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Territorial disputes and national identity… August 21, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Thought this piece on Slate.com about a shift in attitudes globally to minorities, national identities and territorial disputes intriguing, even worrying. Given we are on an island with those very issues – mentioned in the article too – this is close to home. And the thesis in the piece is that:

Trump has also reportedly hinted that he believes Russian sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula—annexed in defiance of international law in 2014—ought to be recognized.

I don’t think these stances can be explained merely by Trump’s much-discussed fondness for Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin, and Xi Jinping. The notion that the central government’s control over the contested regions should be made official, recognized, and unambiguous accords with his overall worldview.

This philosophy fails to recognize that a certain amount of ambiguity can be stabilizing in the absence of a political consensus. Take the president’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights last year, justified as, in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words, “simply recognizing facts on the ground.” Trump similarly claimed that recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital was “the obvious, the plain reality” of the situation. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has suggested the administration might also look favorably on Israel formally annexing its settlements on the West Bank. This would no doubt also be justified as a mere official recognition of the “reality” of the situation or the “facts on the ground.”

Actually I’d think there’s a blend of attitudes there. I suspect Trump does actually feel a fondness for those leaders – he seems like someone who is wedded to the idea that only through more authoritarian ‘leadership’ can achievements be achieved.

But be that as it may, all this raises another point. The Greenland balloon flown by Trump was clearly diversionary. I doubt there’s any real energy or enthusiasm for pushing that very far. And it couldn’t be pushed very far in reality – unless we are talking about genuine insanity. But that said it betrayed something very telling about Trump’s attitude to national identity. His own is immovable, intrinsic. That of others – those in Greenland for example – is, even simply rhetorically, something to be bought and sold. Or perhaps digging deeper this suggests that his own is rhetorical as well, that on some fundamental level, for all the complaining about immigration and the woes supposedly assailing the US, he doesn’t actually believe for a moment any of that and that it is all, in the end about the deal. Any deal at all.


1. Roger Cole - August 21, 2019

Claiming that the Greenland attempted purchase was “diversionary” by Trump implies that Trump has a logical thought process. I don’t think so.

Liked by 1 person

benmadigan - August 21, 2019

Whether the offer to buy was diversionary or not, Greenland and Denmark refused to sell. So President Trump has called off his official state visit after he had been invited there by Queen Margarethe of Denmark.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - August 21, 2019

Sort of agree Roger. I think that so much of this is reactionary in the other sense of the term (as well as being reactionary in the primary sense of it too).

That’s spot on too ben.

In a way all this doesn’t amount to much. And yet, in another the pique etc tells us much about the potential dangers of the Trump presidency. What’s fascinating is it’s so open. I dislike psychological approaches to him because there is an ideology behind him amongst those around him which uses him and which he in an unfocused sort of a way uses for his own end but simultaneously we seem to be seeing someone who in any other context would be considered troubled.


CL - August 22, 2019

” U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday adopted a religious theme in describing his role in picking a trade fight with China, saying: “I am the chosen one.”
The president turned to look at the sky as he made the claim, using language that some Christians might consider offensive, because in Christian theology, Jesus Christ is the “chosen one” and the savior.”
GUBU squared.


2. EWI - August 21, 2019

Fascist strongman approves fascist strongman-ism.

Liked by 1 person

3. tafkaGW - August 22, 2019

There’s something ghostly weak about these gestures to national and neo-colonial expansion by the Trumps, Modis and Putins of the world. The chimera of outwardly projected national sovereignty that they point to, that excites their constituency, is a nostalgia for 19th century great games and cold war clarity.

That doesn’t fit with a world of collapsing bio-systems, catastrophic planetary heating and systematic capitalist instability.

But a weak fantasy makes itself dead and injured flesh by real military violence against those ‘Others’ elected to define this negative national identity by their exclusion.

Examples abound: The recent takeover of Kashmir by Modi’s Hinduised army, the Rohinga in Thailand, racist violence in the US and Europe: attacks on Muslims everywhere.


4. CL - August 22, 2019

“Every March 31, the U.S. Virgin Islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix observe “Transfer Day” to commemorate the sale of the islands from Denmark to the United States. Of the U.S.’s five permanently inhabited territories, the U.S. Virgin Islands is the only one the country ever purchased from another imperial power…
Denmark had colonized the three islands—known as the Danish West Indies—back in the 17th and 18th centuries. It forced enslaved Africans to work on plantations producing products like sugar, which it profited from until the 1840s, when sugar prices fell….

in 1932 .. Virgin Islanders won American citizenship, but voting was a separate battle.
The U.S. Virgin Islands didn’t win the right to vote for their own governor until 1970. Today, American citizens in the U.S. Virgin Islands—as well as those in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands—still cannot elect voting members to Congress or vote for the president of the United States.”


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