Tony's Medal

North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole has introduced legislation to bestow our highest civilian honor—the Congressional Gold Medal—on British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Dole said Blair has been our staunchest ally in the war with Iraq . True enough, Blair has put his own political future at risk by standing with us, and we should be thankful. But, had it not been for the British, or, more precisely, the British Government, there might have been no need for us to fight two wars in the desert.

Following World War I, the Brits became de facto rulers of all the Middle East when the 600-year-old Ottoman (Turkish) Empire collapsed. The British, being of a practical nature, decided to carve up the vast area into smaller countries so they—the new countries—would be better able to administer government, and would be more manageable—by the British—and perhaps even grateful for the nationhood bestowed on them.

The problem is, the Brits took a blank map of the area and pretty much took a pencil and drew in some borders, thus creating new "countries." They did this apparently with not a great deal of regard for ethnicity, religion, and tribal allegiances, so that now all three of those entities are divided by artificially contrived "borders." There has been unrest among factions in the Middle East since, and with the creation of Israel in 1948, unrest has often accelerated into hostility. We have inherited a thorny problem.