Monday, September 21, 2009

Racism and the Race Card

Political debate is increasingly supercharged with claims of racism (Obama supporters) and playing the race card (anti-Obamians). Immigration reform, which is coming back to life, is being cast as anti-Hispanic by its proponents, largely Democrats, who expect newly legalized Hispanics to disproportionately vote Democrat. The Republican Party is being cast as a party of the South. Racial, ethnic, and geographic divisions are increasingly pitting Americans against each other.

On the international front, the Dayton Accord, which resolved the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is crumbling in the face of rising tensions between Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, and Bosnian Muslims. Catalans and Basques continue to press for greater autonomy from Madrid. China has a growing problem with Uighur Muslims.

Yet some continue to believe that the United States military and civilian agencies can construct, at what has been an enormous cost, a unified stable polity in Iraq out of its Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish communities that can hold together once withdrawal of U.S. Troops begins in mass.

Some also believe that a similarly positive outcome can be achieved in Afghanistan among its five large ethnic groups if only an Iraqi-style surge with an additional 40,000-60,000 U.S. troops is carried out over the next year or two or more.

If America has trouble transcending its racial and ethnic divisions, why should one suppose that success in Iraq and Afghanistan is just another surge away.

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