Τρίτη 6 Αυγούστου 2013

The quicksand of self-deception

By Nicholas A Biniaris
 Many well-informed and open-minded analysts in Asia Times Online and elsewhere have for several years described the conditions of Islam and of Muslim states. It goes without saying that these individuals had no agenda and were sincerely studying the social and political events triggered by the Iranian Revolution and the first Afghan war.

Up until now no clear sign of a coherent plan can be seen in the actions of the West, China and India, all of whom are willingly orunwillingly involved in this historic drama. To its credit, Russia kept a consistent real-politic attitude to all events happening in the Muslim world.

However, in this article I shall argue that a pattern of action or inaction, (inaction can be a policy also) emerges as what I shall call the West's policy of creative destruction and deception, internalized as self-deception (CDSD).

This pattern is mostly ad-hoc and formed as a sort of a spontaneous outcome of four causal factors: disruption of the West's economic order, fear of terrorism, fear of a nuclear war and finally fear of sectarian war which may spread in Muslim areas but also in West's own home ground. Moreover, Western policies are driven by the advent of democracy, the rule of law and human rights which also include minority rights. These policies intertwine and enmesh with the four pragmatic factors of insecurity and create an incongruous and contradictory set of policies which are at least ineffective and at most self-destructive.

At this juncture of a historical maelstrom in and around Islam, we reached the ludicrous point of naming meat as fish, so that the pious monks could consume the forbidden food during fasting. We cannot name the Egyptian's army coup as a "coup" for various reasons, one being the possible abrogation of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Another reason could be the "meeting of minds" between Washington and the Egyptian Army about Morsi's acts and plans concerning his policies about Syria and Iran.

The view of this author is that the generals are as incompetent as Morsi was. They deposed him as the scapegoat for the looming bankruptcy of the country. Instead they secured a lifeline of US$12 billion from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, which I shall call the untouchables. At the same time Syria's Bashar al-Assad has declared that political Islam is defeated and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is lamenting the demise of democracy in Egypt. We definitely need an Aristophanes to write an Oscar winning comedy for the foolish West versus the unfathomable developments in the Moslem world.

Turkey, in particular, the model of "moderate" Islamic government was surprised to experience the first full scale attack against neo-Ottomanism. This was an assault on the "disposable idiots", as Burak Bekdil, the influential Turkish journalist, refers to the secularists who repeatedly voted for Erdogan. [1] The premier's holier than thou attitude has enraged the young and educated Turks who perceive that their way of life and choices for the future are diminished by his grand visions of world influence through a Muslim agenda.

Beyond any attempt to lighten up the ambiance of the recent events, what is emerging is a bleak and dangerous future for all. The stable, ironically speaking, the untouchables, are major suppliers of gas and oil worldwide with Saudi Arabia exporting about three million bbl/day to China. For that matter, plus the fact of their investments in Western bourses and corporations and the lavish procurement of weapons from the West, the two pillars of a make-believe stability are untouchables by Western, Chinese and other governments and world media.

Actually, the untouchables are the attested sources of instability and strife. These are the bankers of Islam's extremist views. They propagate and disseminate Salafism and Wahhabism which steer Islam to its most incongruous path with modernity that is science, technology and political and individual rights.

They profess an Islam in direct conflict with freedom and human dignity. In addition, they propagate hatred and intolerance for other Muslim traditions, as the Shi'ites, the Sufis, and the Ahmadiyya of Pakistan supporting a religiously inspired apartheid. Christians are targeted: Copts, Orthodox, Catholics and other denominations. Most of them are abandoning the war torn areas. This is a total abrogation not of Koranic Verses preaching peace but of the West's professed belief in minority rights.

Never before in human history, so few held in captivity so many, with such an obscurant credo and way of life. This unholy alliance of the West and the untouchables is practiced through deception. We deceive ourselves by aligning with the perpetrators of all we consider to be unacceptable: terrorism, bondage, laws of the desert and the tribe, cultural exclusion and intolerance of the other.

Fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, in Mali, blacklisting Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda as terrorist organizations - embargoing Iran - is just deceptions. All these acts deceive the citizens and planners themselves into believing that we fight terrorism and we propagate democracy and human rights.

What the West actually practiced was primarily reactive creative destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq and very lately in Libya. We fought asymmetrical wars, which we were bound to loose anticipating the creative part to emerge in due time if and when societies attain the consciousness of a working democracy according to our standards.

Foreign policy and its implementation has one purpose: to protect its vital interests and safeguard the well-being or the actor. We, and for that matter China and India are faced with the stark reality of a protracted conflict of all against all where the two paragons of stability will be sucked in one way or another. The Untouchables are fighting for their survival paying huge amounts of their easy gained money to support Sunni jihadists, paying for the overthrow of Gaddafi, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Egyptian Army against the Brotherhood, keeping American bases and mercenary armies for their protection.

Saudi Arabia is paying huge subsidies bribing its idle population, student stipends and social handouts to keep its people quiet and uses a heavy hand against the Shi'ites who sit upon the main oil sources of the kingdom. In the south, Yemen is in total chaos, with secessionist movements and subject to drone attacks against jihadists. This situation is inherently unstable. Tribal affiliations and family alliances rule with Sharia as the legitimization of their rule.

This deceptive stability is threatened by the selfsame jihadists and Taliban (students of the Koran) who are educated and subsidized by the Untouchables. These jihadists hold them hostage to their pathological views about an Islamic Caliphate, a return to the days of the Prophet, an ossified society where girls seeking education are shot and schools (carriers of western ideas) are destroyed. [2] World history is replete with examples of groups of mercenaries or fanatics who were used by states and political systems to defend and support them. The end result was the overturning of the masters by their guards. Whoever has the resolve to fight and die is far ahead in the game of power grabbing. The future of these Satrapies is bleak and so is ours.

What will happen when and if the flow of oil is disrupted by acts of terrorism or by acts of inter-state wars or civil strife in these areas? We have already put in place an embargo for Iranian oil. Iraq is in a "low intensity" civil war with 1000 people blown up only in May this year and most of the fabulous oil riches some 7.5 million bbl/day are still lying in the desert.

If the feared but fully expected -it is a matter of time- upheaval reaches the sands and shores of the sanctum sanctorum of Islamic orthodoxy and the supply of oil, then the West shall be forced to take extreme and painful military and economic measures at a period where its economy is still shaken by the mindless banking collapse of 2008. Europe in particular, with an austerity program and several countries virtually bankrupt, will collapse as a house of cards. The cost of energy, mostly a deficit of current accounts, will skyrocket; industrial production will be cut with millions of unemployed joining the ranks of the already army of millions in Europe's south.

It must become clear that the West and the rest of the rising world powers had not planned to stem or channel the Muslim conundrum to a less self and world-wide destructive path. Preventive diplomacy and intervention, creative destruction and the doctrine of democracy and human rights were applied haphazardly and incoherently.

Human rights and democracy are part of the Western narrative about the telos, the inevitable moral purpose of history. Messiahs and Paradises are the telos of Abrahamic religions. Can the two world views be reconciled? The Western narrative is an advancement of our humanity towards our fellow man. We strive for compassion and solidarity for the victims of inhumanity and humiliation. The three religious traditions profess that they also espouse the same program. Why do we have such a difficulty communicating with each other the same humanistic ideals?

In this context we have reached the point of bitter debate about Syria's civil war. Our option to support the democratically inspired opponents of Assad was blocked by the rise of the Brotherhood, jihadist and the Sunni-Shiite divide. The Syria terrain is a war of all against all, and recently the latest incident is a war between the FSA and the local or the Iraqi Al-Qaeda. At the same time Pakistani Taliban are setting up camps in Syria to fight against Assad and forge ties with local Al-Qaeda. [3]

Turkey feels threatened by this new development. [4] Centuries after the great Ottoman, Arab, and the Mogul Empires, the Muslims should be responsible for their own future.

All the same the issue of a nuclear Iran and the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ites brings forth two nightmare scenarios: a nuclear war and a possible nuclear terrorist threat and a war among states. The Saudis can purchase a couple of nuclear bombs from Pakistan or elsewhere as a move against a nuclear Iran, if Israel doesn't act first.

Up to now the turmoil is limited to civil wars and uprisings. However, on May 31 the highly influential Imam Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in a Friday rally in Doha declared that: "anyone who has the ability, who is trained to fight . . . has to go; I call on Muslims to go and support their brothers in Syria". Presently there are 5,000 foreign Mujahedeen in Syria. There were 10000 after ten years of war in Afghanistan.[5]

The heart of the matter is that Syria is becoming the battle ground of Sunni jihadists against the Shiites. The pernicious doctrine of "Shiites are worse than naked women" proclaimed in Egypt's Sura by a Salafist cleric is characteristic of the mentality surrounding the issue. All around the Muslim world. Shiites are blown up in Egypt, Pakistan, in Iraq, in Indonesia, in Yemen.

Concomitant to this is the relationship between Islamic utopian absolutism and the West as they cohabitate the same area, Europe. Recently, an article was written about 1,000 jihadists fighting in Syria from 14 different European countries. The crucial question is what will happen when they return home. The problem of future conduct of people influenced by extreme interpretations of Islam and hatred for the West, people who were born, live and work amongst us is dreadful. [6]

The inertia imposed by stark necessity for oil, the delusional beliefs about the West's invincibility and mastery of the political game world-wide, has produced an inchoate ad hoc policy. The West has painted itself into a corner.

Notes: 1. Hurriyet, April 5 2013
2. Young Malala speaking at the UN. Also, Reuters: July 14, about Boko Haram and terrorism in Nigeria.
3. Reuters: July 14, 2013
4. Zaman: Taliban involvement may further drag Turkey into Syria's quagmire, July 15, 2013
5. Foreign Affairs: How Syria's civil war became a Holy Crusade, July 7, 2013
6. Foreign Policy: "Europe's new time bomb is ticking in Syria", July 9, 2013