Friday, November 13, 2015

The “Contained” Conflict

Taking during a trip to Paris, 2009
DDGD November 13, 2015

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Today’s Post is brought to you by… The International Federation For A Contained Collective Conscience (IFCCC): WE CARE, within the limits set by our extremely parochial interests, narrowly defined and appropriately downsized to reflect our ongoing obsession with avoiding looming headaches and tackling serious challenges in a manner that could actually make a difference, due to the potentially high costs involved, both politically and financially, as shown by our exquisitely manipulated gain-loss analysis produced at the behest of our Vacillator-in-Chief under the supervision of the Executive Conformer in coordination with the Foreign Affairs Abandonment Committee’s Subcommittee on Popularizing the Unconscionable, in line with its recommendations highlighted in its recent study: “Insights into the Workings of the Tamable Mind: Tools and Strategies for Softer Suasion and Coercion Techniques” published as part of the Proceedings of the International Conference on Asocial Awareness and Parasitical Behavior Models in a Hyper-Connected World, which took place in  Budapest, Hungary on August 3-7, 2015” and concluded with the adoption of the Budapest Regulations on Conscience Containment, Burden Mitigation and Risk Diversion, popularly known as the Budapest Rules. 

The Delirica  

The No-Fly Zone: “From the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them.” President Barack Obama

And from the start this was the goal in Syria as well, that is, to contain the conflict. At one point the administration really thought that it had succeeded in doing so. The result of this delusional approach: Syria’s “contained” conflict has somehow managed to: 1) facilitate the reemergence of an old regional empire (Iran) as well as a recently deceased one (Russia); 2) reinvigorate a dying terrorist organization (IS/Daesh) allowing it to regenerate and metastasize into a global threat (the very threat that Obama had declared contained hours before the Paris terrorist attacks); and 3) create a major refugee problem on a scale not seen since the end of WWII, which is currently threatening the stability of Europe!!!

It’s time we dispensed with this dangerous and deadly myth of “conflict containment.” We live in a hyper globalized world where the operations of death cults and their unity is more a matter of ethos than organizational structure, and where the requisite tactical and logistical knowhow is available literally at one’s fingertips. Containment in these circumstances is well-nigh impossible, and the only viable strategy for combatting this phenomenon is the adoption of a long-term plan that seeks to tackle the root causes involved: autocracy, corruption and underdevelopment.

There are also problems that need to be tackled within the confines of all existing democracies, including development of ghettoes, better integration and inclusion policies for migrants and combatting domestic racism. The Paris attackers are almost certainly young unemployed and angry children of Muslim immigrants living in the banlieues, the suburban low-income housing projects that sprang around Paris since the 1970s. 

In the meantime, the Responsibility to Protect should be invoked and deployed as often as needed in order to prevent or halt ongoing mass slaughter. There should be no room in this world for people like Bashar al-Assad. Strong leadership by the U.S. and EU can convince the Russians, the Iranians and the Chinese of the need to move beyond reliance on such maniacal figures and regimes to secure their interests. The upcoming G-20 Summit should be used to tackle this thorny issue of linkage between the behavior of certain authoritarian regimes and the threat of global terrorism. But I hold little hope or delusions in this regard. None of the leaders involved seems to have the necessary moral fiber and vision to make a serious appeal in this regard.

But what is even more terrifying is the prospects of witnessing people like the leaders of Russia and China, and perhaps even India, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, actually pushing for the reverse proposition: that is, for the necessity of relying on people like Assad in the fight against IS/Daesh and other death cults.

Bleaker still is the prospect for blaming refugees, and adopting even more stringent policies towards their integration, thus, creating even more problems for the future, and radicalizing people who are simply looking for the security and liberty that they could not find at home, and who would have preferred to find it there, if only the powers-that-be in this world chose to help rather than wring their hands.

On an even bleaker note, attacks like the one that took place in Paris, and mass slaughter like the one we continue to witness in Syria might just represent the tip of the iceberg of what is bound to come next as a result of our moral cowardice today. And the innocent will continue to suffer, while hatemongers thrive.


It’s significant to note here as well that the policy of containment comes only after an ill-considered policy of haphazard intervention failed. In Syria, it came after President Obama announced that Assad must go, then, doing nothing to make this outcome possible. In relation to IS/Daesh, it came a year after a policy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS seems to have failed, largely due to the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to devote the necessary human and material resources to see it through.

The point: failure is the destiny of those who are unable or unwilling to follow through on their promises and declarations, to make serious commitment to the cause they claimed to be championing, and to match their actions to their rhetoric, and vice versa. Obama set goals, drew red lines and made promises, then, he repeatedly failed to adopt the right actions needed to achieve, enforce and fulfill them. His is a failure to lead on a mass-scale.

In regard to the Paris Attacks, and barring the unlikely revelation that they were actually carried out by a non-Islamist group, there is an urgent need, now more than ever, for France to match its actions to rhetoric and show the necessary moral leadership in regard both to the Syria Conflict and the Refugee Crisis. Should the G-20 Summit and the upcoming Vienna meetings end without agreement on a plan for Syria that promises to rid us both of Assad and IS/Daesh, France should probably call on NATO to take charge of the situation and enforce its own plan in this regard, despite the inherent risks stemming mostly out of Russia’s presence along the Syrian coast.

I do not expect this course of action, but I advocate it while fully aware of the costs and risks involved. Waiting will decrease neither cost nor risk; on the contrary, it will only serve to increase them, exponentially. 

The Daily Delirynth

Islamic Unity Conference, 2014
Qomapolis: The very simple reason why Syria peace talks are probably doomed. “Iran, an officially Shia nation, does not support Assad so much out of religious comity — while Alawites consider themselves Shia, many Shia consider them heretics — as out of strategic interests that happen to line up with sectarianism.” But we shouldn’t forget of course that Iran's strategic interests seem to always line up with its ability to control and manipulate Shia communities beyond its borders and to speak in their name. Despite the fact that, in doing so, Iran’s leaders are indeed more focused on pursuing their own interests rather than serving those of their coreligionists, it is still crucially important for Iran to maintain the appearance of the good Big Brother. For this, they need an indigenous Sunni side and aggressive regional and foreign powers to blame. Sometimes, they might even invent an enemy in order to justify an aggression. To accomplish this, a strong element of religiosity, sectarianism, extremism and even millenarianism, is necessary not only when dealing with Shia communities abroad but also with a domestic audience. Harping on these themes is always important in order to facilitate control, legitimate certain actions, and recruit fighters.

The religious ethos is also needed within the ruling establishment as well and for very much the same reasons. Of course, none of this is a problem for the Islamic Republic. It definitely does help to believe the same delusions one is trying to peddle. But that does make dealing with such figures rather problematic. Moreover, and considering the way the game is currently rigged, ideology will always trump “rational self-interest. What national interest could really justify Iran’s “Secret War in Syria?” And would it have been possible had the ruling regime in Iran not been ideological and sectarian to the core?

The same logic applies to Saudi Arabia, and even Turkey under AKP leadership. Indeed, this is why the Saudi Dynasty cannot distance itself from the Wahhabi establishment, and Erdogan’s Turkey chose to empower and work with the Islamist factions in the Syrian opposition, including the Muslim Brotherhood and even IS/Daesh itself. 

The way China’s ruling elite remains nominally committed to Communism, and the Assad regime remains committed to Baathism underscore the existence of similar dynamics. The way Russia weaponized its expat communities abroad is also reminiscent of this. Moreover, Russia is now championing the war on terror in a far more cynical way than the Bush Administration has ever done: by using it to defend autocracies rather than promote democracy. Russia has the added advantage here of not getting as demonized as the U.S. even as its policies and adventurism deliver equally disastrous outcomes with promises of worse to come. This lack of scrutiny and accountability is extremely problematic, because it leaves policy-making completely to the whims of the clique in charge, while America keeps changing policies and tactics every 2-4 years, even when the same man is still in the White House. 

North of Holy: Sectarian Disaster Looms as ISIS Strikes at the Heart of Hezbollah. “If Hezbollah thought it would be protected after the Iran nuclear deal, it must think again after twin bomb strikes in Beirut.” Indeed, Faustian deals protect no one. They might provide a lull or a small advantage: Strategic Implications of Assad’s Victory at Kweiris, but they can’t prevent disasters: Syria's collapse, in 7 charts.  Indeed, with several thousands dead, and over 25,000 wounded per month, according to the WHO, and with the cost of damage to infrastructure running well over $270 billion, Syria is not simply being transformed into a failed and fractured state, but into a loosely-knit network of warring ethnic ghettoes harboring all kinds of extremist and criminal gangs that will continue to cause problems for the region and the world for decades to come. That is, unless the bleeding is stopped now

The Qalifate: Being more an ethos than a structure, the Qalifate continues to expand recently reaching all the way to Sinai, South Beirut, parts of Afghanistan, and now probably Paris. So, even as the U.S. celebrates the death of one of its members in Syria, and Kurds celebrate the liberation of Sinjar in Iraq, and declares it contained, there is no end to IS/Daesh’s appeal on the horizon.

The No-Fly Zone: Polish students got a physics exercise that asked them to push Syrian refugees off a raft. Yeah, this happened. “A middle school physics exercise caused a storm in Poland, after reports surfaced that a teacher asked his students to calculate how many Syrian refugees they would have to push off a raft, in order to reach Greece. Four Syrian refugees are trying to get to Greece on a tiny raft with the dimensions: 1m x 2m x 20cm and 800kg/m (39?x 79?x 8? and 547 lb/ft). A concerned parent of one of the 14-year-olds immediately took the exercise to the school’s principal, who reportedly warned that if it happened again, his contract with the school would be terminated. According to the deputy principal, Nowik was remorseful and apologized. Nowik has tried to explain that the problem was a joke, meant to entice the students.”

Quote of the Day

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.” (“Courage donc, et patience, monsieur. Courage pour les grandes douleurs de la vie, et patience pour les petites. Et puis, quand vous avez laborieusement accompli votre ouvrage de chaque jour, endormez-vous avec sérénité.”) --Victor Hugo

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