Monday, June 26, 2006

IS IT ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SPLITS INTO DIFFERENT COUNTRIES?

UPDATED FOR A CURRENT POST: THIS IS A HOT SUMMER, AND I'M RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS FOR POSTING. THANK GOODNESS FOR THE RAIN TODAY! AS JULY 4TH GETS CLOSER THIS IS PERTINENT TO WHERE AMERICA GOES FROM HERE. PATRIOTISM IS MY LIFE BLOOD, AND THE FRAGMENTATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAKES ME SAD. GOD BLESS. FROM LINDA.

Posted on Thu, Nov. 24, 2005
THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT
Thanksgiving food for thought:
The Untied States of America?
BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMERaoppenheimer@herald.com
NEW YORK -- If you are preparing a Thanksgiving dinner toast, you may want to cherish the fact that the United States is still one single nation, under one flag. Judging from some of the books I've been reading lately, it may not be that way for much longer.
Growing numbers of futurologists are forecasting that not only the United States but Mexico and several other Latin American countries are likely to split into smaller states in coming decades. The flag to which you are pledging allegiance today may not be your children's flag, they say.
Last year, Samuel Huntington, a world-renowned Harvard University political scientist, made headlines with a book called Who We Are, in which he warned with alarm that America's territorial integrity is being threatened by the country's growing Hispanic population.
HISPANIC INFLUX
Huntington's book argued that, unlike previous immigrants, Hispanics come from a poverty-ridden neighboring country, are entering the United States massively, concentrate in a few U.S. states, and are maintaining their native language.
Worst, he says, they come from a country that is still sore at having lost half its territory to the United States, and they ''could assert a historical claim to U.S. territory.'' (If you wonder why I think all of this is Hispanic-phobic rubbish, I invite you to read my Feb. 26, 2004, column posted on Herald.com; click on Today's Extras).
Now, a soon-to-be-published book by Juan Enriquez, a former Harvard professor turned genomics entrepreneur, makes a far more insightful case for the likelihood of new states -- or countries -- in the Americas.
A CHANGING WORLD
His book, The Untied States of America , reminds us that, in 1950, the United Nations had 50 member countries. Today, the number has grown to 191.
And the trend seems to be toward more new countries. From 1900 to 1950 the world saw an average of 1.2 new countries a year; from 1950 to 1990 the rate grew to 2.2 new countries a year; and between 1990 and now, to 3.1 new nations a year.
''We have paid little attention to how many countries split and disappear because our own hemisphere has been remarkably stable,'' Enriquez says. ``We have generated no true new borders on the American continent since 1910. But this stability may be coming to an end.''
DIVIDING LINES
Countries, like marriages or corporations, often reach a breaking point, and split up or die. Most often, it is the richest regions -- not the poorest ones -- that seek to ''untie'' first. They feel they are giving more than they are getting from their current partnerships, and they want out, he says.
In the United States, rich states such as New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota are increasingly angry about giving more in taxes than they are getting back. Noting that most of these are ''blue'' [Democratic] states and are not part of the southern U.S. Bible Belt, he says their residents ``have a lot more in common with Canadians than they do with those living in red [pro-Bush] states.''
Rather than a Mexican takeover of southern U.S. states, we may see Hispanic populations in southern U.S. states and northern Mexico seeking ''in-between states'' a la Puerto Rico, perhaps -- if they feel alienated from their respective central governments, he says. Watch ongoing regional autonomy drives in Britain and Spain, he says.
In Mexico, Enriquez sees a possible breakup in four nations: the north (``NAFTA country''), Central Mexico (Mexico City and its surroundings), indigenous Mexico (Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca) and the new Maya (Yucat√°n, Campeche and Quintana Roo).
AN UNLIKELY EVENT
My opinion? I doubt we'll see a flurry of new countries in the Americas. (However, I wouldn't be surprised to see Bolivia's wealthy Santa Cruz region following that route in the event that radical Indian candidate Evo Morales takes power through a ''street coup'' in the event of losing next month's presidential elections).
But, as any Old World map reminds us, things change. Most likely, as Enriquez himself admits, barring a significant improvement in good governance, we may see a growing trend toward unhappy regions seeking greater autonomy within an umbrella of free association, or common markets.
The elements are there: unhappy regions, governments that are progressively unable to satisfy their people's expectations and supranational projects.
Food for Thanksgiving thought.

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