Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Slouching Towards The FUBAR Moment

A screengrab of footage claiming to show the aftermath of air strikes by a Russian plane in Tabliseh, Syria, on 30 September 2015 YouTube

DDGD – October 1, 2015

Editorial Comment: The FUBAR Moment  

With new conflicts emerging on the scene in just the past four years (Syria, Ukraine, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Yemen, etc.), and old one rearing their ugly heads again (Darfur), with autocrats like Putin and Rouhani showing a renewed appetite for starting wars and spreading mayhem, and with the leaders of the free world seemingly incapable of providing an effective response, the international order as we know it seems on the verge of collapse. Indeed, day by day, we seem to inch ever closer to that dreaded FUBAR Moment in regard to the Global Order. We have definitely reached it in places like Syria and Iraq.

The Digest

Russia launches "Holy War" in Syria, according to the Russian Orthodox Church. But the aerial attacks that were supposed to targets the Islamic States and its terrorists, ended up targeting Western-backed moderate rebels.

Mr. Putin and his acolytes, it seems are launching a Holy War against the U.S. not terrorism. After all, Mr. Putin is allying himself with Bashar Al-Assad, the man who chose slaughter over reform, and who have so far killed more than 300,000 of his people, dislocated millions, and actively facilitated the emergence of IS and other terrorist groups, both Sunni and Shia, in cooperation with his other diehard ally: Iran.

Mr. Putin’s gambit, however, is not motivated by “the-devil-we-know” mentality. Rather, the real issue is that Mr. Putin prefers the company of devils. After all, he is one of them: he used overwhelming force to put down a rebellion in Chechnya, is continuingly cracking down on civil liberties in his country, and has shown nothing but disdain for democracy and democratic values throughout his career. And for all his talk about respecting the importance of respecting the national sovereignty of other countries, he never shied away from invading other countries, and encouraging separatist movements when it suited his narrow purposes.

Allowing for the use of such religious rhetoric, however, might end up bringing home the very thing against which Mr. Putin is supposed to be fighting, but is not. The fact that he is not fighting terrorism, but is actually taking a side in what has become a sectarian quagmire, allying with the Shia against the Sunnis, is bound to play a role in this matter as well. Indeed, considering that Russia’s 12% Muslim communities are overwhelmingly Sunni, Putin’s policies may not that wise on the long run. The secular mindset of most Russia’s Muslims is not a sufficient guarantor for continued loyalty to the Russian state.  Most Russia’s Muslims come from Turkic backgrounds, they have their own “states” within the Federation, their own separatist tendencies, and already have a long list of grievances against ethnic Russians living in their midst.

But for now Putin has reasons to smile, as Syrians continue to suffer.
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In this article, Stephen Walt, the “realist,” “grapples with his doubts on intervention in Syria,” only to conclude that he was right all along in advocating nonintervention. Indeed, in this gripping piece of circular logic, Mr. Walt starts by briefly suggesting that he might have been wrong on Syria, that is the doubt with which he grappled, then, he proceeds to marshal reasons meant to show that he was, in fact, right. He concludes by encouraging us to do the same.

Mr. Walt offers nothing new here, but presenting a fresh and nuanced take was not really the point. Rather, the point is for Mr. Walt to show that he is an ethical man, after all, he is willing to “grapple” with his doubts, and that his realism did not pave the path to the worst humanitarian disaster in decades, and that he is not to blame. For all this though, it is clear that Mr. Walt feels guilty, but, and in a typical show of intellectual conceit, he is incapable of admitting it, as this will entail seriously questioning his entire worldview as well. Because such major fuckups are not the result of a momentarily slip.

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The U.S. deliberate absence from the international scene is allowing other powers to champion the cause of democratization, and the global war on terror. We have already referred to one such champion above, Mr. Vladimir Putin, so it should not any surprise that the second champion should be Iran’s President, Mr. Hassan Rouhani, who, in his recent speech in front of the UN General Assembly, declared:

"As we aided the establishment of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are prepared to help bring about democracy in Syria and also Yemen"…

With autocrats like Putin and Rouhani now pledging to fight terror and bring democracy, and democratic leaders like Obama and Merkel, continuing to dither and hope that conflicts resolve themselves somehow, peace and democracy are clearly fucked.


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