Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey and Russia

Turkey just shot down a Russian fighter jet over northern Syria.

Why now? Was this a deliberate attempt to destroy a potential "threatening" alliance against ISIS? After all Russian planes attacking the Turkmen militia and flying near the border are indeed provocative for the Turks, but it is nothing new. Earlier fighter jets have not been attacked.

At least the Turkish military should have been restrained right now, where the powers could begin to collaborate in the fight against ISIS. The Russian plane could simply have been escorted back.

Or does Ankara regard the PYD as so dangerous that it will sabotage a joint fight against terror and a beginning peace process in Syria just to prevent the Syrian Kurds from being recognized as a part of it? Was it an attempt at diverting the attention away from ISIS to help Turkey's own interests?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Anonymous and ISIS

In the last post, Elaborations, I may have understated the importance of the third sphere, cyberspace, in the war with ISIS. Obviously they can  not be removed from the groumd in the Middle East by the help of IT alone, but clearly the web is of immense importance for the group in its communication and propaganda to the un-integrated and marginalized young people in the rest of the world. Elsewhere I talked about the present close collaboration between the barbarians outside all civilizations (like notably ISIS) and what Toynbee called the internal proletariat in the form of marginalized people in the big cities and suburbs. This close collaboration, a newcomer in world history, is mediated through the new "Third Sphere" (see the post with this name), the Internet.

Therefore it is very good news that the group Anonymous has joined the fight against ISIS like earlier the Ghost Security Group. Attacks on the sites and accounts of the terrorists can disrupt their connections with and recruitment of  disciples in the Western civilization and thus be a valuable additional front at the side of the military means.

This discussion points to a general point, which is obvious and not new: In all three spheres it is possible to fight using irregular means. In the political or public sphere it is possible  to use non-parliamentary means like demonstrations and civil disobedience, and in the military sphere it is possible to use guerrilla warfare. In the third IT -sphere it is possible to use hacker-attacks. This allows a kind of guerilla-war in cyberspace from groups like Anonymous. But of course the cyber-sphere is characterized by the same declining tendencies as politics.

Turning back to ISIS, there is one positive impact of the horrible events in Paris: a beginning cooperation between the western powers and Russia. The joint efforts by France and Russia are good news. Now we need Russia and the United States to lay aside their competition and join in an alliance in this important fight.

Hopefully the extreme brutality of ISIS could thus lead to the good result of uniting all forces. France, Russia, the United States, Anonymous, everybody are welcome!

With a further generalization we may look at possible impacts of ISIS in the Middle East. As said in the post "Ethnic Cleansing in the Arab World" this region is in a transition. The remnants of the old are struggling to protect their culture. And the patchwork of Oriental nations are being transformed to western type teritorial nations. Often these processes happen through violence and ethnic cleansings. These developments have been utilized by ISIS.

But the group is behaving so barbaric that most Muslims should react with shock. As an Iranian journal wrote recently, both Shias and Sunnis amd all Madhabs would agree that ISIS has nothing to do with any form of Islam. Even the Wahhabis should agree in this.

In the long run it is to be hoped that the mentioned developments in the Middle East will end in a modern version of the Oriental culture. We must also hope that the process will happen with as little violence as possible. In its barbary ISIS may contribute to this by uniting many Moslems and showing the dangers if violence gets out of control.

In this way this insane group could have served one good purpose.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


A couple of quick remarks to elaborate on the last post:

1) It is not a task only for the United States to "calm the world". Its dominance and power is big, but not sufficient to control the amount of global war and chaos. And the cyber-sphere, where the USA is absolutely dominating, is of most use in the developed countries so heavily dependent on IT. Real wars and terrorism in or from the third world must be controlled through military and diplomatic and also economic means.

And to calm matters in this context we also need especially Russia, but China and the EU aswell. And most importantly, it is necessary for these players to cooperate.

Presently as said it is of paramount importance to stop the war in Syria and destroy ISIS here and in Iraq. Both to reduce suffering and terrorism and to end the massive streams of refugees. The last factor is contributing to the failure of the EU, through increasing disagreement and racist populism, and this can be in nobody's interest, unless of course a goal is a further weakening of the European competitor on the int'l scene.

The EU is a bit like the so-called Vertical Alliances (vertical meaning north-south) in the old Chinese modernity, the Warring States period around 500 - 221 BC. Like in other modernities including the present, the countries competed and fought for hegemony. As the state Qin in the west  became more and more dominating, the other states tried to make unions, at certain times under a common prime minister, to balance and counter the power of Qin. But these unions were again and again split because of disagreements and particular interests. Some countries broke out and made so-called Horizontal Alliances (west-east) with Qin. And because of this incoherence of the Vertical Alliances Qin won in the end.

The EU can be seen as a vertical alliance trying to counter the big powers in east and west, this time in a more peaceful competetion. As the Chinese predecessors the attempt fails because of incoherence, disagreements and particular interests, even to the extent that countries like Spain, Belgium and the UK could break up.

The EU is unlikely ever to be a serious player on its own in the world. But its dissolution could be a globally destabilizing factor or at least mean the absence of a valuable stabilizing factor.

2) Concerning my comments on government, it is not implied that one-man or one-party rule is the only remedy against political decline. As often seen, not least in the English history of the Whigs and Tories 1700 - 1900, a two-party system can also be effective. But in the present atmosphere and phase a certain level of organization and control is necessary. Obviously power should alternate between the parties through elections, but populists and desperadoes should be excluded from real influence.

This could be an alternative to the Roman civil wars in the last century before Augustus. As said elsewhere it is unlikely for a dominating power in our civilization to disintegrate to the level of civil war. But also a lower level of chaos in such an important country would be highly undesirable. Like in Rome competing politicians could try to use the world as an arena for their fights. There could be more wars like the one by the younger Bush in Iraq.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Trump, Orbán, Kaczyński and Netanyahu

Trump on trade with China: "Listen you m-----f------, we're going to tax you 25 percent!"
He also claimed that the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Hillary Clinton was the worst foreign minister ever etc. etc.

Netanyahu recently accused the Palestinian leader Abbas of directly urging Palestinians to attack Israelis with knives. And worse, he claimed Hitler only started the Holocaust after being persuaded to this by the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

 Kaczyński, now de facto leader of Poland, claimed that there is a secret plan to destroy the Polish nation by filling the country with Moslem refugees bringing diseases and parasites.

Such obviously absurd viewpoints from leading politicians is a bad omen for the future of democracy.

That the tendencies have been apparent for some time also in West Europe is no secret. The large influx of Syrian refugees is not causing, but reinforcing the tendency in Eastern and Western Europe. But the development is universal.

The simple figure of a parable rising to and then decreasing from a top illustrates the development of mature democracy in our Western civilization.

Of course the real curve is not as smooth as in the figure. Economic, military and political crises have resulted in large deviations. We were at the top-point or rather top-plateau perhaps in the 60s and 70s. Since then the decline has set in. No matter the deviations the overall averaged developmemt follows the pattern of increase, top and decline in level of maturity.

Seen apart from the 30s and 40s North America and West Europe have followed the curve quite closely. In contrast, because of their position east of the Iron Curtain East European countries had the deviations continued until Gorbatjov.

Since then these countries have come back on the main track, following West Europe with a certain time lag. But now almost before they have reached the peak, the general decline sets in, and some of these countries revert to more undemocratic forms. Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary with their geographic and political proximity to West Europe and their pre-war development had the strongest democratic traditions, also under Sovjet dominance. Now even these countries show worrying signs.

Hungary has become quite authoritarian under Orbán, it maltreats refugees and builds fences against them.

Slovakia broke out  from  Czechoslovakia partly because it was not as mature as the Western part and wanted to oppress the Gypsies and the Hungarian minority. Now the Czech Republic seems to follow the Slovaks in its attitude to the refugees.

Despite economic progress and almost complete lack of Middle Eastern refugees the new government in Poland won the elections by abusing a postulated threat from Syrians. The ideal is Orbán's Hungary.

Despite their sad recent past the post-Yugoslavian Balkan states almost seem like the most mature states in East Europe except for the southernmost part like Kosovo which seems on the way to chaos before it ever reaches a functioning democracy.

But it is important to keep in mind that the picture in East Europe may be complicated by the possible emerging still rudimentary East European civilization.

Turkey may be the same story of decline. Erdogan builds a giant palace for himself, destroys the peace process with the PKK, reduces press freedom and democracy. Latin America could follow a similar path of late reached maturity with a short duration.

As often said the right wing parts of the US Republicans are a sign of the same decline as we see in Europe.

The developments in Israel more and more turning towards the right and towards racism are not only a political development per se, but as we can see in the absurdities from not only the prime minister, but in broad sections of society, it also represents the decay. New irresponsible settlements are approved all the time. Even Israeli Arabs are treated and defamed as second class inhabitants, Communists and terrorists.

Of course the political decline needs not only manifest itself as a movement on the right wing. Also left wing and even centrist populism as seen not least in southern European countries are parts of the tendency.

All these developments are of course worrying in themselves, as they are damaging national policies and continuity. But when they affect countries with international importance it is directly dangerous. Just a couple of well-known examples which do not need elaboration:
- Turkey's new war with the Kurds compromises the fight against ISIS.

- Israel's policy can have disastrous consequences.

- Worst of course are the developments in the worlds leading power, the United States. If one of the very few countries with the ability to calm the world itself gets unstable, we are in real trouble.

As said elsewhere, in pre-decline times democracy was stable. Self-sustained responsible political parties through the press, radio and TV guided the different groups within the societies who identified themselves with them and voted for them. Governments cooperated closely with experts and affected groups of society, and matters were debated seriously in the public sphere. Now mob rule replaces this, see my posts  "The Decline of Politics" and "Decline of Modernity".

China and Russia are better equipped to resist the decline.  The Chinese collective and meritocratic leadership is supplementing itself and finds leaders from its own circle. Of course decline may also affect Chinese politicians as the leading circles get richer and more influenced from abroad. Maybe it was not a bad idea to ban communist party members from attending golf clubs.

In the old USSR the intelligent leadership under Kosygin, Brezhnev and Gromyko could have developped in the same direction as the present Chinese party top. But the rigidity and lack of adaptability lead to the necessary but perhaps too quick changes under Gorbatjov and the resulting disintegration and chaos under Jeltsin. Putin with great skill succeded in rising Russia again. And his continued leadership gives a new stability replacing that of the old rule of the Communist Party. The stability can continue, but this demands that a way of transition can ensure that Putin is followed by people with similar abilities. This is an absolute condition.

In this respect one-man-rule has the same weakness as democracy: a capable leader can be followed by an idiot. But it takes longer time.