Looking at the world around us one has to wonder how it all got into the horrible state of affairs. There had to be a lynchpin which started the unraveling, an actual starting point which we can trace everything back to and find the culprit who made that initial error, mistake in judgement. But in order to do that one has to decide which of the unravellings we should start with as there are so many to choose from. There is Putin, or as we like to call him, Vlad the Invader (our original reference recently stolen by a Fox News commentator the erudite pontificator), who has shaken up parts of Central Asia and Eurasia and is threatening Eastern Europe, or at least there are some former nations swallowed by the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union; there is China who apart from building a blue water navy with which not only to challenge the United States Naval hegemony of the seas, a privilege formerly owned by the British, but are also building Islands in order to cement her claims to the vast South China Sea and thus control or divert much of the sea lane traffic from the Indian Ocean in and out of the Pacific Ocean; there is the financial problems in Europe threatening the stability of the European Union and the adoption of one currency with the Euro; and the final and greatest roiling and boiling cauldron, the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA). There may be other problems out there but these are the most prevalent and easily identifiable.
Let us start with the easiest of these, the financial meltdown in Europe. This problem was a situation just waiting to happen as soon as the most disparate economic nations decided to adopt the same currency unit without permitting a central planning committee to set their financial and economic planning and other such decisions in-line with each other. There was absolutely no way the less productive economies of such nations as Spain, Greece and Portugal had any hope of paralleling the productivity, GDP and economic output of a France, Britain or Germany. Additionally, adding the former Warsaw Pact nations probably sparked an even more divergent economic growth rate as nations such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and others plus the reuniting of Germany allowing the already dominant economy to also feast on the same rebuilding and economic recovery from the less efficient economic model of central planning to a market driven economy which granted these nations a greatly exaggerated GDP during their basically playing catch-up with the rest of Europe and becoming modernized economies. Thus the Euro was a pipe dream which probably had hoped that through the singular monetary unit, the Euro, would lead to a centralizing of economic planning being turned over to the European Union to plan these different economies as if they were a single unit. That was highly unlikely as that would have spelled the demise of the nation states and rendered them merely states in the continental nation of the European Union. What the European Union bureaucrats were seeking was a situation very similar to a former economic model using the Union name, the Soviet Union, replacing Moscow with Brussels and otherwise retaining that centralized, top down dictatorial form of economic planning. The hope of having all the European nations of the European Union surrender that much power to centralized governance was an impossible and thankfully unthinkable centralization of power. This became first indicated when Great Britain took a vote of the people on whether or not to adopt the Euro and the people were clearly heard to say not without losing to an invading army first, otherwise reported as a resounding no and Great Britain retained the Pound but with time would accept the Euro but it would change in buying power as it performed against the Pound. The British model of accepting the Euro while retaining their own currency would very likely have been a far better solution considering what we know now. By allowing each nation their own currency while having them also accept the Euro as legal tender the individual national economic planning would have reflected in their national currency which could slide against the Euro while still having an exchange rate at which the Euro would have an established buying power. This way Greece could remain Greece and Germany could march to their own economic tune and both nations would accept the Euro but their economy would be reflected in the exchange rate which would be set in Brussels. That would provide each nation with its economic freedoms while granting the central control freaks in Brussels their power in determining the value of the Euro to the individual currencies.
Next, let us take Vlad the Invader and resurgent Russia. Here the answer is simple; things are as they were inevitably meant to be. Russia has always had that appetite to chew on and swallow the smaller nations around her and some more so than others. Georgia and the Ukraine both fall into the more so than others category. Eventually there would have come along a strong and imperialist charismatic leader, instead we got a shirtless man experiencing a middle age crisis and owning a Napoléon complex likely due to the shared attribute of being of diminutive size also known as vertically challenged. Thus we have Vlad the Invader slowly but inexorably making advances which could have been potentially limited in the Ukraine to the Crimea but there would have been no stopping Putin’s appetite for conquest short of tempting his readiness for war by admitting the Ukraine and any other Warsaw Pact nation into NATO as well as the European Union. Of course this would have had the effect of making any of these moves by Russia on its neighboring countries, or as Vlad sees these nations being simply escaped provinces to be reclaimed, and thus pushing NATO or the weaker European Union into backing their mutual self-defense claims of, to quote an oldie but still a goodie, their all for one and one for all defensive agreements contained in both the European Union and especially NATO. So this can be traced back to Putin’s training as a KGB agent merging with his Napoléon complex plus his nationalistic and simplistic view that Russia was dealt a cruel and unfair blow with the, as he sees it, calamitous and most disastrous and lamentable event of the twentieth century and that he was the individual given the extraordinary and heaven ordained duty to rebuild Russia to her full and former glory. As far as others fearing Russia, especially in that neighborhood, Vlad the Invader has succeeded in spades.
China is another historical hegemonic power in the Pacific Ocean or at least the western shores of the Pacific Ocean and at times the Indian Ocean as well. One has to remember that China used to have regular wars with the other great power of Asia, India, back when simple people power was a determining factor and has only in recent history run astride of hard times. Historically China has either been the regional power controlling all she could survey or China was broken into separate mini-states which often warred with each other thus diminishing their powers. The only other situation was when China was overrun or controlled by outside influences and she was in a slow but constant state of regaining her independence and eventually sovereignty over her invaders. China has been and remains the slow and patient survivor and eventual victor which one need but wait to see her resurgence. China has a long history of simply refusing to be cowed or defeated, merely witnessing a temporary inconvenience. China has relied on the winds of change always knowing that no matter what the calamity, be it outside invaders or internal misrule, everything changes and change is the one criteria which can be relied upon to render all things dust. China realizes that there are time when you are riding the crest of the wave and time when the wave has crashed down upon you and whichever end of that wave you find yourself, you will eventually find yourself at the other extreme so enjoy the best of times and remember them as a goal in the worst of times. For China time has been her greatest ally and greatest enemy but she also knows that time is her greatest weapon. China will rise and fall just as the ocean tides, just on a much longer cycle.
Then there is the Extended Middle East which incorporates the traditional Middle East and North Africa and often called MENA. We like Extended Middle East better. This area has always been a cauldron of swirling fates. One need do no more than read the Bible, the Old Testament, to realize the great swings of fate for all who resided in this area. There have been great empires which rose from next to nothing to greatness only to be blown away like the desert sands. Some of these empires blew away so completely that one is unable to find their descendants as it is as if they were snatched from the Earth itself. Probably the strangest of stories is the people of the Bible who only recently returned to their historic, ancient lands, Israel. However, this return has become the central story and burdened with the weight of responsibility for all the unrest anywhere on the globe and particularly throughout the Extended Middle East. Despite there being no actual or traceable root to the great turmoil destroying and potentially redrawing the map of the Extended Middle East to Israel, that has not prevented many from historians to political pundits to media reporters and even to governments and their agencies such as the United States Department of State from laying all of the blame at Israel’s doorstep.
The turmoil in the central Middle East is nothing new as it is the control point for all trade historically between three massive and divergent continents; Africa, Europe and Asia. This was the locations of a city-state which had no viable crop or natural resource and was hidden away behind a narrow splitting in a rock face and the city was entirely built into another rock face which had an outer clearing protected by tall rock walls and survived purely on trade and taking a percentage of all transactions. The city was Petra which finally and literally fell out of use after an earthquake made its further use untenable. But Petra was an indication on exactly how important the areas of the Middle East were for trade between the three continents. Tracing history in this area you find such names as Egypt, Hittite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Philistines, Minoans, Canaanites who worshipped such gods as Moloch and Baal, Persians and entering the more modern age, the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and finally the French and British. Where to trace back the turmoil and near constant warfare of the Middle East, perhaps to Cain and Abel and the earliest recorded use of a rock as a tool of war. That might be a stretch but the earliest conflict likely predates writing by a sufficient amount of time that it also ceased being a part of the oral history and never got recorded just as the actual traceable location of Atlantis was never given (Pillars of Hercules and out in the great waters, like that helps).
But the recent difficulties and intermitted warfare both between nations and internal to nations is traceable to a particular intentional act meant to create just such internal strife and potentially these external wars in order to prevent the area from ever again uniting into the one promise the French and British had given to particular Arab tribal, nations and even clan leaders to persuade them into assisting them in their efforts against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, the reestablishment of the Caliphate, meaning the areas of the Ottoman Empire intact as a singular entity, and leaving these leaders as the ruling council and the ones who would choose the new Caliph. Instead, this promise was not only shattered but the lines drawn after World War I in both the Middle East and rest of the Ottoman Empire as well as the Austria Hungarian Empire in order to prevent there ever being a reunification thus preventing these powers from becoming preeminent and capable of starting the next conflagration. The division of the Austro-Hungarian Empire mostly achieved its purpose and the next war where it did arise out of Germany which was generally a previous part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and had only in the late 1800s gained its unified formation independent of outside control but not necessarily free of their influences thus leading to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi efforts and Word War II. But in the Middle East we had the Sykes–Picot Agreement which made completely arbitrary borders without, or possibly intentionally ignoring, tribal lines and clans or any of the natural political alignments often splitting lands as in the case of the Kurds; who also were promised their own nation as were the Jews in separate agreements but instead the Kurdish lands were divided and became parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran; making each nation internally unstable. Iraq is probably the most well-known of these divisions which in the case of Iraq divided the lands such that the Shiites were predominant in the south, the Sunni predominant in the center and the Kurds predominant in the north. This forced each of these imaginary nations to eventually find that the only way to restore and keep the peace was the rise of a militant strongman willing to impose peace by force of arms such as was the case under Saddam Hussein. Say whatever you like about Saddam Hussein such as he was a butcher, a murderer and a hard tyrant with an iron fist, he kept Iraq from devolving into internecine warfare such as we are witnessing today.
The rest of the turmoil which we are suffering through today may have had a recent triggering event, namely the Cairo speech by United States President Barack Obama and his foreign policy which was centered around his campaign promise to end the wars and bring the troops home. Unfortunately for the majority of the people turned victims in the Extended Middle East, President Obama pulled all of the United States military personnel from both Afghanistan and Iraq prematurely as neither nation had developed the experience of the new governance nor the military ability to resist disorder while, especially in Iraq, the suppressed majority had some real and serious issues and grudges to settle with the minority who had ruled the nation through oppressions and they were out to get that revenge which tore the nation apart making it ripe for a force such as ISIS to tear into its midsection and even gain some support from the people there. The Sykes–Picot Agreement was designed to make the Middle East in particular and the Extender Middle East by division of who controlled what area which became independent nations with the arbitrary borders established by their respective colonizers, left the entirety of these areas as a tinder box simply waiting for that spark and it was likely the Cairo Speech and the enthusiastic attempt after the Tunisian vegetable cart vendor’s self-immolation and subsequent uprising in Tunisia being used as the trigger for President Obama’s attempt to redraw the Middle East around granting the Muslim Brotherhood preeminence over the region sharing control with Iran as the hegemon in the east and the Muslim Brotherhood in the west. Even had this plan succeeded it would have only set up a different state of conflict but this time with two very strong entities making for an even potentially greater struggle. The war right now is contained for the most part to the Greater Syrian conflict which includes ISIS and Iraq and the Iranian intervention, and the Egyptian struggle internally for the most part with the Egyptian military wresting control from the Muslim Brotherhood. The trouble in Libya is tribal and most likely to remain in Libya unless ISIS gets a firm and significant foothold and then there will be trouble as ISIS then moves to take all of Libya and begins their spread into Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria, but especially Egypt. History will likely eventually lay the blame for the current explosion of unrest and open warfare in the Extended Middle East to the United States meddling and doing so by proxy removing their personnel, especially military, from the Extended Middle East and stirring the pot so to speak and hoping for the best. They failed, or should we simply say the truth, President Obama really had no idea what he was attempting and misunderstood the players and nearly everything in the Middle East and almost every other foreign affairs which he has chosen action or inaction. Incompetence beyond measure being wielded by a self-indulgent, uninformed, narcissist with delusions of competence and wisdom that produces a boondoggle that only complete ineptitude, ignorance and delusions of grandeur could produce. I am sure there are other adjectives which would apply but for the sake of brevity shall we coin a new phrase and call such complete ineffectiveness which produces great conflagrations as doing an Obamy.
Beyond the Cusp