In the Middle of Nowhere

There seems to be a common denominator between Greece and Palestine. Samuel P Huntington says in his book Clash of Civilizations from 1996 the following: “Greece is not part of Western civilization, but it was the home of the Classical Civilization which was an important source to the Western Civilization. In their opposition to the Turks, Greeks historically has considered themselves spear carriers of Christianity. Unlike Serbs, Romanians, or Bulgarians their history has been intimately entwined with that the West. Yet Greece is also an anomaly, the Orthodox outsider in Western organizations. It has never been an easy member of either the EU or NATO and has had difficulties to adapt itself to the mores of both.”

Huntington has Russia as the core state in the Orthodox civilization so he would advocate that Greece would be better off in the Russia group together with the Serbs. Palestine seems to be positioned between the West and the Muslims but supported mostly by the West economically and technocratically on a base of Islam. Both Greece and Palestine lies in the fault line of civilizations. Today it seems like Greece is on the way out and Palestine on the way in.

Palestine is trying to change the status quo by asking for international support different from the US and the EU. The US and Israel is against the solicitation of UN membership because it disturbs the peace process. So far I have not read anything that would indicate that an eventual UN membership would change anything on the ground, so what is it Abbas want to achieve? Is it really possible for the PA to be in the middle of nowhere, not with Hamas and the Arab street and not really with the US and Israel if they are to be living in peace side by side?

Huntington says one more thing. There is no solution for fault line conflicts which would indicate that efforts should be made to produce the most agreeable status quo possible. What is happening now then is not appropriate because it provokes one of the parties.


The Palestinians don't want any Jews in their state!

"THE PALESTINIANS have certainly never given either the Americans or the Europeans a good reason to support their cause. Just this week, the PLO representative in Washington told reporters that the future state of Palestine will ban Jews and homosexuals.
And yet, the Obama administration and the EU have made the establishment of a racist, homophobic Palestinian state the greatest aim of their policies in the Middle East.
Every single Palestinian leader from the supposedly moderate Fatah party has rejected Israel's right to exist and said that they will never set aside their demand that Israel accept millions of foreign-born Arabs - the so-called Palestinian "refugees" - as citizens. They say this with the full knowledge that this demand is nothing less than a demand for Israel's destruction.
And yet, both the US and the EU, which certainly do not support the destruction of Israel, insist that it is imperative to strengthen and support the supposedly moderate Fatah party which seeks the destruction of Israel."
Caroline Glick writes the above in her blog. The article is also on display in The Jerusalem Post where she is a regular columnist. She wonders a little why the West bothers. Glick points to the fact that it is the US and the EU that helps keeping the Palestinians going but does of course, like noone else, have solution for a peace process.

I have earlier heard about an South African kind of solution for Israel and Palestine but the two-state solution advocated by most states and the news that Jews can't live in a future Palestine rules this out. I'm looking, in my frustration over the situation, for a future solution that takes into account demographic realities in the area.

Keeping up a status quo situation has been an understandable way of looking at the issue but current affairs seem to indicate that the Turks and Arabs are not pleased with the status quo any longer, although they might be the ultimate winner of such an approach in the long run? Impatience is in the air!

There was an article on the wsj.com site today that desribed a soccer game between an Israeli team and a Turkish team in Istanbul this weekend. There were people shouting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans. It reminded me of a tennis game in Malmö a while ago that had to be played without an audience--for the security of the Israeli players. Will it be possible for Turks and Arabs to whip up international pressure on Israel that will necessitate that they give up on their security concerns. Security is not important here. A worst case scenario would be to have Israel lowering their guard for a strike while the West is busy with their economic problems.

The question is why the Arab Spring is taking place and why there is impatience in the Palestine-Israel question all of a sudden? Removal of all Western supported dictators? Humiliating the West in this fashion just to return to normal as the West has lost themselves on the rebels--on the right side of history, as if democracy already was installed.

Is it because the US was cautious in Libya and that no European power would assist Israel in an emergency. Pure power play, in other words. The reaction from the West on the Arab Spring has been positive until recently when it has been conditional for Turkey to lead the way, forgetting all about Israel, because it complicates the issue. I guess I have to settle for a hope that this looks worse than it is?


Turkey and Egypt?

The Financial Times writes today that Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a passionate speech in Cairo yesterday has said the “Israel must pay a price for its aggression and crimes”. They also write that this has alarmed Israel and that it worries the US. Erdogan also calls for the acceptance of Palestine as a state via the UN.

Turkey has now permanented its policy shift with this tough stance against Israel where it also tried to work up an aggression among other states in the area. Erdogan has also said that he will bring a Turkish naval escort to a new Ship to Gaza flotilla at the same time as he says the Mavi Marmara incident was an act of war.

In the mean time rioters attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Israel brought home some 80 embassy personnel but has since said that they will try to restore the for them important mission in Egypt. After all, Egypt is one of two countries in the Middle East that has a diplomatic relationship with Israel. The other one is Jordan. The Turkish diplomatic relationship is on hold as is the earlier close military collaboration. Turkey has, though, agreed under the flag of NATO to harbor radars for missiles from Iran on their territory. It seems like Erdogan is forcing the US and NATO to choose him or Israel.

Erdogan is currently on a trip to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya hopefully as a model for Arab modernization. It would be of great concern if the trip in reality turns out to be forging a coalition against Israel in these fledgling states. The problem at hand is that Erdogan is not acting favorably to a fellow democratic nation but rather walks the religious line.


September 11, 2001?

Daniel Pipes claims, in his book In the Path of God from 1983 which was republished 2002 after the 9/11 catastrophe, that militant Islam, or fundamentalism, is hopeless which I agree with. He drew the conclusion in 2002 and 1983 that Muslims had to westernize in order to modernize. I guess this is not valid because Asian countries have been modernizing without completely westernizing, keeping a distinct original character. Samuel P Huntington, in his book Clash of Civilizations from 1996, claims that the Western civilization is not universal hinting at the possibility that the Sinic and Muslim civilizations will never merge into the Western.  My analysis of this extremely important issue is that the western culture is the most biological and psychologically most correct one. Other cultures have to use more coercion to get people to thrive. This would be an argument for advocating westernization. Already John Locke, who was trained as a physician, set forward psychologically relevant rules and rights. A major risk is that an Asian country could with harsher, inhumane methods push their people to challenge the West economically. Someone said that an equivalent of the Roman Empire development could take place from this time’s democratic embryo. I don’t believe this will happen though. The West is more significant than Greece was at the time.

Why did the destruction of the 11th September 2001 take place? Pipes argues that westernization is more problematic for the Muslims than modernization and the Arab Spring that we witness today is probably more a modernization attempt rather than a westernization ditto. Since 1983 the population of Egypt and Iran has doubled, and this madness creates a very large youth unemployment. Most Muslims adhered to traditional Islam where people realized that sharia did not work and had come to a compromise which Pipes calls The Medieval Synthesis, although there has been fundamentalists all the way from the beginning. Pipes argues that from about 1970 oil wealth has made Muslims more fundamentalistic although he says in the foreword of the 2002 edition of his book that the issue is more complicated.

Looking back ten years it has become seemingly conventional wisdom, especially in Europe, that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been completely in vain. I’m not so sure. If the US had not reacted forcefully, terrorism might have been encouraged. Now the swift occupations told governments in the Middle East to prevent terrorism on their soil that might otherwise be dealt with in a similar fashion. Saddam Hussein was also a person that was so disastrous in the region that removing him also set a precedent which Gadhafi now have faced. I therefore do not think the human sacrifice demanded so far have been in vain. What we have learned so far, however, is that being the leader of the free world is making you undeservedly unpopular.


The Climate is Worsening Around Israel

The new type of martyrship that the Turkish activists that sacrificed their lives while attacking the Israeli commandoes in the Ship to Gaza incident were revealed in a report by the UN that vindicated Israel against these marauders. Egypt was also aggressive recently after a terrorist attack against Israelis close to Eilat. However, due to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the event has worsened the relationship between Turkey and Israel to the point of retracting their ambassadors, since Erdogan demand of an Israeli apology has not been met. 

Who is this Erdogan? Well, according to Ian Bremmer in his book The J curve, he was educated in religious schools as a devout Muslim. As a teenager, he was forced off a soccer team for refusing to shave his beard he considered it his religious duty to grow. Elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994, Erdogan declared himself the city’s “imam” and opened his first city council meeting by chanting from the Koran. After reading an Islamist poem at a 1998 rally, Erdogan was convicted of using religion to provoke disorder and sent to jail for four months. The poem read in part, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets/The minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers. The jail sentence apparently made him more Kemalistically secular but how much of a religious soldier is he still while being a very popular prime minister?

Erdogan’s life witnesses the tense relationship between the democratic government and the military which characterizes Turkey and which makes it less suitable to join the EU. Erdogan has, according to Der Spiegel held a rally in Germany to 15,000 Turkish immigrants where he suggested they should not integrate into the German society. Thus supporting Turkish enclaves in Germany, his Turkey is less suitable for EU membership. At least if the current ever closer union represents the future path of development.

The question is then what path Turkey is going to find for themself in the appearing Middle East and North Africa environment at the same time as they are alienating themselves from Israel? They are playing an important part in supporting the NTC of Libya and have issued warning to Syria for their human rights violations. Will they evolve as a democratic model for the rest or will they rather become like the rest to blend in? Turkey being the most democratic Muslim country is an important phenomenon with a rather unique history to match. It does not seem likely that we will find a leader of Kemal Atatürk’s type in the area with such a will to emulate the West.


State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century?

Francis Fukuyama provides a crash course in State Building, note not Nation Building, from 2005 when he reacts to the turnover of power from the US derived CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) in Iraq to the Iraqis in 2004, a year after the invasion. No Iraqis ruled Iraq during this time. It is well worth the time to ponder the fate of Libya with this book. Which country, for example, should help Libya out, they have asked for civilian help, since cultures vary so much? The UN is a mish-mash of countries and institutions are the key to development which are highly culture dependent.

Libya is in the lowest stability phase of its Ian Bremmer J-curve now. Which way do the majority of the Libyans want to go today? Which way would they want to go in a generation’s time after adding some rule of law and primary education? Fukuyama states that the major problem in aiding a country like Libya is that there is a lack of domestic demand for reform from the elite. It is a little of what we see in Tunisia and Egypt today. The difference here is that the elite was not fighting as rebels and died in the 20,000nds. Hopefully there will be a certain seriousness due to the sacrifice that will help transcend the elite even since Libya wants in general education level due to Gaddafi’s 42 year rule.


Which culture will make the next major move?

Took a walk down to the Ersdal Bay and back via the harbor today again, as I did yesterday. 15 to 17 degrees Celsius, thus perfect. Time to make some plans for the fall. The overall subject that I am researching is which culture should carry mankind into the future. Into the unknown. It is not going to be just one. East and West will probably continue to run parallel. The two party system of the world. The main hypothesis is that the West has found out a path of higher fidelity than the East with a more mature political development. Thus assuming that there are no genetic differences between the two populations. The political system of the West is more mature for the simple reason that people are allowed to think and act politically. From Ian Bremmer’s book The End of the Free Market form 2010 it is possible to extrapolate that there is about 25% state capitalists in the world currently which is offsetting the balance and currently causing a slump in the West. Since the rich in the West are making money in the East as austerity is mandated in the West for ordinary people, notable billionaires are talking about paying more in tax for the sake of stability. Personally I think it is not wise with too progressive tax tables since the rich allocate money better than the state for the performance of the economy. Bremmer brings up this point, while claiming that the state is not that good as the shareholders in allocating funds, why state capitalism risks being less efficient economically.

Although I’m not so sure myself, it seems like most people think the power of science and innovation on all levels is going to play out equally well in the East as in the West. That would remove Joseph Nye’s argument of the higher recruitment of talent to the US than to China and leave Gideon Rachman’s focus on the economy more pertinent. The economy will depend on how people organize themselves in the functioning parts of the world and how areas like the Middle East and North Africa develops from lower levels. The fight on how to build up Libya has started and the obvious question is if it’s going to be free-market or state capitalism which is important since Libya’s development could become a blue-print for the entire area. State capitalism is probably easier to apply to a country of Libya’s type, Algeria is already state capitalist to a certain degree and also runs on oil, but I hope they will convince the Libyans to choose free-market capitalism due to the better harmony possible with the EU in this case. Bremmer has a series of comments in his book as to the prognosis of state capitalism and he seems to think that it represents a dead end, which I tend to agree with. Improvements of free-market capitalism are a more probably path of development. In an era where the economists have problems understanding the economy it is troublesome that we ask politicians to regulate it, understanding it even less, but it seems to be necessary.