires. (eg Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria.)

    And yet – Hong Kong.

    The idea is not to create a state, still less to put some local potentate in charge. It is a zone of extraterritorial jurisdiction, administered (with benign  neglect) by appointees of the Coalition of the Caring. Who could object to Chief Executive Condoleeza Rice? Or, better, some obscure career bureaucrat one hopes never to hear of again.

    Think of a school – the authority of the Principal does not arise from the consent of the students, but the authority is real and just none the less.

  7. genferei
    shorteddy But don’t barren rocks tend to add their big populations as their economies grow – not beforehand. If you come with a pre-baked population but no matching commercial world then you have real trouble. 

    A good point. (Hong Kong demographics.) But Latakia is a commercial port. And the traders, bankers and wheeler-dealers would be attracted to somewhere they could operate with a reasonable chance of not being shaken down by the local government. (Tangier, in its interwar International Zone guise, might be an example.)

    I agree that Dubai seems to be a little too physics-defying for a full suspension of disbelief…

  8. genferei
    Zafar: What I would like to see in this  International Peace Zone is precisely democracy… The Lebanese refuge for Christians worked out particularly badly. 

    But aren’t these linked? Once you had set up a state where demography ensured a transition from majority Christian to majority Islam, then having a democratic system ensured tensions would rise and rise. And, sure enough, they did.

    Avoiding democracy removes a whole area of social tension. It also avoids the ‘one man, one vote, once’ phenomenon we’re seeing from the Arab ‘Spring’.

  9. genferei
    Donald Todd: It would seem that there is a need for two places, one for Christians, and another for Islamic minorities.  Given the Islamic zeitgeist to kill Christians or have them submit to dhimmitude (a second class status), keep them separate.

    Is this still the case where the Muslims are not in political charge?

    I’ll admit, I’ve been trying to avoid making the International Peace Zone sound too much like a crusader state, but I wonder what the position of the (admittedly few) local Muslims was like under, say, the Principality of Antioch?

  10. genferei
    shorteddy:  the problem with the ‘Alawite state’ or an international peace zone is that they would have basically no economy.

    This wasn’t a problem for Hong Kong (or Shanghai). Hong Kong was, famously, a “barren rock” when the British government found it had sovereignty over it. What it could be was a trading harbour. Latakia is already that. Shanghai grew from a modest fishing village into one of the banking capitals of the world by being a more free place than its surroundings. Dubai has no natural resources other than ambition…

  11. shorteddy
    genferei

    shorteddy:  the problem with the ‘Alawite state’ or an international peace zone is that they would have basically no economy.

    This wasn’t a problem for Hong Kong (or Shanghai). Hong Kong was, famously, a “barren rock” when the British government found it had sovereignty over it. What it could be was a trading harbour. Latakia is already that. Shanghai grew from a modest fishing village into one of the banking capitals of the world by being a more free place than its surroundings. Dubai has no natural resources other than ambition… · 14 minutes ago

    True although Dubai may not be a success at anything other than a city in the UAE spending lots of money.

    But don’t barren rocks tend to add their big populations as their economies grow – not beforehand. If you come with a pre-baked population but no matching commercial world then you have real trouble.

  12. ctlaw

    Would CEO Condi Rice ring the place with machine guns to keep people out? Would she deport (or imprison) anyone who she deemed incompatible with the lifestyle?

    Singapore (with suppressed ethnic tensions) is only a slightly better analogy than Hong Kong, but neither comes close.

    Hong Kong, was unique.

    There was a cultural synergy between the British Protestant Work Ethic and traditional Chinese culture.

    The benignness of British rule was partially unique to the limited geography (HK had to be a trading/merchantile environment whose advancement was encouraged rather than a colonial plantation whose advancement was constrained) and also unique to the relationship with other countries (abuse by the Brits might easily have lead to annexation by China (perhaps with the aid of a foreign power in the pre-WW2 era)).

    genferei

    And yet – Hong Kong… Who could object to Chief Executive Condoleeza Rice? Or, better, some obscure career bureaucrat one hopes never to hear of again.

    Think of a school – the authority of the Principal does not arise from the consent of the students, but the authority is real and just none the less. · 2 hours ago

  13. Zafar
    genferei

    Once you had set up a state where demography ensured a transition from majority Christian to majority Islam, then having a democratic system ensured tensions would rise and rise. And, sure enough, they did.

    Lebanon’s problem was not demography, it was geography.  The French carved as much land as they could out of Syria to make Lebanon while giving it a Christian majority – and THEN put in place a confessional system which re-inforced religious tribalism by allocating Government positions (and influence) on that basis.  If the French had made a smaller Lebanon (with a solidly Christian majority) and not codified confessionalism, there may not have been a Lebanese Civil War.

    Avoiding democracy removes a whole area of social tension. It also avoids the ‘one man, one vote, once’ phenomenon we’re seeing from the Arab ‘Spring’.

    Avoiding democracy results in huge social tensions because there is no mechanism to keep Government responsive to the people’s needs and desires. (eg Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria.)

    As for one man one vote one time – I know it’s fashionable for Conservatives  to pooh pooh Arab democracy, but it’s too early to write off the Arab Spring.

  14. Zafar
    shorteddy

    That reason is that ‘democracy’ as we know it is not equivalent to voting. When democracy, the majority wins – and sometimes once is the only vote they bother with.

    You know, people keep saying this, but can you give me an actual example of a democracy where this happened without the democracy degenerating into fascism (eg 3rd Reich)?  

    For example, i grew up in India where we’ve had an almost unbroken run of civilian rule and elections since 1948.  Even Pakistan, which is a troubled country, keeps trying for this – the people want it, even though they are majority Sunni and therefore by your reasoning should be just fine with no more elections once they get their guy in.  But they’re not.

    So – let’s reality check the meme, shall we?

    A modern democracy has a twist – individual rights and responsibilities are the building blocks, not the vote.

    Absolutely agree that individual rights and responsibilities are key, but so are elections. imho you need all of these.

  15. shorteddy
    Zafar

    If the French had made a smaller Lebanon (with a solidly Christian majority) and not codified confessionalism, there may not have been a Lebanese Civil War.

    Avoiding democracy results in huge social tensions because there is no mechanism to keep Government responsive to the people’s needs and desires. (eg Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria.)

    Lebanon included what it was thought to need to be an economically viable place. It is  already a tiny place 1/20th the size of Syria – not too large. No objection on the allocation of positions, but it was built that way for a reason.

    That reason is that ‘democracy’ as we know it is not equivalent to voting. When democracy, the majority wins – and sometimes once is the only vote they bother with.

    A modern democracy has a twist – individual rights and responsibilities are the building blocks, not the vote.

    IMO, the building blocks of democracy are the free press, freedom of assembly and freedom of conscious. They are graduated of course – but Egypt and Syria are near the bottom, while Iraq and Tunisia are somewhat higher, Lebanon higher still and functioning democracies in a whole other world.

  16. Zafar
    genferei

    The idea is not to create a state, still less to put some local potentate in charge. It is a zone of extraterritorial jurisdiction, administered (with benign  neglect) by appointees of the Coalition of the Caring. Who could object to Chief Executive Condoleeza Rice? Or, better, some obscure career bureaucrat one hopes never to hear of again.

    I wouldn’t care to be ruled in perpetuity by Condi, and neither I suspect would you. (Also her judgement is suspect.  How did Iraq go from murderous secular rule to murderous sectarian rule which resulted in Catholic refugees?  Hint: WMD and Halliburton.)

    Think of a school – the authority of the Principal does not arise from the consent of the students, but the authority is real and just none the less. 

    Because the students are going to graduate.  If they were never going to graduate, it would inevitably degenerate into petty tyranny.  

    I really can’t see how what you suggest differs from colonialism, which was a morally corrupting experience for everybody involved – and an economically ruinous one for the colonised.

  17. genferei
    ctlaw:  Would you forcibly remove all mainstream Shia and Sunnis? Would you then tightly control borders to keep them out? Druze would presumably stay. What about Kurds? · 22 hours ago

    I guess I am trying to tiptoe between the positions that (a) the locals can’t be trusted with self-determination because struggles between (ethnic? religious?) groups will degenerate into violence and repression; and (b) the locals can be trusted to live together and thrive.

    The magic ingredient? Capitalism! (Hmmm.)

  18. genferei
    Zafar

    shorteddy

    That reason is that ‘democracy’ as we know it is not equivalent to voting. When democracy, the majority wins – and sometimes once is the only vote they bother with.

    You know, people keep saying this, but can you give me an actual example of a democracy where this happened without the democracy degenerating into fascism (eg 3rd Reich)?

    But it is exactly this tendency of democracy to degenerate into totalitarianism that we are complaining/warning about. Napoleon III. Putin. Mugabe. Isn’t the list terribly long?

  19. genferei
    Zafar I really can’t see how what you suggest differs from colonialism, which was a morally corrupting experience for everybody involved – and an economically ruinous one for the colonised. · 58 minutes ago

    It differs fundamentally from colonialism as there is no ‘metropole’ for the territory to be a ‘colony’ of, and therefore no unequal relationship between metropole and colony, or between colonizers and indigenous population.

  20. iWc
    Zafar

    shorteddy

    That reason is that ‘democracy’ as we know it is not equivalent to voting. When democracy, the majority wins – and sometimes once is the only vote they bother with.

    You know, people keep saying this, but can you give me an actual example of a democracy where this happened without the democracy degenerating into fascism (eg 3rd Reich)?   …

    So – let’s reality check the meme, shall we?

    Sure.

    Algeria was a democracy, until they elected a Sharia government.

    Egypt appears to have done the same.

    Afghanistan is not far behind.

    Do you really want to bet that Syria, if it could handle one actually sorta-free election, would keep having them after the winner takes charge?

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