The 5th Political Theory – Introduction Pt.2

(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‘.

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.