Rough Cuts

October 2, 2013  

Peters’ “Blood borders” map

On Sept. 29, veteran foreign-affairs reporter Robin Wright offered a vision for remapping the Middle East to alleviate tension. The redrawn map, she mused in the New York Times, could be “a strategic game changer for just about everybody, potentially reconfiguring alliances, security challenges, trade and energy flows for much of the world, too.” Perhaps her article and map will stir productive debate; it is certain to become a lightning rod for conspiracy theorists.

AFJ can assert this because of a very similar exercise undertaken by Army Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters in the June 2006 AFJ. In “Blood Borders”, Peters suggested that a reimagining of Middle Eastern and Asian borders along ethnic, sectarian and tribal lines might ease regional tensions. The article and the accompanying map were — and continue to be — widely taken as Washington’s blueprint for imperial meddling.

Today, the article and map remain among the most-visited pages on the AFJ website.

Middle East borders, as reimagined by Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters (2006).

Middle East borders, as reimagined by  Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters (2006).

Wrote Peters: “While the Middle East has far more problems than dysfunctional borders alone — from cultural stagnation through scandalous inequality to deadly religious extremism — the greatest taboo in striving to understand the region’s comprehensive failure isn’t Islam but the awful-but-sacrosanct international boundaries worshipped by our own diplomats. …

“The boundaries projected in the maps accompanying this article redress the wrongs suffered by the most significant ‘cheated’ population groups, such as the Kurds, Baluch and Arab Shia, but still fail to account adequately for Middle Eastern Christians, Bahais, Ismailis, Naqshbandis and many another numerically lesser minorities…”

15 comments
Jai Somanath
Jai Somanath

Col Peters is right. After all when Islamic States can be carved out of perfectly peaceful nations which got plunged into blood bath, no sanctity of borders can be attached to such a state or states. For instance consider the example of Pakistan, an Islamic State long before the present ISIS that came into existence using the same methods the modern Caliphate or ISIS is using at present. Partition of India to form Pakistan were dismissed as 'fantastic nonsense' just few weeks before they happened. 


Peculiar circumstances, India being a colony of British, Indian leaders like Gandhi and Nehru adopting a compromising stand unlike Abraham Lincoln who stood firm saying 'one nation  under God', and fanatic frenzy of Moslem league led by Jinnah who called for 'direct action' using 'extra-constitutional 'methods to cut India to pieces , all combined resulting in carnage and formation of an Islamic State with in natural frontiers of nation of India.


But neither Islam nor Pakistan are monolithic. Islam never formed a basis for nationhood. Otherwise Arabs , all practicing same Islam, speaking same language , belonging to same culture would have become one big Islamic State. The difficulties facing Pakistan to stay as one entity are much more insurmountable than that of Arabs. Balochis, Phaktoons, Bengalis , Sindhis and Punjabis constituted Pakistan in 1947 when it came into existence.

They were held together in one nation of India because of culture and ethos of India,


But when these bonds of unity amid diversity , a principle upheld in India for ages, eons in fact, were violently torn asunder by Islamic fanaticism in order to create Pakistan, then there was nothing to hold them together under Pakistani Islamic aegis which itself is narrowly confined to being a Sunni, Wahabi variety that is violently opposed to other sects of Islam like Shias, Ahmediyas and Sufis et al. Hence pogroms started right at the start at the beginning of its statehood, against Hindus, then Christian minorities now have spread to include Shia, Ahmediya sects besides Sunnis of other regions like Balochis. Bengali Moslems were largely Sunni, yet it did not protect them against unleashing of violence amounting to genocide by Pakistan army in 1971. As a result E Bengal became free of Pakistan, became Bangladesh.


So also there is need to redraw map of Pakistan by excluding Balochis who like their Bengali cousins are facing violent occupation by Pakistan army which is using every tactic including attacks by Pakistan Air force.   Phaktoons in north west frontier voted to join India at the time of partition. Like Kurds they too suffered. Gilgit and Baltistan ,  were parts of  Jammu and Kashmir when the state acceded to India.  As Col Peters narrated, there is much need to accommodate long suffering people of these areas, in their own administered areas.  They should not be punished for no fault of their own forcibly keeping them in failed state of Pakistan. 


Pakistan is a failed state. Because the reason its protagonists demanded vivisection of India was that Moslems cannot be assured of safety in Hindu majority India. By now it is clear only place Muslims of all sects, Shia, Sunni, Ahmediya et al where they are safe is not in Pakistan but in Hindu majority India.

zervan69
zervan69

all these fantasy borders and yet we still have occupied west bank in palestine?

this is a jewish dream map but will never happen, the first border to change will be in the galilee, west bank and gaza when ALL of palestine gets liberated.

Aftab37
Aftab37

paul!(peter) worry about your own borders of Mexico' and ethnic divide of Blacks vs Whites' the way your armed forces got beaten in Afghanistan(forgot vietnam) and the way you are hated by the peoples of the world you still have time to worry about the middle east. furthermore take some lessons on basic geography  before you venture on changing world map. 

Pune
Pune

Pakistan already been divided, point is that it is still not represented on the map.

jon du Pontavice
jon du Pontavice

Aah...just a thought, look at the countries sorrounding the redrawn map, you think they will stay out of this change while itsoccuring or will they also play a role in further changing the map, a new map which Ralph Peter's supreme leaders may not at all like.

AbdullahLashari
AbdullahLashari

I think peter make mistake to understand the real  problems , 

peters theory about middle east can't apply on south Asia , Pakistan must be disintegrate by national borders , why Sindh along with Punjab in Pakistan map ? 

TedBrown3
TedBrown3

Why divide the borders?


Why is there a need for borders to begin with, are we all not human?

goodyonsen
goodyonsen

@TedBrown3 Because; city states can only be established with seemingly a "natural" outcome via political division of relevantly big lands, which means the emergence of new artificial countries... How the hell new countries' societies are to be formed is another story but I can tell that it is largely associated with previous wars and as one result of them, "mass exiles"  or "forced migrations" of a certain ethnic group... As an example from close history; Saddam exiled millions of Kurds to the up north toward Turkish border where later on was declared "fly-free zone" or "36th parallel. After a decade, in 2003, with the US intervention, Northern Iraqi Kurds claimed autonomy which was granted by the US backed central government... Same scenario been going on with Assad and Syrian Kurds by the great help of so-called ISIS in North-East of Syria, just few hundred yards off the Turkish border... Not hard to guess what's lately debated in the region; an expected claim of autonomy from Syrian Kurds in the North-East of the country... 

Subject
Subject

Yet another western intellectual to save the world DUHH. like Iraq and Afghanistan r solved. Libya and Egypt are solved. Likr israel and Palestine r solved. Please don't do further good to us. Already we are highly obliged. Yours truly's subjects

Phil
Phil

I hope the present Middle East is not THE Middle East. His is...fun. Too bad he didn't include the best part: The Wet Bank/Gaza and Israel switch territories, and arms.

ashish
ashish

I think Peters analysis suffers from white-myopic -knowall limitation. The fight predates Islam and is more of tribal pastime.

Redraw for oil not peace

guest
guest

Ralph Peters knows more about the Middle East becaue he s in the military. Highly praised and highly decorated for leading our troops to fight Jihad. He is not just an analyst. Do some research!

RobMobilia
RobMobilia

Peters was a FSO for the Soviet Union. Not the Mideast. As far as actual training about the Mideast, it's just to know about what the Soviets cared for.

BTR
BTR

Generally I try to be a bit more diplomatic in my language, but I'm going to be candid about this one: Ralph Peters' 'blood borders' map needs to die. It shows a distinct lack of understanding about the Middle East and its history - both in specific facts and in the motifs that symbolize wider historical trends. Ralph Peters, I'm sure, must be an intelligent man to become so popular a commentator and academic, but whatever his specialty, it's not the Middle East.

Trackbacks

  1. […] reshaping the broader Middle East and South Asia was made by retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters for the U.S. Armed Forces Journal in 2006, and has now been made public) if it did not comply with American demands for allowing […]

  2. […] reshaping the broader Middle East and South Asia was made by retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters for the U.S. Armed Forces Journal in 2006, and has now been made public) if it did not comply with American demands for allowing […]

  3. […] El7ob El7ob http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/peters-blood-borders-map/ […]

  4. […] currently exists. In fact, such ideas emerged after 2001 and were reflected in articles such as Blood Borders, which showed how countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan could be divided into more […]