Splitting the Difference

“Split the difference” is My Own True Love’s favorite way to solve a difference of opinion.  It’s a pretty effective tactic when you’re negotiating a contract, eyeing the last piece of pie, or deciding what time you need to leave the house to catch a 6:00 AM flight.  Win-win.

When it comes to settling geopolitical differences that same strategy can lead to lose-lose.

Over the last few months,  I’ve read a lot about Britain untangling itself from empire in the first half of the twentieth century.*  (Sometimes that’s the way the assignments crumble.)  In the process, I connected some dots I’d never connected before . Faced with competing nationalisms in Ireland, Palestine, and South Asia, Great Britain used a one-size fits all strategy:  Partition.

It works better with pie.


*Want to read along?  Try these three:

  • Troubles J. G. Farrell’s satirical novel about Ireland in the uprisings of 1919,
  •  The Makers of the Modern Middle East I know I’m repeating myself here, but this is an excellent account of how Britain jerked the strings in the Middle East after WWI
  • Tamas   Indian novelist Bihisham Sahni’s heart-rending story of loosing home in the name of nationalism in the Indian Partition



  1. mrtoler on October 5, 2011 at 12:38 am

    splitting the difference depends on where you start, and where you want to be. 🙂

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