March 29, 2007
The Madness of King George & The Terror of the Fearful Jacobin Republic
An anectdotal reflexion on recent MENA anti-American developments prompted by a somewhat amusing discussion with an American financial sector consulting friend of mine about his recent work in the Middle East and the "shocking" levels of anti-American sentiment as compared to only 3 or 4 years ago. This fellow, of a conservative East Coast background nevertheless has had enough of in region experience prior to the Right Bolshevik Coup to have seen the precipitious decline in American image in region (and elsewhere of course).
What I found interesting was his recitation of leading and very connected American educated financial sector (most of whom I know more or less well) figures whose views had shifted from pro-American to anti, reflecting various levels of frustration. What was most peculiar in this conversation was that I cannot recall a similarly structured one - that is veering off from business to American politics.
(apologies on the title, it is late, I have much work still to do, and much rhum drunk)
link fixed 30 March
Another anecdote from a Moroccan friend (from the financial sector, and not a schmoe) traveling to the US on business, and who had to do a visa renewal recently. Although American educated, and indeed one of the most pro-American Arabs I know, he spoke with great bitterness about being body frisked in full view on the street in front of the consulate - as he put it "like a thieving slave in front of the Masters."
I know UK, and other embassies tightened security after 11 March, however none (that I know of) resorted to the public humiliation that the Americans resorted to - and having seen the US facility relatively recently I am of the opinion that no rational cost-benefit risk analysis should have led to such a procedure.
What indeed is helpful in public humiliation? There may have been a small risk reduction, although (rather even) a bit back when I last visited the US facility there, their double blast walls and screening facilities seemed rather sufficient to limit human bomber losses to some local-rent-a-cops and police. PR? Even worse. Oddly literally no one else (and here I include the entire region) requires such behaviour - that is such outré security even among the staggeringly unpopular.
My profession requires an intelligent approach to risk taking. I find the current blundering bizarre insofar as it most clearly is not reducing risk at all.
Worse, such acts of negative marginal value add actually are a negative for the US and the West (or Westerners) generally. The last point is of general importance. The unedifying combination of bluster & aggression combined with the loss averse cowering behind fortifications send a clear message to the al-Queda world, we are fearful bullies who cannot take a blow. I can only imagine the American style response to the IRA of the past during the 70-80s period - bunkering, shutting borders, fearful profiling of Catholics......
Cowardice behind bluster.
Perhaps in this spirit I should reflect on a conversation I had with a US diplo official from MENA a bit back at a MENA financial shindig - evidently trolling for contacts for developing his area (terror financing). Aside from reeking of Agency (the hair and what "economist" isn't familiar with "substitution effects"), the bizarre discourse re local govs finally understanding the threat of "fundamentalism" was sad & pitiful, if explaining how Moubarek sold his coup d'etat to the gullible naïfs.
Of course this superficial thinking is apparently de rigueur among that sad cadre of Provincials who pass as experts - although if the example of this commentary purporting to make a comparison between Iraq and Algeria, and failing rather miserably suggests, they still don’t bloody well understand their goddamned problem. Sad pitiful fucks.
Who are making my life more difficult, as Westerners in general become a target because of these moronic and staggeringly incompetence neo-Trotskite Right Bolshevik fools blunder around like blinded cattle.
I shall reproduce my comments in the link:
Queer article, starting with the indirect implication (”moderate Muslim leaders” - apparently that is meant to mean pro-French) that FLN and associated movements represented a fringe or immoderation.
Much support had turned to the FLN and armed struggle precisely from originaly fairly pro-French and even integrationist sources who saw the French checkmate extension of civil rights to the majority of the native / indigenous (i.e. non-European settler) population.
The discussion of Galula (indeed the characterisation) strikes me as … rather spun.
The conclusion by General de Gaul was really very simple - military suppression was not achieving anything long term, the moment military and secret police action was removed, bang…. Blaming the defeat on Leftist Catholic priests and Sartre was and is rubbish of the worst self-deceiving kind. De Gaulle, had he wanted to, could have overcome domestic opposition had it been worth it.
Overall, the author strikes me as mendacious.
The mention re Freedom House simple is nonsensical, what the bloody fuck does that have to do with anything?
Re Iraq, nice theory however it is abundantly clear the Americans lack the skills in human resources (i.e. skills in winning the population) to pull it off. You’ve lost. I suppose it will take several more tens of billions of dollars for this to sink in.
I should add that the characterisation of the FLN as a Totalitarian Band is itself political spin.
There were a number of tendencies, but the war itself produced much of the nasty, secretive politics and habits that after a brief period post-independence produced a typical post-colonial dictatorship system, but in Algeria with a particularly military dominance.
Indeed reflecting on what I know of the intellectual evolution of the principals of the Algerian independence movement, this highlights the fundamental dishonesty and delusion of this analysis - the self-delusion that there is someone to step in.
In both Iraq and Algeria, the “occupying power” has no strong, solid natural ally among the local population. This contra the British in Malaysia (and of course w/o the interesting ethnic dynamic). Kurds are the closest thing, but a despised minority in many ways, with enclave aspirations, not national. The Shia are not the Chalabi dream, but Sadrist to Islamist in majority, and none are particularly trusting or have real genuine relationships with the Americans (who lack the language and cultural skills to build such). There is no way to resolve US goals and objectives (truly resolve, not play pretend as the Americans like to do, in a queerly Frenchlike manner of letting their rhetoric self-decieve).
In Algeria the situation might be said to be similar, as there was no way to resolve the political issue by the time fighting broke out - due to French rejectionism one might add - as Algerian mass demands for rights conflicted with French rationales for staying in Algeria. Suppression was, in many ways, pointless, as it would simply delay and fester, and radicalise over the long run. As it did, in fact, given the political position of the FLNs surviving leadership post-1962 was far more radical and secretive than the pre-conflict tendencies that gave rise to it. There was no possible point of compromise. French rule’s political logic was unsustainable, the “band” merely demonstrated this. Military victory in a battlefield sense is rather besides the point.
Some minor spelling error corrected out of egocentrism.
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Could you correct the link, it leads to a non-existing post on Aqoul?
ah, I believe Commentary is another neocon rag. As for The Glittering Eye, dunno. You got pissed about their link to the article about black French Jews coming to Florida too.
The commentator, Dave, is a decent sort. But often an idiot in these particular areas, or rather a gullible naif.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 30, 2007 09:46 AM