Comebacks Require Leaving

For as much as empire persists, it goes rather unmentioned by virtually anyone outside of Left opposition to it, which has (unfortunately) little weight in the US at all. Those who support US hegemony & keep it going have learned over time to use code words & feelgood lies to avoid having to actually discuss the intended outcomes they shoot for. Well, today Robert Kaplan of the Center for a New American Security (really) decided to ignore that memo, putting a piece at Foreign Policy titled “It’s time to bring imperialism back to the Middle East”.

Kaplan starts off by noting the capture of Palmyra by Islamic State, and stating that the conditions of the region indicate the usefulness of the long departed Ottoman Empire. Because there’s no way that diverse peoples can live in the same area without an imperial caliphate imposing its will over them. Funny how easily he implies that self-determination & multiculturalism are poisonous…

(Wait, if he thinks that, then shouldn’t he like I.S.? They even have a declared caliph!)

Along with that burst of Brown People Are Naturally Nuts, he contradicts himself about what happened after the fall of that empire, in one part saying its collapse brought forth the ethnic & sectarian disputes and then in the next acknowledging that Europe divvied up the land as if loot from a successful bank robbery, drawing the lines that are effectively being erased to begin with. You can’t pin the fights on what you consider a power vacuum AND admit foreign parties rushed in to play with the ruins — unless Kaplan is saying They Were Asking For It. “How dare they temp the West by not having the military power to push them out after a huge global war??”

He continues:

[…]the demonstrably hands-off approach to these developments by President Barack Obama manifests the end of America’s great power role in organizing and stabilizing the region.

Because missiles fired at both Iraq & Syria as well as arms & aid to Syrian anti-Assad fighters don’t count. Even a Spec Ops raid inside Syrian territory doesn’t count! At this rate, neo-cons won’t count any actions in a war as war acts unless the president themself is on the ground gunning like Rambo.

Going on, Kaplan states, in lamenting their falls, that post-colonial strongmen (his term) like Saddam and Qaddafi held together their regimes with a secular identity, indeed had to due to those borders left behind. Yet more Brown People Are Nuts, while glossing over who got those regimes removed (George W. Bush & Barack Obama) and how (invasion under false pretenses & an undeclared air offensive on a side in someone elses civil war under false pretenses). He then notes a correlation between the relative stability of Morocco, Tunisia & Egypt (I guess you can call going from de facto military dictatorship to a Muslim Brotherhood regime to a coup & return to de facto military dictatorship in the span of four years “stability” on Planet Kaplan) with the locations of old Roman settlements.

“Why, if only Strom Thurmond had won the Romans had conquered more we wouldn’t have all these problems now!”

Returning to Libya, Syria & Iraq, Kaplan reiterates his view of dictatorship as the only glue that works. There’s a question raised here though: if this view is correct, then why bother? Of what value is attempting to hold together something so unstable? I’m not a believer in the intractability of ethnic & religious conflict, nor a separatist, but as one familiar with a strand of anti-regime nationalism at home (that is, black nationalism as embodied in parts of the black power movement) I’m also not one to blame an oppressed group for at the least shooting a side-eye at being ruled by outsiders. If they can’t trust each other, call the whole thing off, why not?

Iran is observed by Kaplan as stable due to its Persian cultural identity (read: these brown people are smarter than Those Damn Arabs), and as having inherited what the American empire left behind. This is like saying you inherited from your cousin leaving town the deer that he hunted & butchered & brought back for you to cook. Of course, Kaplan is among those that pushed for the war in Iraq (even having helped draft a government document advocating the invasion) only to later wring his hands over it. Gee, who could’ve known that obliterating a hostile neighbor to Iran would work to the benefit of Iran?

That said, the benefit to Iran as Kaplan sees it of current situations is far overblown. He portrays the nuclear program negotiations as a declining global power coming to terms with a rising regional power, never mind that the global power’s sanctions & constant threats over a non-issue — the fable of Iran seeking nuclear weapons, despite no evidence of such nor any clear incentive for their use if they did get them — are the only reason there’s anything to talk about. Oh, the poor downtrodden USA, having to make deals with people they hold at gunpoint, how sad.

To contain a post-accord Iran, the United States will need not only to bolster Saudi Arabia, but Egypt and Turkey as well. […] America requires a strong Egypt — democratic or not — as a regional anti-Iran ally to bolster Saudi Arabia.

Caring at all how the Saudi royals are fairing among all this, while they spread & largely practice the same kind of nuttery that when it’s I.S. doing it prompts BREAKING NEWS!! bulletins & heaping scoops of Be Afraid in the media. Man, that oil addiction has some power, doesn’t it?

Strong Arab dictatorships across the region were convenient to American interests, since they provided a single address in each country for America to go to in the event of regional crises. But now there is much less of that. In several countries, there is simply no one in charge to whom we can bring our concerns.

Why should they care about the US regime’s concerns?

And just when that wasn’t enough, he coughs up an outright falsehood with regard to the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s (emphasis mine):

That war, going on as long as it did, represented in part the deliberate decision of the Reagan administration not to intervene.

Reality: during the Iran-Iraq war, the US provided intelligence help & weapons to Iraq, including helping with the launch of chemical weapons, and funneled arms to Iran. That is, not only did the Reagan administration intervene, but they did so on both sides. Whatever contractors made those weapons is probably still spending money from ’88.

The challenge now is less to establish democracy than to reestablish order. For without order, there is no freedom for anyone.

Actually, “order” in the sense that the West sees it in that part of the world (that is, centralized authority that happens to play ball with their interests, populace be damned) is the problem. Seeking to impose that order is itself the chaos, as people like Robert Kaplan will never accept the alternative: a spontaneous order that finally writes the US out.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory