Thursday, April 11, 2019

US-Saudi-Israeli State Sponsors Of Errorism Against Iran

USA: designates Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a 'Terrorist Organization'.

Iran: designates US CENTCOM [the American military command responsible for, amongst other things, the Middle Eastern theatre ] as a Terrorist Organization.

I'll address why this has happened in the next portion; but for the moment - like I say in the image accompanying ... I'm pretty sure that if *anybody's* guilty of the whole aiding and abetting "terrorism as a tool of statecraft", and generally being a "state sponsor of terror", it'd be the Americans.

Also the Saudis (identified by British intelligence services as the lead sponsor of extremist activity in the UK; and openly identified by any number of Western officials as being active facilitators of terrorism and insurgency activity in a half a dozen active hotspots across the rest of the globe) - and Israelis, for that matter (one of the more recent and egregious examples being their active assistance to Al-Nusra in the context of the Syrian Civil War)

If actions that "are fundamentally different from those of other governments " in these areas are grounds for international sanction, as Trump's press-release appears to say - somebody *please* line up Saudi-Israeliya, and the Americans, and start censuring the exceptionalists, accordingly.

But that won't happen. Because none of this is actually about "terrorism". Or, rather, as I'll briefly detail in the next post .. it *is* at least partially about terrorism - namely, the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been a pretty solid force *against* the Sunni-Wahhabi, Israeli, and American-backed groups of extremists marauding the Arabian peninsula and further afield ... and the Anglosphere's "friends" are sick of losing their shadow/dirty war so're switching over to one of the few fields wherein they actually *do* have some form of dominance - the economic slash international talking-shop arenas of injustice.

Right, so here's Iran's Foreign Minister briefly providing a bit of perspective upon what's gone on here with the US's designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization".

And while the Israeli election is definitely a part of it, the more interesting element is what he's alluding to with the "quagmire [...] consequences for US forces in the region".

See, here's the thing a lot of people don't know: the US has actually had rather successful military co-operation with the Iranians, and specifically the Iranian Revolutionary Guard over the past few years.

This might seem like some sort of bizarre aberration, but actually - if you go back to the opening year or so of the War on Terror, when the main combat theater was Afghanistan, it was the default norm (in part due to 'shared enemies' - the Taliban & Al Qaeda were *not* fans of the Shi'ite Iranian state; and in part because Iran was rather keen to get out of its decades of relative international isolation by being a 'good global citizen' and helping the West tackle a prime vector for terror), a pattern that *would* likely have continued, but for George W. Bush making a rather knee-jerk "AXIS OF EVIL" designation of them, which overnight scuppered the whole exercise.

Now, as the War on Terror, and its derivatives, shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq, with the Invasion in 2003 and subsequent er .. occupation, things changed once again. In *theory*, the Iranians and Americans had had a common enemy in Saddam - it's just that in practice, the Americans probably weren't counting on the Iranians "winning" the peace in much of Northern Iraq - and basically being set to extend the Iranian sphere of influence closer to the Mediterranean than it had been at any point in the past one and a half thousand years [seriously - I actually went back and checked this], as a result.

This created an effective situation of I suppose you might say a 'Cold War' style scenario. The Americans weren't keen on the Iranians merilly marionetting their way through a reasonable swathe of Iraq, yet were not able to do anything serious about it, precisely because the Iranians were a helluvalot better at working in/through/with local Iraqi communities than the US was.

This leads to a hilarious episode of Major General Qassem Soleimani basically IRL trolling his American counterpart with a series of personally written notes taunting the guy about his effective utter inability to do anything about the Iranian influence if not outright control of the area, but I digress.

If we flash forward a few years towards the present, we see the situation change *again*, with the entry into several initially national/insurgency level conflicts simultaneously of *surprisingly* well-funded and supported Sunni/Wahhabist extremist militias.

Now, just *who* was arming, supplyinig, and otherwise supporting these outfits in order to facilitate their shocking early gains, is another matter for another piece; but suffice to say that *somebody* [or, more accurately, *somebodies* from the neocon foreign policy/defence/espionage establishments of at least three countries] quite accurately viewed the immense destabilization potential of these vectors as a very potent weapon against both the Iranians, and also anybody else who might be "problematic" - such as the Assad government in Syria [which, at this stage, was still rather lukewarm about the Iranians, if I recall ] .

However, the trouble with these various prongs of 'anti-Iranian' insurgency/irregular efforts was, in part, that they were "too successful" , insofar as they posed a serious danger of overrunning actual official American satrapies/"friends" in the region [for example - the fear that ISIS might actually manage to topple Iraq itself]. And while it's not *quite* true to state that they were effectively "uncontrollable" [ISIS did, after all, profusely apologize for accidentally attacking Israel], their penchant for causing 'unanticipated [at least officially] occurrences' [c.f the outcomes of McCain's whole "arm the moderates" approach .. which uh .. did arm *somebody*...], and the escalating pileup of optics problems attendant in their ongoing exigencies, meant that eventually, *something* had to be done.

So in a manner not entirely reminiscent of the Dr Seuss book about the kingdom which attempts to get rid of its mice-problem by importing a whole lot of cats ... then attempts to get rid of its cat problem by importing dogs .. then eventually, at the other end of the story, attempts to get rid of its elephant problem by bringing back the mice in something approaching a fruitful co-operation ... the Americans [pointedly *not* the Saudis, the Israelis etc.] found themselves having to once more work with the Iranians, in order to try and corral, constrain, and calceate the cavalcade of decidedly *un*moderate rebels who'd taken up residence and de facto "statehood" in the ruins of what were formerly the Middle East's two leading secular states [i.e. the Ba'athist ones].

This actually worked out rather well, as can be seen by the escalating collapses on all fronts of these various movements - a situation considerably availed by Russian air power and other military contributions, as applies Syria ... although occasionally hampered by both Israeli and curiously enough *American* air-power over the same country.

Now, as vaguely alluded to in the previous paragraph, the Americans never seem to have had a 'monolithic' policy about all of this. At the same time that they were fighting on the same side as the Iranians (and Hezbollah, which I have forgotten to distinctively mention previously, etc. etc. ) against Sunni extremists in the northern Levant ... American forces were actually working *with* Al Qaeda and other such decidedly dastardly "friends of a friend" [that 'friend' being Saudi Arabia] in the *southern* Arabian Peninsula against popular forces *there*.

And at the same time as they were fighting to drive ISIS *out* of Iraq, they were attempting to provide 'red lines' and de facto 'safe zones' for ISIS in eastern Syria to continue operating and regroup in the face of Syrian Army (and Iranian, etc.) offensives intended to drive the Caliphate into the dust.

But I digress.

Nobody has ever accused the Americans of having a comprehensive, cogent Middle Eastern policy that actually makes any sort of sense and which will actually likely achieve the increasingly notional objectives it sets out in pursuit of .... so the aforementioned SNAFUs all the way down, is probably just about to be expected of them.

What's got the Neocons behind this recent Trumplosion all hot and bothered, is the fact that the Iranians have once again managed to go from being "on the hoof" a few years back, to standing astride a pretty much uninterrupted corridor extending from their own border right out to the Mediterranean via Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. And with neither Turks nor "totally not *our* terrorists" able to meaningfully break it. *And*, not to put too fine a point upon it, with the Israeli Air Force now ... rather more circumspect about running *too* much active interdiction, lest they accidentally once more run afoul of the Russians, etc.

Now, to be sure, this is a pretty fragile situation, as far as it goes. The events from the birth of ISIS up until a year or so ago show that if you can create enough chaos via ongoing insurgencies and irregular-warfare (as well as regular warfare, for that matter) efforts along that corridor, that the Iranian influence-pathway is disruptable.

Except the main things, right now, keeping a *lid* on that are, in Syria at least and in no particular order, the Russian military, the Syrian army, and a patchwork of Iranian and Iranian-allied forces. This last set also being pretty active across the border in northern Iraq - occasionally, as noted above, in co-operation with the Americans and American associates.

So if you want to *disrupt* this situation, and do your darndest to try and *prevent* the otherwise surprisingly inexorable march of Iran back to 'normal' relations with much of the outside world ... you've effectively got to turn them, somehow, into "The Enemy".

Both to disrupt their ability to work with others against* these extremist insurgency efforts [and their state-level (pay)pasters], and more directly, to just blatantly have the Iranians 'subbed in' *as* the 'terrorists' or whatever in the first place.

Hence, you put some pressure upon some people in the American government to actually listen to that Bolton guy ... and nek minnit, the very forces which have *taken the lead* fighting the often American-augmented *actual* terrorist/extremist adversaries of the ordinary man ... now suddenly *are* [for official purposes, at any rate], the direst villains imaginable and condemnable with far more force than was put into most of the years of actions against Saudi-Israeliyan associates anywhere in the Arabian peninsula.

"Alchemy" may be an Arabic word, but I don't think anybody ever anticipated such a shameless transmogrification as has taken here in the language's traditional heartland.

The "Quagmire" comment from Minister Zarif, then, is not (just) what it first appears to be - a threat, of sorts, from the IRGC to American forces.

Instead, it is actually a *warning*.

That if the Americans continue to go down this path, then they shall find themselves in exactly the same situation as they faced in Afghanistan after they spurned Iranian assistance *there* in favour of some twenty-year-old blinkered bile-oculars approach.

A long-running effort of erosion against them that *nobody* other than the vultures ... and the vultures which don't have sizeable oil reserves or an election presently in progress ... will actually win.

There is 'food for thought' midst *that* carrion.

On Bolsonaro's Ahistorical Naziism

Several days ago, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made headlines for his visit to a Holocaust memorial in Israel. Not so much for the visit itself, of course - it's the sort of thing that is almost de rigueur for newly minted world leaders heading to that particular country on political pilgrimages.

But rather, for his ensuing statement upon exiting the remembrance center, about those archetypal villains of the narrative of the 20th Century, the Nazis. Namely, that they were of the "left".

Now, for what it's worth - I actually do not necessarily disagree with Bolsonaro saying that Naziism was born out of a 'left wing' movement.

There are some important caveats to that statement, including the fact that 'left and right' mean something different today to how the terms were used thirty years ago - and that the German political milieu and tradition in the 1920s and 30s is ... not something that maps very easily onto Anglosphere 'sports-team politics' of the Neoliberal era (I mean - where do you put Bismarck, for instance? Rolled out some of the most left-wing economic policy of his age ... but with a conservative agenda in mind).

And, of course, the fact that the Nazi Party's ideology shifted rather dramatically between its insurgent first decade and its becoming and/or reaching a reasonably cosy accomodation with 'The Establishment' in its second.

But what occurred to me, upon seeing his statement, is that the state of Israel, which he is so emphatically keen upon .. is *also* the product of a 'left wing' movement. There are good reasons why David Ben-Gurion, a key founding figure of Israel along with its first Prime Minister, was of their Labour Party [funnily enough, he actually apparently had a quite positive friendship with Ho-Chi Minh], why 'Mapai' played such a role in the 'setting up' of what would become Israel in the two decades before its declaration of Independence, and why Zionism has always had a pretty strong representation on and from 'the left'.

Now, I do not say any of this, at all, to try and talk *up* Naziism, or to talk down the vague concept of "Left" in (modern-ish) politics. Or with a specific goal in mind when it comes to the reader's perceptions about Israel being good or bad.

I simply state it because it annoys me when politicians or would-be leaders simply make up things, distort the meanings of terms and the history to which they are affixed, in pursuit of increasingly petty gains for some escalatingly delusory world view.

If Bolsonaro wants to be virulently against anything that is allegedly "left wing" by patrimony ... then I suppose that is his right.

If he wants to be vociferously against "Nazis" [whether real or imagined], then that is also within the bounds of his personal proclivity.

But to be against Nazis only insofar as you think of them as "left wing", seems odious.

And to decide that you *stop* being against anything and everything "left wing" in origin, only when it comes to Israel ... seems a decidedly un-angelic gavotte upon the head of a pin, indeed.

Then again, for men such as Bolsonaro, History is not some sort of sacrosanct set of scriptures which spell out actual truths - the story of how we really got here. Nor is it, as is the more commonly held view, a span of broadly agreed upon facts and their customary interpretation.

Rather, it is merely an exercise in creative (re-)writing, a convenient tool to be used and abused and discarded almost at will. And disparaged with a caustic venom whenever it should so happen to pose a threat to the immanentized manifestation of one's preferred vision for the world, and egoic place within it.

Bolsonaro's purpose in visiting Israel at this time was, assumedly, to endeavour to assist Netanyahu's re-election prospects.

It would appear, then, that he was in 'good' company.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

From 'End Of History' To 'End Of Democracy' - Why Fukuyama Et Co Now Like China

In the past week, comments have surfaced from Francis Fukuyama - aka the man who propheceyed that the perceived ascendency of 'liberalism' in the late 80s and early 90s meant history was now 'over' - claiming Chinese system is a "real alternative" to 'Western democracy'
I am SHOCKED, SHOCKED I TELL YOU , that the man who thought Neoliberal Technocracy had 'won' history ... is keen to endorse a Neoliberal Technocracy.

I mean, leaving aside the argument that this is actually a dialectical situation in and of itself - the PRC in its present state representing a 'continuance', a 'furtherance' of the developmental trajectory that Fukuyama mistakenly assumed would end with a 'Whiggian' victory, rather than a 'merger' with something that had previously been 'beaten' ...

I suspect that this position, all-up, is going to become an increasingly common one within the circles of those who, twenty to thirty years ago (or even, in some parts, five years ago) were the most ardent defenders of "Liberal Democracy" [uber or unter alles].

The reasoning for this is quite simple. Democracy, when actually practiced, is "messy". It features arguments, debates. The clash of ideas at its finest .. the clashes of print-barons at its lowest .. and the clash of 'mobs', variously motivated, at some (all?) points in between.

It throws up potentially 'unpredictable' outcomes - the recent #Brexit referendum result, for example. Or Trump. Or the referendum and more recently poll results in the now-former Soviet Bloc and Russia respectively about preserving/resurrecting the USSR.

Here in New Zealand, it threw up blatantly predictable outcomes, in 1990 say, when it came to opposing and thence rolling back the Neoliberal Revolution here. Which could not be allowed to stand, by the neoliberal technocrats of their (our :( ) day.

And that's actually at the heart of each one of those 'unpredictable' outcomes I just cited two paragraphs up. They were all arguably "predictable". If not in their precise minutiae nor actual scale of achievement - then at the very least, in the large-scale and shouted from the rooftops and across the town square volume of their systemic discontent with the extant (and "unchallengeable") status quo.

This, you see, is why the Technocrat both fears and loathes Democracy.

Because not only do they find themselves confronted by a patently superior power, insofar as it is 'unmanageable' except on the broadest possible terms - like poking and prodding some great and ineffable beast, hoping it'll go in the right direction rather than kick back against the goad-wielder ... but because, as part and parcel of this, that, it refuses to just lie down and submit to the "superior logic" of whichever teleological fad-ridden moribund die-deology we find ourselves confronted with today.

Hence the ongoing efforts at every possible turn to try and neuter it, to invert it. To insist that "some things are too important to be left to the people" [so can, will, and must be left to the unelected economists and policy-wonks instead].

Now, it is a curious thing - in the mid-late 1990s, and more especially earlier, "Liberal Democracy" was conceived of as being ... if not the "antidote" to Democracy, then at the very least, as a worthwhile 'salve' for its wilder potential impulses. You could corall and constrain and thence restrain and 'restructure' [a gloriously internally contradictory Neoliberal term to effectively mean to "destroy" something whilst simultaneously pretencing at maintenance of its key elements of integrity] Democracy - the actual, untrammelled popular will - and thus straight-up subvert it with the material trappings of the late Capitalist mid Neoliberalist Age.

The idea, then, was that people would not willingly nor knowingly vote to preserve their own voices, or the Post-War Economic Consensus, etc, provided you dangled enough shiny in their faces. Whether the pyrite of "prosperity" [selectively trickluar - both in the sense of 'trickle'-down, but more directively, a "trick"], or the understandable, yet often equally illusory promises of the most recent generations of "rights".

Except it didn't quite work out that way.

And now, nearly three decades on, the very structures that were supposed to provide some sort of bulwark against the Hearing of the People Sing - indeed, against the People stirring to Song in the first place - have proven repeatedly to have failed at this very endeavour.

There are still anti-democratic forces and structural conceits in play, of course - and one only has to look at exactly what happened to Greece around its own referendum on Austerity some years ago, to see just this sort of thing in motion.

But overwhelmingly, the sense is that this "Democracy" thing ... produces loud, uncouth, and "I refuse to accept that what you're telling me is The Only Way" approaches that won't just lay down and go with the fundamental paradigm of endless wars of 'humanitarian intervention', of ever-tighter state budgets yet ever looser financial controls, and some sort of inexorable doom-march back to the darkest reaches of the 1920s drug-capitalism [by which I don't directly mean alcohol-running: I mean quite directly "This Is your Economy On Drugs", in terms of its shaping and essential performative/irrationalizing characteristics. Some sort of delusory, dissociative, and fundamentally health-wrecking, life-ending concoction of the bath-salts of the bastargeoise, one presumes] .

So what do we get instead? The casting about to find an 'alternative paradigm'. One that still combines the vague glitzyness of "proven economic success", yet without that 'troublesome', quarrelsome "Democracy" thing to upset whomever's carefully laid get-rich-long-term scheme. [Like a "Pyramid Scheme", except it's actually an Aztec Ziggurat ... replete with the "trickle down" of the blood of young "necessary casualties", required to keep the whole thing lubricated and in sun-raising 'running' order]

Where's got this? The People's Republic of China, apparently.

And I would be very surprised if their ongoing Soft Power offensive at providing various incentives to people to Say Nice Things About Them, had absolutely nothing to do with Fukuyama's remarks now entering the public arena.

My point is: I understand why it was that these sorts were so keen on "Liberal Democracy" twenty to thirty years ago. Just as I understand why they're already so keen on what they perceive to be its antithesis [see?There's that Dialectic again!] today, and just as they seemed to be so enthusiastic about the fruits of "Illiberal Democracy" [think Singapore] perhaps five to fifteen years ago.

It's because, deep down, they want "control". And they don't want to have to "waste time" explaining to the people being controlled as to why whatever counter-intuitive, counter-productive, counter-cosmological contrivance they've pledged undying allegiance to this time is actually a Really Good Idea despite all available lived experience evidence to the contrary.

For this, the "Chinese Model", is a spectacularly immanent success.