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Belmont Club

Eyes Both Closed

August 8th, 2012 - 10:23 am

But maybe the bigger joke’s on us. At least the jest was briefly on Reuters. Persons sympathetic to the Syrian government took over the Reuters blog and the news agency’s Twitter account. For a while, the hackers were literally rewriting the news to favor Assad. As the Strategy Page notes, the front line is now your computer monitor. “Since mid-June someone has been conducting Internet based attacks against specific civilian, military, and government officials in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. This attack delivers a secret software program that monitors PCs it gets into, passing back keyboard activity, video and audio recordings (activity around the infected PC), and documents. This bit of ‘malware’ is being called Mahdi and examination of it seems to indicate that it comes from Iran.”

The action has gotten so fast and furious that the emergence of the nucleus of a possible Kurdistan did not attract much notice from a press whose plate was full and who, moreover, were trying to regain control of their Twitter feeds. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reports:

In the wake of the steady disintegration of the Assad regime, Syrian opposition activists reported that several towns, such as Amouda and Qabani in Syria’s Kurdish northeast, had passed in mid-July 2012 without a fight into the local hands of a group called the Free Kurdish Army. Thus emerged for the first time in modern Kurdish history the nucleus of an exclusively Kurdish-controlled enclave bordering the predominantly Kurdish areas of Turkey. After largely sitting on the sidelines of the Syrian revolution, political groups from Syria’s Kurdish minority in the northeastern region appear to have moved decisively to claim control of the Kurdish-populated towns. …

Turkish observers have commented that the geopolitics of the Middle East are now being reshaped as the emergence of a “Greater Kurdistan” is no longer a remote possibility, posing enormous challenges for all the states hosting large Kurdish populations: Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran.4 Kurdistan is a potential land bridge for many of the conflicts erupting in this part of the region. It provides a ground route for Iraqi Kurdistan to supply the Syrian Kurds as they seek greater autonomy from Damascus. But its use will depend on which power dominates the tri-border area between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. This area could equally provide Iran with a corridor for moving supplies to its Syrian surrogates and even to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Perhaps this is why some commentators see Kurdistan as the new regional flashpoint in the Middle East.

The current era of international peace is in danger of sliding into a period of conflict. The period of American dominance, which began in George Bush’s [corrected from Ronald Reagan] “thousand points of light,” is now drawing to a close under Barack Obama’s “thousand flashpoints.”  That past, when the Wall came down, seems like a lost dream. Now everybody’s arming up, even environmentalists. The Sea Shepherds have commissioned a new vessel to fight the “whale wars” at a secret location. They have hired ex-SEALs to train them and acquired a UAV for purposes unspecified. Huge new criminal organizations like the Haqqani crime family are expanding abroad, even while leaders like Afghan President Karzai are virtual prisoners in their presidential palaces. Is Westphalia a failure?

The Left has now devoted entire websites to mapping the activities of what it calls “Obama terror drones” throughout the world. Well they wanted him elected in the first place. And perhaps more equipment is under development. Wired recently reported the existence of a giant, hydrogen-powered flying ray gun mounted on a drone — ostensibly canceled in favor of the ALTB, but ominously dubbed the Phantom Eye. What are the odds that that laser will one day be pointed toward the ground?

Then there are “telescopes” mounted on US Navy destroyers for unspecified purposes. But it’s probably not for lighting birthday candles.

"A Thousand Points of Light"

It is hard to discount the chance that the world is now moving into a new period of international instability and conflict.  The most unfortunate thing about it is that each successive step on this journey has been characterized as an “opportunity” or a step toward peace. Guantanamo was closed, but it was replaced by rendition and drone warfare. Congressionally-approved conflicts were no good, so they were exchanged for “kinetic military action.” The democracy agenda for the Middle East was a Bush fantasy, so it was replaced by the Arab Spring which is so much better. The principle of “Responsibility to Protect” has morphed into a hunting license to bring down anybody the Saudis don’t like. The Pivot to the Pacific has spurred a Chinese Monroe Doctrine.

On every inch of the way, the liberal press told us things were getting much, much better until they were suddenly far, far worse. A cynical person might conclude the Left has sold the public instability in the name of peace; a storm under the guise of calm. It has certainly sold the public poverty in the name of prosperity.

But why not? Words are everything and lies are necessary so that we never ever guess at the truth. That’s why Londoners are in Syria; because they’re “disenchanted.” Why would they be anything else?

Victor Davis Hanson, chronicling the descent of California from the Golden State into what, in places, is now the Third World, described the long-term effects of policy self-deception in these memorable words: “Hiroshima looks a lot better today than does Detroit … a perfect storm of events that have shred the veneer of sophisticated civilization.”  Like many other things, Detroit had been destroyed by an ideology which systematically replaced rational thinking with the chanting of slogans. If California is the domestic result of that thinking, the Middle East is the international fruit of the same ideas. Strange as it may seem, lies are actually more destructive than the atom bomb, at least over time. The latter destroys bodies, but the former eats our souls.  Surveying the ruins of the Golden State, Hanson says that we are left “with a memory of modern appetites but without the ability to reproduce the means to satisfy them:  in short, a sort of Procopius’s description of Gothic Italy circa AD 540.”

We may well look on the lost Pax Americana and say, “How on earth did we get that?” Some agency must have provided it. But after that moment of reflection, it will be on to following the next sound bite in the New York Times, on to the next celebrity carnival, on to the next opportunity as touted by those who will never tell us the truth because they have forgotten it themselves.


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