In the glorious world of journalism, tanks always “roll” across borders. I’ve never in my life actually seen a tank roll, but you get the point. They don’t let anything stand in their way – or nothing is supposed to stand in their way.
Hence the Hong Kong Chinese should back off if the People’s Army come “rolling” across the border; the Syrian Kurds should stand aside if the Turkish army crosses their mutual border; the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir must pay respect to the Indian army’s reinforcements; the Ukrainians or Russians hostile to Putin should not tangle with the Russian army on the Black Sea coast. Nor should the Palestinians protest when Israel’s army arrives to demolish their homes or steal more of their land.
Territorial acquisition is quite the thing these days. Whether it comes through fear of political infection – the Chinese government doesn’t want the contagion of civil chaos in Hong Kong to spread – or ethnic hatred or sectarian hatred, or nationalism, or just plain greed, we are growing dangerously accustomed to the sight of armies and paramilitary forces taking over other people’s property. Not since Saddam tried to gobble up Kuwait have we seen anything on this scale, when Iraq’s army was easily (and bloodily) sent packing.