This blog’s editor got off on a little bit of a roll this morning, but will ease off on pontification. 🙂
The challenge is setting off and managing a transition from the medieval mode in governance toward modern features.
Europe itself continues to support at least a dozen monarchies, and they would be no different as centers of power and sources of patronage than the Saudi Kingdom or the Islamic Republic of Iran were it not for the leveraging of power out of exclusive hands.
Much of the world contesting the authority of the west (basically: Russia vs NATO) has either to press forward with “political absolutism” or turn toward “classical liberalism”. In Moscow, Putin has chosen a feudal, neo-imperial course. In Riyadh, such a luminary as Prince Al-Waleed has found ways to blend — at least for himself and those to whom he extends patronage — the best of both worlds.
What Moscow, again using that proper noun to represent Putin, the “New Nobility” (FSB), and the Oligarchs, appears to want is greater chaos in the world to which it then may respond as a provider of greater stability!
Moscow plays a deeply manipulating script over and over and over.
Let’s try this Matryoshka doll method of nesting from the larger to the smaller:
Moscow vs NATO
Tehran vs Riyadh (Shiite vs Sunni Islam)
Damascus vs Split Proto-Democratic | Proto-islamist Forces
Hamas | Hezbollah vs Tel Aviv
From the big conflict-containing political doll down to the smallest:
Medieval Autocratic Power vs Modern Distributed Power
From my desktop experience and perspective, the principle as regards the architecture of the most notable “conflict set” — we should stop calling it “East vs West” at this point — doesn’t change.
Moscow appears to want a world of vast feudal estates managed by “strongmen”.
Washington may appreciate and produce wealth fit for kings, but its system prefers the presence of a meaningful electorate, then politicians, then the Chief Administrator we call a President, lesser administrators, and then appointed judges, all of its political machinery governed by a stable Constitution and a host of legal codes upheld from township to Federal region.
That’s the “different kind of war” seen from the BackChannels’ desktop. It has great stability — “Medieval Autocratic Power vs Modern Distributed Power” — but also some variance within (and the Rolling Stones have conquered only popular Cuba).
In that parenthesis is another conflict that involves the discrepancy between the rule of the strong (anywhere) and the popular will (anywhere). Although both Moscow and Washington — and all the others — support vast internal security campuses, the differences may be at least superficially marked (e.g., KGB/FSB vs FBI / CIA / U.S. Homeland Security) but with depth immediately beyond this blog’s interest, reach, and scope.
As regards the binary “Medieval vs Modern”, change on the side of the good — universally compassionate and reparative — involves myriad elements in transition. Perhaps when President Obama has counseled patience or refused to demonize Islam in its totality — a common complaint from the extreme wings of western nationalists — it has been to both compel but manage a global and gradual political greening. Whether the Administration has done far too little at a mosey may be subject for another post.
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