The 5th Political Theory – Introduction

(Update: the content of this post and what will follow, is now mirrored in my political blog here)

People used to look to identity as a unifying force around a particular political project, or social endeavour, in order to protect the interest of the group. However, we view identity to be the biggest hindrance to progress in our region, and the most negative heritage that has lead us to conflicts with no end or solution in sight. In fact, it is a drain of resources (human and natural), and it is taking us in the opposite direction of the movement of history.

The Fifth Political Theory is not a project to unite around an identity, but a project to unite around a common future goal, best suited for the progress of our society, to enable us to compete amongst the most advanced nations of the world.

A note on Identity

The conflicts in our region, especially the one initiated by what became known as the ‘Arab Spring’, are conflicts that utilise the instigation of one identity against the other, with policies purposely absent, in order for the policies of others to take advantage of the situation. As a result, instead of different factions debating which policies are best suited to manage their affairs in the region, we have a never-ending struggle of religious and ideological identities. These religions and ideologies, have been emptied of their socio-political essences and revolutionary progressive ideas, so it should come as no surprise that their opinions matter very little to the rest of the world (if they ever show opinions on things that matter!).

When Jesus (as) came to revolt against the status-quo of his time, he didn’t do so by attaching himself to an existing identity. The Christian identity came after people started to follow his teachings. The same applied to the early Muslims of the Arabian Peninsula, who followed Islam, not to become part of an existing identity, but to destroy the status-quo. Islam came as a social project to ‘islamize’  the people, and not to be carried as an identity. The current conflicts in the region revolve around identities, with total absence of their original ‘islamization’ or ‘christianization’, i.e. an absence of a deep and meaningful understanding of why they carry this identity, and as a result, what they could offer in terms of socio-political projects.

The majority of people in our region have inherited an identity, it is but a few who are truly religious.

The Fifth Political Theory is a political, social, economical and humanitarian project. Any reformist project must look back at history, revolt against any negative inheritance that has been accumulated over the years, and learn from the experiences of our ancestors. We are not responsible for our ancestor’s deeds, but we can build on them and work towards more perfect policies and social behaviours, setting an examples to the rest of the world. This cannot be achieved whilst hiding behind an inherited identity. Those who hide behind religious identities, have forgotten or misunderstood the true meaning and message of their faith, and instead are behaving more like infighting tribes.

Religious and sectarian infighting is the beginning of the end of religion (as was the case in the European wars of religion in the 16th century, that lead to the enlightenment and Europe’s eventual secularism).

This project is a revolt against inherited religions, because all that remains today are inherited religious identities, filled with fanaticism, and devoid of any sacred, social, political, or economical essence and intelligence.

Advertisements

Israel, the Syrian uprising and use of the concept the “enemy”

From resistance-episteme (aka Amal Saad-Ghorayeb):

An op-ed today in al-Akhbar referred to Israel as  “the enemy” in Arabic. Although use of this term to describe Israel was once very common in Arab popular parlance and in local media, its use in this context has significantly decreased since the Syrian uprising.  Once a term reserved almost exclusively to Israel, the concept of the enemy from without has been fast replaced by the enemy from within in both pro-government and opposition circles. While government supporters can hardly be faulted for depicting the Zionist-normalizing, NATO-loving FSA as an “enemy” force, especially given its proxy status and military links with Syria’s strategic enemies, as well as its intent to destroy Syria as a state, it is both morally inexcusable and intellectually indefensible for Syrians and Arabs who profess enmity towards Israel, to use this term to describe the Assad government or Hizbullah or Iran, all of whom have paid a high price for confronting the Israeli enemy both politically and militarily.

The danger of such labeling can hardly be overstated in this case; the link between power and language has been well documented by the likes of Michel Foucault and Edward Said. As these thinkers have noted, language creates not only knowledge, but reality itself. The resulting discourse, which becomes internalized by its subjects shapes their assumptions, values and cultural habits. In short, it changes and re-fashions their political identity and beliefs.

To be more accurate, this discursive onslaught began in 2005 when the Lebanese became divided over whether Syria or Israel was their real enemy, with some March 14 politicians referring to the Zionist entity as “our neighbor”. But irrespective of this semantic divide and March 14’s collaboration with Israel during the July war as Wikileaks documents later revealed, not once did Hizbullah refer to the opposing camp as “the enemy”,” and settled on terms like “ our opponents/rivals” and “the other camp”.  Compare  this to the Syrian opposition camp today, whose leading “intellectuals” and activists in the Arab world have no qualms about speaking of the “Shia enemy” or the “Iranian enemy”, or cheering on the FSA who issue empty threats to attack Hizbullah and assassinate Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah.

By redefining the concept of the “enemy”, both the Syrian uprising and to a lesser extent, its US- engineered counterpart in Lebanon, have succeeded in reversing decades of Arab political socialization, whereby those who prioritize resistance to Israel and the US are mocked and dismissed as old-school anti-imperialists, or more disparagingly by Third Wayers like Bassam Haddad, as “Fumigating Anti-Imperialists”.

  The Arab Spring may not be a revolution in the economic or political sense of the term, but it has achieved a semantic revolution which, if left unchecked by counter-hegemonic forces, will lead to the full intellectual and political colonization of the Arab mind and the Arab identity.

British colonial atrocities

Deny the British empire’s crimes? No, we ignore them

‘Elkins reveals that the British detained not 80,000 Kikuyu, as the official histories maintain, but almost the entire population of one and a half million people, in camps and fortified villages. There, thousands were beaten to death or died from malnutrition, typhoid, tuberculosis and dysentery. In some camps almost all the children died.’

 

Iranian/Russian counter-attack?

Could this be a hint of an anti-imperialist retaliation for what happened in Libya and is happening in Syria? We’ll see.

IP gas pipeline: Russia agrees to financial and technical assistance

Drilling down on the Iran-Pakistan pipeline

Still looks like the cheapest option for Pakistan:

The gas price under IP project would be $11 per Million British Thermal Unit (MMBTU), for TAPI $13 per MMBTU and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) at $18 per MMBTU.

The Balfour Declaration – Book Review

By Jim Miles

(The Balfour Declaration – The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Jonathan Schneer Anchor Canada. Random House, Toronto, 2012.)

This is the best that academic political history gets. More than simply the dates and the ‘facts’, Jonathan Schneer is able to give some personality to the characters involved, including the all too human factors of lying, deceit, and manipulation that many political histories miss. The title, given to the letter that carried the name, The Balfour Declaration covers all the actors in the scene from the European empires, the Ottoman empire, the European Zionists, and the Arab politicians of the Middle East. Lord Balfour himself certainly played a large part in the affairs of the world during that epoch, but the declaration itself owes its existence to these many other players and their machinations within the destructive chaos of World War I.

History

The cynicism, manipulation, and backstabbing is clear throughout the history. Before the Arabs joined in hostilities directed at the Turks, Egyptian High Commissioner Henry McMahon stated, “we have to…tempt the Arab people into the right path, detach them form the enemy and bring them on to our side. This on our part is at present largely a matter of words…we must use persuasive terms and abstain from academic haggling over conditions.” In a later comment in the work, Schneer says these “telegrams…inadvertently revealed the hopes, contradictions, tensions, guile, and prejudices now at work in shaping British and Allied wartime policy toward both the Jews and Arabs.”

The history rests on these manipulations and “nebulous” proposals. The British wanted the Arabs on their side; they also wanted control of Palestine and Mesopotamia (Basra, Baghdad, Mosul). The French also wanted a share of the same region (mostly Syria, a largely undefined region at the time), and Britain wanted to limit their influence. The Arabs of course wanted their own governance out from under the Ottoman Turkish rule; they were willing to allow a very limited British and French presence, at the same time knowing they needed their military assistance to get rid of the Turkish military. There were early signs “of the incomprehension with which some important Britons initially pursued two mutually exclusive policies,” from which as is generally the case, no one is satisfied.

The Jewish people were divided significantly between “assimilationists” – those thinking that assimilation and remaining as a Britain who is a Jew as compared to a Jew who happens to be in Britain – and the “nationalists” – Zionists who worked for their own national state in Palestine. The British and the French overestimated the power of Jewish political influence and played this misguided feature (as did the Jews) to help in their victory over Germany, the Turks, and for Jewish support at home.

Familiar Patterns

Throughout the history the parallels with later and more contemporary ideas concerning Israel and Palestine are obvious – at least for those familiar with the more contemporary scene.

The first idea is demographics, always a concern for the Jewish population in Palestine/Israel. The many comments of later Zionists about needing a majority in the land (which contradicts any claims of a land without people) was understood by the very early Zionists. Already looking to the future, the Earl of Crewe (Asquith’s secretary in India) noted from the British side, “when in the course of time the Jewish colonists in Palestine grow strong enough to cope with the Arab population they may be allowed to take the management of the internal affairs of Palestine…into their own hands.” As Schneer commented, “Weizmann could have asked for little more.”

Another concept carried forward and still emphasized today is that of Jewish superiority over the Arabs in all aspects. Asher Ginzberg noted, “We are used to thinking of the Arabs as primitive men of the desert, as a donkey-like nature that neither sees nor understands what is going on around it,” and ends with a warning, “But that is a great error.” He further warned against the “ ‘repressive cruelty’ employed by Zionists in their dealings with Arabs,” in 1891, well before events of WW I and the current repression in Palestine.

Judaism

Judaism is seen as being divided into halve and then into quarters. As noted above, there were (and are) assimilationist and nationalist Jews, and within the latter, the home of the Zionists, there exists “cultural” Zionists, and “political” Zionists.

In Judaism in general there is the struggle between existing as a diaspora, working with the “liberal tolerant creed of Judaism,” and against “the necessity and eternity of war.” Cultural Judaism (and cultural Zionism) look on Judaism as “an ethos and approach to life,” rather than a dispersed nation state. The political Zionists emphasize the need for military strength within a nation state – this latter viewpoint gained huge currency after World War II and has become one of the main fallback arguments as to the reason why the current state of Israel is acting the way it is.

The nationalist Zionists won the argument, not necessarily by force of logic or emotion, but through the political manipulations within Britain and France, remaining ignorant by design of the promises made between Britain and France and Britain and the Arabs concerning the Middle East and Palestine.

Palestine and the Balfour Declaration

Another factor that comes through by implication and repetition is that the concept of Palestine as a separate Arab state is not a new idea, not an idea that came into being after the nakba of 1948, not an invented idea. It is a concept, a stated reality within the negotiations taking place throughout this period of time.

One of the more disconcerting features of the Balfour Declaration is its apparent acceptance as legal entitlement for the state of Israel. There is no validity to it being considered an internationally legal document supporting Israel. In political reality, it was essentially a statement, a “declaration” that Britain supported and would assist with the establishment of a Jewish home in the region. Even then, it was according to Schneer almost overcome by other then current negotiations with the French and the Arabs in the region, negotiations kept hidden from the Zionists, including the lead protagonist in the story, Chaim Weizmann.

Aftermath

Schneer presents the many arguments concerning the wording and intent of the Declaration, essentially indicating that it was a political statement to gain favour with Jews and pre-empt any such statement of a Jewish homeland coming from the U.S. or Germany. Edwin Montagu argued at the time that “Palestine will become the world’s Ghetto,” perhaps more correct than he anticipated in regards to the Palestinians themselves.

The conclusion reached by Schneer, stated twice,

“Because it was unpredictable and characterized by contradictions, deceptions, misinterpretations, and wishful thinking, the lead-up to the Balfour Declaration sowed dragon’s teeth.. It produced a murderous harvest, and we go on harvesting even today.”

His final summation is,

“During World War I…Britain and her allies slew the Ottoman dragon in the Middle East. By their policies they sowed dragon’s teeth, Armed men rose up from the ground. They are rising still.”

More Reading

This is an excellent historical work, but it is dealing with a complex time and a complex issue with many undercurrents and counter currents to the mainstream of history that is usually understood for the First World War, its causes and its consequences.

To gain a strong view of the events before during and after WW I, other reading material will give a broader more detailed outline and make The Balfour Declaration by Schneer easier to follow. To gain a good overview, Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August (Random House, 1994) provides an excellent history of events before the war, and how the same features of deception and guile, of patriotic beliefs in empire, created a situation only needing a spark to set it off. For the period immediately after the war, when grand sounding rhetoric turned out to be the same old imperialist hype, Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919 (Random House 2003) is an excellent work. The events of the war itself are generally well covered by many historical works, although often without the insight that Tuchman or MacMillan provide into the underlying human errors and ignorance that breeds war. For more background on the current situation in Palestine/Israel, one of the best works covering the post Second World War period is Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (Oneworld Publications, 2007).

These four works combined will give the reader an excellent understanding of the roots of the current situation in Palestine/Israel. They reveal much that is not written in the standard history texts, of the standard military autobiographies written for the grandeur of the winning more powerful side.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

NATO suspends military projects to wage all-out economic war on Syria

Thierry Meyssan

NATO is currently reviewing its strategy for Syria. After eight months of low intensity war and despite the infiltration of many Arab and Pashtun fighters, Syrian society has not fractured. To be sure, some religious clashes took place in Deraa, Homs and Banias, but they were not widespread and were short lived. For the Alliance, it is no longer realistic to think that it can rapidly foment a civil war to justify an “international humanitarian operation.”

This realization comes at a time when the ad hocmilitary coalition is in the throes of a crisis. During the war against Libya, the initiative had been spearheaded by France and the UK. However, the two European heavyweights proved they were incapable of mobilizing the necessary resources. In fact, three quarters of the war effort was provided or funded by the Pentagon. Above all, the deployment of inadequate devices could have wrought disaster had Libya decided to attack NATO’s ships and helicopters [1]. The problem is much worse in the case of Syria, which boasts a population four times larger than that of Libya, and an army seasoned by previous regional conflicts.

It was therefore decided to strengthen the Franco-British duo by bringing in Germany. A tripartite agreement was to be negotiated on December 2 to mark, albeit belatedly, the anniversary of the Lancaster House Treaty [2] which laid down the organizational framework for the joint British and French expeditionary forces and sealed the fate of Libya [3]. However, the event was canceled. In the middle of the Western economic crisis, Berlin is loath to underwrite war expenses without a guaranteed return on its investment.

Germany’s budgetary rationality has shattered the epic dreams of the US-Israeli military-industrial complex. The departure of Robert Gates and the rise of Hillary Clinton have signaled the revival of the project for the “remodeling of the Greater Middle East” and its extension to North Africa. However, this doctrine – which stems from the imperial ideology of Leo Strauss – reeks of a perpetual headlong rush, the war having no other aim than itself. It may ideal for the war economy of the United States, but it hardly suits Germany’s peace-based economy.

The plan of a conventional war against Syria raises many economic issues. No European nation would have anything to gain either in the short or medium term, while many are likely to lose a few feathers. In the case of Libya, whereas British and French businessmen were swift to cash in on their dividends by renegotiating the oil concessions to their advantage, the Turks and the Italians were left holding the bag, losing nearly all their markets in the former colony.

Pending the creation of an ad hoc military coalition, NATO has temporarily turned to the economic war scenario. It intends to besiege Syria by cutting it off from all import-export trade, and sabotaging its means of production. Behind the moralistic label of “sanctions,” the Alliance member states and their Arab League vassals have already imposed a bank freeze that prohibits commodity trading. They are currently concentrating on shutting down lines of communication, including airlines, and the pull out of multinational companies, mainly oil companies. Thus, following in the footsteps of Shell and Total, Petro-Canada is on its way out, closing behind it the plant that supplies electricity to the city of Homs.

In particular, the first major act of sabotage was perpetrated against the pipeline supplying the same power plant, to make sure it could not operate once the Canadian engineers had gone. This terrorist act was claimed by the Syrian Free Army, although it is not possible to verify who was really behind it: military felons, Al Qaeda mercenaries or NATO commandos.

With the exception of fuel and electricity, no shortage has so far been reported in Syria. To mitigate the impact of the siege, Damascus is busy establishing new exchanges with Beijing. Because of the bank embargo, they have to be conducted on a barter basis, as China is already doing with Iran. This system should allow Syria to save its economy, apart from the tourist industry which has already been severely affected over the long term.

At any rate, the siege of Syria has already claimed many economic victims in Turkey, whose cancellation of the free trade agreement with Syria and the introduction of prohibitive tariffs have devastated the border regions. And although the Syrians are prepared to endure deprivations to save their country, the Turks are not willing to suffer the same fate on behalf of NATO’s ambitions.

In addition, this strategic reorientation has placed the Syrian National Council in an awkward position. Those political figures who endorsed a form of nonviolent action inspired by Gene Sharp’s orange revolutions [4] are now forced to subscribe to acts which have been claimed by members of the Syrian Free Army. The conflict is all the more acute considering that both groups are based in Istanbul and expected to work side by side.

The suspension of the international military intervention plan was confirmed by the return to Damascus of the US, French and German Ambassadors. It imposes a change in the media campaign. Already, the Anglo-American media have dropped references to the most outrageous and less credible accusations leveled against Bashar al-Assad, such as the allegation concerning the torture of children. The State Department itself no longer describes the Syrian President as a monster, but as a man “out of touch with reality” (sic) ” [5]. His case, therefore, no longer requires an urgent treatment. Moreover, the revelations made by several journalists about the situation in Syrian, belying the image conveyed by Western propaganda for the past eight months [6], calls for an indispensable lull.

[1] “Accidental Heroes. Britain, France and the Libya Operation” by Michael Clarke, Malcolm Chalmers, Jonathan Eyal, Shashank Joshi, Mark Phillips, Elizabeth Quintana and Lee Willett, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Octtobeer 2011, 13 p, 1,4 Mo.

[2] “Déclaration franco-britannique sur la coopération de défense et de sécurité », Réseau Voltaire, 2 November 2010.

[3“’Operation Odyssey Dawn’ breaking for Washington”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 20 March 2011.

[4] “The Albert Einstein Institution: non-violence according to the CIA”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 4 January 2005.

[5Daily Press Briefing,” U.S. Department of State, 6 December 2011.

[6Запад и ближневосточные монархии жаждут сожрать Сирию,” by Thierry Meyssan, Komsomolskaia Pravda, 29 November 2011.

السيد مقتدى الصدر: الأميركيون يبنون قاعدة عسكرية في إقليم كردستان

ابنا : یاتي نقلا عن صحيفة “الحياة” بان السيد مقتدى الصدر اعتبر الولايات المتحدة لم تفي بوعدها فيما يتعلق عن انسحابها الكامل من الاراضي العراقية وشكك في تنفيذ عملية الانسحاب الكامل للقوات الامريكية

وأعرب السيد مقتدى الصدر عن قناعته بـ «عدم تنفيذ أميركا وعودها بالانسحاب من العراق»، مؤكداً أن «انسحاب الأميركيين لن يكون كلياً»

وأشار إلى أن «واقع الحال هو عكس ما تروج له وسائل الإعلام الغربية بخروج قوات الاحتلال ووجود معلومات تشير إلى أن الأميركيين يقومون ببناء قاعدة في قرية سيبران سه روو شمال غربي مدينة اربيل». وقال «حذرتكم وقلت وسأقول لن يكون هنالك انسحاب كلي إلا بناء على رؤيتهم، لا ما نرى وما نريد »

وجاءت هذه التطورات متزامنة مع زيارة مستشار الأمن القومي (القيادي في حزب الدعوة الاسلامية) فالح الفياض للولايات المتحدة، وأفادت بعض المعلومات بأن لديه تخويلاً من المالكي للاتفاق مع الأميركيين على صيغة تضمن بقاء المدربين العسكريين بعد نهاية العام الجاري

 وأبلغ مستشار نوري المالكي لشؤون إقليم كردستان “عادل برواري” إلى مصادر اعلامية أن «الرئيس مسعود بارزاني وكل القادة والأحزاب الكردية يصرون على ضرورة بقاء قوات أميركية في المناطق المتنازع عليها»

وعن مصير المعدات العسكرية الأميركية قال برواري إن «الاتفاقية الأمنية (موقعة بين بغداد وواشنطن عام 2008) لم تنص على مثل هذه الأمور، ويجب أن تبحثها لجنة التنسيق المشتركة»