World politics as a spaghetti western (Part 2)

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(Image via @TheXclass)

Dr Evan Jones continues his insights into the simplistic coverage of foreign affairs by mainstream media and declares Clint Eastwood the unspoken guru.

Read Part One

The nurturing and proselytisation of Islamic extremism

WITH THE WEST'S blessing, Saudi Arabia spreads Wahhabism to all points of the globe.

It is instructive to learn that Australia is far from reluctant in its embrace. Significant information comes from a Wikileaks disclosure of Saudi foreign policy documents in mid-2015, recounted by Philip Dorling in the (subscriber only) Saturday Paper.

Gillard Labor initiated the now close relationship in 2012, belatedly accommodated by the Saudis. The claimed objective was close cooperation on counter-terrorism intelligence (joke). Dorling also notes that Saudi Arabia gained Australia’s support for the former’s election to the UN’s Human Rights Council (joke).

Dorling notes:

… the leaked documents provide evidence that the Saudi embassy is deeply involved in the religious life and politics of Australia’s Islamic communities, with the particular goal of spreading and strengthening their puritanical Wahhabist branch of Sunni Islam. Indeed, Saudi foreign ministry instructions leave little doubt that engagement in Islamic religious affairs and the wider politics of Australia’s Islamic communities are primary tasks for the embassy. The documents show the Sunni kingdom’s strong concern about efforts by Shiite Islamic leaders to engage with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and the kingdom’s funding of visits to Australia by Sunni Islamic clerics to counter Shia influence.

Also detailed are efforts to influence the Arab language press in Australia, with the leaked documents including instructions from the Saudi government to its embassy relating to the payment of subsidies, disguised as “subscriptions”, from the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information to prominent Arabic newspapers in Australia …

Saudi government activity in Australia has extended to large investments in the higher education sector, including through the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, spanning the University of Melbourne, Griffith University and the University of Western Sydney.

The Saudi proselytisation of Wahhabism has been complemented by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), of Egyptian origins. The Saudis early gave the MB a leg up, but the baton has since been taken up by Qatar.

It is to the Brits that we owe the long term sustenance of the MB, a fostering outlined in detail by Mark Curtis in his 2010 book, Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam. Britain’s fostering of the MB is to be understood as a natural product of its insidious reactionary global meddling with a wistful yearning for its glorious days of empire — an activity outlined in detail in Curtis’ 2003 Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World. Ironically, Israel also nurtured the growth of Hamas, originally an offshoot of the MB, as a counterweight to the secular Palestine Liberation Organization.

The legalisation of the MB in Egypt in 2011 during the Arab Spring was followed by the election to Egypt’s Presidency of its candidate Mohamed Morsi in 2012. Alas, the MB’s sectarianism in office rendered it vulnerable and a military coup in 2013 not only removed the MB from power but shackled it with the status of "terrorist". The MB’s previous Western supporters and enablers were nowhere to be seen.

The (proxy) war against the bad guys

The latest product of the West and its allies is ISIS/IS/Daesh. Their main object is the toppling of Syria’s Bachar al-Assad.

The West cares not a jot for Assad’s abuse of his dissenting population. The abuse is real, albeit exaggerated by lies and false flags. The West cares about getting rid of Assad, soon if not immediately, not least because the West’s main players have no regrets whatsoever about the carnage they’ve left in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

After Assad, the proximate target, there are the non-Iraqi Kurds, Lebanon’s Hezbollah (linked to Iran spatially via Syria) and ultimately, there is Iran and Russia: the real “axis of evil”.

Thus has the West and its allies (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Gulf States and Jordan) pursued this agenda (each with their own specific interests) through IS (and other assorted jihadis) as proxies.

One’s own force can’t be guaranteed to produce desired outcomes, as in Iraq. The use of proxies is even more tenuous for the generation of desired outcomes, as highlighted by the experience of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, proxies develop their own agendas.

The West is devoted to combatting ISIS — as our respected media informs us. There has never been a war more half-hearted and ineffective. A more concerted campaign by Russia has demonstrated the anomaly in quick time.

As the American cartoonist Walt Kelly famously declared in 1970, via a character in his comic strip Pogo:

‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’

Thus we have a problem when Russia enters Syria. Here we have our real enemy conscientiously combatting our supposed enemy — an embarrassment writ large. So the language of our spaghetti western politicians and media has to excel in obfuscation and dissimulation.

Fairfax revisited

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) allows a letter writer (Tom Drake-Brockman) to state the West’s real position, namely, ‘the “diabolical” forces of the Assad regime, Iran and Hezbollah’ who should be left to fight it out with IS and so on to their mutual destruction or disadvantage.

The SMH’s recent relevant leaders well reflect editorial’s ignorance and acquiescence — ‘Vladimir Putin's dangerous game raises the stakes in Syria’ (9 October 2015), and ‘Baby steps towards gigantic step of a stable Syria’ (19 November 2015).

The latter editorial’s support for cease-fire talks, formally morally attractive, lacks both intelligence and principle. If the bulk of the anti-regime fighters in Syria are foreign, supported by foreign interests, what right do they or their backers have to be at any cease-fire table? Moreover, the jihadis have no interest in a cease-fire and have no legitimate stake in Syria’s future. Ditto for the invaders in Iraq, including the Turks who have to date refused demands to leave.

As for elections, there was a presidential election in Syria in 2014 — ignored by the West. The only elections that matter to the West, regardless of integrity, as amply demonstrated in Latin America, are those which produce the West’s favoured candidates.

Apart from ongoing correct-line reproductions from the Anglo-American mainstream press, the SMH reinforces its devotion to the slivered spectrum of acceptable opinion with complementary dollops.

Thus an offering from Helen Womack, ‘Putin battles for relevance’ (24 October 2015). Womack opines that Putin’s involvement in Syria is driven by the need to divert attention from problems at home. This piece is painfully inept. Mush. It appears on a par for the author, who has written for the SMH from Moscow since 1986. She has previously lauded Boris Yeltsin as the bringer of freedom to Mother Russia and has demonstrated no idea whatsoever regarding the recent Ukraine imbroglio. (Alas, Womack has recently been given her marching orders from the country.)

Thus a recent opinion piece from Tom Switzer (long time opinion page editor of the Australian Financial Review), ‘Redrawing the map is the best way to fight Islamic State’ (4 January, 2016). Wretched stuff, borrowed explicitly from the mad dog neo-con Zionist John Bolton, in turn taken explicitly from Israel’s Yinon Plan for its neighbours. Unashamedly on the drip. This from another habitué of Sydney University’s U.S. Studies Centre.

Where are the comparable recommendations for the sectarian/ethnic partition of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, or Israel/Palestine itself?

And if you’re lacking instructional reading matter, the SMH again to the rescue with a puff piece on Soviet/Russian dissident Gary Kasparov as the celebrity “human rights activist” for whom Vladimir Putin is global enemy number one. Thus the Good Weekend article of 12 September 2015. The article endorses Kasparov’s Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped.

For those with short memories, the SMH reminds its readers of the book again in its top four non-fiction books of the week (23 December 2015).

From that note:

‘The West's failure to stand up to Putin has allowed the Russian leader to go from strength to strength, crushing all dissent and invading neighbours at will. In Winter is Coming Kasparov calls for Europe and the United States to take not only military and economic action but, most importantly, to use their moral capital – the principles of liberal democracy and the free market – to put a stop to Putin's aggression.’

What? Putin is not all powerful domestically, as Russia is riven by powerful factions — a phenomenon that gets no exposure in the Western mainstream media. And Putin is clearly not ‘invading neighbours at will’.

Perennially on the back foot, Putin is responding belatedly to ongoing aggression from the West, not least via NATO’s encirclement, Western involvement in Georgia, the U.S. led coup in Ukraine and the attempted dismantlement of Syria. From the perspective of American neo-cons and their European lapdogs, the Cold War never ended.

As for ‘the principles of liberal democracy and the free market’, Kasparov clearly has a lot to learn about the West. He should stick to chess, of which he is the pinnacle, courtesy of Soviet tutelage. Thanks for the free plug, Fairfax, but no thanks.

Saudi Arabia stretches its good guy status

Saudi Arabia’s bombardment of Yemen has received implicit Western endorsement. Ongoing executions or brutal punishment of individuals are put to one side. But then, Saudi Arabia’s new leaders decide to up the ante.

On 2 January, 47 people were executed, including the prominent Shia cleric and regime critic Nimr al-Nimr. All in a day’s work. 

Robert Fisk reports that Crispin Blunt, the Conservative chairman of the British Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, claimed that, if “a retrograde step”, it was an “internal matter” and “we’ve got to judge when it’s right to engage …”.

No doubt Blunt consulted BAE Systems for advice on the appropriate reaction.

Let’s not mince words, claims Max Boot whose article ‘An American Ally of Necessity’ says it all in its title. Iran is the enemy, and Saudi Arabia (and the West in general) have been and are grievously provoked.

Boot, one of the neo-cons’ most accomplished and hard-line intellectuals, was born to Russian Jewish parents in Moscow. The location of this particular exemplar of zealotry long-time Zionist cum neo-con rag, Commentary, is appropriate.

Sleep easy

Ultimately, nothing will change in our respected media. The unspoken foreign affairs guru is Clint Eastwood. It’s all about us good guys and them bad guys. And the rest is filler.

Knowing the truth from the outset saves a huge amount of time spent supposedly “becoming informed”. Now there’s plenty more time to head to the local cinema where there is essentially nothing on offer but mindless escapism and Hollywood’s Spielbergish gloss on the eternal verities.

It isn’t healthy to be taxed by dissonance. God is dead but certainty and comfort can now be found via a spaghetti western mindset.

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