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ISIS AND EBOLA October 22, 2014

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.

The Abbott Government finds untrammelled enthusiasm, alacrity and “hang the cost” to join the coalition of the killing  in the sky over Iraq in stark contrast with a stubborn disinclination and outright refusal to assist with the humanitarian crisis caused by the ebola epidemic in West Africa. What gives?

Nigeria seems to have stopped the spread of ebola, which if true would be a source of hope. Other countries, Cuba in particular, are not holding back and making excuses in the face of a humanitarian crisis in a globalized world. It is not exactly clear how the epidemic developed, although it is predictable, aside from other speculation, it would develop in countries affected by military violence and low social development. The people of West Africa seem to be both Christians and Muslims.

The hesitancy in West Africa compares with the manic intensity to join the air war against IS in Iraq and Syria. There is no clear national interest involved other than a conditioned response to support the American Empire on the further assumption perhaps that will be popular and distract from domestic political and budgetary incompetence. With the Abbott Government, rhetoric is more important than policy, and the rule that must always be remembered that what  is said, often the opposite is intended.

The democratic political process is fundamentally degraded by lies and deception. It seems that we as  citizens do not have the collective capacity to exercise our democratic responsibilities. When lies are politic: they continue. There are tipping points. The democratic process is not a given, and institutions, while important are not the whole deal, or often not the main game. “Words killeth but the spirit giveth life”.

What is so characteristic about this adventure is the lack of context. Soumaya Ghannoushi is a British Tunisian writer and specialist in Middle East politics. She observes:

The US is no longer able to monitor and regulate the rhythm of events in that sensitive part of the world. The wave of exhibitionist pre-emptive strikes launched by the neo-cons ended in two consecutive military defeats and hasty retreats.

The limits of US military might were laid bare for all to see. Thanks to its superior firepower, it was able to topple regimes and dismantle existing structures, but was dismally impotent to rebuild them anew. And in the vacuum and trail of devastation it left behind, the US created a fertile soil for the growth of extremist violent groups, on the one hand, and of internecine ethnic and sectarian conflicts, on the other.

Another irony is that the Americans find themselves today compelled to return to the Middle East, having retreated from it in order to channel what remains of their might on the escalating threat posed by a rising China and respond to the challenges of the shift of wealth and influence eastwards. But Obama’s US looks nothing like the one that had mobilised its fleets against Saddam Hussein a decade ago. Today, it reluctantly retraces its footsteps to the same battlefield, broken and bruised, full of caution and foreboding.

The geopolitical void that appeared with the decline of US power after Afghanistan and Iraq was further exposed with the Syrian revolution, as the US and its Gulf allies proved powerless to end the conflict conclusively in their favour, desperately jostling for control and influence with the Iranians and the Russians. And as in Iraq, radical jihadist groups swiftly moved in to fill the resulting political vacuum, finding an ideal social foster in long standing sectarian grievances.

Complex demographics

Today, we are witnessing the explosion of the complex demographics of Arab society. In colonial times, local administrations had managed tensions between its myriad traditional social configurations, religious, sectarian, tribal, and ethnic, via a policy of containment, dilution, or repression. This role was subsequently taken up by the post-colonial state within a process of superimposed pseudo-modernisation, and under the banner of a collective national identity that remained feeble and skin-deep.

Amidst the collapse of fragile post-colonial political structures in countries like Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, traditional bonds and identities have reasserted themselves again, but in a more raucous bloody manner. Sunnis, Shia, Kurds, Arabs, Muslims, and Christians, all turned against each other in a chilling spectacle of senseless self-mutilation.

This atmosphere of paranoid animosity, social disarray and political crisis was a potent incubator for Islamic radicalism, with its ideological fervour, excommunicatory tendencies, and puritanical dreams. Political grievances mingled with ethnic and sectarian grudges to produce the hatred ridden grandiose discourse of al-Qaeda, ISIL and their Jihadist likes.

Price of failure

Today, the region is paying the price for the failure of top-down modernisation and the disintegration of artificial post-colonial national borders and frail political edifices. And with the evaporation of the great hopes pinned on the Arab Spring of the possibility of change through peaceful means and popular protests, extremism and violence have reared their head once more. But as disillusionment and despair descend on the region and tighten their icy grip on its throat, this deformed ghoulish child of crisis looks uglier, deadlier and more vindictive than ever.

By renewing and bolstering old alliances with Gulf sheikhdoms and autocratic Arab regimes to thwart democratic political change; overseeing the return to military coups and cloaking them with legitimacy, the US and its European allies have sent Arabs a clear resounding message: “Ballot boxes are not for you! They are pointless as means of change. Their results are easily discarded and trampled upon. Violence and revenge are the way out of your bleak existence.” Nothing could have rendered more credence and legitimacy to the rhetoric of ISIL and the jihadist cause.

Through its modern history, the Arab region has been an open index of the ascent and descent of global powers and a mirror of the great players’ fluctuating fortunes. And in this strategically positioned part of the globe, power shifts have always come at a heavy price, paid in much blood and socio-political instability, be that from the Ottomans to the British in the wake of the World War I, or to their American heirs after World War II. The currently unfolding transformation is no exception. The wave of turmoil, chaos and misery it carries will most likely continue to engulf the region for years to come.

What stands out is the imposition through violence of a system of government, within prescribed and ahistorical boundaries have weakened the Muslim people of the Middle East, and the imposition of neoLiberal policies domestically with similar violent intent. In both cases structural and overt violence are intimately related. The response to the ebola crisis is evidence of cruelty necessary for the overall policy imposition, both there and here.

Before ebola, Africa was the source of uranium on its way to Iraq:



1. aboriginalpress - October 22, 2014

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