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Egypt’s Freely Elected President, Morsi, Sentenced to Death

2015 May 16
by Ian Welsh

Really?  Really?

An Egyptian court has pronounced death sentences on ousted president Mohammed Morsi and more than 100 other people over a mass prison break in 2011.

And people wonder why Islamic groups become more and more radical over time. There is one set of rules for non-Islamic groups and another for Islamic groups. If they win fairly and within the rules (as when Hamas won the Palestinian elections), they are denied the fruits of their gains. If you claim that fair elections and democracy constitute legitimacy, then overthrow those who win when you don’t like them, no one can take your criteria for legitimacy seriously.

Peaceful means have now failed, legitimate means have now failed; expect those who support Islamic government to become more radical and violent. Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood was defeated militarily before, but this is not then: Islamic groups are on the rise, and often on the offensive, all through the region.

If you won’t let the reasonable people in the opposition take power, you will soon meet the unreasonable people.

Note also that Sisi has set a precedent with his executions. When the next Islamic group takes power in Egypt, they will follow suit. They will almost certainly purge the deep state in a bloodbath.

In this respect, Sisi has provided the perfect Machiavellian lesson to the opposition: You cannot leave men with guns in their positions when they oppose you. You must eliminate them.

Legitimate ways of transferring power are supposed to eliminate the need for Machiavellian practicalities. The men with guns, the deep state bureaucracy–even if they don’t like the new government–bow before them, precisely so that each new regime doesn’t feel it has to destroy the previous regime. This is so that society is not wracked by purges.

Al-Sisi and those who back them will reap as they have sowed. I feel very little sympathy for them, but I do feel great sympathy for Egyptians as a group. They tried.

At the time the Egyptians rose, I was castigated for my “cynicism.” It turns out to have been realism. Those who ignore where the real power lies in society in favor of mealy-mouthed niceties about “people power” are, too often, leading their flocks into a slaughter.

Allah bless Egyptians. They are going to need it.


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36 Responses
  1. markfromireland permalink
    May 16, 2015

    In this respect Sisi has provided the perfect Machiavellian lesson to the opposition: you cannot leave men with guns in their position who oppose you: you must eliminate them.

    Yes, but do remember that Morsi believed that Sisi supported him.

    Al-Sisi and those who back them will reap as they have sowed. I feel very little sympathy for them,

    Not sure about that. If, to coin a phrase, you’re prepared to wade through blood you may well get to retire in comfort and die on your bed. Sisi has, (see Ra’ba, Port Said, Alexandria, Sinai and Upper Egypt) shown that he’s perfectly prepared to kill and kill and kill). He’ll probably get away with it. If he does get away with it and so far all the evidence is that that he has my guess would be a stable regime. Stable for around a generation.

    At the time the Egyptians rose I was castigated for my “cynicism”. It turns out to have been realism. Those who ignore where the real power lies in society for mealy-mouthed niceties about people power too often are leading their flocks into a slaughter.

    Yes, well there were lots and lots of willing dupes in the west particularly those on the leftward fringes who imagined that a tiny minority of telegenic articulate English-speaking Western-oriented people somehow reperesented a statistically and politically significant group of people. Do you remember the live chat on FDL with a girl born to Egyptian parents who’d lived in London all her life, who couldn’t speak a word of Arabic, and was accompanied to that chat session by her minder from (IIRC) the socialist workers party? She was off to Cairo to become an organiser. I kid you not. No doubt you can think of lots of other examples.

    There’s a saying that something went “as smoothly as a military operation”. Usually that saying makes me want to roll around on the floor laughing my ass off. But in this case it applies. All those nice telegenic liberal English-speaking Western-oriented people, were a thin veneer on a military operation that really went rather smoothly. They were a very thin veneer indeed but a very thin veneer, so thin that it was transparent, was all that was needed.

    Why?

    Morsi is an Ikhwani and the Ikhwanis were determined to transform Egypt into a more Islamic state. EEK! Religion!!! Double EEK!!! Mooslims!!! Can’t have that. In the immortal words of Tom Lehrer:

    “They’ve got to be protected
    All their rights respected
    ‘Til someone we like can be elected”

    So of course western liberals chorused their support for that thin thin veneer of nice telegenic liberal English-speaking Western-oriented people without even once bothering their worthless western liberal heads about the fact that what those nice telegenic liberal English-speaking Western-oriented people were a veneer over was the sort of viciously authoritarian military-run society and economy found in Spain once Franco had consolidated his grip on power. And, as in Spain under Franco there’s the trivialisation of violence, the absence of social, economic, or legal justice, and the intense militarisation of public space.

    In fact one could argue that what’s in Egypt now is worse than what was in Spain under Franco because Franco did actually allow a significant private sector to grow, something which Sisi and partners have made very plain they’re determined to prevent.

    Incidentally Ian have you noticed that many of those who chorused their approval for what was done in Egypt turned up singing the same song about Maidan? That astute if more than somewhat vile observer of humanity Josef Djugashvili had a particularly apt description of such folk.

    mfi

  2. Ian Welsh permalink
    May 16, 2015

    Yes, I suspect you’re right. Al-Sisi will probably personally get away with it. Death bet and all. Killing large numbers is effective: for a time.

    As for Morsi, a martyr, and a proof you can’t play by the “rules”.

  3. Tom permalink
    May 16, 2015

    IS Sinai branch now has all the legitimacy it wants. It is starting to govern villages now, and seriously hurting Egyptian Forces. This will expand its numbers and increasingly bring it legitimacy. In the net few months I expect them to start really taking ground and vie with Hamas for control of Gaza.

    US is only slowing it down, but IS is NVA level and it knows, ISF and SAA, not cities is the key to winning and is focusing on destroying the Golden Division which started 2014 with 15,000 men and is now down to less than 5,000 men. Many Iraqi Brigades are Battalions now and Battalions are companies. IS on the other hand is increasingly growing its Army and forming reserves. The Palmyra offensive was carried out by a 10,000 strong unit that spent all winter in Mosul practicing room clearing, rappelling, and mobile combat. ISF can only hold areas it ethnically cleanses which is increasing IS recruitment and forcing Sunnis into their arms.

    Kurds still can’t stop quarreling and YPG can’t translate its tactical victories into operational and strategic victories. People are actually fleeing YPG territories because it can’t govern, kidnaps children for the frontlines, kidnaps political opponents to Marxism and kills them, and despite having more money than IS can’t fix war damage or provide services which IS regularly does having dedicated units devoted to it. Kobane Canton is still largely a Ghost Canton with 90% of the population either in Turkey or in IS territory as there is nothing to return to.

    Peshmerga factions fight each other as much as they do IS.

    Say what you will about IS ideology, but they aren’t corrupt, are serious and sincere about social services if you’re Sunni, have a consistent message, and provide order and stability that other alternatives either don’t or can’t defend if they do against entrenched interests. In short IS keeps the social contract it signs with its citizens.

  4. markfromireland permalink
    May 16, 2015

    @ Tom May 16, 2015

    IS Sinai branch now has all the legitimacy it wants. It is starting to govern villages now, and seriously hurting Egyptian Forces. This will expand its numbers and increasingly bring it legitimacy. In the net few months I expect them to start really taking ground and vie with Hamas for control of Gaza.

    Evidence please. And that includes evidence that there is such a thing as “Is Sinai branch”.

    Once you’ve provided that perhaps you’d care to enlighten us as to what if any connection there is between the subject matter of your first paragraph and the subject matters of your second and subsequent paragraphs.

    TIA

    mfi

  5. philadelphialawyer permalink
    May 16, 2015

    markfromireland nails it…westerners, even those on the allegedly far left, like that “Lenin’s
    Tomb” guy, seem to fall over and over again for the made for TV revolutionaries who collect money from the CIA to make believe that they represent what most Iranians, Egyptians, etc really want.

    Most Egyptians and most Iranians probably, judging by actual election results, and not the ravings of various Westerners, want some sort of Islamic government. Of course, that is not what anyone who matters in the West wants, nor what the Socialist Workers and so on (who don’t matter) want, either. So, if a nice, bought and paid for, “moderate,” pro Western military is on hand, as it was in Egypt, all to the good. Elections? You mean “One man, one vote, one time?” Which is how all elections that don’t go our way are presented, unless it easier to fake fraud allegations, as in Iran.

    Very, very few people, looked at as a percentage, in Egypt and Iran have Twitter or Facebook or computers or internet access at all. Those folks, with their pro western liberal tendencies, are not a random sample, representative slice, of the population. And neither are leftist union organizers. Sure, everyone in Egypt, except the Mubarak family itself and a very, very few cronies, was sick of Hosni, and his thirty years of “emergency” rule, and, more importantly, were not going to stand by and let him install Baby Mubarak as the next de facto “president” for life and another thirty years. The military did not want that, the Islamists didn’t want that, and neither did the tiny groups of pro western “liberals” and genuine leftists. So, the military allowed the libs and the Islamists and the lefties to have their revolution, which brought down Hosni, and then they allowed an election. Perhaps, if by some miracle the libs had won, the military might have gone along with that, because it felt it could intimidate the libs even while they held nominal power, and use the Islamic bogeyman to keep them in line. But when the Islamists won, fair and square, and made it clear that they were not going to be led around by the nose by the military, it was coup time.

    Which is fine with all those who matter in the West. A lib victory might have been better, but, either way, the Islamists are out, and the make nice-nice with the USA and Israel and sell the Palestinians down the river policy continues. And the cronyism and exploitation of the workers also continues, while the pro western libs retreat into their money and privilege or expatriate.

  6. Tom permalink
    May 16, 2015

    Erdogan is now weighing in https://twitter.com/RT_Erdogan/status/599681492793618433

    “I am asking the Western countries: Why are you still silent? Why don’t you implement sanctions on Egypt that sentenced Morsi to death?”

    MFI

    Check their releases and the news, they been active for months now as an IS branch and years as an obscure Bedouin rebel group. And IS has everything to do with this. They are the unpleasant alternative Ian was talking about.

    The coup against Morsi discredited democracy for Islamists who had previously won in Palestine, Turkey till AKP, and Algeria before that only to be attacked and dictatorships to reform.

    Only Hamas and AKP have managed to survive, Hamas by striking first and ejecting Israel from Gaza and then defeating Fatah. AKP by pretending to be friends with the Deep State, then sidelining, prosecuting, and dismissing them from the Government.

    Had Morsi not been overthrown, he had plans to actually help the Rebels with direct military support and was in discussion with Turkey on it. Morsi was also negotiating with the Sinai rebels and finding a peaceful solution which the military was totally against. Morsi was also keeping in line hardliners from the brotherhood who were willing to give democracy a chance but now are totally turned off from it and either in jail or joining IS.

    Obama’s support to the coup instead of condemning it and fighting to restore Morsi to power by airstriking Egyptian Military HQs and targeting the Generals meant the US lost any credibility it had left as a champion of democracy.

    Now people have a choice in the Middle East. Corrupt US backed dictators that starve, beat, and humiliates them, with services only to those with family connections. Or a local tyrant who is non-corrupt, demands obedience, but give services unconditionally if you’re a citizen, and actually punishes his troops for theft, murder, and corruption, plus promotes on merit not family connections. Guess which the people will choose.

    US hypocrisy, incompetence, and plain avarice has sown a whirlwind that has shattered Middle East which was once a melting pot of faiths into a growing Sunni monster that feels there is no negotiating with the US because the US is not trustworthy due to its actions. The price the US has paid has been the destruction of its economy and loss of freedoms to the elites who continue to dig the US deeper into the grave.

    IS is just one of these manifestations. Putin is the other. China the third. These three together will put America in the grave.

    IS by destroying the hollow states created by the Europeans at the San Remo Conference (Not Sykes-Picot which was a completely different arrangement) and taking the oil to deny it to Big Oil, Putin by siphoning off Europe with counter-sanctions and better economic partnership deals, China by destroying the IMF and becoming the Alternate Bank System and ending the petro dollar. Lastly the US infrastructure will give out from lack of spending on it.

  7. markfromireland permalink
    May 16, 2015

    @ Tom May 16, 2015

    You’re the one making the breathless statements and assertions – you’re the one who needs to back them up with some sort of evidence.

    mfi

  8. philadelphialawyer permalink
    May 16, 2015

    “Obama’s support to the coup instead of condemning it and fighting to restore Morsi to power by airstriking Egyptian Military HQs and targeting the Generals meant the US lost any credibility it had left as a champion of democracy.”

    Now doubt Obama should not have supported the coup. And should have condemned it, both rhetorically, and in terms of US law (which does not allow military aid to be sent to military coupsters).

    But I don’t think we need any more USA “championing of democracy” via air strikes, “targeting,” or fighting in general.

  9. Josh (@JoshsPseudonym) permalink
    May 17, 2015

    “IS. [Russia]. China.” (Tom)

    “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong”,
    to quote my favorite TV program from when I was a toddler. (I too would like to see some evidence for this alleged IS hyper-competence and success.)

  10. May 18, 2015

    MFI:

    A short post saying that a long is light on content. surmanantyusay

  11. May 18, 2015

    On Iraq-Syria Front, though not the same: the Syria have “go invade Iraq” to IS. IS in taking them up, perhaps change of muhhuh between Syria and IS – though which is not clear.

  12. JustPlainDave permalink
    May 18, 2015

    Since Tom appears unaccountably reticent about presenting his sources:

    http://www.understandingwar.org/publications

    [Before anyone dumps on it too, too much it is worth noting that there is some decent raw material in there. It’s work to strip off the worldview, but a worthwhile shortcut given the relative scarcity of open source english language synthesis.]

    Add to the above various Twitterganda sources and I think one has most of it.

    The consensus western analysis of the issue, for those still interested, seems to be that Ansar Beit al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on 10 November 2014 via a prepared statement on audiotape (SITE apparently has translated this, but I have not tracked the transcript down).

    There is said to have been cross-pollination with IS prior to this, particularly related to the development of technical skills. Intensity of the conflict in Sinai appears to have been increasing, as has the effectiveness of attacks on government forces. Whether this should definitively be taken as an indication of cross-pollination with IS is, to my mind, a bit up in the air. There were a number of personnel from other sources (released from prison, returnees from other conflicts) who also have the requisite capabilities. I am appropriately wary of the Egyptian government playing the familiar “Look Westerners! Bugaboo jihadi group of the day! Back me or it pitches into chaos!” card. I also have my doubts that this is translating to the type of control of terrain billed. The reporting that I’m seeing looks a lot more like fence-sitting to me. That said, the directionality of the trend (down from remote areas into population clusters) appears clear.

    What this means in terms of concrete C2 links with IS is, I think, very debatable and quite unlikely to be accurately characterized by the likes of us. I would tend to think that anything that does not seek to explicate it primarily in the context of immediate zone conflict (i.e., Egypt, Libya, Yemen) and only secondarily in the context of more distant conflict is quite likely to go astray.

  13. Michael permalink
    May 18, 2015

    “Those who ignore where the real power lies in society in favor of mealy-mouthed niceties about “people power” are, too often, leading their flocks into a slaughter.”

    As a liberal/progressive living in the US who supported the Occupy movement, I was elated when the Egyptian protesters succeeded in chasing Mubarak from office. When Morsi was elected, I was concerned because I believe in the separation of church and state, and because of the reputation of the Muslim Brotherhood, but I thought the outcome of the election should be upheld.

    I take it the lesson here is that the real power in Egypt lies with the military, and that any group that hopes to gain and hold political power there must either have the backing of the military, or raise its own army, before it can hope to succeed. In addition, the group attaining power must be prepared to purge/sideline all political enemies in the government and military after the overthrow.

    What then are the implications for political change in the US? What would it take to get, say – a social democracy along the lines sketched out by a Bernie Sanders? What types of peaceful political change would the military/security/corporate establishment tolerate here? What is negotiable, and what is non-negotiable? How powerful are they? Are many individuals in their ranks susceptible to switching sides and supporting a social democratic government with a much smaller military/security component and greater economic equality? Are these the right questions to be asking?

  14. Peter permalink
    May 18, 2015

    I was discussing the so called ‘Revolution’ in Egypt with a Palestinian friend not long after Mubarak was deposed and I told him that because it was the Egyptian military that actually removed him from power that there was little hope for a true democratic transition in Egypt.

    The election of Morsi and the MB to power seemed to contradict my assumption initially but that false hope was soon and easily relegated to the dustbin of history. The military and the falool never gave up their power or position to the new MB government and I think now that allowing them to transition into the open in Egypt was an easy and probably intentional part of the plan for their total destruction, which we have witnessed.

    The Leftists and Liberals never had a political chance in Egypt, a conservative and Islamist country but the MB could have offered an example of a somewhat moderate, democratic Islamist State to the ME. This idea has been forever destroyed and the people of the ME know that even that avenue of Western pseudo-democracy will never be allowed by the West or by their Autocrats.

    I read a comment made by one of the MB leadership, still at large, who stated that they had been naïve and foolish to believe that Democracy and elections were anything more than a literal dead-end and that they should have learned from and followed the example of the Islamic State.

  15. markfromireland permalink
    May 19, 2015

    Paul Rogers’ last three monthly briefings have discussed Da’esh. He’s one of the Oxford Research Group’s leading lights and more often right than wrong. His analyses are refreshingly free from hysteria:

    Part I: Is Islamic State in Retreat? | Oxford Research Group

    Part II: Is Islamic State Here to Stay? | Oxford Research Group

    Part III: Is Islamic State Now Evolving into a Transnational Movement? | Oxford Research Group

    mfi

  16. Peter permalink
    May 19, 2015

    Roger’s analysis is certainly not hysterical but it is still projected through Western bias and prejudice. He does at least identify the Islamic State by their actual identity unlike so many others who continue to brand them as ISIS or other confining designations. If he believes that the IS has recently evolved into a transnational movement he must have missed the picture of the projected caliphate they released a year ago that stretched from the Ganges to the Maghreb. The Syria/Iraq territory was necessary to proclaim the Caliphate but it was never anything more than the initial base for the larger conquest.

    Calling the IS a ‘vanguard’ to defend Islam is a contradiction in terms, they are an offensive force dedicated to conquest and the expansion of the power of Political Islam especially to directly confront Western hegemony. Designating the forces of the IS as paramilitaries is a clever way to minimize their strength but they are actually a large well trained, well equipped, well led, dedicated and determined Army of the Caliphate. They may operate in small units but that is just a necessary tactic of urban warfare without air power.

    Branding the IS or any group as ‘extremists’ by someone from the British Empire or any other colonial regime is beyond hypocrisy, they are the models for extremism and terror along with the US today.

  17. philadelphialawyer permalink
    May 19, 2015

    The experience of the MB in Egypt demonstrates the wisdom of taking control of the military, para military and police forces when you come to power in a revolutionary situation. Forces that truly threaten the status quo simply cannot afford to leave their enemies, unpurged, in charge of the institutions that represent the ultimate force, beyond ballots and even money, when they come to power in a revolutionary situation.

    The Soviet advisors to Pinochet recommended that he purge all of the police and military forces, and replace them with loyalists, and he paid the price for either not doing so or not being able to. Now Morsi is doing the same.

    To me, that represents the main problem, not democratic means, per se. Hamas, for example, would not allow Fatah and Israel and the USA to cheat it out of its electoral victory, at least in Gaza, because it took control of the coercive powers of the State.

  18. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 19, 2015

    The global capitalist elite, of which the U. S. Government is merely a wholly-owned subsidiary, did not get, or remain, where they are by being nice people.

    What will happen if IS ever becomes dangerous enough that the elite decide the IS jihadis are dangerous to the elite, rather than the minions and slaves of the elite?

    What will happen to IS if the money boys get scared enough they decide they don’t care about world opinion–now that IS has territory, which can’t be moved under cover?

    If you think IS is ruthless, wait until you see what scared rich men will do.

  19. Peter permalink
    May 19, 2015

    We have already seen what the frightened Ruling Class has had done, they do nothing themselves, in Afghanistan and Iraq and in both cases the best equipped and trained forces in the world were initially successful but were soon engulfed in a quagmire of resistance that left them exhausted and defeated, in Iraq they had to bribe their enemies to allow them to leave without their asses on fire.

    The US and their minions can do horrendous damage to the ME but it cannot win against an Idea such as the Caliphate and it may be able to degrade the Islamic State military temporarily but I don’t think they can be destroyed, in fact the more they are attacked by the West the stronger they will become.

    We have already seen the IS adapt to the air war and prevail in Ramadi, infidel ground troops are exactly what they want to return to Iraq for them to take as trophies and use as a powerful recruitment tool.

  20. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 19, 2015

    Right, Peter.

    Well-trained, fanatically dedicated troops are invincible.

    That’s why the rest of the world has spent 70 years or more writhing under the iron boot of Imperial Japan and its well-trained, fanatically dedicated troops.

    I guess I have to quit hinting.

    The rich men have nukes. The IS does not.

    The IS will live only as long as the rich men do not feel sufficiently threatened to abandon their concern for their reputations, and break out the nukes, killing everyone in the area in order to get the IS.

    Ask the Japanese how much use fanatical courage and dedication are against scared rich men with nukes.

  21. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 19, 2015

    And no, I DON’T want my scenario to happen.

    But I’m cynical enough to suspect if the Western powers had not, rightfully, learned to be ashamed of the mass slaughter that successful imperialism requires, there would be no “Middle Eastern problem”.

  22. philadelphialawyer permalink
    May 20, 2015

    Well trained, dedicated (I won’t say “fanatical” because that is just the pejorative version of dedicated) are NOT invincible. But they are not easy to beat, either. IS, the NVA, the VC, the early Zionists, Mao’s forces, etc show that to be true.

    As for the Japanese, perhaps they were not quite as “fanatical” as they were made out to be, by a not unbiased, not un “fanatical” in its own right US establishment. Funny how most folks don’t see the Japanese as “fanatical” now! Even back in WWII, while there was an officer class that perhaps believed in Bushido and the literal divinity of the Emperor and so on, how many of the “grunts” really felt this way? Japan had a draft starting in 1873, so it is not as if all the soldiers were volunteer “fanatics.” The grunts were also brutalized, beaten and generally mistreated by their aristocrat-officers. Perhaps more of them did not surrender because they were propagandized into believing the USA simply murdered all POWs, and because unsuccessful attempts to surrender were met with death sentences.

    Nukes are not quite the all purpose answer they are being made out to be here by some. Japan was vulnerable to nukes, yes, but it was pretty much defeated without nukes, and was just as vulnerable in the summer of 1945 to “conventional,” fire storm creating bombing as it was to nukes. Indeed, more cities, structures and people were destroyed or killed by “conventional” bombing than by the two nukes. Japan post Nazi surrender was the most friendless, besieged, beleaguered country in perhaps the history of the entire world. The entire world was arrayed against it, and it, being an island, was nicely isolated for nuclear and other bombardment.

    The US cannot simply “nuke” its “Middle East problem” away, in the way it could nuke the already desperate Japanese Imperial Government into surrendering faster than it already was.

  23. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 20, 2015

    I hope Philly is correct, but what if the scared rich men don’t agree with him?

    However, he’s probably correct that nukes aren’t needed, just shamelessness. The shameless ancestors of our scared rich men shattered the brave, but hopelessly outmatched, Native Americans without nukes.

  24. Peter permalink
    May 20, 2015

    The only group of scared men who might be tempted to use nukes are probably the Israeli leaders who will eventually face an existential threat internally and externally. If or when that day comes they may have to nuke much of Palestine as well as surrounding countries.

    The Islamic State spoke early in this conflict about the probability of Israel using nukes against them but shrugged it off saying there would be much work decontaminating places such as Jerusalem after the liberation.

  25. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 20, 2015

    I guess the IS doofi really want that martyrdom–or else they don’t understand just how evil the bosses on the other side are.

    It was no jihadi, or any other Muslim, who said: “Slay them all; the Lord will know his own.”

  26. Peter permalink
    May 20, 2015

    I think you, as many others do, mistake the willingness to die for a cause with wanting to die. If you examine this conflict you will see that the IS wants its enemies to do the dying but they are not deterred by the possibility of martyrdom which is an honor.

    I think the West has the monopoly on the ‘doofi’ population where they are elevated by the Peter Principle to the highest positions in business, politics and military. The IS certainly attracts some doofi but they are either rejected or made useful as suicide bombers.

  27. philadelphialawyer permalink
    May 20, 2015

    The Native Americans were facing a threat that they really could not comprehend, until it was too late. Moreover, their adversaries were more or less free, under the then prevailing opinion, to do anything they wanted to them. Both of those conditions don’t really exist now, in the ME. I think modern day Muslims know exactly what they are facing, and the rest of the world is not just going to sit back and applaud the USA if it tries to exterminate them, Native American, or Albigensian, style.

    “The only group of scared men who might be tempted to use nukes are probably the Israeli leaders who will eventually face an existential threat internally and externally. If or when that day comes they may have to nuke much of Palestine as well as surrounding countries.”

    Israel is already finding out that nukes are no guarantee of success against “fanatics,” ie dedicated, organized soldiers. Hezbollah, and now Hamas, are the teachers. And, ‘ya know what, much the same was said about the Soviet leadership, and, perhaps even more tellingly, the Apartheid leadership in the RSA. And yet both groups of scared men found themselves surrendering power, in the face of external and internal threats.

    “The Islamic State spoke early in this conflict about the probability of Israel using nukes against them but shrugged it off saying there would be much work decontaminating places such as Jerusalem after the liberation.”

    Which, again, shows that nuclear weapons are only of limited utility in most situations.

    The Japanese were in a unique position. They had started wars against all their neighbors, and had no allies or friends, and had the USA, the USSR, the British Empire, the Republic of China and virtually every other empire and nation in the world allied against them, and formally committed to demanding their unconditional surrender. When they hesitated in giving it, there was nothing and no one to stop Truman from using weapons that had never been used before, and against the use of which the world had not yet build up decades of moral taboos and international law. And, again, the Truman could drop nukes on the Japanese without any fear that anyone else, much less themselves, would be affected.

    The Israeli leadership will not be in Truman’s position, viz a viz the Palestinians or its neighbor States. When and if the crunch comes, they will be in a situation more like the Politboro and the Boer leadership was.

  28. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 21, 2015

    Again, the “IS is invincible” contingent seems to be assuming that the rich men care most about their reputations.

    What happens if the rich men get so scared they decide survival, and maintenance of their supremacy, requires the sacrifice of their reputations?

    **********************************

    But I’m probably thinking down the wrong path.

    After all, the scared rich men do hold most of the world’s money.

    IS is not staffed by Terminators.

    It consists of human beings–corruptible, sinful talking apes–just like the rest of us.

    Sooner or later, enough of them can be bought off.

    Everyone has a price. It only needs to be determined.

    Some of them can even be paid to arrange “tragic accidents” for those in the leader class whose price can’t be readily determined, or is too high.

  29. Peter permalink
    May 21, 2015

    I don’t think the IS is invincible but the Idea they represent, a united powerful Islamic Caliphate, may be. The West probably doesn’t have the will, the skill or the power to defeat this idea and were unable to defeat the small precursor to the IS military in Iraq with 140;000 troops and unlimited airpower just as they couldn’t defeat the Vietnamese. Too many people still believe in our invincibility and that our ‘Shock and Awe’ displays are all that is needed to cause the untermensch to kneel and cower.

    Individual people will always be susceptible to corruption but how the system they live under handles that corruption is more important than individual failings or greed. Our system thrives on corruption and has institutionalized it to the point that the greater the greed the greater the likelihood it will be rewarded not just ignored or lightly punished, our MOTUS are a glaring example.

    This may be the most frightening aspect of the IS for our Ruling Class they don’t appear to be easily compromised, divided or subverted by the usual tools of Empire. They also don’t seem to be pathological liars or Newspeak propagandists that most people identify with the Hegemon and its minions.

  30. CMike permalink
    May 21, 2015

    The War Nerd from 2005 [LINK]:

    …And see, [Victor Davis]Hanson can’t admit to himself that there was a difference in the kind of war being waged, a transition from conventional to urban-guerrilla warfare. If he once admitted that we’re dealing with an urban guerrilla war now, he’d have to face the historical fact that modern armies still don’t have an effective counter for that mode of warfare.

    …[A]ll that ancient Greek stuff won’t help Hanson deal with urban guerrilla war, because there was nothing like it in the ancient world. In those days conquerors wiped out cities the second they showed any sign of uppity behavior. Urban guerrilla wars were pretty quick and pretty unsuccessful: rise up against the occupier, and literally every man, woman and child gets slaughtered, and the offending city covered in salt. End of story.

    One of my favorite examples of Roman “pacification” policy was what happened to the Helvetii, a Celtic tribe that used to live where Switzerland is now. Europe was a feisty, tricky place in those days, like Africa is now. Tribes were always on the move.

    The Helvetii decided they’d make a move on Northeastern Gaul, grabbing the land and wiping out the Roman-vassal tribes occupying the land. The entire Helvetii tribe numbered about 370,000, and from that they could field about 110,000 fighting men-every male who could hold a spear. They smashed into the settled Gaul tribes easily, grabbed a swathe of territory and prepared to keep advancing until they had enough good land to support the whole tribe.

    What the Helvetii hadn’t factored into their big move was the Romans. Julius Caesar got a message from his Gaul vassals pleading for help against the Helvetii. At this point he had six legions under him in Gaul, almost 300,000 men. But he wanted more, because he had something a little more drastic in mind than just defeating the Helvetii. He was out to exterminate them. So he called up another two legions, which meant he had 400,000 trained soldiers against 110,000 part-time tribal warriors.

    It was no contest. The Romans surrounded the Helvetii and started stabbing their way through the mass of warriors, then the civilians. As they advanced, the legions would herd a few saleable-looking women and children away from the killing. They were sent to holding pens in the rear to be sold as slaves. The main body of Roman soldiers kept working through the mass of Helvetii, stabbing and stabbing. Roman soldiers were taught to use the short sword-“gladius,” which is where “gladiator” comes from-to stab, not slash. Stabbing made a deeper wound, more likely to tear up a guy’s guts and give him a fatal infection. The stab was also quicker than the big dramatic downward smash those hammy heavy-metal barbarians were addicted to.

    At the end of the battle, they had slaughtered 220,000 men, women and children-60% of the whole tribe. Must have been exhausting too. Imagine the sheer hard work it took to kill that many screaming, scrambling people with the Roman short sword, not much bigger than a Bowie knife.

    We could do it, way more easily than the Romans….

    Trouble is, that kind of genocide just isn’t popular these days, and nobody, not even Professor Hanson, is ready to argue for it. It’s hard to argue you want to bring democracy to the Sunnis by making them extinct. And what Hanson and morons like him won’t admit is that short of genocide, there is no military solution to urban guerrilla warfare.

  31. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 21, 2015

    Yes, North Vietnam won the war–or did it?

    United Vietnam is slowly, but surely, being integrated into the global capitalist order (not the U. S. order, as the U. S. Govt. is merely a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Capital–Global Capital is Palpatine, while Uncle Sam is merely Darth Vader). Vietnam fears and hates its ancient enemy and periodic conqueror, China, far more than it hates or fears the USA.

    I reckon lots of Vietnamese officials are for sale now.

    Fervor is a hard thing to maintain.

    “[IS] don’t appear to be easily compromised, divided, or subverted…”?

    They are talking apes just like the rest of us. Give them time.

    Even if the IS manages to establish their Caliphate, it can ultimately be corrupted and assimilated.

    I have faith in the sinfulness and selfishness of talking apes.

    If Peter is correct and it cannot be corrupted, then it can be contained until it collapses from the human inability to maintain the rigors of virtue, as Communism was.

    Oh, global capitalism is probably doomed, make no mistake.

    But it will die at the hands of its own foolish economic manipulations, or from accidental nuclear war with Russia or China, or–FAR most likely–the ecological side effects of its plundering of the Earth.

    It will not be killed by the superstitious followers of an ancient hallucination-prone virginity fetishist who was merely a more successful Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard.

    Selah.

  32. Peter permalink
    May 21, 2015

    No one can know the future but much of what you predict is possible, the Capitalists have certainly won the economic wars even if they lost the military conflicts.

    Right now I see the IS as the only force that could possibly have the power to confront the Capitalists from Beijing to Moscow to New York. They would have to put nets around all the tall buildings in NY, to catch the jumpers, if they had to face a world without usury.

    I am more fearful of what the ruling Capitalists Class has planned for us, to maintain their grip on power and control, than what an Islamic Political Movement has planned for the Capitalists and their minions in the ME.

  33. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 21, 2015

    Peter, does that last post mean you see China, Russia, and the U. S.-led coalition as allies?

    I would think IS’s only real hope would be to play off the rivalry between the USAmerican hegemony and the BRICS nations–and the longer IS has to wait to achieve whatever goals of conquest it has, the more time corruption will have to grow, and take the IS the way of all would-be republics of virtue.

    As for a choice of fears, if my only two choices are between piratical capitalism and the stifling totalitarianism of any republic of virtue, religious or not, then I will hold my nose and pledge allegiance to the Jolly Roger, with a yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum for all.

  34. Peter permalink
    May 21, 2015

    The conflict between the US and China/Russia is strictly about who will be top dog and they are all Capitalist Running Dogs now including all the other BRICS. As to those who would terrorize their mutual interests in the ME they all lick each others buts and growl at the interloper in unison.

    We in Amerika have been conditioned to believe the ‘Other’ is always coming to take our Freedoms when they usually just want their own and as you clearly expressed you will submit and embrace inverted totalitarianism, stifling yourself, because of fear of an imagined, conditioned threat.

  35. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 22, 2015

    If Peter is correct, then my masters are clever indeed, because I do not feel like a slave.

    Even if the threat proves to be pure hype, it helps the hype-mongers when there is a sound historical record of the hyped threat having been a genuine threat at least once, instead of the hype-mongers’ needing to fabricate a threat out of thin air.

    Islamic civilization, when it had an edge, did have a record of coming to take other people’s freedoms away, as recently as 1683. It was a piratical, conquering, exploiting civilization just like ours. This is why I can only muster limited sympathy for them now; the more cynical part of my mind suspects they’re just angry because for the past three centuries or so, we’ve done it more effectively than they.

  36. Monster from the Id permalink
    May 22, 2015

    Oh, and I did say IF those were my only two choices. I am not yet convinced that they are.

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