For those who can remember back that far, or who remember history, the middle east was carved up by the great powers at the end of the second world war. Ethnic distribution wasn't a factor, instead the lines were drawn and countries created or moved simply to suit the whim and will of the British and French (Sykes Picot agreement).
We have been watching the results of this bureaucracy for many years now, the annual death tolls, the destruction, the refugees fleeing yet more fighting over who should be ruled by whom. Less prominent in the news, unless it can be used to blame Russia, is the same when it happens in Europe.
Countries have appeared, separated or vanished in Europe over the last hundred years, past the fall of the Soviet Union Eastern Europe has been in turmoil. Europe itself, central and Eastern mostly, is the result of the Grand Game, the contest between the old Imperial powers to carve up territory and resources for themselves, to gain and then to hang on to for as long as possible, whatever assets they can lay their grasping fingers on.
There are people alive today whose parents were born in mainland Europe but inside the Ottoman Empire, a Middle Eastern power, A neighbour introduced a friend a few years back, born and grew up in Czechoslovakia and then in 1992 her country ceased to exist and became two new nations. Going from being a citizen of one nation to a citizen of an entirely new nation without having to move.
How about Yugoslavia, a nation created from lines drawn on the map when the old Austro Hungarian Empire fell and was carved up by the winning great powers, torn apart by political and social unrest it split on ethnic and cultural grounds and ended up being Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Six new nations, six groups of people who didn't want to be ruled by a government they felt didn't represent them, or wasn't one of them.
Half of Eastern Europe was Russia even as recently as the first world war when Russia and Poland shared a border.
And yet once the fighting was done, in marched the old Empires to carve up the spoils and to draw new lines.
Millions of people sharing a culture or ethnic background and yet suddenly part of another country with borders between them and the rest of their people, families separated by lines drawn on the map by those old Imperial Powers of Europe.
Millions of people who are unhappy about the whole situation, millions who want things changed and yet find themselves faced with uncaring bureaucracies and unwilling governments desperate to hold onto every little square mile of land that is part of their great nation. The dreams of Empire are still strong in those nations with memories of Empires across the world, walk the halls of power and you will see ample evidence of that. People want to live where they want and under which regime they want, but all too often they are not allowed to do so.
And yet despite the obvious solution to all of this in the 21st century as we are, the idea of redrawing those maps along lines that the people in the areas actually want is completely unacceptable, in the words of Brussels. it is "Out of the Question".
Which is Ironic given that Brussels itself is a country made up from lands carved out of two other nations in a war.
"Out of the Question".
WHY? ? ?
It's the 21st century, why on earth or any other world does a country need to be ruled by a larger country next door when it wants to be part of someone who happens to be further away and doesn't share a border. We have communications, phones, the internet, if Amazon can deliver to the whole of Europe why exactly do people have to be ruled by people they hate when the ones they like are a phone call away.
How hard is it exactly to administer a part of your country that happens to be not connected, it's not as if the local tax office over there can sort out taxes and just bank transfer the money, or even just have the local banks do it. PAYE and the like don't actually require you to be standing in the country to charge you taxes as you get paid. It isn't geographically restricted.
How hard is it to when talking about regions with tens or hundreds of thousands of people, for the local council to handle repairing the roads and keeping the hospitals running, or the schools, or the shops.
Unless whoever it is that is between the parent country and the offshoot is being obstructive and blocking the roads how hard is it to send goods between countries?
The problem is twofold as I see it.
Firstly it's all about power, the big dick waving contest that is such a part of the old Imperial powers attitude. We have the biggest, the most, the best and we are in charge. The EU is the primary cause of this problem and its attitude has influenced the rest of Europe and beyond.
Britain will not tolerate Scottish independence, nor will the rest of Europe because doing so opens a door to weakening their own power. Ironic that as Britain declares it's independence from Europe so it can stand alone, it refuses to allow Scotland to declare its independence from Britain. France and Spain refuse to allow Scotland to gain independence and remain in the EU because doing so would set the precedent for regions in those two countries to declare their own independence as separate nations but still EU members. Opening that door weakens so many of the old Imperial powers.
So all three of these countries, not wanting to allow parts of their own traditional empires to break free, refuse to support others who want freedom from nations they do not feel a part of. Which means Eastern Europe is doomed to violence, because the obvious option, redrawing the map to take into account what the people living there actually want, is unacceptable to the EU.
The old Imperial powers refuse to accept that the world has changed and fight to the last to stop their world actually reflecting those changes.
The power of Empire cannot be challenged, no one can be allowed to threaten that power, the old glory must be maintained, the flag must fly on every inch of ground won by the empire in the old days. No one wants to appear weak, no one wants to give away even the smallest measure of power over others.
Look at the difference in attitudes between London's response to Northern Ireland and Scotland, one a patch of land on an island off the west coast and filled with troublesome celts, the other an integral part of the UK landmass even though it is filled with troublesome picts.
Secondly it's about setting a precedent. Agree to it once and others will come knocking on your door asking the same thing. Splitting up the Ukraine, an independent Scotland, Catalonia, the Basque region, Flanders and Wallonia which would reduce Belgium to a city state, many others also line up and while minor movements they would jump up fully formed once that precedent has been set.
The democratic solution, allowing people to have a say in their own future cannot and will not be allowed despite the hard line attitude of the British government to forcing through the hardest possible Brexit on the grounds that the people have voted.
Witness the response to the Crimea voting to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia, fixed, unfair, fraudulent, a stitch up job, illegal. All these words and more have been used to condemn the result of a vote held in a region inhabited almost totally by ethnic Russians living in what had become a foreign country in their lifetimes and which had just overthrown the leadership they voted for in favour of someone who was anti Russian.
But despite the ridiculousness of condemning democracy in action the old Imperial powers did just that, all the while claiming to be democracies. Giving their own citizens the vote but refusing to allow any vote to set the precedent that independence was allowed.
Because they are all terrified of allowing it even once, for fear that rocking someone else's boat will sink their own. Governments where the population want to leave and be ruled by other governments either vanish or turn to force to remain in power, historically, across Europe over the last fifty years we have plenty of examples of both.
So to avoid allowing that precedent to be set governments will ignore problems, suppress dissent, put down rebellion with force and use the media and propaganda to counter calls for freedom.
Which brings me to the reason for this post. Today, just now, I listened to Scotland's first minister declare the second independence referendum is on. All the usual voices have been raised about how wrong it is, how silly it is, how Scotland cannot be independent. On the same morning that the news is full of speculation that Glorious Leader May will invoke article 50 tomorrow after whipping the parliamentary vote tonight and so force her hard Brexit through the same news reporters and presenters have been introducing people saying Scotland is being foolish.
Theresa May called the move to a second referendum divisive. Would that be almost as Divisive as taking an ill worded referendum called by an idiot trying to hang on to power and turning it into a totally ruthless drive to separate the UK from the EU.
Would Scottish independence be as divisive as British independence? ? ?
The lines on the maps of Europe were drawn in warfare, in death and destruction and in the greed of the old Imperial powers. They were very literally drawn in blood. But the old Empires have learned nothing in the years since, all the rebellions, the separatist movements, independence votes and movements, these mean nothing.
Because those lines, those bloody lines, they were drawn by the old powers, in the days when the nations of Europe had great Empires or thought they did. Redrawing those lines, allowing others to redraw them, that's like saying that the old Empires aren't in charge any more. Allow one and more will follow, Imperial dreams and memories of glory will be weakened. Can't allow that.
So it isn't allowed, it is opposed by everyone.
So rather than using all of the resources of the 21st century, our communications, the internet, transport and the ability to easily travel to allow regions and countries to be ruled by whoever they choose, not just the lot that were forced on them by the old Empires as a result of some war or another, the Imperial powers of old will do everything they can to prevent any democratic change, any peaceful change.
So instead those lines on the maps will be changed much as they were drawn in the first place, in death and destruction, by violence. By bloodshed. Across Europe, across the Middle East, maps will be redrawn by the will of the people who live on those maps, people who want their own voices to be heard when it comes to where the lines are drawn.
In an age when the phone in your pocket allows you to talk to anyone in the world, talking is not allowed. In an age when our governments proudly claim to be democracies there can be no democracy. In a global age, where we can buy goods from around the world, delivered to our doors, we cannot be released from the chains of old maps.
No democracy, no negotiation, no peaceful transition. The maps will be redrawn, people will not stop when they are blocked, they will fight back. The lines will be drawn again, sadly thanks to our governments who refuse to allow any option other than violence they will be redrawn as they were drawn by the Old Empires.