Indeed, Chamberlain knew almost nothing of Czechoslovakia, inside whose borders, set at the Paris peace conference of 1919, dwelled 7 million Czechs, dominant over 3.25 million Germans, 2.5 million Slovaks, 800,000 Hungarians, 500,000 Ruthenians and 150,000 Poles, all of whom had been consigned to Prague without their consent.
Czechoslovakia was an artificial nation, its borders drawn up by Allied mapmakers to compensate the Czechs who had risen up against the Habsburg Empire and helped to defeat the Kaiser.
The world today is like Czechoslovakia 1938, only infinitely more so.
In this young century, America has gone to war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. Belatedly, in all four, we discovered that, before we plunged in, we knew nothing of the complexity of these countries.
Within Afghanistan, dominated by Pashtun in the south and east, are Hazara in the central mountains and Uzbeks and Tajiks in the north.
In Iraq, there are Arabs, Kurds, Sunni, Shia, Turkmen and Christians.
Libya, cobbled together out of the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, is home to 30 major tribes, the largest of which are the Warfalla and Margharha.
A few years back, professor Jerry Z. Muller wrote in Foreign Affairs that World Wars I and II were at root ethnonational wars of Europeans fighting to create nations where their own tribe ruled and their own culture was predominant.
Only when this was achieved in 1945, after immense bloodshed, did peace come to Europe.
Muller predicted that the ethnonational wars of Europe would be replicated across the Third World, as tribes rebelled against alien rulers and the unnatural borders imposed upon them by European imperialists.
He is echoed today by Mordechai Kedar of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam at Bar-Ilan University. Kedar argues that "the fundamental problem characterizing Middle Eastern states is that they have no legitimacy in the eyes of their citizenry because their borders are marked by European colonial interests.
"Great Britain created the borders of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen and the Gulf emirates. France was involved in determining the borders of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria and Lebanon. Italy was responsible for the borders of Libya. Included within these borders were ethnic, religious, denominational and tribal groups who, throughout history, were often unable to live together in peace."
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