I will note that pretty much nothing came out of any of the 2006 political movements mentioned in this post.
Defeat the People; Eurasianism = Bandung
The Wicked Spengler at Asia Times reminds us today that the people, united, have often been defeated:
Conventional armies can defeat guerrilla forces with broad popular support, for it is perfectly feasible to dismantle a people, destroy its morale, and if need be expel them. It has happened in history on occasions beyond count. ...It seems to be happening again, as half or more of Lebanon's 1.2 million Shi'ites flee their homes. To de-fang Hezbollah implies the effective dissolution of the Shi'ite community, a third of whom live within Katyusha range of Israel. To the extent Israel's campaign succeeds, it will have knock-on effects throughout the region, starting with another accident-prone multi-ethnic patchwork, namely Syria, with grave implications for Iraq... Without the skim from Lebanon's black market and the remittances from Syrian workers in Lebanon, the regime's purse will shrivel and its hold on the reins will slacken.
Again, it's a mistake to equate Shiism with Persianism. There are elements in Shia Iraq that would be delighted to see Teheran defeated by proxy, the better to assert their own independence. And I question whether the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon was quite the American Idol fatuity that Spengler makes out. Would a campaign to dissolve Hezbollah in Lebanon been conceivable without a legitimate Lebanese government to which to remand the south of the country, possibly after a brief NATO occupation?
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Meanwhile, Mark Steyn at The Sun notes the several ways in which this Middle East War is different from its predecessors. This time, everyone sees that the stakes have changed:
I used to say that the trouble was the Palestinians saw a two-state solution as an interim stage en route to a one-state solution. I underestimated Islamist depravity. As we now see in Gaza and southern Lebanon, any two-state solution would be an interim stage en route to a no-state solution. ...Suppose every last Jew in Israel were dead or fled, what would rise in place of the Zionist Entity? It would be something like the Hamas-Hezbollah terror squats in Gaza and Lebanon writ large...they're not Mussolini: they have no interest in making the trains run on time. And to be honest who can blame them? If you're a big-time terrorist mastermind it's frankly a bit of a bore to find yourself Deputy Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions, particularly when you're no good at it and no matter how lavishly the European Union throws money at you there never seems to be any in the kitty when it comes to making payroll....
I used to be very keen for a Palestinian state at the earliest opportunity, since I assumed that a government with schools to manage and potholes to fill would be distracted by these petty necessities from the goal of exterminating its neighbor. That was never the way that the Palestinian Authority operated, however; to the extent that the subsidies that kept it in business were not just stolen, they were spent on bloated, competing, police and security forces. Hamas and Hezbollah gained popular support by providing health services and subsistence, that helped prevent extremes of destitution but which did not constitute government as it is conventionally understood.
This pattern has been uncannily consistent in Chechnia (briefly), Taliban Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon, the Palestinian areas, and parts of Pakistan. Though the state dissolves, sometimes foreign subsidies allow for the maintenance of a religiously sanctioned protection-racket linked to a welfare network. It is sometimes said of Lenin that his version of communism was just "War Socialism": the indefinite prolongation into peace-time of the emergency measures of economic command that the British and the Germans improvised for the First World War. Similarly: real, existing Islamism is simply the reduction of civil society to a badly managed refugee camp.
The one exception to this pattern so far has been Iran. The Islamic Republic never did well, but at least it never threatened to become a failed state. No doubt this is in part because Iran never had the legitimacy deficit from which all post-Ottoman Arab states suffer. Be that as it may, Steyn goes on to note that the current war is also different in that, this time, European and elite Arab opinion want the Israeli project to succeed:
In Causeries du lundi, Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve recalls a Parisian dramatist watching the revolutionary mob rampaging through the street below and beaming: "See my pageant passing!" ...the more the thin skein of Palestinian grievance was stretched to justify atrocities half way around the world the more the Arab League bigshot emirs and European Union foreign ministers looked down from their windows and cooed, "See my parade passing!"...They've now belatedly realized they're at that stage in the creature feature where the monster has mutated into something bigger and crazier.
If you believe Steyn, the states of the region are now focusing on the prevention of this scenario:
[A] Middle East dominated by an apocalyptic Iran and its local enforcers, in which Arab self-rule turns out to have been a mere interlude between the Ottoman sultans and the eternal eclipse of a Persian nuclear umbrella.
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We must be ready for new world order, advised David Crane yesterday in The Toronto Star:
Canada's intense preoccupation with the United States...means we are in great danger of missing the major shifts underway in the world...What was notable about the G-8 leaders' summit in St. Petersburg was that it could only deal with its key issues when it met, through its so-called Outreach, with the New World leaders of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. It was here, for example, that agreement was reached for a serious effort to complete global trade talks this year... Earlier this year, the leaders of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization — China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — met in Shanghai to discuss co-operation on measures to fight crime and terrorism, but they also dealt with economic development and energy. India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan sent observers.
The Shanghai Co-operation Organization is and will remain a nothing-burger, but I find it interesting that Eurasianism is repeatedly touted from various quarters. The question is whether this is because of the intrinsic importance of anything the Eurasians are up to, or because transnationalists need to point to some, to any, focus of the international system other than the United States. The transnationalists who most need this are Americans, since the unsatisfactory electoral behavior of their countrymen leave them no recourse but to claim to represent the views of some vaster contituency.
On the whole, the Eurasianism we find in the better journals these days is an echo of the Non-Aligned Movement of the middle 20th century, whose apogee was the Bandung Conference of 1955. Regarding the notable Third World leaders who attended that gathering, American writer Richard Wright observed: "This is the human race speaking."
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Need an alternative Spenglerian scenario? By that I mean: alternative to mine. If so, consult the heterodox notions at Matthew White's site. No doubt he will be offering us his views on spelling reform next.
Copyright © 2006 by John J. Reilly