Thursday, July 5, 2012
America - Decline and Chaos in a Fractured Region
American decline is viewed as one of the potential catastrophic game changers for instability in the Near East.
The recent mishap involving Syria, which shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet, is one example of a trigger, a planned or unfortunate mishap that could ignite the region in a populist war.
Iran, via its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah could precipitate a conflict in order to divert the attention of the international community away from its nuclear programme. Spread by religiously driven hubris and spiralling out of control through a confrontation engineered by political and military zealots it could escalate into a bloody contagion of violence that experience has taught us would not be easily contained. Providing the fuel for this bleak scenario are the foul mouthed ravings of Ayatollahs, Imams and itinerant street preachers. And before we raise the spectre of 21st Century Reason to dismiss such fears we should remember that being swept up by passion is a timeless human pursuit.
Egypt and Turkey, with increasing poverty rates fuelled by rapid population growth nourishing their fundamentalist constituency’s extremist agendas, could provoke a regional firestorm that will be difficult to bring under safe control.
If Egypt with some 40 security agencies cannot maintain either domestic stability or conformity of message in its own society then other less organised regimes should be anxiously reviewing their own exit strategies. If we exclude Gaza and the West Bank, 21 other Arab countries govern by exploiting ethnic prejudice and religious division. Perhaps the best way of bringing stability to the whole region is to begin serious discussion about breaking up the artificially created Arab states and giving self determination to all the minorities within their borders. There is no logical reason that the Arab ethnic minority in Israel should demand separate development and the same privilege is denied to those ethnic minorities living in the rest of the Near East. For that matter, why stop with the Near East?
Sayyid Qutb was possibly the 20th Centuries most famous Egyptian propagandist of the Muslim Brotherhood. He saw Jews as the people preaching a ‘one world’ culture where everyone has the right to their beliefs. But for Qutb there was no such thing as a market place of ideas. His fear of this ‘Jewish’ vision was the opposite of the tyranny he preached. To quote “Occidentalism – A short history of Anti Westernism” (Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit): “Qutb’s idea of community is defined by pure faith, as the Nazi State was based on pure race.” That last sentence encapsulates Islamic Fundamentalism. Its theologically derived hatred is incompatible with peace.
The US remains Saudi Arabia’s closest ally and the nation Saudis most revile. It is not only the Saudi approach that is troublesome. Xenophobia in the Arab world, toward the infidel and not just the infidel but any non-Arab, will only be debated once it is appreciated that it is in their best interest to open up their societies. But with Islamist governments sweeping away previous dictatorships the future is bleak unless incitement becomes something of an Islamic ‘own goal.’ Because Egypt is seen as the cornerstone of a revolutionary fundamentalist process it reinforces Egypt’s self image as being the centre of the Arab world. It places Egypt on a strategic path that views peace with Israel, the rest of the region and Europe as no more than a currency of negotiable value.
It is a view that is shared throughout the Near-East.
America will remain, for our foreseeable future, the chief wielder of the big stick in world affairs. US global intervention is necessary because there is no other superpower that can protect Western interests. If we choose to live a life that is governed by identification with Western values (whatever that may mean) then we must defend those values. It is neither colonialism nor arrogance to make choices in ones life. Discrimination as a positive virtue means making choices. We choose to differentiate between lifestyles and ways in which we relate to each other. US interests and global capitalism may or may not be wholly consonant with every Western nation’s vision of Western society but they are the only ones preventing us from falling onto our own sword.
To take responsibility for the triumphalism of our enemies is not self-abnegation, it is suicide. In a world we all share there is still time to speak up against the Islam of the Fundamentalists. Only then will we have a chance to achieve peace.