The 5th Political Theory – Introduction Pt.2

the-project-for-the-new-middle-east

(Update: new content on this topic will be posted on my new political blog here)

Geo-political realities, artificial borders and ‘constructive instability’

It’s a tragedy when the collective imagination of a people becomes a sacred reality, in relation to the existing political geography, as if it were destined to be this way, or as if it was some kind of immovable, untouchable, unalterable barrier. As a result of this new collective consciousness, wars are fought over those borders as easily as they would sing their national anthems.

The Fifth Political Theory is a revolt against all those inherited religious, sectarian and tribal conflicts, still present in the collective consciousness of the region. Some would say that the future is hostage to the crimes, stupidity, ambitions and fanaticisms of our ancestors, so when moving forward, we must take those things into consideration!

That’s nonsense! An enlightened mind sees the opposite to be true: what must be built is a future of revolt against all that stupidity and all those inherited conflicts and divisions. A revolt against those who have drawn our identities in the days of fanaticism, and defined our understanding in the days of devolution.

We shouldn’t blame the laymen for this tragedy, as much as we should blame the intellectuals, religious scholars and political leaders. These groups of people claim to be aware of the realities of matters and the affairs happening around them, having an explanation ready for anything that occurs, because they watch the news and read political analyses. Such is the shallowness of these groups, that they are ignorant of the complex global strategies of creating events in order to affect collective awareness and thinking. ‘The powers that be’ do this through the creation of ideas to create or influence events, or through the observation of the dynamics of social interaction and how it can be manipulated, or the influencing of collective consciousness through the control of media and the tools used to analyse global events. In this way, they are able to control people’s behaviours and the outcome of events.

That is how conflicts and wars are managed behind the scenes. Everyone is made to believe they are playing an active role, while in fact they are mere tools in someone else’s master plan.

The strategy of Constructive Instability

In 2005 the executive director of the influential Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Robert Satloff, wrote an open letter to the under-secretary of state for public diplomacy, Karen Hughes, with this recommendation: “Banish the terms ‘Arab world’ and ‘Muslim world’ from America’s diplomatic lexicon; be as country-specific as possible, in both word and deed. Radical Islamists want to erase borders and create a supranational world where the lines of demarcation run between the ‘house of Islam’ and the ‘house of war’ [meaning lands in which Islamic law is not applied]. Don’t cede the battlefield to them without a fight”. Satloff dubbed the strategy “constructive instability” and insists that the search for stability has been a feature of US policy in the region. “In other regions . . . US strategists debated the wisdom of stability . . . but George W Bush was the first president to argue that stability was itself an obstacle to the advancement of US interests in the Middle East… In this effort the US has employed a range of coercive and non-coercive measures, from military force to implement regime change in Iraq and Afghanistan, to a mix of carrots-and-sticks first to isolate Yasser Arafat and then to encourage new, peaceful, accountable Palestinian leadership; to the gentle (and increasingly less so) use of the bully pulpit to nudge Egypt and Saudi Arabia down the reformist path”.[1]

The most important information contained in this strategy is the dynamics of interaction or influence, across political borders, from Lebanon to the rest of the Arabic world, and vice-versa. It includes information on how media and politics work together dynamically, how military action works with the tools of political analysis, how political ideas work with religious and ideological thinking, and how national identities interact with sub-identities (religious and sectarian). Satloff spoke in the policy paper about a ‘Beirut endgame’ and Lebanon almost exclusively, as if it was a key starting point from which to target the rest of the region. The goal is to reformulate the collective awareness in the Middle East, and as a result to redraw its political maps, and to define the new political standpoints of the countries vis-a-vis themselves and with the West. [2]

There are various reasons why Lebanon is the ideal starting point to re-draw the regional map:

a) Lebanon is a country with multiple sects and religious denominations, like some of its neighbours, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Syria in particular, and any conflict between those groups will have a knock-on effect on the region.

b) Lebanon has a large Palestinian refugee population, and any instability in that country could affect the Palestinian refugee cause and taken advantage of.

c) Lebanon has a resistance, and anything that negatively affects it will affects the resistance axis.

d) Lebanon has a ‘free and independent media’, and a public that interacts with its media, which would undoubtedly cause neighbouring countries to interact with it as well. And through this media, we would be able to influence the general opinions of those neighbouring countries.

e) Lebanon holds parliamentary elections, which can be used to call others to replicate this model.

What Satloff didn’t mention in his study, is the effect of political assassinations and armed conflict (as has been the case in Lebanon) has had on the collective consciousness in Lebanon and the region. Especially, since this is something the US has made use of for some time, in order to influence the course of events in many countries.

Satloff’s policy document explicitly admits that there exists a strategy of instability, and admits that there is a complex plan that combines political and intellectual thinking, military strategy and media analysis, in the same way a molecular compound is broken apart and re-arranged to form a new compound.

In the face of such detailed strategic planning, we should ask ourselves: have we devised a response to such plans with a similar counter-strategy?

Have we mobilised politically and through social movements and the media in a way to be effective regionally across all borders? Have we cured our maladies, so as not to turn into obedient tools in the hands of those planning for ‘constructive instability’?

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[1] Charara, Walid; Le Monde Diplomatique, ‘Constructive instability‘,  07/07/2005.

[2] Satloff, Robert; Assessing the Bush Administration’s Policy of ‘Constructive Instability’ (Part I): Lebanon and Syria, March 2005. And: Assessing the Bush Administration’s Policy of ‘Constructive Instability’ (Part II): Regional Dynamics‘.

1 thought on “The 5th Political Theory – Introduction Pt.2”

  1. Great article. In 2005 there was an assassination in Lebanon of the prime minister that sparked a shia-sunni rift. It was first blamed on Syira then later blamed on Hizbullah. Both denied involvement. Hizbullah held its own investigation, but was ignored by the media. In my opinion it was part of this destabilizing strategy which is no doubt headed by Israel.

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