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Look who’s calling voting ‘divisive’ and ‘illegal’

Blood-soaked US Has No Business Opposing Sovereignty Plebiscites

In Texas, politicians periodically call for secession from the US. Within days of President Obama’s election as president, several states, including Texas, saw petitions filed in Washington calling for secession. In 2012, there was a petition filed on the White House Website with over 119,000 signatures calling for Texas secession, according to a report on ABC news. No FBI agents or federal troops were dispatched to arrest the perps.

In fact, if I were to launch a petition drive to get a secession question on my town’s ballot, and it were placed there by the town government, it would not be illegal for the people of Upper Dublin to cast votes saying whether or not they wanted the town to secede from the union.

The same is true for a state like Texas, California, or New York City or New Hampshire -- all places where there has been talk of secession at one time or another.

Of course, if a state actually tried to secede, like Scotland is now attempting to do from the United Kingdom, or like the province of Catalonia is attempting to do in Spain, it’s likely that the US would block the move, either with federal troops or, more likely, by economic threats--for example warning that secession would mean an end to transfer payments like welfare, Medicare, Social Security, education funding, etc., plus the assumption by the seceding jurisdiction of its share of the accumulated federal debt.

But it wouldn’t be “illegal” to vote on the idea.

Actually the idea of splitting up nations where there are geographically separated ethnicities that have been thrown together through geopolitics has a long history--some good, some bad. We have the division of India and Pakistan as the British abandoned colonial control of South Asia, we have the division of Czechoslovakia into two separate countries -- the Czech Republic and Slovakia -- and of course the fragmentation of Yugoslavia into a number of republics -- Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro. And in Africa we have Sudan and Ethiopia and the breakaway province of Eritrea. We also, as I have mentioned, have votes scheduled for the possible independence of Scotland and Catalonia, we have the perennial campaign in Quebec to gain sever itself from English-speaking Canada, and even in the core of Western Europe, there is a strong campaign in Belgium to split into two nations, one Flemish-speaking and one French-speaking.

Clearly, it has proven to be much better when such divisions were accomplished by the ballot, as in Czechoslovakia, and as is being attempted in Scotland, Catalonia, Belgium and Quebec, rather than by force, as in India, Yugoslavia, Ethiopia or Sudan.

Judging by the historical record, the US appears to have generally favored the violent approach to separations, though--whether it has been promoting them or trying to prevent them. It is the US, after all, that imposed the post-war division of Korea into two parts that has left a legacy of over nine million dead. It is the US that also forced the post colonial division of Vietnam into two halves, and then fought a bloody war for a decade to try and keep it divided, killing over three million people in the process. The US also provided diplomatic support and over 90% of the arms that Indonesia used in brutally suppressing the independence movement in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony where a UN-sponsored plebiscite showed overwhelming support for independence from Indonesia.

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