The Obama Administration has played the weak hand in relation to overt confrontations while possibly working behind-the-scenes to kick the legs out from under the should-be-defunct Soviet arrangements. As I don’t live “behind the curtains” — or the doors of the CIA, Defense Department, and State and other national security and defense elements — I encounter the news with an analytical bent that really can’t confirm nor deny American weakness in the encounters with serious challenges. Neither, perhaps, can America’s enemies produce better estimates, so it would seem. In the end, the despots, the commanders, and their generals wage bets with every act of war. For these, if they don’t aggress in the face of weakness, they’re pussies (sorry); if they do and have their asses handed to them (eventually), they’re gone but with some grudging respect for following orders and going over the cliffs together. It’s a dubious honor, but so many belligerent “Armies of God” seem so completely invested in the medieval beliefs and visions that serve their handlers that they have no exit into the modern world. War, in essence, becomes for Hezbollah and others a loopy dead end.
The 21st Century’s investment in total in feudalism may be immense: it goes far beyond Hezbollah and into any number of “state capitalist” dictatorships (whatever the “ism” they preach) and criminal enterprises. Still, the medieval outlook and the barbarism associated with it, whether mafia, state mafia, or religious mafia, becomes less and less wanted given the modern tools enabling more fair distributions in power and greater security to the lawful through the earnest development and sustaining of “rule of law”.
Probably, the lands of the lawless have always to implode over internecine doubts, jealousies, suspicions, and rivalries. The depth of their tragedies, whether of Hitlerian or Stalinist proportions, may be measured in the suffering in extent and time of the constituencies made to ride along with maddened power inherently inherently malign and narcissistic.
The prompt was a comment suggesting Hezbollah’s possession of Syrian chemical weapons stocks, an issue that had been in the news in 2013 and appears more recently in The Wall Street Journal (July 23, 2015): http://www.wsj.com/articles/mission-to-purge-syria-of-chemical-weapons-comes-up-short-1437687744
Other of the Morning’s Remarks
Promotion of the Shiite vs Sunni feud promotes the medievalism endorsed by Putin, Assad, Khamenei, and Baghdadi whose own positions rest on sustaining political “absolute power” (dictatorship) for themselves!
From the modern and perhaps outside perspective, the medieval worldview brings its horrors to the surface in continuous and unresolvable conflicts. The medieval order has become today a ceaselessly demonstrated death machine.
With comparatively less headcount, a solid foundation in a single ethnolinguistic cohort, and thousands of years of varied history, the Jews have unhappily but successfully ejected much of what failed them over the years — animal sacrifice may serve as a convenient symbol of the abandonment of priestly magic. When the near 0-CE Hillel makes principle ascendent over ritual and works to improve convert access to Judaism, the religion “tails forward” (my opinion) to the Ethical Culture Movement associated with Felix Adler. It’s not the end of the story, God willing, nor a story about the abandonment of Judaism, but it is a story about staying the same and changing at the same time. Some beliefs, ideas, and rituals have well stood the tests of time, and time may disappear altogether between the lighting of the Sabbath candles between millennium.
The Qur’an’s promotion of the authoritative voice and injunction may make movement away from the medieval world more difficult. What I witness (by having been here day after day for years) are the channels, trials, and errors of a community that plainly will not travel further with the Muslim Brotherhood’s (et al.) guidance, but how people deal with Bad Baghdadi and similar others seems varied. Atheists, “apostates”, converts, modernists, reformists — everything but barbarians, and the barbarians (that go off to join ISIS or knock around in the killing fields — and the odd bombing — with Hezbollah) may be setting themselves up for slaughter. Many things will be tried as the future gets under everyone’s feet (as it apparently has in Egypt) and we hope a few things will work and peace will prevail between the “Abrahamic religions”.
Re. Obama: I don’t know that region that is “what’s really going on”, but it appears evident that Obama wants the world to police itself because he has most of American military policy focused on acute issues (like ISIS in Iraq) and covert and policing this-and-that in Somalia and other places where efforts only occasionally ping the headlines but have to have been continuous for those headlines to appear.
Re. Arafat to Abbas — we may go back to the start of the KGB-generated PLO: https://conflict-backchannels.com/…/quote-manipulation…/
Re. Islam: it appears to have an issue with Baghdadi, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood Organizations, and with the medieval troika Putin-Assad-Khamenei — but ALL of that involves a potentially archaic feudal world from which modern souls should and do wish to depart. Getting more people across that bridge may be what the modern world needs to do to survive itself. However, that world appears flanked by two “superpowers” — Russia under Putin’s aegis and a China that straddles the medieval and modern worlds with the appropriation — via investment — of western assets and continuing “state capitalist” / political elite control of its nation, which might serve to keep away chaos from 800 million residents of the state.
Re. Trump: he’s a businessman, not a politician; he’s a pretend “tough guy”, a poker player, not a statesman; and I believe he’s ill-educated for leadership in the foreign policy of the United States. The world is not a China shop, but he’s a bull in it nonetheless and in need of a completely different education to come up to speed.
Israel’s a strong state in command of its own defenses and related defense doctrine. However, as life need not be always a competition between similar entities, comparisons involving the cliches of Israeli prowess and Arab ineptness seem to me always questionable as well as certain to induce jealousies and resentments.
Immediate Arab states of affairs start with much greater populations and a more challenging melange of environmental and social themes. While the Hebrews have forged their lives apart, a kind of breakout or breakaway from despotism and disorder, Arab leaderships — and the latest suffered by the Persians — have wrestled long with systems of patronage and repression that have alternately kept the lid on darker forces or let them out, a bipolar political swinging fit to the medieval world that the modern might strive to attenuate but with a node for the scale and scope of the effort.
The BackChannels editor may cover a lot of topics in a day, but all talk and no reading (or play) makes for a dull pundit. More importantly, the greater the familiarity with political material, the stronger the need for more in-depth reading, other research, and talk, and that and other interest may slow the feed to this blog.
China’s martial ambitions have come up in social network chatter, of course, and that world too, this despite decades of development, investment, and trade, appears to remain committed to its possession of medieval absolute power and the related military force required to first defend it and then expand its influence and reach. The prompt for this note, which was made on the morning of January 8, 2016, was a January 7 article in the National Interest describing Chinese-Pakistani sea exercises involving submarines in anti-submarine warfare drills:
When you look at any state-of-the-art military machinery, you’re seeing the result of a long forward-looking process that started with talk, got the design bench, won funding, and produced a small industry in supplier contracts. In part, the incessant preparation for war _across the spectrum_ helps keep war in abeyance and the process of its part in aggression slow. Still, that process is there.
What I find frightening is after so many post-Nixon years of expanded investment and trade, the Chinese communist talk (despite all the mansions of Melbourne, AU sold to elites — plus ownership of the world’s largest bank) hasn’t changed a jot. Back-Channels observation of the defense of medieval political absolutism in relation to the Moscow-Damascus-Tehran axis of power may well apply to Moscow-Beijing. With Putin perhaps the Baghdadi of despotism, these old familiars may well be ganging up to force the United States and the world to accept what Assad plus the invasion of Crimea represent to Europe and the United States: i.e., the will of the despotic to impose themselves on the world at any cost to humanity.
If the United States had gambled on money as being the first principle of power, it appears to be losing its own shirt. Indeed, while the west has been kicking the legs out from under the old Soviet order (Moscow-Damascus-Tehran), a part of the arrangement may well be kicking back, and for the west, the distribution of money through constituent populations count for much more than it appears to in Moscow and Beijing (where Russian and Chinese development may be traded off for the ambitions of imposed military power and subsequent plunder, which may be the point of that power for those leaders).
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