Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘colonialism

Syria Burning

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syrian-tank-082207-lg

Well, Syria is still in the news. Well, the colonial propaganda that passes for news in the west. Let’s see, Syria is another of the countries that was made up after World War One by the British and French as they carved up the Ottoman Empire for their own colonial exploitative purposes. Since Syria had no resources worth bothering with, it was ruled by a series of more-or-less independent dictators until the present day. With the arrival of the Arab Spring a few years back, serious opposition to the Assad dictatorship broke out, and the country is essentially in full blown insurrection. It’s not however a civil war, since the rebels are not united into a single faction by any stretch of the imagination. Since the Assad dictatorship posed a clear danger to colonial rule in the region, IE the possibility that Syria would evolve into a modern secular state, the west has been almost gleefully providing the rebels with support. And it’s certainly made a bloody mess of the country, if nothing else.

Where to start. Chemical weapons. This is a propaganda term used by the west to claim that someone is as bad as Hitler. Chemical weapons are just that, weapons. There’s nothing magically evil about them, and for most purposes have limited military applications. IE a nation with chemical weapons isn’t anymore threatening than a nation without them, they are weapons, that’s all. Sure, they can be used to commit atrocities, like any other weapon. So when Obama makes a big deal about Syria’s use of chemical weapons, it is just a  propaganda device to justify further US meddling in Syria. Which leads us to a sad observation, the west isn’t even giving lip service to national sovereignty anymore. The fact that Syria is an independent country doesn’t even register in the western media.

And now Israel is getting its licks in. Israel respects no limits in its quest for control of all of Palestine. They routinely wage war in other countries when it suits their military. How this will help matters in Syria is difficult to grasp. How it will help Israel is also a mystery, but Israeli foreign policy long ago ceased to make sense. Apparently they plan to live behind a wall forever, periodically waging war on their neighbours and occupied territories. The claim is that it is trying to prevent arms from being transferred to Hezbollah. Since Hezbollah is both well armed, and strictly defensively oriented toward Israel, it’s hard to see why this would be necessary … especially since it risks widening and already ugly war. That’s how countries get when they are hyper-militarized though, like the USA and Israel, military action is not only the first option, it’s the only option.

And of course the UN is playing its now well established role as the enforcer of international rule, IE western rule. It’s a safe bet that the Arab League’s request that the UN stop Israel’s attacks on Syria won’t go anywhere. Granted its more a less a symbolic gesture by the Arab League, since most of their governments are western satraps. The UN is also questioning whether or not the rebels used chemical weapons. The west isn’t all too excited about the rebels either, they are hardly the secular (IE can be bribed) freedom fighters the west prefers to bankroll. I’m not even sure the west has much of a strategy at this point, other than the usual fall-back, let the locals kill enough of each other and maybe we will get back in somehow someday.

God only knows what is going to happen to Syria. We are seeing a weird combination of trends in the world now. The military might of the west continues to grow, though it is purely the ability to wage destruction from affair. At the same time the proliferation of weapons in the world and the rise of social media and modern communications networks is making revolt against dictatorships both more effective and more likely. We’re  seeing the post World War One colonial edifice in the Middle East collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. The old fashioned personal based dictatorships seeming to be the most vulnerable to this collapse. Even if a regional war doesn’t break out, I suspect in ten years the Middle East will look nothing like it does today.  Good times.

At least this isn’t another Obama post.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s a Syrian tank destroyed during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the last World War Two styled war in the region. With a dead Syrian soldier beside it. So so many people die in the endless madness in the Middle East, but it’s what the west wants. And what the west wants, it gets.)

Written by unitedcats

May 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Balkanization, the wave of the future?

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The world, 2031? I doubt it. This in fact was touted as a “random Balkanization map,” and it looks pretty random to me. I’m willing to bet though, that like my proposed map of the Middle East post, sooner or later a commenter will think it’s completely serious and take great umbrage. Stay tuned.

Why a random map? To illustrate Balkanization. What is Balkanization? It’s when a big country breaks up into smaller countries. It came into popular usage after World War One, when the Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman Empires were broken up. A lot of this happened in the Balkans. According to Wikipedia, the term Balkanization is usually used as a pejorative. Curious. In any event, this topic is more current than many people, especially in the USA, realize. Over the past few decades there has been extensive Balkanization in Europe, the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia being the foremost examples.  Czechoslovakia also split in two. A map of Europe now is considerably different than the one I grew up with.

Now however another wave of European Balkanization seems to be on the horizon. Spain, Belgium, and Great Britain all have very serious separatist movements that are gaining in popularity. In Great Britain it’s primarily Scotland, but the Wales independence movement is getting stronger. Flanders (in Belgium) and Catalonia (in Spain.) Then there’s Venice, an independent republic for centuries before it was conquered 156 years ago. I mean, Spain, Britain, or Italy could break up? Anything is possible, the incredible scope and breath of human history shows that.

Why does Balkanization occur? For the most part, nationalism. A people, culture, or ethnic group decides they would prefer to have their own government and run their own affairs. Seems reasonable enough, right? Sadly, no. Reasonable as it may be, governments tend to be adamantly opposed to peoples and territories under their control declaring independence. In fact, that encompasses much, if not most organized violence on the planet, now and historically. Sometimes countries break up peacefully, more often than not violence is involved.

What does the future hold? My guess is a lot more Balkanization. There are two reasons for this. First, there are thousands of ethnic groups on the planet, and only a few hundred governments. Many of these thousands of people would prefer to have their own nation. Few, if any, of the hundreds of governments want to give up people and territory. And modern communication is increasing nationalism, or at least a  case can be made that it is facilitating it. On the other hand, modern propaganda is ever more effectively blurring the boundary between people and government. In some cases, governments and peoples more or less overlap. Many of the European nations. A handful of small nations around the globe. In much of the rest of the world, governments and peoples have little relation. And while the masses in the west are propagandized into thinking that “Libyan, Syrian, Somalian, Iraqi, Mali, etc.” are describing real peoples, the peoples living in these regions are not confused. These “nations” are are lines drawn on maps by the western colonial powers. People are setting themselves on fire in Tibet to demand their own state for god’s sake.

So we have some problems. Compounding this argument, is the idea that smaller is getting more powerful. As I have said before, gunpowder ended feudalism as a way of life. Smokeless gunpowder ended overt colonialism. It’s looking like a combination of computers (in the broadest sense of the word) and the IED/RPG/AK47 are ending the era of neocolonialism. As evidence look at Afghanistan. The USA, the greatest military power the world has ever known, has fought it’s longest war ever against a rag-tag insurgency that has no major international supporters. The Viet Cong had China and Russia at their back, the Taliban has nobody. And yet the USA is no closer to vanquishing them than ever.

In other words, I see a lot more Balkanization in the future. And a lot more violence. Not a terribly sophisticated argument, but one of many that flies in the face of rosy predictions that The End of History is here and western, especially American, confidence that overwhelming military power will solve all our problems internationally. No, no it won’t, the age of gunboat diplomacy is long over, no matter how powerful our gunboats.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Yadda yadda, yadda. The credit and copyright may belong to someone who goes by the Internet moniker Thespitron 6000. Notice how I subtly snuck in that now the US Navy is building drone warships.)

Written by unitedcats

November 8, 2012 at 6:16 am

Can I Open My Eyes Yet?

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Well, I’m back. Maybe not literally back, but back to blogging. July was a very rough month for me on a personal level, but I made it through and am a better person for it. I’m also vastly more free than I was a month ago, nothing like having options to help keep one’s perspective. And then there’s the little matter of the world going to shit. For those who are reasonably aware of what’s going on in the world, the consensus view is along the lines of  “this isn’t going to end well.” Colonialism is exacerbating our problems as a species, and has about run its course as an economic ideology. (I know, we’ve pretended since World War Two that colonialism has gone away, the exact same way that renaming the Department of War as the Department of Defence made war as a national policy go away.) Moving right along, some highlights of the ongoing madness.

Looks like Qaddafi is on his way out. He’ll probably end up in some western (IE colonial) prison with little to no chance of a fair trial, held as an example to anyone with would defy the west’s might.  On the one hand, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. On the other hand, NATO’s war on Libya was just as much a war crime as anything Qaddafi has done, and none of the leaders who ordered that will be going on trial. This is why they hate us. Not all of them, but the blatant hypocrisy and evil of the west intervening on “humanitarian” grounds when it is painfully obvious we are just seizing the moment in a blatant attempt to replace Qaddafi with a regime more pliable to western manipulation is not lost on many people in the region. Coming soon … Libyan suicide bombers. Mark my words, the western intervention in Libya will end no better than the intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Speaking of which, these two are both still bloody messes with no end in sight. I don’t know what horrifies me more, the endless carnage we have unleashed, or the fawning obsequious US media pretending that there’s something noble about the deaths of Americans in these far away lands, pretending that these senseless deaths are about protecting our freedoms. Um, fighting with local tribes on the other side of the planet, is about as far away from “protecting our freedoms” as it is possible to get. Literally. This is another reason I am so pessimistic about America, so many people have bought into this, and other, virulent tripe. The rich have stolen everything, and most Americans are blaming each other or groups even more disadvantaged than they for their problems. Yes, it’s poor, gay, illegal, HIV positive, Latino immigrants that are causing all the problems!

In summation, 2011 is some sort of twisted blend of 1928 and 1938, and God only knows what’s going to happen next. And since God doesn’t exist except as a metaphysical concept, that means no one knows. And frankly, there’s tons of intelligent commentary out there on current events for those who care to look, Aljazeerah is a good start, or Haaretz, or Antiwar.com. I’m not sure what I can add to the discussion, another reason I haven’t been writing. Or having been writing on Doug’s Darkworld to be more exact. I have been working on my novel. A fictional account of a man whose life began with a childhood in a besieged city. It went downhill from there.

There’s other stuff going on in the world as well. Global warming continues apace. We’re all going to be killed by a doomsday comet in 2012. Michael Jackson is still dead. What should I write about? I dunno, I’m open to suggestions.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s a rebel tank rolling into Tripoli. That so many “historic” moments in the past century involve tanks rolling into somewhere should give us pause. They are just the armoured knights of our time, the end development of the Roman centurion. Sigh.)

Written by unitedcats

August 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm

And the War Rages Ever On

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The war. The one war. The only war. The war that has been raging since at least 1492, when Spanish shock troops first waded ashore in the new world. In some senses a war that has been raging since the crusades in the seventh century. A war that has roots going back to the Greeks and the Romans. However, for our purposes, we’ll start in 1492. The European conquest of the world. While the Europeans fought bloody squabbles among each other the whole time, the last five centuries of world history is pretty much the story of the European conquest of Earth. Gunpowder and greed.

And that’s where we are today. Europe now includes the USA, Europe’s bastard stepchild, and a few others like Japan. The bankers and militarists of these few countries rule the world, and the majority of the world’s governments are little more than armed gangs propped up by western weapons. The good guy/bad guy meme that the USA stands for democracy and human rights is propaganda, pure and simple. The USA only respects democracy when the side the USA supported wins. And of course the USA ignores the most horrendous lack of civil rights or political rights in our allies, so long as they maintain stability for western business interests. And that’s the world we live in, despite the fiction to the contrary maintained by our “leaders” and their compliant media lap dogs.

So understood in that context, the world is a lot less puzzling. For example, it reveals why Wikileaks is so feared by the powers that be. It reveals the depth of the corruption and compliance in the third world. Tunisia being a great example, where Wikileaks brought down the government. I notice that aspect of the situation in Tunisia is getting almost no press, Wikileaks revealing corruption and cronyism in Tunisia’s government was a major impetus that drove Tunisians to the streets. It’s still unclear whether there will be a true revolution in Tunisia, or just a replacement of the people at the top, but even the instability of replacing the figureheads is risky business for the west. And if someone with Tunisia’s actual interests at heart gets into power, it’s a safe bet that the western press will make it very clear that this is an “illegitimate” government, and it will receive neither recognition nor international support.

Another place the colonial war is being blatantly played out today is Lebanon. A UN tribunal is investigating a 2005 assassination in Lebanon. Happens all the time, right? Nope, this is the first time in history that the UN has created a tribunal to investigate and presumably arrest and try citizens of a sovereign nation. Or any nation for that matter. The tribunal is expected to blame the assassination on Hezbollah and Iran. To try and understand how this might be playing out in Lebanon, imagine if the UN formed a tribunal to investigate the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords, and the Tribunal was expected to indict members of the right wing media for inciting the attempt. Well, the UN Tribunal is flying about as well in Lebanon, and has brought down the Lebanese government already. Hopefully it won’t reignite civil war in that unfortunately located country, but anything is possible.

Iran and Hezbollah of course being two powers that do not recognize the Euro-American world order, and insist on retaining their own independence. Or to look at it differently, the leaders of most of the world’s governments are perfectly happy to take money to do American’s bidding. (In some cases to do China or Russia’s bidding.) And all they have to do is maintain order and allow western resource extraction firms to have their say. And of course they get to buy all sorts of fancy western military hardware of they are particularly trustworthy minions. Saudi Arabia being a wonderful case in point. Of course political parties are illegal in Saudi Arabia, and their women are little better off than slaves. Actually, there’s a lot of true slavery  Saudi Arabia, but I  digress.

In any event, the question now is will events in Tunisia cause similar revolts elsewhere? There are certainly other nations with similar “governments” and similar problems, Egypt and Algeria come to mind. On the one hand, I don’t think so, Tunisia didn’t have much of a military for one thing. Time will tell though, and the trend the past decade has been for countries to escape from the western hegemon, and to resist being forced back into the fold so to speak. Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind. The cost of empire does also seem to be increasing with time, so sooner or later the whole house of cards will collapse. This is why I stockpile canned goods.

I know, my outlook is bleak, but it is internally self-consistent. Next week, giant prehistoric child-snatching birds in the Midwest. Have a great weekend everyone.

(The above image is claimed as Public Domain under US copyright law. It was commissioned by the US government, an the artist has been dead for over a century. It’s a painting titled “Landing of Columbus” painted by John Vanderlyn in 1836/37. Do Columbus and is men look like they are coming in peace? The question is valid whether the painting be historically accurate or not.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by unitedcats

January 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

Another Symptom of the Colonial Mind Set: International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act

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Last week the “International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act” failed in the House of Representatives, despite passing unanimously in the Senate. This was a “bipartisan” bill ostensibly designed to “require the federal government to develop a plan to combat child marriage with the goal of eliminating the practice worldwide.” At the last minute anti-abortion Republicans managed to scuttle the bill by claiming it would provide abortion funding. Sounds like a wonderful bill, how could anyone be against a bill designed to prevent child marriage around the globe? Democrats and liberals were fuming over the defeat of this bill.

I on the other hand have a somewhat different take on this situation. First off, I don’t see this bill as much more than pandering to liberal voters, it’s symbolic at best. It’s like claiming to be “pro-family,” how can one go wrong? Whether this bill passed or not, Democrats will be able to get lots of political traction out of it, why we’re trying to help the poor child brides of the world! Yeah, right, even a cursory examination of the past century of US government foreign affairs shows a sociopathic indifference to the lives of woman and children in the world, so the hypocrisy meter of off the scale on this one. Not to mention that it’s still legal to get married as young as age thirteen in some US states, but we are going to lecture the world about their child marriage practices? And who, exactly, appointed the USA as moral arbiters of the world’s cultural practices anyhow? This is the aspect of this that most disturbs me, the very powerful implication of this bill  is that we are morally superior to these “backwards” nations, and have the right to lecture to them about their marriage practices.

This  is the colonial mind set illustrated. I might as easily call it the Christian mind set. The idea that the USA is morally superior to other countries. There’s two ways this strikes me as disordered thinking. For one thing, when one has decided that one has a morally superior, paternalistic, relationship to other countries … the ends justify the means. Humanitarian “concerns” were touted far and wide to justify the conquest of Iraq just as one example. When waging war, easily the most inhuman act possible, I mean we’re talking organized mass murder, is “justified” by humanitarian concerns … the concerns don’t sound particularly humanitarian to me.

Secondly, the job of the American government is to protect … Americans. The other nations of the world are sovereign nations, our government has no more business telling them how to treat their populations that they would have telling us how to run the USA. Yet most Americans, left and right, are so steeped in the idea that America is some sort of morally superior nation, that they never question our politician’s attempt to exploit issues like this.  Basically this bill is was a disgusting attempt to exploit third world child brides for domestic political gain. This is how both parties distract their followers into being loyal drones, the parties know exactly what buttons to push. Legions of zombie Democrats will be in a distracted dither about this, ignoring the fact that their party is just as much complicit in America’s crimes against women abroad and at home as the Republicans.

There’s also a nasty element of Islamophobia in this as there has been a concerted campaign in recent years to demonize Muslims, especially Palestinians, for their treatment of women. The above image is a wonderful illustration of this propaganda campaign. One can find it all over the web, purportedly showing a mass wedding in Hamas controlled Gaza where the men in question were marrying little girls. Frankly, anyone who can look at that picture and imagine that those men were marrying those little girls is sick in the head. Literally. As numerous first hand witnesses recounted, yes, there were little girls at the mass marriage ceremony. They were relatives of the brides and grooms, not the brides themselves.

Do I think the people who sponsored this bill were all cynical manipulators of public opinion for their own personal political gain? No, I don’t. It’s just that if America was truly concerned about the plight of women in the world, we need to radically change our foreign policy, not pass toothless symbolic laws that are window dressing for our exploitation of the third world. Propping up misogynistic medieval regimes like the Saudis, turning countries into failed states, sanctions, embargoes, war … these things are hurting the women and children of the world and breeding exactly the sorts of conditions that turn the lives of women and children into male controlled nightmares. The USA and the west and the ongoing colonial exploitation of the third world is the problem, laws like the “International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act” isn’t going to fix that. Frankly, laws like this are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I will be curious about comments I get on this one. And just for the record, of course I don’t “support” child marriage, just that this law isn’t the way to fight it. People who can’t grasp that being against something like this law doesn’t magically make one a supporter of what the law is ostensibly trying to fight need a remedial lesson in logic. Comments suggesting same will be deleted.)

 

Written by unitedcats

December 20, 2010 at 10:00 am