Foreign Policy Blogs

The Balkanization of American Society

Two memories come to mind when thinking about political divisions between neighbors and relatives and the violence that permeates when both sides accept totalitarian ideas as their norm. The death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a man I was fortunate enough to hear speak in a small meeting, and a separate friend of mine from that same country that lamented factions in that society that sough political legitimacy through continued and unabated violence.

More than twelve years after the assassination of Hariri, Lebanon remains at the brink of another decade of sectarian violence while reasonable agents in Lebanese society beg all sides to remember the last few decades of violence and how it destroyed the country many times over.

Ideology in America today does not have decades of recent sectarian conflict to draw on for modern lessons, and may not be affected even if it did have those recent experiences. Ideology and intentional violence for the sake of violence often lives on the fringes, but ends with a meeting of minds or compromise in the middle. Fascism in all its forms ends with those who actually intend to build society and not continuously burn it to the ground.

The vast majority of us in the middle of the political divide are much like Ralph Fiennes’ characters in the movie Sunshine, where he plays generations from the same family with most of them succumbing to being executed or imprisoned without rights by those on the far right and then far left, just because he lived where he lived and via accusations against the political leanings of generations of his family. Fiennes shows that no matter what you do, think or say, fascists from both sides will label you and seek to dispose of you just because you exist in their world.

Societies that pull themselves to the extremes often have to ignore large swaths of reality to make the mental leap to self-abuse. The operation of actual slavery and organized death by way of rape and torture against many minorities in Iraq and Syria in an actual concentration camp style genocide is almost wholly ignored by international media. Actions done by actual Nazis are being repeated in our generation, and there is next to no response by the “Great Powers” of the world.

In addition, even victims of the genocide are blocked and almost wholly ignored by the international community as they beg to be claimed under otherwise generous refugee programs that by process ignore them as well. The cause of this came from sectarian factions in Iraq and Syria gaining a foothold into the mainstream. The lack of understanding of these issues comes with the almost complete absence of moderate voices from Iraq, and a strong and organized push to never find those voices in western media. An entire university education could be based on listening to those few people who lament violence in their countries, and the world would be better off with a real education that does not promote and legitimize political violence by any faction.




 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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