Monday, May 23, 2016

“Past IS Prologue," to more of the same

Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante” – A 2006 artwork by Chinese artists Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi and Zhang Anjun


DDGD May 25, 2016 – With an homage to William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”
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 Syria – the country that used to be: Too many coveters, yet few who actually gave a damn.

Index of Global Delirium
9.2
The Index reflects the state of delirium in a particular country using a 1 to 10 count, with 10 denoting the highest level of delirium. Levels of delirium change on the basis of current development in said country, such as instability, terrorism, elections, sports events and the like, as well as relevant global developments such financial meltdowns, certain leaks, and stock market indices. Countries shown above are among those where fluctuation in the national and local indices have a greater global impact than is the case with other countries. Note: levels of violence and delirium do not always coincide. Indeed, a country can have a high delirium level even though it is relatively stable. 

The IGD have held steady this week as the global drama failed to rise to the levels of heated rhetoric, and sanguine expectations. Entrails crossed for next week. 

Featured Quote
  
“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't!” ―Shakespeare, The Tempest (Miranda)


"The entire world saw the large scale detention and death in the Ceasar photos, and despite all of this, there was no reaction." Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch

The Deliricon

Glee: In politics, glee usually refers to a mode of behavior borne out of success and self-assuredness that inspires deep feelings of frustration, resentment and envy among its observers who, on account of their failure, for which they bear utmost responsibility, they cannot be gleeful.
  
The Delirica
  


Gleeful Delusions:  Gorbachev says US was ‘rubbing its hands with glee’ after Soviet Union’s demise. Listening to Russian officials speak today you’d think that the Soviet Union has somehow reemerged more empowered than ever. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Whatever gains Russia made over the last few years as a result of the Obama administration’s frivolous attitude towards foreign policy change little in the overall balance of power between the two countries, and can hardly save Russia from its growing problems at home. Real success is one that happens at home and that translates into better living conditions and more opportunities for growth for all. In that sense, Russia is a greater failure than it has ever been. The annexation of Crimea and the occupation of parts Syria and Ukraine are of little consequence here. Russia needs to undertake serious and far reaching political, economic and administrative reforms to withstand the growing structural pressures within and prevent its implosion, instead, Putin and Co. are promising salvation through imperial glory. And herein their folly. If the omens are bad for Europe, they are even worse for Russia. Our folly, as expressed through the policies of the Obama administration, lies in thinking that the consequences of Russia’s eventual failure is something that we need to manage tomorrow. In reality, we need to start managing it now, and standing up its growing foreign militancy and adventurism is a good starting point.

The Daily Delirynth: “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” ―Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel)

Alamut citadel, located in the middle of the Elburz mountain, is historically known as birthplace of suicidal operations in the 11th century.

“Past IS Prologue” Islamic Terrorism Was Born on This Mountain 1,000 Years Ago. This little historic tidbit provides us with a useful definition for Islamist Terrorism: the means by which a small yet ideologically motivated group of ardent believers seek to compensate for their small demographic imprint as they pursue what is essentially an expansionist agenda.
  
Hizbollah supporters attend a memorial ceremony on Tuesday at the Sitt Zeinab Shiite Shrine in Damascus for slain commander Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in Syria last week. AFP

The Shredding of the Damascene Tapestry: Hizbollah’s intervention in Syria has left its leaders exposed. Opposing the Shiazation of Damascus is not a fight against religious freedom but one against tyranny and occupation. For we are not dealing with religious conversion here, but with the importation of Shia fighters from Lebanon Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, along with their families and their resettlement in a traditionally Sunni-majority city, where Sunnis made up to 95% of the population before the Revolution, with the express purpose of changing the demographic realities of the city. The Sunnis may not become a minority anytime soon, but the way is not over yet, nor is this process of Shiazation. There are those who would point out to the existence of political and economic purposes for this endeavor to undermine the role of religiously and sectarian zealotry. But they would be wrong. Zealotry is critical not only for mobilization purposes but also as a motivating factor. The religious dimension is not subservient to the political and economic ones, but intricately intertwined with them. Add in an element of national identity to the matter (Arabs vs. Persian, vs Kurds. vs Turks. etc.), and traditional class dynamics to the mix, and the picture gets even more complicated.
   

The Great Muddling Through: Syria conflict: Deadly blasts rock Assad strongholds. This attack is already being used by the Shabbiha to take revenge against the majority Sunni IDPs now residing in Sahel, especially in Tartous City. More attacks could pave the way for a major campaign to ethnically cleanse the Sahel. This could make the Sahel areas more manageable for the Russians and Iranians and their local supporters. Or, if there were enough sleeper rebel, IS or Nusra units embedded in the region, it could mark a step towards plunging the Sahel areas into the quagmire of civil war from which they have thus far been spared, for the most part. For now, this could be nothing more than an attempt to convince Russia & Co. of the need to honor the August deadline on the beginning of transition in Syria. The possibility that the regime could have orchestrated such an attack to keep its loyalists in check cannot be easily dismissed either, as the regime has been guilty of these tactics before, and as local ire against pro-Assad officials has been on the increase of late. Still, one would expect, and hope, that things would get slightly clearer on this score by August.
  
Thank Heavens! "Full fathom five thy father lies" -Shakespeare's "The Temptest"  (Ariel)
The Fascist League: These Syrian-American Christians Love Trump Because They Say He's Like Assad. Is it fair to judge a candidate by his supporters? Sure, if one is monitoring emerging and inherent trends among the supporters, rather than individual behaviors. Fascist and racist trends are already well-established among major segments of Trump supporters, and Trump’s silence in this regard is deafening and revealing. 

“Shipwreck” by Jan Toorop (December 20, 1858 - March 3, 1928), Dutch painter

The Great Unmooring: In defense of Ben Rhodes, Obama's foreign policy supremo. “It's easy to list the areas in which the administration’s foreign policy could have gone better. Buoyed in part by the euphoria of Obama's own historic victory, many in the administration probably became too optimistic about the 2011 "Arab Spring." In Syria in particular, they tacitly encouraged uprisings without any intention of following through with serious military support.” Why is it that every analysis of the Obama administration foreign policy ends up mentioning Syria only as a footnote, when it is, in fact, Obama’s biggest foreign policy failure, the one that truly captures the nature of his alleged doctrine and exposes it as the exercise in amoral behavior gone haywire that it was/is? That “thing” in Syria is Patient Zero, the Turning Point that marks the true beginning of the 21st Century – no more fin de siècle stuff. We have taken the plunge, no matter how unwillingly, into the thick of it: the Great Unmooring of the World.


Wrong Instinct: Obama’s fatal fatalism in the Middle East. Persistent open-ended engagement is a thankless task and the source of much headaches, but it is also what keeps us relevant, and capable of influencing the unfolding various developments and, at times, even dictating outcomes, in manner that both serves our interest and encapsulates our values. Even, if the ultimate goal is containment of certain crises and their potential fallouts, the feat cannot be achieved without continuous engagement. The simple truth is: while some of their calculus was right, the realists simply had the wrong instincts, and ended up adopting policies that made outcomes far more negative in nature than they could have been.
  
“Fatalism” by Jan Toorop (December 20, 1858 - March 3, 1928), Dutch painter

They are these wrong instincts that made the Obama administration become party to the bloodletting in Syria, perpetrating a war that it could have probably prevented or, at the very least, stopped in its early phase, and they are these instincts that are now threatening to transform the U.S. into a full-fledged culprit in massive ethnic cleansing campaigns that are about to unfold in Raqqa (Kurds targeting Arabs) and Fallujah (Shia militias targeting Sunnis). The U.S. might be targeting the Islamic State, but Kurdish and Shia militias will be targeting the Arab Sunni population in general.


On The Good Fringe of Things, Comfortably: The myth of the 'moderate Muslim' Deconstructing the mythic "good versus bad" Muslim paradigm. And of course, when you are a Muslim trying to deconstruct one mythic “good versus bad” Muslim paradigm, it’s somehow obligatory to create a new one, one that reflects a different set of ideological predilections:

A front that has expanded under a Democratic White House, expedited by an outwardly progressive administration that enables Muslim liberals or democrats to engage in a fashion impossible under a Republican White House. 

Therefore, while expansion of the surveillance state under Obama is reality-politik, his party affiliation and racial identity broadens the net of who can serve as a native informant, and specifically, the "progressive Muslim informant" or counter-radicalisation proponent. 

Indeed, Muslim American engagement with former president George W Bush was limited to fringe voices from the right or "establishment scholars", who traded academic objectivity for influence with the establishment. The vast majority of Muslim Americans, while Bush was in office, distanced themselves from these native informants.

So the “moderate” Muslims who engaged the progressive Democrats were apparently dupes and knaves, while those who engaged the Bush administration were “fringe voices,” in other words, “bad.” The good Muslims, therefore, must be those who avoid any political entanglement with the Establishment, Left and Right – which would make them the good fringe, I guess. Or, perhaps neo-Anarchists, a la Chomsky – the aspiring alternative establishment that, in the meantime, enjoys the legitimacy of being on the good fringe of the spectrum. This is not deconstruction. This is mythmaking. No, this is justification for staying on the fringe, the fucked-up fringe, and railing against the unjust world whose main powers keep categorizing us as they see fit. But railing doesn’t change the world. Only engagement does. And we can only engage who is – the real not the illusion. Meanwhile, if we want to sort ourselves differently, perhaps, it’s time to learn ow the sorting gets done. Hint: it’s not done from margins. 
  

“This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.” Russia's Nuclear Ambitions in the Middle East “Getting Power by Providing Power”. Those who think that the Iran Deal was a victory for nonproliferation have little understanding of human nature. But what does it matter, by the time they acknowledge that, if they ever did, it will be too late to do anything about it. 

The world is built by refugees “Now I will believe that there are unicorns, that in Arabia there is one tree, the phoenix' throne, one phoenix at this hour reigning there.” –Shakespeare, The Tempest (Sebastian)


“Asem, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee, was a university student before his country’s civil war. He dropped out to become a paramedic. During a mission to rescue injured civilians, a shell hit his ambulance, and his world went dark. When he came to, Asem realized his leg had vanished into the vortex of loss and destruction that is today’s Middle East. A year later, Asem taught himself how to use a 3D printer in three weeks and how to code an Arduino in three days. “You’ll see my new skills better and better,” he proclaimed proudly. He had produced two low-cost, open-source healthcare solutions for other disabled victims of conflict: a 3D-printed prosthetic hand and an ultrasonic echolocation device for his friend Ahmad, who was blinded by sniper fire in Syria. Asem rapidly absorbed expertise in advanced technology in order to help those who had lost everything. He found a path to dignity and purpose as a volunteer for Refugee Open Ware (ROW), our consortium for humanitarian innovation.“ ROW gives people hope to live,” he said. “We changed the life of an amputee to become a good thing in this world.”

Also, Syrians use pedal power to get electricity flowing. “In the areas around the capital Damascus, where hundreds of thousands of Syrians are living under a four-year regime siege with almost no electricity at all, people have found ways to make their own power. War-torn Syria is now awash with solar panels, fuel made from plastic bags and even bicycle-powered batteries.

The Exotic Observations & Propositions of Delirian Mundi
Known to those of his followers seeking his canonization and entry into the Valtheon of Deliriology, as Agnus Mundi, and to his detractors as Ranae Dei and even Capra Satanae, Delirian Mundi’s writings, mixing satire and philosophical reflections, continue to be polarizing, inspiring both adulation and ridicule. Bearing this in mind, we, the editors at DDGD, continue to publish these previously unknown series of “exotic observations and propositions,” as Delirian himself referred to them, as part of our continuing commitment to instigate debate over sensitive issues.

* What makes every period that we live through feel so surreal is our ability to keep repeating all the mistakes and all crimes of the past, to adhere to all the troubling modes of thought and behavior, and to keep behaving like the perennially infantile beings that we are, and yet, somehow, looking back on things, we can more often see that progress, even moral progress, has somehow been made.   

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Cartoons: The Cauldron
  
ЯeveЯsed Polarity – A Guest Blog  
A delirium-inducing celebrity-related thingy, imagined even real, real even when imagined, and completely irrelevant, even when maintaining the appearance of purpose. Notice: All celebrities appearing here, even the fictitious ones, are real, but not necessarily actual, and all their statements and quotes, especially those deemed libelous, for whatever unenlightened reason, are their own, even when they are factious but somehow actual, and have absolutely nothing to do with the author of this blog, or the editors of ЯP, no matter how delusional he/they may seem at times, or happen to be, for real.

How does a person with great vision express himself? ЯeveЯsed Polarity wanted to know. But having vowed not to impose ourselves on her Poultriness, Mrs. Qim Qardashian, we went to the next best available alternative: her current beau, Mr. Qanye West, who graced us with this statement:

A great man with a great vision has only two choices when it comes to expressing his vision to the world: he either lies uncontrollably or blabbers uncontrollably. Honesty is no longer a trait that is appreciated, nor is comprehensibility. Meanwhile, delusions of grandeur, justified or not, are the real-mind expanding drug of our time. This is what gives one a survival edge, what makes social Darwinism, in its purest unmitigated form, possible. Just think about it. Or is too real for you?

Theatrum Ad Vere Stultum  
A series of post-postmodern takes on the "classics," new and old, starring the world’s and history’s most (in)famous public figures. Notice: All characters in these scenes even the fictitious ones are real, and all their statements, especially those deemed libelous, are their own and have absolutely nothing to do with the author of this blog, no matter how delusional he may seem at times, or happen to be, for real.
Scene from all-female all-nude performance of The Tempest in NY City’s Central Park


William Shakespeare, The Tempest: A Modern Syrian Version: Act 30 – Scene 321
Spectator 1
Hey, look over there. A shipwreck.
Spectator 2
Close. It’s actually all that is left of Syria.
Spectator 1
Wow. What happened? Where are the cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples?
Spectator 2
They all dissolved into thin air, like the baseless fabric of all promises of succor made.
Spectator 1
I see. Instead of acting on Never Again, a little bit of history just repeated itself.
Spectator 2
Indeed. Our indulgence has set the monsters free again. For the past is nothing more than a never ending prologue to more of the same.
Spectator 1
And for all too many of us today the revels are now ended, a bit prematurely perhaps. 
© Ammar Abdulhamid 2016

“As you from crimes would pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free.” –Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” (Prospero)

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