As winter reaches an icy hand across the whole of Europe and the Egyptian elections show the media-spun hopes of the erstwhile “Arab Spring” to be as immaterial as they were imaginative, the world democratic revolutionists, who are more accurately described as Neo-Trotskyites than neoconservatives, are at it again.
One gets the distinct impression that they are less concerned about with whom the war as waged so long as it involves sending more troops to the Middle East. We are now into the seventh year of hearing how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still Hitler, even though he isn’t the actual leader of Iran – the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is – and at a similar point in Hitler’s career, Germany had already invaded Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland and was at war with Great Britain and France. I’m not sure when one is forced to begin questioning the legitimacy of a historical parallel, but all the facts in evidence tend to indicate that it is quite safe to conclude at this point that the Ahmadinejad-Hitler one is not merely a false equivalence, but a ludicrous one.
Since Iran hasn’t done anything more aggressive than passively protest the murder of its scientists and Libya’s post-Gadhafi regime appear to have fallen off the media’s radar, it appears that Syria has become the bogeyman du jour. Apparently America and the United Nations must intervene because the forces of its dictatorial leader, the UK-educated ophthalmologist Bashar al-Assad, is said to have killed around 200 Syrians in the city of Homs recently, as well as another 200 elsewhere in the country. This was vigorously protested by Barack Obama, who declared “Assad must halt his campaign of killing and crimes against his own people now. He must step aside and allow a democratic transition to proceed immediately.”
Obama was, however, silent about his own plans to step aside and allow a democratic transition in the United States, despite the recent reports of 3,021 civilian deaths in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan. Under world democratic revolutionist logic, civilian deaths in a country justify U.S. intervention that is guaranteed to produce significantly more civilian deaths in that same country. And indeed, given the electoral success of Hamas in Palestine and the Al-Nour and Freedom and Justice parties in Egypt, one can only conclude that a) the neocons are strategically incompetent despite their imperial pretensions, b) are utilizing Leninist political logic to make things worse in the Middle East by bringing Islamic parties to power across the region or c) are secret Muslims disguising themselves as Israel Firsters.
In any case, I can’t see how it benefits either the United States or Israel to work toward installing more popular, more radical and more structurally unstable governments across the Levant. Under the rule of the Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan, Turkey has been gradually moving away from the West and toward its historical Islamic roots, and there is little reason to believe that Egypt, Tunisia and Iraq will not do the same now that their largely secular strongmen have been removed with the help of the United States and its European allies.
There are those who are calling these inevitable political disappointments – inevitable, because only the ignorant and the hopelessly naïve ever imagined a newly democratic Islamic republic following the lead of the secular Western democracies – the Arab Winter, in counterpoint to the previous headlines that trumpeted an Arab Spring. But we are not likely to be so fortunate. The Obama administration has learned nothing from the imperialist failures of the Bush administration that preceded it. Instead of recognizing the negative results of his predecessor’s interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama appears determined to repeat them everywhere from Libya and Uganda to Syria and Iran.
Regardless of whether your first concern is the American national interest, or as appears to be the case with a number of Democratic and Republican politicians, the Israeli national interest, the great imperialist game being played by the present administration is detrimental to both of those interests as well as the ability of the U.S. military to defend them. The lessons of military history are perfectly clear, and the consequences of more than a decade of military overreach are more perilous than they have been since before the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
The Arab Spring has failed. The World Democratic Revolution has been counterproductive. The U.S. military is worn out. The danger now is that an Arab Summer, the likes of which have not been seen since the Ottomans last threatened Vienna, may be approaching at the same time that the global economy enters its Fimbulwinter. Iran and Syria may represent the two horns of a Hattin upon which the West would be wise to avoid impaling itself.