Contrary to the beliefs of nice people who believe The West, the United States, and Israel the chief repositories of evil in the world, dictatorship do not provide their people with stability: they provide themselves with the power to accumulate and indulge in excess and that especially of cruelty, power itself as the malignant embrace it becoming the power to visit suffering on others with impunity.
Note: the editor has added the URL to a BackChannels piece on ISIS as Assad’s preferred enemy or foil.
I used to say the same thing, especially in relation to the invasion of Iraq: ” . . . at least Saddam Hussein kept the lid on the pot.”
In retrospect, Hussein did not keep things under control. He leapt into a ruinous war with Iran when presented with weakness in the shadow of the Islamic Revolution, and produced infamous sport like this:
As regards Syria, I and my blog 🙂 have tried to float a too accurate message about barbarism, feudal and totalitarian politics, and their blending in KGB-style Political Theater. Assad had really to produce conditions favorable to the assembling of the “AQ-types”, the “jihadists”, and their sorting out into the most vicious of fighting elements, and then with ISIL / ISIS make certain that he would have the foil best suited to driving off (to Europe) his most troublesome noncombatant population.
Where westerners believe themselves culpable for such a disaster — “if we hadn’t done this or done that” — the truth slips away without pursuit _except_ by a seemingly small cadre of academics and journalists (and retirees) who drill down beneath the convenient cant to drown themselves in the details of history.
Russian political culture has long displayed itself as medieval, ruthless, and ever paternally authoritarian.
In the near span of 100 years, 1917 to 2017, the experience of two upheavals by revolution and the appearance of three forms in government has not changed its historic character. Russians less connected to Moscow and St. Petersburg are missing out on all the fun with cash while the oligarchy could care less — and thus as it has ever been.
While Moscow often admires Europe and the west and adopts related aesthetic and cultural practices, it seems to resist deep political change, not to beg the point. The Obama Administration had indeed hoped to encourage a little bit of western liberal values in what remained of the Soviet axis of power in the middle east, and at that junction in 2011 defined by Bashar al-Assad’s response to a mild challenge to his absolute power, he would go on to say that Putin had reverted to “the KGB playbook” — and that’s the truth long forgotten at this point in the Syrian Tragedy, so I call it, and the more general and frightening “east-west rivalry”, so others call it.
BackChannels has adopted the term “paternally authoritarian” from the work of the recently late Richard Pipes. There are two volumes listed in “The Russian Section” of this blog’s library:
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Old Regime: The History of Civilization. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.
Pipes, Richard. The Russian Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knop, 1990.
Blog editors may not have the collegial and financial defenses plus resources known to tenured scholars, so there may be other of Pipes’ works here, even bookmarked — there’s a box full of set-asides that has not been opened in ages — but the two mentioned by do for a start. Note also: flood by web-info, the editor has developed a short memory for which countermeasures are being installed, specifically, limited time on the web to much less “Facebooking” and blog posting in order to return to that world in which the companionship of a book — any long read — might be appreciated for a day or two without deflection or distraction.
Also related to Russia’s New Nobility, the KGB-infused political methods of a revived aristocracy, and the global eruption of the Newest Nationalism: https://conflict-backchannels.com/2017/03/11/reflexive-control-process-allahu-akbar-terrorism-new-nationalism-neo-feudalism/
Posted to YouTube nine months ago:
And posted to YouTube September 2016:
Best ask of every dictatorship: “Stability for whom?”