The outbreak of another Western-led military conflict in the Middle East is widely viewed as unwinnable. It is also viewed as counterproductive because of its potential to help its target, ISIL, the anti-Western fanatical social movement, recruit new volunteers in its crusade to topple Middle East regimes.
My view, as a political scientist, is that none of the players currently involved can bring peace or stability to the region. The "perpetual war" the protagonists appear to be unleashing is more likely to cause even more human suffering and displacement in the region on a scale previously unimaginable.
It is also my view that the failure of Middle East regimes to create functioning democracies that accord fundamental civil and political liberties to their populaces has created a barbaric monster born of hatred and rage for the regimes and their Western allies. ISIL's leadership is using its misrepresentation and misappropriation of Islam to recruit aggrieved and in certain cases mentally deranged individuals to its cause, instigating them to commit acts of barbarism not only in Iraq and Syria but throughout the world.
Since war is not the answer, and the majority of the regimes involved do not have functioning democracies enabling their citizens to govern their countries, what I and many others foresee is perpetual internecine warfare among the players until the entire region is devastated. The only solution I can envisage to preventing this region-wide quagmire of human misery is the bottom-up technological solution that I propose below. First, let me explain why I believe it may well provide the only possibility for ending the conflicts and bringing peace to the region and the world. Read below the fold...
Before the “no” vote on Scotland's independence, The New York Times, carried a post by Neil Irwin in the Upshot making the point that the then upcoming vote “shows a global crisis of the elites.” He argues that the independence drive reflects “. . . a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades.” He also thinks that this applies to the Eurozone and the United States to varying degrees, and is “. . . a defining feature of our time.”
Irwin then updated his first post last night, expanding it and recognizing the victory of the “no” votes in the referendum. His new post did not add anything essential to his “global crisis of the elites” diagnosis, so the references and quotations below come solely from his pre-vote post. But the points made apply equally well to his update.
To summarize his argument, for decades now, the elites in major modern, industrial nations have committed leadership blunders and created great discontent among the citizens of their nations, to the point where their polices have contributed to damaging their economies seriously, and the rise of popular resistance embodied in extremist parties and independence movements. Elites have had vast power, but have not lived up to their responsibilities to serve the people of their nations. Discontent with their actions and results is so high that many are questioning the legitimacy of the very governing institutions that claim to serve them, and are exhibiting a greater and greater willingness to do something about these institutions and the policies that they and the elites are generating. Scotland is but one example of that, and his implication is that more examples are in the offing.
It's significant, some might say even remarkable, that Irwin's article appeared in The New York Times, since it is a flat out criticism of elite leadership over a number of decades and a warning to elites to improve their performance or deal with the consequences. But I think it still misses the most important question. That question is whether there is a global crisis of elites or a global crisis of democracies? I'm afraid I think that the crisis of elite leadership is only a symptom of the underlying cause of a broader global crisis of democracy. Read below the fold...
Last week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) abruptly announced his intention to retire from the Senate in 2014, on the heels of Harry Reid's failure to get the two parties to agree to reform the Senate's notorious filibuster after the 2012 election.
According to Harkin, the failure of filibuster reform will make it "virtually impossible" for Obama to carry out his vision for his second term. Read below the fold...