Monday, May 30, 2016

Of Successful and Unsuccessful Imperialists

Assad's allies in the West: Pro-Assad pundits and media outlets in the West have established ties with Assad “Leftists adopting a de-facto position against "US imperialism" are inadvertently supporting continuing tyranny in Syria, writes Shawn Carrié.

Indeed, in the current leftist narrative, corrupt dictators, genocidal maniacs, and mafia-like regime emerge as some kind of embattled heroic figures and entities fighting against the evil West, and America per se, whose democracy, we are told, is really a sham, even though, it’s exactly this sham that allows these “critical” voices to flourish, unmolested by anyone.

 The singular focus by people like Noam Chomsky, and so many others on the international left, on Western and American imperialism has prevented them from seeing that the phenomenon itself is intrinsic to the nature of states and the way power has historically been accumulated, concentrated and dispensed. All states, all human communities in fact, from the time before the establishment of the first city states until this very moment, have been inherently imperialistic. Indeed, every state today is capable of imperialism, all it needs for that is a weak neighbor, and an ambitious, and usually quite corrupt, ruler. Even today, imperialism has not been something that only western powers get to do. In fact, others have been far more involved in the matter.

But Western powers are the most successful in this regard, and that’s the real problem it seems, not imperialism itself. Western countries happen to be the most powerful, the most organized, and the ones often in charge of the most influential international institutions and corporations. They often don’t need to invade in order to dominate and get what they want. For them to be hated and envied is understandable.

But the fact that they are democratic, while most of their rivals are vehemently anti-democratic and proud of it, should give critics who believe in democracy some pause. Yes, generally speaking, and for the sake of justice and democracy, it would be better for the world if the global balance of power was not so skewed in favor of one side, but that is so only if that balance was established between powers that are equally committed to democratic values. Barring that, we are not dealing with balance, but with a détente, where any loss by the West endangers the only way of life that shows the slightest respect for human dignity.

The foreign policies of Western governments merit our criticism for a variety of very legitimate reasons, but this fact does not justify the practices and adventurisms of the West’s rivals, nor their ways of life, which are more often based on repudiation of democracy and the universality of human rights.

Realizing the ugliness of the other side, Leftist critics often construct the comforting illusion that completely dismisses the truth about the repressive nature of regimes like the Assad’s and their crimes against their people. In fact, the Left here ends up adopting the very arrogant attitude of the regimes vis-à-vis their peoples and their dissidents. Thus, the people are often dismissed as rogue, uneducated and extremist who are simply not ready for democracy, while the dissidents are portrayed as willing agents of western powers, or naïve figures exploited by them. Yes, the Left is quite capable of racism, and that allows it to be duped by the propaganda machines of those other imperialist forces out there still struggling to get it right.

Just consider this little recent development In Malmö, Sweden, where someone invited “the Islamic imam and preacher Salman Al-Ouda, who has been described in the Swedish media as a ‘Salafist megastar,’ visited Malmö. Al-Ouda apparently inspired Osama bin Laden, has claimed that the Holocaust was a myth, and is known for making anti-Semitic statements.” But who invited such a figure to go speak in Malmö, you may ask? Well, it was “a politician from the Green Party, currently part of the Swedish government's ruling coalition, and which also governs in Malmö locally, together with the Social Democrats.” Enough said.

A Living Example of Delusionary Analysis 

The US is dropping calls for Assad to go because the Syrian regime is a better bet than Isis “In Syria and Lebanon there are no plans for a future, but the Syrian army is going to have a role in any New Syria.” There are two main indicators of delusionary thinking here:

1) The Fisk speaks of a “Syrian army” when he should be speaking of sectarian militias and death squads, which are mostly comprised of non-Syrian elements at this stage, Afghan, Iraqi, Lebanese, Iranians and even Pakistanis, and seem more beholden to Tehran than Damascus. 

2) When it comes to genocidal maniacs, the Assad regime is by far the worst offender in Syria. Furthermore, its role in the creation and empowerment of IS, and like-minded groups, have been well-established by now by a variety of independent analysts. Continuing to overlook these facts underscore the ideological agenda which Fisk is serving. But yes, the U.S. is dropping its calls for Assad’s departure – an about-face that should condemned not celebrated by anyone who claims to care about human rights. 

Learning Modern Imperialism 

Saudi Arabia and Iran fail to reach deal on Hajj “Riyadh accuses Iranian officials of walking out of talks despite offers for "solutions" to Tehran's demands.

As talks reveal, both sides prefer to miss out on the chance to kill each other in a more direct fashion, opting to keep doing it by proxy in places like Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Slowly but surely, Saudi and Iranian leaders are getting the hang of the way of Modern Imperialism. Indirect mandate systems, war by proxy, mercenaries for hire, manipulation of the prices of certain commodities, and keep all blame on America and the West, even when they are the least involved, and ignore threats issued by others, all others, and their potential victims. Hell, ignore even their blatant racism. Only that found in the West is deplorable. This is how modern imperialist warfare works.

A convoy of Soviet armored vehicles crossed a bridge in Termez, at the Soviet-Afghan border, on May 21, 1988, during the withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Afghanistan. PHOTO: VITALY ARMAND/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The Burial Ground 

Russia’s Long Road to the Middle East “Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Syria caught many by surprise, but it is a return to Russian geopolitical aspirations that stretch back to the czars.

Well, it seems that we will have to bury Putin and the Czars’ hopes and dreams in the Middle East next to ours. For this is what the region seems destined to become for those whose definition of glory still hinges more on militarism and ideology than development and democracy. So, welcome back aspirant Russians, let’s just properly show you how much we haven’t missed you.

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