Where Do We Draw the Line in the Sand?
It Depends

Vladimir Putin has drawn a line in the sand. Ukraine is a part of the Soviet Union, aka present-day Russia. Xi Jinping has also drawn a line in the sand. Taiwan is a part of China. Both those autocrats want their land back, which sounds quite simple. It is their land.

We have two sources of information about the attack upon Caesar: Shakespeare and the historical record. The Bard of Avon wrote his historical play 1600 after the events on March 15, 44 BC. Everyone is familiar with the final words of Caesar, “Et tu, Brute?” According to Shakespeare, Brutus wasn’t some close friend of Caesar’s, nor was he involved as the main conspirator.

The two autocratic buddies

There seems to be a fatal flaw in their logic. Merely uttering where one draws the line doesn’t make it true or factually accurate. Those two autocratic buddies aren’t the first to draw a line in the sand nonsense, nor will they be the last.

A line in the sand

Here is a brief historical overview of drawing a line in the sand. The Hebrew people invaded Canaan in the mid-13th century BCE. They told the Canaanites that God told them it was their land. I wonder what the Canaanites thought. Over the centuries, others conquered their land like the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE. It was now the land of the Babylonians. The Romans seized their land mid-1st century BCE. During the Roman occupation, they dispersed the Jew in the 1st century CE. The Jewish people haven’t lived for two millennia in their land. That is a longer time than they lived in their land. In 1947, Israel reinvaded their land again. I wonder what the Palestinians thought about the land they lived in for nearly two millennia.

Other ancient examples of drawing national lines in the sand. The Romans invaded Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa and created their land. There were four major Muslim caliphates: Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Ottoman, which created their land.

Drawing a line in the sand can be seen in more modern times. The British claimed more land than any country in human history. The Brits loved to say that the sun never sets on the British Empire, which was their land.

The Brit’s land

After America ousted the British, we continued to draw and redraw a line in the sand as we moved westward. We called it Manifest Destiny; God gave us our land. We were to move west and spread democracy “from sea to shining sea.”

Our land

I wonder what the Native Americans thought about Manifest Destiny. Even more to the point, Native Americans never conceived of the notion of owning land in the same way Europeans did.

Therefore, Putin and Xi need to reconsider their assertions that the Ukrainians and Taiwanese own their land. Their drawing a line in the sand doesn’t mean that the locals in either country agree with that assumption.