Thursday, 17 July 2014


George Orwell, in 1984, described a chaotic world of perpetual warfare: a large part of the planet was forever fought over and constantly changing hands, with the lives of the inhabitants assigned minimal value.
“Between the frontiers of the super-states, and not permanently in the possession of any of them, there lies a rough quadrilateral with its corners at Tangier, Brazzaville, Darwin, and Hong Kong, containing within it about a fifth of the population of the earth. It is for the possession of these thickly-populated regions, and of the northern ice-cap, that the three powers are constantly struggling. In practice no one power ever controls the whole of the disputed area. Portions of it are constantly changing hands, and it is the chance of seizing this or that fragment by a sudden stroke of treachery that dictates the endless changes of alignment.” 1984, Chapter 9
Due to the decline of both moral and pragmatic qualities caused by the West's dominant ideology of Universal Liberalism, our "geopolitical organs" are now creating a similar zone of chaos and anarchy to the one envisioned by Orwell. This has been dramatically driven home by the recent rise to prominence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) across a large and geographically ill-defined sector of the Middle East, at a time when many other parts of Orwell's quad – Gaza, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Mali, and Yemen – are also deep in chaos.

Another stop on the road paved with Liberal intentions.
The great flaw of Washington and its allies in recent years has been a tendency to start things without finishing them. This is a tendency that has accelerated in recent years and is driven by the following factors:

  • Increasing geopolitical ignorance caused by a growing misunderstanding of how the world actually works
  • A drastic decline in political pragmatism because it is viewed as inconsistent with a new Western morality  infused with narratives of feminism, gay rights, and anti-racism  
  • A steep decline in the West's original moral qualities of courage, honour, loyalty, masculinity, moral fiber, and commitment

The West feels 'morally' driven to destabilize or depose the natural power elites of various Third World states, often with an unacknowledged economic back story, but it now lacks the qualities that enabled it to succeed in the past.

Liberal elites, unlike the old Conservatives or the 'rednecks’ and 'flyovers' they so detest, are unable to fulfill the duties their actions assume. For the liberal ruling class, it is enough to make the moral gesture, get the buzz, and then sidle away from the mess they have created and look for the next humanitarian interventionist thrill.

Rather than imposing "totalitarian humanism," as some fear, this irresponsible attitude has instead created a toxic brew of "hegemonic anarchy," characterized by chaos, civil war, massacres, mutilations, religious insanity, and growing contempt for the West. Boko Haram, the group in Nigeria that hit the headlines earlier this year when it kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls, expresses this contempt in its name, which literally means "Western education is sin." Iraq and Afghanistan, the scenes of the West's greatest commitments and sacrifices, are clearly being lost to any semblance of order; while the hashtag offensive "Bring our Girls Back" that was supposed to bring Boko Haram to its knees is struggling even to make an impact on social media.

Against this background, some countries in the danger zone, like Algeria, Egypt, and Thailand, have found temporary reprieve by reverting to old-style military dictatorships with a bit of PR – the promise of "free elections," a high-profile female appointment, etc. – to keep the liberal commentariat from becoming too interested in their affairs.

The secular strongman – the optimum
solution for the fractious Third World state?
Iraq is a classic example of the kind of country that either requires pragmatic or principled treatment, but which in Western interventionist hands just turns to mush. Like most Third World countries, it has badly-drawn borders that do not correspond to organic cultures and nations, but instead throw together diverse and antagonistic thedes.

Thanks to the former predominance of the Turks in the region, the natural ruling elite has been rooted in the Sunni Arab part of the population. This group also occupies a relatively central position, with the numerically superior Shiite Arabs to the south and the non-Arabic Kurds to the northeast.

Despite its inherent flaws and weakness, Iraq, with the right kind of strong and pragmatic leader, could be relatively stable. Although Saddam Hussein was clearly deeply flawed, he may well have been an optimum solution for the country in a way that the present underpowered 'strongman,' Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, clearly isn't.

A well-managed partition of the country into three separate sections, corresponding to the three main groups in the population, may have been another option at one time, but that moment has clearly passed. Whatever new borders arise will now have to be drawn in blood, while any strongmen that arise to keep the country united are likely to get on the wrong side of Western Liberals at some point and meet the same end as Saddam or Gaddafi.

The truth is that "humanitarian" Western liberals prefer anarchy to a convenient tyrant: anarchy says "we tried" rather than "we connived," and, as the somewhat Orwellian phrase "humanitarian intervention" hints, it helps them to feel better about themselves. But rather than orderly humanism, what the Liberal West is pioneering is a form of hegemonic anarchy.

Orwell's quad: wreaking havoc in the 21st century.

A version of this article was previously published at Theden.

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