baduin (baduin) wrote,
baduin
baduin

Future of the Middle East

I have read On Strategy Page an essay by Rory Walkinshaw about the future of Israel. It is rather optimistic:

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlead/articles/20090417.aspx

"Who Won The 60 Year War?
April 17, 2009: It's a well-known fact that more and more Arab nations are
losing their enthusiasm for making war on Israel and are adopting an air of
either ambivalence, or normal diplomatic relations, with the Jewish state. What
is less apparent, largely because of the latest round of fighting in the Gaza
Strip and the rhetoric coming from Iran, is how far the Israelis have come in 60
years, with their nation becoming progressively safer and more secure with each
passing decade."

Unfortunately, this managed to overlook all important factors which will determine the future of the Middle East.

It is a fact that Israel has an increasing Jewish population. But that increase is limited to the traditional Orthodox Jews. And they do not belong to the Western civilisation.

http://yoramettinger.newsnet.co.il/Front/NewsNet/reports.asp?reportId=193048
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haredi_Judaism

Remember that Jewish culture is a variant of the common Magian civilisation, similarly to the Arabic one. There is surprisingly
small difference between them, except that Jews are not proselytizing, and in case of Ashkenazi are not stupid. Sepharadim in Israel have nearly as low IQ as Arabs.

Let us consider similarities: the divinely-mandated law, which can be interpreted, but never changed;  there is no distinction between religion and law - there is one religious law which includes religious duties, civil and criminal law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halakha
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia

In both Sunni Islam and Judaism there is no firm religious hierarchy, but rather certain respected scholars are selected to decide on difficult points of religious law - "sharia" or "halakha".  The same person interprets the religious and eg criminal regulations.

The basis of selection is the respect gained amongst other experts in the law. Among Jews, who lived in exile, and Muslims in the West, the leader (rabbi, imam, mufti) is selected by the religious community ("parish") in a more or less democratic way, but only from among qualified persons. In Arab countries, of course, the ruler is extremely interested in the process, and often manages to appoint preachers himself.

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=116804&version=1&template_id=46&parent_id=26

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alim
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbi

The dress codes, and dietary laws.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzniut
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_and_Jewish_dietary_laws_compared
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashrut
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halal

At present, the state Israel belongs to the Western civilisation, but the scales are tilting towards Magian groups-haredim and the like. If given enough time, Israel would gradually grow to resemble Liban. One interesting point: Israel wasn't able to defeat Hamas, even though it has support of the government of Egypt, and should have it wholly surrounded. The legitimacy of the state of Israel is failing; it is less and less able to mobilize its own soldiers to sacrifice their lives.

But I doubt it will have that much time. Israel is a classical crusader setup, depending for survival on two things: support of the West, ie USA, and disunity of the Arabic world, ie - lack of a single government ruling Egypt and Syria.

The first depends on too many factors to be foreseeable. As to the second, it is clear that the present configuration in Arabic countries is ending. Western-leaning governments in Arabic countries are not long for this world. There will be a new attempt at unification. The first candidate for the regional hegemon is Iran, but it will fail in the end.

The claim that Jews and Arabs have a common civilisation may seem strange. But the civilisation as a technical term in the sense developed by Koneczny; "the system of organization of social life"; doesn't have to be connected with any sympathy between different factions within it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koneczny

A good example is David Goldman, writing in Asian Times under pseudonyme "Spengler" - he is a very instructive read, because his mental landscape is entirely Magian, Jewish-Arabic (not that strange for a member of Lyndon LaRouche cult-  that kind of radical party organisation apes the Magian religious commune).

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/04/spengler-outs-himself.html

For example, he understoods only two legitimate form of state: a chosen nation, a small group of people specially beloved by God, the only holy people in the sea of damned unbelievers (eg Druzes), and a Caliphate, (in case of Goldman-American Caliphate) - a theocratic world-empire, ruling as the direct representative of God, and destroying all pagan nations, tribes etc. All other, especially Western nations (horribile dictu!) and states, are to him an abomination of desolation, a remnant of paganism - in other words the worst sin of Magian civilisation - idolatry, "shirk" - giving companions to God - and must be destroyed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirk_(Islam)
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/others/spengler.html
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/GK22Aa01.html
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/KD18Aa01.html

But of course this do not means he likes Arabs (family conflicts are the worst):
http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1362

"Either Way, Amalek Must Die: A Passover Meditation

During the Passover Seder, Jews recite the following verse from Jeremiah 10:25: “Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not know you and on the families that do not call your name; For they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him and have laid waste his habitation...

In practice, to be sure, Christianity has been far more tolerant of pagan remnants lurking in the hearts of Christians than its doctrine demands—just as the Biblical Hebrews were more tolerant of the historical Amalek than God demanded. In both cases, excessive tolerance had catastrophic results. Neo-paganism laid its cuckoo’s eggs in Christianity and hatched them in the form of the national movements that would fight for dominance in Europe and leave the formerly Christian continent a secularized hulk. It is petulant for Jews to blame Pius XII for failing to save more of them when he could not even save (for example) Polish priests from the Nazis. But it is entirely fair for Jews to remonstrate with Christians for having failed to suppress pagan elements that fostered anti-Semitism.

That is why the harsh demands of the Hebrew Scriptures to rid the world of heathen enemies continue to be holy words for Christians. The battles of ancient Israel—the Exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert, the crossing of the Jordan and the conquest of Canaan—remain stations on the spiritual journey of every Christian. Christianity invites Gentiles to worship the God of Israel—not the Gentile peoples, but those among the Gentiles who are reborn of the Spirit into the “tribe of Christians,” the “People of the New Covenant.” The historical life of Israel is the inner life of the Christian. That great difference and great identity separates and unites the two revealed religions. But in either case, Amalek must die."

Read him carefully, and you will understand what motivates members of al Qaida and Jihadis to abandon their tribes and join the Old Man from the Mountain- hate for material world, demand for sacrifice and self-sacrifice, blood for God, and most of all - tawhid: the desire for destruction of everything which is not God. Wahhabi or Salafi, such as Goldman, treat all tribal traditions as the unacceptable deviation from one true path decreed to Mohammed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawhid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafi

The competing religio-nationalities (millets) are a typical feature of the Magian civilisation. The problem with Magian influences in Israel is not that Orthodox Jews will love Mohammedans. The problem is that Magian civilisation is fundamentally libertarian or minarchic, hostile to the state. The only legitimate state is the direct rule of Messiah, Mohammed or Mahdi; except for that, all things should be decided by independent religious communities (communes) according to the holy and immutable law. In practice, you must have a state, but you get an illegitimate state - essentially a mafia running the state for its own benefit.

Ironically - Goldman hates all tribes, but his beloved Caliphate (the favourite form of organization for all Magians) fosters tribes. That kind of religious zeal it demands is good for occasional jihad, but it is too diffuse and passing to build a stable state on. In practice, Caliphate is too distant and abstract to rule well, and people need to turn to their relatives for self-protection. And that way you get tribalism in the cradle of the states -Middle East and Mesopotamia. That dualism and tension between tribes and empire is very typical for Caliphate.

Of course, all empire bred tribalism: see America, and its profusion of subclasses - Black, Hispanics etc. But only in Caliphate the tribalism becomes the ruling principle, as even the ruling class - which in other empires is proundly universalists - becomes a self-serving tribe.

From time to time, this is overthrown by a new charismatic movement coming in from the desert, with a new zeal and a new prophet. According to Ibn Khaldun, this cycle is unavoidable - desert warriors full of faith, with high solidarity and tribal cohesion -asabiyyah - slowly turning to a corrupt oligarchy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Khaldun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muqaddimah
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asabiyyah

We are observing such a cycle in Pakistan; this is nearly a handbook example. Compare it with eg Almohads or Almoravids in Spain:

http://orbat.com/
http://www.longwarjournal.org/
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/world/asia/17pstan.html?_r=2&ref=global-home

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almohads
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almoravids

The same is happening in Israel amongst the Jews:
http://yoramettinger.newsnet.co.il/Front/NewsNet/reports.asp?reportId=193048

The Magian civilisation is old and unchanging; it cannot and doesn't want to progress - it can only repeat itself. Current problems in the Middle East are their reaction to the pressure of the Western civilisation, together with the results of the inner war of the West. (In which Muslims have been recruited as the external proletariat, in Toybee's terms.).

This allowed for a return of many typical Arabic phenomena: Hamas and Hezbollah are for example typical Ghazi associations; parastatal robbers/jihadi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghazi_warriors

The final results are impredictable; we do not even know if the Empire will need the possession of Middle East, although I would guess that oil will remain a strategic resource.

(Of course America doesn't want to rule Middle East; this is a very typical phenomenon, with a limited importance, and easy to account for; the policy is in the end determined by necessities, not by wishes. Whatever are American wishes, the result of American policy is always to destroy competing states; and since you cannot have a political void in the Middle East..)

Secondly, all this is a turbulence caused by the slow appearance of the Empire; we cannot even predict the future of the Western core of it, and prediction in border areas is much more difficult.

To understands what goes on in the Middle East, you have to understand what motivates people to obey a government and the norms which make a community possible (not necessarily the same thing). Mostly, it is religion, or law obeyed because of religion (as in the West). With a weakening religion, states can slowly coast on tradition and custom, until they meet with any serious problems. From time to time a personally charismatic warlord can gain some following that way, but without other support this is only good for a bandit band.

The only serious alternative to religion is a secular utopia - a promise of happines in this world.

Now the Middle East was ruled by two civilisations: Magian one, which I described above, and Turkish civilisation, which came from the Central Asia steppe (Turanian civilisation, according to Koneczny). That civilisation is entirely different, although it is often Islamic.

In the old Central Asia civilisation, as represented by Genghis Khan and modern Russia, the ruler has received from God the mission to conquer - and own - the whole world. As long as he is winning, his subjects will follow him. Should the conquest stall, the enormous Turanian empires tend to decay and dissolve. The containment policy was a remarkable piece of insight.

See the famous letter of the Khan to the Pope
http://asv.vatican.va/en/doc/1246.htm
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,890497-1,00.html

By the virtue of God,
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
All realms have been granted to us.
Without the Order of God,
How could anyone do anything?
Now, you ought to say from a sincere heart:
"We shall be your subjects;
We shall give unto you our strength ..."
And if you do not observe the Order of God,
And disobey our orders . . .
What shall we know then?
God will know it."

Another interesting facet of the Turanian civilisation is that in it the ruler not only ruled, but personally owned everything. Any other owners were simply his representatives, and could be removed at his pleasure. In Turkey this system was called spahilik or timar. The timariots were given the land in exchange for military service. It was not hereditary and could be revoked at any time.

http://www.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/lecture2.html

"Ottoman feudalism was based on the idea that all land belonged to the sultan as the earthly representative of God. The sultan in turn granted temporary use of specific plots of land to subordinate institutions and individuals. In particular, the Ottoman cavalry consisted of armed horsemen (called variously timariots or spahis) who were supported by the produce of plots of land (timars or spahiliks) in exchange for pledges of military service in time of war. When the central authorities were strong, feudal landholders were required to treat their peasants well because the peasants' welfare was important to the sultan, as the ultimate landlord, and landholders could forfeit their use of the land if they abused the system.

However, when the central authorities were weak, these local feudal figures took advantage of conditions to squeeze excess revenue from their peasants, evade their obligations to the government and sometimes to make permanent claims to land. By various legal devices, a timar or spahilik could be converted to a chiftlik, a plot of land owned permanently by a landlord, and such a chiftlik could then be passed down in his family. When land was converted to chiftlik status, the central government lost influence, revenue and the ability to protect the peasants. At the local level, peasants living on chiftlik land also were less likely to treat their land well or to try to improve it. Under the original feudal system, they enjoyed some guarantees of retaining the fruits of their efforts but this was lost when landlords secured full claims on land."

Turkey belonged to that civilisation until Ataturk. He was perhaps the greatest man who ever lived. He managed single-handedly to transform Turkey into a mostly Western state. Of course, the immense authority of the Turanian ruler helped. Peter the Great did something similar - but he accepted only the exterior clothing etc of the West, without changing the heart of the system. Ataturk went much further. He was the last Sultan, or Khan, of Turkey, because he managed to change its organisation so there remained no place in it for such a figure.

He also made of Turks a nation. Nationalism is the basis of the Western civilisation (and since nations are always conceived as parts of the whole, it is not a obstacle to an efficient federation or empire). But there was one thing he couldn't do: he couldn't fabricate the religious underpinning to his system. It was held together only by his personal charisma and by the immitation of the West. But he was only a man (even if the greatest of men), and 50 years after his death his charisma is not enough. And the West is in the transitional phase, and the turbulence caused by it puts all peripheral countries into disarray.

Now we see a return of Islamism in Turkey. But this is NOT a return to the traditional Turanian civilisation. Ataturk made this impossible. Turkish Islamists can either accept the Magian civilisation of Arabs - and this means the decay and destruction of Turkey - or use the Islam as an underpinning of Western civilisation. In such a system, women would have to wear a scarf, but otherways the state would belong to the West. The state would be based on religion, but not religious itself.

This is difficult, but not impossible. Israel was created in this way: A state of Western civilisation, with Mosaic religion. Original Zionists were nationalist - but in the Western style - something similar, but fundamentally different, from Magian religio-nationalism. Nations are different from millets. They wanted to make of Jews a nation like all other (Western) nations, a member of the international (Western) community.

Of course, there was a large ingredient of utopianism and socialism. The same was the case in the neighboring Arab states. Now that socialism is dead, and West seems to oppose nationalism, the Magian civilisation is creeping back.

I am unable to foresee what will be the result in Turkey. I am afraid that it can be the Magian system. In that case, the direct Imperial rule over Middle East will be unavoidable (although the process can last up to 100 years). If Turkey manages to create an assimilated Islam, (similarly to reformed Judaism),  it can become the regional hegemon (under overall rule of America, of course).
Tags: arabs, israel, magian civilisation, middle east, turkey
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