Saturday, August 11, 2018

'Rendezvous' With The Atlanticist-Al-Qaeda Pact in Yemen

He is perhaps little known in New Zealand today, but one of our most prominent 'exports' in a previous age was the cartoonist David Low. A satirist's worth can be measured by how much he manages to upset those he is satirizing, and how far he shocks an otherwise pliant public into re-examining its own pre-existing prejudices. 

On these dual scores, Low was undeniably a success - not only meriting official censorship in the Fascist countries he so frequently targeted, but finding himself marked for apprehension and likely execution in the event of a German invasion of Britain. While in terms of the British reading public, finding himself simultaneously derided as lacking patriotism for his anti-jingoistic depiction of "Colonel Blimp", and as a belligerent warmonger for his merciless commentaries on the Interwar policy of "Appeasement" towards Nazi Germany. 

Truly, the 'sweet spot' for those of us engaged in the (geo-)political commentary business is when we are attracting flakk from all sides! For then we are, perhaps, telling the truth without fear nor favour, in a manner unpalatable to each and every of those who would much rather it remain pleasingly obscured. 

And while there are any number of seriously excellent Low cartoons which spring instantly to mind when I think upon him - many of which heroically characterize, indeed .. movingly anthropomorphize .. the 'Blitz Mentality', the Dunkirk Spirit etc. in a way that cannot help but bring a tear to my eye - what conjured itself from my memory this week was another of Low's pictorial efforts. 

Entitled "Rendezvous", it depicts the tangible results of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as applies Poland. Meeting atop a face-down corpse in Polish Army uniform, Hitler and Stalin cordially greet one another with courteous bow and doffing of caps - while nevertheless maintaining the pretentious charade that they are indeed enemies.

Says Hitler to Stalin: "The Scum of the Earth, I believe?" 
Stalin to Hitler: "The Bloody Assassin of the Workers, I presume?"

All smiles, all charm, all mutually pursued and eventuated interests. 

Now, this is not intended to be a piece attacking the Soviet Union (or, for that matter, Germany) for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. There is a quite a fascinating article (which is, again, not this one) detailing the lengthy and mutually fruitful history of German-Soviet co-operation against the 'Liberal' West, from the Treaty of Rapallo onwards; and especially given the Anglosphere's strenuous opposition to and ongoing interference in Soviet internal affairs from the Revolution onward, such an accomodation should not perhaps be looked upon as nearly as surprising in its then-present context as it inevitably now appears. 

But the reason for Low's "Rendezvous" cartoon turning up with such force in my mind's eye in recent days, was my reading of the outcome of an AP investigation showing that the US-Saudi coalition active in Yemen against the Houthis - has, in point of fact, been rather actively co-operating with Al Qaeda and affiliates. 

This should not in any way come as a surprise. As we have seen in Syria, the Atlanticist axis has absolutely zero problem working with those who they otherwise decry (and righteously so - in rhetoric, at least) as "the scum of the earth". Israel's working with Al-Nusra because of that network's shared opposition to Syria and Iran is a lavish case in point. 

And given the US-Saudi - or, should I say, the Saudi-Israeliya - shared paranoia about Iranian influence, and a Yemen which is genuinely free and out from under the Saudi thumb, we should find it entirely unsurprising that they have absolutely zero issue collaborating with Sunni / Wahhabi extremists against Shi'ite reasonable men. 

But it genuinely infuriates me, that we see all of this rhetoric - all of these ranting, inchoate statements - from various figures active in the US and Israeli and other 'Western' politics, about Iran HAVING to be opposed, because they are allegedly "Islamic Extremists" or "State Sponsors of Terrorism" ... when these aforementioned countries, their clandestine and Neocon-aligned Deep States see no problem with actively colluding with the ACTUAL and real Islamic Extremists, and themselves becoming the State Sponsors of Terrorism instead. 

Nietzsche once wrote something about those who fight monsters having to take care lest they turn into monsters. He neglected to add that those who fight heroes - for such, Hezbollah, the Houthis, the Iranians, the Russians, and others most assuredly are - can far more inevitably find THEMSELVES turning into Monsters. 

The relevancy for that David Low cartoon for this situation should prove capaciously obvious. 

Although, now that I think upon it, there is one absolutely key difference.

Namely, in the "Rendezvous" illustration, both Hitler and Stalin are posed over a deceased and functionally 'erased' figure representing the now-dead dream of an independent Poland. 

Whereas, in these situations I am talking about in the contemporary Middle East ... the Americans, Saudis, and Israelis - along with their apparent Al Qaeda (et co) allies - are not posed over a dead-and-dessicated national liberation cause. Nor are they cheerily greeting each other in the jubilance of victory. 

Rather, they are nervously glancing at one another, contemplating what they shall have to do next in the series of ever-escalating quasi-clandestine unprincipled actions evidently required to desperately shore up their regional (and global) hegemony. 

Meanwhile, more people continue to read the facts - despite the various efforts by certain states and platforms to make it more difficult for outlets like Fort Russ to get the word out - and come to the inevitable conclusion as to just who MUST be supported in these regional conflicts. 

Come to think of it, that puts me in the mind of another David Low cartoon.

That one's called "ALL BEHIND YOU, WINSTON".

Friday, August 10, 2018

"...And That's How You Get Nazis" - The Polish Example

"We went to WAR to protect Freedom of Speech!"

Gosh, that's a funny way to say "to protect the territorial integrity of Poland".

Now, Interwar Poland was not exactly a bastion of freedom of speech. In fact, the Sanation regime appeared to almost make a virtue out of the targeted repression of freedom of speech and of the press for groups - whether opposition, ethnic, or political minority - which it disagreed with.

But what I find interesting about this situation is the particular effect which the above had on the fledgling Polish state's German minority.

Namely, the ways in which it a) made it more difficult for ordinary Polish-Germans to protest against maltreatment and marginalization in the context of the Polish state; while b), and partially as a result of this, pushing many Germans in Poland to identify more strongly with the politics of a certain party which had just swept to success earlier in the decade in Poland's westward neighbour, if you get my drift.

That is to say, the situation of repression lead to an array of people not otherwise necessarily favourably disposed toward engagement with 'extreme' politics ... and in this particular case, literal Naziism ... to do so; as this was perceived as one of the only remaining "strong" forces capable of pushing back against said perceived repression. Eventually, this culminated in an array of what you might call 'anti-state' activities, of a rather militant nature ... followed by the invasion of Poland near the end of the decade, which triggered the British/Commonwealth/French declarations of War against Germany.

Now, I am not seeking to suggest that the above is a template for what may occur here in New Zealand if we see an escalation in the frequency and 'forcefulness' with which some elements endeavour to constrain (justifiably or otherwise) 'freedom of speech'. I hardly need to start listing the significant differences between Poland in the 1930s and New Zealand today which help to support the statement "It Can't Happen Here" as applied to our context.

Yet it seems a curious thing. Over the last two weeks .. and before that, for much of the last two to three years, we have heard all manner of strident rhetoric about if we *don't* assent to constraining 'freedom of speech' (whether through calls to "punch a Nazi" (with "Nazi", of course, being sufficiently vaguely defined as to be almost as meaningless a term in 'real-life' pugilistic-psephological discourse as it is on the internet), or the more recent endeavours to bar writing critical of the Neoliberal-Neoconservative (geo-)political consensus which pervades the Anglosphere (seriously - I was stunned to hear from an associate visiting the UK that he could not access my work in that country because their government had blocked it), or much of the rest of it ...) ..

... then "that's how you get Nazis" - in the sense that presumably all that's standing between your average, ordinary voter and full-on Hugo Boss uniforms alongside really bad misunderstandings of Indo-European anthropology ... is that they apparently haven't read a bit of 'fake news' on the internet yet.

But as the above-referenced episode from Polish history may show, there is a distinctly non-zero chance that in the manner common to so many prophecies found in the corpus of Greek Myth - that efforts to *prevent* a particular outcome can very well, and *very directly* foster its "(eventual) occurrence.

Or, in other words: what if these "anti-Nazi" measures are, in point of fact, at least occasionally "how you get Nazis"?