In contrast to the common view, there is no one tangible example of imperialists dividing overseas or cross-border territories in order to establish and maintain their sovereignty. The opposite is true. The enormous India as long as it has been, had been ruled by England with a single governor. But at the point where England had to retreat from the territory, tried to divide, and could not exercise sovereignty first on the two, then on three parts (India-Pakistan, then West and East Pakistan, finally Pakistan and Bangladesh).
China had also been ruled as one single territory by various colonialist/imperialist states for centuries. None of these states preferred to divide China into smaller parts; in contrast, preferred rather to capture it as a whole. Until they complied with having a separate territory under their sovereignty in Hong Kong or Taiwan when the main continent of China obtained independence.
Likewise, Korea had been colonised as a whole; yet, when independence and defeat of imperialists imposed itself, they have to comply to only part of Korea.
Portugal has never tended to divide and rule Brazil which is much bigger than itself. It had to sustain its sovereignty on Brazil as a whole until the King of Portugal whose dominance in Europe was ended by Napoleon moved to Brazil and then came back.
Colonialist Spain, went on colonial expeditions in order to declare sovereignty only after uniting the separate lands, in Iberian Peninsula, let alone dividing. And built its colonial empire on lands as big as posibble.
The situation is as such in Belgium and Netherlands.
France had always tried to rule Vietnam (An Nam at the time in Vietnamese language) as whole, and handed on to the United States as whole when she realized she cannot manage it.
It is also not true that France, since Cardinal Richelieu, established its colonial empire through dividing these. As a matter of fact, France had tried to rule all of the overseas lands from a single headquarter through congregating them as much as possible. Since the 17th century, France has made the effort to unite lands overseas and rule as such through creating various offices with names such as “state ministry responsible for the navy”, “ministry of navy” or “ministry of overseas lands and colonies”. Overseas lands of France are still governed as whole, although they are highly disconnected and distant, by the office “Ministry of Overseas Territories”, named in the time of Francois Hollande.
Likewise, Tsarist Russia and the Ottoman Empire have always chose to rule territories from a single political centre through annexation of different soils one by one and piecing them together.
Therefore when historical examples are examined even roughly, it is not hard to see that colonialists and imperialists do not have an unconditional principle of “divide and rule” and do not have any interest in doing so.
THE WAR OF SHARING AND BALKANIZATION
The main phenomenon as the resource of this myth is the dividing of Ottoman soils at West by rival imperialists in order toshare them among each other. This is also called Balkanization (by or of someone, something). However, this turning point fundementally indicates the start of the imperialist age and the warming up of the first imperialist war of sharing.
Leninist theory of imperialism teaches that when the sharing of the World is completed among the ruling imperialist states, a new plan of sharing will impose itself. It explains that under these conditions this resharing will not be achieved through negotiations among imperialists. That is why it is detected that under conditions of a new plan of sharing inevitably becoming a current issue, a war for anew share becomes inevitable and distinguishes itself from the pascifist imperialism of Kautskyist understanding.
Imperialist powers who join this war of sharing as alliances against each other and their supporters, by their nature, enter the war with the purpose of taking apart the biggest possible part of territory from their enemies and later appropriating these lands to themselves.
But because alliances is the matter of discussion, the distribution of war spoils acquires currency. Therefore among the winning states, a second struggle of distribution according to their power and their skills at war comes up. At this point, the lands that are discussed to be shared are not even territories under the sovereignty of the losing states. The colonialist/imperialist states who did not openly took a side at war become inevitably included in the menu.
The scenery resulted from the two wars of imperialist distribution shows exactly this. The ones that are defeated in both wars lost most of the colonies and territories under their control which they sustained under their control before the wars. For exampe, Austro-Hungarian Empire which is the oldest and most sublime empire of Europecame down to a state that is limited to Vienna and its surrounding, rich, but small. The Ottoman Empire was obligated to comply to the boundaries drawn in Lausanne and a burden of heavy debt and compensation as a result of the surprising dynamics the Revolution of 1917 has created.
On the other hand, big colonial empires who remained outside the battle through both wars such as Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark, paid the price for their timid attitude with losing all of their colonies. In other words, they could not get away from being included in the menu. On the contrary, United States who was an old colony of England’s/France’s paved its way to a big role among the club of imperialists as a return for its active part in these wars.
At the end of this quarrel of distribution, when the topic of sharing of spoils among main victorious powers comes up, of course, it is hoped that this distribution would be piece by piece. Although this is not the absolute purpose, it is an inevitable outcome.
Thus, it is not hard to see the most typical and striking example of this situation on the map of Middle East. As much as this map was manifested differently than what ministers of Sykes, Picot and the Russian Tsar thought because of the interference of Bolsheviks who ended the war with the slogan “a peace without annexation”, it has been shaped fundementally by imperialists of England and France, with some significant role of the United States. Similar outcomes were born in Africa, Asia and Southern America as well (although it is not common to explain in detail on the lands we live).
But without a doubt, the myth on imperialists having a principle of “divide and rule” is an assumption inspired from the outcomes of the period starting from the Balkan wars, until the result of the first imperialist war of sharing.
This analysis also explains the fallacy as the product of Kautsykist understanding of imperialist age. For according to Kautskyist perspective, the determinant actors of the imperialist age consist of only the main imperialist Powers.
Whereas the Leninist definition of imperialism englihtens the other side of the coin as well, even emphasizes it: according to this, the matter of discussion is not only “the imperialist age”, but “the age of imperialism, proletarian revolutions and national liberation movements”.
A NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT BY DEFINITION HAS TO BE SEPARATIST
In this respect, the only and main reason for the political map of the world to be reshaped in various parts is not the intention of the imperialists to divide the world.On the contrary, by opening the opportunity for the imperialist powers to fight an inevitable war with each other, it paves the way for the working people who embark on a proletarian revolutionary struggle against their own states based on corruption.In addition, oppressed peoples who rebelled against colonial and annexation yokes to determine their own destiny also become decisive subjects in the change of the face of the world.
If this factor is taken into consideration, it cannot of course be seen as “the deterioration of the territorial integrity of this or that country is essentially the purpose and intention of the imperialists”. Because there are also oppressed peoples who have an interest in the disruption of this integrity and who want to do so, rebelling for this purpose.
Therefore, although national liberation struggles threaten a country’s territorial integrity, opposing such fragmentation tells the perspective of chauvinists and social chauvinists, not communists and national revolutionaries.The Leninist approach therefore emphasizes the distinction between “nationalism of the oppressor nation and nationalism of the oppressed nation”.
It accepts the nationalism of the oppressed nations unconditionally as legitimate and supports the communist or national revolutionary movements that struggle in this direction.
After these reminders, if we return to the situation in Syria and the Middle East concretely; any imperialist power does not aim to dominate one of these parts by dividing and breaking up the Middle East or any of the states in the Middle East. On the contrary, each one seeks to maintain its own domination over the Middle East as a whole and at least on the states that make up this map. The disintegration of a few or some of the states that make up the Middle East or the region called the Middle East is only a result that can arise as a result of the sharing fight between certain powers. This fight has not been concluded yet.
But since the sharing struggle between the imperialists is likely to result in the fragmentation of the states, which are the various components of the Middle East, so it is up to those who advocate the interests of these states to defend their territorial integrity and increase their sovereignty.
Those who act like this by identifying themselves with their states are called chauvinists. Those who introduce themselves with a socialist identity and act like this are called social chauvinists. Those who highlight those who oppress themselves instead of prioritizing their own national interests are also called national traitors, although they present themselves as national liberation movements.
Communists, on the other hand, set out in the imperialist wars as “the defeat of our state is favoured” and sees the national revolutionary liberation movements that will contribute to this defeat as the main allies.