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16 October 2017


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LeaNder -

September 2003, six months after the invasion.

The statue toppling? Perhaps that made Bush & Cheney's souls healthy. And their neocon buddies. Not the rest of us.

Babak Makkinejad

What is your definition of minority?

In the Near East, for over 2 millennia, this was understood in a primarily religious sense. And the way to cease to be a minority was to join the dominant religion; e.g. pagan Romans converting to Christianity in order to escape the hardships imposed on them by the Eastern Roman state.

Under Islam, with its more accepting attitude towards earlier revealatory religions, there has been 4 recognized religious minorities: the Majus, the Sabean, the Jew, and the Christian. Everyone else is a Pagan.

I think until the Wars of Religion in Europe, the understanding of who was or was not a minority was very similar to the one under Eastern Roman Empire, Sassanian Persian, or Muslim Caliphate; i.e. a religious-based one.

The Enlightenment Tradition does not recognize any minorities; there is no theoretical basis for the existence of a minority in that Tradition since distinctions of Culture, History, Religion, Language are irrelevant in the Light of Reason. In this, the Enlightenment Tradition incorporates completely the ideal of Islam and Christianity - replacing "Religion" with "Reason".

So, you need to tell me what it means to be a minority in the contemporary Western Dispensation.

Are the Welsh and the Scots a minority? For when the English speak of them, the English are quite clear that they are distinct than the English men.

Or are Blacks a minority? Solely based on the color of their skin? A Black barrister educated at Eaton and Oxbridge is a minority in UK?

Or is it a matter of religion? Is a Jew always a minority in England? How about a Roman Catholic Englishman? Or a nominally Hindu news announcer who was born and raised in England? Or the West Indian who speaks with a tough-to-understand brough in Edinburgh?

And likewise for France, or Germany, or Italy.

All these countries are supposed to be based on Blood; anyone not belonging to the Blood is a minority and a foreigner.

In the United States, their primary idea of who is or is not a minority seems to have been tightly tied to the idea of Northern European Protestantism. That is: if one ancestrally belonged to one of the recognized Protestant churches of Northern Europe, then one was mainstream, a member in Good Standing of the Majority.

So the Irish & Italian Catholics are a minority, so are the African-Americans since they do not belong to the ancestral people of Northern Europe and their kind of Protestantism, all the way now to Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and others. I submit to you that is still a religiously-based definition.

Babak Makkinejad

The Confederates had the decency of going to war to press their claim to independence. Pro-independence Catalans are going to bitch and moan about the cruel unjust universe.


"Russia is refusing to shut down its consulate in Erbil."

your link does not quite prove that.

What would be your special preference in the Iraqi Kurdish region and beyond, apart from Iraqi Kurdish independence? Kind of from some type of geopolitical extreme long/wide shot perspective? If I may use camera terms here.

special preference = personal opinion.


Answer to your Q: "..the US Special Envoy for the US-led coalition Brett McGurk claimed during a meeting with the SDF-linked Raqqa Civil Council that the “Syrian regime will never have a foothold in Raqqa.”
Syria has been looked upon as a colony of the US/Israel. The international law be damned. http://thesaker.is/syria-war-report-october-19-2017-u-s-blames-assad-for-hindering-its-anti-isis-efforts/


Not likely.


LeaNder –

Here is the Russian consulate website with phone number. Call them if you need proof: www.RusGenCons-Erbil.mid.ru

My opinion for what needs to be done in Bashur (Iraqi Kurdistan to you) for a start would be:

For the Iraqi courts to stop issuing arrest warrants for Kurdish politicians because the courts deemed it an insult for Kurds to use free speech to call the PMU and the Iraqi military as invaders. Some Iraqi judges must be taking advice from Erdogan, he uses the same 'insult' law to lock up Turkish Kurds who dare to say they are oppressed.

Also the destruction and looting of houses, businesses and political offices, and forced displacement of civilians, predominantly Kurds, in Tuz Khurmatu. That is per the United Nations. There have also been killings and similar incidents in Khanaqin but perhaps the UN has not yet heard of those. Maybe the Iraqi militias got the idea from the IDF in Palestine.

Do your own homework LeaNder. Don’t they have something similar to google or bing where you are? I’m sure you can find the links, at least the one from the UN; and from BBC or Reuters or DW.com for the ‘insult’ arrest warrant.

Phil Cattar

Yes,I saw both of his fights with Hagler.I remember he was called the "Syrian Buzzsaw".I remember the commentators of the first fight saying he had a heart as big as a washtub................He was fearless and came to fight..He gave Bobby Czyz ,who became a first tier boxer and a champ,his first defeat.I once met Czyz and watched him train in Tampa.He was a member of Mensa of all things......................If you want to know the truth of how a boxer really thinks about his opponent ,pay attention to the FIRST thing out of their mouth at the end of fight interview.Bobby Czyz was amazed at Hamsho's strength and toughness.I remember Czyz saying every punch Hamsho landed hurt big time.................Hagler was too skilled and athletic for Hamsho..............The second fight ended early because Hamsho twisted his ankle or knee and could not really fight a Hagler injured............I thought he was just Syrian but some Middle Eastern friends told me he was a Kurd.I guess in reality we are all mixed...........Hope this is not too much info.............


Thanks Phil -

Never too much info. I remember Bobby Czyz. He had a bad family life as a child but he rose above it. Had a lot going for him: brains, luck, looks, married a model, and he could fight.

English Outsider

Babak - Yours is a fascinating reply - a different take entirely:- "The Enlightenment Tradition does not recognize any minorities; there is no theoretical basis for the existence of a minority in that Tradition since distinctions of Culture, History, Religion, Language are irrelevant in the Light of Reason. In this, the Enlightenment Tradition incorporates completely the ideal of Islam and Christianity - replacing "Religion" with "Reason"."

I believe that that your summary there is key, though I would like to think that Christianity, at least in pre-modern times, did allow for such distinctions. In pre-modern times the boundaries are clear. When we are rendering up to God what is God's then we are all souls before God without distinction of race or nation. When we are rendering up to Caesar what is Caesar's there is room for the local. "My kingdom is not of this earth" is a hint that Christians often failed to take - particularly in some Protestant sects, they wanted the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and they wanted it now - but Christ, in setting out his universal vision, was always insistent on not regulating our temporal affairs. It is correct to say that Christ didn't do politics. The spirit of the law was what counted, and how that was embodied in this or that letter of the law he left to us to find out.

And perhaps the "Enlightenment Tradition" you excoriate did recognise one minority - the unenlightened. Those were the heretics and, failing conversion, they've been wanting to burn them ever since. For what you characterise as "The Enlightenment Tradition" feeds directly into the current Progressive view of society. You are describing the current ideological environment in the West.

That "Progressive" ideological environment is now about the only one going. But there's an odd phenomenon here. Although we must all of necessity live in this environment, and although some can conceive of no other, it's not how most people operate. We may know no other words or terms than those the Progressives have instructed us in, but the most of us live by other beliefs and intuitions.

When you say ".. you need to tell me what it means to be a minority in the contemporary Western Dispensation" you are requiring in effect a Western definition of identity; and I suppose of how that works in practice in the UK. I'll have a go, at least for the UK, but I'm very much feeling my way. Feeling my way because how it actually is, or how most sense it is, is different from the prog template and it's the prog template of the UK that we're used to seeing set out.

I think the intuited definition of identity that works in the West, right up to national identity, is this. That the members of the identity group feel that they are distinct; and that that distinctness is very much more important for them than what they have in common with other groups.

The members of the group use the same code, the same shorthand, and therefore understand each other without the need for cumbersome and often misleading explanation. They can "read" each other, catch the nuances and qualifications, and therefore interact easily.

"The men of my own stock,
They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wonted to,
They are used to the lies I tell;
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy or sell."

Only in those circumstances can the members of the group do politics with each other. If they can't understand each other, after all, how can they co-operate? Perhaps even more important, how can they disagree and yet resolve or paper over their differences? It's because they must do that in a Western democracy that political units must be coterminous with the identity group.

That poem is now sometimes used as an anthem of the White Supremacists but that's not right. It's a poet telling us what it means to have an identity, not a poet telling us one identity is superior to that of another. Elsewhere, because he is a faithful mirror to the society around him, and because the political and administrative classes that he usually wished to identify with were even more imperial-minded than now, Kipling does race superiority often enough; but here he's just accurately telling us how it is to belong.

Class, ethnic origin, skin colour, and religion may serve as crude subordinate identity markers but no more. The progs would like to act gender identity to that list but that's not right either. Those of my friends who happen to be homosexual, for instance, use the same idioms as me, share the same cultural references and of course have the same needs - a roof over their heads and their country reasonably well run and properly defended. What they do in their bedrooms is none of my business. The politicians would like to make it all our business and if they succeed then there's another crude subordinate identity marker manufactured. Divide et impera is, after all a useful political tool. I think that may work with the young. Most of them, in this age of prog conformity, don't get to see real politics so the thrill of confrontational identity politics - Gay Pride marches and so on, particularly if there are a few skinheads around to have a scrap with - serves as a substitute. I don't think, however, that all that cuts much ice with older people or with what's left of the working class.

But subordinate identity markers in England are generally fluid. The Chinese hospital consultant, using middle class idioms and able to sense shared inhibitions and frames of reference, is as English as the rest. The Chinese cockle pickers not so much, poor devils.

National identities within the UK itself? I no longer understand those national identities as they are now viewed by the Scots and the Welsh. The spectacle of a heap of progs in Scotland and Wales going in for straight race-based ethno-nationalism is one I can't get my head round. All right if it works, I suppose. The more old fashioned view is that the Scots and the Welsh have their distinct and separate national identities as their primary identity but a separate supra-identity, like the rest of us, as British. Used to sort of work, that notion, for the Scots and the Welsh. It still works for the regions. In my experience regional and local loyalties can still be fiercely held - I'm still not quite on the same wavelength as the white flight immigrants from London I see so many of these days, for example - but those regional and local loyalties are still subordinate to our view of ourselves as "English" and further subordinate, though perhaps uneasily or unrealistically these days, to our view of ourselves as "British". NI we won't talk about. The main thing there at present is to stop them shooting each other.

Culturally of course, particularly in the sense of what is sometimes termed high culture, we're European through and through, but in my possibly biased view it's premature to hope that that shared cultural identity is sufficient to serve as the basis of a yet wider political unit than the political unit that is the UK at present.

That's us. Or it was us and, importantly in this context, is still how most think of ourselves. A fluid jumble that has somehow worked over the centuries as a reasonably if not wildly successful national unit. "Belonging", therefore, in the sense of Kipling's definition, in the sense of a shared understanding of each other, stretches, however insecurely, to cover the entire national unit we operate as the UK. As the American "belonging" does, if maybe increasingly insecurely, in the States. As their "belongings" do, though again insecurely, in the national units of Western Europe. Does that bear any resemblance to the ME, where a Kurd can rub shoulders with an Assyrian or a Sunni Arab and know, barring ethnic cleansing, that that divide at close quarters is how it's going to be for his children? And that his local and very separate "belonging" over-rides his wider sense of nationhood? And what about the dramatic city-countryside divide in the ME, far greater than here or, I believe, in the States, for all the current emphasis there on the split between the coastal strips and flyover country?

Can we expect the same system of government, and the same intuitively held concepts of government, to work in both environments? Your account tells us why it is different there. But how should government should work in those different circumstances? Am I correct in thinking that what we would regard as an autocratic central government, finding consensus directly with the various identity groups in the territory under its control, is the better model for the ME?


James -

Sounds like the kiss of death. The best way for you and I to communicate is to not respond to each other at all. I am implementing that policy on my end ex tempore.

Babak Makkinejad

I am somewhat perplexed that you bring up the Cult of Progress - I thought it died in World War I and was eventually replaced by the Cult of Shoah after World War II among the Western Diocletian states.

But I think the Cult of Progress is quite alive and well all over the non-Diocletian World - in Brazil, Russia, Iran, China, India. By itself it is not harmful, there is a very large scope indeed for improving things all over this planet - both in terms of material conditions of day-to-day living as well as in the political organization of these states and countries. This Cult has a hold on the sentiments of Man - and rightly so, I should think.

What you describe in UK, I think, rather is a degeneration of Liberalism and its reduction to the old common usage of the term "liberal" - a person who lavishes his money here and there.

The legal and political recognition of these minorities, enables the unscrupulous political leaders to lay an un-Just claim to state resources; un-Just in that neither their numbers nor their past history can reasonably be used as a justification - in a court of Law, if you will.

The old English adage was: "For God and Queen" - which went to the heart of the theoretical basis of the United Kingdom: State of English Anglicans united in the person of the English Monarch."

To the extent that both the English Church and the Monarchy are weakened on the plane of ideas, the basis of existence of the United Kingdom erodes. I think this is another source of the problematic you face in UK - at the conceptual level.

If I am correct in my surmises, then it follows that people who are not Anglicans will always be a minority in the United Kingdom, just like Sunni Muslims will always be a minority in Iran - the country of the Shia for the Shia and by the Shia.

I think, on the other hand, the militantly secular French Republic does not quite have the same issues as UK, the Gauls would be more-or-less accepting of non-Catholics if they stick to the principles of secular public life of France and keep their religion under wraps and display allegiance to the contemporary French Culture - largely one of the Enlightenment.

It is not my place to offer any solutions to UK or France or indeed any European country but I would caution against recognizing, in practice or in theory, any minorities - that only entrenches these divisions to no discernible public good purpose; just look at India and her subsidization of Shceduled Casts or the United States and her minority -infested politics.

The application of No Minority Principle, in UK for example, would mean that everyone is British and subject to the same Laws and Regulations - in a non-discriminatory fashion.

I think, over the long term - hundreds of years - intermarriage would or could resolve some or all of these issues - if permitted to operate. But minorities are often hostile to exogamy - I know it from personal experience. Among Kurds, for example, they would not let their daughters marry a non-Kurd - be it an Arab, a Christian, a Persian, a Turk etc.

But even that prospect dims as so much of social life in the West is around consumption of alcohol.

Babak Makkinejad

The historical experience of people of the Middle East as well as Russia has been very different. For example, Harrowing and the Thirty-Year War are the only two instances of utter rapine and destruction that I can think of among the Western states while people of the Russian steppe as well as Central Asia and the Near East have gone through such experiences multiple times. I suspect that such historical experiences, like the proverbial death sentence, concentrates the mind very sharply on the centrality of Order to human survival.

This is what informs, for example, the minds of the Doctors of Religion in Najaf and Qum - this fear that any whiff of permissiveness or Liberty and before they know it they will be witnessing the dissolution of the moral order that keeps the Human Beast in check and the return of Chaos.

They are not completely wrong but I think their point of view is not sympathetically received by people who have lived with various forms of Liberty for millennia. Such people think that any body can live in Freedom - they are clueless, of course, but their political power on this planet makes them very dangerous persons indeed.

I personally believe that unless and until Muslim Thinkers perform their own homework and burn the midnight oil and develop idea and ideals for the practice of Liberty within Islam we will never, ever see the emergence of a "Liberal Order" among the Muslim polities. Unfortunately, the concept and notion of "Liberty" is also intimately related to the ideas of "Personal Protection under Law" - you have to change so much or graft so much to the existing body of thought in Islam that it looks to me like the work of centuries.

To be concrete, I will illustrate my point by something that I know is near and dear to the heart of all Diocletian - the Status of Women in Islam - (they like the Muslim oppressed Muslim women, but they are ready to bomb their men at the drop of a hat; go figure).

Viz: among the punishments stipulated in Iranian Law against women who do not wear Hijab - mind you: the Law does not define what proper Hijab could be - is 42 lashes. It used to be 72 lashes but over the years it was reduced to 42.

So, what the Law is saying is that an Iranian woman, for the privilege of being a Muslim, is subject to lashing if she exercises personal liberty in a manner that others do not deem sufficiently Islamic. And many many Iranian Muslims would agree with this position. In my opinion, for hundreds of Millions of Muslims, such types of laws would be the very essence of Islam as well as Islamic Rule.

(In Turkey, the religious will tell you, not in so many words, that it is Hijab or Rape.)

And if personal liberty at the level of how one dresses oneself is not an acceptable principle, then it is hopeless to think that the practice of Freedom and Liberty could be extended to other areas of life without a conceptual struggle to entrench it in Islam?

I am going here by analogy with what Ayatollah Khomeini accomplished - he amalgamated the principle of Islam and those of republicanism and created a hybrid that is the longest living constitutional order among Muslim states - in spite of all that stupid Arab leaders and mis-guided Western leaders have thrown at her over the last 40 years.

That is what would be needed, a man with his stature to now amalgamate the ideas of Liberty with those of Islam and defend that hybrid against those Muslims who wish to be living in tents.

Specifically about the Kurds - one has to ask why do the rank-and-file put up with a man like Barzani? Or with Ocalan? What has the leadership of these men brought to Kurds but death and misery? Even the Catalan leaders have not been as venal as them.

You have to ask the supporters of PKK: "Do you honestly believe that you can setup an autonomous Kurdish Socialist Region centered around Diyarbakr? Do you seriously believe that you can sustain your livelihoods with the dismal productivity of that region? Will you not starve to death?"

So many Kurds, across 4 countries, have been listening for decades to the Songs of Sirens, wrecking themselves and others on the rocks - until every valley has an independent king - just like the world of Iliad.

English Outsider

Babak - thank you for those illuminating replies.

In my comment I was using the term "progressivism" exclusively as you define it in your third paragraph above: - " A degeneration of Liberalism".

The Anglican Settlement is, as you imply, shot. One reason out of many for that is the difficulty of keeping any Church alive in a nation of atheists. I don't see the UK as done for though. The chattering classes and the media are a lost cause and the politicians, as you know to your sorrow, a vicious mess, but they're not the whole of it.

You are, I think, arguing for, or at least acceptant of, a modified autocracy in the form of an accountable theocracy, if my reading of your Constitution is correct. I like this bit:-

Article 49: The government has the responsibility of confiscating all wealth accumulated through ... misuse of government contracts and transactions.

We've got rules a little like that too. I hope your government has more success applying them than mine does.

Babak Makkinejad

News from Istanbul:


Where freedom to dress oneself does not exist for women.

Babak Makkinejad

We are all lost in determining how much of the Enlightenment Tradition and how much of this or that Religious Tradition to cook with.

Lord Curzon


I just laughed so hard a little wee came out.


English Outsider

Spot on, Babak, as ever. A fitting conclusion.

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