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22 September 2013

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David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

Tocqueville pointed a very long time ago to the way in which the idea of humans as equal very easily slid into the view of them as essentially identical. Much – although not all – modern Western ‘multiculturalism’ does not really recognise cultural difference – it simply treats ‘culture’ as a kind of ‘tinsel’.

Accordingly, a central contemporary problem – that of how peoples who are different can find some way of coexisting – is one about which in general people in positions of influence in contemporary Washington, and London, have little useful to say. It is symptomatic that the same ‘New Labour’ people who lectured us on the virtues of ‘multiculturalism’ cheerfully involved us in what was, in effect, a kind of ‘soft totalitarian’ project to turn Muslim countries into clones of ourselves.

Matthew

BM: There really is no such thing as a "decent" Neo-Con. See http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/islams-civil-war/

Kyle Pearson

Thanks, LeaNder.

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, they are talking about things that they know nothing about.

Hillary Clinton wrote a book titled "It takes a Village" and a friend of mine who actually had lived in an Indian village for year told me that he preferred to have lived in a Japanese PoW camp.

different clue

If one could somehow get this comment into the hands and minds of the FSA leadership and followership, might it encourage them to accept a truce with the Assad government long enough for both to join forces against the Nusra and ISIS type groups till they are defeated to FSA's and Assad's satisfaction? Perhaps in that instance the FSA and the Assadistas and the Hezbollah could cooperate to make it a "three on two" fight.(And perhaps it would be too much to hope that the FSA and Assad forces would maintain that truce and build out from there after the others were eliminated?)

Tyler

Mr. Habakkuk,

Thank you for your erudition.

One of the more interesting things to me is the inability to come to grips with how the world has so drastically changed viz a viz Russia and America. I've heard populist conservatives rail against that "KGB thug" Putin being against homosexuals and throwing women in prison (Pussy Riot) and then in the next breathe complain about the treatment of Christianity and militant homosexuality.

Its a very odd dichotomy, and I wonder how much of the ignorance is willfull and how much is just the media framing the debate as "freedumb versus tyranny!". The Time cover fiasco certainly lends credence to the latter. They're certainly responsible for framing Putin as a cold hard autocrat with no other concerns than power for power's sake - the role of Western neoliberal economists who looted Russia isn't to be discussed.

Are they that worried that there's a major power out there offering an alternative to Western neoliberal utopian secularism? Maybe the Russians, having seen the results of what happens when you try to pretend humanity is a 'blank slate', are less impressed by such nonsense.

mike

CP -

The Iranians also make the 330mm Falaq-2. And there is a single tube lorrie-mounted version of the launcher sometimes disguised as a commercial cargo vehicle used by both Iran and Syria.

I am not saying the Syrian Army launched it. I am not saying the FSA or a faction launched it. I believe we should all keep an open mind.

In any case, mo matter who launched it, we should not intervene militarily as I said before.

confusedponderer

Ok.

Then there is the possibility that Jihadis captured these rockets and launchers and 'fixed' the rockets for CW use.

Of course the Syrian army could have done that also.

What I wonder is why the Syrian military would buy or even want something like the Falaq-2. It is inferior to everything they have, including their old 122mm Grad.

It is unlikely that the rockets came from Iran supplied with CW agents. Iran's stance against CW, ever since they have been at the receiving end, is firm.

So, again, why? The Syrian army has all the delivery systems they'd need for chemical fires without having to go through the hassle of getting a new, inferior delivery system.

mike

CP -

Lots of possibilities. Hezbollah is another. And so are rogue elements of Assad's Army. I am not arguing for or against either. But they should be considered along with the others.

Myself, I am just glad that Assad has agreed to put his CW under UN control. We should all hope that goes smooth.

David Habakkuk

Tyler,

The legacy of past conflict not uncommonly creates major problems for the cohesion of societies. Something I have come to realise from this blog, over the years, is that the wounds of America’s own civil war are by no means entirely healed (irony alert).

Last November, Colonel Lang posted a fine piece by Kieran Wanduragala, pointing out the disturbing implications of the way that Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln film portrayed the Civil War as a simple conflict between good and evil.

Whether demonising people whose descendants are very much alive and well and conscious of their heritage – or who have adopted that heritage through what is sometimes called ‘elective affinity’ – holds dangers for the United States I cannot tell. Throughout the post-Soviet space, it is quite patently a recipe for disaster. Consider for example the shocked horror with which Western commentators describe the relatively high approval ratings for Stalin among Russians (still lower than among Georgians, however!)

The simple fact of the matter is that Stalin is at one and the same time one of the most brutal tyrants in history, and the victorious leader in what was, quite literally, a war for national survival: if Soviets had lost, most of the peoples of the Soviet Union would have been exterminated or turned into serfs.

This is the kind of conflict which nobody in the United States, or indeed to a lesser extent the United Kingdom, has experienced. There was not, and also could not have been, a siege of London, in which the population was supposed to be exterminated – as was the case with Putin’s native city. And Americans do not have the experience, common not only among continental Europeans but among British people, of being bombed.

It is also relevant to bear in mind that, when the Western invaders were at the gates of Moscow, Stalin stayed in the city. If so many contemporary Westerners did not have what imagination they started with educated out of them, they might perhaps be able to understand both how different people have radically different views of Stalin, and also how the same people may have deeply conflicted views.

Subject to correction, I would suggest that some of the more important films of John Ford are really myths of reconciliation – attempting to create a history in which Unionists and Confederates could seem to belong in the same nation through something more than the verdict of defeat.

Something that is simply not appreciated in the West is that Putin has been attempting to create myths of reconciliation, and that the war is critical to this. Central to Putin is an implacable opposition to ethnic Russian nationalism. In its place, he seeks to put a conception of the Russian nation in which, while Orthodoxy is given central place, anyone who wants to identify with the grandeurs – which are real, as well as the miseries – of the history of the Russian state can join.

A classic song of mourning for the soldiers of the Red Army, ‘Cranes’ was written by a Dagestani poet, Razul Gamzatov, in the Azar language. Among many versions on Youtube, one puts the version of the song by Mark Bernes, who popularised it, together with images from a classic Soviet film, ‘The Cranes are Flying’, directed in 1957 by the Georgian-born Soviet director Mikhail Kalatozov.

(See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_j5WpbPSnA )

Enjoy!

confusedponderer

mike,
hezbollah? Who say of themselves that they need not attack Israeli tourists because they don't play in amateur and savagery league like Al Qaeda? Who apparently sucessfully targeted Israeli bases, installations and airfields in 2006? Hezbollah who halted the IDF in 2006 with sound light infantry tactics?

Ok. Hezbollah did receive arms from Iran, and the Falaq-2 just looks what would serve them reasonably well in South Lebanon.

Let's play through some Hezbollah scenarios. For the sake of argument, here's what comes to my mind:

(a) Hezbollah secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it at Syrian opposition who they were successfully pushing back anyway?

(b) Hezbollah secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it in hope nobody will notice or make a big deal out of it?!

(c) Hezbollah secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it in order to ... frame their ally, the Assad government??!

(d) Hezbollah secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it in order to frame the rebels - at a time the Assad government had inspectors in country which in face of a hostile and attentive international audience guaranted that Assad would be blamed???!

(e) A rogue Hezbollah unit secretly cooks Sarin (or got it from Assad), fills it in to an Iranian built misile (or got a readymade one from the Syrian army), fires it in order to ... ????!

Hezbollah has effective and resilient command and control. They were able to order an immediate ceasefire, which was obnserved during 2006. They appear to be a very disciplined force.

Yes, there's lots of possible scenarios, not to mention the known and unknown unknowns. But come on, Hezbollah as a suspect in the CW incident in Syria is probably BS.

confusedponderer

... and in the spirit of johnf - shoot me down in flames!

confusedponderer

This is the Falagh-2:

http://tinyurl.com/p96zut3

If the single tube lorrie-mounted version of the Falagh-2 launcher was used, then it fired something different than a Falagh-2 rocket.

The tail debris looks different than the rocket that Iran advertises as a Falagh-2.

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