Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. That was 1940. By 1960, India, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria had joined and that first five had grown to nine.
By 1970 twelve more newly independent countries from East Africa, West Africa, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean had joined. The five had become a minority in a group of twenty-one.
By 2000, having booted Apartheid South Africa out and let Mandela South Africa back in, the 1940 British Empire completed a sixty-year evolution – not completely peaceful – into the Commonwealth. In this new Commonwealth, that first five had become the minority in a group of fifty-five.
As the Commonwealth, so the United Nations [UN].
In 1940, there was no UN. In 1950, the UN had about fifty-five member countries. Of these fifty-five, about fifteen – 28% – were what might be described as ‘non-white nations’.
By 2000, the UN had 189 members. Of these 189, about 70% were ‘non-white’ countries like Vietnam, Mozambique, Algeria, Zimbabwe; and some had won their UN places only after bloody wars and revolutions. Thus both the UN and the British Empire changed in the same way. Each changed from being white-nation majority organizations to becoming white-nation minority organizations.
The war in Iraq and the global regrouping of countries that is now going on is pointing to a new order in which the world – once seeming to be coming together – is now re-dividing along new racial and religious lines.
Listen to Bush, Blair, Putin, and you’ll hear a troupe trying to form a new alliance of nations that will include the nations of ‘old’ Europe – France, Germany, Italy, etc; and of new Europe – Estonia, Poland, Hungary, etc.
In turn, these European nations are linking with allies in North America and Australia. Simultaneously, they seem to be excluding other nations.
The world is reshaping itself into new blocs. The old division of Communist and Free World is giving way to a new grouping of West and Non-West. The West is now a group of nations – mostly white – joining against a majority group of non-white nations. And, adding fuel to a small fire, mostly a global minority of Christians against a global majority of non-Christians.
You may think me an alarmist. Indeed, you may even believe that I’m seeing possible mountains instead of real molehills.
Look at what has happened in Iraq. Here soldiers from three countries invaded a fourth. Now huge, meaningful, and ineradicable differences in culture, religion, race, and history are surging to the front. The old relationship of foreign overlord and native lorded-over seems to be reappearing. In Iraq, as in those now disappeared colonial empires, there is a resurrecting of a ruling race and a subordinated people
This resurrecting is taking place inside a coliseum where there is already a fifty-five year-old gladiatorial struggle between opponents whose never-ended blood-spilling battle, containing all the hot jagged shrapnel of race, history, culture, and religion; represents the worst kind of battle that can be fought.
So I’m bothered by what seems to be a heavy-handed American approach to an exceptionally sensitive matter. I’m particularly bothered because the USA made such a huge mistake – that it now admits – in going into Asian Vietnam in 1965. And African Somalia and Arabian Lebanon in other years.
I fear that the US is at the beginning of a similar mistake – again. And once again, airpower and military power won’t be the tools that will lead to a real solution. As in Vietnam, it will be the slow forward roll of history that will decide the outcome.
The ultimate outcome? Ultimately, American forces must withdraw from Iraq. Ultimately, the state of Israel – even if it imposes an apartheid regime far more vicious and draconian than the old South African Nationalists – will still be affected by a rising tide of Israeli-Arab babies. In a one-man one-vote society – matching the democracy that the Americans say that they are bringing to Iraq – these Israeli-Arab babies will grow into adult voters.
Ultimately, by 2010, unstoppable population growth will make the Israeli sabra a minority inside his own embattled and surrounded Israel. By 2010, the population of Israeli-born Arabs – Palestinians – in Israel will begin to equal and then outnumber Israelis. Ultimately, by 2010, the real balances of Middle East power will have shifted – again.
By 2010, the USA will – as in Vietnam – have to establish a completely new relationship with a new set of more powerful cultural, historical, racial, economic, and religious values.
And 2010 is just a tad over one and half more Presidential terms away.