Ah, to hell with it!
From my node on the World Wide Web’s “Second Row Seat to History”, I cannot connect the dots from a Taliban assault on an army school in Peshawar to any of the myriad halls of power owned by dictatorships that In the Name of People engage in breathtaking exploitation of the property and productive capacities of the same. Confusion and corruption rule those worlds. Try to trade it on the ground — good luck with living to report the story; try to get at it from a computer terminal, the data is not extant and remoted relationships may want for a much improved security framework too.
One such remote Pakistani contact writes now and then of the visible presence of known Taliban operators on the streets where he lives. He says there seem to be “good Taliban and bad Taliban” and when asked to tell the difference says the good Taliban operate in Afghanistan and the bad ones in Pakistan.
The concept that is “frontier” is no longer a place — there’s no “over those mountains” or “beyond that river”: frontiers are instead spaces containing some mix of geopolitical content, and the worst contain the worst in some “observable-measurable” way but not conveniently visible way.
This piece got confused along the above lines — indirect connection, virtual space disconnectedness — but I’m going to publish it anyway just to have it off my plate.
News of a brutal Taliban strike against schoolchildren in Peshawar begs a question with several dimensions of overlaid meaning: who among the living backed this “action” and what are they getting out of it?
As a first answer, revenge may serve a small and now embattled circle of Islamic militants certain to have drawn another broad intelligence and military response to their communities and operational redoubts.
That’s one story — the local-to-regional Taliban story — that should corroborate easily now and in the days ahead.
Beyond that story, one may wonder about the Taliban’s “handlers” — those who are not Taliban but help sustain their machinery, motivation, and organization: who are they?
Did what happened at the Army Public School in Peshawar today distract from events elsewhere in some meaningful way?
Target center for western interests has been Iran’s theokleptocracy and its efforts to wrap its mitts around a nuclear war making capability that it might use to leverage concessions (first) and theft (later). The Iranian regime as a focal point also has arranged around itself the Syrian-to-Russian axis and through Putin’s post-Soviet and now neo-feudal channel another line of political influence and power through Crimea and Hungary’s general drifting around fascist urges signalled both, albeit separably, by Jobbik and by Viktor Orban’s administration.
I would add to that conceptual layout similar potential as regards Turkish President Erdogan’s own assimilation and expression of patently autocratic behaviors, including this weekend’s crackdown on potential (Gulen-backed) critics and rivals.
Call it the International Club of Bad Little Boys, the New Assembly of Global Autocrats — Assad, Erdogan, Khamenei, Orban, Putin Yanukovych (although he seems way off stage today): how far off as approvers, backers, enablers, instigators where they from what happened in Peshawar?
They don’t have to conduct the loud — most apparent — sections of their orchestras — direct control has limits, and I don’t go in for grand conspiracy theorizing — but they may countenance and encourage the chaos and suffering that distracts attention from their own quarters and their state-based thieving. As much aligns with their shared pathology as malignantly narcissistic leaders, each atop his own dizzying pyramid.
(posted to YouTube 11/10/2014)
He has increased the number of substantial directorates of the presidency from four to 13. New units include internal security, foreign relations, economy, defense, energy and investment monitoring. Previously there were only the directorates of administrative and financial affairs, institutional communications, information technology and human resources. The president, whose main function was to approve draft bills, used to sit around the table with his advisers and ask for their opinions.
Search string “Erdogan, White Palace” continues to yield plenty for proletarian grousing, including from U.S. News & World Report the not surprising headline, “Shadow Government Set Up in Erdogan’s White Palace” (12/12/2014 — Passed along from Al Monitor).
Search string “Putin, palaces” might keep one busy.
BBC has an evergreen piece in Tim Whewell’s “Putin’s palace? A mystery Black Sea mansion fit for a tsar” (5/4/2012).
According to the authors, Putin has overseen a phenomenal expansion in the awarding of presidential perks. At his disposal are 20 palaces and villas, a fleet of 58 aircraft, a flotilla of yachts worth some 3bn roubles (£59.2m), a watch collection worth 22m roubles and several top class Mercedes.
“We did not publish data on the cost of the clothes and things that Putin regularly uses: the suits, shoes and ties worth tens of thousands of dollars – mere trifles when compared to the villas, aeroplanes watches and cars,” they wrote.
Search strings “Khamenei, Setad” and “Khamenei, Reuters, Setad” tells the story of state piracy in that nation and a look into “Iran’s wealthiest” nails it down with both Ali and Mojtaba Khamenei topping Wikipedia’s list with $36 billion and $21 billion in personal value respectively (as viewed at time of post)*.
Add “Setad”, the Iranian Entity with an estimated worth of $95 billion, privately held, and certainly not subject to public oversight: “It is not overseen by the Iranian Parliament, as that body voted in 2008 to “prohibit itself from monitoring organizations that the supreme leader controls, except with his permission”. It is, however, an important factor in Khameni’s power, giving him financial independence from parliament and the national budget, and thus “insulating him from Iran’s messy factional infighting” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setad).
One might continue with this kind of thematic gathering — as regards dictators in general: man, how those cats do live! — because living high (on the backs of the low), from the junta in Burma to Paul Biya in Cameroon to Mugabe in Zimbabwe and back to Khamenei-Putin-Assad, living off the land (and all who toil upon it) is what they believe themselves designed to do “in name of the people”.
We know who financed the Afghan guerrillas 25 years ago. But who foots the bill for the Taliban now remains unclear. In the third part of his series about the lessons that can be learnt from the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, Vladimir Snegiryov poses question about the Taliban’s mysterious financial side.
Vladimir Snegiryov posed the question from the Russian perspective, and here more than five years later, I pose the same from the American stance: if it ain’t the devil (and well it could be the Devil, but if it’s not, lol), who is keeping the Taliban schedule loaded with assault plans?
Here is the latest: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/16/us-afghanistan-kunar-idUSKBN0JU1QB20141216 – 12/16/2014 – “Taliban fighters mount offensive near Afghan border with Pakistan”.
From November: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29871077 – “Pakistan bombing: Wagah suicide attack near Indian border.”
Earlier: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/09/us-pakistan-airport-attacks-idUSKBN0EJ0TW20140609 – 6/9/2014.
Additional and Cited Reference
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30491435 – 12/16/2014.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/180110/ukrainian-approval-russia-leadership-dives-almost.aspx – 2014, based on surveys conducted in September and October.
*Between publishing this post and today, January 19, 2015, the Wikipedia page has been altered. This table appears to have appeared on the page up to December 23, 2014 (and this blog post was first published on December 16, 2015).
Does it matter so much?
The Orwellian aspect matters for those who may wish to live in Winston Smith’s totalitarian nightmare.
As regards the general impression of the Khamenei regime (and the wealthy of Iran), there’s plenty online (that appears to be staying online) for maintaining the various impressions that predominate in the west.
http://www.reuters.com/investigates/iran/#article/part1 – 11/11/2013.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2916388/Our-lives-aren-t-like-Homeland-Argo-Instagram-s-Rich-Kids-Tehran-250-000-cars-10m-homes-opulent-lifestyles-attack-view-think-ride-camels.html – 1/19/2015.
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