Saturday, July 22, 2006

My friend Franco Aleman at Barcepundit and Laurence Simon are involved in a minor dust-up regarding Ceuta and Melilla. These are two Spanish cities on the north coast of Morocco which have been Spanish territory for several hundred years, and their populations are Spanish--that is, they speak Spanish, have Spanish names, are Catholic, eat Spanish food, follow Spanish cultural customs, etc. The people of Ceuta and Melilla overwhelmingly want to stay part of Spain.

Democratically, it's clear that Ceuta and Melilla should stay Spanish, even though Morocco claims the cities and every now and then starts a minor diplomatic crisis. (Remember the Great Perejil Island War of 2002?)

Piece of history: Spain took over the northern strip of Moroccan territory in 1912 at the pre-WWI height of imperialism; France got the rest. When Morocco became independent again in 1956 and Spain gave up the northern strip, it kept Ceuta and Melilla, which it had held since time immemorial.

The most logical analogy, I think, is Gibraltar, which has been British territory for several hundred years and whose population overwhelmingly wants to stay part of Britain. Even though Spain claims the city and every now and then starts a minor diplomatic crisis, the will of the inhabitants should be supreme.

Another logical analogy is Hawaii, which was independent until American businessmen overthrew the native ruling dynasty in 1893; the US annexed the islands in 1898, at the pre-WWI height of imperialism. We just went in and took over, and made Hawaii a state in 1959.

Of course, nobody in Hawaii wants to be independent again except for a handful of wackjobs. Following the democratic rule of the desire of the great majority, Hawaii, just like Gibraltar and Ceuta and Melilla--and the Falklands, and Puerto Rico--should stay right where it is.

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