Fred Halliday https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/899/all cached version 17/04/2018 20:22:24 en Fidel Castro's legacy: Cuban conversations https://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/fidel-castros-legacy-cuban-conversations <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>From the archive: first published in February 2008. "What comes after Fidel" is a well-worn topic of op-eds, but the focus should be on an assessment of the character – a combination of the institutional, political, and personal – of the Cuban revolutionary experience as a whole. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p> The announcement of Fidel Castro's serious intestinal illness at the end of July 2006, and the occasion of the Cuban leader's 80th birthday on 13 August, inevitably have raised a mountain of commentary about the imminence or otherwise of a transition of power in the Caribbean communist state. But if "what comes after Fidel" is a well-worn topic of op-eds and broadcast interviews, the focus of the answer is less often where it should be: on an assessment of the character – a combination of the institutional, political, and personal – of the Cuban revolutionary experience as a whole. </p> <p> To approach the question in this way is also to recall the three informative encounters I have had with Cuban realities in visits to the island in 1968, 1981, and 2000. The third occasion offered most insight into where Cuba after Fidel may go, but the second also provided an illuminating sense of how elements of the Cuban political elite make sense of their place in the international environment – and of their leader. </p><p> <strong>A time of mistrust</strong> </p> <p> The first occasion I visited Cuba was in 1968, when with the Bertrand Russell Foundation I helped organise a one-month, not-very-strenuous working visit by a few dozen British radicals on a coffee plantation in Pinar del Rio province. The project included a tour of the island, and the experience of witnessing two characteristically marathon speeches by Fidel. </p> <p> The second visit was in 1981, when I was invited by the foreign ministry in Havana for discussions on the situation in the middle east in the context of the then fairly new Israeli threat to Lebanon, which the Cubans saw through the prism of a possible attack on their close allies Syria and (closer to home) the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. </p> <p> During the 1980s, I had further numerous discussions with Cuban diplomats in Europe on issues of concern to them: in the early part of the decade the threat of an American invasion of Nicaragua (and even Cuba itself) dominated their thoughts, but from the mid-1980s onwards the focus shifted to Mikhail Gorbachev's project in the Soviet Union and the gathering gulf between Havana and Moscow. </p> <p> In effect, therefore, the early 1980s were dominated by concern about the <em>yanquis</em>, the late 1980s by concern about what the Cubans always termed, with some irony and frustration, <em>los hermanos</em> (the brothers). The Cubans spotted very early on that something was changing for the worse in the USSR and were not slow to express a view on it. As the years of Gorbachev's <em>glasnost</em> and <em>perestroika</em> gave way to the fall of the Berlin wall and the wave of revolution in east-central Europe, Cubans were particularly interested in (and it seemed alarmed by) the uprising against Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania in December 1989, which they saw as a KGB-inspired military coup that could be a dry run for Cuba. </p> <p> This mistrust was evidently reciprocated. Soviet officials I met during those same years in Moscow seemed still anxious about the Cuban propensity for "adventurism" in domestic and international matters. There was graphic evidence of this mutual suspicion in the huge tower of the purpose-built Soviet embassy building down the road from Havana's Institute for International Relations (IRI) in the suburb of Miramar. Cubans joked that while the Soviets justified the building in terms of its function as a source of electronic surveillance of the United States, its real purpose was to invigilate <em>them</em>. </p> <p> The IRI, the academic institute attached to Cuba's foreign ministry, was at the centre of my third visit to Cuba in 2000. There I lectured to diplomats and policy specialists on international relations, and had occasion to consult more closely with some senior staff. It was an impressive group: witnesses of four decades of revolutionary upheaval and international drama, familiar with the leaders and inner workings of the Cuban state, well read and well travelled, committed to the broad aims of the Cuban revolution, sceptical of much of what passed for Marxist or radical writing in the west, and devoid of the kind of rhetorical posturing that so often characterises officials of such regimes. </p> <p> The conversation ranged over the fate of "third-world" revolutionary regimes, the possible evolution of United States domestic politics, the impact on Cuba of the post-1991 period of economic hardship (as a result of the ending of Soviet economic support) known as the "special period". There was by then already a sense of the end of a phase in Cuban history, as the revolutionary advances of the previous two decades abroad had disappeared (Angola, Nicaragua) and as Cubans domestically were more and more preoccupied with making ends meet, working in multiple jobs or relying on dollar remittances from relatives in the US. </p> <p> The occasional roaring of passing <em>camelos</em> ("camels", the improvised mass-transport system based on converted lorries) underlined this crisis. Tourism was doing OK, but there was much corruption in the system associated with it, and it involved regulations – such as the denial of access to Cubans themselves to certain beaches and hotels – that my interlocutors found especially insulting. Much was blamed on the continued US blockade, though not all – hence the joke about a mid-air collision in which a plane carrying Fidel Castro hits one carrying the president of the United States. "Who escapes? 11 million Cubans". </p> <p> <strong>A Cuban dialogue</strong> </p> <p> Despite this background of a certain familiarity and a degree of realism about the Cuban revolution, I was surprised in the course of the evening – as the discussion inevitably turned to the issue of what would happen after the death of <em>el comandante</em> – when my companions expressed considerable respect for the figure of Francisco Franco, the victor of Spain's civil war and dictatorial ruler until his death in November 1975. </p> <p> The reason for this admiration was not any hankering after fascism, rightwing authoritarianism or the supremacy of the Catholic church in national life; it was based on the belief that General Franco had prepared the foundations for a democratic transition after his death. Franco's famously enigmatic saying <em>todo es atado, bien atado</em> ("everything has been tied up, well tied up") was seen by my Cuban colleagues as an indication that Franco had – through the opening of Spain to European capitalism, and the installation of Juan Carlos as the leading figure in overseeing the post-Franco era – foreseen and made provision for the transition of Spain to democracy in the late 1970s. </p> <p> The point was not just a fascinating contrast with the hard-right Spanish political figure for whom Fidel Castro himself has long expressed affection, namely Franco's long-standing ministerial colleague (and Fidel's fellow <em>gallego</em>), Manuel Fraga. It was, rather, that these IRI officials were really making a point not about Franco at all, but about Castro. </p> <p> They all knew Fidel, admired him and sympathised with his defence of radical and Cuban nationalist goals. But they were deeply concerned at how, over the years, he had retreated more and more into isolation, surrounding himself with young acolytes from the <em>Juventud Comunista</em> (the communist youth organisation) who told him what he wanted to hear – that Cuba was the most admirable country in the world, that the anti-globalisation movement was gaining ground across the world, that imperialism was in crisis. </p> <p> In the early years of the revolution, some of its ablest leaders and thinkers had left its embrace (among them the guerrilla commander Huber Matos and the writer Carlos Franqui); others once close to Fidel who had been able to speak the truth to him had passed away (including Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, the ablest of the Communist Party leaders; Osvaldo Dorticos, the long-time president; and, not least, Celia Sanchez Manduley, Fidel's companion of many years, at whose graveside he had exhibited profound distress). The advent of a new generation of admirers and sycophants from Latin America, with Hugo Chávez in the lead, had done little to instil a late realism into Castro's worldview. </p> <p> On only one issue were my interlocutors uneasy, even as they upbraided me for what I had written in a recent comparative study of "third-world" revolutions. This concerned one of the most contemptible episodes in the history of the Cuban revolution, the "Ochoa affair" of 1987, involving a group of senior military officials associated with the Cuban war in Angola. It appeared that Fidel and his associates had staged a show-trial of popular radical figures that might have challenged his authority. In the worst tradition of communist trials of this kind, the defendants had been tricked into making professions of loyalty and self-implication with the hope of leniency, only to find themselves either shot or sentenced to thirty-year imprisonment. </p> <p> <strong>Yo, el supremo</strong> </p> <p> This introversion and protracted entropy of the Cuban revolution in the 1990s is not, however, some sudden break with an earlier, utopian, phase. It points, rather, to problems in the whole history of the revolution itself – problems which astute even if sympathetic observers noted in the early 1960s but which supporters of the Cuban state (quick to suspend judgment or see the reality of life on the island as it is and has long been) seek to avoid. The most evident is the personality of the leader himself: a man of vision, courage, honesty and charisma, but also of demagogy, inconsistency, episodic vindictiveness and cruelty, grotesque verbal self-indulgence, intolerance, contempt for intellectuals and homosexuals, and plain administrative ineptness. </p> <p> Cubans have long known that in Cuba the solution is also the problem, and that it lies at the top. What the besotted visitors Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir saw in 1960 – "the dialectical unity of Fidel and the masses", a crazed rush of statements, changes of course, arbitrary interventions – soon became a mixture of inefficiency, arbitrariness and whim. </p> <p> Such personal failings – ones that history, far from "absolving" in his famous phrase at his 1953 trial, only made worse – have been compounded by the choices he and his associates made in regard to the administration of the Cuban economy. </p> <p> Many observers rightly point out that Cuba has had an exceptional record in the field of social services – health, education, poverty reduction. But its overall macroeconomic record has been dismal, and this is a result not just of the US blockade (as the regime's friends and apologists so easily claim) but of a series of disastrous policies. These range from the utopian experiments with "non-monetary accounting" (a fantasy of Che Guevara's) and "voluntary labour" (a form of highly inefficient forced mobilisation) to the reimposition of state controls and the crushing of small markets and farmers in the ill-conceived "rectification" campaign of the 1980s. </p> <p> The latest catastrophic switch came in 2003, when the regime drastically reduced the circulation of US dollars in the economy and antagonised foreign investors with a new set of controls. Today, even after some recovery from the special period, per capita annual income in Cuba is estimated at $3,000. Pensioners receive $7 a month, and can often afford meat only twice a month. </p><p> <strong>A climate of fear</strong> </p> <p> These defects of personality and policy have been accompanied by something else that visitors to the island, bemused by its superficially easy-going and "tropical" atmosphere, too easily miss: namely, a climate of fear. </p> <p> Cuba's record is not the most bloody among modern revolutions – though it is important not to forget the revolutionary show-trials of the early 1960s, over which Che Guevara presided and which so disgusted his father that the latter left the country; and the mass imprisonment of dissidents, gays and others in the "‘re-education" camps of the 1970s and 1980s. In any case, these are only the most visible evidence of the tight restrictions on free expression, let alone free organisation, in Cuba.</p><p> The political system, for all its vaunting of "people's power", is tightly controlled from the top. Those writers and other intellectuals who have over the years offered even friendly critiques have too often become the object of official persecution and slanderous denunciation (the group of Cubans associated with the Institute of the Americas, whose permission to travel and publish was abruptly withdrawn when they began to write about democracy, is but one example). The scorn has also been poured on external observers such as the French agronomist René Dumont, the Polish-French Marxist writer KS Karol, and the American historian Oscar Lewis. </p> <p> Such persecutions, and the attitudes that go with them, are not just a result of the inevitable growth of dictatorship after revolutions, or of imperialist pressure from outside. They also stem from Castro himself. His great hero is, it would seem, the Jacobin leader Robespierre, a biography of whom was published some years ago in Cuba: austere, cruel, at times fickle, and, ultimately, a victim of the very revolution he sought to lead. </p> <p> This character trait is evident most of all in the inability of the Cuban leader to follow the model that Cuban officialdom professes to admire: China. The Chinese leadership has since 1978 understood that its people want to make money and have a better life. Castro has made some recent moves in this direction, and has been aided by the financial support of Hugo Chávez in alleviating the lot of the Cuban people. But he remains the prisoner of a moralistic hostility to material wealth and improvement, and resorts time and again to appeals for greater moral purity and the ridding of Cuba of corrupt, consumerist, values. For all that Castro proclaims himself to be in the tradition of the 19th-century nationalist leader José Marti, he ignores Marti's view that a country of small property-owners is a rich one. </p> <p> Hence, perhaps, the mid-1990s Cuban anecdote about Fidel Castro finding himself in a cage with Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, where they are all being threatened by a ravenous lion. Clinton and Yeltsin bravely tussle with the beast, but retire seriously mauled. Fidel tells them to leave it to him. He approaches the lion and whispers something in its ear: the animal pauses, frowns, and rolls over dead. Bill and Boris take a break from licking their wounds to query <em>comandante</em> about the magic words. Fidel replies: "well, I said what I always say – <em>Socialismo o Muerte</em>" ("socialism or death"). </p> <p> Every joke, <em>pace</em> George Orwell, tells a tiny truth as well as being a tiny revolution. Most Cubans are respectful of Castro as a leader and proud of their national independence, but they are fed up with their economic, social and political system and want a change – the sooner the better. </p> <p> True, there is also widespread anxiety in the island about the possibility of violence (either between factions on the island itself, or between exiles returning from Miami and the forces of the Cuban state) after Castro's death. The ideal – notwithstanding scenarios long nurtured in Miami and Washington about the regime's imminent fall – is of a peaceful transition to democracy which preserves both the independence of the island and the social gains of its revolution. As in East Germany and east-central Europe of the 1990s, this may be an illusion. </p> <p> If things do go badly and get out of hand, part of the blame will lie with venomous and ill-informed exile politicians in Miami and New Jersey, and with the crass and ignorant complicity with them of successive US presidents. But some too will lie with Fidel Castro and those around him for having so long prevented political change in the island, mismanaged its economy, and driven so many of its citizens into exile. Much of what is wrong with Cuba is the result not of imperialist mischief, but of post-revolutionary dogmatism, stupidity and arrogance. </p> <p> Francisco Franco's true intentions for Spain after his death are a matter that may never be resolved. The one person who might give an authoritative answer, King Juan Carlos, will probably never do so. A few months ago, after giving a public lecture on Cuba at Barcelona University's history department in which I mentioned the story of my Havana encounter with Franco's fan-club, I was approached by a student in his 20s who said that his father had been the CIA station chief in Madrid in the Franco regime's twilight years and knew the old dictator well. Franco, the young man assured me with the authority of his father, had no wish to see democracy being introduced into Spain; the general's <em>todo es atado, bien atado</em> meant only to indicate that the authoritarian regime he founded would continue. </p> <p> My Cuban interlocutors were, it seemed, mistaken in their view of the Spanish dictator. But democracy, after all, did come to Spain; so the Barcelona version, if true, may nonetheless contain a grain of hope for Cubans after their authoritarian leader of (currently) forty-six years finally departs the scene. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cuba </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Cuba Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Fred Halliday Sat, 26 Nov 2016 12:29:01 +0000 Fred Halliday 107138 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Terrorism in historical perspective https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1865.jsp Terrorism is the defining issue of the post 9/11 world. It is also one of the most confusing and contested words in the political lexicon. The route to understanding, says Fred Halliday, is through making connections: between past and present, state and insurgent violence, nationalist and religious movements. The result is an illuminating survey of terrorism&#146;s history, current impact, and possible future.<ul> <li><a href=#"one">The confusion of our times</a> </li><li><a href=#"two">The modernity of terrorism</a> </li><li><a href=#"three">The challenge of al-Qaida</a> </li><li><a href=#"four">The way ahead</a> </li></ul> <a name=#"one"></a> <strong>The confusion of our times</strong> <p> The spring of 2004 has brought forth monsters. The Madrid bombings, Gaza assassinations, Kosovo killings, Ugandan massacres, Iraqi depredations, Sudanese persecutions remind the world &#150; if it was ever tempted to forget &#150; that the defining issue of the 21st century is the question of political violence and its causes. </p><p> Much of this political violence can be categorised as &#147;terrorism&#148;, and all of it is a recognisable exemplar of that toxic, multi-layered, and ultimately indispensable term. Its employment demands extreme care and discrimination, as well as awareness of its potential for misuse, but the pressing realities of our time force on us the responsibility to make it an instrument of enlightenment and understanding. </p><p> Terrorism is a complex <a href=http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/archives_roll/2001_10-12/schrader_terrorism/schrader_terrorism.html target=_blank>issue</a> that allows of no easy resolution, intellectual or political. Indeed, probably no subject has been as important in international relations, or as confused in its treatment. Yet never has clear exposition been more necessary; for since September 2001 it has been the shaping theme of American foreign policy, and, by extension to much of the discussion of foreign policy in Europe, the Eurasian landmass, the Middle East and elsewhere. </p><p> Terrorism is not a specifically &#147;Middle Eastern&#148; or &#147;Islamic&#148; problem. Historically, the continent of Europe pioneered political violence on a world scale, developed modern industrial war, and played the leading role in developing those particular instruments of modern political action and control: genocide, systematic state torture, and terrorism. </p><p> Today, Europeans are right to feel that their own lives, their psychological tranquillity, their flawed but nonetheless substantial <a href=http://www.prospect.org/print/V12/18/berman-p.html target=_blank>liberal</a> and democratic values are under threat, and will remain so for years to come. An age of innocence &#150; born of the expanding prosperity of the European Union over five decades, and the end of the cold war since 1991 &#150; has come to an end, if not on 11 September 2001 then on <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-2-103-1808.jsp target=_blank>11 March 2004</a>. <div class="pull_quote_article"><div class="pull_quote">Also by Fred Halliday in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>, a deeply informed, insightful, blackly humorous portrait of a thirty-year encounter with Iraq: &#147;Looking back on Saddam Hussein&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1673">January 2004</a>)</div></div></p><p> But we should never forget that it was Europe which led the world in the uses of political violence, and that terrorism, and the fear it generates, are worldwide concerns. One can understand why so many politicians in Spain and beyond talk of the Madrid attacks as an attack on European values, and why the European parliament passed a resolution the day after the Madrid explosions, for a &#147;European day against terrorism&#148;. But these are partial, mistaken, responses: we who are Europeans also bear responsibility for such phenomena. </p><p> More importantly, it is not just Europeans, nor indeed Americans, who are the targets of terrorism, but also all those in the Middle East and elsewhere who stand against this totalitarian and fanatical, but determined and patient, enemy. The problem belongs, and will belong for a long time, to the entire <a href=http://www.ict.org.il/ target=_blank>world</a>. We should frame our responses &#150; security, political and moral &#150; in these terms. </p><p> The global character of the terror problem is essential to realise for another reason: the darker side of <a href= http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-3-77-1501.jsp target=_blank>globalisation</a> that liberal optimism too easily forgets. Beyond the prosperous west, there is a world that is, and feels itself to be, deprived of the benefits of modern life. If there is one fact above all that western informed opinion has to take into account it is what can be termed &#147;global rancour&#148;: the enormous, and ever-expanding, divide between the developed west, and the large areas of crisis and anger that surround it &#150; in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia. </p><p> This need to understand this point is highlighted by the first of successive assassinations in Gaza in recent weeks of <a href=http://www.bitterlemons.org/issue/pal2.php target=_blank>leaders</a> of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Ahmed_Yassin target=_blank>Sheikh Ahmed Yassin</a> was at war with Israel and had long accepted his fate. He was also a hero to his own people, and is now so to Muslims across the world for two reasons that go to the heart of the anger of poor people in the non-west. </p><p> First, he resisted foreign occupation and arrogance. Second, he was a political leader who was personally honest. Like Ayatollah Khomeini and Fidel Castro, he had no villas in Geneva, no secret bank accounts, no bevy of attractive young women, and no abstruse, alien, political rhetoric. For millions, he was a simple, honest, courageous man and respected as such, even if his tactics towards others were inhuman and criminal. </p><p> Israel&#146;s action has made him a hero for Muslims worldwide, including those in the European diaspora, and the response will be terrible and sustained. The date of his assassination, 22 March 2004, may well in retrospect mark a turning point in the history of the Middle East, and in particular of the now even more vulnerable Jewish state, than 11 September 2001. </p><p> We cannot yet know &#150; just as we cannot be sure whether al-Qaida&#146;s Manhattan and Pentagon operation will in the course of time prove to have been a &#147;world-historical&#148; but essentially one-off event, as in different ways were the financial crash of 1929, the atomic bombs of 1945, and the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. But about 9/11 we can affirm one thing above all: this was a <em>political</em> event, not an act of providence, divine or fatal, nor an expression of irrationality or atavistic religion. </p><p> The attacks on <a href=http://www.fathom.com/feature/122554/ target=_blank>11 September 2001</a> were, like the Madrid attacks and the other events mentioned at the start of this article, the product of particular, identifiable, political factors &#150; rooted in the recent history of the Middle East, of the cold war and its aftermath, or a combination of both. And it is the interplay of these factors in the years to come that will determine the future. Whether there will be more dates codified as &#147;9/11&#148; or <a href=http://www.elmundo.es/documentos/2004/03/espana/atentados11m/victimas.html target=_blank>&#147;11-M&#148;</a>, whether the constellation of forces around al-Qaida will be able to sustain their campaign, and whether this event will come to define and poison the broader pattern of relations between the west and the Muslim world &#150; these are questions capable of yielding to political calculation, judgment, and choice. </p><p> In other words, part of their answer will lie where the political violence itself began, in the very contingency of politics &#150; leadership, events, power struggles, and the longer-term consequences of actions by state and non-state forces alike. </p><p> Behind this political determination of the future, however, lies the political disempowerment of ordinary citizens. To a far greater degree than in major wars &#150; when citizens are mobilised on the front or behind the lines &#150; most of the inhabitants and citizens of the world are reduced to mere spectators in the current wars <em>on</em> terror and <em>by</em> terror. They are unable to participate in any meaningful way in their outcomes. </p><p> Thus, they (we) are prisoners not just of their (our) individual powerlessness, the occasional vote or protest meeting aside, but of the very nature of <em>this</em> conflict. For it is not only a secret, military, battle. It is also one where feelings, myths, confused sentiments struggle to articulate themselves in public discourse, and where the sense of everyday security in the private lives of families and individuals is thwarted or undermined by large, impersonal forces they strain to understand. </p><p> It is precisely out of this &#147;universalisation&#148; of the human condition in the age of terror and its wars, however, that some margin of participation, of debate, and of critical reflection is not only made possible but is also the active responsibility of those who have studied and reflected on the character of political violence in the current era. It is in this spirit &#150; of belief in democratic political agency by citizens, even as serious, long-term challenges increasingly become the condition of all our existences &#150; that I propose this brief mapping of terrorism and the lessons for the <a href=http://books.politinfo.com/shop.pl?item_id=0863563821&search_type=image target=_blank>post-9/11 world</a>. </p><p> <a name=#"two"></a> <strong>The modernity of terrorism</strong> </p><p> &#147;Terrorism&#148; is too easily elided in contemporary political discussion with the general phenomenon of armed resistance to oppression by states. This latter activity has been a major feature of the modern world, especially in situations of domination by western or colonial powers. It has included, in more recent times, the activities of the African National Congress (ANC) against the apartheid regime in South Africa as well as the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Palestine, the guerrillas in <a href=http://observer.guardian.co.uk/waronterrorism/story/0,1373,556604,00.html target=_blank>Afghanistan</a>, both the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) and the <em>contra</em> in Nicaragua. </p><p> The general right to resist, and, where extreme coercion exists, to take up arms, is generally recognised both in law and in modern political discourse: it was the basis for the <a href=http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/dr/17741.htm target=_blank>Reaganite</a> backing of revolt against communist third world regimes (Angola, Grenada, Mozambique) in the 1980s as it was of communist backing for wars of national liberation in the 1950s and 1960s. </p><p> This right is also a precious part of the legacy of political reflection, in west and in east, over many centuries. The Christian legal and political tradition gave due respect to this principle. It was also espoused by the English philosopher <a href=http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr18.htm target=_blank>John Locke</a>, the &#147;founding fathers&#148; in the United States of America, and currents of radical dissent in the age of empire and enlightenment. </p><p> It is equally present in Islamic discourse, where revolt &#150; often referred to as <em>khuruj</em> (literally &#147;going out&#148; against the tyrant), <em>dhalim, taghin</em>, or <em>musta&#146;bid</em> &#150; is central to the tradition. In the minds of hegemonic powers, and particularly in US discussion after 9/11, the right to revolt has been generally omitted; many non-western states have been quick to take local advantage of a global trend by crushing internal dissent (with indulgence from Washington) on the grounds that it too is all &#147;terrorism&#148;. </p><p> Terrorism is a distinct political and moral phenomenon, though of course interlinked with the issue of revolt and opposition to oppression. Terrorism refers to a set of military tactics that are part of military and political struggle, and which are designed to force the enemy to submit by some combination of killing and intimidation. </p><p> As such it is deemed to be a violation of the rules and norms of warfare, in either of two senses. First, where these are formally encoded, as in the Geneva Conventions and their two Additional Protocols of 1977, the latter of which cover (albeit inadequately) irregular and <a href=http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/WebCONVFULL?OpenView target=_blank>terrorist actions</a>. Second, where they exist informally, in relation to what are considered legitimate means of waging war. These are notoriously vague, and permit (especially in situations of nationalist or religious fervour) partisan interpretations, but they are also remarkably resilient and universal: the killings of women and children, of prisoners, or of groups of civilians are actions widely recognised in all cultures, religions and contexts as invalid in principle. </p><p> The first use of &#147;terrorism&#148; was by the French revolutionaries, in an exact reverse of the contemporary sense: to denote violence <em>against</em> a people <em>by</em> the state. It was also used thus by the Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky in a <a href=http://www.workersrepublic.org/Pages/Ireland/Trotskyism/noraconnolly.html target=_blank>book</a> published in English as <em>In Defence of Terrorism</em>. </p><p> This dimension should not be forgotten. In recent decades, states have killed and tortured far more people and violated far more of the rules of war than their &#147;non-state&#148; opponents. This recognition of the prevalence and criminality of &#147;state&#148; terrorism should, however, be maintained in distinction from two other issues: first, &#147;state-sponsored&#148; terrorism, which has come to denote the support for terrorist, and more broadly guerrilla, activity by one state on the territory, and/or against the officials and citizens of another; second, the responsibility of opposition groups in revolt (legitimate or not) against dictatorial states themselves to respect the norms of war &#150; for their defenders all too easily resort to an (often justified) attack on <em>state</em> terrorism to distract attention from the crimes of their own side. </p><p> This early history of terrorism, as both term and political phenomenon, casts some light on the present crisis and the &#147;war&#148; against terrorism. The rise of &#147;non-state&#148; terror, espoused as a conscious political activity &#150; for propaganda more than for actual state-challenging reasons &#150; dates mainly from a century later; nationalist movements in Ireland, Armenia, Bengal are exemplary here. Russian anarchists also deployed this tactic. </p><p> In the post-1945 period, &#147;terrorism from below&#148; came most to be associated with third world struggles against a colonial power deemed to be too powerful to confront on the battlefield alone, but with a political vulnerability at home: the Zionist <em>Irgun</em>, the Algerian FLN, the Kenyan Mau Mau, the Cypriot EOKA, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Basque ETA &#150; though not, significantly, Vietnam. </p><p> Only in the late 1960s did the main incidences of such activity shift to the Middle East, with guerrillas in Palestine, Iran, Eritrea resorting to attacks on civilians, hijacking of airlines, kidnapping of politicians and ordinary civilians alike. But it is worth noting that these were groups inspired by secular, and often radical or self-proclaimedly &#147;Marxist-Leninist&#148; ideologies. Religious groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan, and the <em>Fedayeen-i Islam</em> in Iran, did carry out selected assassinations of secular intellectuals or political opponents, but these were specifically targeted actions, not part of a broader social and political mobilisation to take power. </p><p> Much has been made, in the light of 11 September, of the relationship between religion, in this case Islam, and acts of terror. But an element of robust and (in the proper sense, denoting a field of scholarship) &#147;orientalist&#148; comparison is pertinent here. <em>All</em> religions contain the bases of respect for general norms of behaviour in war, but they also contain elements that can be used for massacre, ethnic expulsion, and the slaying of prisoners. The Judeo-Christian Bible, notably <em>Deuteronomy</em> and <em>Judges</em>, provide good examples of this. It is indisputable that there are elements in the texts and traditions of Islamic peoples that can be assembled to make the modern device of political terrorism &#150; but this is not a necessary, or singular, <a href=http://all-computer-books.co.uk/1860648681.html target=_blank>connection</a>. </p><p> The key implication is that &#147;terrorism&#148;, as ideology and instrument of struggle, is a <em>modern</em> phenomenon, a product of the conflict between contemporary states and their restive societies. It has developed, in rich and poor countries alike, as part of a transnational model of political engagement. Its roots are in modern secular politics; it has no <em>specific</em> regional or cultural attachment; it is an instrument, one among several, for those aspiring to challenge states and, one day, to take power themselves. </p><p> <a name=#"three"></a> <strong>The challenge of al-Qaida</strong> </p><p> The ideology, strategy and tactics of <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaida target=_blank>al-Qaida</a> certainly have distinct aspects, and are not a mere extension of this earlier history. Whether it is seen as a single act of &#147;terror from below&#148;, an extreme case of &#147;propaganda of the deed&#148;, or as a <a href=http://cfrterrorism.org/causes/power.html target=_blank>blow</a> against a metropolitan, first-world city by a third-world movement, no action like 11 September 2001 was ever carried out before. It was, amazingly, the first time in 500 years of unequal, globalised, north-south interaction and conflict that such an event has occurred. </p><p> Al-Qaida itself is, moreover, not just another, conventional, modern terrorist organisation. Its ideology is an extreme case of hybridity, borrowing as it does some elements from <em>Sunni</em> Islam, others from <em>Sunni</em> sectarianism against <em>Shi&#146;a</em> Muslims, and mixing both with modern nihilism, the cult of extreme heroism, self-sacrifice and the gun, anti-globalisation rhetoric and, not least, <a href=http://www.guardian.co.uk/alqaida/page/0,12643,839823,00.html target=_blank>nationalism</a>. Like Nazism, it is an ideology that thrives on its intoxicating incoherence. </p><p> In organisational terms, it clearly has a structure distinct from that of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) or ETA. At its core is a small, conspiratorial, group, led by Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian companion, <a href=http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?020916fa_fact2a target=_blank>Ayman al-Zawahiri</a>; around them are small, semi-independent groups, drawn from many different parts of the Muslim and non-Muslim world. </p><p> Their approach is a result of two, mutually reinforcing characteristics. First, a rational calculation that decentralised networks, active in fund-raising and recruiting, are more resistant to penetration. Second, a cultural adaptation of the loose patterns of association, trust and commitment that characterise societies, like Afghanistan and parts of the Arab world, where tribal patterns of behaviour to some degree still prevail. </p><p> The other key element in understanding al-Qaida, one that takes the focus right back to modernity and the historical context in which it emerged, is the cold war, in particular its latter phase from the 1979 Soviet intervention in Afghanistan onwards. Without the cold war, and without lavish United States and Saudi support for the opposition guerrillas in Afghanistan, neither al-Qaida nor the whole transnational world of Islamic fighters would have come into existence. </p><p> Years before al-Qaida started attacking western targets in New York (1993) and Africa (1998), they were on the rampage in Afghanistan and Yemen, killing secular officials, intellectuals and opponents of their fundamentalist project. In challenging these two pro-Soviet Islamic third world regimes, where (in a benighted way) reformist communist states were trying to push through a secular, modernising, programme, the west and its regional allies turned too easily to the crazed counter-revolutionaries of the Islamic right. </p><p> No historical analysis, and, indeed, no measured settling of moral accounts about 9/11 and what follows, can avoid this earlier, decisive, connection. Al-Qaida hates the west, but it is a creation &#150; an ideological, militarised and organisational monster &#150; of western policy in the cold war itself. On 11 September 2001 the sorcerer&#146;s apprentice <a href=http://www.asil.org/ilib/ilib0411.htm target=_blank>hit back</a>. Given a chance, it will hit back again. </p><p> <a name=#"four"></a> <strong>The way ahead: four guidelines</strong> </p><p> No one can anticipate how the <a href=http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2536&print=1 target=_blank>campaigns</a> of al-Qaida, and of those waging the &#147;war against terrorism&#148;, will unfold. It will take years for this crisis to pass, and, in contrast to conventional wars, there will be no moment at which the war, or indeed the <em>jihad</em>, will clearly be over. Citizens, in east or west, are and will remain spectators in this conflict. But they (we) can take a stand, make judgments, and attempt to influence policy. </p><p> In conclusion, then, here are four proposed guidelines for discussion by concerned citizens worldwide. </p><p> First, terrorism of all kinds should be condemned. At the same time, a broader sense of proportion is needed. No discussion of terrorism from below, or its history or its moral and legal dimensions, can take place without parallel recognition of the role of states, past and present, in violating the rules of war with regard to the treatment of civilians and prisoners. </p><p> This is a point that some recent terrible events in the Balkans, Indonesia and Rwanda have all too clearly underlined. By far the greater number of political deaths has always been caused by the actions of states. There is no reason to believe this will change in the early 21st century. </p><p> Second, we need to bear in mind, and with some self-critical modesty, the fact that the major governments of the west have themselves, in recent times, supported groups that are, on any objective standard, &#147;terrorist&#148;. Examples are legion, from Unita in Angola, which killed hundreds of thousands in the wars that lasted from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, to the Nicaraguan <em>contra</em>, the right-wing governments of El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, and above all the Afghan <em>mujahideen</em>. </p><p> While the worst crimes have certainly been committed by radical regimes that were opposed to the west (Iraq, Syria, Iran), few states in the Middle East that have been allies of the west &#150; not Israel or Turkey, not Egypt or Saudi Arabia, not (in its earlier days) the Shah&#146;s Iran &#150; have upheld standards of law and norms in regard to the treatment of civilians and subject peoples. </p><p> In short, no discourse and no policy that casts al-Qaida as the sole, or main, violator of the rules of war, in a conflict with something that calls itself without qualification &#147;the civilised world&#148;, is defensible. </p><p> Third, resistance to terror is not a prerogative of powerful western states. Terror, from below <em>and</em> above, has been the experience of many peoples in the third world over decades, well before 9/11 &#150; be it in Lebanon or Israel, Sri Lanka or Pakistan, Indonesia or Cambodia, Sierra Leone or Rwanda, Argentina or Guatemala, and, not to be forgotten, Ireland or Spain. </p><p> The victims who died in Manhattan fell in the shadow of thousands of others: intellectuals and peasants, priests and village leaders, trades unionists and student leaders, and (in Afghanistan in particular) proponents of women&#146;s rights, who had been slain, their families and friends terrorised and dispersed. This is a phenomenon with a very wide toll, and on every continent. </p><p> This does not preclude the citizens of the United States from expressing their grief and anger, but it should remind them that they permanently exist in relation to a worldwide movement that has deep roots, to which the US itself contributed during the cold war &#150; and that their country is <em>part of</em> this movement, not its singularised and unappointed <em>master</em>. </p><p> Thus, the opposition to bin Laden cannot be based on some privilege of suffering on 11 September, any more than can the victims of a car accident or a violent theft claim a unique experience that entitles them to pursue vengeance in disregard of established norms. There is also no supposedly pure, western, record in regard to the role of violence and terror over the past century: recall (for example) the millions killed by the Belgians in the Congo around 1900, or the millions slaughtered by France and the US in <a href=http://disc.cba.uh.edu/~lienhoa/history.shtml target=_blank>Vietnam</a> between 1945 and 1975, in the name of causes that were later abandoned. </p><p> Fourth, the fight against terrorism, on any continent and within any political or cultural context, involves a necessary security <a href=http://www.un.org/terrorism/ target=_blank>dimension</a>. But it <em>also</em> involves historical perspective, political astuteness and the defence of those standards in the name of which the fight is itself being conducted. </p><p> In other words, those who wage the fight must themselves respect law and show some element of historical modesty and perspective. This is all the more so because &#147;terrorism&#148;, like &#147;globalisation&#148;, &#147;human rights&#148; and relations between &#147;civilisations&#148; (not an analytic category I generally <a href=http://www.angelfire.com/dc/mbooks/mythofconfrontation.html target=_blank>favour</a>) is debated and understood through the nexus of existing world power relations. </p><p> There is, moreover, no calm, level realm for discussion of these topics. For this world is characterised by long-established and growing inequalities of power and wealth, against a background of centuries of colonial expansion, clientilist protection of oppressive regional regimes, and cold war intervention. So these topics have to be posed, debated, and understood in a context where &#150; put bluntly &#150; the majority of the world&#146;s population, including its over one billion Muslims, regard the intentions and policies of the west, particularly the US, with deep distrust. </p><p> This historic fact must inform, even if it does not completely alter, the formulation of policy towards the non-west today, including those countries where terrorism is said to be an issue. At the root of this phenomenon of &#147;globalised rancour&#148; lies an issue that also lies at the heart of terrorism: respect, or lack of it, for the views and humanity of others. </p><p> Here, across the violent canvas of modernity, imperialism and terrorism have joined hands, forcing their policies and views onto those unable to protect themselves, and proclaiming their world-historical virtue in the name of some political goal or project that <em>they alone</em> have defined. Terrorism can only be defeated if this central arrogance &#150; one as evident in the subjugation of Asia, the Middle East and Africa around a century ago as it is in the cruel and deliberate blowing up of civilians in night clubs, restaurants and shops today &#150; is overcome. This all has very little to do with different religions, or cultures, even if the issues can be phrased in various ways and languages. </p><p> The central challenge facing the world in the face of 9/11 and all the other terrorist acts preceding and following it, is to create a global order that defends <a href=http://www.un.org/terrorism/ target=_blank>security</a> while also making real the aspirations to equality and mutual respect that modernity itself has aroused and proclaimed but has spectacularly failed so far to fulfil. </p><p> Terrorism, then, is a world problem in cause and in impact. It should be addressed in a global, cosmopolitan, context. Europe will probably be again its victim, but it is also historically and morally a contributor to this abuse of political opposition, and an architect of political violence. </p><p> All human beings, European or not, are locked into a conflict that will endure for decades, the outcome of which is not certain. In engaging with it, citizens need five things: a clear sense of history; recognition of the reality of the danger; steady, intelligent, political leadership; the building of mass support within European and global society for resistance to this new and major threat; and above all, our best defense, a commitment to liberal and democratic values. </p><p> The Irish poet W.B. Yeats wrote in <a href=http://nweb.pct.edu/homepage/staff/evavra/Enl121/Anthology/Yeats04.htm target=_blank><em>The Second Coming</em></a> (1921 ): <blockquote> &#147;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;<br /> Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, <br /> The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere<br /> The ceremony of innocence is drowned; <br /> The best lack all conviction, while the worst<br /> Are full of passionate intensity.&#148; </blockquote> We must, and can still, prove him wrong. The future &#150; just &#150; remains open. </p><p> <table width="550" bgcolor="#99CCCD" cellpadding="10"> <tr><td> <p> Further Reading: </p><p> Gilles <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-5-57-421.jsp target=_blank>Kepel</a>, <em>Jihad, the trail of political Islam</em> (I.B. Tauris, 2002) </p><p> Malise <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-5-44-103.jsp target=_blank>Ruthven</a>, <em>A Fury for God, the Islamist attack on America</em> (Granta, <a href=http://www.granta.com/shop/product?usca_p=t&product_id=1698 target=_blank>2002</a>) </p><p> Fred <a href=http://www.tni.org/fellows/halliday.htm target=_blank>Halliday</a>, <em>Nation and Religion in the Middle East</em> (Saqi, <a href=http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=086356044X&prd=1 target=_blank>2000</a>) </p><p> Walter <a href=http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/?ci=0195118162&view=usa target=_blank>Laqueur</a>, <em>Terrorism</em> (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1978) </p><p> Conor <a href=http://www.lse.ac.uk/Depts/human-rights/Who's_who/Conor_Gearty.htm target=_blank>Gearty</a>, <em>Terror</em> (Faber, 1991) </p><p> Paul Berman, <em>Terror and Liberalism</em> (Norton, <a href= http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/spring04/032555.htm target=_blank>2003</a>) </p><p> Tony <a href=http://users.ox.ac.uk/~alls0079/author.htm target=_blank>Honore</a>, &#147;The Right to Rebel&#148;, in Conor Gearty, <em>Terrorism</em> (Dartmouth, 1996) </p><p> Fidel Castro, <em>History Will Absolve Me</em>, the speech from the dock after the failed armed attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba in July <a href=http://www.marxists.org/history/cuba/archive/castro/1953/10/16.htm target=_blank>1953</a>. </p><p> Donald L. Horowitz <em>The Deadly Ethnic Riot</em> (University of California Press, <a href=http://www.ucpress.edu/books/sale/pages/8946.html target=_blank>2001</a>) </p><p> </p></td></tr> </table> </p><p> <em> This article is based on a talk at Goodenough House in November 2003, organised by the Goodenough Trust. A version of it will appear in a book entitled </em>Terrorism: Challenge of the 21st Century?<em> to be published later in 2004</em> </p><p> </p> Conflict Globalisation global politics after madrid: war, prevention, dialogue? visions & reflections conflicts europe Fred Halliday Original Copyright Mon, 02 May 2011 07:47:46 +0000 Fred Halliday 1865 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Solidarity: trails, perils, choices https://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/solidarity-trails-perils-choices <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The idea of solidarity retains its moral force. Yet it is vulnerable to the same manipulations as any category of modern politics. Fred Halliday examines the paths of solidarity under colonialism, communism, and post-1989 democracy; its deformed applications to the Arab-Israeli conflict; two voices of universalism that give it life; and what it needs in order to flourish in the 21st century.</p><p>(<em>This essay is published in memory of Fred Halliday, who died in Barcelona on 26 April 2010</em>)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the course of the 20th century something strange and distorting appeared to happen to the concept of “solidarity” - a rough equivalent, for the purpose of this analysis, of the third of the great <a href="http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/france_159/institutions-and-politics_6814/the-symbols-of-the-republic_2002/liberty-equality-fraternity_1503.html">ideals</a> of the French revolution: the “fraternity” that accompanies (and complements) “liberty” and “equality”. This essay attempts to identify the key elements in this evolution: the fates of solidarity.</p><p>Solidarity, both ideal and concept, has multiple implications across four dimensions:</p><p>* fraternity within countries - between similar social groups, communities and, in the language of modern socialism above all, class.</p><p>* support for those within countries who are in some way different but who have a claim based on common humanity, or common exploitation as a result of a shared system of oppression (such as women, ethnic groups, or immigrants); this, however, is often subsumed in appeals to cultural pluralism or multiculturalism</p><p>* support for those who are within the polity or society in question but are not from the same social or class group - those outside of or foreign to the community in question, but to whom support is owed (in the sense of what <a href="http://perpetualpeaceproject.org/resources/">Immanuel Kant</a> termed <em>Hospitalität</em>, or, in modern terminology, “duties towards strangers”</p><p>* international solidarity, in the conventional sense of supporting legitimate struggles, of (for example) workers or ethnic groups, in other countries.</p><p>Social and political categories do not have “essences” that persist across time and place, but they usually exhibit a set of core meanings. Solidarity maintains at its core a <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/son-of-bani-tanwir-work-of-fred-halliday-1946-2010">value</a> enjoining support for other humans whose rights, collective or individual, are being denied. Yet even a relatively brief survey will illustrate that from its origins in the late 18th century the concept of solidarity has travelled a long way.</p><p>At its heart, and in keeping with its origins in the Enlightenment and the French revolution, solidarity rests on one important principle: <em>namely,</em> <em>that of the shared moral and political value and equality of all human beings, and of the rights that attach to them</em>.</p><p>The concept of solidarity presupposes that of rights. The two were so combined, in rhetoric and policy, in the French revolution. The reason to support others within our own society or in others is that they too have rights, by dint of the humanity we share. Hence the centrality, even if not always admitted or articulated, of a concept of rights within any conception of solidarity. In the words of the legal and penal sociologist <a href="http://www2.lse.ac.uk/socialPolicy/researchcentresandgroups/mannheim/staff/cohen.aspx">Stanley Cohen</a>: “Human Rights are the last Grand Narrative”.</p><p>This observation encapsulates both the historical origins and the contemporary destiny of solidarity, conceived of as support for other human beings, and of human rights themselves. The French revolution has bred many grand narratives, but that of rights remains the most important and enduring. In the vocabulary of the revolution, the term <em>citoyen/citoyenne</em> represented the equality of all persons as against the hierarchical system of estates, just as the term nation denoted a community of equal agents.</p><p><strong>The crisis of universalism</strong></p><p>It is against this background that it becomes possible to assess the difficulties into which discussion of human rights, and in related vein solidarity have fallen. In the long journey of solidarity from the aspirations of 1789, the concept has served as much to confuse and besmirch as to realise the political programme of those who supported it, not least the socialist and liberal movements. Among the many twists of this process has been the profusion of “declarations of solidarity” with states, movements and individuals that in their practice deny the very concepts of rights which ostensibly justifiy the effort in the first place.</p><p>At the same time, the ideal and practice of solidarity has been turned against those, in the communist movement, who most claimed to espouse it. Indeed, in the late 20th century the greatest internal challenge to a European communist state came from a <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/solidarity_2806.jsp">movement</a> of the industrial working class that adopted as its slogan, <em>Solidarnosc</em>.</p><p>This crisis of solidarity, and the related crises of universalism and of human rights, affect both those who are the self-conscious or self-proclaimed inheritors of the radical and liberal <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryOther/HistoryofPhilosophy/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780199279227">traditions</a> of the Enlightenment, and many of those on the right (even though conservatism was from the start opposed to any conception of human rights and of a politics deriving from a shared humanity). But it is on the left that it is felt most acutely.</p><p>The contribution of the left and of “anti-imperialist” and marxist thinkers to denigrating rights, and to undermining the international institutions and conventions on which the rights regime is based, has become stronger (as reflected in the widespread use of the term “the imperialism of human rights”). There is on the left widespread disparagement of rights, either on the grounds that they reflect the values and pretexts of the imperialist and hegemonic countries or because they are a product of the oppressive rationalist <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/European/General/%7E%7E/dmlldz11c2EmY2k9OTc4MDE5OTI1NDU2OQ==">rationalist</a> Enlightenment (which is held as the source of most or all current ills).</p><p>This stance has manifold practical implications. They include support for nationalist and culturally specific derogation from universal principles; blind endorsement of guerrilla and armed groups even when they violate the conventions of war; and wholesale opposition to humanitarian intervention on the grounds that this is nothing but a mask of imperial interests. &nbsp;</p><p>Much of the critique of human rights and universal standards emanates from writers in the metropolitan countries, or by politicians and intellectuals in the global south (or as it was once called the “third world”). They have been joined by others: the rhetoric <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-terrorism/osama_3140.jsp">deployed</a> by Osama bin Laden against western values, for example, is framed in a moral context that explicitly rejects universalism, appeals to the followers of but one part of one religion, and indeed celebrates the misfortunes of others (as in the declarations made about <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-climate_change_debate/levee_2801.jsp">hurricane Katrina</a>).</p><p>Thus militant Islamism has made a significant contribution to the weakening of universalism: in emboldening and hardening the right, in its grotesque celebratory contempt for the rules and norms of war (such as any claim to humane treatment of prisoners), and in its declaratory reinforcement of moral particularism.</p><p>Alongside these trends there has on the political right been a widespread embrace of nationalism and narrow national interest as the basis for action. George W Bush and his associates, notably his attorney-general <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/attorney_general_3399.jsp">Alberto Gonzales</a>, did much to undermine respect for universal human rights and for international institutions. The United States’s resiling from international conventions (for example from the Geneva conventions on treatment of prisoners of war) and <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-worlds-jungle">opposition</a> to institutions tasked with implementing an international legal and humanitarian order have caused great damage.</p><p>All this has been made easier by the failure of political elites and others in the west to take seriously the lesson of the end of the cold war regarding the end of Soviet communism. For it was not (as the Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher right argued) the pressure of western military power and expenditures that played the decisive role here, but rather the logic of the commitments the USSR entered to in regard to human rights (in particular the <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/democracy.../helsinki_2716.jsp">Helsinki accords</a> of 1975) and the broader demonstration effect of western society, not least western European society, in combining broad respect for democratic and human-rights values with sustained economic growth.</p><p>In the collapse of communism in <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/other-1989s">1989-91</a> some (including opposition intellectual leaders in east-central Europe) did give credit where it was due, with their insistence on human rights - but many in the west did not hear the message. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>The legacies of history</strong></p><p>The crisis of universalism of the 2000s is widespread and ominous. It will affect the workings both of individual states and of the international organisations charged with defence of human rights. It also negatively affects the work of, and public respect for, those non-state human-rights organisations that operate in the west.</p><p>This crisis of the early 21st century is not entirely new, however. For it builds on earlier histories of critique and rejection of, and embroilment with, power. Today’s crisis is in this sense the legatee of an earlier history, even if one that is only partly remembered. This history is important: as antecedent to current difficulties, and as indication that those now <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/george-lawson/global-1989%20">debating</a> universalism may be repeating mistakes made in earlier periods.</p><p><em><strong>The colonial moment</strong></em></p><p>The first such period is that of colonialism. Much of the imperial project by western powers was associated with assertions of national or state interest, without any regard to moral justification. But there was always too an undercurrent of apparent principle and even historical mission in the way imperialism was presented.</p><p><a href="http://www.lascasas.org/manissues.htm">Bartolomé de las Casas</a> in the 16th century and a range of subsequent political, religious and literary writings reflected this quasi-universalist <a href="http://curia.op.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=100-bartolome-de-las-casas-1484-1566&amp;catid=67-portraits&amp;Itemid=62">critique</a> of colonial thought. Whether in the Spanish concern to convert the souls of heathen peoples of Latin America, the French mission civilisatrice, or the British with their “white man’s burden”, the claim to be promoting good in the world - even against those reluctant to accept it - was recurrent and insistent. This helps explain why from the early 19th century onwards, emergent liberal and democratic thinking in the metropolitan countries sought to apply its principles more widely: constitutional government, education, social reform, promotion of the rights of women (ultimately the most <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/women_march_3510.jsp">fundamental</a> of all human rights and liberal principles), and national self-determination. &nbsp;</p><p>It is impossible here to establish a balance-sheet of the association of liberal and progressive thinking (including on the part of some marxists) with colonialism; let alone to dissect the combination of motives that motivated those who sought to reform colonialism. Many episodes in this history will always allow of several different interpretations: the abolition of slavery, the independence of states in Asia and Africa after 1945, and the forms of development in non-European states of constitutional government, free media and their correlates, for example.</p><p>In any event, the impact on the colonial world of liberal and reforming constituencies had uneven effects. The reformers may have called for liberal principles to be shared with the colonies, but European powers continued to control their dependencies for many decades with little if any attention to the wishes or interests of their subject peoples.</p><p>The Spaniards fought to suppress successive movements for independence in Cuba until their final defeat in 1898; the British held on in Ireland till 1922, to India until 1947, and tried as late as 1956 in the Suez venture to impose control on the Arab world; the Italians massacred Libyans and Ethiopians through to the 1940s; the French drowned Algeria in blood in the independence war of 1954-62; the Portuguese conducted ferocious counterinsurgency wars in three African states until 1974; the US - latecomer to empire’s illusions, self-justifications and crimes - was to prove an expert in all these aspects itself for a century and more, in the <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/graeme-hobbs/vapor-trail-clark-wastes-of-history">Philippines</a>, Vietnam and Iraq (to name but these). &nbsp;</p><p>The voices of those with a more liberal and universalist orientation often found it hard to be heard against this background, The optimism of the utilitarian and liberal <a href="http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mill/">thinkers</a> James Stuart Mill and John Stuart Mill with regard to good governance in India in the 1840s was drowned in the counterinsurgency of 1867. Many well-intentioned and liberal ideas were promoted with regard to Ireland, but in the end force of arms (both international war and local war) played a major role in the path to independence in 1922. The same combination of factors - metropolitan-colonial in the bilateral context, geopolitical in the global context - led to the defeat of the European colonial powers. Some individual anti-colonialists and critics of metropolitan violence apart, there is today little credit remaining in the broader historical narrative for those who sought to link the spread of European empire to concerns of human rights. &nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>The communist moment</strong></em></p><p>The second chapter in this unhappy linking of human rights and its emancipatory potential to broader trends in world history was written by <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/article/what-was-communism">communism</a>: the most widespread, determined and comprehensive attempt ever seen to reform western society and thus to transform the world according to a different set of economic and political principles.</p><p>Communism’s run <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674046993">lasted</a> from 1917 to 1991 - more or less a human lifetime, and around the same span as that of European colonialism at its height from 1870 to 1945. There is a similarity too in that calculations of power, interest and violence were never far from the actions of states and of social movements in this period; and in that many supported the communist project on grounds of moral solidarity, belief in its goals or crude sense that it represented in some positive teleological manner the path of history, the “future”.</p><p>That the communist <a href="http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Rise-Fall-Communism-Archie-Brown/?isbn=9780061138799">project</a> too had its costs and bloody mistakes was taken for granted; but these, so it was argued, paled before the atrocities and waste of human potential associated with capitalism. There were also times when the sheer enormity of the deaths perpetrated by communism (during Stalin’s purges of the 1930s, China’s famine of the late 1950s, the Khmer Rouge era in <a href="http://www.yale.edu/cgp/">Cambodia</a> from 1975-79) was hard to conceive; as had been the slaughter in the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese, or the death of millions in King Leopold’s Congo. &nbsp;</p><p>The idealism of those who supported communism, and the subsequent moral and intellectual crises this provoked, now seem less current. But the association of liberalism and reform with communism (in this general sense of historic optimism and solidarity) had a terrible and enduring cost. Among those directly associated with this project it bred a widespread culture of cynicism and ruthlessness, masked as historical expediency and decisiveness. Lenin’s casual remark on the need to break eggs in order to make an omelette is often cited, less so though equally revealing is Jean-Paul Sartre’s unreserved <a href="http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/1961/preface.htm">endorsement</a> of the calls to violence in <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/frantzfanon">Frantz Fanon’s</a> <em>The Wretched of the Earth</em>.</p><p>This culture also affected those outside the communist organisations (including their associates or “fellow-travellers”) who defended the system. That justification involved a contempt for truth, for open discussion, for law, and indeed for democracy, which was supported by myriad ways of delegitimating and discrediting opponents. A remarkable feature of this culture is that decades after it began to lose influence it lives on in many parts of the left, even among prominent radical intellectuals with no anterior linkage to communism. &nbsp;</p><p>Communism inflicted another cost. This lay in the loss of human optimism and commitment it occasioned: the disillusion of many who had thrown themselves with idealism into the cause, seeing in it the path to the general emancipation of mankind. The consequences were enormous and crushing: in the depoliticisation and alienation of millions of people who left or were expelled from communist parties; in the disgust of those under communist regimes who experienced directly the corruption, mendacity and inefficiency of the system; and more broadly in the discrediting on a world scale of the moral and political goals of a programme that had put human liberation at its heart.</p><p>In the perspective of modern world history, colonialism and communism were successive gravediggers of the global moral imagination. Their legacy continues to echo in the post-cold-war <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863564611&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=fred&amp;m=10&amp;dc=16">world</a> of liberal internationalism, humanitarian intervention, democratisation, and the evolution of international human-rights regimes. &nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>The democratic moment</strong></em></p><p>The world, notwithstanding some vicious local conflicts, appeared bright in the early 1990s. The cold-war’s end had removed the conflict that blocked effective functioning of the United Nations and in particular the Security Council; the successful campaign to free Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in 1991 seemed to presage a new commitment to legal and effective defence of human rights and international law; the end of communism produced a new international legal and moral climate in which fundamental differences of principle appeared absent; democracy appeared to be advancing against dictatorships of left and right, in all continents; and with Bill Clinton as president, the United States was committed to a more open and liberal agenda in the political, economic and social fields.</p><p>In this context, liberal organisations and individuals campaigned to intervene in the public realm in support of a range of progressive causes - from women’s rights and the environment to development aid and debt relief. Many, if with varying degrees of misgiving, called for military intervention in the wars of the Balkans from 1992, as indeed happened in <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-yugoslavia/srebrenica_2651.jsp">Bosnia</a> in 1995 and <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780195373455.do">Kosovo</a> in 1999. There were at this time apparently major advances in the international institutions associated with the liberal project: expansion of the European Union, the Kyoto protocol on the environment, the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/international_justice/the-iccs-first-five-years">International Criminal Court.</a> “Global civil society” appeared on the scene - linking activist groups in many countries, placing many demands on the agenda, lobbying major states, institutions and companies for more transparency and more responsible policies.</p><p>The fiftieth anniversary of the UN in 1995 and the sixtieth in 2005 were surrounded by talk of <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-vision_reflections/article_2389.jsp">reforming</a> the organisation. Even if this proved unfeasible, there was considerable policy development inside the UN, as reflected in the high-level commissions that reported on peacekeeping, and on the “<a href="http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=398">responsibility to protect</a>”. The then secretary-general Kofi Annan was able to <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-responsibility-to-protect-holding-the-line-0">commission</a> senior experts to develop norms of intervention in 2005, reflecting the momentum behing liberal internationalism that even after the George W Bush administration had led the invasion of Iraq.</p><p>Yet within a few years, and in a more rapid rerun of the risky association of liberal optimism with global trends even than in the days of colonialism and communism, matters came to look very different. Much of the liberal agenda had come to nothing, and the very attempt to relate such an agenda to the policies of major powers came back to discredit the principles and sentiments that had underlain the association in the first place.</p><p>Many reasons for this outcome can be adduced. Among them were an inherent lack of realism in much of what was originally envisaged during the 1990s; the dramatic shift to the right in the US’s political centre of gravity seen in the elections of November 2000; the very serious and negative impact on the US and western Europe of 9/11 and the subsequent <em>jihadi</em> attacks; and the rise of community- and identity-based politics in many countries. &nbsp;</p><p>But two events above all were decisive in impelling events: the al-Qaida <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-islamicworld/article_75.jsp">attacks</a> on the US of 11 September 2001, and the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Together they served to undermine the commitment to universalism and to human rights in the international arena and among western and middle-eastern publics. <a href="http://www.gpoaccess.gov/911/index.html">9/11</a> dealt a serious blow to liberal optimism and to a US commitment to global values and institutions; the invasion of Iraq and all that followed - from the deceit of the US and its allies to the violations of human rights at <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-abu_ghraib/article_1892.jsp">Abu Ghraib</a> and many other locations - discredited the cause of humanitarian intervention and of western commitment to human rights and respect for the rules of war.</p><p>What the Soviet invasions of Hungary in <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-protest/hungary_europe_4038.jsp">1956</a> and of Czechoslovakia in 1968 were to the cause of international communism, the US enterprise in Iraq in 2003 was to the ideals and legality of humanitarian intervention. Yet the biggest damage of Iraq was less the US <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/america-in-iraq-2003-10-power-hubris-change">mix</a> of lying and grotesque mismanagement than the way in which both sides of the argument about Iraq allowed historical and moral simplification to prevail.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><strong>The middle east: contours of solidarity </strong>&nbsp;</p><p>The general interaction of liberal and radical universalism with historical forces and states can take the argument only so far. There is also a need to see how the concept and practice of solidarity has run into difficulties in particular regions of the world. Here too there are countless examples of how an initially open and internationalist support for other peoples or states, derived from a concept of their shared entitlement to rights, can turn into partial and instrumental; and in addition entail denial of rights by the very peoples and states which offer such solidarity. The case-studies include southeast Asia and southern Africa, Cyprus and the Balkans, Ireland and the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/thomas-de-waal/lightness-of-history-in-caucasus">Caucasus</a>. Yet arguably no region of the world so illustrates the political and moral contradictions of solidarity than the “greater middle east”, the broad west Asian region within which the Arab-Israeli question plays a significant part.</p><p>The association of debates on solidarity with the middle east can be observed by examining many episodes in the region’s recent history where issues of political engagement have arisen in conditions of <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11">confusion</a> and disarray. The Iranian <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">revolution</a> of 1978-79 is one; this convulsive event prompted very different responses outside as well as inside Iran, with much of the international left supporting the clerical regime that emerged from that revolution.</p><p>When a communist regime was established in neighbouring Afghanistan at the same time as the Islamic revolution took power in Iran, it received almost no international support - even less when it called on Soviet troops to protect it. It was out of the subsequent war in Afghanistan in the 1980s that a transnational <em>jihadi</em> movement emerged, crystallised around the al-Qaida <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-condition-and-prospect">nucleus</a>; this led eventually to 9/11 and all that followed.</p><p>The inadequacies of international arguments about solidarity were reflected too in the response to Ayatollah Khomeini’s condemnation of <a href="http://www.salman-rushdie.com/about-2/">Salman Rushdie</a> in February 1989, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The Rushdie <a href="http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781935554004">case</a> was at heart a matter of free speech, yet the <em>fatwa</em> was met by many with reinforced condemnation of the author, mawkish appeals to relativism, and “respect” for the authority of clerics. In regard to Kuwait, most of the left opposed the United Nations decision to expel the Iraqi invaders even though <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Saddam’s</a> takeover was as clear an example of state aggression and violation of the United Nations <a href="http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/index.shtml">charter</a> as could be imagined.</p><p>The middle east seems in this light the graveyard not only of imperial ambition - British, French, Russian and now American - but also of clear-headed moral and legal discussion of the challenges it poses. The&nbsp; point is reinforced by attitudes to the “Palestine question” - the most prominent of the region's inter-ethnic and inter-state conflicts. Here the history is of one-sidedness and partisan engagement modified by quite dramatic shifts of partisanship along the way. In its origins, the state of Israel was widely supported by the left. The USSR recognised Israel before the US; it supplied, directly and indirectly, the arms that helped the Israelis win the war of 1948-49. In the 1950s and early 1960s the overall liberal and socialist consensus in Europe and the US was in favour of Israel, paying scant attention to the rights of the Palestinians.</p><p>This was before the emergence of the Palestinian guerrilla movement. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (<a href="http://www.merip.org/palestine-israel_primer/plo-un242-pal-isr-primer.html">PLO</a>) had been set up in Cairo in January 1964; it was initially under the control of the Arab states, and of Egypt in particular, with its first armed action a year later being an attack on a water-pumping station near Galilee. For nearly everyone in the west, the Palestinian issue was then one of “the refugees” rather than of a people’s right to land or self-determination. The focus was on the obstacles to resettlement (by Israel and the Arab states respectively): as if the Palestinians were (twenty years after the second world war) a residual contingent of the millions of “displaced persons” and others whom the European conflict had shunted across frontiers.</p><p>For much of the world in the 1960s, “solidarity” - understood as respect for the rights and political aspirations of the group supported - attached to Israel. The murder of Jews in Europe was still recent; the Palestinians were not a visible or organised force; Israel enjoyed enormous authority, not so much as a close ally of the west, which at that time it was not (the alliance with the US took shape only in the late 1960s) but as the site of an <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/keith-kahn-harris-joel-schalit/in-search-of-israeli-left">experiment</a> in socialist economics and living, epitomised by the <em>kibbutz</em> system.</p><p>If there was on the left some sympathy for Arab causes, it focused more on the experiment in “Arab socialism” under <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/article/nassers_complex_legacy">Gamal Abdel Nasser</a> in Egypt and on the forms of workers’ control and peasant cooperatives that had arisen out of the Algerian war; perhaps also, for a few, backing for the remote but accountedly resolute <em>imamate</em> of <a href="http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=11290">Oman</a> (which in fact ceased to exist by early 1959).</p><p>This balance of affections was to change after the Arab-Israeli <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/v3_israel_palestinians/maps/html/six_day_war.stm">war</a> of June 1967, which was followed by the emergence of the Palestinian resistance movement in the West Bank and in Jordan and the gradual loss of sympathy for Israel across much of the world. The redrawing of battle-lines following the conquest by Israel of all of mandate Palestine included the rise on the international left of a movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Yet the arguments of the more four decades since the 1967 war - languages of identification and rejection, historical points of dispute, controversies over particular events - have brought almost nothing new.</p><p><strong>A marxist, a liberal, and the Palestine question</strong></p><p>To gauge how little discussion of the Arab-Israeli cause has advanced over these decades, it is worth recalling some universalist propositions on this conflict by an independent marxist (Isaac Deutscher) and a courageous liberal (Hannah Arendt).</p><p><a href="http://www.deutscherprize.org.uk/Isaac%20&amp;%20Tamara%20Deutscher.htm">Isaac Deutscher</a> struck a note that is almost wholly absent in more recent debates - where claims of identity prevail over universal principle, where exclusionary identification with one side or the other predominates, and where atrocities of war and callous political blunders are often common on both.</p><p>Deutscher’s <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/arendt_deutscher_3813.jsp">argument</a> rested on three clear and courageous premises: that Arab and Israeli leaderships were alike guilty of demagogy and of misleading their own people, above all by promising a victory that was unattainable and by stoking hatred of other peoples and religions; that the histories of the contending peoples (genocide in Europe for the Jews, and denial of national rights for the Palestinians) could not be deployed to legitimate the maximal current claims of either; and that the Israelis and Palestinians were each peoples with legitimate claims that should be recognised on a sensible and lasting territorial and political basis.</p><p>Isaac Deutscher was clear too - in tones of anti-clerical and universalist disdain, all too lacking in these days of grovelling before “identity”, “tradition” and “faith communities” -&nbsp; in rejecting any invocation of the sacred, the god-given, in political debate. He would have had as little time for the Orthodox rabbis of the West Bank as for the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/blasphemy_3262.jsp">discourses</a> of Sheikh Fadlallah.</p><p><a href="http://www.iep.utm.edu/arendt/">Hannah Arendt’s</a> work was not directly related to the Arab-Israeli question, but the internationalist approach of one of her key works has immense relevance to it and to the arguments taking place in the broader world about it. This is her study of the trial in Jerusalem in 1961 of the Nazi war criminal, <a href="http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007412">Adolf Eichmann</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1963/02/23/1963_02_23_040_TNY_CARDS_000273540"><em>Eichmann in Jerusalem</em></a> (1963) is best known for the controversial phrase, born of watching this shifty and apparently “normal” man in the glass dock, “the banality of evil”. Yet this controversy is undeserved, as anyone who has studied the vast literature on killing in other dictatorships and massacres across the world can testify: for it applies as much to Stalin’s gulag, the massacres of Rwanda and Bosnia, and <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-yugoslavia/responsibility_3361.jsp">Slobodan Milosevic’s</a> appearance at his trial in The Hague.</p><p>What should have been much better noted was Hannah Arendt’s critique of the legal and moral case made by the Israeli prosecutors against Adolf Eichmann. For whereas the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi war criminals had been conducted under what at least purported to be some form of “international” law (the precursor of later codes of universal jurisdiction, crimes against humanity and the <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/international_justice/the-iccs-first-five-years">International Criminal Court</a>), Eichmann was prosecuted for the taking of Jewish lives and in a Jewish court.</p><p>A legal case that had, in 1946, been weak in some points of principle, but confident in its universalist aspirations - that of the <a href="http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/imt.asp">International Military Tribunal </a>- had by the early 1960s been converted into something that derived its authority and legitimacy from the ethnicity of the victims. And this ethnicisation of the victims was at the same time deemed to convey a particular right, if not responsibility, on the state that lay claim to representing those victims, namely Israel.</p><p>Herein lies the core of much contemporary confusion and passion about the Arab-Israeli question - and indeed, about the numerous other inter-ethnic conflicts across the world where local rhetoric and partisan international “solidarity” prevail, as if one side were angels and the other devils - Cyprus, Bosnia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Ireland, to name but a few. In regard to the middle east, Muslims and Arabs across the world identify with the Palestinians (or, since the expulsion of the Israelis in July 2000 from Lebanon, <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/hizbollah_3757.jsp">Hizbollah</a>) on ethnic, religious and communitarian lines; many Jews do the same, in support of Israel. Solidarity is here interlocked with particularism. Even many of those Jews who oppose the policies of the state of Israel speak as Jews (“not in my name”).</p><p>Yet there is arguably a regression here, of ominous import - insofar as membership of a particular community, or claims of affinity, ethnicity or religious association with others, is deemed to convey either particular rights or particular moral clarity on those making such claims. In purely logical and rational terms, this is a nonsense.</p><p>The war over Lebanon of July-August 2006 <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-middle_east_politics/westasia_crisis_3833.jsp">offers</a> an example. The crimes of the Israelis (in wantonly attacking the infrastructure of Lebanon, and denying Palestinians their national rights) and those of Hizbollah and Hamas (in killing civilians, placing the lives and security of their peoples recklessly at risk, hurling thousands of missiles at civilian targets in Israel and fomenting religious and ethnic hatred) do not require particularist denunciation: that the one killed Arabs or Muslims, and that the other spilt Jewish blood. They are crimes on the basis of universal principles - of law, decency, and humanity; and should be identified as such. Particularism undermines the very basis of the denunciation, which presupposes universal principles.</p><p>The dominant current political orthodoxy in Europe and the US inclines to granting a legitimate, even privileged, place to “communities”; and especially those with a particular outlook on the international issues that most concern them (Armenians, Kashmiris, Irish, <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-tamil-diaspora-solidarities-and-realities">Tamils</a>, Muslims and Jews). A directly countervailing argument can and should be made, however: that ethnic and religious communities based abroad should be the last people from whom rational explanation or moral compass is expected or sought in regard to these issues.</p><p>In early 2005, when interviewed by a BBC panel set up to consider accusations of bias in regard to the Arab-Israeli dispute, I was given a list of the British-based groups the panel had consulted - Muslim and Arab on one side, Jewish and Zionist on the other: my recommendation to the panel was to ignore completely what any of them said; and to question whether they should have any standing in the matter.</p><p><strong>The recovered path</strong></p><p>The development of thinking and policy about human rights in general, and debate on the Arab-Israeli dispute in particular, re-emphasise the need to reaffirm the core <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/son-of-bani-tanwir-work-of-fred-halliday-1946-2010">principles</a> that inform the concept of solidarity. A good place to start is to recognise that a condemnation of the actions of militarised states and violent groups on account of their demagogy and chauvinism is insufficient: there must also be recognition of and respect for the existing body of rights and legal <a href="http://www.icrc.org/eng/war-and-law/treaties-customary-law/geneva-conventions/index.jsp">instruments</a> - such as the Geneva protocols of 1949, the additional protocols of 1977, and related documents.</p><p>Many movements of “solidarity” invoke universal principles of war to justify support for (for example) Hamas or Hizbollah, yet fail even to attempt to apply such principles to the guerrilla groups they favour, even though many of the latter are guilty of murder, intimidation and violation of civilians, and fostering of intercommunal hatred. Some prominent voices of the left, high on “anti-imperialist” rectitude, revelled in the slaughter of civilian UN officials in Iraq; others condone the killing of civilians in Israel and the wanton sacrifice of the Lebanese people’s security in the name of a self-proclaimed “national resistance”. Such <a href="www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/left_jihad_3886.jsp">distortions</a> of solidarity come even more ill when exerted on behalf of groups that for years sought to destroy the one <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11103745">chance</a> for coexistence and peace between Israelis and Palestinians that did arise, in the Oslo accords of 1993.</p><p>Solidarity, to be true to its universalist premises, cannot be embodied in partisan and morally selective campaigns of support for one or other group of combatants. It must rest on a range of qualities - including moral authority, intellectual integrity, consistency of principle, and factual accuracy - that transcend the sectarian world of “solidarity” groups.</p><p>Such qualities are to be found in the work of journalists, researchers, scholars, diplomats and human-rights organisations that seek honestly to document and highlight human-rights violations, and that condemn the crimes and political follies of all sides.</p><p>A consistent advocacy of respect for the rules of war, and the protection of combatants and civilians alike in situations of conflict, has long been the priority of the International Committee of the Red Cross (<a href="http://www.icrc.org/eng/">ICRC</a>). It is the sustained courage, independence and clarity of vision of such bodies that should guide understanding and discussion of the modern world’s fractures. Human rights may indeed be the last grand narrative, but it has more than sufficient intellectual and moral authority to last for many years yet. There is no solidarity worth the name without it.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Fred Halliday, <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/index.asp?TAG=&amp;CID">Political Journeys: The openDemocracy Essays</a></em>&nbsp;(Saqi, 2011)</p><p>Fred Halliday, <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863560781&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=7&amp;dc=12"><em>Nation and Religion in the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2000)</p><p>Fred Halliday, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Terrorism%20armed%20struggle/Shocked%20and%20Awed%20How%20the%20War%20on%20Terror%20and%20Jihad%20Have%20Changed%20the%20English%20Language.aspx?menuitem=%7B5E667009-66A3-482D-B3BE-6BBF6F416DBC%7D"><em><em>Shocked And Awed</em></em><strong><em>:</em></strong><em>&nbsp;</em><em>How the War on Terror and Jihad Have Changed the English Language</em></a>&nbsp;(IB Tauris, 2010)</p><p>Fred Halliday, <a href="http://www.sas.ac.uk/publication_view.html?id=726"><em><em>Caamaño</em></em><em>&nbsp;in London: the Exile of a Latin American Revolutionary</em></a>&nbsp;(Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/">Saqi books</a></p><p>Alejandro Colas &amp; George Lawson, "<a href="http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/30153/">Fred Halliday: achievements, ambivalences and openings</a>" (<a href="http://www2.lse.ac.uk/internationalRelations/Journals/millenn/Home.aspx"><em>Millennium</em></a>, 39/2, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www2.lse.ac.uk/internationalRelations/Home.aspx">Department of international realtions, LSE</a></p><p>David Downes, Paul Rock, Christine Chinkin &amp; Conor Gearty eds., <a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781843924043/"><em>Crime, social control and human rights: from moral panics to states of denial - essays in honour of Stanley Cohen</em></a> (Willan, 2007 / Routledge, 2008)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Fred Halliday (1946-2010) was most recently <em>Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats</em> / Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (<a href="http://www.icrea.cat/web/home.aspx">ICREA</a>) research professor at the <em>Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals</em> (Barcelona Institute for International Studies / <a href="http://www.ibei.org/">IBEI</a>). He was from 1985-2008 professor of international relations at the London School of Economics (<a href="http://www2.lse.ac.uk/internationalRelations/Home.aspx">LSE</a>), and subsequently professor emeritus there<br /><br />Fred Halliday's many books include <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/index.asp?TAG=&amp;CID">Political Journeys: The openDemocracy Essays</a></em>&nbsp;(Saqi, 2011); <a href="http://www.sas.ac.uk/publication_view.html?id=726"><em><em>Caamaño</em></em><em>&nbsp;in London: the Exile of a Latin American Revolutionary</em></a>&nbsp;(Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2010); <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Terrorism%20armed%20struggle/Shocked%20and%20Awed%20How%20the%20War%20on%20Terror%20and%20Jihad%20Have%20Changed%20the%20English%20Language.aspx?menuitem=%7B5E667009-66A3-482D-B3BE-6BBF6F416DBC%7D"><em>Shocked and Awed: How the War on Terror and Jihad Have Changed the English Language</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2010); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths about the Middle East</em> </a>(Saqi, 2005); <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863563829&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=10&amp;dc=11"><em>Two Hours That Shook the World: September 11, 2001 - Causes and Consequences</em></a> (Saqi, 2001); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863560781&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=7&amp;dc=12"><em>Nation and Religion in the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2000); and <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?is=0333653297"><em>Revolutions and World Politics: The Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power</em> </a>(Palgrave Macmillan, 1999)</p><p>This essay forms part of a broader investigation into the meanings and problems of internationalism in the contemporary world; research for it was conducted during 2003-05 with the generous help of a senior research grant from the <a href="http://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/">Leverhulme Trust</a></p><p>The essay derives from a seminar paper entitled "The Fates of Solidarity: Use and Abuse", delivered by Fred Halliday in 2006 at the <a href="http://www.cccb.org/en/"><em>Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona</em></a> (CCCB). Some of its ideas also form part of Fred Halliday's column, "<a href="conflict/arendt_deutscher_3813.jsp">In time of war: reason amid rockets</a>" (17 August 2006)</p><p>An earlier version of the essay was <a href="http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/20485/">published</a> in David Downes, Paul Rock, Christine Chinkin &amp; Conor Gearty eds., <a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781843924043/"><em>Crime, social control and human rights: from moral panics to states of denial - essays in honour of Stanley Cohen</em></a> [Willan, 2007 / Routledge, 2008])</p><p>Fred Halliday's other essays arising from the Leverhulme project include:</p><p>* "<a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291469-8129">The perils of community: reason and unreason in nationalist ideology</a>" (<em>Nations and Nationalism</em>, 6/2, 2000)</p><p>* "The Middle East and Hegemonic Abstentionism" (Chapter 1 of <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863560781&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=7&amp;dc=12"><em>Nation and Religion in the Middle East</em></a> [Saqi, 2000])</p><p>* "Nationalism, Particularism and Ethics", in Umut Özkirimli ed., <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theoriesofnationalism"><em>Theories of Nationalism: A Critical Introduction</em> </a>[Palgrave Macmillan 2003])</p><p>* "Revolutionary Internationalism and its Perils", in John Foran, David Lane &amp; Andreja Zivkovic, eds. <a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415771832/"><em>Revolution in the Making of the Modern World: Social Identities, Globalization and Modernity</em></a> [Routledge, 2007])</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-revenge-of-ideas-karl-polanyi-and-susan-strange">The revenge of ideas: Karl Polanyi and Susan Strange</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-dominican-republic-a-time-of-ghosts">The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/david-hayes/fred-halliday-unfinished-voyage">Fred Halliday: an unfinished voyage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/crises_of_the_middle_east_1914_1967_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization/aljazeera_qatar_4466.jsp">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/fred-halliday-1946-%E2%80%93-2010">Tributes to Fred Halliday 1946 – 2010</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/eta">Eternal Euskadi, enduring ETA</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fred-halliday/son-of-bani-tanwir-work-of-fred-halliday-1946-2010">Son of the Bani Tanwir: the work of Fred Halliday (1946-2010)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/fred-halliday/barcelona-catalonia-real-thing">Barcelona i Catalunya: the real thing </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/article_1900.jsp">America and Arabia after Saddam</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/david-hayes/fred-halliday-1946-2010-tribute-0">Fred Halliday, 1946-2010: a tribute</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Looking back on Saddam Hussein</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy/article_2092.jsp">The crisis of universalism: America and radical Islam after 9/11</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity">Yemen: travails of unity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/libya-s-regime-at-40-a-state-of-kleptocracy">Libya’s regime at 40: a state of kleptocracy </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/what-was-communism">What was communism? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/fred-halliday/other-1989s">The other 1989s</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anne-corbett/idea-of-university-fred-hallidays-truth">The idea of a university: Fred Halliday&#039;s truth</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization/left_jihad_3886.jsp">The Left and the Jihad</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/arendt_deutscher_3813.jsp">In time of war: reason amid rockets</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Democracy and government Ideas International politics Globalisation global politics democracy & power middle east europe Fred Halliday Tue, 26 Apr 2011 23:58:23 +0000 Fred Halliday 59144 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Left and the Jihad https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/left_jihad_3886.jsp <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The approaching fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States highlights an issue much in evidence in the world today, but one that receives too little historically-informed and critical analysis: the relationship between militant Islamic groups and the left. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>It is evident that the attacks, and others before and since on US and allied forces around the world, have won the Islamist groups responsible considerable sympathy far beyond the Muslim world, including among those vehemently opposed from a variety of ideological perspectives to the principal manifestations of its power. It is striking, however, that - beyond such often visceral reactions &ndash; there are signs of a far more developed and politically articulated accommodation in many parts of the world between Islamism as a political force and many groups of the left. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The latter show every indication of appearing to see some combination of al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbollah, Hamas, and (not least) Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as exemplifying a new form of international anti-imperialism that matches &ndash; even completes &ndash; their own historic project. This putative combined movement may be in the eyes of such leftist groups and intellectual trends hampered by &ldquo;false consciousness&rdquo;, but this does not compromise the impulse to &ldquo;objectively&rdquo; support or at least indulge them. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The trend is unmistakable. Thus the Venezuelan leader Hugo Ch&aacute;vez flies to Tehran to embrace the Iranian president. London&rsquo;s mayor Ken Livingstone, and the vocal Respect party member of the British parliament George Galloway, welcome the visit to the city of the Egyptian cleric (and Muslim Brotherhood figurehead) Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Many in the sectarian leftist factions (and beyond) who marched against the impending Iraq war showed no qualms about their alignment with radical Muslim organisations, one that has since spiralled from a tactical cooperation to something far more elaborated. It is fascinating to see in the publications of leftist groups and commentators, for example, how history is being rewritten and the language of political argument adjusted to (as it were) accommodate this new accommodation.<span> </span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The most recent manifestation of this trend arrived during the Lebanon war of July-August 2006. The Basque country militant I witnessed who waved a yellow Hizbollah flag at the head of a protest march is only the tip of a much broader phenomenon. The London demonstrators against the war saw the flourishing of many banners announcing &ldquo;we are all Hizbollah now&rdquo;, and the coverage of the movement in the leftwing press was notable for its uncritical tone.<span> </span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>All of this is &ndash; at least to those with historical awareness, sceptical political intelligence, or merely a long memory - disturbing. This is because its effect is to reinforce one of the most pernicious and inaccurate of all political claims, and one made not by the left but by the imperialist right. It is also one that underlies the US-declared &ldquo;war on terror&rdquo; and the policies that have resulted from 9/11: namely, that <em>Islamism is a movement aimed against &ldquo;the west&rdquo;.</em> </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>This claim is a classic example of how a half-truth can be more dangerous than an outright lie. For while it is true that Islamism in its diverse political and violent guises is indeed opposed to the US, to remain there omits a deeper, crucial point: that, long before the Muslim Brotherhood, the <em>jihadis</em> and other Islamic militants were attacking &ldquo;imperialism&rdquo;, they were attacking and killing the left - and acting across Asia and Africa as the <em>accomplices</em> of the west.</span></p><div class="pull_quote_article"><div class="pull_quote"><p><b>Fred Halliday is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His books include <a href=http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681 target=_blank><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003) and <a href=http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=510000000322244&sf=CAUTHOR&sort=sort_title&st1=fred+halliday&x=0&y=0&m=1&dc=5 target=_blank><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005).</b></p> <p>Fred Halliday's "global politics" <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/halliday_21.jsp">column</a> on openDemocracy surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world. The articles include: </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">America and Arabia after Saddam</a>" <br />(May 2004) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2374">Terrorism and world politics: conditions and prospects</a>" <br />(March 2005) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2398">An encounter with Mr X</a>" (March 2005) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2642">Iran's revolutionary spasm</a>" (July 2005) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2753">Political killing in the cold war</a>" (August 2005) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2819">Maxime Rodinson: in praise of a 'marginal man'</a>" <br />(September 2005) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2904">A transnational <em>umma</em>: myth or reality?</a>" (October 2005) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3019">The 'Barcelona process': ten years on</a>" (November 2005) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3180">The United Nations vs the United States</a>" (January 2006) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3262">Blasphemy and power</a>" (February 2006) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3267">Iran vs the United States &#150; again</a>" (February 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3447">Terrorism and delusion</a>" (April 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3510">The forward march of women halted?</a>"<br /> (May 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3589">Letter from Ground Zero</a>" (May 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3674">Finland's moment in the sun</a>" (June 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3757">A Lebanese fragment: two days with Hizbollah</a>"(July 2006) </p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3813">In time of war: reason amid rockets</a>"<br /> (August 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3833">Lebanon, Israel, and the 'greater west Asian crisis'</a>" (August 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3855">Fidel Castro's legacy: Cuban conversations</a>"<br /> (August 2006)</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3871"> Warsaw&#146;s populist twins</a>" <br /> (September 2006)</p> </div></div><p class="MsoNormal"><span><strong>A tortured history</strong></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The modern relationship of the left to militant Islamism dates to the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution. At that time, the Soviet leadership was promoting an &ldquo;anti-imperialist&rdquo; movement in Asia against the British, French and Dutch colonial empires, and did indeed see militant Muslims as at least tactical allies. For example, at the second congress of the Comintern in 1920, the Soviets showed great interest towards the Islamist group led by Tan Malaka in Indonesia; following the meeting, many delegates decamped to the Azeri capital of Baku for a &ldquo;Congress of the Peoples of the East&rdquo;. This event, held in an ornate opera house, became famous for its fiery appeals to the oppressed masses of Asia and included calls by Bolshevik leaders, many of them either Armenian or Jewish, for a <em>jihad</em> against the British. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>A silent-film clip recently discovered by the Iranian historian Touraj Atabaki shows the speakers excitedly appealing to the audience who then proceed to leap up and fire their guns into the air, forcing the speakers on the platform to run for cover. One of those who attended the Baku conference was the American writer John Reed, author of the classic account of the Bolshevik revolution <em>Ten Days That Shook the World</em>. (On his return journey from Azerbaijan he was to die after catching typhoid from a melon he bought on the way.) </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>For decades afterwards, the Soviet position on Islam was that it was, if not inherently progressive, then at least capable of socialist interpretation. On visits in the 1980s to the then two communist Muslim states - the now equally-forgotten &ldquo;Democratic Republic of Afghanistan&rdquo; and the &ldquo;People&rsquo;s Democratic Republic of Yemen&rdquo; - I was able to study the way in which secondary school textbooks, taught by lay teachers not clerics, treated Islam as a form of early socialism. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>A verse in the Qur&rsquo;an stating that &ldquo;water, grass and fire are common among the people&rdquo; was interpreted as an early, nomadic, form of collective means of production; while Muslim concepts of <em>ijma</em>&rsquo; (consensus), <em>zakat</em> (charitable donation), and &lsquo;<em>adala</em> (justice) were interpreted in line with the dictates of the &ldquo;non-capitalist&rdquo; road. Jihad was obviously a form of anti-imperialist struggle. A similar alignment of Islamic tradition and modern state socialism operated in the six Muslim republics of the Soviet Union. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Such forms of affinity were in the latter part of the 20th century succeeded by a far clearer alignment of Islamist groups: against communism, socialism, liberalism and all that they stood for, not least with regard to the rights of women. In essence, Islamism - the organised political trend, owing its modern origin to the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, that seeks to solve modern political problems by reference to Muslim texts - saw socialism in all its forms as another head of the western secular hydra; it had to be fought all the more bitterly because it had such a following in the Arab world, in Iran and in other Muslim countries. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In a similar way to other opponents of the left (notably the European fascist movements), Islamists learned and borrowed much from their secular rivals: styles of anti-imperialist rhetoric, systems of social reform, the organisation of the centralised party (a striking example of which is Hizbollah in Lebanon, a <em>Shi&rsquo;a</em> copy in nationalist, organisational and military form of the Vietnamese Communist Party). This process has continued in the modern critique of globalisation and &ldquo;cultural imperialism&rdquo;. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The ferocious denunciations of &ldquo;liberalism&rdquo; by Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers are a straight crib from the Stalinist handbook. Osama bin Laden&rsquo;s messages, albeit clad in Qur&rsquo;anic and Arabic poetic garb, contain a straightforward, contemporary, radical political messages: our lands are occupied by imperialism, our rulers betray our interests, the west is robbing our resources, we are the victim of double standards. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The hostility of Islamism to leftwing movements, and the use of Islamists in the cold war to fight communism and the left, deserve careful study. A precedent was the Spanish civil war, when Francisco Franco recruited tens of thousands of Moroccan mercenaries to fight the Spanish republic, on the grounds that Catholicism and Islam had a shared enemy in communism. After 1945, this tendency became more widespread. In Egypt, up to the revolution of 1952, the communist and Islamist movements were in often violent conflict. In the 1960s, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s desire to oppose Nasser&rsquo;s Egypt and Soviet influence in the middle east led it to promote the World Islamic League as an anti-socialist alliance, funded by Riyadh and backed by Washington. King Feisal of Saudi Arabia was often quoted as seeing communism as part of a global Jewish conspiracy and calling on his followers to oppose it. In Morocco, the leader of the socialist party, Oman bin&nbsp;Jalloun, was assassinated in 1975 by an Islamist militant.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>A canvas of conflict</span></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>There are further striking cases of this backing of Islamism against the left: Turkey, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, and Algeria among them.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In Turkey in the 1970s, an unstable government beset by challenges from armed leftwing groups encouraged both the forces of the nationalist right (the &ldquo;Grey Wolves&rdquo;) and Islamists, and indulged the assassination of leftwing intellectuals. In Palestine, the Israeli authorities, concerned to counter the influence of al-Fatah in the West Bank in the late&nbsp;1970s, granted permission for educational, charitable and&nbsp;other organisations (linked in large part to the Muslim Brotherhood)&nbsp;in ways that helped nurtured the emergence of&nbsp;Hamas in 1987; Israel thus did not <em>create</em> Hamas, but it did facilitate its early growth. In Algeria too, factions within the ruling national-liberation movement (FLN) were in league with the underground Islamist group, the National Salvation Front; its French initials, FIS, gave rise to the observation that the FIS are <em>le fils</em> (&ldquo;the son&rdquo;) of the FLN. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In Egypt, from the death of Nasser in 1970 onwards, the regimes of Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak actively encouraged the Islamisation of society, in part against armed Islamist groups, but also to counter the influence of the socialist left. This was a project in which many formerly secular Egyptian intellectuals colluded, in an often theatrical embrace of Islam, tradition and cultural nationalism. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The trend culminated in the 1990s with a campaign to silence left and independent liberal voices: the writer Farag Fouda, who had called for the modernisation of Islam, was assassinated in 1992; Naguib Mahfouz, the Nobel prize-winning author, was stabbed and nearly killed in 1994 (allegedly for his open and flexible attitude to religion in his Cairo novels); the writer and philosopher Nasser Abu Zeid, who had dared to apply to the Qur&rsquo;an and other classical Islamic texts the techniques of historical and literary criticism practised elsewhere in the world, was sent death-threats before being driven into exile in 1995. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>There were even worse confrontations between Islamism and those of a socialist and secular liberal persuasion. The National Islamic Front in Sudan, a conspiratorial group that explicitly modelled itself on Leninist forms of organisation, took power in 1989 and proceeded to arrest, torture and kill members of the communist party, all this at a time when playing host to Osama bin Laden in Khartoum. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In Yemen, after the partial unification of the military north and socialist south in May 1990, the regime allowed assassins of the Islamist movement to kill dozens of socialist party members and army officers. This process precipitated the civil war of 1994, in which armed Islamist factions linked by ideology and political ties to bin Laden (most prominently the Abyan army) fought side-by-side with the regular army of the north to crush the socialist south. This was an echo of the war in Dhofar province in the neighbouring Arabian state of Oman during 1970s, when anti-communist government published propaganda by the British-officered intelligence corps denouncing the leftwing rebels for allowing men to have only one wife, and promised them four if they came over to the government side.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><strong>The politics of blood</strong></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The historical cycle of enmity reached an even greater pitch in two other countries where the anti-communist and rightwing orientation of the Islamists became clear. The first, little noticed in the context of Islamism, was the crushing of the left in Indonesia in 1965. There the independent and &ldquo;anti-imperialist&rdquo; regime of President Sukarno was supported by the communist party (PKI), the largest in non-communist Asia. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>After a conflict within the military itself, a rightwing coup backed by the United States seized power and proceeded to crush the left. In rural Java especially, the new power was enthusiastically supported by Islamists, led by the <em>Nahdat ul-Islam</em> grouping. A convergence between the anti-communism of the military and the Islamists was one of the factors in the rampant orgy of killing which took the lives of up to a million people. The impact of this event was enormous, both for Indonesia itself and the balance of forces in southeast Asia at a time when the struggle in Vietnam was about to escalate.<span> </span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The second country, Afghanistan, also had an outcome of great significance for the cold war as a whole. During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, the most fanatical Islamist groups - funded by the CIA, Pakistan and the Saudis to overthrow the communist government in Kabul - were killing women teachers, bombing schools and forcing women back into the home in the areas they controlled. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Such enemies led the first leader of communist Afghanistan, Nur Mohammad Taraki, to refer to the opposition as <em>ikhwan i shayatin</em> (&ldquo;the satanic brotherhood&rdquo;, a play on &ldquo;Muslim Brotherhood&rdquo;). Bin Laden himself, in both his 1980s and post-1996 periods in Afghanistan, played a particularly active role not just in fighting Afghan communists, but also in killing <em>Shi&rsquo;a</em>, who were, in the sectarian worldview of Saudi fundamentalism, seen as akin to communists. The consequences of this policy for the Arab and Muslim worlds, and for the world as a whole, were evident from the early 1990s onwards. It took the events of the clear morning of 11 September 2001 for them to penetrate into the global consciousness.</span></p><span><strong>The true and the false</strong></span> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>This melancholy history must be supplemented by attention to what is actually happening in countries, or parts of countries, where Islamists are influential and gaining ground. The reactionary (the word is used advisedly) nature of much of their programme on women, free speech, the rights of gays and other minorities is evident. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>There is also a mindset of anti-Jewish prejudice that is riven with racism and religious obscurantism. Only a few in the west noted what many in the Islamic world will have at once understood, that one of the most destructive missiles fired by Hizbollah into Israel bore the name &ldquo;Khaibar&rdquo; - not a benign reference to the pass between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the name of a victorious battle fought against the Jews by the Prophet Mohammad in the 7th century. Here it is worth recalling the saying of the German socialist leader Bebel, that anti-semitism is &ldquo;the socialism of fools&rdquo;. How many on the left are tolerant if not actively complicit in this foolery today is a painful question to ask.<span> </span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The habit of categorising radical Islamist groups and their ideology as &ldquo;fascist&rdquo; is unnecessary as well as careless, since the many differences with that European model make the comparison redundant. It does not need slogans to understand that the Islamist programme, ideology and record are diametrically opposed to the left &ndash; that is, the left that has existed on the principles founded on and descended from classical socialism, the Enlightenment, the values of the revolutions of 1798 and 1848, and generations of experience. The modern embodiments of this left have no need of the &ldquo;false consciousness&rdquo; that drives so many so-called leftists into the arms of <em>jihadis</em>.<span> </span></span></p> Globalisation global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright Wed, 06 Apr 2011 15:57:00 +0000 Fred Halliday 3886 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Yemen: travails of unity https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity <p> Yemen is in the news, and for all the wrong reasons. A spate of kidnappings and killings of foreign tourists and aid workers in the first months of 2009 has highlighted the dangers of a country whose people are renowned for their hospitality. The murder of a group of foreigners, including two German nurses and a South Korean teacher, in the northeast of the country in mid-June 2009 is but one <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-yemen16-2009jun16,0,6835423.story">example</a> of a chain of events designed to foment discord, hatred and alienation from this beautiful land. But such incidents, heartbreaking as they are for the families and friends of those affected, are also symptoms of a deeper disorder in Yemen&#39;s polity and society. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. He was formerly professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. He is a widely known and authoritative analyst of middle-eastern affairs who appears regularly on the BBC, ABC, al-Jazeera television, CBC and Irish radio. <br /> <br /> Among his many books are <br /> <br /> <em><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0521597412?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=0521597412">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a> </em>; <br /> <br /> <em><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0863565298?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=opendemocra0e-21&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=19450&amp;creativeASIN=0863565298">100 Myths about the Middle East</a></em> <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-irandemocracy/iran_matter_4396.jsp">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (13 October 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot; (4 December 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-greater-middle-east-obama-s-six-problems">The greater middle east: Obama&#39;s six problems</a>&quot; (21 January 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">Iran&#39;s revolution in global history</a>&quot; (2 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iraq-in-the-balance">Iraq in the balance</a>&quot; (26 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-dominican-republic-a-time-of-ghosts">The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts</a>&quot; (23 April 2009)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-votes-evolution-in-revolution">Iran&#39;s evolution and Islam&#39;s Berlusconi</a>&quot; (9 June 2009)</span> </p> <p> Yemen is often the source of exotic or disconcerting news, but current trends are especially worrying. The news is bad for the stability and security of the region in which <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/atlas_middle_east/yemen_map.jpg">Yemen</a> is located; for the broader regional conflict between radical-terroristic Islamism and its opponents; and, most of all, for the approximately 20 million <a href="http://204.200.209.171/y-profile.php">long-suffering</a> people of the country itself.  </p> <p> At a time when Yemen&#39;s oil revenues, never large (at most 400,000 barrels a day), have started to decline, when tourism has all but come to a halt, and when a zone of insecurity reigns in the waters of Aden and in neighbouring Somalia, mass protests have broken out in the southern part of the country. In the port of Aden demonstrators have been killed, newspaper offices occupied by the army and closed. In the far north of the country, around Sada, a tribal insurrection, led by <a href="http://www.almotamar.net/en/6340.htm">elements</a> of the al-Huthi family, continues. In a country where political statements are usually chloroformed in formal terminology, a tone of palpable <a href="http://www.sabanews.net/en/news188182.htm">alarm</a> can be heard.  </p> <p> <strong>The crisis</strong>  </p> <p> The presidential adviser and former leader of the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (Flosy), the pro-Egyptian nationalist <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/yemen.htm">movement</a> against the British in Aden, Mohammad Basendwah, has declared that the country is now in the most serious crisis he has ever seen. This is a serious warning to the political leaders of Yemen and to their opponents - coming as it does , from a man who has seen a protracted war in the north in the <a href="http://www.globalintegrity.org/reports/2006/YEMEN/timeline.cfm%20">1960s</a>; years of guerrilla war against the British in the south; and two wars between independent Yemeni states and the inter-Yemeni civil war of 1994.   </p> <p> Meanwhile Sheikh Hamad al-Ahmar, son of the once powerful tribal leader Abdullah al-Ahmar (who, as I learned when I visited him in 1992, had a house in Sana&#39;a that included a private jail in the basement) has called on behalf of the united opposition forces for a change of policy and recognition of the seriousness of the situation. Among his associates are the Yemeni Socialist Party, former rulers of the pro-Soviet south. Al-Ahmar and others are now calling for the return from exile of YSP leaders who fled the <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/yemen.htm">country</a> after the north-south civil war of 1994, in which the north vanquished the south. Chief among these is Ali al-Bid, former secretary-general of the YSP, who has lived, almost incommunicado, in Muscat since that time.  </p> <p> The roots of this crisis lie in the flawed <a href="http://www.arab.de/arabinfo/yemenhis.htm">unification</a> of two separate Yemeni states in May 1990, of what were formerly the Yemeni Arabic Republic in the north, and the People&#39;s Democratic Republic of Yemen (<a href="http://www.terra.es/personal2/monolith/yemensou.htm">PDRY</a>), in the south. No unification is easy - as the histories of Germany, Italy and the United States remind us - but this one was exceptionally badly planned and executed.  </p> <p> No one who knew Yemen in the 1970s and 1980s, as I did, could doubt the deep commitment to unity which nearly all Yemenis, ordinary people and intellectuals alike, felt (see <em><a href="http://www.merip.org/mer/mer204/halliday.htm">Arabia without Sultans</a></em> [Penguin, 1974]. The sense of historic and cultural unity, fragmented in the early 18th century, was compounded by a belief that, once united, the Yemenis would be able to face up to their greatest enemies, the Saudis, and reclaim their rightful place as, with Egypt, the most <a href="http://www.ashtal.com/history.html">ancient</a> of Arab lands.  </p> <p> <strong>The tunnel</strong>  </p> <p> There were two decades of rivalry between the two Yemeni regimes, with their respective capitals in Sana&#39;a and Aden. These included two wars in which one state tried by force to impose their own conception of &quot;unity&quot; on the other - the north invading the south in 1972, with support from Libya and Saudi Arabia; the south invading the north in 1979. Then, in the late 1980s, a gradual rapprochement took place. A number of factors - the lessening of Soviet support to the south under Mikhail Gorbachev, the exhaustion of the PDRY&#39;s experiment in Soviet-style socialism, and the prospect of oil revenues that would boost the economy of both - led the two presidents (<a href="http://www.presidentsaleh.gov.ye/shownews.php?lng=en&amp;_newsctgry=2">Ali Abdullah al-Saleh</a> and Ali al-Bid) to commit to unity in May 1990.  </p> <p> The unification process was flawed from the start. The decision to go for unity, and within a matter of months, was taken spontaneously by the two leaders (it is said) while they were being driven through a tunnel in Aden - the whole thing without the consent of many of their advisers or any serious thought to implementation. External factors may also have played a part. The respective sides received a green light from Riyadh and Washington (for Sana&#39;a) and Moscow (for Aden), and the two leaders were also greatly encouraged by Iraq; Saddam Husssein, at that time recovering from the war with Iran which ended in August 1988, and looking to build a broad anti-Saudi and anti-Egyptian alliance provided political and (perhaps) some financial support to the two leaderships. </p> <p> The full import of the Iraqi support for a united - and, implicitly, anti-Saudi Yemen - only became clear some months later, with the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. This provoked a major crisis for Yemen: hundreds of thousands of Yemenis were summarily expelled by Saudi Arabia, which (like Washington) cut off all aid to Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemen was also, to its misfortune, in the international limelight since at the time it held a seat on the United Nations Security Council: in the figure of its long-standing representative, Abdullah al-Ashtal, it abstained in the crucial vote on armed action against Iraq, and in so doing incurred the wrath of the United States (see Paul Dresch, <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=052179482X">A History of Modern Yemen</a></em> [Cambridge University Press, 2001]).  </p> <p> <strong>The spiral</strong>  </p> <p> The years that followed only served further to sour the initial and genuine popular enthusiasm of May 1990. The northern elite around <a href="http://www.presidentsaleh.gov.ye/index.php?lng=en">Ali Abdullah Saleh</a> saw unification as an opportunity to take hold of the resources of the south - oil revenues, British colonial villas in Aden, local trade. The negotiated merger of 1990 soon gave way to conflict, and in May 1994 the president launched a war to destroy the military and political presence of the YSP in the south. The &quot;seventy-day war&quot; ended with the occupation and pillage of Aden in July 1994, as the northern army used its superior weapons and numbers, the benefit of surprise and (not least) the support of Islamist militia forces linked to al-Qaida to win a decisive victory.   </p> <p> The story since then has been one of increased <a href="http://www.merip.org/mero/mero040306.html">tension</a> and mutual resentment between the two former states. Some measures have been taken to disguise this process: a few members of the southern political and military leadership were incorporate into the northern state; periodic, but in effect meaningless, elections were held for parliament and the presidency; gestures of reconciliation and political reform were made to assuage credulous western governments and NGOs. In the south, however, these meant little: southerners came increasingly to resent northern intrusion, referring to northerners as <em>atrak </em>(Turks), a reference to the Ottoman occupation of the 19th century, and as <em>dahbashah </em>(the name of a criminal family in a TV series).  </p> <p> Yemeni regime spokesmen are these days blaming foreigners and enemies of Yemen for the crisis. But the main responsibility for this <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/world/middleeast/23yemen.html">conflict</a> - and for the squandering of what was, in its inception, an important and positive unificatory initative - must lie with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, his close associates and his relatives. &quot;Abu Ahmad&quot;, the architect of Yemeni unity, has also been the person who has done more than anyone else to destroy it.  </p> <p> In an article for <strong>openDemocracy</strong> published to mark the inauguration of Barack Obama, I sketched six countries in the middle east where he might face difficulties in the months ahead (see &quot;&quot;<a href="/article/the-greater-middle-east-obama-s-six-problems">The greater middle east: Obama&#39;s six problems</a>&quot;, 21 January 2009). The article concluded:  </p> <p> &quot;The sixth state is one often pushed nervously to the periphery of vision, namely <a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen</a><strong>. </strong>The economic and political situation of a people that composes half of the whole population of the Arabian peninsula - and who are proud to call themselves <em>al ‘arab al asliin</em> (the ‘original‘ or ‘true‘ Arabs) - is deterioriating. The grip of their president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is weakening as oil revenues diminish and violence and discontent spread across the <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/atlas_middle_east/yemen_map.jpg">land</a>.  </p> <p> Barack Obama - and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton - may at present think that they have no reason to think about Yemen. But it has held surprises before: for its Arab neighbours, for <a href="http://www.al-bab.com/yemen/cole1.htm">America</a>, and for the world. It may well do again.&quot;  </p> <p> Indeed, it has. Yemen is in trouble, and needs the world&#39;s constructive and engaged attention as never before. </p> Conflict Globalisation global politics conflicts middle east Fred Halliday Original Copyright email Tue, 05 Apr 2011 12:54:39 +0000 Fred Halliday 48296 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Libya’s regime at 40: a state of kleptocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/libya-s-regime-at-40-a-state-of-kleptocracy <p> The fortieth anniversary of the Libyan &quot;revolution&quot; of 1969 - more accurately a <em>coup d&#39;etat </em>by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and some of his associates and relatives - brings to mind a conversation I had just after that event with a friend who was (and remains) a senior Algerian diplomat. The Algerian government had been as surprised and bemused as any other about the emergence of this bizarre, radical and eccentric regime in a fellow north African state. The then Algerian president, <a href="http://rulers.org/indexb4.html#boume">Houari Boumedienne</a>, had asked my friend to visit Tripoli and assess the new leadership there. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. He was formerly professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. He is a widely known and authoritative analyst of middle-eastern affairs, he appears regularly on the BBC, ABC, al-Jazeera television, CBC and Irish radio. Among his many books are <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a></em> (2005) and <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1">100 Myths about the Middle East</a></em> (2005) <br /> <br /> Among Fred Halliday&#39;s columns in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>: <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-irandemocracy/iran_matter_4396.jsp">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Sovereign Wealth Funds: power vs principle</a>&quot; (4 March 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (13 May 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (26 August 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (15 October 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot; (4 December 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-greater-middle-east-obama-s-six-problems">The greater middle east: Obama&#39;s six problems</a>&quot; (21 January 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">Iran&#39;s revolution in global history</a>&quot; (5 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iraq-in-the-balance">Iraq in the balance</a>&quot; (26 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-dominican-republic-a-time-of-ghosts">The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts</a>&quot; (23 April 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-votes-evolution-in-revolution">Iran&#39;s evolution and Islam&#39;s Berlusconi</a>&quot; (9 June 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity">Yemen: travails of unity</a>&quot; (3 July 2009) <br /> <br /> <a href="/article/iran-s-tide-of-history-counter-revolution-and-after">&quot;Iran&#39;s tide of history: counter-revolution and after</a>&quot; (17 July 2009)</span>When my friend&#39;s mission was completed, I asked him how he had found the Libyan leaders, who at the time included Major Abdessalem Jalloud, a long-term ally of Gaddafi (who was eventually, in 1993, excluded from power after an alleged coup attempt) as well as the colonel himself. The Algerian diplomat‘s response, in elegant French, was unforgettable: <em>Ils ont un niveau intellectuel plutôt modeste. </em>In more Anglo-Saxon terms, they were pretty stupid. </p> <p> <strong>A state of misrule</strong> </p> <p> There are many ways to enter the strange story of <em>al-Jamahiriya </em>(&quot;the state of the masses&quot;), whose originating event was marked on 1 September 2009 by a spectacular celebration in Tripoli <a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6817840.ece">filled</a> with extravagant stage-management and kitsch special-effects. The event was seen in much of the world outside Libya against the background of the concurrent media and diplomatic controversy over the release from a Scottish jail on 20 August 2009 of the only person convicted of any part in the Pan-Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie in December 1998, <a href="http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2009/08/2009819143226391461.html">Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi</a> (who, incidentally, belongs to an influential branch of the Magariha tribe, which links him to Major Jelloud).  As a result, the experience of these four decades in Libya&#39;s history - and their impact on the Arab world and beyond - has been somewhat overshadowed. A pity, for these offer some sobering lessons in the politics of illusion. </p> <p> Indeed, these forty years have done little - if anything - to invite any revision in the Algerian&#39;s judgement. True, Libya&#39;s maximum leader and his cohorts have throughout much of this period deluged the world with rhetoric about the country&#39;s supposed &quot;third way&quot; as codified in the colonel&#39;s two-volume <em>Green Book </em>(1976 and 1980) - a collection of platitudes that helped attract to Libya a similar breed of  leftist and &quot;third-worldist&quot; radicals as that which was seduced by Mao Zedong&#39;s &quot;red&quot; predecessor a decade earlier. The mutation in the state&#39;s official titles reflects its leaders&#39; evolving grandiosity: from the &quot;Libyan Arab Republic&quot; of 1969 to the eulogistic &quot;Socialist People&#39;s Libyan Arab <em>al-Jamahiriyah</em>&quot; of March 1977, further qualified as &quot;Great&quot; in April 1986. </p> <p> During these decades, the Libyan elite&#39;s vaunting <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/world/libya/mathaba.htm">ambition</a> led it to seek to establish leadership over the Arabs (before then shifting attention to Africa); it even for a time appeared to present a provocative and in part anti-clerical interpretation of Islam. </p> <p> There are many measures of the regime&#39;s failure. Its manipulations of language and its administrative incoherence are but two (interestingly paralleled by that far shorter-lived &quot;third-world&quot; experiment in making the world anew in the late 1970s, namely Pol Pot&#39;s Cambodia).   </p> <p> The first I witnessed during a visit to Tripoli in 2002, whose official programme inevitably included a visit to the &quot;<a href="http://ssgdoc.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/ssgfi/infodata/002797.html">World Centre for Green Book Studies</a>&quot; (though it was a pleasant surprise to find in a bookshop near my hotel that of the thirty-four translations of the book made available, the most prominently displayed were those in Hebrew and in Esperanto). <a href="http://rulers.org/indexq.html#qadda">Colonel Gaddafi</a> was so enamoured of the idea of &quot;green&quot; that  he even considered naming the main government building in Tripoli the &quot;Green House&quot;, until its English gardening connotations were pointed out.  More reminiscent of other revolutionary trajectories was his renaming of the months of the year (the Roman words being too reminiscent of the Italian imperial yoke), and his attempt to replace all English words by Arabic (even such good friends of the people as &quot;Johnny Walker&quot; [<em>Hanah Mashi</em>] and &quot;7 Up&quot; [<em>Saba&#39;a Fauq]. </em> </p> <p> The second measure, administrative chaos, has proved one of the most costly aspects of the Libyan revolution. Again, I recall during that 2002 visit being told in an embarrassed fashion by some officials and academics - those who did not engage in lengthy disquisitions on <em>The Green Book </em>- that their country had &quot;management problems&quot;. Between the lines, the reference to Gaddafi&#39;s style was unmistakeable. </p> <p> Many members of Libya&#39;s elite at the time were educated in the west (one professor reminisced fondly about a Durham pub); their knowledge of the world, and citizens&#39; access to Italian television, intensified the evidently widespread (if resigned) frustration. The chaotic management system then prevailing was revealed in the announcement that on a particular Sunday there would be a meeting of ministers, in effect a cabinet meeting: but since <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/libya.htm">Libya</a> officially has no capital city, no one knew where this would be held, and senior officials and their advisers spent hours driving around the desert from one place to another trying to find out where they were supposed to meet. </p> <p> <strong>A tight embrace</strong> </p> <p> <em>Al-Jamahiriya </em>has survived many periods of international tension and crisis - from the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/15/newsid_3975000/3975455.stm">bombing</a> by United States forces in April 1986 to the Lockerbie saga itself. Its rehabilitation by the international community came after 9/11, when Libya took a strong rhetorical stand away from its earlier use and endorsement of state terrorism; the process was reinforced when in a deal <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/envoy-of-death-brokered-deal-in-a-pall-mall-club-577450.html">agreed</a> in December 2003 led to it abandoning its effort to develop weapons of mass destruction. </p> <p> Since the early 2000s it has become common to argue that Libya is changing. Libya has for sure <a href="http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20090831/155974044.html">altered</a> its foreign-and defence-policy course: many countries do in the course even of a long period of rule by a single leader - even Joseph Stalin&#39;s Soviet Union or Kim Jong-il&#39;s North Korea, for example. But at home, and the regime&#39;s heart, the changes are cosmetic. </p> <p> Libya remains <a href="http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-70021-4/">controlled</a> by the whimsical leadership around Gaddafi. Arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and disappearance still take place; relatives or close colleagues, like Major Jalloud in the early days, come and go, as do supposedly &quot;modernising&quot; ministers. The junior members of the family, some perhaps well-intentioned, others perhaps self-deluded, play intermittent public roles, and command media and commercial attention abroad; but since there is no <a href="http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/ly00000_.html">constitutional</a> system, and since all information is speculative, no one - not even these younger members themselves - can say what it means. </p> <p> It can however be assumed that, as in other dictatorial regimes (not least in the middle east) the real power is held by those who less visible - above all those who control the intelligence services. Musa Kusa, the <a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6822673.ece">foreign minister</a> who spent fifteen years as head of Libya&#39;s secret service, probably has more influence than those associates of the regime who promote Libya&#39;s image abroad - even if his name is only rarely in the news. </p> <p> Moreover, it is clear is that for all the rhetoric about &quot;revolution&quot; and the &quot;state of the masses&quot; the Libyan leadership has <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/middleeast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14270103">squandered</a> much of the country&#39;s wealth twice over: on foolish projects at home and costly adventures abroad. Libya, with a <em>per capita </em>oil output roughly equal to that of Saudi Arabia, boasts few of the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/6146781/Middle-class-Libyans-turning-against-Gaddafis-foreign-spending.html">advances</a> - the urban and transport development,  educational and health facilities - that the oil-endowed Gulf states can claim. <a href="http://www.libyaonline.com/tourism/details.php?id=4">Tripoli</a>, the <em>de facto </em>capital, retains the impressive white buildings and squares of Italian colonial rule; but its <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/the-winners-and-losers-of-40-years-under-the-colonels-watchful-gaze-1782111.html">surface</a> charms notwithstanding, it is more the Arab equivalent of Havana than a <em>Maghrebi</em> version of Dubai or Doha. </p> <p> <a href="http://unimaps.com/libya/index.html">Libya</a> has not introduced significant changes to its political system, and especially not with regard to human rights or governance. The <em>Jamahiriyah</em> remains in 2009 one of the most dictatorial as well as opaque of Arab regimes. Its 6 million people enjoy no significant freedoms: the annual reports of <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/libya">Amnesty International</a> and <a href="http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/libya">Human Rights Watch</a>on Libya offer a glimpse of the real situation, one of continued and systematic abuse of human rights. Those who oppose the ideology of the Gaddafi revolution may, under Law 71, be <a href="http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/08/31/libya-mark-anniversary-restoring-rights">arrested</a> and even executed. There is not even the flicker of diversity found in such neighbouring dictatorships as Egypt or Sudan.  </p> <p> The exiled writer <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141027036,00.html">Hisham Matar</a> gives a flavour, via a <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/hisham-matar-i-just-want-to-know-what-happened-to-my-father-407444.html">description</a> of his father&#39;s incarceration: </p> <p> &quot;We were kept in this state of uncertainty for three years until one morning a letter, written in Father&#39;s careful handwriting, and smuggled from within the notorious political prison of Abu Sleem in Tripoli, was delivered to our home in the trembling hands of a young friend of Father&#39;s who had carried it across the border. When he entered our house he went over to the music system and turned up the volume. He embraced Mother and whispered in her ear. There was something white in his hand. I thought it was tissue paper. He pushed it into her palm, but then couldn&#39;t let go. They were both crying. </p> <p> The single sheet of paper was folded several times. It gave an uncompromisingly detailed account of what had happened to him since he had disappeared. Father had been taken from his home in Cairo by Egyptian secret service officers and delivered to the Libyan secret service. Izzat Youssef al-Maqrif, another Libyan dissident who was living then in Cairo, had been taken on the same day. Both men were bundled into a car. Yellowing newspapers had been papered across the windows. After a while the road surface became smooth and he began to hear a humming sound that grew louder as the car picked up speed. The car stopped and when the passenger door was flung open Father saw that he was under the giant belly of an aeroplane. Three hours later he was in Tripoli.&quot; </p> <p> <strong>A path of blood</strong> </p> <p> The improvement in Libya&#39;s international profile in recent years reflects the abandonment of the regime&#39;s nuclear-weapons programme and its policy of hunting down Libyan dissidents living abroad (including their kidnap and murder). But this regime has shown scant regret, and those who ordered such <a href="http://www.terrorismfiles.org/countries/libya.html">actions</a> as the shooting dead of the British policewoman <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/17/newsid_2488000/2488369.stm">Yvonne Fletcher</a> in central London in March 1984, the blowing up of passenger airlines, and the transfer of sophisticated weaponry and material to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) remain in power. The official response to the Lockerbie trial and al-Megrahi release reflects an attitude of mind that rejects real contrition or admission of responsibility. It still attempts to bully governments it has been in <a href="http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/front/Swiss_hostages_to_leave_Libya.html?siteSect=108&amp;sid=11122622&amp;cKey=1251445820000&amp;ty=st">disagreement</a> with, such as Switzerland. </p> <p> The prominent guests at the <a href="http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/09/2009911375446471.html">celebrations</a> of 1 September 2009 in Tripoli included Zimbabwe&#39;s Robert Mugabe and the International Criminal Court <a href="/node/48596/www.opendemocracy.net/article/sudan-the-icc-and-genocide-a-fateful-decision">(ICC)-indicted</a> Sudanese president. Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Another honoured invitee was Mohammad Abdi Hasan Hayr, the Somali fisherman believed to be a leader of the pirates operating off Africa‘s longest coastline. The character of Libya&#39;s friends in Europe tells its own tale: among them are Italy&#39;s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (a frequent visitor) and the country&#39;s former chief political <a href="http://www.esteri.it/MAE/EN/Ministero/IL_MAE/Ministri_Esteri/Giulio_Andreotti.htm">fixer</a> (and mafia <a href="/democracy-protest/prodi_centre_4389.jsp">collaborator</a>) Giulio Andreotti, who gave the Libyans advance warning of the American <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/el_dorado_canyon.htm">air-assault</a> of 1986. </p> <p> For my own part, I do not forget the fate of another indirect casualty of that event: my fellow student of Yemeni affairs, the British academic <a href="http://www.al-bab.com/bys/articles/douglas06.htm">Leigh Douglas</a>. He was kidnapped in Beirut (where he was teaching) in the aftermath of the American attack, together with his compatriot and colleague Philip Padfield. Both men were shot dead by their <a href="http://www.timpritchard.com/archives/98">captors</a>; a third, the United Nations journalist Alec Collett, was also murdered.  </p> <p> <strong>A regional wrecker</strong> </p> <p> The Beirut killings in 1986 are a reminder that the damage Libya&#39;s leadership has wrought over these forty years both goes wider and is closer to home than the western connections of Lockerbie, the IRA and (<a href="http://www.nps.edu/Library/Research/SubjectGuides/SpecialTopics/TerroristProfile/Current/ETA.html">reportedly</a>) the Basque paramilitary <a href="/article/eta-and-the-basque-labyrinth">group</a> ETA. For Libya&#39;s reputation among other Arab states and peoples is abysmal, if the state is not actually an object of contempt. </p> <p> It may be that for reasons of commerce or <em>Realpolitik</em>, western businessmen and politicians have come to take Libya more seriously than hitherto (even as the ranks of political fellow-travellers have migrated to the likes of <a href="/article/hugo-chavez-and-venezuela-a-leader-s-destiny">Venezuela</a> or even Iran); but I have never met anyone in the Arab world who has ever had any reason to. No wonder: Libya has over the years of Colonel Gaddafi&#39;s rule interfered in and helped worsen political situations in Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, <a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon</a>, and Palestine. </p> <p> In Lebanon, for example, it was the <a href="http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=1035">disappearance</a> (and presumed murder) of the Lebanese <em>Shi&#39;a</em> leader Musa Sadr during his visit to Libya in 1978 that opened the way to the rise of the <a href="/node/48596/www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/hizbollah_3757.jsp">Hizbollah</a> movement: I once endured a long rant from the then Libyan ambassador to Tehran, denouncing the <em>Shi&#39;a</em> as in effect accomplices of western imperialism. Yet Tripoli (perhaps out of resentment that Iran had displaced Libya as the patron of radicals in the country) has also long championed chauvinist anti-Iranian and anti-<em>Shi&#39;a </em>rhetoric. </p> <p> In Yemen, I can testify to Libya&#39;s destructive influence in the 1970s and 1980s: inciting a war between North Yemen and South Yemen in 1972, then promising large-scale aid to the south&#39;s leftwing regime in the 1980s, only to cut off this aid abruptly when the Yemenis <a href="/node/48596/www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity">disagreed</a> with Libya over events in Ethiopia. In Aden, one of the most visible sights in the early 1980s was the shell of the unfinished Libyan hospital in Khormaksar - its funding stopped from one day to the other. </p> <p> In Palestine too, Libya has been a wrecker. It long fomented division within the Palestinian nationalist movement, at one time backing the Abu Nidal faction that sought to assassinate Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) officials who negotiated with Israel. Libya has continued to express extreme anti-Israeli views: its official position is that Israel should be merged into a single state, <em>Isratina</em>, an innovative way of proposing the state&#39;s elimination. On the eve of the fortieth anniversary celebrations, Colonel Gaddafi even <a href="http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/08/2009831175324912159.html">told</a> a meeting of African Union leaders on the eve of the anniversary celebrations that Israel was responsible for many of the conflicts and problems in the continent. </p> <p> <strong>An end to fantasy </strong> </p> <p> Libya is far from the most brutal <a href="http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-70021-4/">regime</a> in the world, or even the region: it has less blood on its hands than (for example) Sudan, Iraq, and Syria. But <em>al-Jamahiriyah</em> remains a grotesque entity. In its way it resembles a protection-racket run by a family group and its associates who wrested control of a state and its people by force and then ruled for forty years with no attempt to secure popular legitimation. </p> <p> The outside world may be compelled by <a href="http://www.north-africa.com/naj_news/news_na/1septtwo09.html">considerations</a> of security, energy and investment to deal with this state. But there is no reason to indulge the fantasies that are constantly promoted about its political and social character, within the country and abroad. <em>Al-Jamahiriyah</em> is not a &quot;state of the masses&quot;: it is a state of robbers, in formal terms a kleptocracy. The Libyan people have for far too long been denied the right to choose their own leaders and political system - and to benefit from their country&#39;s wealth via oil-and-gas deals of the kind the west is now so keen to promote. The sooner the form of rule they endure is consigned to the past, the better. </p> Conflict institutions & government democracy & power conflicts middle east Violent transitions Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal email Mon, 07 Mar 2011 15:19:56 +0000 Fred Halliday 48596 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Memorandum to the London School of Economics Council warning it not to accept a grant from the Qaddafi Foundation https://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/memorandum-to-lse-council-on-accepting-grant-from-qaddafi-foundation <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Fred Halliday (1946-2010), openDemocracy author and Director-Designate of the LSE Middle East Centre, 2006-2008, did not want the LSE to accept a £1.5m grant. He wrote this memo to the University's governing body in October 2009 to try to convince them to give up the money. </div> </div> </div> <p><em>The issue of the London School of Economics' links to Libya has received a lot of coverage in the UK and some of the world's press. Various decisions have led to the resignation of its Director Sir Howard Davies. There has also been strong <a href="http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/perils-of-public-intellectualizing/32610">intellectual criticism</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;of his predecessor as Director, Tony Giddens, now a 'Lord Professor', for meeting Colonel Gaddafi, and his <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/mar/09/comment.libya%20">measured encomium</a> of him as a fellow progressive whose 'Green Book' could be considered as a clumsy but promising effort to embrace the insights of Giddens and Blair's own 'Third Way'.</em></p><p><em>Within the School one voice, that of Fred Halliday, consistently argued against the LSE being drawn by the lure of Libyan gold into being positioned into a formal relationship with the regime - while always seeking to exercise academic and scholarly assistance to those governed by it. In various ways Halliday's consistent opposition has been denied or misrepresented, while other reports have quoted selectively from the memo he submitted to the <a href="http://www2.lse.ac.uk/intranet/directoriesAndMaps/committeesAndWorkingGroups/council/membership.aspx">Council</a> of the LSE on October 4th 2009 when it made its final consideration on whether to approve the £1.5 million grant from the Qaddafi Foundation.</em></p><p><em>As Fred Halliday was a long-time and now much missed columnist for openDemocracy, whose collection of his columns <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863564611&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=8&amp;dc=12">Political Journeys</a> is about to be published by Saqi books, we publish his memo below in full.</em></p><h3><strong>Memorandum to LSE Council</strong></h3><div lang="EN-US"><div><div><strong><span><span>LSE and the Qaddafi Foundation: a Dissenting Note</span></span></strong></div><div><strong><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></strong></div><ol><li><span><span>As senior academic and administrative colleagues are aware, I have, since visiting Libya in 2002 as part of a British Council delegation, had serious misgivings about some of the School’s dealings with that country. These I have expressed on numerous occasions, in writing and verbally, to senior colleagues. While I am in favour of British government and business attempts to develop links with Libya, and support LSE work that is of a consultancy and advisory character, and while encouraging personal contact with whatever Libyan officials we meet, I have repeatedly expressed reservations about formal educational and funding links with that country. Most recently, upon hearing that Council had approved a grant of £1.5m. from the Qaddafi Foundation, and prior to the signature of the agreement between the School and the QF,&nbsp; I wrote to senior administrative staff (the Director, Pro-Director for Research and External Relations) and to Professor David Held, the leading proponent of our accepting this grant, expressing my misgivings. Subsequently, on September 8, I had an extensive meeting with Professor Held, and with two officials of ODAR, at which our disagreements were aired. The following is a summary of my main concerns, ones anterior to, but reinforced by, developments over the summer in regard to the Lockerbie affair. I understand, indeed, that Council is intending to re-examine this matter, and hope that the following comments will be off assistance in that regard.<br /><br /></span></span></li><li><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span><span><span>Major Concerns</span></span></li></ol><div><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></div><div><span><span>On the basis of the documents and conversations I have had with School officials about this matter, I would wish to register the following reservations about acceptance of the Qaddafi Foundation donation:</span></span></div><div><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></div><div><span><span><span>(i)<span><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></span></span></span></span></span><span>While it is formally the case that the QF is not part of the Libyan state, and is registered in Switzerland as an NGO, this is, in all practical senses, a legal fiction. The monies paid into the QF come from foreign businesses wishing to do business, i.e. receive contracts, for work in Libya, most evidently in the oil and gas industries. These monies are, in effect, a form of down payment, indeed of taxation, paid to the Libyan state, in anticipation of the award of contracts. The funds of the QF are, for this reason, to all intents and purposes, part of the Libyan state budget. ‘NGO status’, and recognition of such by UN bodies, means, in real terms, absolutely nothing. Mention has been made, in verbal and written submissions to the School and in correspondence to myself, of the membership of the QF’s advisory board: a somewhat closer examination of the most prominent politicians involved, and of their reputations and business dealings, should also give cause for some concern.</span></div><div><span><span><span>(ii)<span><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></span></span></span></span></span><span>That the President of the QF, and its effective director, is himself the son of the ruler, and, for all the informality of the Libyan political system (even the ‘Leader’, Colonel Qaddafi, has no formal position), in effect a senior official of that regime, confirms this analysis. In Arab states many of the most important positions have no official title, and kinship, and informal links, are more important than state function – and this, above all, in Libya.</span></div><div><span><span><span>(iii)<span><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></span></span></span></span></span><span>Much is made by supporters of the QF grant of the fact that Libya is changing internally. This may or may not be the case – it is simply much too early to say. Certainly, the overwhelming balance of informed press conference, and the reports of human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, is that while some of the worst excesses have, for the moment ceased, Libya has made no significant progress in protecting the rights of citizens, or migrant workers and refugees, and remains a country run by a secretive, erratic and corrupt elite. Perhaps part of the problem here is a misunderstanding by colleagues of the role of the ‘liberal’ wing within such states. It is not a question of whether or not they are ‘sincere’ – they may well be – but of what their function is: in Libya, as in such states as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran the primary function of such liberal elements is not to produce change, but to reach compromises with internal hard-liners that serve to lessen external pressure. So it has been, since 2002, with the various Libyan initiatives affecting LSE and the UK/US foreign policy establishment in general.</span></div><div><span><span><span>(iv)<span><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></span></span></span></span></span><span>Much is made of Libya’s altered position in international relations. For sure, and for reasons of its own, the Libyan government has, above all since 9/11, negotiated compromises with the west on a number of issues, notably Lockerbie and nuclear weapons. Its leaders have met a number of politicians and diplomats from foreign countries. This is all to the good. But it is worth being cautious here. First, because tactical changes in foreign policy are not, for the purposes of evaluating political and academic links, sufficient. Secondly, because, although in some areas of foreign policy the country has changed, in others it has not: it continues to call for solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute that in effect, involves the abolition of both the Israeli and Palestinian states; it is using its money and influence to provoke extremism in southern Africa; its leader has recently called for the abolition of a sovereign European state – Switzerland. Among the guests of honour at the 1 September 2009 celebrations in Tripoli was the leader of the Somali pirates, operating and menacing international shipping in the Horn of Africa. I will not dwell here on the summer’s events surrounding Lockerbie: suffice it to say that Libya’s handling of this has not been characterised by either consistency or clarity.</span></div><div><span><span><span>(v)<span><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></span></span></span></span></span><span>The most important issue of all is that of reputational risk to LSE. I have myself defended acceptance by the School of grants from some authoritarian countries (e.g. Arab Gulf states): but there should be clear limits on this, depending on the degree of political and human rights abuses perpetrated with them and on their ongoing foreign policy conduct. Here I would draw attention not just to the prevailing consensus in Whitehall and the City, which are now happy, for their own legitimate reasons, to do business with Libya, but to broader reputational concerns in regard to British and American public opinion, particularly with regard to Lockerbie. For these and other reason the same concern applies across the Middle East, in the Arab world as much as in Israel, where reserve about this state, and about its more prominent ‘liberal’ representatives, remains high. And for good reason. The most restrained reaction I have had from alumni now occupying positions of responsibility in the Middle East is that it is far too early for the School to take this step. For this reason, and taking into account the other factors mentioned above, I welcome Council’s decision to re-examine this matter.</span></div></div></div><p><span><em><span><span>Professor Fred Halliday, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, LSE; Academic Governor 1994-1998; Founding Chairman of Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE 2001-2002; Director-Designate, LSE Middle East Centre, 2006-2008.</span></span></em></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/libya-s-regime-at-40-a-state-of-kleptocracy">Libya’s regime at 40: a state of kleptocracy </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/david-hayes/fred-halliday-1946-2010-tribute-0">Fred Halliday, 1946-2010: a tribute</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/fred-halliday-1946-%E2%80%93-2010">Tributes to Fred Halliday 1946 – 2010</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> uk openEconomy uk London England International politics LSE Libya Students and Higher Education Fred Halliday Sun, 06 Mar 2011 23:07:41 +0000 Fred Halliday 58400 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Barcelona i Catalunya: the real thing https://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/barcelona-catalonia-real-thing <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The scholar of world politics and openDemocracy columnist Fred Halliday lived and worked in - and fell in love with - Barcelona. In a warm essay written five months before he died on 26 April 2010, Fred celebrates the home of his last years.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A short while ago, I was invited by the veteran presenter and journalist, Josep Cuní to appear in a debate on Catalonia's TV3<em>. </em>The topic, occasioned by controversy about hostile coverage in the British journal the<em> Economist, </em>was the international image of the country; and in particular what Catalonia, and the Catalan government, could do to improve this situation. By dint of my having lived and worked much of the past five years in Barcelona, and of intending to continue to do so - and also because, while speaking Spanish, I can understand discussion in Catalan - I was invited to take part.</p> <p>A lively, perhaps somewhat <em>fauviste,</em> discussion soon followed: <a href="http://www.pilarrahola.com/3_0/PRESENTACIO/default.cfm">Pilar Rahola</a>, dressed in a suit with large tiger-skin lapels, and someone with whom I came immediately to feel a certain affinity, was in characteristic form, denouncing Catalan politicians for wasting money on “embassies” in foreign cities, while other, wiser representatives of Catalan <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/European/Spain/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780195327977">culture</a>, business and journalism, offered their thoughts. With much of what they said I was in agreement; above all the insistence of one participant, a philologist, that “Refusal to learn the language of another people is an insult to them”.</p> <h3><strong>Catalonia’s heart</strong></h3> <p>My own contribution to the debate<em> </em>involved three main points. First, that while in the Catalan debate words and tempers can become heated, Catalans should not overreact to the<em> Economist </em>article, parts of which were inaccurate but other parts (in English terms) “fair comment”. In general, I suggested, it is a mistake for peoples, however strong their national pride, to become too agitated by chance observations made about them. Instead, I suggested, they should take note of the remark by Mahatma Gandhi: “No one ever insulted me without first receiving my permission”.</p> <p>My second observation, and one that causes me as much embarrassment and irritation as it does to any Catalan, is that part of the responsibility for ignorance about <a href="http://www.fiveleaves.co.uk/catalonia.html">Catalonia</a>, and susceptibility to myths about the country, is the fault not of the Catalans but of foreigners: both those who do visit and write about the country, and those who don’t. Indeed, it is striking how in the past two centuries so few foreign writers or travellers, other than Latin Americans, ever came here, in comparison to France, Italy or Greece (or even, further afield, Egypt, Persia, India and China).&nbsp;</p> <p>Nor is it easy to see Barcelona through the lens of modern <a href="http://histories.cambridge.org/extract?id=chol9780521362894_CHOL9780521362894A032">history</a>: no guidebook on sale on the Ramblas will tell the visitor (or, for that matter, a local young person) where to find the monument erected (after the post-1975 <a href="../../../../../../../../article/democracy_power/politics_protest/governance_of_spain_between_rock_and_hard_place">transition</a>)&nbsp; to the <a href="http://www.shapesoftime.net/pages/viewpage.asp?uniqid=10658">International Brigades</a>. And when at last you do locate it, somewhat lost in the middle of a motorway in the northern hills (outside the Tunel de la Rovira, Rambla del Carmel), there is nothing on the sculpture to tell you what it commemorates - but only a quote, eloquent but unsourced, from <a href="http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/d/248/wwh.html"><em>La Pasionaria</em></a>.</p> <p>Third, I suggested that one thing which could help to promote knowledge of Catalonia abroad would be a different literary and cultural <a href="http://w3.bcn.es/V54/Home/V54XMLHomeLinkPl/0,4152,124044670_124048611_2,00.html">image</a>. Of Barcelona, two such images are readily available. The first is a composite of the foreign tourist, student and temporary visitor; of the Olympics and of Woody Allen; of a city of beaches, music, wonderful food, spectacular <a href="http://www.actar-d.com/index.php?option=com_dbquery&amp;task=ExecuteQuery&amp;qid=1&amp;idllibre=4677&amp;lang=en">architecture</a>, of <em>clubs </em>and <em>botellón - </em>for sure one of the most interesting and stimulating (in my view <em>the </em>most) cities in the world, unique in the combination of culture, sea, sun, beauty and sheer <a href="http://www.barcelonametropolis.cat/en/page.asp?id=1">urban</a> exuberance.</p> <p>The second image is that of the capital city of <a href="http://www.en.mhcat.net/">Catalonia</a>, a product of the enormous political, economic and cultural changes of the past century or more, international in aspiration and in its receipt of tourists, but remarkably inward looking. Barcelona is proud of its achievements, but at times rather too closed to the outside world, and strangely negligent of those who visit and come to live in it. It is a city of bright colours but surprisingly introverted social and professional circles. The issue here is not that of the <a href="http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/Catalan/Catalan.html">Catalan language</a> - I enjoy the fact that I get up every morning and know I will have to work that day in three languages - but of a remarkably closed society, curiously deficient in the courtesies, inquisitiveness and practices of hospitality, individual and institutional, which are found in most other states and cultures around the world.</p> <p>Hence my suggestion on TV3<em>:</em> celebration of<em> </em>the new Barcelona of immigrants, technical change, cultural pluralism; in effect, and in the best sense of the word, “postmodern” (and thus necessarily “post-nationalist”). For this, Barcelona awaits its writer, a John Dos Passos, a James Joyce, a Salman Rushdie, a Walter Benjamin, a Herodotus, someone who can capture the many faces and sounds of this city in a kaleidoscopic portrait, at once true to its status as the capital of Catalonia and as one of the great world cities of the 21st century.</p> <h3><strong>Barcelona’s message</strong></h3> <p>This is the Barcelona, above all, that I have come to <a href="http://w20.bcn.cat:1100/GuiaMap/Default_en.aspx%23x=27601.01&amp;y=83987.71&amp;z=0&amp;c=&amp;w=940&amp;h=484">know</a> and to love in the past four years and more: the all-day and light-night vitality of my local café, <em>Tris i Tras, </em>in Plaça Molina; the chilled-out ambience of the <em>xiringuito</em>, <em>El Bierzo, </em>in the middle of the Nova Icaria beach; the Chilean waiter in Sant Gervasi who teaches me leftwing slogans in Mapuche justifying mass land-seizures; the Moroccan family I met on the beach at Barceloneta, who speak only Berber and Catalan; two Argentinean friends, expansive in their hospitality, who host me and my friends in their superchic cocktail-bar <em>Mama-Shake, </em>in Plaça Sant Cugat, one minute from the Santa Caterina market; my Australian co-author, long resident in Papua New Guinea, now a leading translator of Catalan literature, ensconced in her book-lined 18th-century flat in the Born, with the volumes of Joan Corominas as backdrop; my Icelandic designer friend, a formidable imbiber in her own right, who brings 40% proof liquor from her country; the Dominican hairdressers whose salon in Hospitalet is, on weekend afternoons, a social centre for the whole Latin American community, the sound of laughing women, <em>merengue </em>and <em>bachata </em>ringing forth; the Filipino waiter who, on advising me about the best meat dishes in his country, after indicating which can be taken with chicken, pork or beef, then whispers that, of course, the best is dog; my Catalan language teacher, a Palestinian from Los Angeles, whom I meet once a week for coffee and an exchange of linguistic and intercultural anecdotes; not least, my ever vivacious Cuban friend, who on her wedding-day declared to the guests that she was <em>casada pero no capada </em>(married but not neutered)<em>,</em> addressing me as <em>profesor gordo </em>(fat professor). And many more.</p> <p>Above all else, and to me the most universal, eternal and, in these precipitate 24/7 times most pertinent saying, is that philosophy of every Barcelona taxi-driver: <em>O se vive para trabajar, o se trabaja para vivir</em> (You either live to work, or work to live). This, more than any cascades of <em>cava</em>, baubles of Gaudi, or the forty-three varieties of <em>pa amb tomàquet</em>,<em> </em>is the message which Barcelona offers to the world. And, for which, many thanks.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.barcelonametropolis.cat/en/page.asp?id=1"><em>Barcelona Metropolis</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.en.mhcat.net/">Museum of the History of Catalonia </a></p><p>Michael Eaude, <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/European/Spain/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780195327977"><em>Catalonia, A Cultural History</em></a> (Oxford University Press, 2007 / <a href="http://www.fiveleaves.co.uk/catalonia.html">Five Leaves</a>, 2009)</p><p>Juan Goytisolo, <a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/ghij/g-titles/goytisolo_memoirs.shtml"><em>Forbidden Territory</em></a> (Verso, 2003)</p><p><a href="http://www.pilarrahola.com/3_0/PRESENTACIO/default.cfm">Pilar Rahola</a></p><p><a href="http://www.bcn.es/english/ihome.htm#serveis">Barcelona City Council</a></p><p>George Orwell, <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141911717,00.html"><em>Homage to Catalonia</em></a> (1937)</p><p>Robert Hughes, <a href="http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781426201318"><em>Barcelona: The Great Enchantress</em></a> (Random House, 2007)</p><p>John Payne, <a href="http://www.fiveleaves.co.uk/catalonia.html"><em>Catalonia</em></a> (Five Leaves, 2009)</p><p>Fred Halliday, <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths about the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Fred Halliday (1946-2010) was most recently <em>Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats</em> / Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (<a href="http://www.icrea.cat/web/home.aspx">ICREA</a>) research professor at the <em>Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals</em> (Barcelona Institute for International Studies / <a href="http://www.ibei.org/">IBEI</a>). He was from 1985-2008 professor of international relations at the London School of Economics (<a href="http://www2.lse.ac.uk/internationalRelations/Home.aspx">LSE</a>), and subsequently professor emeritus there<br /><br />Fred Halliday's many books include <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/index.asp?TAG=&amp;CID">Political Journeys: The openDemocracy Essays</a></em>&nbsp;(Saqi, 2011); <a href="http://www.sas.ac.uk/publication_view.html?id=726"><em><em>Caamaño</em></em><em>&nbsp;in London: the Exile of a Latin American Revolutionary</em></a>&nbsp;(Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2010); <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Terrorism%20armed%20struggle/Shocked%20and%20Awed%20How%20the%20War%20on%20Terror%20and%20Jihad%20Have%20Changed%20the%20English%20Language.aspx?menuitem=%7B5E667009-66A3-482D-B3BE-6BBF6F416DBC%7D"><em>Shocked and Awed: How the War on Terror and Jihad Have Changed the English Language</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2010); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths about the Middle East</em> </a>(Saqi, 2005); <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863563829&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=10&amp;dc=11"><em>Two Hours That Shook the World: September 11, 2001 - Causes and Consequences</em></a> (Saqi, 2001); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863560781&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=7&amp;dc=12"><em>Nation and Religion in the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2000); and <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?is=0333653297"><em>Revolutions and World Politics: The Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power</em> </a>(Palgrave Macmillan, 1999)</p><p>A version of this essay is also published in <a href="http://www.barcelonametropolis.cat/en/page.asp?id=1"><em>Barcelona Metropolis </em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/fred-halliday-1946-%E2%80%93-2010">Tributes to Fred Halliday 1946 – 2010</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/david-hayes/fred-halliday-1946-2010-tribute-0">Fred Halliday, 1946-2010: a tribute</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/eta">Eternal Euskadi, enduring ETA</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict/malvinas_ghosts_4591.jsp">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy/article_2092.jsp">The crisis of universalism: America and radical Islam after 9/11</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Looking back on Saddam Hussein</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/what-was-communism">What was communism? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fred-halliday/other-1989s">The other 1989s</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/globalization/spain_memory_3974.jsp">España: memory for the future</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Spain Culture International politics Globalisation global politics europe arts & cultures Fearless Cities Fred Halliday Spotlight on Spain and Catalonian independence Wed, 09 Jun 2010 21:37:41 +0000 Fred Halliday 54648 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fred Halliday https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/fred-halliday <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Fred Halliday </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Fred </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Halliday </div> </div> </div> <p>Fred Halliday (1946-2010) was most recently <em>Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats</em> / Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (<a href="http://www.icrea.cat/web/home.aspx">ICREA</a>) research professor at the <em>Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals</em> (Barcelona Institute for International Studies / <a href="http://www.ibei.org/">IBEI</a>). He was from 1985-2008 professor of international relations at the London School of Economics (<a href="http://www2.lse.ac.uk/internationalRelations/Home.aspx">LSE</a>), and subsequently professor emeritus there</p><p>Fred Halliday's many books include <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/index.asp?TAG=&amp;CID">Political Journeys: The openDemocracy Essays</a></em>&nbsp;(Saqi, 2011); <a href="http://www.sas.ac.uk/publication_view.html?id=726"><em><em>Caamaño</em></em><em>&nbsp;in London: the Exile of a Latin American Revolutionary</em></a>&nbsp;(Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2010); <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Terrorism%20armed%20struggle/Shocked%20and%20Awed%20How%20the%20War%20on%20Terror%20and%20Jihad%20Have%20Changed%20the%20English%20Language.aspx?menuitem=%7B5E667009-66A3-482D-B3BE-6BBF6F416DBC%7D"><em>Shocked and Awed: How the War on Terror and Jihad Have Changed the English Language</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2010); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths about the Middle East</em> </a>(Saqi, 2005); <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863563829&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=10&amp;dc=11"><em>Two Hours That Shook the World: September 11, 2001 - Causes and Consequences</em></a> (Saqi, 2001); <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863560781&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=7&amp;dc=12"><em>Nation and Religion in the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2000); and <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?is=0333653297"><em>Revolutions and World Politics: The Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power</em> </a>(Palgrave Macmillan, 1999)</p><p>Fred Halliday died in Barcelona on 26 April 2010; read the online tributes <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/fred-halliday-1946-%E2%80%93-2010">here</a></p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> &lt;p&gt;Fred Halliday (1946-2010) was most recently &lt;em&gt;Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats&lt;/em&gt; / Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (&lt;a href=http://www.icrea.cat/web/home.aspx&gt;ICREA&lt;/a&gt;) research professor at the &lt;em&gt;Institut Barcelona d&#039;Estudis Internacionals&lt;/em&gt; (Barcelona Institute for International Studies / &lt;a href=http://www.ibei.or&gt;IBEI&lt;/a&gt;). He was from 1985-2008 professor of international relations at the London School of Economics (&lt;a href=http://www2.lse.ac.uk/internationalRelations/Home.aspx&gt;LSE&lt;/a&gt;), and subsequently professor emeritus there&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt; Fred Halliday&#039;s many books include &lt;a href=http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863564611&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=fred&amp;m=10&amp;dc=16&gt;&lt;em&gt;Political Journeys: The openDemocracy Essays&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; (Saqi, 2011); &lt;a href=http://www.sas.ac.uk/publication_view.html?id=726&gt;&lt;em&gt;Caamaño in London: the Exile of a Latin American Revolutionary&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; (Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2010); &lt;a href=http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Terrorism%20armed%20struggle/Shocked%20and%20Awed%20How%20the%20War%20on%20Terror%20and%20Jihad%20Have%20Changed%20the%20English%20Language.aspx?menuitem={5E667009-66A3-482D-B3BE-6BBF6F416DBC}&gt;&lt;em&gt;Shocked and Awed: How the War on Terror and Jihad Have Changed the English Language&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; (IB Tauris, 2010); &lt;a href=http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11&gt;&lt;em&gt;100 Myths about the Middle East&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; (Saqi, 2005); &lt;a href=http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item1156171/?site_locale=en_GB&gt;&lt;em&gt;The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; (Cambridge University Press, 2005); &lt;a href=http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863563829&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=10&amp;dc=11&gt;&lt;em&gt;Two Hours That Shook the World: September 11, 2001 - Causes and Consequences&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; (Saqi, 2001); &lt;a href=http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863560781&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;m=7&amp;dc=12&gt;&lt;em&gt;Nation and Religion in the Middle East&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; (Saqi, 2000); and &lt;a href=http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?is=0333653297&gt;&lt;em&gt;Revolutions and World Politics: The Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999)&lt;/p&gt; </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Article license:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Copyright </div> </div> </div> Fred Halliday Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:12:11 +0000 Fred Halliday 50932 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The other 1989s https://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/other-1989s <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The great events in Europe in 1989 had a worldwide impact - and of a more destructive kind than is often acknowledged, says Fred Halliday. </div> </div> </div> <p>Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of eastern European communism, international commentary has focussed on what these events meant for the spread of democracy and the disintegration of the authoritarian regimes modelled on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Such attention is merited: 1989 marked not just the fall of half a dozen or so communist ruling parties, and the onset of the the Soviet Union's own <a href="http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&amp;SubjectID=1991end&amp;Year=1991&amp;navi=byYear">end</a> of two years later, but also a massive ideological shift in the world. The end of European communism marked the end of the cold war, but also of the sustained radical challenge to western liberal capitalism that had been a force in world affairs since the French revolution.</p> <p><span class="pullquote_new">Also in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> on 1989:<br /> <br /> Krzysztof Bobinski, "<a href="/article/the-polish-summer-1989-a-farewell-salute">The Polish summer, 1989: a farewell salute</a>" (2 June 2009)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday, "<a href="/article/what-was-communism">What was communism?</a>" (19 October 2009)<br /> <br /> Anthony Barnett, "<a href="/article/our-normal-revolutions-1989-and-change-in-our-time">Our normal revolutions: 1989 and change in our time</a>" (30 October 2009)<br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, "<a href="/article/poland/1989">1989: how it ended</a>" (4 November 2009)<br /> <br /> David Hayes, "<a href="/article/bulgaria/1989-moment-legacy-future">1989: moment, legacy, future</a>" (2 November 2009) - a symposium of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> writers, including Ivan Krastev, Adam Szostkiewicz, Emily Lau, Vladimir Tismaneanu, Rein Müllerson, and Takashi Inoguchi</span>It also marked a major change in international relations at a more regional and national level. For in a range of continents and countries, hitherto intractable solutions, generated or at least accentuated by the cold war, came to some kind of resolution: in Cambodia and East Timor, South Africa, Namibia and Angola, Iran and Iraq, <a href="/article/el-salvador-s-long-march">El Salvador</a> and <a href="/article/democray_power/politics_protest/guatemala">Guatemala</a> (to name but some), <a href="http://www.ena.lu/gorbachevs_reforms_soviet_union-020102252.html">Mikhail Gorbachev's</a> "new thinking", and an increased willingness of the United States to help broker deals, led to a wave of peace initiatives, many of which have lasted.</p> <p>However, as the world commemorates the democratic, east-central European 1989, and the peace agreements of what was then still widely known as the "third world", it is important to recall other transitions that coincided with these events and which <a href="http://louise%20fawcett%20and%20yezid%20sayigh/">followed</a>, as inexorably as the fall of the Berlin wall, from the collapse of Soviet power. Three of these, in particular, merit attention, for two reasons: by placing 1989 in a global perspective they force recognition of other, less liberal and less welcome, <a href="http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=1226">outcomes</a> of the Soviet retreat; and the consequences of these events are very much alive today.</p> <p><strong>A crisis of state</strong></p> <p>The first such process was the crisis of state power in a range of multinational countries. The breakdown of central authority, and the rise of nationalism in Europe and in parts of the "third world" associated with communism's demise, led in four countries to the very break-up of the state (and, in three of the four cases, to brutal and bloody wars). The four countries so affected were Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Ethiopia.</p> <p>In the Czechoslovak case, the divorce of the Czech Republic and of Slovakia, in January 1993, took place without a single shot being fired (see Abby Innes, <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300090635"><em>Czechoslovakia: The Short Goodbye</em></a> [Yale University Press, 2001]). The Slovaks wanted independence, the Czechs, somewhat reluctantly at first, agreed. ("We threw them out like an unwanted lover", the <a href="http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/en/about_the_ministry/minister/former_ministers/karel_schwarzenberg.html">Karel Schwarzenberg</a> (later foreign minister) flamboyantly told me. "We gave them some money to buy clothes, and, when they were out of the house, changed the locks and threw their clothes into the street".</p> <p>In the other three cases, a very different story prevailed. In the USSR, the finale of 1991 was not, in the main, caused by nationalist revolt or by overt and violent challenge to the communist state. There had been fighting in the south Caucasus, between Armenians and Azeris, since 1988, and fourteen Lithuanian citizens were killed in <a href="http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter/dba_intra.w5_show?p_r=4073&amp;p_k=2&amp;p_b=4030">January 1991</a>; but as a result of the restraint shown by Mikhail Gorbachev and the shrewd caution of the nationalists themselves, the USSR - in an example of peaceful imperial and state demise almost unique in history - disappeared almost without bloodshed. Overnight, and in some cases without much antecedent nationalist mobilisation, fifteen new post-Soviet states emerged.</p> <p>The consequences of independence were, however, not so benign. In the <a href="http://www.nyupress.org/books/Black_Garden-products_id-3613.html">Armenia-Azerbaijan</a> case, independence for both in late 1991 led to a bloody war that lasted to 1994, killed thousands of people and displaced up to 200,000 refugees, mainly Azeris. Elsewhere, in central Asia, new inter-regional and inter-clan wars broke out, most notably in <a href="/democracy-protest/tajikistan_4078.jsp">Tajikistan</a>, where a civil war lasted from 1992-97.</p> <p><span class="pullquote_new"> Fred Halliday is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. He was formerly professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. Among his many books are <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Middle-East-International-Relations-Contemporary/dp/0521597412/opendemocra0e-21"><em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a> (2005) and <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Myths-About-Middle-East/dp/0863565298/opendemocra0e-21"><em>100 Myths about the Middle East</em></a> (2005)<br /> <br /> Also by Fred Halliday in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Iran's revolutionary spasm</span>" (30 June 2005)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">The matter with Iran</span>" (1 March 2007)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">The mysteries of the US empire</span>" (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</span>" (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</span>" (4 March 2008)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</span>" (18 April 2008)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</span>" (9 May 2008)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">1968: the global legacy</span>" (11 June 2008)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">The miscalculation of small nations</span>" (24 August 2008)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Armenia's mixed messages</span>" (13 October 2008)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">The futures of Iraq</span>" (4 December 2008)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">The greater middle east: Obama's six problems</span>" (21 January 2009)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Iran's revolution in global history</span>" (2 March 2009)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Iraq in the balance</span>" (26 March 2009)<br /> <br /> "<span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts</span>" (23 April 2009)<br /> <br /> "<a href="/article/iran-votes-evolution-in-revolution">Iran's evolution and Islam's Berlusconi</a>" (9 June 2009)<br /> <br /> "<a href="/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity">Yemen: travails of unity</a>" (3 July 2009)<br /> <br /> "<a href="/article/what-was-communism">What was communism?</a>" (19 October 2009)</span>In the other two cases, the consequences were even worse. Yugoslavia had been a multi-ethnic state first formed <a href="/article/versailles-and-yugoslavia-ninety-years-on">after the 1914-18 war</a> and reconstituted by Tito in 1945; in the early 1990s a variety of short-sighted and callous nationalist politicians - prime among them <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300103174">Slobodan Milosevic</a> of Serbia, but abetted by Croat and Bosnian counterparts - drove the country into three years of war in which 200,000 died. The result was the fragmentation of the hitherto reasonably successful and decent post-socialist state of Yugoslavia and a cascade of hatred, petty-mindedness and ethno-stubbornness that still plagues the remnants of that country. The former Yugoslavia is now composed of six new states, of which only <a href="http://www.slovenia.si/slovenia_in_the_world/">Slovenia</a> can seriously be included among the democratic camp that emerged in central Europe in 1989.</p> <p>Often forgotten, but in the end most bloody of all, was the case of Ethiopia. Here there had been war for thirty years between the central government in Addis Ababa and the <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521473276">guerrillas</a> of Eritrea, a former Italian colony annexed by Ethiopia (with United Nations connivance) in 1952. The Eritrean guerrillas, on grounds of history, popular will and commitment to the cause had more than made the case for independence. And, when the regime of the former Soviet ally <a href="http://www.trial-ch.org/en/trial-watch/profile/db/facts/mengistu_haile-mariam_262.html">Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam</a> crumbled in 1991 - as an almost direct result of the suspension of Soviet arms-supplies - the new rulers of Ethiopia - born of a guerrilla movement the Eritreans had earlier supported - granted independence.</p> <p>However, the militaristic and chauvinist habits of the years of struggle inbred on both sides did not die. In 1998, following a squabble over some useless land along their border, the two states <a href="/democracy-africa_democracy/bitter_anniversary_4525.jsp">plunged</a> themselves into a border war in which an estimated hundred thousand people died. Today, the problem remains unresolved, and potentially explosive. Eritrea, a country that has seen more than its share of suffering, has the highest percentage of its population under arms of any in the world (see Selam Kidane, "<a href="/article/isaias-afewerki-and-eritrea-a-nation-s-tragedy">Isaias Afewerki and Eritrea: a nation's tragedy</a>", 22 June 2009).</p> <p><strong>A move to kleptocracy</strong></p> <p>The second major consequence of the collapse of communism, one masked by rhetoric about a "triumph of democracy", was the transformation of former communist parties into new, privatising ruling elites. The liberal-democratic pattern presaged in Berlin can now, twenty years on, be said to encompass some dozen European states (including the three <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300060782">Baltic countries</a>); but the transformed authoritarian model, where the old party leadership has held on to power, is more than twice that number: it encompasses twelve of the fifteen former Soviet republics (with Russia as the model leader), four states in east Asia (China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia), Cuba, and a range of former pro-Soviet (what in communist terminology were "socialist-oriented") states across the world.</p> <p>In some of the last category of states a semblance of former radical rhetoric can be detected (North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Nicaragua, joined by newcomer Venezuela); in others (Burma, Angola) no such pretence is sustained. What they have in common, however, is a transition that bears little relation to the democratic change associated with the European 1989; this coincides very little with the indulgent treatment many of these states have received from western governments, and too many academics, who view them through the prism of a "<a href="http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title%7Econtent=t713635808">transition</a>" process.</p> <p>There has indeed been a transition, but it is less towards liberal democracy than towards a political system based on corruption and embezzlement - in effect "kleptocracy". These are cases not of a "new politics" in central Europe but of a new, post-communist and in large measure post-ideological authoritarianism, in which the old elites retain power but in apparently transformed, or more accommodating, mode. Hence, in terms of numbers of states involved, let alone in terms of the populations these states control, the most important global political consequence of 1989 was the reconfiguration, amid often mendacious talk about free markets and free elections, of the old communist elites.</p> <p><strong>A time of anarchy</strong></p> <p>The third consequence of 1989 and of the associated demise of the USSR is the most ominous, and perhaps the least noticed. This is the collapse of state power and the advent of violence and anarchy to a swathe of countries (in central and west Asia, and in northwest and west Africa) where the cold war, and authoritarian socialist rule, had maintained some degree of order.</p> <p>The focus of western policy on Islamist terrorism, and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has led many to date these interrelated crises from 2001, and the 9/11 attacks. However, the crisis of state power, and the spread of Islamist, regional and tribal violence across this strategic belt goes back much further. This dissolution of state power is closely linked to the demise of Soviet influence and the breakdown of authoritarian, but in their way effective, state systems that Moscow had supported (see Odd Arne Westad, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521853644&amp;ss=fro"><em>The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times</em></a> [Cambridge University Press, 2007]).</p> <p>The Soviet withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in 1989, and, even more so, the suspension of Soviet aid to Kabul after the failed coup of August 1991, had momentous effects: the end of the communist regime of <a href="http://afghanland.com/history/najib.html">Mohammad Najibullah</a>, and then in 1996 the coming to power of the Taliban. The first Islamist attacks on New York were planned for <a href="http://www.adl.org/learn/jttf/wtcb_jttf.asp">1993</a>. In Yemen, the surrender of the former pro-Soviet regime in South Yemen to the North in a unity agreement of May 1990 (encouraged by Gorbachev) was followed by a civil war in 1994 that the North won; this paved the way for the upheavals that today make Yemen a semi-chaotic and violent state, riven by Islamist and other groups (see "<a href="/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity">Yemen: travails of unity</a>", 3 July 2009).</p> <p>Across the Red Sea in <a href="/democracy-africa_democracy/mogadishu_4507.jsp">Somalia</a>, it was the overthrow of formerly "socialist-oriented" dictator Siad Barre in 1991 which set the country on a <a href="/article/somalia-between-violence-and-hope">course</a> of internecine war and state disintegration. Such a degeneration is matched on the western side of the African continent where the state of <a href="/article/guinea-bissau-the-post-election-test-0">Guinea-Bissau</a>, the land of <a href="http://www.codesria.org/Links/conferences/cabral/biography.htm">Amilcar Cabral</a> and, in the 1970s, one of the most prominent cases of "African socialism" is now a major conduit for Latin American drugs being transported to Europe.</p> <p>The case of another former authoritarian state, Iraq, should also be recalled here. This too is a former "socialist-oriented" state that is now, as a result of a western military occupation that would have been inconceivable in the days of the cold war, a byword for violence and instability. The state was most certainly brutal and authoritarian, but a semblance of order and intercommunal peace prevailed (see "<a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Looking back on Saddam Hussein</a>", 7 January 2004).</p> <p>Moreover, the confrontation with the United States that exploded in the war of 2003 was a direct consequence of events at the end of the cold war: Saddam Hussein calculated, in the wake of the European communist implosion of 1989, that there would be pressure on him to reform and, to consolidate his position, invaded Kuwait a few months later, in August 1990. It was the strategic upheaval in Europe, and the end of constraints which the cold war had till then maintained on the Gulf region, that initiated Iraq's protracted, and ultimately fatal, confrontation with Washington (see "<a href="/node/1900">America and Arabia after Saddam</a>", 12 May 2004).</p> <p>All in all, the emergence, from central Asia to west Africa, of a range of violent and often anarchic states is to be counted among the consequences of the collapse of Soviet power. As with the other two strategic consequences mentioned, the fragmentation of formerly multiethnic states, and the transformation of communist elites into new kleptocracies, these processes too must be included in the balance-sheet of 1989. It is not, entirely, a happy picture.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/30398/description#description"><em>Communist and Post-Communist Studies </em></a></p><p>Odd Arne Westad, <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Global-Cold-War-Interventions-Making/dp/052170314X/opendemocra0e-21"><em>The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times </em></a>(Cambridge University Press, 2007)</p><p><a href="http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/">Making the History of 1989</a> (Centre for History and New Media)</p> <p><a href="http://www.goethe.de/ges/pok/dos/dos/mau/enindex.htm">1989 / 2009 - Goethe Institute </a></p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Fred Halliday Fri, 06 Nov 2009 16:43:08 +0000 Fred Halliday 48920 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What was communism? https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/what-was-communism <p> Few occasions are more propitious for forgetting the past than moments of historical commemoration. Amidst fond recollections of the fall of the Berlin wall, and in a time of, at least temporary, improvement in relations between Russia and the west, few may spare a thought for what it was that ended two decades ago. On two issues history has given its ultimate verdict: the cold war, the third and longest of the three chapters that made up the great global civil war of 1914-91, will not return; the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), as a multinational state and as a global ideological and strategic challenge to the west, is indeed dead. However, on a third component of this story - the worldwide communist movement - the verdict is, as yet, less clear. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is ICREA research professor at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. He was formerly professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. He is a widely known and authoritative analyst of middle-eastern affairs who appears regularly on the BBC, ABC, al-Jazeera television, CBC and Irish radio. Among his many books are <em>Revolution and World Politics: the Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power</em> (Palgrave, 1999), <em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em> (2005) and <em>100 Myths about the Middle East</em> (2005) <br /> <br /> This article is based on a more extended essay, “The Cold War: Lessons and Legacies”, to be published in <a href="http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0017-257x"><em>Government and Opposition</em></a> (December 2009-January 2010)</span>Communism, embodying the ideology and the social aspirations underlying the Soviet challenge, and the worldwide echo that <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/SERCOM.html">challenge</a> evoked remains to be interred. But to bury communism can only be done on the basis of recognising what it represented, why millions of people struggled for, and believed in, this ideal and what it was they were struggling against. It can also only be done when the legacy of this ideology and movement is assessed and not simply forgotten, or conveniently, and in violation of all historical evidence, dismissed as an &quot;illusion&quot;. </p> <p> Judging from the politics and intellectual debates of today, neither those who celebrate the end of communism, nor those who are now articulating a radical alternative, have carried out such an assessment: between (on one side) the still resilient complacency of market capitalism and an increasingly uncertain world of liberal democracy, and (on the other) the vacuous radicalisms that pose as a global alternative, the lessons of the communist past remain largely ignored. And so, as they say, they will be repeated.   </p> <p> <strong>A story foretold</strong> </p> <p> The question of what kind of political and social system <em>was </em>communism, too near to allow of an easy perspective, has occasioned several candidate explanations. These include, in summary terms: </p> <p> ▪ a dictatorial tendency whereby revolutionary elites seized control of societies </p> <p> ▪ a flawed movement for the self-emancipation of the working class </p> <p> ▪ an expression of messianism </p> <p> ▪ a product of oriental despotism </p> <p> ▪ a failed developmentalist project.   </p> <p> Communism embodied features of modern politics that should not be abandoned: a belief in mass participation in politics, a radical separation of religion and state, a promotion of the public, political and economic, role of women, hostility to inter-ethnic conflict, and an insistence on the need for the state to intervene in economic and social affairs. <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/SERSTA.html">Joseph Stalin</a> and <em>Gosplan </em>may have discredited a particular form of &quot;planning&quot;, but the general application of rational scientific, managerial and political thinking to human affairs, the better to manage the future, is an entirely legitimate and necessary aspiration, not least in an age of resource-depletion and looming ecological crisis. Communism had no monopoly on these ideas - any tough-minded liberal could have supported them - and the interpretation given to these values was authoritarian, bloody, in some cases criminal. This does not mean, however, that these goals, democratically and humanely conceived, are not necessary parts of a contemporary politics.   </p> <p> Yet it is essential to look, without ambiguity, at the failure of communism, and not avoid the issue that too many retrospective analyses have avoided: the fact that its failure was necessary, not contingent. This system, denying political democracy and based on the command economy, did not just fail because of a false policy here or there, let alone because classical Marxist theory was abandoned. As even sympathisers like <a href="http://www.rosalux.de/cms/index.php?id=4551">Rosa Luxemburg</a> realised in 1917 itself, it was bound from the beginning to fail.   </p> <p> It is common, and somewhat too easy, for defenders of Marxism in the contemporary world to argue that Marxist theory and communist practice were divergent, and that, hence, the theory bears no responsibility for the communist record. If by this question is meant whether another Marxism, a more liberal or &quot;genuine&quot; or &quot;democratic&quot; one, or, if you incline in the other direction, a more resolute, militant, disciplined one, could have prevented the collapse of the communist states then the answer is no.   </p> <p> There were certainly, throughout its seventy-year history, choices for the Soviet system: the &quot;new economic policy&quot; (NEP) could have been continued after 1928, there could have been a different trajectory in the middle 1930s if Stalin not Kirov had been assassinated, or <a href="http://www.marxists.org/glossary/people/b/u.htm#bukharin-nikolai">Nikolai Bukharin</a> had become party leader; if Nikita Khrushchev had not been ousted in 1964; if economic reform, of a kind Mikhail Gorbachev was to attempt <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Politics/ComparativePolitics/RussiaFormerSovietUnion/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780199282159&amp;view=usa">after</a> 1985, might have begun twenty years earlier. And so on. </p> <p> As for the final period, the Soviet system could certainly have continued for another generation, if another Soviet leader, a conservative like Grigory Romanov or Viktor Grishin, had come to power in March 1985 instead of Gorbachev. But, in the longer run, neither prevailing Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU) ideology, nor (in my view) any variant of the Marxist tradition remotely related to 1917, could have saved, let alone developed that regime. It had reached a dead <a href="http://www.oup.com/uk/orc/bin/9780198781646/01student/maps/break_up_USSR.jpg">end</a>; but that aporia, although contingent in timing and form, was inevitable sooner or later.   </p> <p> <strong>A force in its time</strong> </p> <p> The revolutionary-socialist movement was not, however, some mistake, some aberrant illusion: it was at once a global movement of collective purposive action, across all continents, and a product of the structural tensions within the development of capitalism over the past two centuries. It is therefore pointless to begin a critique of it by seeing it as something that could, in its negative and positive features, have been avoided - or as, neo-liberal orthodoxy would claim, something that was <em>just</em> some historical illusion. </p> <p> True, it <em>had</em> its illusions; but so does the capitalist ideology which posits that everyone can become a millionaire, the newly fashionable &quot;well-being&quot; fantasy that the process of ageing can be halted or reversed, or the irrational belief in divine beings, and afterlives, that much of humanity still espouses and, in many societies, east and west, tries to impose on others. Moreover, like these fantasies, socialism was also an inevitability, as much as the other features of the development of capitalist modernity - be they democratisation and scientific change, authoritarian capitalism, inter-state war, or colonialism.   </p> <p> For that very reason, the revolutionary-socialist movement was, in its very illusions and delusions, itself a creature of its times, and of some of the chimeras that beset those times, not least a belief in a &quot;science&quot; of human evaluation and action. That there were, and to some extent, remain elements in the Marxist tradition that contributed not just to the revolutions, but to the particular, bloody and criminal, record of these regimes is especially the case with regard to four central elements of the communist programme: </p> <p> ▪ the authoritarian concept of the state </p> <p> ▪ the mechanistic idea of progress </p> <p> ▪ the myth of &quot;revolution&quot; </p> <p> ▪ the instrumental character of ethics.   </p> <p> <strong>The four components</strong> </p> <p> First, and as central to revolutionary Marxism as it is to the radical politics of the Islamic world, is the anti-democratic, Jacobin, theory of politics and of the &quot;state&quot;: this, not the self-emancipation of the masses, or workers, or oppressed Muslims, is the core concept, indeed the<em> core goal</em>, of all modern revolutionary politics, secular or religious, from Lenin to Osama bin Laden. </p> <p> Second, and equally central to modern revolutionary thought, is the supra-historical concept of &quot;progress&quot;. Of course, it can, in certain ways, be defended: there <em>has</em> been progress in, for example, medical knowledge, or human wealth, or the development of capitalist democracy. This does not mean, however, that there is a destination of history, an &quot;end&quot; in the sense of a goal or <em>telos, </em>and of the kind implicit in most 19th-century thought. Even less does it imply that the pursuit of such a <em>telos</em> guides, or legitimates, political action and, in some cases, more than a few, the killing of people for being &quot;reactionary&quot;.   </p> <p> Third, and closely related to the myth of &quot;progress&quot; was the dangerous myth of revolution; not just &quot;revolution&quot;, as a historical moment of transition, and a means of making the transition from one historical epoch to the other, but Revolution, indeed &quot;<em>The </em>Revolution&quot;, as a historical myth, a cataclysm that was both inevitable and necessarily emancipatory. </p> <p> Part of the rethinking of the socialist tradition has to be a re-evaluation of this myth, one almost as powerful and for sure as destructive in modern times as that of &quot;nation&quot;. As with nations it is possible to make a distinction between what one may term &quot;actually existing revolutions&quot; (Russia, 1917, China, 1949, Cuba 1959, Iran 1979...) and the broader, ideological, myth: this latter myth, included within which was the idea of the &#39;irreversibility&#39; of socialist revolutions, was shattered in 1989-91.   </p> <p> The related myth, that somehow &quot;Revolution&quot; in the mythic sense remained possible within developed capitalism, was disproved long ago, arguably by the failure of the German revolution in the early 1920s, in my view in the failure of revolutions of 1848. What Marx termed &quot;the sixth great power&quot;, in contrast to the five powers that dominated 19th-century Europe, became more and more confined to the semi-peripheral world. Yet the reality of <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?is=0333653297">revolutions</a> as historical moments - inevitable and voluntaristic, emancipatory and coercive - is central to the history of the modern world. Not only did these revolutions transform the countries in which they occurred, but, by forcing the dominant classes in the counter-revolutionary states to reform, they in considerable measure transformed capitalism as well. </p> <p> Fourth, underpinning these three ideas - &quot;state&quot;, &quot;progress&quot;, &quot;revolution&quot; - lay a key component of this legacy: the lack of an independently articulated ethical dimension. True, there <em>was</em> a supposedly ethical dimension - whatever made for progress, crudely defined as winning power for a party leadership, and gaining power for a, mythified, working class - was defended. </p> <p> However, the greatest failure of socialism over its 200 years, especially in its Bolshevik form, was the lack of an ethical dimension in regard to the rights of individuals and citizens in general, indeed in regard to all who were not part of the revolutionary elite, and the lack of any articulated and justifiable criteria applicable to the uses, legitimate and illegitimate, of violence and state coercion. That many of those who continue to uphold revolutionary-socialist ideals, and the potential of Marxist theory, today appear not to have noticed this, that they indeed reject, when not scorn, the concept of &quot;rights&quot;, is an index of how little they have learned, or have noticed the sufferings of others.   </p> <p> <strong>History&#39;s verdict </strong> </p> <p> Communism failed and was, given its internal weaknesses as well as the vitality of its opponents, bound to do so. However, it should not be forgotten that this attempt to escape the conventional path of capitalist development was for a time remarkably successful, not least in the ideological and military challenge it posed to the west but was in the end forced to capitulate, and to do so almost without a semblance of resistance. If nothing else, the communist collapse deserves careful study from the perspective of those who believe in elite-led or state-dictated social and economic development. This is certainly one &quot;lesson&quot; of communism.  </p> <p> There is, however, another aspect of communism, of equal importance, that is too easily overlooked in triumphalist post-1989 accounts in the west. Communism was, as much as liberalism, itself a product of modernity, of the intellectual and social changes following on from the industrial revolution and of the injustices and brutalities associated with it - in the industrial revolution, whose early impact on the city of Manchester was <a href="http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1844engels.html">described</a> by <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780713998528,00.html">Friedrich Engels</a> so vividly in 1844, in the cycles of boom and slump that culminated in the 1930s, and in the violence of colonial occupation, exploitation and war. If Engels were to return today, to the shanty-towns of most Asian, African and Latin American cities, and not a few cities in the developed world, he would not be so surprised.   </p> <p> The greatest achievement of communism may well turn out to have been not the creation of an alternative and more desirable system contrasted to capitalism, but its contribution to the modernisation of capitalism itself. No account of the spread of the suffrage, the rise of the welfare state, the end of colonialism, or the economic booms of Europe and east Asia after 1945 could omit the catalytic role which, combined with pressure from within, the communist challenge from without played.   </p> <p> Communism was not just a utopian project: it was a dramatic response to the inequalities and conflicts generated by capitalist modernity. The continuation of many of these same inequalities and conflicts today suggests that further challenges, of an as yet indeterminate nature, will result.   </p> <table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="500" height="200" bgcolor="#e3f2f9"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p> <style></style>Among Fred Halliday&#39;s many articles in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>: </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">America and Arabia after Saddam</a>&quot; (May 2004) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2374">Terrorism and world politics: conditions and prospects</a>&quot; (March 2005) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2398">An encounter with Mr X</a>&quot; (March 2005) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2642">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (July 2005) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2753">Political killing in the cold war</a>&quot; (August 2005) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2819">Maxime Rodinson: in praise of a &#39;marginal man&#39;</a>&quot;  (September 2005) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2904">A transnational <em>umma</em>: myth or reality? </a>&quot; (October 2005) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3019">The &#39;Barcelona process&#39;: ten years on</a>&quot; (November 2005) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3180">The United Nations vs the United States</a>&quot; (January 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3262">Blasphemy and power</a>&quot; (February 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3267">Iran vs the United States - again</a>&quot; (February 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3447">Terrorism and delusion</a>&quot; (April 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3510">The forward march of women halted?</a>&quot; (May 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3589">Letter from Ground Zero</a>&quot; (May 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3674">Finland&#39;s moment in the sun</a>&quot; (June 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3757">A Lebanese fragment: two days with Hizbollah</a>&quot; (July 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3813">In time of war: reason amid rockets</a>&quot; (August 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3833">Lebanon, Israel, and the &#39;greater west Asian crisis&#39;</a>&quot; (August 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/node/3855">Fidel Castro&#39;s legacy: Cuban conversations</a>&quot; (24 August 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/globalization-irandemocracy/iran_matter_4396.jsp" target="_blank">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire" target="_blank">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law" target="_blank">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)  </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds" target="_blank">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered" target="_blank">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure" target="_blank">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy" target="_blank">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations" target="_blank">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008) </p> <p>  &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages" target="_blank">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (13 October 2008)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq" target="_blank">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot; (4 December 2008)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/the-greater-middle-east-obama-s-six-problems" target="_blank">The greater middle east: Obama&#39;s six problems</a>&quot; (21 January 2009)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s revolution in global history</a>&quot; (2 March 2009)   </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/iraq-in-the-balance" target="_blank">Iraq in the balance</a>&quot; (26 March 2009) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/the-dominican-republic-a-time-of-ghosts" target="_blank">The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts</a>&quot; (23 April 2009)  </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-votes-evolution-in-revolution" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s evolution and Islam&#39;s Berlusconi</a>&quot; (9 June 2009)  </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity" target="_blank">Yemen: travails of unity</a>&quot; (3 July 2009)  </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/article/andorra-s-model-time-for-change">Andorra&#39;s model: time for change</a>&quot; (28 September 2009) </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> Democracy and government International politics global politics democracy & power Fred Halliday Original Copyright email Fri, 16 Oct 2009 20:55:09 +0000 Fred Halliday 48816 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Andorra’s model: time for change https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/andorra-s-model-time-for-change   <p> The principality of Andorra has long resisted the encroachments of the outside world. &quot;We fought off the Arabs, we survived Napoleon, two world wars, and the Spanish civil war. Do not underestimate us&quot;, a local intellectual proudly tells me. The Andorrans - whose small land (470 square kilometres) perched on the southern <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/andorra.htm">slopes</a> of the Pyrenees has an electorate of just 20,000 out of a population of 85,000 - indeed exhibit the feistiness and stolidity of mountain peoples the world over. The national <a href="http://www.andorraprincipat.com/cat/principat2.php">anthem</a> celebrates its historic independence in forthright terms: &quot;Charlemagne the Great&quot;, it declares, &quot;who delivered us from the Arabs. Alone I remain the only daughter of Charlemagne, Christian and free for eleven centuries. Christian and free I will remain, between my two valiant masters, my two protecting princes.&quot;   </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp" target="_blank">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. He was formerly professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. He is a widely known and authoritative analyst of middle-eastern affairs who appears regularly on the BBC, ABC, al-Jazeera television, CBC and Irish radio. Among his many books are <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412" target="_blank"><em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a> (2005) and <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1" target="_blank"><em>100 Myths about the Middle East</em></a> (2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-irandemocracy/iran_matter_4396.jsp" target="_blank">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire" target="_blank">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law" target="_blank">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds" target="_blank">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered" target="_blank">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure" target="_blank">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy" target="_blank">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations" target="_blank">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages" target="_blank">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (13 October 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq" target="_blank">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot; (4 December 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-greater-middle-east-obama-s-six-problems" target="_blank">The greater middle east: Obama&#39;s six problems</a>&quot; (21 January 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s revolution in global history</a>&quot; (2 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iraq-in-the-balance" target="_blank">Iraq in the balance</a>&quot; (26 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-dominican-republic-a-time-of-ghosts" target="_blank">The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts</a>&quot; (23 April 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-votes-evolution-in-revolution" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s evolution and Islam&#39;s Berlusconi</a>&quot; (9 June 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity" target="_blank">Yemen: travails of unity</a>&quot; (3 July 2009) </span> </p> <p> All that has now, abruptly, changed. The three main <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/992562.stm">bases</a> of the Andorran economy are in trouble. Winter-ski tourism was down last season because of the low quantities of snow. The duty-free shopping on which Andorra relied (with goods available from an urban strip-mall of electrical goods, perfume and motor-vehicle stores in its main centres) has fallen seriously as a result of the crisis, above all that in its major market, Spain. Most seriously, one of the two &quot;protecting princes&quot; has taken a distinct dislike to Andorra&#39;s role as a tax-haven. This is France&#39;s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who has <a href="http://euobserver.com/9/27862">threatened</a> Andorra with severe sanctions if it does not fall into line with its fellow European tax-haven states Switzerland and Liechtenstein on issues of transparency, exchange of banking <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/americasRegulatoryNews/idUSLO14119520090924">information</a>, and tax-equalisation.   </p> <p> <strong>The lair of freedom</strong> </p> <p> In August 2008, Standard &amp; Poor&#39;s <a href="http://www2.standardandpoors.com/portal/site/sp/en/eu/page.article/2,1,1,0,664587.html">lowered</a> its credit-rating for Andorra, from AA to AA-, citing its various &quot;vulnerabilities&quot;, including the weakness of its state finances and rising debt. Informed in February 2009 that he was, along with the Bishop of the Catalan town of Urgell, one of the two &quot;co-princes&quot; of <a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3164.htm">Andorra</a>, and hence of a haven for tax-evasion, Sarkoky saw an opportunity to prosecute his crusade against such traditional refuges of the rich and threatened the micro-state with severe sanctions. &quot;Either you change, or you perish&quot;, his envoy told the Andorran government. </p> <p> Spain, eager to put pressure on its other dependent tax-haven, Gibraltar, has joined in. The Andorrans have been told that if they do not sign a range of agreements on exchange of information immediately they may face punitive surcharges - of 30% or 40% - on all credit-card transactions carried out within the country.  In part as a result, Andorra&#39;s parliament <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hlalAIA5Jd3Capslf2w1GjxZzT6Q">passed</a> a law on 7 September 2009 that will remove some elements of secrecy from its banking codes; the country is also consulting with a dozen other states over possible agreements on banking and tax-data, and on 22 September signed such an agreement with France. </p> <p> For decades Andorra has enjoyed its status as a <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13438067">small</a> island of fiscal and banking freedom between France and Spain. Income-tax was a flat rate of 10% on incomes above €35,000. There was no VAT - hence the appeal to duty-free shoppers. Government revenue came from a 4% tax on foreign savings, and import-taxes. From the 17th century, Andorra, with appropriate altitude and soil, was a major producer of tobacco and fields of subsidised tobacco can be seen in the suburbs of the main towns. </p> <p> As Spain became more prosperous from the 1960s, more and more people could drive there for duty-free shopping. Liberal taxation and banking secrecy then boosted the population: of the population of 85,000, Andorran citizens account for only 37% (the rest being Spaniards [32%], Portuguese [16%], and French [6%]). There is also a small community of British retirees. Smuggling consumer-goods to Spain, over the two dozen or so unregulated forest tracks, also played its role: in the past year there has been a large rise in cigarette-smuggling, with small vans transporting up to 60,000 cartons a time. With a carton of Marlboro costing €20 in Andorra, and €34.50 in Spain, the wholesale profit-rate is 50%. </p> <p> <strong>The balladeer&#39;s vote</strong> </p> <p> Andorra was <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/3406417.stm">ruled</a> from 1258 under a feudal arrangement between the Count of Foix (subsequently the king, and later still the president, of France) and the Bishop of Urgell. For <a href="http://www.medinnus.com/andorra/history.html">centuries</a> Andorra appeared to enjoy its isolation. Electricity arrived only in the 1930s. It stayed out of both world wars and, in 1934, when a White Russian émigré, Count Boris, seized power and declared himself &quot;King of Andorra&quot;, he lasted only a day before Spanish police came to arrest him. It acquired a constitution and popular vote only in 1993. </p> <p> Until recently, upon the reporting of a death, the justice of the peace would go to the body, hit it over the head, and enquire in the language of the country, Catalan: <em>Mort, qui t&#39;hat mort? </em>(&quot;Corpse, who killed you?&quot;). At times of elections, some old practices prevail: after casting their votes in one of the seven constituencies of the country, voters are invited to various forms of hospitality: in one, there is a breakfast of sausages, flat bread and wine; in another snacks are on offer all day; in a third voters are given a key-ring, the modern equivalent of the <em>peseta</em> coin that heads of families, until 1933 the only people allowed to vote, were given as payment for casting their ballot. </p> <p> Andorra has not always been fortunate in the uses to which its name has been put. In 1961 the Swiss playwright <a href="http://ronsdalepress.com/books/max-frisch-three-plays/">Max Frisch</a> wrote a play in which, rather unjustly, Andorra substitutes for his native Switzerland in an exploration of the hypocrisy of neutral countries who profit from wars nearby but who reproduce the prejudices, in the case of this play, anti-semitism, of their larger neighbours. Perhaps the greatest tribute paid to it was by the American folk-balladeer <a href="http://www.peteseeger.net/biograph.htm">Pete Seeger</a>, who, on a holiday with his family in 1960, stumbled across the co-principality and celebrated his discovery by recording a song whose <a href="http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/MALVINA/mr005.htm">lyrics</a> were written by <a href="http://www.folkways.si.edu/searchresults.aspx?sPhrase=Malvina%20Reynolds&amp;sType='phrase'/">Malvina Reynolds</a>: </p> <p> I want to go to Andorra, Andorra, Andorra, <br /> I want to go to Andorra, it&#39;s a place I adore, <br /> They spent four dollars and ninety cents <br /> On armaments and their defence, <br /> Did you ever hear of such confidence? <br /> Andorra, hip hurrah! </p> <p> In the mountains of the Pyrenees <br /> There&#39;s an independent state, <br /> Its population five thousand souls, <br /> And I think they&#39;re simply great. <br /> One hundred and seventy square miles big <br /> And it&#39;s awf&#39;lly dear to me.  <br /> Spends less than five dollars on armaments, <br /> And this I&#39;ve got to see.  </p> <p> <strong>The coroner&#39;s verdict</strong> </p> <p> Three decades after Pete Seeger&#39;s visit, a modern constitution confirmed the power of the representatives of the banking elite that have long dominated the principality. As long as the economic prospects were fine, and a steady stream of day-visitors from Barcelona and Toulouse, each under four hours away by car, came for duty-free goods and to take money from their undeclared bank accounts, there was no reason to change. But the shifting economic climate - as well as <a href="http://www.rfi.fr/actuen/articles/111/article_3305.asp">pressure</a> from France and Spain over banking secrecy - has altered that. </p> <p> The <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/election.php?ID=1433">elections</a> of April 2009 for the twenty-eight seats in the Andorran parliament brought to power for the first time the Andorran Social-Democratic Party (PSA), headed by the lawyer <a href="http://www.jaumebartumeu.com/">Jaume Bartumeu</a>. The traditional ruling party, the Reformist Coalition (and a recent split from it, Andorra for Change [ApC]) were <a href="http://www.ipu.org/parline/reports/2005_E.htm">pushed</a> into opposition. There is also a small Green Party, which won 3.5% of the vote, and supports the PSA: its representatives are proud to declare that they are the first party in Andorran history to call for a &quot;republic&quot;, i.e. the abolition of the &quot;co-princes&quot; arrangement.   </p> <p> All parties have committed themselves to meeting the demands of the new European banking and taxation systems: if Switzerland is unable to resist pressure from Europe and the USA, it is evident even to the most resistant of Andorrans that they cannot either, even as they point out that the biggest fraud in Europe is not the existence of tax-havens, but the European Union&#39;s VAT system. Sarkozy&#39;s threats, and the sharpening of the global-governance response to the crisis reflected in the formalisation of the Group of Twenty (G20) at the <a href="http://www.g20pittsburghsummit.org/">Pittsburgh summit</a> on 24-25 September 2009, have served to focus minds in the co-principality. </p> <p> However, as younger Andorrans are quick to point out, it is not just the banking and tax systems that are in need of change, but the whole &quot;Andorran model&quot; of banking, duty-free and winter sports. At present, considerable efforts are going into <a href="http://www.andorra.ad/en-US/Pages/default.aspx">promoting</a> Andorra as an all-year round tourist resort. The country has a rich heritage of Romanesque churches - although, sadly, over 80% of all the original frescoes are now housed elsewhere (in the <em><a href="http://www.mnac.es/sobremnac/sob_que_el_mnac.jsp?lan=003">Museu Nacional d&#39;Art de Catalunya</a></em> in Barcelona, in private collections in the United States and other, unknown, places, and, in the case of some works stolen by the visiting members of the Gestapo during the second world war, in Germany). The country can certainly boast a healthy climate and its mountain slopes are ideal for summer walking. </p> <p> It may also be possible to move away from the limit of &quot;shopping tourism&quot;: whereas previously foreign investors could own or control only 33% of the capital in Andorran businesses, operating under the umbrella of Andorran <em>prestanoms </em>(literally &quot;name-lenders&quot;), they will now be permitted to own 100%. All of this will depend on more than the changes introduced by the new <a href="http://www.govern.ad/">government</a> in Andorra: certainly, as the old model fades, any coroner of economic death who came to this country and asked &quot;corpse, who killed you?&quot; would have little difficulty in naming the prime suspect: co-prince Nicolas Sarkozy.  </p> Andorra Economics Globalisation global politics democracy & power Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal email Mon, 28 Sep 2009 04:43:37 +0000 Fred Halliday 48713 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iran's tide of history: counter-revolution and after https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran-s-tide-of-history-counter-revolution-and-after <p> It is already five weeks since the presidential elections on 12 June 2009 in Iran, whose official results and handling by the authorities <a href="/article/iran-s-stolen-election-and-what-comes-next%20">provoked</a> an immediate and nationwide outbreak of  popular demonstrations. It may appear that the authoritarian ruling clique headed by Iran&#39;s spiritual (Ayatollah Khamenei) and <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4107270.stm">political</a> (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) leader has in this period been able to contain and push back the challenge to its power.<span class="pullquote_new">Also on the disputed election in Iran and its bitter aftermath:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-election-democracy-or-coup">Iran&#39;s election: people and power</a>&quot; (15-18 June 2009) - a symposium with Ramin Jahanbegloo, Anoush Ehteshami, Nazenin Ansari, Omid Memarian, Grace Nasri, Rasool Nafisi, Nasrin Alavi, Sanam Vakil, and Farhang Jahanpour<br /> <br /> Farhang Jahanpour, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-stolen-election-and-what-comes-next">Iran&#39;s stolen election, and what comes next</a>&quot; (18 June 2009) <br /> <br /> Hossein Bastani, &quot;<a href="/article/khamenei-s-choice-ahmadinejad-s-cost">Iran&#39;s coming storm</a>&quot; (22 June 2009)<br /> <br /> Kamin Mohammadi, &quot;<a href="/article/voices-from-iran">Voices from Iran</a>&quot; (23 June 2009)<br /> <br /> Hazem Saghieh, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-dialectic-of-revolution">Iran: dialectic of revolution</a>&quot; (23 June 2009) <br /> <br /> Reza Molavi &amp; Jennifer Thompson, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-quantum-of-solace-step-back-look-long">Iran&#39;s quantum of solace: step back, look long</a>&quot; (25 June 2009)<br /> <br /> Ali Reza Eshraghi, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-crisis-and-ali-khamenei">Iran&#39;s crisis and Ali Khamenei</a>&quot; (29 June 2009)<br /> <br /> Mahmood Delkhasteh, &quot;<a href="/article/the-archaeology-of-iran-s-regime">The archaeology of Iran&#39;s regime</a>&quot; (2 July 2009)<br /> <br /> Asef Bayat, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-a-green-wave-for-life-and-liberty">Iran: a green wave for life and liberty</a>&quot; (7 July 2009) </span> </p> <p> The deployment of police, <em><a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Irans_Basij_Force_Mainstay_Of_Domestic_Security/1357081.html">basij</a></em> militias and <em>pasdaran</em> (Revolutionary Guards) has crushed the mass street protests; at least dozens and perhaps hundreds of the leaders and top advisers of the reformist presidential candidates have been arrested; and a climate of fear has been imposed. The most visible manifestations of the hugely impressive popular movement of the &quot;Persian spring&quot; - whose eruption took almost all observers by surprise, and which quickly won an amazing breadth of support across Iran&#39;s social groups and <a href="http://www.mideastweb.org/miran.htm">regions</a> - seem to have been closed down as suddenly as it burst into the open. </p> <p> Yet even a vigorous clampdown has been unable to extinguish all public displays of dissent. The open defiance by thousands of opposition supporters around Friday prayers at Tehran University on 17 July 2009 is but a surface indication of the heaving anger below. The gathering heard a <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/07/17/iran.rafsanjani/index.html">call</a> by the former president and influential figure <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/arafsanjani/akbar_rafsanjani.php">Hashemi Rafsanjani</a> for those arrested in the protests to be released. It is a significant <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Iranian_Police_Use_Tear_Gas_Against_Musavi_Supporters/1779160.html">intervention</a> in a delicate phase, when factions <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/iran_power/html/default.stm">within</a> the regime as well as millions of disaffected Iranian citizens are positioning for the even more decisive confrontations ahead. </p> <p> If past performance is anything to go, the exertion of state violence since the election is only the beginning. In a <a href="http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/iran">pattern</a> familiar from earlier phases of the Islamic Republic - as also occurred during the Shah&#39;s regime - opposition members will continue to be brutalised in prison and then forced to <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1077784.html">engage</a> in televised &quot;confessions&quot;: acts of deliberately preposterous humiliation designed not to reveal the truth (about &quot;foreign conspiracies&quot; or whatever), but to terrorise and break the will of the regime&#39;s opponents. </p> <p> More ominous is what may follow this phase of detention, mistreatment, and humiliation. Many <a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/haleh_mind_4625.jsp">precedents</a>, including the repression of the liberal and left opposition in 1979-81 in particular, suggest that once foreign correspondents have been <a href="http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/features/5185893/in-the-tehran-jail-i-was-the-great-british-spy.thtml">expelled</a> from Iran and international attention has moved on, the actual killing in prison of opposition members can proceed. In the past, such killings followed fake trials where executions were justified under the catchall charge of &quot;waging war on God&quot;, or in supposed attempts to escape. </p> <p> <strong>The revolution&#39;s dialectic</strong> </p> <p> Many who know the modern history of Iran - be they Iranian or someone like myself who followed (and in part <a href="http://www.books-by-isbn.com/0-14/0140220100-Iran-Dictatorship-and-Development-Pelican-0-14-022010-0.html">witnessed</a>) the events of <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/islamic_revolution/islamic_revolution.php">1978-79</a> when the Islamic Republic came into being - will be struck by the many parallels, insights, warnings and differences offered by that earlier moment and the post-election upsurge of 2009. The apparel, slogans and precise demands may seem far apart, but at heart the opposed forces are similar. </p> <p> The urge to repress, and above all the contempt for the peacefully and democratically expressed views of others, were evident in the first months of the Islamic Republic; they reached a critical point in the mobilisations of summer 1979, when left and liberal forces - seeking to defend press freedom, the rights of women and of ethnic minorities - were confronted by gangs of <em>hizbullahi </em>thugs, mass pro-Khomeini demonstrations, and the newly established <em>pasdaran </em>forces, all determined to subdue the yearnings for such freedom and rights<em>.</em> </p> <p> I recall, in particular, an educative encounter in August 1979 with a Revolutionary Guard who had come with his colleagues to close down the offices of the independent newspaper <em>Ayandegan. </em>When I asked this <em>pasdar </em>what he was doing, he replied: &quot;We are defending the revolution!&quot;. &quot;Why are you therefore closing the paper?&quot;, I asked. &quot;This newspaper is shit&quot;, he declared. When I suggested that 2 million people read the paper, he replied, without reservation: &quot;All right, then these 2 million people are shit too!&quot; Thus was my induction into the political culture of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. </p> <p> But if such incidents from the early period of the Islamic Republic cast some light on the recent popular <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,630464,00.html">explosion</a> in Iran, other analogies - above all with challenges to communist rule in east-central Europe after 1945 - also suggest themselves. This is true in a deeper, sociological sense as well as in the texture of the protests themselves. </p> <p> For their main rallying-cry was (and is) at once contemporary and full of historical <a href="/article/the-iranian-revolution-beyond-enigma">resonances</a> that derives from Iran&#39;s formative constitutional revolution of 1906. What they demand, and what the opposition presidential candidate <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/mideast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14045310">Mir-Hossein Moussavi</a> has reiterated in his statements since the demonstrations, is a broad range of freedoms: of expression, of social behaviour, of media. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. He was formerly professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. He is a widely known and authoritative analyst of middle-eastern affairs who appears regularly on the BBC, ABC, al-Jazeera television, CBC and Irish radio. Among his many books are <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a></em> (2005) and <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1">100 Myths about the Middle East</a></em> (2005)<strong><br /> <br /> </strong>&quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<strong><br /> <br /> </strong>&quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (13 October 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot; (4 December 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-greater-middle-east-obama-s-six-problems">The greater middle east: Obama&#39;s six problems</a>&quot; (21 January 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">Iran&#39;s revolution in global history</a>&quot; (2 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iraq-in-the-balance">Iraq in the balance</a>&quot; (26 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-dominican-republic-a-time-of-ghosts">The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts</a>&quot; (23 April 2009)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-votes-evolution-in-revolution">Iran&#39;s evolution and Islam&#39;s Berlusconi</a>&quot; (9 June 2009)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-travails-of-yemen-unity">Yemen: travails of unity</a>&quot; (3 July 2009)</span> </p> <p> For in a sense the Islamic Republic has, like communism, lost its original ideological credibility and has <a href="/article/iran-dialectic-of-revolution">prepared the way</a> for its own demise: above all by educating people. The demonstrators in Iran in June 2009 did not, after all, carry posters of <em>Shi&#39;a</em> <em>imams</em> (Ali or Reza), or chant religious slogans; far less brandish pictures of Lenin, Mao Zedong or Che Guevara. They were, like the mass movements that challenged communism, part of what <a href="http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2009-06-17-newsitem-en.html">Jürgen Habermas</a><em> called (à</em><strong><em> </em></strong><em>propos<strong> </strong></em>1989) a &quot;revolution of catching up&quot; - one that wanted to be part of the modern world and for their country to take its rightful and collaborative place in it.  </p> <p> Yet just as by the 1980s millions of citizens in east-central Europe were coming to express their dissatisfaction in terms beyond reformist communism, so the Iranian demonstrators of June 2009 were articulating a programme that was also larger and more international than that of their predecessors: one born of the increased awareness of the outside world produced by education, the internet and the very real pluralism of information and opinion that, for all its repression, the Islamic Republic has permitted. </p> <p> <strong>The closing option</strong> </p> <p> The <a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">analogies</a> between the Iran of 1978-79 and the Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia (for example) of 1989 also underline an important if as yet obscure contrast in this Iranian crisis. Here, it may be apposite to quote the entirety of an astute observation of Lenin about the need for successful revolutions to meet two<em> </em>conditions. The first, often invoked, is <em>that the people cannot go on being ruled in the old way. </em>The second, neglected but equally important is <em>that the rulers cannot go on ruling in the old way.</em> </p> <p> Here indeed lies both the originality and the enigma of the - it can be seen now, <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Iranian_Police_Use_Tear_Gas_Against_Musavi_Supporters/1779160.html">ongoing</a> - Iranian convulsion of 2009. The success of Mir-Hossein Moussavi in inspiring a mass movement in the weeks just prior and subsequent to the presidential election can be explained more or less straightforwardly as the confluence of three factors: </p> <p> * a  long-term growth of dissatisfaction with the social, economic and political actions of the Islamic Republic </p> <p> * a particular revulsion with the political direction and economic failures of Iran since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to <a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">power</a> in June 2005 </p> <p> * a set of short-term events and processes in the days leading up to the election (including disgust at the vulgarity of Ahmadinejad in his <a href="http://www.payvand.com/news/09/jun/1040.html">TV debate</a> with Moussavi, and the creative <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Irans_Cyberwarriors_Stay_Ahead_Of_Government_Censors/1756442.html">use</a> by the opposition of SMS, Facebook and other communications). </p> <p> By contrast, the nature of the divisions <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/What_Comes_Next_For_Iran/1778351.html">within</a> the state is much less definable - though the existence of such divisions is a fact.  To observe Iran in these weeks is like watching a stage where only some of the actors are in the light: there is another, equally important, process underway which remains in the shadows. This is the conflict within the clerical and political elite: more broadly, the <a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp">Islamic nomenklatura</a> <em>- </em>the 5,000 or so clergy, politicians, and businesspeople with special access to the rents from oil, gas and trade who have coalesced into Iran&#39;s new ruling group. </p> <p> The fissures within this elite are indicated by the open defiance of former presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/mkhatami/mohammad_khatami.php">Mohammad Khatami</a>; they run through the clerical city of <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/cia08/iran_sm_2008.gif">Qom</a>, and much of the official political networks. Whether they also split the armed forces, the <em>pasdaran</em> and the intelligence services is unclear: but a working initial premise is that until evidence emerges that these security bodies are indeed divided, the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad camp will retain the initiative. Reports from Qom indicate that the regime is doing all it can - including the use of money and intimidation - to keep the majority of the clergy on its side. </p> <p> It would thus be mistaken, in this context at least, to assume that the post-election <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/18/world/middleeast/18moussavi.html?_r=2">protests</a> mark the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic. They may turn out to do so, but the precedent of 1979-81 is sobering here. At a time when <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/rkhomeini/ayatollah_khomeini.php">Ayatollah Khomeini</a> and his associates faced much greater challenges than this one, and when to many it seemed that the regime would fall, it managed - by mobilising the support it undoubtedly had, and by brutal repression of its opponents - to survive.  </p> <p> A different outcome in the period of revolution itself carries the same lesson. Few expected the regime of the <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/mohammad_rezashah/mohammad_rezashah.php">Shah</a>, which had international support and a modern army of 400,000, to crumble in the face of unarmed demonstrators within a matter of months. To evaluate regime resilience in Iran is no easy task. </p> <p> <strong>The opening door</strong> </p> <p> But if the character of the intra-regime <a href="http://www.cfr.org/publication/19679/irans_clash_of_titans_may_not_resolve_itself_soon.html?breadcrumb=%2F">tensions</a> and the immediate fate of the Islamic Republic are hard to read, the post-election demonstrations have most certainly created a new framework for the understanding of Iran&#39;s political world. </p> <p> The key point is that the protests have opened the <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300098561">history</a> and legacy of the Islamic revolution itself to a range of different interpretations - and by extension to a questioning of established ones. For example, the Marxist <a href="http://www.routledge.com/shopping_cart/products/product_detail.asp?curTab=DESCRIPTION&amp;id=&amp;parent_id=&amp;sku=&amp;isbn=9780415331289&amp;pc=">left</a> cleaved for many years after 1979 to the belief that it had  &quot;made&quot; the revolution, only for its achievement to be stolen by Ayatollah Khomeini and the clergy. This argument always obscured another and greater act of usurpation by the clerical elite, which involved <a href="http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/6163.php">suppressing</a> the role of the much larger nationalist constituency of opposition to the Shah and his alliance with the United States that played a very significant role in the revolution. </p> <p> The demonstrators of 1978-79 did not want the Shah, but nor did they want a dictatorship of ayatollahs either: they wanted, in the signal slogans of the revolution, &quot;independence&quot; and &quot;freedom&quot;. Many prominent Iranian figures of the time were representatives of this trend: among them the liberal prime minister <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1991/08/09/obituaries/shahpur-bakhtiar-foe-of-shah-hunted-by-khomeini-s-followers.html">Shahpur Bakhtiar</a>, who tried to manage a democratic transition after the Shah relinquished power, and was assassinated in Paris in August 1991; <a href="http://www.amontazeri.com/farsi/default.asp">Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri</a>, Khomeini&#39;s chosen successor, who spent the years 1997-2003 under house-arrest in the city of Qom for criticising clerical control of the state; and followers of the ex-prime minister <a href="http://www.mohammadmossadegh.com/biography/">Mohammad Mossadeq</a>, overthrown in the coup of 1953,  who organised the 1979 anti-censorship demonstrations. </p> <p> In the same way that Lenin and the Bolsheviks pushed aside not only their Czarist opponents, but also Russian liberals, social-revolutionaries and Mensheviks, so Khomeini and his associates set out to monopolise the post-revolutionary state and extinguish both their political rivals and the very memory of their contribution to a history that belongs to <em>all</em> Iranians.  It is the great contribution of the <a href="/article/iran-a-green-wave-for-life-and-liberty">brave citizens of Iran</a> who took to the streets in June 2009, and affirmed their rights in peaceful and dignified fashion, to have reclaimed this truth. </p> <p> Their demonstrations thus have opened a door to Iran&#39;s past as well as the future.  Another slogan of the epic popular tide of 1978-79 - <em>marg bar fascism, marg bar irtija </em>(death to fascism, death to reaction) - may yet combine with the <em>marg bar dictator </em>of the marches of 2009 in a way that heralds the end of the demagogic clique that now rules Iran. The people of Iran, and their friends and admirers the world over, can only hope that this day comes sooner rather than later. </p> <table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="500" height="200" bgcolor="#e3f2f9"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p> Among <strong>openDemocracy</strong>&#39;s many articles about Iran: </p> <p> Ardashir Tehrani, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran&#39;s presidential coup</a>&quot; (26 June 2005) </p> <p> Trita Parsi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/israel_2974.jsp">The Iran-Israel cold war</a>&quot; (28 October 2005) </p> <p> Nayereh Tohidi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/regionalism_3695.jsp">Iran: regionalism, ethnicity and democracy</a>&quot; (28 June 2006) </p> <p> Hooshang Amirahmadi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/iran_perpetual_crisis_4128.jsp">Iran and the international community: roots of perpetual crisis</a>&quot; (24 November 2006) </p> <p> Kamin Mohammadi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/tehran_voices_4302.jsp">Voices from Tehran</a>&quot; (31 January 2007) </p> <p> Anoush Ehteshami, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/brink_ehteshami_4444.jsp">Iran and the United States: back from the brink</a>&quot; (16 March 2007) </p> <p> Rasool Nafisi, &quot;I<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/haleh_mind_4625.jsp">ran&#39;s cultural prison</a>&quot; (17 May 2007) </p> <p> Nasrin Alavi, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/democracy_iran/paradox">The Iran paradox</a>&quot; (11 October 2007) </p> <p> Omid Memarian, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_iran/iran_prepared_fir_the_worst">Iran: prepared for the worst</a>&quot; (30 October 2007) </p> <p> Sanam Vakil, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-political-shadow-war">Iran&#39;s political shadow war</a>&quot; (16 July 2008) </p> <p> Nasrin Alavi, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-after-the-dawn">Iran: after the dawn</a>&quot; (2 February 2009) </p> <p> Abbas Milani, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-islamic-revolution-three-paradoxes">Iran&#39;s Islamic revolution: three paradoxes</a>&quot; (9 February 2009) </p> <p> Homa Katouzian, &quot;<a href="/article/the-iranian-revolution-beyond-enigma">The Iranian revolution: beyond enigma</a>&quot; (13 February 2009) </p> <p> Nikki R Keddie, &quot;<a href="/article/iranian-women-and-the-islamic-republic">Iranian women and the Islamic Republic</a>&quot; (24 February 2009) </p> <p> Sanam Vakil &amp; David Hayes, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-election-and-iran-s-system-0">Iran&#39;s election and Iran&#39;s system</a>&quot; (21 April 2009) </p> <p> Nasrin Alavi, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-a-blind-leap-of-faith">Iran: a blind leap of faith</a>&quot; (2 June 2009) </p> <p> Omid Memarian, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-on-the-move">Iran on the move</a>&quot; (11 June 2009) </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> politics of protest democracy & iran democracy & power Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal email Fri, 17 Jul 2009 18:28:07 +0000 Fred Halliday 48371 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iran's evolution and Islam’s Berlusconi https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran-votes-evolution-in-revolution <p> The boisterous weeks of meetings, regional tours, demonstrations, and <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j5-tHE8XRLK0Bt_e09AIqnpEI-tw">TV debates</a> make for an impressive spectacle. But as the first round of voting in Iran&#39;s presidential election on 12 June 2009 nears, they offer no definitive clue on the outcome. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. Among his many books are <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a> (2005) and <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1"><em>100 Myths about the Middle East</em></a> (2005). His critical analysis of the Shah&#39;s regime, <a href="http://www.books-by-isbn.com/0-14/0140220100-Iran-Dictatorship-and-Development-Pelican-0-14-022010-0.html"><em>Iran: Dictatorship and Development</em></a><em> </em>(Penguin, November 1978) was subsequently translated into nine languages <br /> <br /> Among Fred Halliday&#39;s many columns in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>: <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (13 October 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot; (4 December 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-greater-middle-east-obama-s-six-problems">The greater middle east: Obama&#39;s six problems</a>&quot; (21 January 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">Iran&#39;s revolution in global history</a>&quot; (2 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iraq-in-the-balance">Iraq in the balance</a>&quot; (26 March 2009) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-dominican-republic-a-time-of-ghosts">The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts</a>&quot; (23 April 2009)</span> </p> <p> The incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - backed by much of the state apparatus, controlling the media and playing the nationalist and populist cards - is still on <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/mideast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13790055">balance</a> the favourite to re-elected for another four years. Ahmadinejad&#39;s campaign has continued to display the penchant for demagogy that makes him resemble a sort of Islamic variant of the Italian <a href="/article/silvio-berlusconi-ten-more-questions">clown</a>, Silvio Berlusconi. In each case, their behaviour - whether it is flirting with young women or insulting the wife of a rival candidate - finds an echo across wide swathes of society. </p> <p> There is a possibility that the strength of at least one of the opposition candidates will at least force the <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=103">vote</a> to a second round; in that case Ahmadinejad&#39;s most likely rival will be the reformist (and former prime minister) Mir-Hossein Moussavi. He is generating great <a href="http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/features/?id=32495">enthusiasm</a> among young people especially, in a campaign noted for the active role of his partner Zahra Rahnavard (a spirited woman whose educational credentials Ahmadinejad crudely <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d5f4495e-5387-11de-be08-00144feabdc0.html">questioned</a> in a TV debate). The other two candidates - Mehdi Karroubi (former <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/moderate-cleric-wins-key-role-in-struggle-for-iran-716296.html">speaker</a> of the <em>majlis</em> [parliament] and the <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5giE3PFLPpuY0NB9p7wGcuglM1RcA">conservative</a> Mohsen Rezaei (ex-head of the Revolutionary Guards) - have a lesser chance of coming second. </p> <p> The timing of this <a href="http://www.rferl.org/archive/Iran_Election_Diary/latest/2213/2213.html">event</a> is dictated by the Iranian <a href="http://servat.unibe.ch/icl/ir00000_.html">constitutional</a> calendar, but it comes at a crucial moment in the country&#39;s international profile and relationships. Barack Obama, the United States president has offered to participate in a clear (if time-limited) process of dialogue with Tehran; destabilising wars rage in three <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/iran.htm">neighbouring</a> states (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan); ,the price of oil lies well below what Iran needs to sustain its economy; and the unresolved issue of Iran&#39;s nuclear <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Iran_Says_UN_Report_Shows_Nuclear_Work_Is_Peaceful/1748298.html">plans</a> means that Tehran faces the open-ended danger of an Israeli attack. </p> <p> These large issues mean that the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/5462989/Irans-presidential-candidate-seeks-votes-by-campaigning-with-wife.html">election</a> result is only one factor in how Iran faces the strategic, political and economic difficulties of the coming years.  </p> <p> <strong>The leadership factor</strong> </p> <p> The ground for anticipating a continuation of Iran&#39;s leadership style in domestic and foreign policy is evident enough. The institutional reality of Iran&#39;s system is that the ultimate <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/iran_power/html/default.stm">power-centre</a> is not the president or the fractious and ineffective <em>majlis</em> (parliament) but the <em>faqih</em> (supreme leader). The current occupant is <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/akhamenei/ali_khamenei.php">Ayatollah Ali Khamenei</a>, himself a former president who took the leadership <a href="http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/6163.php">role</a> on the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. Khamenei has indefinite tenure: indeed the call for his position to be subject to periodic review and election is one of the most explosive in contemporary Iran. </p> <p> He is, moreover, surrounded by a group of officials - some clergy, some from the <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Military_Could_Tip_The_Balance_In_Irans_Election/1747536.html">militias</a> - who are hardened veterans of the <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/iran_iraq_war/iran_iraq_war1.php">war with Iraq</a> of 1980-88. This experience, even more than the months of <a href="/article/the-iranian-revolution-beyond-enigma">revolution</a> itself in <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/islamic_revolution/islamic_revolution.php">1978-79</a>, formed and tempered the Iranian state. </p> <p> It is consistent with this environment that Khamenei has in general been identified with hardline positions, and he has indeed blocked proposals to normalise relations with the United States. There are reasons of calculation as well as ideology behind this stance: the supreme leader and his associates know that any relaxation of external tensions would prejudice their power - and the access to state revenues which these associates and their relatives and cronies enjoy. </p> <p> But Khamenei&#39;s political and personal character also reveals in some areas a certain flexibility. An example is his management of the fervent public outcry provoked by the killing of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan in 1998; he skilfully guided policy towards a more cautious response, thus averting what could have become a military incursion into Iran&#39;s eastern neighbour.  </p> <p> It is generally assumed that Khamenei supported the stealthy nomination and <a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp">election</a> of Ahmadinejad in June 2005 (an operation described by one of its organisers as &quot;driving a convoy of trucks by night without lights&quot;); but there have been moments of tension, and the <em>faqih</em> has made clear that he does not endorse all the more extreme statements of his protégé. </p> <p> Moreover, Khamenei has kept lines of communication open to the more reformist camps. He is said to be on good personal terms with former president Khatami, and one of his daughters is married to a prominent reformist diplomat. He has also been taking private lessons to improve his English; an intriguing move for a leader of <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Irans_Presidential_Candidates_Play_The_EthnicMinority_Card/1749461.html">Azeri</a> origin, reflecting the fact that - for all the religious importance of Arabic and the enduring national pride in the Persian language - English has in practice become the universal language of Muslims, of the <a href="/globalization/umma_2904.jsp"><em>umma</em></a>.  </p> <p> <strong>The strategic factor</strong> </p> <p> There are in addition three developments that - whatever the outcome of the election - may have important longer-term effects. First, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad&#39;s <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/5480441/Iran-elections-2009-Thousands-rally-for-Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad-as-poll-looms.html">populist</a> economic and social policies have - like those of his friend and populist counterpart in Venezuela, <a href="/article/hugo-chavez-and-venezuela-a-leader-s-destiny">Hugo Chávez</a> - run into difficulties. This is in part because of the fall in the price of oil, the mainstay of both economies; but equally of the inefficiency, rashness and sheer lack of administrative application with which they are run.  </p> <p> Second, Iran is changing in the direction of a growing sense of nationalist, rather than religious, pride in the country. This is something Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has tried to use to his own ends; every <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jGSJEAPs_r2T2wxsL5G3t4z-jajQD98MLUO80">campaign</a> speech is replete with phrases about the &quot;great nation&quot;. This trend is combined with strong public support for a relaxation of international tensions, which is often related to the impact of sanctions on the economy and the prolonged uncertainty that accompanies them. </p> <p> Third, Ahmadinejad and his regime have shown a modicum of caution in recent months. The release of detained foreign journalists (such as <a href="http://cpj.org/2009/05/roxana-saberi-released-from-prison-in-iran.php">Roxana Saberi</a>) and domestic critics suggests that Iran is concerned to some degree to maintain a positive image abroad. In regard to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran has - without proclaiming it as such - sought to play a constructive role, consistent with its interests. </p> <p> Where Iraq is concerned, Tehran has in effect aligned itself alongside Washington in backing the Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad. It caused surprise in December 2008 by giving support to the status-of-forces <a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n24/cock01_.html">agreement</a> (Sofa) signed between Iraq and the United States. This is all the more significant as earlier examples of such agreements have - perhaps more than any issue - aroused visceral nationalist sentiments in Iran and other middle-eastern states (and helped to trigger the political careers of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader <a href="http://www.pwhce.org/banna.html">Hassan al-Banna</a> [in 1928] and <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/rkhomeini/ayatollah_khomeini.php">Ayatollah Khomeini</a> [in 1963]). </p> <p> In the case of Afghanistan, Tehran has backed the <a href="http://www.president.gov.af/">Hamid Karzai</a> government while also effectively annexing the three adjacent provinces of Afghanistan. Yet Iranian influence has declined in the country as a whole, and there are constraints on what can be achieved to reverse this.  </p> <p> This greater caution is also evident in the content of Lebanon. Iran has backed the recent compromise in the <a href="/article/lebanon-at-the-crossroads">political system</a> there - which contributed to the peaceful election of 7 June 2009 that resulted in the <a href="http://yalibnan.com/site/archives/2009/06/march_14_coalit.php">victory</a> of the March 14 coalition. It  also wants to avoid new confrontations with Israel. There are deeper currents here, reflected for example in a study released by the Israeli defence ministry after the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5257128.stm">war</a> of July-August 2006; this showed that, despite Iran&#39;s close support for the <a href="/globalization/hizbollah_3757.jsp">Hizbollah</a> group in Lebanon, which fired over 4,000 missiles into Israel, did not use ones manufactured in Iran.  </p> <p> <strong>The state factor</strong> </p> <p> Many analyses of Iran tend to start from misleading analytic and historical premises: for example, that Iran&#39;s <a href="http://isisnucleariran.org/">nuclear programme</a> can be understood in terms of a concept of &quot;proliferation&quot; (when it should be understood as part of of Iran&#39;s search for regional influence), or that Iran is a &quot;rogue&quot; state (when other states have done far more harm to regional stability - by reckless funding of extreme Islamist groups, or by selling nuclear technology to anyone willing to pay). Iranians themselves can add to the confusion by explaining modern events by reference to ancient <a href="http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/06/wai/ht06wai.htm">imperial</a> times, which cast no light on the Islamic Republic of today. </p> <p> Iran, rather, needs to be <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300098561">understood</a> as a revolutionary state: approaching middle age to be sure, but with several decades of life still in prospect. This state of many different opinions and <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/government/articles/structure_of_power.php">power-centres</a> will continue to speak with two voices: those of diplomacy and of revolution. </p> <p> This is the legacy the spirited and long-suffering people of Iran (and thus their neighbours and the world beyond) will have to continue to live with.   The presidential election will come and go, but - with or without &quot;Islam&#39;s Berlusconi&quot; - there is fuel in this engine yet. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="500" height="200" bgcolor="#e3f2f9"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p> Among <strong>openDemocracy&#39;s </strong>many<strong> </strong>articles about Iran: </p> <p> Ardashir Tehrani, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran&#39;s presidential coup</a>&quot; (26 June 2005)  </p> <p> Trita Parsi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">The Iran-Israel cold war</a>&quot; (28 October 2005)  </p> <p> Nayereh Tohidi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran: regionalism, ethnicity and democracy</a>&quot; (28 June 2006)  </p> <p> Hooshang Amirahmadi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran and the international community: roots of perpetual crisis</a>&quot; (24 November 2006)   </p> <p> Kamin Mohammadi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Voices from Tehran</a>&quot; (31 January 2007)  </p> <p> Anoush Ehteshami, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran and the United States: back from the brink</a>&quot; (16 March 2007)  </p> <p> Rasool Nafisi, &quot;I<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">ran&#39;s cultural prison</a>&quot; (17 May 2007)  </p> <p> Nasrin Alavi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">The Iran paradox</a>&quot; (11 October 2007)  </p> <p> Omid Memarian, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran: prepared for the worst</a>&quot; (30 October 2007)  </p> <p> Sanam Vakil, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran&#39;s political shadow war</a>&quot; (16 July 2008)  </p> <p> Nasrin Alavi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran: after the dawn</a>&quot; (2 February 2009)   </p> <p> Abbas Milani, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp">Iran&#39;s Islamic revolution: three paradoxes</a>&quot; (9 February 2009)  </p> <p> Homa Katouzian, &quot;<a href="/article/the-iranian-revolution-beyond-enigma">The Iranian revolution: beyond enigma</a>&quot; (13 February 2009) </p> <p> Nikki R Keddie, &quot;<a href="/article/iranian-women-and-the-islamic-republic">Iranian women and the Islamic Republic</a>&quot; (24 February 2009) </p> <p> Sanam Vakil &amp; David Hayes, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-election-and-iran-s-system-0">Iran&#39;s election and Iran&#39;s system</a>&quot; (21 April 2009) </p> <p> Nasrin Alavi, &quot;<a href="/article/iran-a-blind-leap-of-faith">Iran: a blind leap of faith</a>&quot; (2 June 2009) </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <style></style> Globalisation global politics democracy & iran democracy & power Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal email Tue, 09 Jun 2009 16:42:55 +0000 Fred Halliday 48151 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Dominican Republic: a time of ghosts https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-dominican-republic-a-time-of-ghosts <p> Hispaniola may have the distinction of being the only island in the world shared between two entire states (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), even if their intimacy belies very different trajectories. But the spacious city of Santo Domingo on the <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/dominrep.htm">island&#39;s</a> southern coast appears to transcend narrowing distinctions and embrace the whole history of the Caribbean - five centuries of invasions, colonial (French, Spanish, British) and neo-colonial (American), and recurrent but intermittent nationalist and socialist revolts. <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. Among his many books are <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412" target="_blank">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a></em> (2005) and <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1" target="_blank">100 Myths about the Middle East</a></em> (2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday is co-authoring a book with <a href="http://www.clavedigital.com.do/App_Pages/ocio/ocio.aspx?Id_Articulo=4802">Hamlet Hermann</a> (the biographer of Francisco Caamaño Deñó), entitled <em>Caamaño in London</em>; it will be published in Spanish and English in 2010<br /> <br /> Among Fred Halliday&#39;s many columns in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Looking back on Saddam Hussein</a>&quot; (7 January 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">America and Arabia after Saddam</a>&quot; (12 May 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/iran_matter_4396.jsp" target="_blank">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the American empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (13 October 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot; (16 December 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">Iran&#39;s revolution in global history</a>&quot; (2 March 2009)</span> </p> <p> This indeed was the first city established by the Spanish in their conquest of the Americas, and traces of the 1490s are still visible in the elegant villas and churches of today&#39;s <em>Zona Colonial. </em>Many later predators came this way: among them <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/drake_francis.shtml">Sir Francis Drake</a>, the English marauder who in 1586 burnt much of the city and turned the cathedral (like the city&#39;s university the oldest in the Americas) into a stable. <a href="http://rulers.org/indext2.html#truji">Rafael Trujillo</a>, installed by the United States in 1930; ruled as absolute dictator until his assassination in May 1961; a son of this land, he was also a grotesque epigone of the worst in European tyrants (though few went as far as Trujillo in naming a city after himself). The melancholy list must include Lyndon B Johnson, the US president who in 1965 <a href="http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/4033">ordered</a> the US marines to occupy the country.  </p> <p> <strong>A time of turmoil</strong> </p> <p> It was Trujillo&#39;s death in 1961 - reimagined in a novel by Mario Vargas Llosa adapted for a film, <em>La Fiesta del Chivo</em> (<em><a href="http://www.faber.co.uk/work/feast-of-goat/9780571207763/">The Feast of the Goat</a></em>)<em> </em>- that sparked the most dramatic, and internationally resonant, phase in modern Dominican history. The elections in 1962 brought the moderate leftwing leader Juan Bosch to power; the results of these were overturned by a coup in September 1963, but in April 1965 an unprecedented alliance (with radical and popular parties and movements joined by nationalist army officers) took power, proclaiming a return to &quot;constitutional&quot; government. It was only days later that LBJ - reflecting Washington&#39;s fear of another revolutionary upheaval in the Caribbean so soon after Cuba, and anticipating the invasion of Vietnam that followed weeks later - sent over 40,000 troops in what was to be the largest ever US invasion in its &quot;backyard&quot;.    </p> <p> The &quot;constitutionalists&quot; were led by their new <a href="http://www.terra.es/personal2/monolith/dominrep.htm">president</a>, Colonel Francisco Caamaño Deñó; he and his supporters held out until January 1966 before accepting a form of reconciliation agreement with the new order under which Caamaño and his fellow officers went into exile. From there they worked in vain to rally the Dominican opposition to their cause. No other help was forthcoming: Cuba was unable to do anything directly (though it did help Caamaño later, in 1973, in ways it could not then reveal); the strong protest of Charles de Gaulle&#39;s France at the invasion remained verbal only; while the Soviet Union implicitly accepted the US action and found in it a convenient analogous justification for its own &quot;backyard&quot; interventions in Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), and Afghanistan (1979). </p> <p> The US occupation was completed with the installation in rigged elections of the neo-Trujilloist leader <a href="http://www.joaquinbalaguer.com.do/">Joaquín Balaguer</a> for his second period as president in June 1966, a position he was to hold for twenty-two of the next thirty years. The nationalist and socialist forces were gradually worn down: in the years that followed hundreds of opposition members were killed in the poorer districts of Santo Domingo.  </p> <p> In the early part of this period Caamaño served in London as an increasingly frustrated military attaché, at odds with Bosch and with the fractious Dominican revolutionary left; he turned gradually towards an alliance with Cuba. After twenty months in Britain - including a memorable speaking engagement on 4 March 1966 at the Oxford University Labour Club (at the invitation of its president, namely myself) - Caamaño disappeared, in disguise, via Holland to Prague and then by plane to Cuba.   </p> <p> The &quot;constitutionalist president&quot; arrived in Havana in November 1967: six years later, in February 1973, and despite the best efforts of the Cuban leaders to persuade him it was not opportune to return, he led a small group of revolutionary guerrillas back to his country. Within two weeks he was <a href="http://www.executedtoday.com/2008/02/16/1973-francisco-caamano/">captured</a>, and shot. The talk he had given to our student grouping in Oxford was to be the last time he ever appeared in public.   </p> <p> <strong>A man apart</strong> </p> <p> Since then, history has seemed to bypass the Dominican Republic. The massive protests throughout Latin America in the months following the 1965 invasion were soon eclipsed by the international attention devoted to the escalating war in Vietnam - in which another US marine landing, that at Danang in June 1965, was a symbolic landmark. The &quot;Johnson doctrine&quot;, of massive US military intervention in &quot;third-world&quot; crises, seemed for a time to be working. But in April 1975 - exactly a decade after the US troops landed at Santo Domingo - Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese forces and local insurgents. </p> <p> In the Dominican Republic, a gradual transition to democratic politics began in the late 1970s. Juan Bosch himself again became president; the return to office is a recurring pattern of Santo Domingo history (<a href="http://rulers.org/indexb1.html#baez" target="index">Buenaventura Báez</a> had five spells as president between 1849 and 1878). In 1996, <a href="http://www.la-republique-dominicaine.org/Dominican-Republic-Leonel-Fernandez-President-of-the-Republic.html">Leonel Fernández</a> - a lawyer raised in New York - won the election; his party, the &quot;Dominican Liberation Party&quot; (PLD), presents itself as the centre-left inheritor of the &quot;constitutionalist&quot; movement of 1965.   </p> <p> Today, <a href="http://www.coha.org/2009/03/francisco-caamano-deno-presente/">Francisco Caamaño Deñó</a> has received official recognition in his own country. He is designated a &quot;national hero&quot; and lionised in statues, his life and struggles are memorialised, he has foundations and an avenue named after him. His widow, Maria Paula Acevedo, and cousin, Rafaela Caamaño, shared the London exile; they recall visits to Portobello Road, Hyde Park (where Caamaño liked to fly model airplanes) and the maze at Hampton Court. Their welcome in Santo Domingo across decades of political and personal history is enthusiastic and warm. </p> <p> <strong>A political question</strong> </p> <p> It has been a long national journey too: the Dominican Republic is now far from the country of the revolutionary 1960s. &quot;<a href="http://rulers.org/indexf1.html#fernar">Dr Leonel</a>&quot; had to surrender power in 2000 on account of term-limit restrictions, but the lifting of these in 2002 allowed him to run again and win election in 2004 and re-election in <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7406030.stm">2008</a>. </p> <p> This thoughtful and engaging 55-year-old politician has more in common with the cautious Spanish-Brazilian-Chilean left model than with the bolder one of Hugo Chávez or Evo Morales. Yet many of those who have served in his three administrations are former members of the radical movement of the 1960s. A prominent minister in the first Fernández administration was one of only two people to survive the 1973 guerrilla expedition; another, now a television host and chair of a historical foundation - who interviewed me about Caamaño for an hour on his TV programme - graduated in 1967 from a Chinese guerrilla training-school. A number of other recent ministers were educated in the universities of the Soviet Union.   </p> <p> A trademark theme of the <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/election.php?ID=1169">president</a> is to stress what the 9 million people of the Dominican Republic are capable of. The last two decades have seen substantial progress in two areas: tourism and export-oriented industry - together they play a vital role in offseting the annual $5.8 billion trade deficit. The economy was in the pre-recession years growing at an average annual rate of 7%. The large Dominican diaspora - most in the US and some in Spain - sends considerable sums in remittances (see Ernesto Sagás &amp; Sintia E Molina, eds., <em><a href="http://www.upf.com/book.asp?id=SAGASS04">Dominican Migration: Transnational Perspectives</a></em> [University Press of Florida, 2004]). </p> <p> There is great cultural pride in the award of the Pulitzer prize for literature to the Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz (for his Joycean novel relocated to the Caribbean, <em><a href="http://www.faber.co.uk/work/brief-wondrous-life-of-oscar-wao/9780571239733/">The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao</a></em>) - a refreshing variant for a country whose international reputation had hitherto rested on the prowess of <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300052565">baseball</a> players.  </p> <p> But the strains of the world economic crisis are becoming evident alongside such indices of progress, with exports down and remittances less certain. Moreover, the prospect of a normalisation between Cuba and the US poses a major threat to the Dominican tourist industry. At the same time, the Fernández leadership, now in its third presidency, has run into trouble. The president is criticised for appointing too many ministers, and advisers with unspecified responsibilities. More questions are being asked about the deals the president has made with businessmen in order to secure his re-election, questions he has been obliged to answer via unscheduled appearances on television. </p> <p> The main preoccupation of those participating in a national conference in January 2009 - the &quot;Summit for National Unity in the Face of the World Crisis&quot; - was the level of <a href="http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2009/4/22/31768/More-corrupt-officials-than-the-press-knows-about-Dominican-senator-says">corruption</a> in the country. The next items were the high levels of public expenditure (up nearly 20% in 2008), the global economic crisis, levels of crime and violence, and the lack of competitiveness of Dominican exports. Some of those who admired and supported the president in his first and second periods in office are now markedly less enthusiastic (see &quot;<a href="http://www.economist.com/world/americas/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11332852">Two cheers for Fernández</a>&quot;, <em>Economist</em>, 8 May 2008).   </p> <p> <strong>A return to the world</strong> </p> <p> These uncertainties are reflected in a continuing debate about the Dominican Republic&#39;s place in the world. The president has repeatedly stressed that the DR is in - that word again - the &quot;backyard&quot; of the US and needs to avoid unnecessary confrontations with the powerful enemy to the north. This caution is perhaps reinforced by something many people in Santo Domingo allude to: the sense of their country&#39;s geographic isolation. </p> <p> Haiti is a neighbour - its capital Port-au-Prince seven hours overland from Santo Domingo - but relations between the two states, and peoples, are <a href="http://www.upf.com/book.asp?id=SAGASS00">strained</a>. Cuba is geographically nearby to the west - Guantánamo is an hour&#39;s flying time, nearer Santo Domingo than to Havana - but, for political reasons, remote. Almost equally so is the US-controlled island of Puerto Rico to the east. </p> <p> Dominicans often express the feeling that, just as their country was forgotten by the world after the attention of the Rafael Trujillo years and the 1965 events, so it is treated as outside the regional political and economic systems today - accepted as neither part of Latin America, nor of central America, nor in many respects even of the Caribbean. It is a paradox, indeed, that this country, the centrepiece of the original Spanish colonisation of the Americas, and scene of one of the most tumultuous confrontations of the cold war, should have slipped so easily from international attention. Perhaps it is time for the Dominican Republic to write another page.     </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> global politics Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal email Thu, 23 Apr 2009 05:17:44 +0000 Fred Halliday 47795 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iraq in the balance https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iraq-in-the-balance <p> After the fire, a cautious optimism about the future of Iraq has begun to show itself as the country passes the sixth anniversary of the United States-led invasion of March 2003. Indeed, the mood-music of &quot;progress&quot; and &quot;stability&quot; - heard from Iraqi and other middle-eastern politicians, in European and American diplomatic and media analyses - is supported by at least some developments on the ground. These include the smooth provincial <a href="/article/iraq-s-elections-winners-losers-and-what-s-next">elections</a> in January 2009, the decline in violence in several regions and at least some parts of Baghdad, and the apparent agreement over the numbers and status of the US forces remaining in Iraq after 2011.   <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. Among his many books are <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412" target="_blank">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a></em> (2005) and <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1" target="_blank">100 Myths about the Middle East</a></em> (2005). His critical analysis of the Shah&#39;s regime, <em><a href="http://www.books-by-isbn.com/0-14/0140220100-Iran-Dictatorship-and-Development-Pelican-0-14-022010-0.html">Iran: Dictatorship and Development</a> </em>(Penguin, November 1978) was subsequently translated into nine languages, among them Spanish, Persian and Arabic<br /> <br /> Among Fred Halliday&#39;s many columns in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Looking back on Saddam Hussein</a>&quot; (7 January 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">America and Arabia after Saddam</a>&quot; (12 May 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/iran_matter_4396.jsp" target="_blank">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the American empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (13 October 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot; (16 December 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">Iran&#39;s revolution in global history</a>&quot; (2 March 2009)</span> </p> <p> A number of external conditions - including a more cautious Iran and a more defensive al-Qaida (at least in the Arab world) - reinforce the narrative. If Iraq can hold together in the coming months and survive the test of the parliamentary elections in December 2009, then (so the positive scenario has it) the path away from conflict may be in sight.  </p> <p> <strong>An uncertain future</strong> </p> <p> There are, however, three strong reasons to hesitate before endorsing this view. The first is the <a href="/article/a-war-on-three-fronts-iraq-afpak-washington">continuation</a> of horrendous violence. The second is that the story of a &quot;turn in the tide&quot;, &quot;spring shoots&quot; and the like is so familiar: both from the last six years in Iraq and from comparable situations in (for example) America&#39;s Vietnam war in the 1960s-70s and the Soviet Union&#39;s Afghanistan one in the 1980s. The truth is that nobody can know if Iraq has reached a turning-point, since there are so many conflicting factors in play. Much depends on the as yet indiscernible decisions of politicians biding their time for a definitive distribution of power - and possibly a settling of accounts - when the Americans leave (see &quot;<a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq">The futures of Iraq</a>&quot;, 16 December 2008). </p> <p> The third reason is that (as is an open secret) several groups in Iraq have stockpiles of weapons and are prepared to contemplate a resumption of fighting in the event of crisis (or perhaps opportunity). They include <a href="http://www.faber.co.uk/work/muqtada-al-sadr-and-fall-of-iraq/9780571239740/">Muqtada al-Sadr</a> and his Mahdi army; the various and factional Kurdish forces; the several loose coalition of <em>Sunni</em> tribesmen; as well as surviving Ba&#39;athists and enduring al-Qaida elements. There is a particular danger (confirmed by well-informed American diplomats who have been working in the region) of the eruption of serious and protracted warfare over <a href="http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&amp;tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=34553">Kirkuk</a> between Arabs and Kurds. </p> <p> <strong>A dynamic stability </strong> </p> <p> Yet a larger historical and regional view suggests that amid such uncertainty, one factor more evident in Iraq than in most other regional conflicts might - if properly addressed - increase the changes of a longer-term settlement. It is also something that receives little attention from middle-eastern observers and even less from their Washington counterparts. This is the relatively low level of serious rivalry between the major regional states, in effect the six countries that border Iraq. For all their sponsoring of competing factions within Iraq, and their own differences with each other, they share the overriding goal of preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq as a state.  </p> <p> Indeed, despite all the stereotypes about the &quot;unpredictability&quot; and &quot;fragility&quot; of the middle-east state-system, in essence a relic of the post-first-world-war settlement, the map and internal composition of the twenty-six or so regional states has been remarkably stable - more so than in Europe, central Asia or south Asia in the same period (see <em><a href="http://www.cup.cam.ac.uk/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521592406">The Middle East in International Relations</a></em> [Cambridge University Press, 2005]). In the eighty years since the collapse of the Ottoman empire, only one major redrawing of the map has occurred: the fusion of North and South Yemen in 1990. In the twenty years since the end of the cold war only six states - Afghanistan, Iraq, South Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey - have seen major political upheavals. In the twenty others, predictability, not to mention stasis, has prevailed: in many even the rulers and chief ministers are the same as a decade or two, or more, ago.   </p> <p> The six countries bordering Iran comprise four large and powerful ones, each with a history of intervention in and conflict with Iraq: Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria. Indeed, the other two - Kuwait and Jordan - have also had aspirations to influence Iraqi politics, and so can be added to the list. Today, however, that is in the past. None of these states claims any Iraqi territory; none in any serious way demands compensation for any Iraqi crimes or invasions in the past; none either seeks to or is able to impose a regime solely composed of its own clients in Baghdad (see &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">America and Arabia after Saddam</a>&quot;, 12 May 2004). </p> <p> Moreover, all would be glad to see the stabilisation of a new <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=104">government</a> in Baghdad, the return to prosperity of the Iraqi economy, and the end of the violence within that country. No wonder, for all have been seriously affected by the Iraq war - in terms of the movement or transit of terrorists, the disruption of trade and energy supplies, the flow of over 4 million Iraqi <a href="/conflicts/middle_east/refugees_missing_benchmark">refugees</a> and <a href="http://www.internal-displacement.org/countries/iraq">displaced</a> across their borders, and (not least) the turbulence and outrage among their own populations which the present of a United States expeditionary force rampaging through Iraq provokes. </p> <p> The distinctive character of this understated (if never complete) convergence of interests among the regional states can be illustrated by comparison with other regional conflicts. Palestine, Cyprus, Afghanistan and Kashmir, for example, are characterised by situations where the violence and instability in the &quot;core&quot; state are exacerbated by regional actors at odds with each other; determined not to yield ground; and supporting the intransigence of their allies and clients. </p> <p> <strong>A common interest</strong> </p> <p> Some rhetorical flourishes on each side apart, the states bordering Iraq have behaved very differently. Indeed, to a remarkable degree, these states have avoided direct clashes with each other and have sought ways to move the political process forward. Iran has given quiet support for the status-of-forces deal between Baghdad and Washington finally <a href="http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/108925/iraqi_parliament_approves_status_of_forces_agreement/">agreed</a> in December 2008; Saudi Arabia and Iran have both sectarian (<em>Sunni</em> <em>/ Shi&#39;a</em>) and geopolitical rivalries, but on Iraq they have sought to limit and manage their antagonism. As major energy producers, they share in common the primary interest of preventing a collapse of world oil prices. </p> <p> In addition, Turkey has in a major reversal of policy opened dialogue with the authorities in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Turkey&#39;s <a href="/article/democracy_power/future_turkey/kurdish_question">calculation</a> here is that it can better subdue the Kurdish guerrillas inside its own territory if it is seen to endorse and support <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?ISB=9780863568251&amp;TAG=&amp;CID">Kurdish</a> leadership in Iraq; this is a replay of the scenario of the 1970s and 1980s, when Iraq and Iran each sought to back the Kurdish opposition within the other&#39;s territory, the better to control their own side of the border.   </p> <p> In effect, the regional actors have conducted themselves since 2003 in a reasonably cooperative and restrained spirit. They would be reluctant to admit it, but this discretion might - if combined with good luck inside Iraq, and clever diplomacy by Washington (and possibly the United Nations) - help to bring the Iraqi war to a final end. </p> <p> It is, however, far too early to be definitive here. The very fragmentation of Iraqi society and state brought about in the last generation - first by <a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Saddam Hussein</a> under sanctions, then by the various Baghdad authorities and factions since 2003 - has made any general prediction about Iraqi politics well nigh impossible. Saddam himself once said, a little while before he fell: &quot;You can get rid of me as president, but, if you do, you will need at least seven presidents to hold this country down&quot;. It was, from a brutal man, a brutal truth. </p> <p> &#160; </p> <table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="500" height="200" bgcolor="#e3f2f9"> <tbody> <tr> <td><br /> <p> Among <strong>openDemocracy&#39;s</strong> many articles on Iraq&#39;s politics and conflicts: </p> <p> Sami Zubaida, &quot;<a href="/conflict-iraq/article_953.jsp">The rise and fall of civil society in Iraq</a>&quot; (5 February 2003) </p> <p> Peter Sluglett, &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1262">Iraq&#39;s short century: old problems, new perspectives</a>&quot;  (3 June 2003) </p> <p> Zaid Al-Ali, &quot;<a href="/conflict-iraq/article_2516.jsp">The end of secularism in Iraq</a>&quot;  (18 May 2005) </p> <p> Zaid Al-Ali, &quot;<a href="/conflict-iraq/constitution_2757.jsp">Iraq: a constitution or an epitaph</a>?&quot;  (16 August 2005) </p> <p> Sami Zubaida, &quot;<a href="/democracy-opening/iraq_3042.jsp">Democracy, Iraq and the middle east</a>&quot;  (18 November 2005) </p> <p> Zaid Al-Ali, &quot;<a href="/conflict-iraq/war_elimination_3839.jsp">Iraq&#39;s war of elimination</a>&quot;  (21 August 2006) </p> <p> Sami Ramadani, &quot;<a href="/conflict-iraq/worse_4161.jsp">Iraq: not civil war, occupation</a>&quot;  (7 December 2006) </p> <p> Tareq Y Ismael, &quot;<a href="/conflict-iraq/ghost_saddam_4296.jsp">The ghost of Saddam Hussein</a>&quot; (30 January 2007) </p> <p> Zaid Al-Ali, &quot;<a href="/conflict-iraq/zaid_iraqis_4454.jsp">Iraqis in freefall</a>&quot;   (21 March 2007) </p> <p> Volker Perthes, &quot;<a href="/article/conflicts/institutions_governments/iraq_2012">Iraq in 2012: four scenarios</a>&quot; (11 September 2007) </p> <p> Charles Tripp, &quot;<a href="/article/middle_east/iraq_the_politics_of_the_local">Iraq: the politics of the local</a>&quot;  (25 January 2008) </p> <p> Safa A Hussein, &quot;<a href="/article/conflicts/iraq_handover/iraq_political_space">Iraq&#39;s political space</a>&quot;  (18 February 2008) </p> <p> Robert Springborg, &quot;<a href="/article/conflicts/uncle_sam_in_iraq_the_war_of_narratives">Uncle Sam in Iraq: the war of narratives</a>&quot; (20 March 2008) </p> <p> Reidar Visser, &quot;<a href="/article/conflicts/iraq_handover/basra_second_battle">Basra&#39;s second battle decoded</a>&quot; (31 March 2008) </p> <p> Reidar Visser, &quot;<a href="/article/the-united-states-and-iraq-still-getting-it-wrong">The United States and Iraq: still getting it wrong</a>&quot;  (3 October 2008) </p> <p> Joost R Hiltermann, &quot;<a href="/article/iraq-s-elections-winners-losers-and-what-s-next">Iraq&#39;s elections: winners, losers, and what&#39;s next</a>&quot; (10 February 2009) </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> global politics Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal email Sat, 28 Mar 2009 23:08:56 +0000 Fred Halliday 47605 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iran’s revolution in global history https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history <p> The months of strikes and demonstrations that convulsed Iran in 1978-79 reached a dramatic culmination in the first eleven days of February 1979, when an epic tide of revolutionary fervour brought the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/1/newsid_2521000/2521003.stm">return</a> to Iran from exile of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and overthrew the hitherto powerful regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In the ensuing weeks, the victorious leaders of the popular wave established a new state, the Islamic Republic of Iran; this was proclaimed on 1 April and its <a href="http://servat.unibe.ch/icl/ir00000_.html">constitution</a> ratified in a national referendum on 2-3 December 1979. In consolidating power, as in executing their enemies, the <em>mullahs</em> and their political allies did not waste time. <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. Among his many books are <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412" target="_blank">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</a></em> (2005) and <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1" target="_blank">100 Myths about the Middle East</a></em> (2005). His critical analysis of the Shah&#39;s regime, <em><a href="http://www.books-by-isbn.com/0-14/0140220100-Iran-Dictatorship-and-Development-Pelican-0-14-022010-0.html">Iran: Dictatorship and Development</a> </em>(Penguin, November 1978) was subsequently translated into nine languages, among them Spanish, Persian and Arabic<br /> <br /> This article is based on a lecture given at the LSE on 23 February 2009 <br /> <br /> Among Fred Halliday&#39;s many columns in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>:<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank"><br /> <br /> &quot;Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (30 June 2005) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">The matter with Iran</a>&quot; (1 March 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968" target="_blank">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968" target="_blank">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia&#39;s mixed messages</a>&quot; (13 October 2008)  </span> </p> <p> Three <a href="http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/02/20092107473652180.html">decades</a> is not a long period in the normal lifetime of a revolutionary regime - <a href="/article/cuba-s-revolution-survival-loyalty-change">Cuba&#39;s</a> celebrated its half-century in January 2009, <a href="/article/chinas-anniversary-tempest">China&#39;s</a> will mark its sixtieth year in October, Russia&#39;s passed its seventieth before expiring. But it is an appropriate point to reconsider - in the perspective both of <a href="/article/the-iranian-revolution-beyond-enigma">Iranian reality</a> and of global history - events that were by any account among the most unexpected and influential of modern times. </p> <p> Their scale was immense but their impact also individual and personal. In my own case, as someone who knew Iran in the time of the Shah and visited it in the early and heady post-revolutionary months, this was one of the most challenging periods of my political and intellectual life: both in understanding and engaging with these enormous and complex popular mobilisations, and in coming to terms with the repression, killing and exile to which many of my friends and <a href="http://www.routledgemiddleeaststudies.com/books/Reformers-and-Revolutionaries-in-Modern-Iran-isbn9780415331289">comrades</a> were later subjected.   </p> <p> <strong>A six-point pattern</strong> </p> <p> The <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/islamic_revolution/islamic_revolution.php">revolution</a> of Iran can be seen as part of a series of such transformations that had overturned regimes in three continents in the previous two centuries: France (1789), Russia (1917), China (1949), Cuba (1959). What happened in Iran shares six broad points of comparison with these earlier moments (see <em><a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?is=0333653297">Revolution and World Politics</a></em> [Palgrave, 1999]). </p> <p> First, a broad coalition of opposition forces came together to overthrow a dictatorial regime, building on <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300098561">longstanding</a> social grievances but also energising nationalist sentiment against a state and ruler seen as too compliant to foreign interests. The coalition mobilised under Ayatollah Khomeini&#39;s leadership ranged from liberal and Marxist to conservative and religious forces: in effect a classic populist alliance. </p> <p> Second, the victory of the revolution both required and was facilitated by the state&#39;s weakness of leadership and internal divisions. The <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/mohammad_rezashah/mohammad_rezashah.php">Shah</a> was ill, his advisers and generals were uncertain. The resemblance to other figures and regimes in a time of crisis - Louis XVI and Czar Nicholas II, as well as Charles I of England - is evident.   </p> <p> Third, the revolution possessed the quality that distinguishes mere <em>coups d&#39;etat</em> or rebellions from major revolutions: namely, it was not just political (in the sense of changing the political elite and the constitution or legitimating system of the <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/iran.htm">country</a>) but had profound and ongoing social and economic consequences. Because of it, Iran today has a new social order and a new set of social values - even as a new revolutionary elite, an Islamic <em>nomenklatura</em>,<em> </em>united by ties of power, business and marriage, controls state revenues (see &quot;<a href="/globalization-irandemocracy/iran_matter_4396.jsp">The matter with Iran</a>&quot;, 1 March 2007). </p> <p> Fourth, the revolution&#39;s core ideology may have propounded the need for a new, radical and egalitarian order; but it was supplemented by pre-existing ideas that were crucial to sustaining domestic support (above all nationalism and a sense of the country&#39;s <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/series/sSeries.asp?code=CHIN">historic</a> standing and mission). <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/rkhomeini/ayatollah_khomeini.php">Ayatollah Khomeini</a> at first refused to use the word <em>mihan </em>(fatherland), and denounced secular nationalism as an insult to Islam. But with the invasion by Saddam Hussein&#39;s Iraq in 1980 all this changed, and he and other leaders adopted the Iranian version of the term used by French revolutionaries in the 1790s, <em>la grande nation</em> - in Persian, <em>millat i bozorg. </em>  </p> <p> Fifth, the explosion of revolution at the centre of a multi-ethnic country - and driven especially from within its dominant ethnic component - had profound reverberations on the relations between the Iran&#39;s different national <a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/regionalism_3695.jsp">components</a>. In particular, it led not to the era of fraternal cooperation and solidarity anticipated in much of the political rhetoric of the time, but to conflict and war. </p> <p> Here again, the pattern - a revolt at the heart of a plural country and the consolidation of a new authoritarian regime provoking contrary forces in the periphery - has rich historical precedents. The Young Turk revolution of 1908, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, and the Ethiopian revolution of 1974 are prime examples; their echo in Iran concerned, above all, the Kurds. The hopes of this significant part of the population, of an autonomous Kurdistan within a democratic Iran (and they knew the first was impossible without the second) were to be dashed. </p> <p> Sixth, the revolution in Iran had explosive <a href="http://www.upf.com/book.asp?id=ESPOSF90">international</a> consequences. There were persistent attempts to export the revolution to neighbouring countries, which intensified regional rivalries and fostered conditions that led to inter-state war. The Iranian revolution&#39;s efforts to promote its state interests and extend itself soon acquired resemblances to a reviving empire - with traces of France and Russia in particular, not least the contradictory trends whereby some forces in the region were inspired by the revolution while others drew on older antagonisms (such as <a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Saddam Hussein&#39;s</a> excoriation of Khomeini as a <em>magus </em>[Zoroastrian priest] and more recent concerns about a powerful new <em>Shi&#39;a</em> &quot;crescent&quot;).  <span class="pullquote_new">Among <strong>openDemocracy&#39;s </strong>many<strong> </strong>articles about Iran: <br /> <br /> Ardashir Tehrani, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s presidential coup</a>&quot; (26 June 2005) <br /> <br /> Trita Parsi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">The Iran-Israel cold war</a>&quot; (28 October 2005) <br /> <br /> Nayereh Tohidi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran: regionalism, ethnicity and democracy</a>&quot; (28 June 2006) <br /> <br /> Hooshang Amirahmadi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran and the international community: roots of perpetual crisis</a>&quot; (24 November 2006)  <br /> <br /> Kamin Mohammadi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Voices from Tehran</a>&quot; (31 January 2007) <br /> <br /> Anoush Ehteshami, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran and the United States: back from the brink</a>&quot; (16 March 2007) <br /> <br /> Rasool Nafisi, &quot;I<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">ran&#39;s cultural prison</a>&quot; (17 May 2007) <br /> <br /> Nasrin Alavi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">The Iran paradox</a>&quot; (11 October 2007) <br /> <br /> Omid Memarian, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran: prepared for the worst</a>&quot; (30 October 2007) <br /> <br /> Sanam Vakil, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s political shadow war</a>&quot; (16 July 2008) <br /> <br /> Nasrin Alavi, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran: after the dawn</a>&quot; (2 February 2009) <br /> <br /> Abbas Milani, &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s Islamic revolution: three paradoxes</a>&quot; (9 February 2009) <br /> <br /> Homa Katouzian, &quot;<a href="/article/the-iranian-revolution-beyond-enigma">The Iranian revolution: beyond enigma</a>&quot; (13 February 2009)<br /> <br /> Nikki R Keddie, &quot;<a href="/article/iranian-women-and-the-islamic-republic">Iranian women and the Islamic Republic</a>&quot; (24 February 2009)  </span> </p> <p> At the same time, the revolution&#39;s enduring influence was forged in these post-revolutionary conflicts. It was the international impacts of the 1979 revolution - above all the 1980-88 <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/iran_iraq_war/iran_iraq_war1.php">war</a> with Iraq - that shaped the politics, defined the state <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/government/articles/structure_of_power.php">institutions</a> and steeled the will, of the Islamic Republic (just as the civil war of 1919-21 was formative for the Bolshevik regime). The fact that many of those who went through the experience of that <a href="http://www.crimesofwar.org/thebook/iran-iraq-war.html">terrible</a> war - such as <a href="http://www.ahmadinejad.ir/">President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad</a> and his associates in the Revolutionary Guards - are now seeking to revive the revolutionary discipline and spirit of those years echoes similar attempts by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, Mao Zedong in the 1960s &quot;cultural revolution&quot;, and Fidel Castro in his 1980s <em>rectificación </em>of the 1980s (see  &quot;<a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/result_2629.jsp" target="_blank">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; , 30 June 2005). All in the end failed, though the regimes themselves lasted.   </p> <p> <strong>A new-old order </strong> </p> <p> The Iranian revolution thus bears comparison with its historic predecessors. But just as each earlier revolution can be seen in relation to others even as it displays its own singularity, this true of Iran also.  </p> <p> This is most obviously the case in regard to the leadership, ideology and goals of the revolution. For in the vanguard was not the secular radicalism of the inheritors of 1789, but a revolution under the banner of Islam; led by clerics, and ostensibly inspired by the goal not of advancing to a new and &quot;progressive&quot; future but rather of returning to the model of Islam -defined as simple, puritanical and authentic - of the age of the prophet. This form of <a href="http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/6163.php">ideology</a> and leadership is all the more distinctive in that many other Islamist revolutionary movements before and since - such as those of Afghanistan, Egypt or Algeria (and, by extension, al-Qaida) - have had non-clerical leaders.   </p> <p> But in any event the &quot;religious&quot; <a href="/article/iran-s-islamic-revolution-three-paradoxes">ideas</a> of the Iranian revolution, and the application to modern politics of terms and images taken from the Qu&#39;ran, should not be taken entirely at face value. True, Islamic ideas (in regard to women, the law, and the status of the clergy for example) had a major impact on the social values of the Islamic Republic. But on closer examination the programme and actions of Ayatollah Khomeini and his associates have much in common with other modern social upheavals. Here are just five such affinities: </p> <p> ▪ the appeal to the mass of poor people (in Iran termed the <em>mostazafin</em>)<em> </em>against the corrupt, foreign-linked, elite (the <em>mostakbarin</em>) </p> <p> ▪ the cult of the leader - Khomeini&#39;s official and entirely secular state title was <em>rahbar inqilab va bonyadgozar i jumhuri yi islami </em>(leader of the revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic) </p> <p> ▪ mobilising nationalist sentiment in a country that had been unilaterally invaded, by Russia and Britain, in both world wars </p> <p> ▪ using, albeit in a chaotic and inefficient way, the country&#39;s oil wealth for egalitarian social programmes in city and countryside </p> <p> ▪ analysing the world in terms of a just struggle of oppressed peoples against a dominant power; Khomeini cited those of South Africa and Nicaragua, and though he did not often use the word &quot;imperialism&quot; he deployed an apt Qur&#39;anic term as substitute - <em>istikbar i jahani </em>(global arrogance).   </p> <p> Above all, the Islamic revolutionaries of 1979 did what all revolutionaries do - namely overthrow an oppressive government, seize power for themselves and their allies, crush not only their opponents but all dissidents within the regime, and then impose a new and even more exacting and intrusive authoritarian regime. In summer 1979, I was a witness of the brutal repression visited by the new state on its <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Iranians_Have_Paid_Dearly_For_Fateful_Misjudgment/1490906.html">former</a>, now discarded, liberal and socialist allies. In this perspective, the template followed by the Islamic Republic is not that of Mecca and Medina in the 7th century but that of Paris in the 1790s and Moscow and St Petersburg in the 1920s.   </p> <p> <strong>A triple innovation</strong> </p> <p> The common emphasis on the apparently unique <em>religious</em> character of the Iranian revolution may also mislead the analyst, in the sense that it obscures other dimensions in which it was distinct. For in at least three other ways the events of 1978-79 were indeed different from what had gone before. </p> <p> First, this revolution - more than any other in history - relied not on force, military insurrection or guerrilla war but on <em>politics</em>. This is true in particular with regard to the two instruments that European revolutionaries had themselves long dreamed of using - the mass mobilisation of people in the streets (in the Iranian case, the largest such opposition demonstrations ever recorded anywhere) and the political (as opposed to industrial) general strike (which, from October 1978, paralysed the economy and foreign trade). This, not the religious garb, was perhaps the most paradoxical and original aspect of the Iranian revolution: in its political form and process, and despite its religious and &quot;traditional&quot; guise, it was <em>the first modern revolution.</em>  </p> <p> Second, Iran&#39;s experience departed from the norm prescribed by both historical precedent and textbooks of historical sociology: namely, that a revolution&#39;s indispensable precondition was the weakening of the state, usually as a result of foreign pressure - either defeat in war or by invasion, or via the withdrawal of support from an external patron (in the case of China and Cuba, this was the United States). </p> <p> In Iran, none of this occurred. The Shah&#39;s regime was backed by the US (as also by China) to the end, while the Russians did not know what to do or think; no outside state gave any support to the revolutionaries; and the Shah&#39;s army had not been defeated in war. In another respect the Iranian revolution was almost unique in modern times, namely that it did not occasion rivalry between great powers: Russia, China, Europe and the US were united against it, and supported Saddam Hussein&#39;s Iraq in his aggression of 1980. </p> <p> Third, this was a revolution that was well organised, through a network of mosque and local committees - yet had no revolutionary party. It failed later, moreover - as the Cubans, for example, did - to consolidate one; the brief experiment with a ruling party after 1979, the Islamic Republican Party<em>, </em>soon petered out. </p> <p> <strong>A living current</strong> </p> <p> Against this background, the Iran of today appears as another case of a revolution that approaches its middle years far from abandoned or defeated. In domestic terms, the post-revolutionary climate is far freer and diverse than that seen in any other revolution; a wide range of opinions and <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863566509&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=iran&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=18&amp;dc=31">interpretations</a> of the revolution itself and its programme can be heard - even if violence, cruelty and intimidation are never far away. The presidential <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=103">elections</a> of June 2009 are even more important in this regard in signalling how Iran&#39;s past will influence its future course; though given the plurality of <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/iran_power/html/default.stm">power-centres</a> and opinions, even they will not be definitive. </p> <p> In international terms, Iran - exactly like its other post-imperial counterparts, France, Russia and China - is pursuing a &quot;dual&quot; foreign policy: one that combines aspirations to regional and military power with continued promotion of radicalism in neighbouring countries. </p> <p> A thirty-year story is thus <a href="/article/iran-after-the-dawn">far from</a> ended. No one involved in and affected by it - the region, the wider world, and above all the resourceful, sardonic and enduring people of Iran - have not yet heard the last of the Islamic revolution and of this &quot;great nation&quot;.   </p> democracy & power Globalisation democracy & iran global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright email Thu, 05 Mar 2009 11:04:20 +0000 Fred Halliday 47428 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The greater middle east: Obama’s six problems https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-greater-middle-east-obama-s-six-problems <p> The inauguration of a new United States president is a moment of unusually high <a href="/article/barack-obama-hope-fear-and-advice">hopes</a> the world over as well in the homeland. This is understandable in view both of the legacy Barack Obama inherits and his own striking qualities. But there is also - as ever, but perhaps more in view of the tendency to excess in much media coverage - a need for some proportion. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em> </em></a><em>(IB Tauris 2003),</em><em> </em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in Intern</em><em>a</em><em>tional Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.<br /> <br /> The recent articles on the middle east include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni</em>, <em>Shi</em>&#39;a and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot; (9 February 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot; (25 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot; (4 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008</span>Nowhere is this more evident than in the middle east - even though, and despite Israel&#39;s <a href="/article/after-gaza">assault</a> on Gaza, the affairs of this region will be far from the only priority of the new president on his first days in the White House. For there are many others: the domestic economic <a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4590">crisis</a>: dealing with Russia and China (and perhaps even a recalcitrant Congress); the war in Afghanistan and relations with Pakistan; the diplomacy of global warming. </p> <p> The very range and scale of these suggests that the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/inaugural-address/">post-inauguration glow</a> may soon fade - and that when the pressing agenda does start to crowd in, the middle east may indeed force itself to become an unavoidable focus for President Obama. The Israeli <a href="/article/gaza-the-israel-united-states-connection">operation</a> in Gaza - and its wider strategic implications, including for <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-halevi4-2009jan04,0,3919516.story">Iran</a> - could be a harbinger here, as well as a tragedy that compels serious attention in its own right. </p> <p> Among the advice Obama has received on the middle east is that the US should treat it as interconnected, while avoiding the mirage of a single or &quot;comprehensive&quot; solution to what is in reality a mosaic of interlocking crises and interests. In that spirit, and before &quot;events&quot; (unexpected or not) have had a chance to spoil the luxury of a fresh canvas, here are six states in the broad region of &quot;<a href="/globalization/westasia_crisis_3833.jsp">greater west Asia</a>&quot; that the new president must keep in mind. </p> <p> <strong>Iraq, Iran, Palestine</strong> </p> <p> The first state is Iraq. Barack Obama comes to office with the advantage that in its last weeks the George W Bush administration was able at last to sign a <a href="http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/108925/iraqi_parliament_approves_status_of_forces_agreement/">status-of-forces agreement</a> (Sofa) with Nouri al-Maliki&#39;s government in Baghdad. It is probable - for all the talk of &quot;stay-behind&quot; units, and combat-troops rebranded as &quot;training&quot; entities - that in effect all US forces will leave by the end of 2011. The Sofa agreement has commanded surprisingly wide support (for the moment) across the Iraqi political <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE50L07120090122">spectrum</a>; and even the Iranians, who played such a vital role behind the scenes in advising the Iraqi government, have been reasonably welcoming. </p> <p> However, the overall situation in Iraq gives <a href="/article/the-futures-of-iraq">little cause</a> for comfort. The security situation remains severely unsettled, including in Baghdad itself; and the US military &quot;surge&#39;&quot; much-touted success is illusory or fragile (in part because it is the enforced reallocation of people from mixed areas in the capital to solely <em>Shi&#39;a</em> or solely <em>Sunni</em> ones has been completed and thus opportunities for communal violence removed, in part because it is the <a href="/article/conflicts/iraq_handover/basra_second_battle">Mahdi army&#39;s</a> ceasefire that is responsible for the easing). </p> <p> Moreover all factions, including the <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?ISB=9780863568251&amp;TAG=&amp;CID">Kurds</a>, are preparing arms for a major intra-Iraqi conflict - in effect a &quot;real&quot; civil war - as the Americans prepare to exit and if current political arrangements collapse. The vaunted &quot;awakening&quot; (<em>Sahwa</em>) <a href="http://www.iwpr.net/?p=icr&amp;s=f&amp;o=347536&amp;apc_state=henpicr">movement</a>, America&#39;s attempt to win <em>Sunnis</em> back to political engagement, has in some areas helped to arm former members of the ruling <a href="http://mondediplo.com/2002/12/05iraq">Ba&#39;ath party</a>; they are becoming ready to reassert themselves as bloodily out of power as they did when controlling the country in the Saddam Hussein era. </p> <p> The coming months in <a href="http://www.iwpr.net/?apc_state=henpicr&amp;s=o&amp;o=iraq_gmap.html">Iraq</a> are, then, full of dangers. The political uncertainties include provincial <a href="http://www.historiae.org/notebook.asp">elections</a> at the end of January 2009, with parliamentary elections to follow which will likely produce a new prime minister and president (since al-Maliki may not survive these <a href="http://www.iwpr.net/?p=icr&amp;s=f&amp;o=349004&amp;apc_state=henficr349126">tests</a>, and Jalal Talabani is seriously ill and his own Kurdish region riven by factionalism and corruption). </p> <p> The second state is<strong> </strong>Iran. The <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/islamic_revolution/islamic_revolution.php">Iranian revolution</a> is thirty years old in January 2009 - and, like other great modern revolutions (France, Russia, China, Cuba) - it has far from run its course after three decades. Indeed the very fact that some reformists in Iran do want to moderate policies at home, and seek accommodation abroad, has led others to reassert revolutionary ideals and rhetoric; this <a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp">pattern</a> too is evident in these other cases. </p> <p> In such conditions, talk of a &quot;grand bargain&quot; between Washington and Tehran is hollow; as is the speculation about enticing Syria to end its collaboration with Iran. The Islamic Republic remains as it has been since 1979 pivotal in the region&#39;s conflicts - from Gaza and the Beka&#39;a valley to Damascus, <a href="http://www.iwpr.net/?p=icr&amp;s=f&amp;o=349126&amp;apc_state=henh">Baghdad</a> and Kabul. This makes a significant reduction of tension with the United States (involving too regularisation of diplomatic contact) highly desirable. </p> <p> It is also possible, though the nuclear <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057687.html">issue</a> and the Israel <a href="/article/iran-israel-and-the-risk-of-war">factor</a> will be key parts of the <a href="http://www.cfr.org/publication/18157/iranian_veto_on_mideast_peace.html">calculations</a> on both sides. Much will depend on the outcome of the Iranian presidential elections in June 2009: and here, even the election of one of the pragmatic-reformist former incumbents (Hashemi Rafsanjani or Mohammad Khatami) is no guarantee of progress, given that the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/iran_power/html/default.stm">supreme leader</a> Ayatollah Ali Khameneí will continue to play a decisive role. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>openDemocracy</strong> authors consider Barack Obama&#39;s policy options:<br /> <br /> John C Hulsman, &quot;<a href="/article/memo-to-obama-the-middle-east-needs-you">Memo to Obama: the middle east needs you</a>&quot; (11 November 2008)<br /> <br /> A Wess Mitchell, &quot;<a href="/article/memo-to-obama-a-europe-policy-3-0">Memo to Obama: a Europe policy 3.0</a>&quot; (11 November 2008)<br /> <br /> Anita Inder Singh, &quot;<a href="/terrorism/article/anita_indersingh/obama_afghanistan_challenge">Obama&#39;s Afghan challenge</a>&quot; (12 November 2008)<br /> <br /> Zaid Al-Ali, &quot;<a href="/article/what-obama-means-for-iraq">What Obama means for Iraq</a>&quot; (13 November 2008)<br /> <br /> Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, &quot;<a href="/article/cuba-colombia-venezuela-and-obama">Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela...and Obama</a>&quot; (24 November 2008)<br /> <br /> Godfrey Hodgson, &quot;<a href="/article/change-0">Change?</a>&quot; (2 December 2008)<br /> <br /> openDemocracy, &quot;<a href="/article/barack-obama-hope-fear-and-advice">Barack Obama: hope, fear... advice</a>&quot; (20 January 2009)<br /> <br /> Pervez Hoodbhoy, &quot;<a href="/article/barack-obama-s-triple-test">Barack Obama&#39;s triple test</a>&quot; (21 January 2009)</span>The third country - not yet, and far from being, a state - is Palestine. It is improbable that the latest Israeli attack on <a href="/article/israel-s-politics-of-war">Gaza</a> will make a settlement any more likely. The political and electoral timing of the operation is part of a wider Israeli scepticism towards the new US president, reflected in some anticipatory scorn of his supposed idealism. This is unwarranted if only because Obama&#39;s partisan campaign position on the Arab-Israeli dispute was the one major piece of unprincipled and opportunistic posturing in his election campaign. Whether this will endure is another matter. </p> <p> But even were Obama to change his approach and to make the resolution of the Palestine question on an equitable and stable <a href="/article/two-states-for-two-peoples-solution-or-illusion">two-state basis</a> his priority - which in any case few in Washington would thank him for - this would not be enough. For there are serious limits to what the US - or any other external mediator, be it the<a href="/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples"> European Union</a> or Saudi Arabia - can achieve over Palestine. The principal reason is that serious and dangerous divisions lie within as well as between the Israelis and the Palestinians, with the result that it will be difficult for any leadership on either side to sign, let alone sustain, a compromise settlement. </p> <p> <strong>Afghanistan, Turkey, Yemen</strong> </p> <p> The fourth state that should command the attention of the new president is Afghanistan. Barack Obama has taken the easy line of making a commitment to a long-term and increased deployment of troops - all the easier because of the plans to leave Iraq. But it is plain that there can be no military <a href="/article/afghanistan-the-edge-of-calamity">solution</a> in Afghanistan; that the victory of late 2001 was shallow (if it was a victory at all); and that a political settlement that includes the notionally moderate &quot;elements&quot; of the <a href="/article/conflicts/democracy_terror/neo_taliban">Taliban</a> and leads to a new leadership in power in Kabul, is essential. </p> <p> The fifth state is Turkey. A great cost of the Iraq invasion in 2003 was the <a href="/conflict-turkey/article_1231.jsp">alienation</a> of Turkish opinion of all stripes - which occurred for a variety of reasons, of which the Turks&#39; concern that the establishment of a Kurdish administration in northern Iraq could be a <a href="/article/democracy_power/future_turkey/pkk">precedent</a> for the dismemberment of their own country was foremost. It will be not be easy for Obama to repair relations, however - not least as he has accepted that the Ottoman-era massacres of the Armenian population of the empire <a href="/article/turkey_and_history_shoot_the_messenger">constituted</a> genocide, and (as senator) <a href="http://www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=1365">called</a> on the modern Turkish government to accept its responsibilities as a result. </p> <p> The sixth state is one often pushed nervously to the periphery of vision, namely <a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen</a><strong>. </strong>The economic and political situation of a people that composes half of the whole population of the Arabian peninsula - and who are proud to call themselves <em>al ‘arab al asliin</em> (the &quot;original&quot; or &quot;true&quot; Arabs) - is deterioriating. The grip of their president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is weakening as oil revenues diminish and violence and discontent spread across the <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/atlas_middle_east/yemen_map.jpg">land</a>. </p> <p> Barack Obama - and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton - may at present think that they have no reason to think about Yemen. But it has held surprises before: for its Arab neighbours, for <a href="http://www.al-bab.com/yemen/cole1.htm">America</a>, and for the world. It may well do again. </p> Conflict conflicts Globalisation middle east global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright email Wed, 21 Jan 2009 16:11:44 +0000 Fred Halliday 47188 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The futures of Iraq https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-futures-of-iraq <p> What will happen in Iraq between 2008 and 2012? The agreement between the United States and the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad on a plan for the withdrawal of United States forces by the end of 2011 is the context for this question to be posed rather than a definitive answer. The prospects remain open. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">This article digests the conclusions of a report of the specialist international study group on Iraq of the <em><a href="http://www.cidob.org/es/la_fundacion">Centro de Informaci&oacute;n y Documentaci&oacute;n Internacionales en Barcelona</a></em> (Barcelona Centre for Information and Documentation / CIDOB). <br /><br /> The report followed a meeting of international experts on Iraq on 30 October 2008 at CIDOB. This was convened with the support of the <em><a href="http://www.aecid.es/index.asp">Agencia Espa&ntilde;ola de Cooperaci&oacute;n Internacional para el Desarrollo</a></em><em> </em>(Spanish Agency for Cooperation and Development / <em>Aecid</em>), the <em><a href="http://www.fes.de/">Friedrich Ebert Stiftung</a></em> (FES), and CIDOB itself. The participants included diplomats, academics, journalists and researchers specialising in the region.<br /><br /> The report's coordinator is Eduard Soler of the Mediterranean programme at CIDOB; its secretary is Fadila Hilali of CIDOB; and its rapporteur/chair is Fred Halliday</span> A meeting held in Barcelona under the auspices of the <em><a href="http://www.cidob.org/es/la_fundacion">Centro de Informaci&oacute;n y Documentaci&oacute;n Internacionales en Barcelona</a></em> (Barcelona Centre for Information and Documentation / CIDOB) on 30 October 2008 was tasked with discussing three scenarios for Iraq, over a period of between one and five years, in terms of three broad possible lines of development: </p> <div class="greybox_new" style="width: 70.66%; height: 223px"> <p> <a href="/advertising_rates"><em>Advertise Here</em></a>&nbsp;<br /><img src="http://www.historytoday.com/History-Today-Logo_7139_z24943_jpg_8258_MJ2245.jpg.img" alt="" width="192" height="67" />&nbsp;<u>Discover the history behind this story...<br /></u><a href="http://www.historytoday.com/dm_linkinternal.aspx?amid=30237281" target="_blank"><font face="Arial" size="2" color="#ff0000">Coming as Liberators</font></a> <br /><font face="Arial" size="2">Kristian Ulrichsen believes that the politicians and planners behind the 2003 invasion ignored the lessons of the first British occupation of Iraq.</font><br /><u>See also:</u> <a href="http://www.historytoday.com/dm_linkinternal.aspx?amid=19780" target="_blank"><font face="Arial" size="2" color="#ff0000">Iraq: Lessons from Northern Ireland</font></a><br /><a href="http://www.historytoday.com/dm_linkinternal.aspx?amid=30252147" target="_blank"><font face="Arial" size="2" color="#ff0000">The US &amp; the Unintended Consequences of War</font></a> </p> </div> <p> &#9642; a return to civil war between Iraqi factions, against a background of a US withdrawal </p> <p> &#9642; a settlement imposed, or at least guaranteed, by regional states, in the event of a US departure </p> <p> &#9642; the gradual building of political support by different factions in Iraq for the existing government, leading in turn to a consolidation of the Baghdad authorities and a decline in political violence. </p> <p> The majority opinion among the experts present inclined towards the first option, but with a belief that alternative routes remain worth exploring. The following is a summary of the main topics of discussion. </p> <p> <strong>The political outlook </strong> </p> <p> The short-term political future of Iraq will be closely affected by five already scheduled political events: </p> <p> &#9642; the agreement between Washington and Baghdad, which was finalised in the context of the expiry on 1 December 2008 of the United Nations mandate for US and allied troops to be in Iraq </p> <p> &#9642; the inauguration of a new United States president in January 2009 </p> <p> &#9642; the Iraqi provincial elections in January 2009 </p> <p> &#9642; the Iranian presidential elections in June 2009 </p> <p> &#9642; the Iraqi parliamentary elections scheduled for December 2009, from which a new president and prime minister will be chosen. </p> <p> No one expects an immediate or precipitate US withdrawal; and even if problems occur in the implementation of the agreement some means will be found to continue the US troop presence. But the situation of the Nouri al-Maliki government will be placed in doubt by the forthcoming Iraqi elections, provincial and parliamentary: last time, when the system of parties and communal alliances was more simple and secure, it took several months to choose a prime minister. The pervasive fragmentation of political and communal blocs that has taken place since would imply that choosing a new prime minister and a new president will be even more complicated and drawn out. Much will also depend on the outcome of the Iranian presidential elections. </p> <p> <strong>The security outlook</strong> </p> <p> The experts' consensus is that talk of a significant, let alone plausibly enduring, decline in violence in Iraq is misplaced. It is not true to say that Washington's military "surge" strategy has worked. While there has been a decline in violence, killing continues in Baghdad at a level among the highest of any city in the world (with average deaths of thirty or more per day). Moreover, three further factors have contributed to the reduction in violent incidents: </p> <p> &#9642; the process of sectarian separation within hitherto mixed (<em>Shi'a</em>/<em>Sunni</em>) parts of the capital has largely been completed </p> <p> &#9642; the flight of over 4 million Iraqis to elsewhere in the region and to the west has to some degree reduced social and communal tensions - at the cost of creating a new and enormous problem </p> <p> &#9642; the truce by the militias of the radical<em> Shi'a</em> cleric Muqtada al-Sadr - albeit temporary and conditional - reduced current levels of violence. </p> <p> There are also ominous trends that portend ill for the future: </p> <p> &#9642; the <em>Sunni</em> tribal <em>sahwa</em> ("awakening") groups - armed and supported by the United States - are largely composed of ex-Ba'athists and would be unlikely to accept participation in, or loyalty to, a <em>Shi'a</em>-dominated government </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><br /> Fred Halliday is<em> </em>ICREA research<em> </em>professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His many books include <em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em> (IB Tauris, 2003), <em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em> (Saqi, 2005), and <em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005) <br /><br /> Fred Halliday's "global politics" column includes: <br /><br /> "<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>" (18 April 2008)<br /><br /> "<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>" (9 May 2008)<br /><br /> "<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>" (11 June 2008)<br /><br /> "<a href="/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples">Mediterranean mirage: Europe's sunken politics</a>" (29 July 2008)<br /><br /> "<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>" (24 August 2008)<br /><br /> "<a href="/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages">Armenia's mixed messages</a>" (15 October 2008)</span> </p> <p> &#9642; within the Kurdish areas, there is growing discontent, corruption and instability, in large measure a result of the corruption of the two (themselves internally divided) main Kurdish parties </p> <p> &#9642; the process of localising, tribal and communitarian fragmentation in Iraq has greatly increased and made the prospects for any coherent security, or political, restabilisation more remote. </p> <p> It would be inaccurate to ascribe the divisiveness and retribalisation of Iraqi politics to the 2003 invasion alone. This began in the 1990s in the aftermath of the invasion of and war over Kuwait (1990-91) and with the impact of the sanctions regime. In effect, Iraq is a country that has been at war since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 and this is reflected in the condition of the state and administration, and in the collapse of much public infrastructure. </p> <p> The <em>Sunni</em>-<em>Shi'a</em> "civil war" of 2006-07, itself a consequence of the 2003 invasion, has been contained. But a major anxiety is that in the absence of a political settlement satisfactory to all parties and linked to a US withdrawal, factions are preparing to resort again to arms - possibly on an even larger scale. </p> <p> <strong>The Washington-Baghdad link</strong> </p> <p> The first priority of United States policy now is to become more realistic about the situation inside Iraq. The considered and bipartisan Iraq Study Group (or Baker-Hamilton) report presented to George W Bush on 7 December 2006 had no evident impact on the administration's policy or thinking. During the election campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain alike gave no public sign that they understood the evolving situation, and in particular the degree to which political and military developments inside Iraq had an autonomous existence - and were not simply a resultant of US policy and shifting priorities. </p> <p> US policy has for a considerable time suffered from self-delusion - even more so in Washington itself. The over-optimistic coverage of the "surge" has been a further example of this. The forthcoming Barack Obama presidency might shift responsibility away from the defence towards civilian agencies and reconstruction aid, while trying to refocus US strategy in the region towards Afghanistan. This will go little way to resolving current problems. </p> <p> <strong>Iran and Turkey's role</strong> </p> <p> Iraq has six neighbours: Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. All have an interest in Iraq; all are playing a role, covert or overt, inside the country. Their main concern differs in each case: </p> <p> &#9642; for Turkey, the main issue is that of the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq and the implications of this for the war in Turkish Kurdistan with the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) </p> <p> &#9642; for the Arab <em>Sunni</em> states, the main issue is that of the rise of Iranian influence, which is linked in turn to concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions </p> <p> &#9642; for Iran, the main issue is the desire to see as rapid as possible an American withdrawal, consonant with stability inside Iraq, and a settlement in Iraq consonant with the recognition and consolidation of Iranian influence across the region as a whole. </p> <p> There are significant differences of opinion within Turkey and Iran, a fact reflected in changes of policy in recent years. In Turkey, the traditional opposition to an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq has given way in some quarters to the belief that a Kurdish regime there would better be able to control - and undermine the appeal of - the PKK. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guards' wish to see an immediate American withdrawal clashes with those who prefer an orderly US departure that could be accompanied by the establishment in Baghdad of a stable, and pro-Iranian, regime. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Among <strong>openDemocracy's</strong> many articles on<strong> </strong>Iraqi politics<strong>:</strong><br /><br /> Sami Zubaida, "<a href="/conflict-iraq/article_953.jsp">The rise and fall of civil society in Iraq</a>" (5 February 2003)<br /><br /> Peter Sluglett, "<a href="/conflict-iraq/article_1262.jsp">Iraq's short century: old problems, new perspectives</a>" (3 June 2003)<strong><br /><br /></strong>Reidar Visser , "<a href="/conflict-iraq/partition_3565.jsp">Iraq's partition fantasy</a>" (19 May 2006)<br /><br /> Zaid Al-Ali, "<a href="/conflict-iraq/withdrawal_4264.jsp">The United States in Iraq: the case for withdrawal</a>" (19 January 2007)<br /><br /> Charles Tripp, "<a href="/article/middle_east/iraq_the_politics_of_the_local">Iraq: the politics of the local</a>" (25 January 2008)<br /><br /> Zaid Al-Ali, "<a href="/conflict-iraq/zaid_iraqis_4454.jsp">Iraqis in freefall</a>" (21 March 2007)<br /><br /> Volker Perthes, "<a href="/article/conflicts/institutions_governments/iraq_2012">Iraq in 2012: four scenarios</a>" (11 September 2007)<br /><br /> Robert Springborg, "<a href="/article/conflicts/uncle_sam_in_iraq_the_war_of_narratives">Uncle Sam in Iraq: the war of narratives</a>" (19 March 2008)<br /><br /> Joost R Hiltermann, "<a href="/article/iraq-iran-and-the-united-states-problems-and-prospects">Iraq, Iran and the United States: problems and prospects</a>" (30 July 2008)<br /><br /> Reidar Visser, "<strong><a href="/article/the-united-states-and-iraq-still-getting-it-wrong">The United States and Iraq: still getting it wrong</a></strong>" (3 October 2008)<br /><br /> Zaid Al-Ali, "<a href="/article/what-obama-means-for-iraq">What Obama means for Iraq</a>" (13 November 2008)<br /><br /> Paul Rogers, "<a href="/article/iraq-s-gift-to-afghanistan">Iraq's gift to Afghanistan</a>" (20 November 2008)</span> </p> <p> Moreover, Iranian policy on Iraq reflects shifts in policy within Tehran itself: the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 was followed by a more militant Iranian role in Iraq; whereas international pressure and growing problems at home have since 2007 led to a more moderate stance. This makes the outcome of the presidential election in June 2009 - in which a reformist candidate (possibly ex-president Mohammad Khatami) might challenge Ahmadinejad - very important for Iraq. </p> <p> <strong>A European dimension </strong> </p> <p> The European Union's presence in Iraq - British forces and some smaller military contingents (such as Poland) apart - has been minimal. Its main activity has been in the field of judicial training and governance reform, but this has been unable to curb the rampant corruption in all parts of the Iraqi state. </p> <p> There is considerable hope within Iraq that the EU will play a greater role in the future. There has been talk of the EU sending forces to Iraq under the European Security and Defence Policy; of Iraq joining the World Trade Organisation; and of European assistance with the return of Iraqi refugees. None of this is likely to be easy to implement in an EU that has grown to twenty-seven members since the enlargements of 2004 and 2007. </p> <p> The minimal EU position is support for the government of Iraq. In this, individual countries such as Spain can make contributions on matters such as election-monitoring, federalism, and the democratisation of the armed and intelligence forces - but only if there is political will on the Iraqi side for this to be so. The priority then should not be to channel funds to the central Iraqi state - which is corrupt and extremely dysfunctional - but to local and civil- society groupings. </p> <p> A particular issue is that of the fate of Iraqi Christians, and whether Europe should give them preferential refugee status. This, like other issues, will probably remain more a matter of each member-state's domestic politics than of any common EU policy. This too reflects the current divisions within Europe as a whole as much as the problems of Iraq itself. </p> <p> <strong>Iraq's international need</strong> </p> <p> Four main conclusions follow: </p> <p> &#9642; the need to make sure that the new United States president, and the incoming administration as a whole, are accurately informed as to the situation inside Iraq </p> <p> &#9642; the need for increased international and regional attention to the plight of Iraqi refugees, and support for Iraqi society in general </p> <p> &#9642; the need for closer diplomatic and security collaboration between the US and its allies </p> <p> &#9642; the need to work towards building a regional framework, involving all of Iraq's neighbours, and in particular Iran, in a negotiated and guaranteed end of the war inside Iraq, linked to an American withdrawal. </p> -------------------------------------------------------- <table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="415" height="777" bgcolor="#e3f2f9"><tbody><tr><td> <p style="background-color: #ffffff"> <span class="pull_quote_article">The following experts contributed to the study-group on Iraq whose work forms the basis of Fred Halliday's article. It is emphasised that neither the resulting report nor this article necessary reflect the opinion of any individual members of the group: </span> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> &#9642; Faleh Abdul-Jabar, head of the Iraq Centre for Strategic Studies,Beirut-Bagdad-Erbil </p> <p> &#9642; Meliha Altunisik, professor, Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara </p> <p> &#9642; Haizam Amirah Fern&aacute;ndez, research fellow, <em>Real Instituto Elcano</em>, Madrid </p> <p> &#9642; Ali Ansari, professor, University of St Andrews </p> <p> &#9642; Edward Burke, FRIDE, Madrid </p> <p> &#9642; Carmen Claudin, deputy director, CIDOB Foundation, Barcelona </p> <p> &#9642; Patrick Cockburn, journalist, the <em>Independent</em> </p> <p> &#9642; Toby Dodge, lecturer in Queen Mary, University of London </p> <p> &#9642; Alan George, senior associate member, St Antony's College, University of Oxford </p> <p> &#9642; Fred Halliday, ICREA professor, IBEI, Barcelona </p> <p> &#9642; Salam Kawakibi, researcher, Arab Reform Initiative </p> <p> &#9642; Kenton Keith, senior vice-president of the Meridian International Center, Washington </p> <p> &#9642; Tanja Roy, vice-consul at the German consulate-general in Barcelona </p> <p> &#9642; Eduard Soler, coordinator of Mediterranean-Middle East Programme, CIDOB </p> <p> &#9642; Udo Steinbach, professor, Hamburg University / FRIDE, Madrid </p> <p> &#9642; Alberto Ucelay, deputy director-general for the Near and Middle East, ministry of foreign affairs, Madrid </p> <p> &#9642; Pere Vilanova, Universitat de Barcelona / ministry of defence, Spain </p> <p> &#9642; Luciano Zaccara, research fellow at <em>Universidad Aut&oacute;noma de Madrid</em> (TEIM) </p> </td> </tr></tbody></table><p> <style></style></p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <br /><p> &nbsp; </p> iraq: understanding the handover Fred Halliday Original Copyright email Thu, 04 Dec 2008 21:17:08 +0000 Fred Halliday 46945 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Armenia’s mixed messages https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/armenia-s-mixed-messages <p> <style></style>Armenia should be smiling. The trend of events in the region might seem at last to be going in the favour of the small, landlocked south Caucasian republic. The short war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 has humbled its sometimes difficult neighbour while leaving intact its friendship with the northern giant; it maintains control of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh against any attempts by its hostile neighbour Azerbaijan to <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1403974675">reclaim</a> it, with Moscow&#39;s victory over Tbilisi helping to counter - for the moment - the threat of renewed war with Baku; and it has hosted without serious incident the president of Turkey, a neighbour from whom it has long been divided by the bitter, unresolved past. </p> <p> These developments can plausibly be seen as making Armenia more secure than it has been since it gained post-Soviet independence in 1991 (or, more accurately, the restoration of an independence first proclaimed in 1918). Yet to officials in the country&#39;s <a href="http://www.armeniaforeignministry.com/">foreign ministry </a>- working in the imposing, russet-stone buildings overlooking Republic Square in Yerevan - the outlook is more sombre than sunny.<span class="pullquote_new">Among <strong>openDemocracy&#39;s</strong> articles on Armenian politics, including Nagorno-Karabakh and relations with Turkey:<br /> <br /> Sabine Freizer, &quot;<a href="/democracy-caucasus/armenia_3075.jsp">Armenia&#39;s emptying democracy</a>&quot; (30 November 2005)<br /> <br /> Hrant Dink, &quot;<a href="/democracy-turkey/europe_turkey_armenia_3118.jsp">The water finds its crack: an Armenian in Turkey</a>&quot; (13 December 2005)<br /> <br /> Üstün Bilgen-Reinart,&quot;<a href="/democracy-turkey/dink_3246.jsp">Hrant Dink: forging an Armenian identity in Turkey</a>&quot; (7 February 2006)<br /> <br /> Shaun Walker &amp; Daria Vaisman, &quot;<a href="/democracy-caucasus/Nagorno_Karabakh_4182.jsp">Nagorno-Karabakh&#39;s referendum</a>&quot; (14 December 2006)<br /> <br /> Sabine Freizer, &quot;<a href="/democracy-caucasus/nagorno_reality_4184.jsp">Nagorno-Karabakh: between vote and reality</a>&quot; (14 December 2006)<br /> <br /> Hratch Tchilingirian, &quot;<a href="/democracy-turkey/dink_armenian_4378.jsp">Hrant Dink and Armenians in Turkey</a>&quot; (23 February 2007)<br /> <br /> Vicken Cheterian, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus_fractures/armenia_election">Armenia&#39;s election: the waiting game</a>&quot; (19 February 2008)<br /> <br /> Armine Ishkanian, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus/armenia_elections">Democracy contested: Armenia&#39;s fifth presidential elections</a>&quot; (4 March 2008)</span> </p> <p> The deeper realities of present-day <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/armenia.htm">Armenia</a> help explain why. The freedom of manoeuvre of Armenian politicians and officials is as constrained as the <a href="http://uk.oneworld.net/guides/armenia/development">country&#39;s</a> geopolitical position itself - and the events of August 2008 have also highlighted that fact. The strong relations with Russia to the north and Iran to the south are a given. Both have long displeased the George W Bush administration. An American ambassador has taken up residence in the heavily fortified embassy compound near the airport, but only after an interruption of three years; and it is notable that United States vice-president Dick Cheney failed to include Armenia in his post-war <a href="http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Azerbaijan-US-Vice-President-Dick-Cheney-Tours-Ex-Soviet-Republics/Article/200809115092149">tour</a> through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine. Indeed, there is no significant public voice in Armenia in favour of entry to Nato or the European Union, </p> <p> <strong>The fallout of war</strong> </p> <p> Yerevan may have been a beneficiary of the Georgia-Russia war, though in fact it has has limited direct <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav091008b.shtml">interest</a> in their conflict. The economic and political situation in Georgia does affect the approximately 200,000 Armenians who still live in the <a href="http://www.caucaz.com/home_eng/breve_contenu.php?id=235">Javakheti region</a> of southern Georgia, and who were traditionally involved in servicing the former Soviet bases there. They have been hit in recent years both by considerable poverty and by the rise in Georgian nationalist sentiment. At the same time, Armenia faces the world with its frontiers to Azerbaijan and Turkey closed, and reliant for its trading connections on the land-route through Georgia to the port of Poti or the one through Iran to distant Tehran. </p> <p> As important is that the <a href="/article/russia-and-the-georgia-war-the-great-power-trap">assertion</a> of Russian power may (according to influential voices in Yerevan) have acted as a deterrent to Armenia’s rival Azerbaijan, whose rising oil-revenues and self-confidence might otherwise have propelled it to try to reoccupy the areas of its country seized by Armenia in the <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1065626.html">war of 1992-94</a>. </p> <p> This prospect remains far from unthinkable – and no one expects the Russians to send combat-troops to help Armenia. But there are several thousand Russian soldiers in the country already, in bases along the <a href="http://www.maps.com/ref_map.aspx?pid=11900">frontier</a> with Turkey, only 40 kilometres from the capital. Moreover, large quantities of Russian military equipment have been pre-positioned: in the event of a new war with Azerbaijan, the assumption is that these weapons would be made available to the Armenian forces. </p> <p> There are also signs that the war in Georgia has led to a rethinking of policy in Armenia’s powerful western neighbour, Turkey. Armenians cannot forget the terrible killings, on any normal criteria genocide, of Armenians in Turkey during 1915 and after. Above Yerevan stands the great memorial - named <em>T<a href="http://www.explorearmenia.net/index.cfm?objectID=4ADD8273-FB05-72D6-446C81756D28DABC">sitsernakaberd</a></em> (“swallow castle”) – commemorating the tragic, defiantly unforgotten event. It consists of a dignified stone esplanade leading to a pointed tower, and to a sunken chamber with an eternal flame. Twelve columns commemorate the provinces of “western Armenia”, today’s eastern Turkey, from which Armenians were expelled in the midst of the great war and its aftermath. </p> <p> The issue of the Turkish <a href="/article/turkey_and_history_shoot_the_messenger">refusal</a> to acknowledge the genocide has long poisoned, and will probably continue to poison, Armenian-Turkish relations. My impression in Yerevan is that since the victims of the genocide were part of what is now the Republic of Turkey - hence the ancestors of today’s diaspora in Europe, the United States, and parts of the Arab world - a settlement that is not acceptable to these descendants would not pass in Yerevan. But there is some movement on both sides. For those in Turkey, Armenia and the <a href="http://www.loc.gov/rr/international/amed/armenia/resources/armenia-history.html">diaspora</a> who wish to arrive at a considered and shared historical judgement - admittedly still few, though their number is growing - the materials for arriving at a reasoned judgment are there. </p> <p> <style></style>A more immediate concern is the blockade to which Turkey has submitted Armenia since the early 1990s war with Azerbaijan. Armenia desperately needs to open its frontiers to expand its trade links. Some recent developments – among them the announcement by Ankara of a new South Caucasus Initiative, and the historic visit of <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11986092">Turkey’s</a> president on 6 September 2008 to watch an Armenian-Turkish football match in Yerevan – suggest that some shift in attitudes may be occurring (see &quot;<a href="http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12304946">Friends and neighbours</a>&quot;, <em>Economist</em>, 25 September 2008). But the lesson of other conflicts (such as the Arab-Israeli dispute) is that broad declarations and symbolic gestures are not enough: it is not clear (so my interlocutors at Armenia’s foreign ministry told me) that Abdullah Gül’s expression of <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav090508.shtml">goodwill</a> is being translated into policy detail lower down the bureaucratic scale. For anyone familiar with the contemporary state of public opinion in Armenia and Turkey, the changes of a major breakthrough still appear slim. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is<em> </em>ICREA research<em> </em>professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His many books include <a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968" target="_blank"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968" target="_blank"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968" target="_blank"><em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005) <br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column includes:  <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968" target="_blank">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968" target="_blank">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples">Mediterranean mirage: Europe&#39;s sunken politics</a>&quot; (29 July 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (24 August 2008)</span>The <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/bookdetails.asp?book=205">Armenians</a> shared the surprise of the rest of the world about the August 2008 events. The summary judgment of one informed observer sums up the reaction: “Misha blew it”. No one I met believes the Russian (and one-eyed anti-American) claim that Washington encouraged Tbilisi to <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/7692751.stm">attack</a> South Ossetia and Abkhazia; but most voiced severe criticism of Nato’s vague and apparently open-ended commitment to Georgia.  </p> <p> An astute Mediterranean expert and veteran of backchannel <a href="http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12415100">regional</a> negotiations remarked that Saakashvili had probably been deluded by his earlier successes, including the recovery of the less-noticed separatist enclave of Adzharia in southeast Georgia in his first months in office. The Georgian president’s pattern of rule, he went on, casts retrospective light on the overthrow of <a href="http://www.wilsoncenter.org/coldwarfiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=people.details&amp;thisunit=0&amp;peopleid=93">Eduard Shevardnadze</a> in 2003-04: how much was this a “revolution” and how much a near-accidental power-grab whose triumph deluded Saakashvili about the opportunities in store?  </p> <p> But my Armenian hosts were puzzled – even alarmed - by Russia’s decision to <a href="http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/29521">recognise</a> the full independence of the two breakaway entities. Yerevan’s orientation (like the central Asian republics allied to Moscow) may be pro-Russian, but it is not prepared to follow on this one. Armenia has its own <a href="http://armenianeconomist.blogspot.com/">interests</a> to consider, and one is the flow of <a href="http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeniareport/report/en/2008/08/4CC57703-F346-4E3C-8CA4-CD1E571BEC5A.ASP">remittances</a> from its diaspora in Russia on which it so much depends. The accelerating capital-flight from Russia – in part a consequence of the global fallout of the financial crash, but in part a response to political sensitivities – has tough implications for a small trading economy. </p> <p> <strong>A consolidated elite </strong> </p> <p> In a longer-term perspective, however, the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/europe/2008/georgia_russia_conflict/default.stm">Russian-Georgian war</a> has done little to alleviate (far less resolve) the major problems Armenia faces. They centre on the power of the new elite and the dramatic effects of social inequality, poverty and exclusion. </p> <p> The enduring <a href="http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_ARM.html">poverty</a> of the country is evident to any visitor who leaves the central area of Yerevan with its modern buildings, restaurants and hotels. Much of the population lives in <a href="http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/english/regions/asia/arm/index.htm">deprivation</a>; corruption pervades all areas of government; and an astounding proportion of the population (almost half by some estimates – many from its most educated and enterprising groups) have left the country, for Russia or the west. </p> <p> Armenia is not a bloody dictatorship, but nor is it a <a href="http://www.angus-reid.com/tracker/view/28627/armenia_2008_presidential">democracy</a>: like its two south Caucasian neighbours (with which it has much more in common, politically, and culturally, than nationalist pride would admit) it is ruled by a post-communist elite some of whose members operate in legal grey areas for purposes of enrichment and power-accumulation. The <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/armenia08/corruption/index.shtml">appropriation</a> of assets from two sources - those of the Soviet period, and a significant part of the $1.3 billion that sent back by Armenia’s diaspora – play a vital role in consolidating the elite’s power and enhancing its lifestyle. </p> <p> This elite is led by former president <a href="http://www.president.am/library/presidents/eng/?president=2">Robert Kocharian</a> (still the country’s strongman), and many members of it also come from Nagorno-Karbakh. They have shown that they are prepared to intimidate, censor, and manipulate to suit their ends. The press and media are controlled, when not by the state than by rightwing nationalists based in California. The penalties may not involve being arrested or shot, but they can be severe: if you criticise the government too overtly, you may lose your commercial licence (if you are in business) or your job (if you work for the government).  </p> <p> The ruling network is also prepared to resort to the gun: as in <a href="http://www.globalintegrity.org/reports/2006/armenia/timeline.cfm">October 1999</a> (when a gunman with some official protection assassinated the prime minister, the speaker, and six other officials in parliament), in September 2001 (when bodyguards of the president beat <a href="http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=Poghos_Poghosian">Poghos Poghosian</a> to death in the Aragast [Poplavok] jazz cafe in Yerevan), and in March 2008 (when the president sent police to beat up a crowd of <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav102008b.shtml">opposition</a> supporters protesting the election outcome, an <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/New_Probe_Announced_Into_Armenian_Postelection_Violence_/1330097.html">assault</a> in which nine were killed). No one will ever know exactly what <a href="http://www.a1plus.am/en/?page=issue&amp;iid=66189">happened</a> on 1 March, but there are credible rumours that the police planted guns among the sleeping protesters. What does seem certain – and was confirmed to me by one western diplomat who has attended the proceedings – is that the trials of the protesters have been rigged. </p> <p> <strong>A frozen politics </strong> </p> <p> The unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh is a shadow over all the events, regional and domestic, in which Armenia is embroiled. This <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/3658938.stm">contested</a> region of around 140,000 was – notwithstanding its ethnic-Armenian majority - allocated to Azerbaijan by Moscow in the 1920s: a small part of the broader reassignment of peoples and territories across Europe after the great war and the Bolshevik revolution. </p> <p> The loosening of political controls during the Mikhail Gorbachev-era <em>perestroika</em> in the late 1980s enabled an immense nationalist mobilisation in Armenia and Nagarno-Karabakh itself in favour of the latter’s incorporation in the former. The tensions with Azerbaijan grew; <a href="http://www.nyupress.org/books/Black_Garden-products_id-3613.html">war</a> erupted in 1992 between the by-then post-Soviet independent states of <a href="http://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/nagorny-karabakh/large-map.php">Armenia and Azerbaijan</a>, which concluded in 1994 with the Armenians in control of Nagorno-Karabakh and a swathe of Azeri territory (including the “Lachin corridor”). Yerevan has since 1990 professed a belief that Nagorno-Karabakh should become an independent state rather than be annexed to Armenia; thus the region joins <a href="/article/abkhazia-and-south-ossetia-heart-of-conflict-key-to-solution">Abkhazia and South Ossetia</a> in limbo-land, while Armenia’s territorial gains provide it with a bargaining-chip in any negotiations. </p> <p> Many international negotiators have over the years sought to find a solution to this problem. Indeed, a negotiated settlement of the problem is the common aim of the United States and Europe in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE’s) “<a href="http://www.osce.org/item/21979.html">Minsk process</a>” - one shared too by Armenia’s close - if understated - ally, the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the ground and on both sides, however (the Azeri even more than the Armenian), nationalist rhetoric and intransigence prevail; though a readiness at least to <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/Turkish_Armenian_Azerbaijani_Ministers_To_Meet_At_UN/1212251.html">meet</a> at official level offers some grounds for belief that in time this may change. </p> <p> In effect, the current Armenian <a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus/armenia_elections">political leadership</a> - deeply influenced by its origins in Nagorno-Karabakh - and the powerful military and financial interests that have arisen from the war have sequestered Armenia as a whole; the inflow of money and the reinforcement of nationalist sentiment from the diaspora form the third leg of this unholy trinity. The results of the Moscow-Tbilisi war show every sign of confirming this <a href="http://www.rulers.org/rula2.html#armenia">ruling</a> pattern.  </p> <p> There may, however, be another lesson which the events of this summer should draw to the attention of politicians and officials in Yerevan: namely that for all the advantages they now think they have in their dispute with <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/azerbjan.htm">Azerbaijan</a>, and for all the nationalist sentiment attached to this issue, the danger of another war with Azerbaijan cannot be excluded. Azerbaijan is getting richer and stronger; its clearly fixed elections of <a href="http://www.angus-reid.com/tracker/view/30674/azerbaijan_2008">16 October 2008</a> are conducted with barely a peep of protest from its western investors; and the new generation there, with no memory of coexistence with Armenian neighbours or fellow-citizens, is in key respects more militant than its predecessors. A wise Armenian academic observer in Yerevan put it to me thus: “The one thing you learn from living in the south Caucasus is that there are no such things as ‘frozen conflicts’.” </p> Conflict conflicts Globalisation europe russia & eurasia caucasus: regional fractures global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright email Wed, 15 Oct 2008 16:41:24 +0000 Fred Halliday 46519 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The revenge of ideas: Karl Polanyi and Susan Strange https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-revenge-of-ideas-karl-polanyi-and-susan-strange <p> During the two decades or so that I taught &quot;international relations&quot; as an academic discipline at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the most challenging and rewarding part of the job was giving core-course lectures on political and social ideas - sometimes branded &quot;theory&quot; - that are relevant to understanding the arena of relations between states and peoples. The heart of the postgraduate masters&#39; course was a set of &quot;great books&quot;: not a tight or fixed canon but a body of works that introduced some shaping ideas (sovereignty, states, and nation, forexample) - and which, above all, got the students thinking.  </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> <br /> Fred Halliday is ICREA Research Professor at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. His many books include<a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em> Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s articles include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914,1967, 2003</a>&quot;(15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus&#39;s risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islam_europe">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/11M">Justice in Madrid: the &quot;11M&quot; verdict</a>&quot; (5 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the_assassin_s_age_pakistan_in_the_world">The assassin&#39;s age: Pakistan in the world</a>&quot; (28 December 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot;(12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot;(4 March 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot;(18 April 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot;(9 May 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot; (11 June 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples">Mediterranean mirage: Europe&#39;s sunken politics</a>&quot;(29 July 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations">The miscalculation of small nations</a>&quot; (21 August 2008)  </p> <p> There were three books that gave me particular satisfaction in teaching, because each in its own way did what all education should do, namely challenge the assumptions of common sense. The first was EH Carr&#39;s classic, <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/thetwentyyearscrisis19191939"><em>The Twenty Years&#39; Crisis</em></a><em> (</em>1939), a work that combined an attack on the illusions and wishful thinking of much writing on international relations with a staunch defence of the need for utopia, dreams, and distant aspirations in human affairs. </p> <p> The second key book was Benedict Anderson&#39;s <a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/ab/a-titles/anderson_b_communities_2ed.shtml"><em>Imagined Communities</em></a>, a study of how the sentiments and affinities of people who had no direct experience or contact with one could coalesce into a shared identity which they came to understand as national, and of the arbitrary and artificial (if often inexorable) nature of this emergent belonging. To tell a group of 100 young people from all over the world that their own much cherished nations were <a href="http://www.nationalismproject.org/what/gellner1.htm">modern</a> rather than <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Politics/PoliticalTheory/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780198296843">ancient</a>, little more grounded in objective fact than the loyalties of a club of football supporters, and that the very concept of &quot;nation&quot; was analytically and morally questionable, was a rare, professorial and cosmopolitan, <a href="http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/about/CI/CP/Our_Society_Today/Voices/halliday.aspx?ComponentId=9391&amp;SourcePageId=11458">pleasure</a>. If they remember nothing else of what I taught, I hope they remember that.  </p> <p style="font-weight: bold" class="Apple-style-span"> A retrieval of history </p> <p> <span style="font-weight: normal">The third great and thought-provoking, work was Karl Polanyi&#39;s <a href="http://www.beacon.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=1310"><em>The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time</em></a> (1944). This is a book of imaginative and wide-ranging historical sociology that traces the rise of the modern capitalist market from the industrial revolution in England in the late 18th century (the &quot;great transformation&quot; of the book&#39;s title) to the convulsions of the 1920s and 1930s and the outbreak of the second world war. </span> </p> <p> Polanyi&#39;s book begins in the unlikely setting of the Pelican Inn - a pub in Dorset, England&#39;s &quot;west country&quot;, where in the 1790s agricultural labourers met to protect their living standards. It goes on to provide a compelling, if wilfully digressive, account of how modern markets work; and in particular of the inbuilt instability, and inexorable swings and oscillations, that they embody. The author challenges the idea that there is anything &quot;natural&quot; or universal about the modern market; Polanyi <a href="http://www.blackrosebooks.net/karlpol.htm">emphasises</a> the cultural and political underpinnings of markets, and shows how this complex phenomenon - at once generating wealth and provoking instability and poverty - is the particular outcome of modern industrial society. </p> <p> His conclusion is a product of the broad, social-democratic, and informed liberal opinion of the time - that is, in the aftermath of the great depression in the 1930s and during a global war: that markets are human and contingent entities that have to be regulated, and managed, by states. There is no such thing as a &quot;hidden hand&quot;. A &quot;pure&quot; market unanchored to other social institutions and practices cannot exist.  </p> <p> The argument that Karl Polanyi (1886-1964) makes about markets could be <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=0719073324">extended</a> to other human practices and institutions for which the same universality and inexorable &quot;naturalness&quot; is sometimes claimed: belief in God, the authority and indeed desirability of monarchs, the heterosexual and nuclear family, the inevitability of empires and other forms of inter-state inequality, the violent character of particular peoples or regions of the world, and the liberal-democratic order itself. </p> <p> In face of such &quot;reification&quot; - the resort to inevitability that defenders of all these institutions make - the prerequisite critical move is less to challenge the institutions&#39; desirability (which may insome cases be strong) but to show how arbitrary, fragile and contingent they are. It is precisely this historicisation and demystification that critical thought is intended to achieve.  </p> <p> Polanyi <a href="http://artsandscience1.concordia.ca/polanyi/about/">himself</a> led a nomadic existence. He fled his native Hungary in 1919; worked as an economic journalist in Austria until 1933; lived in England where he taught for the Workers Educational Association through the second world war; then moved to teach at Columbia University before being obliged to move residency to Canada (as his wife Ilona Duczynska&#39;s communist affiliations meant she was denied an entry visa to the United States). Polanyi died in Canada in 1964, and is interred with his wife in his Hungarian homeland. </p> <p> Thoughout his life - and in Austria as much as in the US - Polanyi criticised the lack of realism of orthodox economics. <em>The Great Transformation </em>has been subjected to <a href="http://eh.net/bookreviews/library/polanyi">criticism</a> from a number of directions, while more recently the tradition that its author represented has been pushed to one side by financiers and speculators (in the world of practice) and the majority of economists (in the academic world). In the process, a raft of ubiquitous supportive words and phrases have been generated to perpetuate the idea of the naturalness of the market - among them &quot;market adjustments&quot;, &quot;natural self-correction&quot;, &quot;iron laws of trade and finance&quot;, &quot;market forces&quot; themselves. </p> <p> But the greatest myth of all is that of the &quot;free market&quot; itself, as if the modern market was ever free in a meaningful way- of state guarantees, of security, international law, labour control and regulation; and as if a system in which power was allocated in a grotesquely unequal and unstable manner could be said to guarantee the &quot;freedom&quot; of most people subject to it. For Polanyi, the market - and the economy generally - was (in the words of one of his most important papers) - an &quot;institute process&quot;; a perspective that opens lines of inquiry that still reverberate across several disciplines (see Ayse Bugra &amp; Kaan Agartan, <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1403983933"><em>Reading Karl Polanyi for the Twenty-First Century: Market Economy as a Political Project</em></a> [Palgrave, 2007]). </p> <p> <strong>An intellectual fusion</strong><br /> <br /> The high point of such &quot;neo-liberal&quot; glorification of markets came in waves - with the Reagan-Thatcher years of the1980s; the fall of the socialist planned economies in the early 1990s; the IT boom and the rise of China in the 2000s. All seemed to confirm the trend. Yet thoughout these years the message of Polanyi - and of others who had insisted on the need for the state to regulate markets, such as <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/keynes_john_maynard.shtml">JM Keynes</a> in Britain and <a href="http://www.johnkennethgalbraith.com/index.php?page=combo&amp;display=11&amp;from=0">JK Galbraith</a> in the US - continued to inspire some.  </p> <p> Among them, and with a flamboyance born of her earlier years as a financial journalist on the <em>Observer</em> and the <em>Economist</em>, was my former colleague and patron, <a href="http://www.cepr.org/GEI/GEI9SS.htm">Susan Strange</a> (1923-98). Susan was a pioneer of the reintegration of politics with economics, in the discipline named &quot;international political economy&quot;; together with a number of colleagues in the US, she sought to re-establish the analytic and public-policy linkage between states and markets.  </p> <p> Long before most, Susan recognised that the world of finance was growing in importance on a global scale and was not merely determined by the field of production. <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Casino-Capitalism-Susan-Strange/dp/0719052351"><em>Casino Capitalism</em></a>, a book of prophetic insight written in the early 1970s, was indeed about how a new world of global finance, independent of states and of industrial production, had begun to emerge. It had been made possible by Richard Nixon&#39;s cutting the link of the dollar to <a href="http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/GoldStandard.html">gold</a> in 1971 and by new forms of global communications technology. The &quot;casino&quot; in the title refers not to the role of speculation and gambling in world finance, but to the fact that, for the first time in history, global markets were open twenty-four hours a day.  </p> <p> This conception of finance as an autonomous sphere of economic activity was presented alongside the argument that no economic system - industrial, financial, agricultural - could function without the active role of the state. Her theoretical aspiration was to echo the pioneering work of <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/adamsmithradicalandegalitarian">Adam Smith</a>, David Ricardo and Karl Marx in bringing together the study of politics and the state with that of the economy and markets. The policy injunction that followed was that the modern state had to promote and protect markets, just as it did (for example) security of traveland transport, the stability of currencies, the promotion of education and scientific research, and other often unacknowledged but essential supports.  <br /> <span class="pullquote_new">Also in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> on the global financial crisis of 2007-08:<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy"><br /> <br /> </a>Saskia Sassen, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation_liberal_state_democratic_deficit">Globalisation,the state and the democratic deficit</a>&quot; (18 July 2007)<br /> <br /> Robert Wade, &quot;<a href="/article/the_end_of_neo_liberalism">The financial crisis: burst bubble, frayed model</a>&quot;(1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> Avinash D Persaud, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/reserve_currency">The dollar standard: (only the) beginning of the end</a>&quot;(5 December 2007)<br /> <br /> Willem Buiter, &quot;<a href="/article/the-end-of-american-capitalism">The end of American capitalism (as we knew it)</a>&quot; (17 September 2008) </span> </p> <p> This approach was developed in Susan Strange&#39;s laterbook <a href="http://www.press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=10897"><em>Mad Money: When Markets Outgrow Governments</em></a> (1998). This work anticipated the current hubris of financial leaders and policy-makers - in their belief not just that one upon another set of bogus practices and inflated loan systems could be sustained, but in that what they had created somehow corresponded to a natural and hence implicitly eternal order. Such beliefs are above all rooted in ignorance of history. Now, in the dramatic days of mid-September 2008, the unprecedented <a href="/article/the-new-new-deal">intervention</a> of the United States government and of its European counterparts in financial markets also confirms the validity of much of Karl Polanyi and Susan Strange&#39;s approach to the understanding of political-economic life and institutions.  </p> <p> <strong>A reopened door</strong> </p> <p> I never met Karl Polanyi, though I did meet his daughter<a href="http://artsandscience1.concordia.ca/polanyi/comment/dimand.html"> Kari Polanyi-Levitt</a> (professor of economics at McGill University,Montreal). I did know and admire Susan Strange, a person of indomitable optimism, humour and mordant tongue. Her favourite slogan, one that from his experienceas a financial journalist Polanyi would for sure have endorsed, was: &quot;Always attack the economists!&quot; I can only imagine her now, propping up a bar somewhere in southern England, a pint of beer in her hand, and a twinkle in her eye, pouring scorn on the placebo analyses of <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780713999822,00.html">Alan Greenspan</a> and <a href="http://www.perseusbooksgroup.com/perseus/book_detail.jsp?isbn=1586486837">George Soros</a>, on the conceits of her former employer, the <em>Economist</em>, and on the folly of the captains of finance in the City of London and Wall Street (see Ann Pettifor, &quot;<a href="/article/the-week-that-changed-everything">The week that changed everything</a>&quot;, 22 September 2008). </p> <p> Yet both Susan Strange and Karl Polanyi would also affirm that if markets&#39; equilibrium-seeking self-corrective mechanism was fictive, moments of economic crisis and transformation were a challenge to make their own ideas part of the self-understanding of the age. Perhaps then the financial sector&#39;s unfolding <a href="/article/the-end-of-american-capitalism">implosion</a> will - as well as teaching market fetishists a sobering lesson - create further space for a revival of interest in the work of these fine, relevant thinkers. In the meantime, and with every day&#39;s news confirming the instinct, let there be no respite for the economists.      </p> <span style="line-height: 17px" class="Apple-style-span"><br /> </span> Economics Globalisation global politics economics Fred Halliday Original Copyright Wed, 24 Sep 2008 18:40:37 +0000 Fred Halliday 46339 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The miscalculation of small nations https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-miscalculation-of-small-nations <p> The brief and vicious war between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia has killed an untold number of people and displaced and traumatised many thousands more; promised a lengthy and abrasive aftermath; postponed even further the prospects of a settlement over this and the region&#39;s other territory lost to Georgia&#39;s control in the early 1990s, Abkhazia; created new enmities as well as poisoning existing ones; and planted seeds of yet further <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/europe/2008/georgia_russia_conflict/default.stm">conflict.</a> </p><p class="pullquote_new"> <br /> Among <strong>openDemocracy&#39;s </strong>articles on Georgian politics and the region, including the war of August 2008: <br /> <br /> Robert Parsons, &quot;<a href="/article/conflicts/mikheil_saakashvili_bitter_victory">Mikheil Saakashvili&#39;s bitter victory</a>&quot; (11 January 2008), <br /> <br /> Jonathan Wheatley, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/caucasus_fractures/georgia_democratic_stalemate">Georgia&#39;s democratic stalemate</a>&quot; (14 April 2008), <br /> <br /> Robert Parsons, &quot;<a href="/article/georgia-abkhazia-russia-the-war-option">Georgia, Abkhazia, Russia: the war option</a>&quot; (13 May 2008), <br /> <br /> Thomas de Waal, &quot;<a href="/article/caucasus_fractures/the-russia-georgia-tinderbox">The Russia-Georgia tinderbox</a>&quot; (16 May 2008), <br /> <br /> Alexander Rondeli, &quot;<a href="/article/georgia-s-search-for-coexistence">Georgia&#39;s search for itself</a>&quot; (8 July 2008), <br /> <br /> Thomas de Waal, &quot;<a href="/article/south-ossetia-the-avoidable-tragedy">South Ossetia: the avoidable tragedy</a>&quot; (11 August 2008), <br /> <br /> Ghia Nodia, &quot;<a href="/article/georgia-under-fire-the-power-of-russian-resentment">The war for Georgia: Russia, the west, the future</a>&quot; (12 August 2008), <br /> <br /> Donald Rayfield, &quot;T<a href="/article/the-georgia-russia-conflict-lost-territory-found-nation">he Georgia-Russia conflict: lost territory, found nation</a>&quot; (13 August 2008), <br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/article/after-the-war-recognising-reality-in-abkhazia-and-georgia">After the war: recognising reality in Abkhazia and Georgia</a>&quot; (15 August 2008), <br /> <br /> George Hewitt, &quot;<a href="/article/abkhazia-and-south-ossetia-heart-of-conflict-key-to-solution">Abkhazia and South Ossetia: heart of conflict, key to solution</a>&quot; (18 August 2008), <br /> <br /> Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/russia-and-the-georgia-war-the-great-power-trap">Russia and the Georgia war: the great-power trap</a>&quot; (19 August 2008). <br /> <br /> Plus: <a href="/russia"><strong>openDemocracy</strong>&#39;s Russia section</a> reports, debates and blogs the Georgia war.<br /> <br /> <br /> </p> <p> In the wake of the disaster, the urgent need is via an intense effort of humanitarian mobilisation and sensitive diplomacy to assist and protect the <a href="http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B/%28httpCountries%29/F62BE07C33DE4D19802570A7004C84A3?OpenDocument">civilian</a> victims from its continuing ravages. Beyond that, a survey of the freshly ruined landscape is needed to assess how the <a href="http://www.iwpr.net/index.php?apc_state=henpcrs&amp;s=o&amp;o=caucasus_map.html">region</a>, the continent and the notional &quot;international community&quot; can begin to pick up the pieces. But between the immediate and the strategic, an interim political assessment of this war suggests a lesson that relates both to Georgia itself and to the political leaderships of other local actors (and especially &quot;small nations&quot;) who have found themselves - or chosen to be - involved in military contest with bigger neighbours. </p> <p> <strong>The puff of ideology</strong> </p> <p> Where <a href="http://undp.org.ge/new/index.php?lang_id=ENG&amp;sec_id=59">Georgia</a> itself is concerned, the lesson can be summed up in a phrase: pity (and of course help) the Georgians, but condemn their leaders. For if most western governments and commentators have focused on the high politics and historical echoes of the conflict - from Russia&#39;s <a href="/article/russian-war-and-georgian-democracy">excessive</a> military response to the implications for Georgia&#39;s entry into Nato, from the role of the United States to echoes of <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300090635">Czechoslovakia</a> in 1938 and 1968 - less attention than is warranted has been paid to Tbilisi&#39;s contribution to the disaster. </p> <p> In strict terms, the chief responsibility belongs to Georgia&#39;s reckless and demagogic president, <a href="http://www.president.gov.ge/?l=E&amp;m=1&amp;sm=3">Mikhail Saakashvili.</a> His precipitous launch of a brutal assault on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on the night of 7-8 August 2008 is worse than a crime: it is a terrible <a href="/article/south-ossetia-war-and-politics">blunder</a>. More broadly, however, the responsibility devolves onto the self-inflating nationalist ideology which <a href="/article/the-georgia-russia-conflict-lost-territory-found-nation">traps</a> Saakashvili and Georgians who think like him. Here, indeed, is a local manifestation of a universal problem. For while the particular circumstances of the latest Caucasian war have been ably <a href="/democracy-caucasus/debate.jsp">analysed</a> (not least on <strong>openDemocracy</strong>), it is important to broaden the discussion by exploring the role that the nationalist ideology of Saakashvili&#39;s type - with its heady mix of vanity, presumption and miscalculation - has played in the modern world. </p> <p> There is still a reluctance among many analysts of international relations to believe that local and / or &quot;small&quot; actors in a political situation - in this case the Georgian leadership - have their own agency, freedom of manoeuvre, and responsibility (a flaw that is shared by that particular kind of American - and of course &quot;anti-American&quot; - leftist for whom everything that happens in the world must by definition be the United States&#39;s responsibility: an understudied genre of vulgar imperialism). </p> <p> In fact, it is routinely impossible to make sense of almost any conflict or region without registering how much local states, opposition groups, or minority movements can act with considerable autonomy in pursuit of their own interests - even to the extent of manipulating (and on occasion deceiving) distant and more powerful &quot;allies&quot;. There are many cases during the cold war, for example, where &quot;third-world&quot; states attacked their neighbours on their own accord yet were widely characterised as having acted on orders - as &quot;clients&quot;, &quot;proxies&quot;, &quot;agents&quot;, &quot;pawns&quot;&#39;. They include: Israel in attacking Egypt in 1967, and Lebanon in 1982; Turkey in invading Cyprus in 1974; Egypt in attacking Israel in 1973; Cuba in sending troops to Angola in 1975; Iraq in <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/iran_iraq_war/iran_iraq_war1.php">attacking</a> Iran in 1980, and Kuwait in 1990. </p> <p> The international context matters, but it is not determinant: what is determinant is the reading of that international situation, and the calculation of risks and opportunities, which the local leaders and political forces make. Sometimes they get it right. Cuba&#39;s judgment that Washington, battered by defeat in Vietnam, would not stop its forces crossing the Atlantic to Angola in 1975, was one such - yet before he took that decision, <a href="/globalization/castro_3855.jsp">Fidel Castro</a> asked for a detailed analysis of opinion in the US Congress. More frequently, the leaders concerned are not so careful. </p> <p> If the supreme responsibility of democratic leaders is indeed to protect their own peoples, then the briefest of comparative overview can show just how pernicious the impact of the kind of nationalist delusion displayed by Mikhail Saakashvili. His blundering into war over <a href="/article/south-ossetia-the-avoidable-tragedy">South Ossetia</a> is but the latest example of how the nationalist obsession with the fetish of &quot;territorial integrity&quot; corrupts their worldview: for it entails a multiple refusal to look at reasonable, humane compromises; a misreading of international political realities; and a resort to destructive and often useless violence. </p> <p> Here, the flaws of nationalism can match or exceed those of religion, in a way that offers a sidelight on the much-vaunted catch-all ascription of responsibility for modern conflicts to a supposed &quot;clash of civilisations&quot; (by which is usually meant &quot;Islam&quot;). But South Ossetia and its neighbours share a <a href="http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/catalog/book.htm?command=Search&amp;db=main.txt&amp;eqisbndata=009952046X">history</a> where Christianity intermingles with empire (Georgian, Ottoman, Russian and Soviet) in the experience of its peoples. The chief agent of destruction is not to be found in &quot;culture&quot; (in the guise of religion or some other vague source of identity) but in the arrogance, recklessness and ignorance born of nationalist excess - which, to be sure, often uses religion and associated &quot;cultural&quot; offerings as part of its packaging. The problem is a political one; and where &quot;cultural&quot; differences are small - as in Transcaucasia, parts of the Balkans and Northern Ireland - the political <a href="/article/democracy_power/balkans_caucasus_tangle">conflicts</a> can more than compensate. </p> <p> <strong>The wind of blame</strong> </p> <p> The case of <a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus</a> is illustrative in this regard. In July 1974 a group of right-wing Greek Cypriots, with the support of the junta in Athens, toppled the elected (and more moderate) government of Archbishop Makarios. At first it seemed that the world - even Turkey - had accepted it. I was in Cyprus at the time, and recall well conversations with Greek Cypriots to the effect that &quot;The Turks will never invade. The Russians will stop them.&quot; So it went until the sky north of Nikosia was filled with the transport-planes despatched by Turkish prime minister Bülent Ecevit, out of which floated the Turkish paratroops coming to occupy the north of the city, and of the island - where they remain to this day. </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> <br /> Fred Halliday is ICREA research <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">professor</a> at the Barcelona Institute for International Studies (<a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/eng/home.asp">IBEI</a>) <br /> <br /> His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005). <br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world. The recent articles include: <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007), <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007), <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007), <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus&#39;s risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007), <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/11M">Justice in Madrid: the &quot;11M&quot; verdict</a>&quot; (5 November 2007), <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007), <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008), <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples">Mediterranean mirage: Europe&#39;s sunken politics</a>&quot; (29 July 2008).<br /> <br /> <br /> </p> <p> Ever since, the Greek Cypriots have blamed everyone but themselves for this debacle: the Americans (who encouraged the Turks to invade because they wanted a base in northern Cyprus, at Kyrenia); the British (committed under a 1960 treaty to defending the integrity of Cyprus and with two bases on the island, who did nothing and so showed their historic &quot;pro-Turkish&quot; bias); the European Union and the United Nations (who have sought to impose unwanted solutions). </p> <p> Similar miscalculations have dominated in the Palestine conflict. Few nationalist leaderships have shown such little strategic sense; ever since the re-emergence of a nationalist <a href="http://www.beacon.org/productdetails.cfm?SKU=0308">movement</a> in the 1960s, policy has been led by militaristic rhetoric, a misjudgment of the regional and international situation, and misconceived sense of how friend and foes alike would react. </p> <p> On two occasions the Palestinians, led by <a href="/conflict-debate_97/article_2234.jsp">Yasser Arafat&#39;s </a>Palestine Liberation Organisation, found themselves with forces, and considerable political support, in neighbouring Arab states: Jordan (1967-70) and Lebanon (1970-82). On each occasion the movement was carried away by delusions of power and of allied support far in excess of the reality, which led them needlessly to provoke local political forces and armed groups; the result was the destruction of their local bases and their expulsion from the country. In 2000, Arafat, faced with the failure of peace talks with Ehud Barak, agreed to support and promote a &quot;spontaneous&quot; uprising (the second <em>intifada</em>) He apparently imagined that, in so doing, he could break Barak&#39;s political will and obtain more concessions: <a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">instead</a> he got Ariel Sharon, who had ideas about to provoke a spontaneous uprising, and did a far better job of it in September 2000. </p> <p> The Israelis themselves are possessed of a military efficiency, a strong international ally and a historic self-righteousness that at times has served them ill; but they have also repeatedly overplayed their own hand. They missed the historic opportunity to resolve the Palestinian issue in the aftermath of the <a href="/conflict-middle_east_politics/sixdaywar_4629.jsp">1967 war</a> by withdrawing promptly from the territories they had occupied by force. In 1982 they blundered into a war in Lebanon, where they failed either to destroy their enemies, or to instal a client regime, and ended up eighteen years later in unconditional flight with a ferocious <a href="/globalization/hizbollah_3757.jsp">Hizbollah</a> enemy on their tail. </p> <p> For years the Israelis boasted that they had achieved complete control of Gaza, only in the end to pull out, leaving the terrain open for <a href="/article/conflicts/middle_east/hamas_talk_to_them">Hamas</a>. Many citizens of the Israeli state must wonder what the costs of long-term intransigence and settlement expansion will be; and indeed if such a posture may, in the end, not produce the very dire consequences that Israel seeks to avoid. </p> <p> <strong>The tide of failure</strong> </p> <p> The blunders brought on by nationalist (and associated revolutionary) delusion of the 20th century are indeed global. There was the disastrous attempt by North Korea&#39;s then president <a href="http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/kim/">Kim Il-sung</a> to seize South Korea in a sudden attack in June 1950, to be repulsed by a rapidly mobilised United States expeditionary force. Only the massive intervention of Chinese &quot;volunteers&quot; saved the communist regime from annihilation. The inhabitants of Baghdad may also recall the miscalculations of <a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Saddam Hussein</a>, in his invasions of Iran (1980) and Kuwait (1990). These comparatively more recent examples were long preceded by the classic such miscalculation of the <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141012162,00.html">Easter uprising</a> of 1916 in Dublin. On that occasion a poorly armed insurrectionary force was defeated, and part of the city destroyed, by a British riposte as rapid and predictable as that of the Russian in Tskhinvali. </p> <p> True, such miscalculations about the capabilities of one&#39;s own forces and the reactions of others are not confined to small nations. Most major nations have many and larger blunders to their name: the Americans in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq; the British in Suez; the French <a href="http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/MP-24274/The-Last-Valley.htm">in Vietnam</a>, Suez and Algeria; the Russians in Afghanistan; the Italians and Germans in the 1930s and 1940s. The difference is that except in the most extreme of cases - notably Nazi Germany - these large states have been able to recuperate their losses and in large measure continue to inhabit their <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780713996814,00.html">illusions</a> of grandeur. Smaller peoples pay a higher price. </p> <p> It is said that, when he took over from veteran Georgian leader <a href="http://www.asrios.ge/Presidental/eduard_shevardnadze.htm">Eduard Shevardnadze</a> in 2004, Mikhail Saakashvili told the older man - known in Georgian as <em>tetri melia</em> (the white fox) - that he had had the chance to be the great founder of a new Georgia, but that he had missed the opportunity. Saakashvili‘s entrapment in nationalist delusion was always going to backfire. In the moment of Georgia&#39;s latest agony, it will be little consolation that he has brought his country into the modern world in a very different way. </p> Conflict Globalisation global politics democracy & power conflicts russia & eurasia Fred Halliday Original Copyright Tue, 26 Aug 2008 12:16:03 +0000 Fred Halliday 45943 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mediterranean mirage: Europe’s sunken politics https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-mediterranean-union-or-europe-s-bad-examples <p> &quot;They only went to Paris because they wanted to meet his wife&quot;. An Arab diplomat friend with an inexorable grasp of the realities of international relations is a vital source of wisdom in separating glitter from gold. The reference in this case was the summit organised by Nicolas Sarkozy in the Grand Palais in Paris on <a href="http://www.ue2008.fr/PFUE/lang/en/accueil/PFUE-07_2008/PFUE-13.07.2008/sommet_de_paris_pour_la_mediterranee_4758">13 July 2008</a> which launched his favoured initiative, the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM); though if the event made a dramatic opening to France&#39;s chairing of the European Union&#39;s rotating six-month <a href="http://www.ue2008.fr/PFUE/lang/en/accueil/presidence_du_conseil">presidency</a>, it is doubtful that even the lustre of Carla Bruni could have made this more than a one-day-headlines wonder. </p> <p> For this is an event that demands deconstruction - not just in its own terms, but in relation to the wider infirmity of the European Union in mid-2008, as it faces problems of legitimacy, accountability, identity and democracy that it seems incapable of addressing let alone resolving (see Ivan Krastev, &quot;<a href="/article/europe-s-trance-of-unreality">Europe&#39;s trance of unreality</a>&quot;, 20 June 2008). </p> <strong>A hollow promise </strong><br /> <br /> <p> In real terms the French president&#39;s enterprise was never likely to amount to much - and only in part because &quot;Mediterranean&quot; is in EU-speak a euphemism for &quot;the Arabs&quot;, and thus a world away from the imaginative historical understanding of Fernand Braudel&#39;s deep apprehension of a natural, political and economic sphere in <a href="http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/8633.php"><em>The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the age of Philip II</em></a> . For the reality behind the exalted rhetoric is of a deeper set of fractures and rivalries whose healing would require political boldness and leadership, and understanding rooted in awareness of the failures of the past in this area. </p> <p> True, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas were photographed <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20080711-union-mediterranean-paris-sarkozy-north-africa">together</a>, but they did not need to go to Paris for that to happen; the king of Morocco absented himself so that he could avoid sitting next to the president of Algeria, with whom his country has been in conflict over Western Sahara since 1975; Libya&#39;s Muammar Gaddafi also failed to arrive, even though he had been lobbying for years for admission to the negotiations <a href="http://www.europa-eu-un.org/articles/en/article_7888_en.htm">encompassing</a> European Union and Mediterranean states. </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> <br /> Fred Halliday is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in Intern</em><em>a</em><em>tional Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.The recent articles include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4228">A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world</a>&quot; (8 January 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni</em>, <em>Shi</em>&#39;a and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot; (9 February 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot; (25 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4591">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a>&quot; (4 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot; (4 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus&#39;s risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islam_europe">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/11M">Justice in Madrid: the &quot;11M&quot; verdict</a>&quot; (5 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the_assassin_s_age_pakistan_in_the_world">The assassin&#39;s age: Pakistan in the world</a>&quot; (28 December 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (18 April 2008) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure">Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure</a>&quot; (9 May 2008)<br /> <br /> </p> <p> Syria&#39;s Bashar al-Assad arrived, but only to claw back a bit of lost diplomatic ground; and he neither met Ehud Olmert nor permitted group photograph of the summit participants. A great noise was made about the fact that Syria finally &quot;recognised&quot; Lebanon as a separate state, by agreeing to open an embassy in Beirut - though this is both six decades too late and carries no guarantees that Syria will also stop killing Lebanese politicians and journalists and covertly dominating the politics of that country. The closer to the realty the independent observer comes, the harder is it to be persuaded by Sarkozy&#39;s summit rhetoric and the mirage of regional unity (for an assessment of the tensions surrounding the event, and how the French&#39;s president&#39;s manic style tended to occlude them, see Patrice de Beer, &quot;<a href="/article/nicolas-sarkozy-the-frenetic-leader">Nicolas Sarkozy, the frenetic leader</a>&quot;, 28 July 2008). </p> <p> <strong>An oceanic fix</strong> </p> <p> The French president&#39;s convocation - whose revealingly proper title is the &quot;<a href="http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/euromed/index_en.htm">Barcelona process: union for the Mediterranean</a>&quot; - falls into what British diplomats would call a &quot;talking&quot; (as opposed to a &quot;doing&quot;) event. In other circumstances there might be no harm in that - but at present, a huge and indeterminate jamboree is the last thing that Europe or the &quot;Mediterranean&quot; countries (whoever they are) need. This, again, is only in part because the EU <em>already</em> has a regular <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20080711-upm-key-dates-france-mediterranean-union-summit">mechanism</a> for dialogue with the Arab states, Israel and Turkey: namely the original &quot;Barcelona process&quot;, launched in 1995 (see “<a href="/globalization/barcelona_3019.jsp">The &#39;Barcelona process&#39;: ten years on</a>”, 11 November 2005). </p> <p> The regrettable reality is that in almost thirteen years of life it has achieved little. Europe plays no significant role in any of the inter-state and inter-ethnic conflicts of the Mediterranean area - Palestine, Kurdistan, and Western Sahara, for example. The <a href="/article/the-israel-hizbollah-prisoner-deal">exchange</a> of prisoners and bodies between Israel and Hizbollah on 19 July 2008 was negotiated by a German diplomat, operating as the envoy of his own country (see Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, &quot;<a href="/article/the-israel-hizbollah-prisoner-deal">The Israeli-Hizbollah prisoner deal</a>&quot;, 14 July 2008); it was Germany which also attempted to broker a <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/18/europe/georgia.php">deal</a> between Abkhazia and Georgia over their long-running dispute. </p> <p> The one place Europe has had something of a role (albeit as a junior ally of the United States), is in the Balkans: but the Balkan states were not part of the Barcelona process and the EU has in recent months been seriously divided over the issue of Kosovo <a href="/article/kosovo_declares_independence">independence</a>. That some of the Balkan states were <a href="http://www.ue2008.fr/PFUE/lang/en/accueil/PFUE-07_2008/PFUE-13.07.2008/sommet_de_paris_pour_la_mediterranee_4758">invited</a> to Paris shows ambition, but in itself amounts to nothing. </p> <p> The crisis of the Barcelona process was evident three years ago, at the ten-year review conference of November 2005. The crisis in Palestine apart, the other main goals - promoting trade and investment, encouraging democratisation in north Africa - had come to nothing. On most issues of the day, middle-eastern states take no heed of what Europe says: the Israelis build their wall and settlements; the Palestinians vote for Hamas; the Iranians pursue their nuclear programme; the Turks repress the Kurds; the Saudis, Egyptians and Tunisians crack down on even the mildest of liberal critics. </p> <p> At the 2005 review conference Spain, which is in charge of this process, thought it had agreement of all the heads of state to attend, and had in particular found a formula on Palestine that satisfied the Arab states. But, twenty-four hours before the meeting was to start, an advance British government party flew in from Malta and - on Tony Blair&#39;s instructions, and to the fury of the Spanish - vetoed the Palestine text. The result was that Egypt&#39;s president Hosni Mubarak, followed by nearly all the other Arab leaders, pulled out. The European heads of state were all there, from Portugal to the Baltic, but (apart from the Turks and Israelis) the &quot;Mediterranean&quot; guests failed to appear. </p> <p> The <em>Union pour la Méditerranée</em> <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/paris-summit-inaugurates-mediterranean-union/article-174213">venture</a>, the brainchild of Sarkozy&#39;s Europhobe adviser, <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20080717-politics-henri-guaino-special-adviser-nicolas-sarkozy-institutional-reform-eu-mediterranean&amp;navi=DEBATS">Henri Guaino</a>, promises to be little different. When the French president first proposed it, he did not mention the Barcelona process, the established EU framework for dealing with this issue; he <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/sarkozy-mediterranean-union-plans-irk-merkel/article-169080">failed</a> even to inform the Germans or British about what was supposed to be an EU initiative. His own foreign ministry was also kept in the dark. Now the summit has agreed to set up a new EU <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/euromed/index_en.htm">institutional process</a>, but there is as yet no budget, nor agreement on where the headquarters of this new entity will be: Spain insists that Barcelona is the suitable home, but Malta, Tunisia, Morocco and Brussels itself are all in the running. </p> <p> In the absence of any significant diplomatic or political conclusions, the 13 July summit agreed to a meagre shopping-list of practical items: some (such as ecological co-operation in the Mediterranean, and increased vigilance in regard to illegal migration) are already in operation while others (such as a &quot;Mediterranean University&quot;) are whatever the &quot;<a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,565667,00.html">Club Med</a>&quot; equivalent of a pink elephant may be. </p> <p> <strong>An Irish cocktail</strong> </p> <p> In a broader context, the pomp of the Paris summit serves another, unstated but self-evident, purpose: displacement. It distracts the attention of the European and world publics away from the disastrous situation in which the European Union, at the end of the first month of the French presidency, finds itself. The immediate cause of this crisis was the Irish vote, in the <a href="http://electionsireland.org/results/referendum/refdetail.cfm?ref=2008R">referendum</a> of 12 June 2008, to reject the revised EU constitution known as the Lisbon treaty (see Joseph Curtin &amp; Johnny Ryan, &quot;<a href="/article/the-lisbon-treaty-and-the-irish-voter-democratic-deficits">The Lisbon treaty and the Irish voter: democratic deficits</a>&quot;, 13 June 2008). </p> <p> It is relevant here to note that Ireland has been ambivalent with regard to international obligations. It has played a distinguished role on occasion as United Nations peacekeeper and/or promoter of international understanding in ways that earn a place alongside benign non-hegemonic powers such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and New Zealand. This role is personified by Irish diplomats who have well served United Nations bodies, among them such luminaries as <a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1974/macbride-cv.html">Seán MacBride</a>, <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/about/people/ccobbio.htm">Conor Cruise O&#39;Brien</a>, and <a href="http://www.realizingrights.org/index.php?option=content&amp;task=view&amp;id=75">Mary Robinson</a> (<a href="http://www.ucd.ie/archives/html/collections/aiken-frank.htm">Frank Aiken</a>, the international-minded foreign minister and parliamentary representative of my home country, Louth, discharged his duties in the same spirit). These people believed in Ireland as an exemplary as well as independent power on the world stage - and were not afraid of annoying the great states in the process. </p> <p> At the same time, the Irish like other small nations also occasionally yield to the temptation of using their autonomy within international bodies for partisan ends (another case is the Greek Cypriot <a href="/democracy-turkey/article_1861.jsp">vote</a> against the Annan peace plan of 2004). Ireland has been a great beneficiary of the European Union, above all in financial terms, and has achieved the growth rates it has in part because of its thirty-five years of <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=270922">EU membership</a> since 1973. </p> <p> Yet the foundations of this growth were always less than secure. Peadar Kirby&#39;s brilliant book, <em>T<a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=264082">he Celtic Tiger in Distress: Growth with Inequality in Ireland</a></em> (Palgrave, 2001) argued that the Irish economy&#39;s expansion was always precarious as it relied on fluctuations in the world economy that could easily turn to its disadvantage; but that it also entailed increasing levels of social and income inequality. It was that inequality, the exclusion of a significant part of the Irish population from the benefits of the 1990s, that played a major part in the &quot;no&quot; vote of 12 June. </p> <p> <strong>A</strong> <strong>twin regress</strong> </p> <p> Nicolas Sarkozy was obliged to <a href="http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/0721/eulisbon.html">visit</a> Dublin on 21 July 2008 as part of his attempt as chair of the European Union presidency to try to find a fix for the Irish &quot;no&quot;. In all probability some constitutional solution will be found to allow the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6901353.stm">Lisbon treaty</a> to go forward. Even if it does not, the EU as an economic entity and, often forgotten, as the first zone of peace that covers Europe in its history, will continue. The problem is, however, that the Irish vote is far from being the only obstacle that the EU faces. </p> <p> The rejection of European integration is the fault not of the Irish, but of the anterior, and un-renegotiable, rejections of the original constitution by <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/democractic_deficit_3610.jsp">France</a> itself and the <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/holland_2567.jsp">Netherlands</a> in 2005. Here the damage was much more serious: the torpedoing of major constitutional changes in Brussels and, with consequences yet to be fully discerned, the antagonising of Turkey in the negotiation process. Electoral narcissism on the western fringes of Europe may be deplorable, but the real, historic and strategic, damage has been done on the other end of the continent, in regard to Turkey. This development - one to which the the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the <a href="/democracy-turkey/article_1861.jsp">Greek Cypriot&#39;s rejection</a> of the Annan plan for the reunification of the island in 2004 have made their own contribution - constitutes the most worrying threat to the long-term security of modern Europe. </p> <p> Even more ominous, however, than these electoral and political setbacks, are other aspects of the EU today, in particularly two long-term trends that, if continued and allowed to lay down future standards, will indeed finish off Europe as a civilised and democratic union. </p> <p> First, the rolling back of workers&#39; rights and social protection: rather than lamenting the Irish referendum vote, commentators would be better advised to look at the vote of two days before - the decision on 10 June by the ministers of employment and social affairs to abandon the European norm of a forty-eight-hour week, one of the major social achievements of the past century, and instead allow a week of up to sixty (and in some cases sixty-five) hours. This pernicious development was made possible only because of the advent of rightwing leaders to power in France and Italy and their collusion with the new influence within the EU of the former communist states, countries where the excesses of free-market economics and labour exploitation now prevail. </p> <p> Second, the example being set by one of the founding members of the union, Italy. This country is after the April 2008 election once again governed by a Silvio Berlusconi-led coalition, and one with an ideological colour even darker than its predecessors (see Geoff Andrews, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/italys_hour_of_darkness">Italy&#39;s hour of darkness</a>&quot;, 17 April 2008); for it contains leading members who celebrate Italy&#39;s fascist past, it passes laws that hound immigrants and discriminate against Roma (Italian as well as those with family origins in southeast Europe, including Romania), it promotes grotesque forms of sexism and gender discrimination in public discourse and the media, and it legislates in favour of its own partisan interests (see Marco Brazzoduro, &quot;<a href="/article/risks-from-roma-or-roma-at-risk">Italy&#39;s choice: risk from Roma vs Roma at risk</a>&quot;, 24 June 2008). </p> <p> The comedy of manners which surrounds Berlusconism cannot conceal these sinister and deeply regressive trends in Italy. It is here, to Rome - and to Paris and Brussels - that the bill for the crisis of the European Union should be sent. The grandstanding about Ireland&#39;s failure to assent to the Lisbon treaty, or initiatives to boost the &quot;Mediterranean&quot; - a term that has long ceased to have any political, economic, cultural or strategic meaning - are distractions from this core concern. </p> <p> <strong>A </strong><strong>European tunnel</strong> </p> <p> It is here, not in the rhetoric or limits of the Barcelona process of the UPM, that the real failure of Europe in regard to the Arab and &quot;Mediterranean&quot; worlds really lies. To focus on specific <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7504214.stm">negotiations</a>, or conflict-related targets, may be mistaken and may, indeed, understate what Europe can achieve. The whole Barcelona process of the mid-1990s was modelled on what was thought to have happened a few years earlier in regard to east-central Europe - with the EU, and influential states such as Germany, helping to encourage a transition to democracy and liberal markets in the former communist east. However, the analogy between eastern Europe and the Arab world was mistaken: communism collapsed in the Soviet Union and in most allied states, because the ruling elites had lost the will to govern: had, in effect, given up. The Arab elites of Algeria or Egypt have far from given up. </p> <p> In another way, however, there is indeed an analogy, one all too rarely stated: the main contribution of the European Union to the collapse of communism did not lie in particular policies, but in the very fact of the EU&#39;s success, as a political and economic venture: this, the force of example, of democracy and prosperity combined, was what undermined and overwhelmed the communist world in the 1980s (see &quot;<a href="/article/1968-the-global-legacy">1968: the global legacy</a>&quot;, 11 June 2008). It may be in this regard that Europe can also, over a longer period, help to promote change in north Africa and the middle east also. </p> <p> But it can only do this if Europe continues to live up to its best ideals, to set an example that other countries can seek to imitate. It will not be done by slamming the door on Turkey, indulging in anti-Muslim &quot;civilisational&quot; rhetoric, and persecuting immigrants. The greatest failures of Europe in recent years can be found in its failure to live up to its own ideals, in its indulgence of much that is ugly in European history and public attitudes, and in the jettisoning of major social gains of its past. It is time to retrieve the gold, not indulge the glitter. </p> Globalisation global politics Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal Wed, 30 Jul 2008 20:06:04 +0000 Fred Halliday 45552 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 1968: the global legacy https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/1968-the-global-legacy <p> &quot;With the coming of the dawn, the promises of the night fade away&quot;. In politics, as in love, the old Spanish saying sounds a pertinent warning; not least in regard to the memorialisation and assessment which the events of 1968 (and particularly the Paris uprising of May of that year) are receiving on their fortieth anniversary. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Also in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> on legacies of 1968:<br /> <br /> Donald Nicholson-Smith, &quot;<a href="/article/black_glove_white_glove_revisiting_mexicos_1968">Black glove/white glove: revisiting Mexico&#39;s 1968</a>&quot; (25 August 2004)<br /> <br /> Neal Ascherson, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/the_polish_march_students_workers_and_1968">The Polish March: students, workers, and 1968</a>&quot; (1 February 2008) <br /> <br /> Todd Gitlin, &quot;<a href="/article/arts_cultures/film/regaining_the_kinetics_of_1968">Rethinking the kinetics of 1968</a>&quot; (11 April 2008) <br /> <br /> Patrice de Beer, &quot;<a href="/article/institutions/may_68_remember_or_forget">May &#39;68: France&#39;s politics of memory</a>&quot; (28 April 2008) <br /> <br /> Sophie Quinn-Judge, &quot;<a href="/article/vietnams_1968_dissidents_shadow">Hoang Minh Chinh: the honourable dissident</a>&quot; (30 April 2008)<br /> <br /> Paul Hockenos, &quot;<a href="/article/the_1968_debate_in_germany">The 1968 debate in Germany</a>&quot; (2 May 2008)</span>Anyone who lived through those exhilirating and formative times - as I did at the age of 22 - can testify to the hurricane force of that year. Like every such phenomenon it carried multiple elements: in this case a generation&#39;s visceral rejection of the accumulated conformism of <a href="http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780143037750,00.html">post-1945</a> Europe and north America; a heady encounter with new forms of music, art, thinking, and debate; and a many-centred solidarity with global movements of protest and revolt - be they in Vietnam and Latin America, in Czechoslovakia and Russia, or in the United States among African-Americans and anti-war protesters. </p> <p> As one of the editors of the newly founded radical weekly <em>Black Dwarf</em>, I well remember the day in which we decided on the <a href="http://www.andrewburgin.co.uk/popup_image.php?pID=973&amp;osCsid=c9acc2f41ecf6c6ca579a3ab5451a381">frontpage</a> affirmation that to me encapsulated the aspirations and enthusiasms of that time more than any other: &quot;Paris, London, Rome, Berlin. We shall fight, and we shall win!&quot;<br /> <br /> The problem is that, in many ways, we lost. 1968 was a wonderful time. It shaped the intellectual and moral framework of my adult years. It does not deserve the sneering, partisan dismissal of some of its unacknowledged beneficiaries (such as Tony Blair and <a href="/article/institutions/may_68_remember_or_forget">Nicolas Sarkozy</a>). But it is equally ill-served by the kind of one-dimensional and (in the true sense) uncritical celebration that contemporary media, publishing and intellectual cultures too often regurgitate. </p> <p> <strong>The cycles of reality </strong> </p> <p> A recollection of the larger political currents that contextualise the experience of 1968 exemplifies the point. The <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/egalit-libert-sexualit-paris-may-1968-784703.html">theatre</a> of Paris in May ’68 notwithstanding, the year did not alter the politics of any western European country. <br /> <br /> France is the primary exhibit. A month after May, after all, came the mass rallies in favour of <a href="http://www.charles-de-gaulle.org/article.php3?id_article=376">Charles de Gaulle</a> in the Champs-Elysées; followed by the general elections of 23-30 June in which the French right won a resounding victory. When de Gaulle resigned a year later, his successor was the loyal subordinate Georges Pompidou. It took until 1981 for a candidate of the left, François Mitterrand, to be elected president - and this socialist was a ormer Vichy collaborator whose conspiratorial style of politics was the very opposite of the best of <a href="http://users.skynet.be/ddz/mai68/sites.html">May &#39;68</a>. Such tainted political advances are characteristic of the year&#39;s ambiguous legacy.<strong><br /> </strong> </p> <p> In Britain too, the anti-Vietnam-war demonstrations of March and October 1968 (in both of which I was an enthusiastic participant) did not presage any wider change, within or outside the parliamentary system. The protestors denounced the Labour prime minister Harold Wilson, but his replacement after the election of June 1970 was not a figure of the left but a Conservative, Edward Heath. </p> <p> In the United States, 1968 marked the onset of a politically more reactionary epoch rather than a progressive one. The election of Richard M Nixon on 6 November, albeit <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/6/newsid_3832000/3832661.stm">narrow</a>, was its augur; though it came to fruition only with <a href="http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060744809/The_Age_of_Reagan/index.aspx">Ronald Reagan&#39;s</a> victory in 1980, after the insipid administration of Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s (just as the Labour governments of Wilson/James Callaghan in Britain were in retrospect an interlude in a long Conservative hegemony, heralded by Margaret Thatcher&#39;s election in May 1979).<br /> <br /> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is ICREA <a href="http://www.ibei.org/web_new/Personal/eng/profes_detall.asp">research professor</a> at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. Among his many books are <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412" target="_blank"><font color="#0000ff">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</font></a></em> (2005) and <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1" target="_blank"><font color="#0000ff">100 Myths about the Middle East</font></a></em> (2005). His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in Intern</em><em>a</em><em>tional Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.<br /> <br /> The recent articles include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4228">A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world</a>&quot; (8 January 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni</em>, <em>Shi</em>&#39;a and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot; (9 February 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot; (25 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4591">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a>&quot; (4 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot; (4 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus&#39;s risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islam_europe">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/11M">Justice in Madrid: the &quot;11M&quot; verdict</a>&quot; (5 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the_assassin_s_age_pakistan_in_the_world">The assassin&#39;s age: Pakistan in the world</a>&quot; (28 December 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008)</span>True, <a href="/article/the_1968_debate_in_germany">Germany</a> did see a momentous and long overdue political change with the victory of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/brandt_willy.shtml">Willy Brandt&#39;s</a> Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1969 (marking, as Brandt&#39;s victory speech had it, the final defeat of Nazism). But this was self-evidently the work of an established party <a href="http://www.spd.de/menu/1683776/">descended</a> from the respectable Second International centre-left, not the &quot;extra-parliamentary opposition&quot; of 1968. <a href="http://www.goethe.de/ges/ztg/dos/dos/wdp/hel/en3015763.htm">Rudi Dutschke</a>, whose rhetorical and personal appeal I had been enthralled by at a conference on Vietnam in Berlin in January 1968, was permanently damaged by an assassination attempt in April which forced his withdrawal from the <a href="http://1968ineurope.sneakpeek.de/index.php/chronologies/index/4">scene</a>.<br /> <br /> But one polity in western Europe that was irrevocably altered by 1968 was Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom dominated since the 1920s by the representiatives of the province&#39;s Protestant majority, the Ulster Unionist Party. The rise of a &quot;civil-rights movement&quot; demanding equal voting, residence and employment rights for Catholics soon collided with the state&#39;s sectarian institutions and instincts. After serious intercommunal violence exploded in 1969 and the British army was deployed to guarantee order, leadership of the Catholic community was seized by the <a href="http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/ira.htm">Provisional IRA</a>, a murderous and itself sectarian body that owed little to May 1968 and far less to the non-violent civil-rights movement in its American or Northern Ireland variants.<br /> <br /> I well recall, in an interview in Dublin in 1971 with the then Provisional leader Ruari O&#39;Brady (as he then spelt his name), an inquiry about the connections between his &quot;national-liberation&quot; movement and that of its putative equivalents in Vietnam and Cuba. His brisk reply was worthy in tone and content of the schoolmaster he was: &quot;Mr Halliday, in Ireland we have no need of your Che Guevaras and your Ho Chi Minhs.&quot; The pattern of the <a href="/democracy-protest/IRA_2711.jsp">three decades</a> to come was being set, where militarised Catholic nationalism battled its enemies to a dead-end over the bodies of hundreds of innocents, its <a href="http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall03/032502.htm">struggle</a> finessed or cheered by &quot;socialist&quot; fellow-travellers who strained to see a trace of 1968 dreams in the carnage. </p> <p> <strong>The silences of memory</strong><br /> <br /> That the political consequences of 1968 defied its combatants&#39; ideas and hopes is not to our disgrace. The events were indeed extraordinary, and remain indelible. What is wrong in the memorialisation is the fetishism of the moment, and associated loss of perspective and overall judgment, which leads to three kinds of distortion of focus. </p> <p> The first is that the glorification of what was and remains positive about 1968 obscures - and thus at some level perpetuates - the darker sides of the year. In retrospect, the most striking absence from the currents of the time was feminism: true, there was talk of &quot;sexual liberation&quot;, but the radical critique of gender came only with the &quot;second-generation feminism&quot; of 1969 and later. (I recall attending the &quot;dialectics of liberation&quot; conference at London&#39;s Roundhouse in July 1967, when around thirty prominent leftwing and radical speakers in my recollection included not one woman - and, equally in my recollection, no one commented upon this absence).<br /> <br /> The second distortion of the 1968 events is the way that the indulgence of violence is filtered out of consideration. Much of the left thought little about the ethics and politics of violence beyond regarding it as permissible (and even beyond criticism) as long as it was the weapon of the oppressed; but a small section of the movement in Europe and north America, intoxicated by self-glorifying rhetoric and unable to face the blockage of their own politics, opted for proclaimed &quot;urban guerrilla warfare&quot;. The <em>Rote Armee Fraktion</em> (<a href="http://www.baader-meinhof.com/who/terrorists/terrorists.html">RAF</a>) in Germany, the <em>Brigate Rosse</em> in Italy, the Black Panthers and Weather Underground in the United States were (as much as hippies, anarchists and proto-environmentalists, though with far more damaging effects) also the children of 1968.<br /> <br /> <strong>The tides of globality </strong><br /> <br /> The third distortion of judgment in regard to 1968 is the absence of political realism: the ability to match aspiration and imagination with a cool assessment of the balance of existing political forces. It was the political &quot;winners&quot; who were to benefit from the events of the year (among them Georges Pompidou, Richard Nixon, and Edward Heath) who in this respect showed a political capacity that their adversaries in the lecture-halls or on the barricades more often lacked.<br /> <br /> The inability of many leftist 68ers to anticipate or comprehend the conservative reaction to their own initiatives which these &quot;statesmen&quot; represented is telling here; as is the unreflective tendency of those who espouse some variant of revolutionary Marxism to laud 1968 as a single moment of glorious resistance without looking too closely at its dynamics. This fatal lack of political realism, however, is only part of a wider absence of understanding of the whole period: in particular, the inability of those who prefer the myths to the realities of 1968 to see that this was a time not of &quot;world revolution&quot; but of international - indeed &quot;tricontinental&quot; - counter-revolution.<br /> <br /> The years from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s had seen a spate of revolutions and less dramatic but real changes across what was becoming known as the &quot;third world&quot; - in &quot;Indochina&quot; (<a href="/article/vietnams_1968_dissidents_shadow">Vietnam</a>, Cambodia, Laos), in the Arab world (Egypt, Iraq, Algeria, Yemen), in Africa (the Congo, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya) and in Latin America (Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba). From the mid-1960s, however, a series of events indicated that the tide was beginning to turn.<br /> <br /> The coup in Brazil in 1964; the fall of the moderate Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in the same year; the coup in Indonesia, and the invasion by the United States of the Dominican Republic and South Vietnam in 1965; the coup that ousted <a href="http://www.ghana.co.uk/history/presidents/kwame_nkrumah.htm">Kwame Nkrumah</a> in Ghana in 1966; the coup in Greece, the six-day Arab-Israeli war and the death of Che Guevara in 1967 - all heralded a global shift to the right, of which <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/rn37.html">Richard Nixon&#39;s</a> victory in the US presidential election of 1968 represented the culmination.<br /> <br /> It took until the mid-1970s for a further sea-change to occur, with the end of fascism in Portugal and Spain in 1974-75, and a spate of revolutionary victories (Vietnam, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Iran, Nicaragua) in what was then not yet known as the &quot;global south&quot;. The &quot;second cold war&quot; of the 1980s closed one cycle and opened another. By then, many veterans of 1968 had long exchanged thinking through the present for romanticised celebration of the past. <br /> <br /> <strong>The cunning of history</strong><br /> <br /> The most dramatic events of 1968, and the ones with the greatest long-run consequences were not, however, in either Europe and north America <em>or</em> in the &quot;third world&quot; - but in the &quot;second&quot; (that is, communist) world. Two events here in particular - the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 which <a href="http://www.radio.cz/en/article/94618">crushed</a> the liberalising &quot;Prague spring&quot; under <a href="http://www.radio.cz/en/article/32182">Alexander Dubcek</a>, and the apogee of China&#39;s cultural revolution in 1967-68 - signalled the brutal imposition of authoritarian and coercive bureaucratic communism.<br /> <br /> In Prague, Moscow and Beijing - a world away from the liberal and culturally experimental world of Paris or Berkeley - it was not the emancipatory imagination but the cold calculation of party and state that was &quot;seizing power&quot;. Yet in the longer run the counter-cyclical reinforcement of hardline communist rule in its two major centres proved less durable than appeared likely at the time.<br /> <br /> Indeed, the repression of 1968 contained the seeds of the demise of the regimes that deployed it. In Europe, the decision by Leonid Brezhnev and his associates to invade Czechoslovakia in effect killed what were already the last, threadbare hopes that a progressive evolution of communist societies was yet possible. The casualties included the next generation of intra-party reformers, who thus had few reserves of loyalty or enthusiasm to call on beyond the party <em>nomenklatura</em> - and who were challenged by dissidents now hardened by experience to contemplate only communism&#39;s demise rather than its reform. The brief flowering of optimism under <a href="http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/gorbachev/">Mikhail Gorbachev</a> proved as evanescent as that under Nikita Khrushchev, but this time with far more serious results for the communist edifice.<br /> <br /> In western Europe, the collapse of faith that the Soviet system deserved even a modicum of trust was more damaged by the Red Army&#39;s invasion of Czechoslovakia even than by that of <a href="http://www.rev.hu/portal/page/portal/rev/aktualitasok">Hungary in 1956</a>. The wholesale evacuation of members from Moscow&#39;s &quot;brother parties&quot; in 1956 at least did not damage their core; but Prague led the communist leaderships (in Italy especially) onto the road of coalition-seeking &quot;Eurocommunism&quot; and then to effective oblivion.<br /> <br /> In China, the violence, fear and societal damage inflicted by the cultural revolution were of such a scale that the generation that came to power after <a href="http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780679746324">Mao Zedong&#39;s</a> death in September 1976 and the revolutionary spasm of the &quot;<a href="http://www.iisg.nl/~landsberger/g4.html">gang of four</a>&quot; that followed sought to pursue a moderate and reforming path. The system survived, but it lost its inner, doctrinal conviction. What is left is nationalism and fear of the people: which it can appease only as long as &quot;market socialism&quot; delivers the goods. The years around 1968, for all their zealotry, spelt the end of revolutionary commitment.<br /> <br /> Much of the left in western European and the United States feted China&#39;s cultural revolution in displays that mixed political misjudgment, exoticist fascination, and infantile irresponsibility in equal measure. The warnings of older and wiser observers such as <a href="http://www.deutscherprize.org.uk/Isaac%20&amp;%20Tamara%20Deutscher.htm">Isaac Deutscher</a> and <a href="http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/">Herbert Marcuse</a> against the dangers of collectivist frenzies of destruction and shaming were heard, but also ignored.<br /> <br /> It is clear in retrospect that 1968 did not bury European capitalist democracy or American imperialism. It did, however, set in train the death and burial of the Russian and Chinese revolutions and of communism in western Europe. A fine example, indeed, of the cunning of history. </p> Globalisation global politics 1968 Fred Halliday Original Copyright Fri, 13 Jun 2008 14:08:32 +0000 Fred Halliday 44971 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tibet, Palestine and the politics of failure https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/tibet-palestine-and-the-politics-of-failure <p> Two current and high-profile events - the crisis in and around Tibet following the Lhasa riots of 14 March 2008, and the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment on 14 May 1948 of the state of Israel - have more in common than it may first appear. Indeed, their commonalities are shared to a degree by other political and ethnic disputes across the world, to the extent that they compose a distinct phenomenon - which may be termed &quot;the syndrome of post-colonial sequestration&quot;. The category may sound abstract but the lived experience it denotes is real and multiple: that is, the cases where countries or peoples have - at a decisive moment of international change, amid the retreat of imperial or hegemonic powers - failed (through bad timing and / or bad leadership) to established their independence.<br /> <br /> Tibet and Palestine (Israel&#39;s &quot;other&quot;) are classic examples of the syndrome. The contrast is with other countries or peoples that have, as it were, managed &quot;to get out in time&quot;. Kuwait is one such: a country that is (more than most) artificial and invented, yet which was able to receive widespread international support when invaded by Saddam Hussein&#39;s Iraq in 1990 - precisely because it had acquired independence in 1961, and had long been a member of the Arab League and of the United Nations.<br /> <br /> The victims of &quot;post-colonial sequestration&quot;, by contrast, failed to make it past the barrier of independence and international recognition. Instead they fell into a state of half-recognised, but contested, existence. After the war of 1948-49 the &quot;Palestine question&quot; disappeared almost entirely from the international scene, only to re-emerge with the defeat of the Arab armies in the six-day war of 1967. Tibet too has undergone long years of neglect in the international arena, punctuated by periodic (and notably near-half-century) reincarnations of interest: the bloody British occupation of Lhasa in 1904-05, the insurrection against Chinese rule and flight of the Dalai Lama in 1959, and now the uprising of March 2008 (see Gabriel Lafitte, &quot;<a href="/article/china/democracy_power/tibet_revolt">Tibet: revolt with memories</a>&quot;, 18 March 2008). <br /> <br /> An essential element in understanding this syndrome - both from &quot;within&quot; (the people or country concerned) and &quot;outside&quot; (the international order) - is to abandon the idea that the division of the world into today&#39;s &quot;nation-states&quot; corresponds to any fundamental principles. The map of the world, now containing around close to 200 independent entities, is not drawn according to ideas of natural justice, divine or even historic entitlement, nor even of the democratic and liberal self-realisation of &quot;nations&quot;. It is, rather - as scholars of nationalism, from Ernest Gellner to Tom Nairn, have pointed out - also arbitrary and contingent - a result of power politics; accidents; wars; state crises; and hegemonic, colonial or (in the case of the central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union) ideology.<br /> <br /> In this haphazard context, the chances of failure or success in achieving international recognition can be equally contingent. The arbitrary nature of states and frontiers in Africa, the middle east, central Asia and Latin America testifies to this, as do the examples of Belgium, Switzerland, and most recently Kosovo in Europe. Some entities gain established existence and recognition, others do not: there is no natural order in deciding their fate, even if larger political trends and dynamics may in some eras offer a more propitious context (see Tom Nairn, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/nationalism_the_new_deal">Globalisation and nationalism: the new deal</a>&quot;, 7 March 2008).<strong><br /> <br /> A clinching moment<br /> <br /> </strong>In each case, however, it is usually international politics that plays the decisive role. In particular, the key moment of possibility - and danger - is the convulsive change that occurs when wars end or colonial powers prepare to withdraw. The end of the two world wars in the middle east is emblematic of the process.<br /> <br /> In the aftermath of the &quot;great war&quot; of 1914-18, the Ottoman retreat was accompanied by the emergence of various <em>de facto</em> states and movements claiming independence. The <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?ISB=9780863568251&amp;TAG=&amp;CID">Kurds</a> of Turkey and Iraq were promised consultation on independence in the Treaty of Sèvres (1920); the former Ottoman province of the <a href="/faith-europe_islam/mecca_3882.jsp">Hijaz</a>, whose ruler Sharif Hussein had supported the British in their campaign against the Turks, and the western Arabian state of Asir, also profferred their claims. But newly assertive states - Kemalist Turkey, British-ruled Iraq and the newly expanding Kingdom of Najd (later Saudi Arabia) - occupied and annexed these territories, crushing the aspirations of the time.<br /> <br /> A similar process occurred after the second world war. The British had ruled the administrative entity called &quot;Palestine&quot; since 1920, in effect transposing an imagined, Biblical, and 19th-century romantic term onto a slice of territory that had hitherto been divided up between three Ottoman provinces. A similar process of arbitrary delineation and nomenclature occurred with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.<br /> <br /> Yet if the colonial creation was arbitrary, the development inside the colonial box of two ethnic communities and two corresponding nationalist movements - Jewish / Zionist and Arab / Palestinian respectively - was real. The unilateral (and profoundly irresponsible) British retreat in 1948 was followed by war, in which the Zionists successfully fought to achieve their independence and the Palestinians (earlier defeated in the 1936-39 insurrection) failed to secure theirs and were occupied by the armies of neighbouring Arab states, Egypt and Jordan. The result, by 1949, was the sequestration by Israeli and Arab states of the former British colony. </p> <p> For two decades, until Israel expelled the Arab states in the 1967 war, Palestine was divided between three regional powers. Since 1967, the unity of the British colonial artefact has been re-established and, in effect, a civil war within that territory has continued. In the face of Israeli power on one side, and the weakness and accommodations of Arab states on the other, Palestine failed to make it (see Avi Shlaim, &quot;<a href="/article/israel_at_60_the_iron_wall_revisited">Israel at 60: the &#39;iron wall&#39; revisited</a>&quot;, 8 May 2008).<br /> <br /> <strong>Lhasa in the world<br /> <br /> </strong>For all the differences of region and political context, a comparable process was taking place at that time over Tibet, where aspirations to independence were crushed as the forces of the victorious Chinese revolution of 1949 <a href="http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-11814-9/the-dragon-in-the-land-of-snows">subordinated</a> and incorporated the territory into the &quot;People&#39;s Republic of China&quot;.<br /> <br /> Here, much of the energetic debate about Tibet&#39;s &quot;historical status&quot; - whether (as Tibetan nationalists and their supporters claim) it was an independent state before China occupied it in 1950-51 or whether it is (in Chinese <a href="/democracy-china/nationalism_3456.jsp">nationalist</a> terminology) an &quot;inalienable part&quot; of historic China - is based on a dubious premise. For &quot;history&quot; and its associations is not the unarguable source of judgment that both sides see it as.<br /> <br /> Even if Tibet <em>had</em> been an integral part of China for centuries, this would not gainsay its <em>contemporary</em> <a href="http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10352.php">right</a> - as a territory with a clearly distinct language and culture, and with several decades of <em>de facto</em> and modern sovereignty before 1950 - from claiming independence. After all, Ireland was long ruled by England, Norway by Sweden, and Finland, Ukraine and the Baltic countries by Russia, without this contradicting their right to independence in the 20th century.<br /> <br /> It is not essential to this line of argument, but worth saying anyway, that even on historical grounds the Tibetans have as good or better case for independence as these other lands (see Donald S Lopez Jr, &quot;<a href="/article/china_democracy_power/how_to_think_about_tibet">How to think about Tibet</a>&quot;, 31 March 2008). Chinese armies have certainly occupied Tibet on various occasions in past centuries, as English armies occupied much of France. But from the mid-18th century, Tibet was in practice independent under its Dalai Lama rulers based in their capital, Lhasa. The few European travellers who reached <em>this</em> &quot;forbidden city&quot; in the 1840s (such as the French travelling priests, Père Huc and Père Gabet), the Chinese presence was purely formal, the two <em>ambans </em>(Beijing officials) posted there having no more power than, say, a British high commissioner has in independent Australia or India.<strong><br /> <br /> A question of judgment<br /> <br /> </strong>The Tibetans were able to achieve and sustain this <em>de facto</em> independence for two reasons: the weakness of the Manchu empire in Beijing (which, in the course of the 19th century, lost control of parts of Mongolia, Korea, and Taiwan); and the fact that Tibet came, again in the 19th century, to be part of a string of independent, but virtually unexplored, Asian states which acquired neutral - &quot;buffer&quot; - status between the British and Russian empires.<br /> <br /> In a swathe of countries - from Persia in the west through Afghanistan to Tibet - this was a period of Anglo-Russian rivalry, scheming and exaggeration of threat. The occasional military incursions by the British (against Persia over Herat in 1856, in the Afghanistan wars of the 1840s and 1870s, and in the Younghusband expedition to Lhasa in 1904) were designed not to annex these states to the Raj but (often on the basis of grossly inflated reports of Russian influence) to re-establish a strategic status quo.<br /> <br /> The problem for Tibet was that its leaders preferred - in a judgment good in the short-term and catastrophic in the long - to avoid international diplomatic contact, in some cases even recognition. Even in the 1940s there was no direct radio contact between the authorities in Lhasa and the outside world. This approach was shared by some other aristocratic states which had remained free of colonisation well into the 20th century (Haile Selassie&#39;s Ethiopia, the <em>Imams</em> of Yemen, the Sultan of Muscat, the kings of Afghanistan). But when international circumstances changed, their remoteness turned from protection into danger: the ending of the 1939-45 war transformed the world around Tibet, with Britain&#39;s departure from India in 1947, and the Chinese communist triumph of 1949.<br /> <br /> A newly independent India, mindful of the dangers of fragmentary forces within its own territory, did not adopt the Tibetan cause, and this served further to alter the strategic situation to Tibet&#39;s disadvantage (see Dibyesh Anand, &quot;<a href="/article/china/globalisation/tibet_china_clash">Tibet, China and the west: empires of the mind</a>&quot;, 3 April 2008). The Lhasa government - presided over by a teenage and inexperienced Dalai Lama, and riven with internal conflicts - made a belated attempt to turn <em>de facto</em> pre-modern independence into international recognition, by despatching a mission to the United Nations. It was too late: Tibet, like Palestine, was crushed by the shifts in regional power and imperial readjustment of the post-1945 world. The Tibetan uprising of March 1959 attracted international sympathy, and some CIA support, but to no avail.<br /> <br /> This &quot;sequestration syndrome&quot; applies in other more recent cases: Eritrea and East Timor, respectively post-colonial victims of Ethiopia and Indonesia. They did manage after bloody wars to secure independence, Eritrea&#39;s in 1993 and East Timor&#39;s in 1999 - but only when the oppressor-state&#39;s regime (Mengistu&#39;s Derg and Suharto&#39;s New Order) had fallen. An example on the other side is the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara, seized by Morocco at the moment of decolonisation in 1975. The world is full of other areas whose future remains open: from Aceh to Somaliland, <a href="/democracy-caucasus/abkhazia_future_3983.jsp">Abkhazia</a> to West Papua, Baluchistan to Taiwan, <a href="/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/santa_cruzs_referendum_farewell_bolivia">Bolivia&#39;s</a> &quot;half-moon&quot; to Greenland, the United States&#39;s <a href="http://www.thenation.com/sections/hawaii">Hawaii</a> to Tonga&#39;s <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11294798">Vava&#39;u</a>. <br /> <br /> <strong>A realistic pessimism<br /> <br /> </strong>The gathering of such diverse places under one rubric may seem forced, even preposterous - particularly to hegemonic nationalists from Tel Aviv and Beijing, Ankara and Rabat, Moscow and Belgrade, and many other capitals (which is not to ignore the fact that the leaderships of independent and often small states that have &quot;got out in time&quot; can be among the most virulent of nationalists, and distinctly hegemonic towards their own minorities and/or colonial components). But it speaks to the realities of the modern world, and indeed suggests a realistic pessimism about the possibility today of resolving many of these disputes. If the concept of &quot;post-colonial sequestration&quot; holds, then it carries a vital lesson: only if there is a major political shift in the hegemonic state that has committed the sequestration, and which has secured some international indulgence for it, is there a realistic prospect of post-colonial annexation being reversed.<br /> <br /> This implies that the granting of - or even, in the end, the demand for - independence is in the short and medium term less important than respect for regional and cultural rights within a democratic framework. The reason why such entities as Bavaria, Catalonia, Crete and California (among others) do not in their majority favour independence is less because they lack a good case in principle and precedence, and more because their major goals (including democracy, respect and economic prosperity) are deemed by the great majority of their citizens to be better realised by remaining part of the larger entity. The same may apply, in the end, to <a href="http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/08/13103747/0">Scotland</a>. <br /> <br /> Hence the solution to the problems of Palestine, Kurdistan, Western Sahara and Tibet - and the other cases referred to above - needs to do two things: discard sterile and polemical (thus exclusionary to those with independent minds and those not directly involved) disputes about historic claims - as opposed to objective, grounded, careful and respectful historical argument; and focus on the attempt to secure a measure of democratic (including federal) freedoms for subject peoples and territories.<br /> <br /> The first is self-explanatory, except to nationalist partisans and political sectarians. The second requires a larger change in the whole political system of the country of which aspirants to autonomy, sovereignty and recognition (and possibly, in the end, independence) are a part. If Israel were prepared to grant democratic rights and freedoms to the Palestinians whose lives it controls, and China to permit the same to its citizens (including Tibetan and Uighur), then all options - negotiated independence, democratic federalism, new states or refounded states - can be freely placed on the table. The current inclinations of these dominant states and their publics, and the foreseeable international distribution of power, suggest that the prospect of &quot;de-sequestration&quot; is at present dim. The time for a realistic optimism, for Tibet and Palestine at least, is not yet at hand. </p> <span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday&#39;s many &quot;global politics&quot; <a href="/author/Fred_Halliday.jsp">columns</a> on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/33094">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/34002">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/34272">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/34677">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/35228">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">The assassin&#39;s age: Pakistan in the world</a>&quot; (28 December 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/castro_3855.jsp">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; (4 March 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal</a>&quot; (20 April 2008)</span><br /> <br /> institutions & government Globalisation global politics democracy & power china Fred Halliday Original Copyright Tue, 13 May 2008 21:48:38 +0000 Fred Halliday 44539 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Two feminist pioneers: Iranian, Lebanese, universal https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered <p id="caow" align="left"> The intellectual, moral and historic confusions that mark the contemporary age - and the middle east as much as any other region - make the loss of thoughtful and humane voices all the more bitter. When these voices have illuminated the central issues of women&#39;s rights and human progress, the gap they leave is indeed impossible to fill. </p> <p id="hjyx" align="left"> <span class="pullquote_new">Mai Ghoussoub - artist, writer, publisher, and (with André Gaspard) co-founder of the publishers <a id="xoa4" href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/index.asp?TAG=&amp;CID=">Saqi</a> and <a id="yia7" href="http://www.telegrambooks.com/archives/telegram/">Telegram</a> - was a friend of and contributor to <strong>openDemocracy</strong>. Her articles included:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="cwsk" href="/conflict-iraq/article_1942.jsp">Who is serious?</a>&quot; <br /> (9 June 2004) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="pe2l" href="/conflict-middle_east_politics/lebanon_life_4046.jsp">Lebanon: slices of life</a>&quot; <br /> (31 October 2006)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="x6lr" href="/conflict-Literature/world_press_photo_4342.jsp">Beirut and contradiction: reading the World Press Photo award</a>&quot; <br /> (13 February 2007)<br /> <strong><br /> openDemocracy</strong> also published these articles in tribute:<br /> <br /> Anna Wilson, Maggie Gee, Anthony Barnett, &quot;<a id="futx" href="/conflict-middle_east_politics/remembering_mai_4366.jsp">Remembering Mai Ghoussoub</a>&quot; <br /> (20 February 2007)<br /> <br /> Neil Belton, &quot;<a id="py9b" href="/conflict-middle_east_politics/ghoussoub_4372.jsp">Mai Ghoussoub in her time</a>&quot; <br /> (22 February 2007)</span>This is certainly true of two outstanding public intellectuals, the Iranian scholar and activist Parvin Paidar and the Lebanese artist and publisher <a id="g4ju" href="/conflict-middle_east_politics/ghoussoub_4372.jsp">Mai Ghoussoub</a>, the cruelty of whose deaths is accentuated by how much they had still to give (Parvin died in October 2005 at the age of 56, Mai in February 2007 at 53). But if they deserve commemoration, it is for what they did and embodied as well as for their premature end, for in these too lie their <a id="g68m" href="http://www.iranian.com/Women/2005/October/Paidar/index.html">legacy</a>. </p> <p id="w7lo" align="left"> What is striking about each of these figures was the resolute clarity of commitment on perhaps the single most burning question of our times: the full emancipation of women. In light of the experience of the different countries that had formed them, they resisted oppressions both international and domestic; refused to accept the silence and subjugation demanded of them (by nationalist and religious leaders, but also by authoritarian parties of the left); and engaged confidently and enthusiastically in the global debates about gender and politics in the 1970s and 1980s through which their generation of women transformed themselves - and their menfolk. They were the finest and most principled exemplars of that proud and unheralded tradition, that of modern middle-eastern feminism. </p> <p id="syyv" align="left"> For many of us who originated outside the middle east yet whose professional work demanded that we understood it, the writings, criticisms, and example of Parvin Paidar and Mai Ghoussoub were a sure guide - as much as their encouragement and humour were life-affirming. Mai, who came to London in 1979 and (with <a id="d_yq" href="http://www.telegrambooks.com/archives/telegram/telegram_about_us/">André Gaspard</a>) founded the unique publishing house <a id="e5lw" href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/index.asp?TAG=&amp;CID=">Saqi</a> in 183, and Parvin, who after studying in London made a distinguished career with the United Nations where she <a id="g58e" href="http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BC203/%28httpPeople%29/B32D5BED2CD42AC2C1256B9F00313919?OpenDocument&amp;panel=projects&amp;subsection=collaborating%252520researchers">promoted</a> women&#39;s rights in Afghanistan and central Asia, made generosity an art-form. </p> <p id="qknw" align="left"> <strong>An internationalist heart</strong> </p> <p id="y2t_" align="left"> Their writings leave a complementary legacy. <a id="eovk" href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/mai-ghoussoub-437479.html">Mai</a> fused literature and political analysis to dissect the mix of political dogmatism, violence, and nationalism that tore apart her Lebanese homeland in civil war and also disfigured much of the Arab left. Her poignant short stories, <a id="d:pf" href="http://www.saqibooks.com/display.asp?ISB=9780863566769&amp;TAG=&amp;CID="><em>Leaving Beirut: Women and the Wars Within</em></a> (Saqi, 1998; reprinted 2007) and her reflections on art and memory (<a id="evx3" href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863566424&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=ghoussoub&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=5&amp;dc=6"><em>Selected Writings</em></a>, Saqi, 2008) interweave the domesticity and fantasies of Lebanese women with the political upheavals that afflicted her country and speculations on the place of women in contemporary art. In retrospect, her earlier critiques of Arab nationalist violence and sexism - published both in the <a id="y1nc" href="http://www.newleftreview.org/"><em>New Left Review</em></a> and in the independent journal <em>Khamsin</em> (which she co-edited with comrades from Palestine, Iran, Israel, Syria and Iraq) are distressingly prophetic in regard to &quot;Islamo-nationalist&quot; groups like Hamas and Hizbollah, as well as excoriating. </p> <p id="o:uf" align="left"> Parvin&#39;s experience grew out of the debates and struggles of the independent Marxist left that emerged in Iran in the last years of the <a id="aknz" href="http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10766.php">Shah&#39;s</a> rule, and the confrontations with the new authoritarianism of the Islamic Republic that emerged from the 1979 revolution. Indeed Parvin, and the Iranian feminist current she helped to develop, quickly took the measure of the zealous patriarchy of the <a id="q77t" href="http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/6163.php">Ayatollah Khomeini regime</a> - a vivid lesson that women&#39;s equality, and freedom not to wear oppressive clothing, were (as the orthodox left believed) primary not secondary issues. </p> <p id="o:uf" align="left"> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is ICREA research professor at IBEI, the Barcelona Institute for International Studies. Among his many books are <em><a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412" target="_blank"><font color="#0000ff">The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</font></a></em> (2005) and <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/ItemsStore.asp?sku=0863565298&amp;prd=1" target="_blank"><font color="#0000ff">100 Myths about the Middle East</font></a></em> (2005). His many books include <br /> <a id="xazt" href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a><br /> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a id="jkxv" href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em><br /> 100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> <br /> (Saqi, 2005), and <br /> <a id="kjwh" href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; columns include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="k-2u" href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="t_qw" href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot;<br /> (13 July 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="w9qt" href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot;<br /> (3 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="tpn4" href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islam_europe">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; <br /> (1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="phlw" href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; <br /> (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="doxu" href="/article/the_assassin_s_age_pakistan_in_the_world">The assassin&#39;s age: Pakistan in the world</a>&quot; (28 December 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="c3hc" href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; <br /> (12 February 2008)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a id="r7su" href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds">Stolen Wealth Funds: fantasies of control</a>&quot; <br /> (4 March 2008) </span> </p> <p id="hmfl" align="left"> Parvin was one of the founding editors of the Persian feminist journal <a id="kwzx" href="http://www.h-net.org/%257Ebahai/iranlib/M-R/N/nimih/ndtitle/nd.htm"><em>Nimeh-ye Digar</em></a> (<em>The Other Half</em>). Her PhD at London&#39;s Birkbeck College (of which I had the honour of being one of the two examiners) set the experience of women in the Iran of her time within the broader sweep of modern Iranian political and social history; published as <a id="pq95" href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521595728"><em>Women and the Political Process in Twentieth-century Iran</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 1995), it won deserved acclaim as one of the finest books written on modern <a id="ixa0" href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/bookdetails.asp?book=288">Iran</a>. Indeed, in tracing the intertwining of gender and politics through Iran&#39;s tumultuous decades from the constitutional revolution of 1906, through monarchism and nationalism to Islamic revolution, it is an outstanding work in the entire field of scholarship on women and public life. </p> <p id="j_vp" align="left"> Their personal and political experience made these two women profoundly internationalist. Each came from countries with a variety of religious and linguistic groups; each was consciously part of the broader international embracing of women&#39;s rights that (in the middle east as much as in Europe or Latin America) broke through in the 1970s; each, in exile, sought to join with feminists and independent socialists from other nations and ethnic groups. </p> <p id="lfgi" align="left"> Mai, at <a id="dqiz" href="http://www.matzpen.org/index.asp?p=130"><em>Khamsin</em></a> and later in Saqi, worked with a variety of colleagues from Israel, other Arab countries, and Iran, as well as with some of us from Europe and the Americas who were fortunate enough to know and collaborate with her. Parvin, after finishing her doctorate, lived in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, working on behalf of <a id="un74" href="http://www.icsw.org/copenhagen_implementation/copenhagen_papers/paper9/paidar.htm">Save the Children</a> and <a id="g70l" href="http://www.unifem.org/about/">Unifem</a>, promoting women&#39;s rights and economic participation in the face of the religious, tribal (and often violent) groups that had emerged from the wreckage of communism. </p> <p id="phx." align="left"> This quality is even more vital in light of the political, social and intellectual trends in the broader region in recent years: increasing marginalisation of and violence against women, and the emergence of a slippery, relativising discourse on women&#39;s rights (on such issues as the imposition of the <a id="uj20" href="/faith-europe_islam/article_1811.jsp">veil</a>). The whole cast of Mai and Parvin&#39;s work stood against the grotesque and pervasive re-masculinisation of public space that has swept across the middle east, symbolised by barking and bearded clerical leaders; as against such confections as &quot;Islamic feminism&quot;, &quot;cultural difference&quot;, &quot;tradition&quot;, &quot;re-veiling&quot;, and &quot;identity politics&quot;. In face of misogyny and mystification, they insisted, without concessions to particularity or nationalist sentiment, on the right of women to speak, dress, work, organise and love freely. </p> <p id="p0ga"> <strong>A generation&#39;s trail</strong> </p> <p id="t4rq" align="left"> There are many in the middle east - women and men alike - who have, despite all obstacles, threats and <a id="mq2b" href="http://www.chico.mweb.co.za/art/2006/2006sept/060901-lebanon.html">depredations</a>, remained true to the egalitarian, feminist and universalist commitment exemplified by Mai Ghoussoub and Parvin Paidar. Yet it is notable that - as in other regions of the world - it is those of a liberal (and often &quot;individualist&quot;) orientation who do more to defend the collective rights of (for example) women, <a id="rv_7" href="http://www.al-bab.com/unspeakablelove/gaspard.htm">gays</a>, ethnic minorities or workers, than the supposedly more principled and &quot;combative&quot; groups of the socialist or Marxist left. </p> <p id="d430"> In regard to women in the middle east, the Arab women intellectuals who have produced the <a id="nw9o" href="http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/regionalreports/arabstates/name,3278,en.html">Arab Human Development Reports</a> - documents that hold middle-eastern societies to account in terms of universal performance <a id="xks0" href="http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?book_id=%25205530">indicators</a> - are liberals of a progressive, United Nations-centred persuasion. They, as well as lawyers like the heroic <a id="g845" href="http://www.fundacioforum.org/eng/croniques_det.asp?id_cronica=99">Shirin Ebadi</a>, and other women in Iran and across the Arab world, carry the torch of progress with little support from what remains of the political left. The work of this new generation of feminists - whether or not they would so describe themselves - is also a testimony to the pioneering trail Mai Ghoussoub and Parvin Paidar lit a generation ago. </p> 50.50 Globalisation global politics middle east Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal Sun, 20 Apr 2008 18:59:29 +0000 Fred Halliday 36249 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Sovereign Wealth Funds: power vs principle https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/global_politics/stolen_wealth_funds <p>The world's financial press has a new obsession to succeed the &quot;sub-prime mortgage&quot; craze of autumn 2007: &quot;sovereign wealth funds&quot;, those state-backed investment bodies whose accumulating assets (often fuelled by the high energy prices of the 2000s) are roaming the globe in search of businesses to invest in, partner - and perhaps devour.</p> <p>The enormous capital assets of these funds, and their potential influence on western markets and business, make the focus (and to a degree the fear) understandable; but some at least of the reporting and discussion about these new behemoths in the western media has a bias towards misunderstanding.</p> <p><span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in Intern</em><em>a</em><em>tional Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday's &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.The recent articles include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4228">A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world</a>&quot; (8 January 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni</em>, <em>Shi</em>'a and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot; (9 February 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot; (25 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4591">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a>&quot; (4 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot; (4 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus's risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islam_europe">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/11M">Justice in Madrid: the &quot;11M&quot; verdict</a>&quot; (5 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the_assassin_s_age_pakistan_in_the_world">The assassin's age: Pakistan in the world</a>&quot; (28 December 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law">Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)</span>The world's <a href="http://www.eubusiness.com/Finance/sovereign-wealth.01/">sovereign wealth funds</a> (SWFs) are believed already to command assets worth around $3 trillion ($3,000,000,000,000) this figure is higher than (for example) the GDP of the United Kingdom. But the SWF phenomenon represents a major change in the world's financial and investment markets in a way that goes beyond even considerations of this epic (and often suddenly acquired) <a href="http://www.swfinstitute.org/research/fxr.php">scale of riches</a>. For its significance lies also in the intellectual and <a href="/article/the_end_of_neo_liberalism">policy context</a> of its emergence: namely, that after three decades of policy, propaganda, and hype about &quot;freeing up markets&quot;, &quot;reducing the role of the state&quot;, and &quot;promoting the private sector&quot;, the SWFs embody a massive and unstoppable shift of influence back to what are in effect state-owned entities. Take that, neo-liberalism! The cunning of history has done it again.</p> <p>The power the sovereign wealth funds have been suddenly seen to wield has panicked the world's older financial elites into flailing responses: an attempt at the <a href="http://www.weforum.org/en/index.htm">World Economic Forum</a> in Davos to negotiate a code of conduct with representatives of SWFs; Australia's consideration of stricter disclosure requirements; and the European commission's proposed &quot;<a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/313&amp;format=HTML&amp;aged=0&amp;language=EN&amp;guiLanguage=en">code of practice</a>&quot; (released on 27 February 2008) that is designed to guide investments from SWF countries in European and United States markets. A closer look at the last of these in particular highlights how far there is to go to before a strong, democratic response to the SWF's rise is developed.</p> <p><strong>Europe</strong><strong>'s pipedream</strong></p> <p>The European commission's code enjoins the SWFs annually to declare the origin and disposal of their assets; to abstain from using investments for political purposes; and to make their management structures transparent. The commission - keen to show that Europe believes in &quot;open&quot; capital markets, concerned to avert possible controls on capital inflow by key European states, and faced with the refusal of SWFs to sign a firm undertaking on these matters - thus opted for a &quot;wish list&quot;. The commission's code appears naive and unworkable at best, deceitful (designed to fool domestic political audiences into thinking that something is being done) or complicit with unaccountable entities of enormous power at worst.</p> <p>But it is worse: for the European commission, and western governments in general, are in no position to lecture the rest of the world on correct behaviour in such matters. The European Union itself proclaims open markets yet practices protection, in regard both to agriculture and significant areas of European trade and industry (over airlines, or France and Germany's gas and electricity giants energy companies, for example, open markets are forgotten (see Sarah Laitner &amp; Ed Crooks, &quot;<a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/aa38b3ec-e59f-11dc-9334-0000779fd2ac.html">Energy groups to escape split of assets</a>&quot; [<em>Financial Times</em>, 27 February 2008]).</p> <p>As for the &quot;good practice&quot; now recommended to the <a href="http://swfinstitute.org/swf.php">SWFs</a> - of not using their economic power for political purposes - this is something that western states have been doing from time immemorial. Economic activity and state interest have, after all, permeated the international market for as long as it has existed; the policy of sanctions against Cuba by the United States or Iran by the United Nations are current examples, while the history of oil companies in Latin America or the middle east in the past century is replete with many more.</p> <p>Moreover, the European commission's proposals suggest a lack of awareness of the kinds of states and societies from which the SWFs are emerging. A state-owned investment fund will behave no differently to the states of which it is an appendix. Where there is no clear distinction between state and private interests and (a very condition of authoritarian and secretive political control) no clear evidence on who takes decisions within these SWFs or on what criteria - as is the case to a great extent in <a href="http://swfinstitute.org/fund/russia.php">Russia</a>, the Arab Gulf states, and China - it is not clear what the value of such a &quot;code of practice&quot; can possibly be.</p> <p>The Gulf states in particular remain - for all the superhighways, skyscrapers, &quot;<a href="/article/conflicts/middle_east/energy_futures">knowledge cities</a>&quot; and glitzy conferences - controlled by secretive ruling families whose members regard the state, and its revenue, as theirs. An Arab ambassador recently put it to me that the minister of finance is, in effect, the private accountant of the ruler. No-one knows what the state's (or ruler's) income is. Oil revenues provide the basis of an informed guess; but when it comes to the often equally large income from capital invested abroad, and who controls it, there not even broad estimates exist.</p> <p><strong>The Gulf's other face</strong></p> <p>The new power of state corporations is most obvious in the energy market. The control by the state and its associated companies of production and distribution of key energy resources is in the middle east (as in Russia and <a href="http://swfinstitute.org/fund/cic.php">China</a>) a key source of state power. In this environment, the rise of the SWFs has international implications for inter-state as well as business relationships.</p> <p>A powerful state may establish a degree of order in business and state affairs. But in the middle east and Russia (to name only these areas) the very nature of the &quot;originating&quot; state guarantees that there will be problems - for three basic market and regulatory preconditions for a sustainable working model are absent:</p> <p>* there is no free press; hence no independent investigation or reporting on economic matters; the least that would happen if a Gulf Arab or Russian paper did print independent reports is that the advertising would dry up</p> <p>* there is no rule of law; hence those with power in such countries are free to break contracts, renege on commitments, reappropriate assets, and even pilfer state funds, as they see fit. This is not going to change in the near future - indeed, the availability of new oil and gas revenues may only make it worse</p> <p>* there is no independent parliament or political structure. The Russian elections of December 2007 (parliamentary) and March 2008 (<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/russia_medvedev">presidential</a>) show that legislatures count for little; of what remains, intimidation, forcible exile, imprisonment, or, more congenially, bribery, solve the rest. As for the Gulf states, all talk of a &quot;transition&quot; to democracy is nonsense: the rulers and their associates continue to make all the major decisions.</p> <p class="pullquote_new">Also in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> on global finance: <br /> <br /> Ann Pettifor, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/debtonation">Debtonation: how globalisation dies</a>&quot; (15 August 2007)<br /> <br /> Tony Curzon Price, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/end_of_capitalism">The end of gentlemanly capitalism</a>&quot; (13 August 2007)<br /> <br /> Christopher Harvie, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/balance_sheet">Gordon Brown vs Scotland: the balance-sheet</a>&quot; (17 September 2007)<br /> <br /> Tony Curzon Price, &quot;<a href="http://gordon%20brown/">Gordon Brown: between rock and hard place</a>&quot; (18 September 2007)<br /> <br /> Robert Wade, &quot;<a href="/article/the_end_of_neo_liberalism">The financial crisis: burst bubble, frayed model</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> Avinash D Persaud, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/reserve_currency">The dollar standard: (only the) beginning of the end</a>&quot; (5 December 2007)</p> <p>The requirement of the European commission's code includes the publication of statistics and data. Many western accounting practices are far from perfect in this respect, but in the middle east the situation is on another level of unreality: it is no exaggeration to say that no official and business statistics - on oil output or revenue, on state income or expenditure - are reliable.</p> <p>The idea that a &quot;code of practice&quot; can address such systemic conditions is unreal. The kinds of practice Russia has engaged in - tearing up contracts with foreign firms, appropriating the business of figures like <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/khodorkovsky_3416.jsp">Mikhail Khodorkovsky</a> of Yukos Oil - is evidence of the state's controlloing ambition; while the conduct of Saudi Arabia in relation to the al-Yamamah arms deal with Britain in the late 1980s - and the investigation into the bribery <a href="http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/subject/corruption/">associated</a> with this deal, which was abandoned in 2006 - reveal the way the House of Saud is used to doing business. The ideas of &quot;transparency&quot; and &quot;accountability&quot; beloved of western NGOs and progressive business advocates look irrelevant in this context (see Michael Hopkins, &quot;<a href="/responsible_business">The politics of responsible business</a>&quot;, 8 June 2007).</p> <p><strong>The west's illusion</strong></p> <p>The notion of western-style controls regulating the policy and behaviour of, for example, Arab Gulf states is revealed too in the irrelevance of the idea of &quot;insider trading&quot; in the region. Such a concept has no purchase - all trading, contracts, and deals are based not on public accounts or commercial law (let alone on <a href="http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/fin/aktuelt/nyheter/2008/eu-commission-proposal-on-swf.html?id=502096">transparency</a>) but on personal contacts. This was emphasised to me over <a href="/globalization/article_1673.jsp">three decades ago</a> by the wise Iraqi economist, Mohammad Salman Hassan: &quot;In the Arab world no contracts are institution to institution, state to state, or enterprise to enterprise. All are person to person. On this they rely.&quot;</p> <p>For some western banks and businesses starved of funds, and facing the credit-crunch sparked in autumn 2007 by the &quot;sub-prime&quot; mortgage crisis in the United States, all this may appear good news. Their balance- sheets have (as the financial journalists say) &quot;lots of holes to be filled&quot;. But these institutions - and western governments - which wish or are obliged to deal with SWFs have a clear choice here (see Ann Pettifor, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/debtonation">How debtonation dies</a>&quot;, 30 August 2007).</p> <p>They can enter agreements with SWFs (and other economic-political bodies in authoritarian states) with their eyes open - aware of the arbitrary adminstrative practices, occult financial sources and political interests involved. Such an approach is possible, many have followed it over the years.</p> <p>They can also choose to leave the sovereign wealth funds to invest elsewhere; and to wait for the time - on present showing a pretty long way away - when both the SWFs and the wider political-financial systems of these countries meet better western criteria.</p> <p>This is the choice. What western banks and businesses - and governments - should not do is to fool their publics, and possibly even themselves, about the realities of business, politics and influence in authoritarian states. The indulgence (or worse) towards money-laundering and fake accounting in the west, as well as the venality of many of those involved at the highest levels of business and power, may give a clear signal as to which path is the more likely. But at some point a dysfunctional global financial system needs bold action based on principle with long-term purchase, not mere calculation of short-term benefit. The SWFs are not going away. It is time to relearn for the old phrase about speaking truth to power.</p> Globalisation global politics Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal Wed, 05 Mar 2008 18:44:11 +0000 Fred Halliday 35949 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fidel Castro's legacy: Cuban conversations https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/castro_3855.jsp <p> The announcement of Fidel Castro&#39;s serious intestinal illness at the end of July 2006, and the occasion of the Cuban leader&#39;s 80th birthday on 13 August, inevitably have raised a mountain of commentary about the imminence or otherwise of a transition of power in the Caribbean communist state. But if &quot;what comes after Fidel&quot; is a well-worn topic of op-eds and broadcast interviews, the focus of the answer is less often where it should be: on an assessment of the character – a combination of the institutional, political, and personal – of the Cuban revolutionary experience as a whole. </p> <p> To approach the question in this way is also to recall the three informative encounters I have had with Cuban realities in visits to the island in 1968, 1981, and 2000. The third occasion offered most insight into where Cuba after Fidel may go, but the second also provided an illuminating sense of how elements of the Cuban political elite make sense of their place in the international environment – and of their leader. </p> <div class="pull_quote"> <p> <strong>Also on Cuba on openDemocracy: </strong> </p> <p> <strong>Bella Thomas, &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1439">Paradox regained: a conversation with an old <em>comandante</em> in Cuba</a>&quot; <br /> (20 August 2003) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>Bella Thomas, &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3818">Living with Castro</a>&quot; <br /> (14 August 2006)</strong> </p> </div> <p> <strong>A time of mistrust</strong> </p> <p> The first occasion I visited Cuba was in 1968, when with the Bertrand Russell Foundation I helped organise a one-month, not-very-strenuous working visit by a few dozen British radicals on a coffee plantation in Pinar del Rio province. The project included a tour of the island, and the experience of witnessing two characteristically marathon speeches by Fidel. </p> <p> The second visit was in 1981, when I was invited by the foreign ministry in Havana for discussions on the situation in the middle east in the context of the then fairly new Israeli threat to Lebanon, which the Cubans saw through the prism of a possible attack on their close allies Syria and (closer to home) the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. </p> <p> During the 1980s, I had further numerous discussions with Cuban diplomats in Europe on issues of concern to them: in the early part of the decade the threat of an American invasion of Nicaragua (and even Cuba itself) dominated their thoughts, but from the mid-1980s onwards the focus shifted to Mikhail Gorbachev&#39;s project in the Soviet Union and the gathering gulf between Havana and Moscow. </p> <p> In effect, therefore, the early 1980s were dominated by concern about the <em>yanquis</em>, the late 1980s by concern about what the Cubans always termed, with some irony and frustration, <em>los hermanos</em> (the brothers). The Cubans spotted very early on that something was changing for the worse in the USSR and were not slow to express a view on it. As the years of Gorbachev&#39;s <em>glasnost</em> and <em>perestroika</em> gave way to the fall of the Berlin wall and the wave of revolution in east-central Europe, Cubans were particularly interested in (and it seemed alarmed by) the uprising against Nikolai Ceausescu in Romania in December 1989, which they saw as a KGB-inspired military coup that could be a dry run for Cuba. </p> <p> This mistrust was evidently reciprocated. Soviet officials I met during those same years in Moscow seemed still anxious about the Cuban propensity for &quot;adventurism&quot; in domestic and international matters. There was graphic evidence of this mutual suspicion in the huge tower of the purpose-built Soviet embassy building down the road from Havana&#39;s Institute for International Relations (IRI) in the suburb of Miramar. Cubans joked that the Soviets justified the building in terms of its function as a source of electronic surveillance of the United States, its real purpose was to invigilate <em>them</em>. </p> <p> The IRI, the academic institute attached to Cuba&#39;s foreign ministry, was at the centre of my third visit to Cuba in 2000. There I lectured to diplomats and policy specialists on international relations, and had occasion to consult more closely with some senior staff. It was an impressive group: witnesses of four decades of revolutionary upheaval and international drama, familiar with the leaders and inner workings of the Cuban state, well read and well travelled, committed to the broad aims of the Cuban revolution, sceptical of much of what passed for Marxist or radical writing in the west, and devoid of the kind of rhetorical posturing that so often characterises officials of such regimes. </p> <p> The conversation ranged over the fate of &quot;third-world&quot; revolutionary regimes, the possible evolution of United States domestic politics, the impact on Cuba of the post-1991 period of economic hardship (as a result of the ending of Soviet economic support) known as the &quot;special period&quot;. There was by then already a sense of the end of a phase in Cuban history, as the revolutionary advances of the previous two decades abroad had disappeared (Angola, Nicaragua) and as Cubans domestically were more and more preoccupied with making ends meet, working in multiple jobs or relying on dollar remittances from relatives in the US. </p> <p> The occasional roaring of passing <em>camelos</em> (&quot;camels&quot;, the improvised mass-transport system based on converted lorries) underlined this crisis. Tourism was doing OK, but there was much corruption in the system associated with it, and it involved regulations – such as the denial of access to Cubans themselves to certain beaches and hotels – that my interlocutors found especially insulting. Much was blamed on the continued US blockade, though not all – hence the joke about a mid-air collision in which a plane carrying Fidel Castro hits one carrying the president of the United States. &quot;Who escapes? 11 million Cubans&quot;. </p> <p> <strong>A Cuban dialogue</strong> </p> <p> Despite this background of a certain familiarity and a degree of realism about the Cuban revolution, I was surprised in the course of the evening – as the discussion inevitably turned to the issue of what would happen after the death of <em>el comandante</em> – when my companions expressed considerable respect for the figure of Francisco Franco, the victor of Spain&#39;s civil war and dictatorial ruler until his death in November 1975. </p> <p> The reason for this admiration was not any hankering after fascism, rightwing authoritarianism or the supremacy of the Catholic church in national life; it was based on the belief that General Franco had prepared the foundations for a democratic transition after his death. Franco&#39;s famously enigmatic saying <em>todo es atado, bien atado</em> (&quot;everything has been tied up, well tied up&quot;) was seen by my Cuban colleagues as an indication that Franco had – through the opening of Spain to European capitalism, and the installation of Juan Carlos as the leading figure in overseeing the post-Franco era – foreseen and made provision for the transition of Spain to democracy in the late 1970s. </p> <p> The point was not just a fascinating contrast with the hard-right Spanish political figure for whom Fidel Castro himself has long expressed affection, namely Franco&#39;s long-standing ministerial colleague (and Fidel&#39;s fellow <em>gallego</em>), Manuel Fraga. It was, rather, that these IRI officials were really making a point not about Franco at all, but about Castro. </p> <p> They all knew Fidel, admired him and sympathised with his defence of radical and Cuban nationalist goals. But they were deeply concerned at how, over the years, he had retreated more and more into isolation, surrounding himself with young acolytes from the <em>Juventud Comunista</em> (the communist youth organisation) who told him what he wanted to hear – that Cuba was the most admirable country in the world, that the anti-globalisation movement was gaining ground across the world, that imperialism was in crisis. </p> <p> In the early years of the revolution, some of its ablest leaders and thinkers had left its embrace (among them the guerrilla commander Huber Matos and the writer Carlos Franqui); others once close to Fidel who had been able to speak the truth to him had passed away (including Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, the ablest of the Communist Party leaders; Osvaldo Dorticos, the long-time president; and, not least, Celia Sanchez Manduley, Fidel&#39;s companion of many years, at whose graveside he had exhibited profound distress). The advent of a new generation of admirers and sycophants from Latin America, with Hugo Chávez in the lead, had done little to instil a late realism into Castro&#39;s worldview. </p> <p> On only one issue were my interlocutors uneasy, even as they upbraided me for what I had written in a recent comparative study of &quot;third-world&quot; revolutions. This concerned one of the most contemptible episodes in the history of the Cuban revolution, the &quot;Ochoa affair&quot; of 1987, involving a group of senior military officials associated with the Cuban war in Angola. It appeared that Fidel and his associates had staged a show-trial of popular radical figures that might have challenged his authority. In the worst tradition of communist trials of this kind, the defendants had been tricked into making professions of loyalty and self-implication with the hope of leniency, only to find themselves either shot or sentenced to thirty-year imprisonment. </p> <p> <strong>Yo, el supremo</strong> </p> <p> This introversion and protracted entropy of the Cuban revolution in the 1990s is not, however, some sudden break with an earlier, utopian, phase. It points, rather, to problems in the whole history of the revolution itself – problems which astute even if sympathetic observers noted in the early 1960s but which supporters of the Cuban state (quick to suspend judgment or see the reality of life on the island as it is and has long been) seek to avoid. The most evident is the personality of the leader himself: a man of vision, courage, honesty and charisma, but also of demagogy, inconsistency, episodic vindictiveness and cruelty, grotesque verbal self-indulgence, intolerance, contempt for intellectuals and homosexuals, and plain administrative ineptness. </p> <p> Cubans have long known that in Cuba the solution is also the problem, and that it lies at the top. What the besotted visitors Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir saw in 1960 – &quot;the dialectical unity of Fidel and the masses&quot;, a crazed rush of statements, changes of course, arbitrary interventions – soon became a mixture of inefficiency, arbitrariness and whim. </p> <p> Such personal failings – ones that history, far from &quot;absolving&quot; in his famous phrase at his 1953 trial, only made worse – have been compounded by the choices he and his associates made in regard to the administration of the Cuban economy. </p> <p> Many observers rightly point out that Cuba has had an exceptional record in the field of social services – health, education, poverty reduction. But its overall macroeconomic record has been dismal, and this is a result not just of the US blockade (as the regime&#39;s friends and apologists so easily claim) but of a series of disastrous policies. These range from the utopian experiments with &quot;non-monetary accounting&quot; (a fantasy of Che Guevara&#39;s) and &quot;voluntary labour&quot; (a form of highly inefficient forced mobilisation) to the reimposition of state controls and the crushing of small markets and farmers in the ill-conceived &quot;rectification&quot; campaign of the 1980s. </p> <p> The latest catastrophic switch came in 2003, when the regime drastically reduced the circulation of US dollars in the economy and antagonised foreign investors with a new set of controls. Today, even after some recovery from the special period, per capita annual income in Cuba is estimated at $3,000. Pensi0ners receive $7 a month, and can often afford meat only twice a month. </p> <div class="pull_quote"> <p> <strong>Fred Halliday is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681" target="_blank"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003) and <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=510000000322244&amp;sf=CAUTHOR&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=fred+halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=5" target="_blank"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005).</strong> </p> <p> <strong>Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; <a href="/columns/halliday_21.jsp">column</a> on openDemocracy surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world. The articles include: </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">America and Arabia after Saddam</a>&quot; <br /> (May 2004) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2374">Terrorism and world politics: conditions and prospects</a>&quot; <br /> (March 2005) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2398">An encounter with Mr X</a>&quot; (March 2005) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2642">Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm</a>&quot; (July 2005) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2753">Political killing in the cold war</a>&quot; (August 2005) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2819">Maxime Rodinson: in praise of a &#39;marginal man&#39;</a>&quot; <br /> (September 2005) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2904">A transnational <em>umma</em>: myth or reality? </a>&quot; (October 2005) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3019">The &#39;Barcelona process&#39;: ten years on</a>&quot; (November 2005) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3180">The United Nations vs the United States</a>&quot; (January 2006) </strong> </p> <strong> </strong> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3262">Blasphemy and power</a>&quot; (February 2006) </strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3267">Iran vs the United States – again</a>&quot; (February 2006)</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3447">Terrorism and delusion</a>&quot; (April 2006)</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3510">The forward march of women halted?</a>&quot;<br /> (May 2006)</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3589">Letter from Ground Zero</a>&quot; (May 2006)</strong> </p> <p> <strong>&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3674">Finland&#39;s moment in the sun</a>&quot; (June 2006)</strong> </p> <p> <strong> &quot;&quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3757">A Lebanese fragment: two days with Hizbollah</a>&quot;(July 2006) </strong> </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3813">In time of war: reason amid rockets</a>&quot;<br /> (August 2006) </p> <p> &quot;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3833">Lebanon, Israel, and the &#39;greater west Asian crisis&#39;</a>&quot; (August 2006) </p> </div> <p> <strong>A climate of fear</strong> </p> <p> These defects of personality and policy have been accompanied by something else that visitors to the island, bemused by its superficially easy-going and &quot;tropical&quot; atmosphere, too easily miss: namely, a climate of fear. </p> <p> Cuba record is not the most bloody among modern revolutions – though it is important not to forget the revolutionary show-trials of the early 1960s, over which Che Guevara presided and which so disgusted his father that the latter left the country; and the mass imprisonment of dissidents, gays and others in the &quot;‘re-education&quot; camps of the 1970s and 1980s. In any case, these are only the most visible evidence of the tight restrictions on free expression, let alone free organisation, in Cuba. </p> <p> The political system, for all its vaunting of &quot;people&#39;s power&quot;, is tightly controlled from the top. Those writers and other intellectuals who have over the years offered even friendly critiques have too often become the object of official persecution and slanderous denunciation (the group of Cubans associated with the Institute of the Americas, whose permission to travel and publish was abruptly withdrawn when they began to write about democracy, is but one example). The scorn has also been poured on external observers such as the French agronomist René Dumont, the Polish-French Marxist writer KS Karol, and the American historian Oscar Lewis. </p> <p> Such persecutions, and the attitudes that go with them, are not just a result of the inevitable growth of dictatorship after revolutions, or of imperialist pressure from outside. They also stem from Castro himself. His great hero is, it would seem, the Jacobin leader Robespierre, a biography of whom was published some years ago in Cuba: austere, cruel, at times fickle, and, ultimately, a victim of the very revolution he sought to lead. </p> <p> This character trait is evident most of all in the inability of the Cuban leader to follow the model that Cuban officialdom professes to admire: China. The Chinese leadership has since 1978 understood that its people want to make money and have a better life. Castro has made some recent moves in this direction, and has been aided by the financial support of Hug0 Chávez in alleviating the lot of the Cuban people. But he remains the prisoner of a moralistic hostility to material wealth and improvement, and resorts time and again to appeals for greater moral purity and the ridding of Cuba of corrupt, consumerist, values. For all that Castro proclaims himself to be in the tradition of the 19th-century nationalist leader José Marti, he ignores Marti&#39;s view that a country of small property-owners is a rich one. </p> <p> Hence, perhaps, the mid-1990s Cuban anecdote about Fidel Castro finding himself in a cage with Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, where they are all being threatened by a ravenous lion. Clinton and Yeltsin bravely tussle with the beast, but retire seriously mauled. Fidel tells them to leave it to him. He approaches the lion and whispers something in its ear: the animal pauses, frowns, and rolls over dead. Bill and Boris take a break from licking their wounds to query <em>comandante</em> about the magic words. Fidel replies: &quot;well, I said what I always say – <em>Socialismo o Muerte</em>&quot; (&quot;socialism or death&quot;). </p> <p> Every joke, <em>pace</em> George Orwell, tells a tiny truth as well as being a tiny revolution. Most Cubans are respectful of Castro as a leader and proud of their national independence, but they are fed up with their economic, social and political system and want a change – the sooner the better. </p> <p> True, there is also widespread anxiety in the island about the possibility of violence (either between factions on the island itself, or between exiles returning from Miami and the forces of the Cuban state) after Castro&#39;s death. The ideal – notwithstanding scenarios long nurtured in Miami and Washington about the regime&#39;s imminent fall – is of a peaceful transition to democracy which preserves both the independence of the island and the social gains of its revolution. As in East Germany and east-central Europe of the 1990s, this may be an illusion. </p> <p> If things do go badly and get out of hand, part of the blame will lie with venomous and ill-informed exile politicians in Miami and New Jersey, and with the crass and ignorant complicity with them of successive US presidents. But some too will lie with Fidel Castro and those around him for having so long prevented political change in the island, mismanaged its economy, and driven so many of its citizens into exile. Much of what is wrong with Cuba is the result not of imperialist mischief, but of post-revolutionary dogmatism, stupidity and arrogance. </p> <p> Francisco Franco&#39;s true intentions for Spain after his death are a matter that may never be resolved. The one person who might give an authoritative answer, King Juan Carlos, will probably never do so. A few months ago, after giving a public lecture on Cuba at Barcelona University&#39;s history department in which I mentioned the story of my Havana encounter with Franco&#39;s fan-club, I was approached by a student in his 20s who said that his father had been the CIA station chief in Madrid in the Franco regime&#39;s twilight years and knew the old dictator well. Franco, the young man assured me with the authority of his father, had no wish to see democracy being introduced into Spain; the general&#39;s <em>todo es atado, bien atado</em> meant only to indicate that the authoritarian regime he founded would continue. </p> <p> My Cuban interlocutors were, it seemed, mistaken in their view of the Spanish dictator. But democracy, after all, did come to Spain; so the Barcelona version, if true, may nonetheless contain a grain of hope for Cubans after their authoritarian leader of (currently) forty-six years finally departs the scene. </p> The Americas Globalisation global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright Feb Catch Up Tue, 19 Feb 2008 22:38:00 +0000 Fred Halliday 3855 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Islam, law and finance: the elusive divine https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/global_politics/islamic_law <p> A controversy over the relationship of what is termed <em>sharia </em>or &quot;Islamic law&quot; to wider legal systems was ignited on 7 February 2008 from an unlikely source: an academic lecture by the spiritual head of England&#39;s established church. The Archbishop of Canterbury&#39;s <a href="http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1575">address </a>explored the landscape of &quot;plural jurisdiction&quot; in Britain and considered with sympathy &quot;what degree of accommodation the law of the land can and should give to minority communities with their own strongly entrenched legal and moralcodes&quot;. </p> <p> The message conveyed from a text replete with caveats and circumlocutions was (in the words of Rowan Williams&#39;s preceding BBC<a href="http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1573"> radio interview</a>) that &quot;as a matter of fact certain provisions of <em>sharia</em> are already recognised&quot; in society and law, and that their application is &quot;unavoidable&quot;. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Also in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> on the <em>sharia</em> controversy in Britain:<br /> <br /> Tina Beattie, &quot;<a href="/article/faith_ideas/europe_islam/sharia_law_uk">Rowan Williams and <em>sharia</em> law</a>&quot; (12 February 2008)<a href="http://ourkingdom.opendemocracy.net/"><br /> <br /> OurKingdom</a>, the conversationon the future of the United Kingdom, features posts and debate about the <em>sharia</em> controversy <a href="http://ourkingdom.opendemocracy.net/2008/02/10/sharia-subjects-v-what-abc-actually-said-in-part/">here</a> and <a href="http://ourkingdom.opendemocracy.net/2008/02/08/sharia-subjects-ii-real-problem-wrong-solution/">here</a></span>The media furore that has ensued is aspredictable as it is founded on widespread ignorance of the ostensible substance of the argument (see Tina Beattie, &quot;<a href="/article/faith_ideas/europe_islam/sharia_law_uk">Rowan Williams and <em>sharia</em> law</a>&quot;, 12 February 2008). In this it is part of a wider pattern whereby news stories about aspects of &quot;Islamic&quot; activity and social practice - &quot;Islamic law&quot; or &quot;Islamic banking&quot; or &quot;Islamic dress&quot;, for example - come to prominence and are circulated without a proper examination of the provenance and meaning of these terms. </p> <p> In many European countries in particular (the Netherlands, France, Denmark and Germany, as well as Britain) &quot;Islam&quot;-related issues connected to the veil, medical hygiene, or religious imagery become the trigger for entrenching opinion, drawing battle-lines and fomenting indignation. If the pattern is to be broken and a more constructive form of public discourse conducted, it can only be done by informed reason, including historical and linguistic clarification. </p> <p> <strong>Themirage of fixity</strong> </p> <p> A vital step is to note what lies beneath the surface of controversy and what is seldom taken into account. In this case, to pose the question as being in favour of or opposed to something called &quot;Islamic law&quot; is to start from the wrong place. The assumption of both sides of the argument is that <em>sharia</em> - for it or against it - is a given text, a code available in set form to which jurists and believers may or may not relate. </p> <p> This assumption of fixity is, on closer examination, on three accounts quite false. First, &quot;Islamic&quot; law - or more properly, legal practice in the fifty-seven Muslim countries - is, like any other system, plural and multivocal: the result of centuries of inherited practice and precedent, allowing of many different interpretations. There is no fixed <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521803328">legal code</a>, and never has been. </p> <p> Second, the interpretation of law, and the selection of which precedents or past cases to invoke - including which bits of a supposedly sacred text to use - are a function of contemporary power relations (whether of class, state or religious establishment). </p> <p> Third, and most important of all, the very term so often fought over - <em>sharia</em> -is a misnomer; for it is not a legal or sacred code at all, but a political slogan and modern invention of 19th-century neo-Wahhabi reformers. In fact, <em>sharia</em> is no more specific than the terms &quot;British way of life&quot; or &quot;the Italian way&quot; or &quot;American values&quot;. The scholarly authority <a href="http://medstud.ceu.hu/index?id=10&amp;cikk=286">Aziz al-Azmeh</a> has noted that <em>sharia</em> is more akin to generic terms like <em>nomos</em> or dharma: it cannot serve as the basis for any decisions on legal codes or practices. </p> <p> <strong>The paper trail</strong> </p> <p> What do the texts say? The <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=052153934X">Qur&#39;an</a>, the only part of the Muslim tradition that is divinely sanctioned, contains around 6,000 verses, of which less than a hundred are concerned with matters of a legal nature; nearly all relate to personal and family matters. In no way can this legacy, supposedly immutable and definitive, form the basis for a modern legal code. The word <em>sharia</em> occurs only four times in the Qur&#39;an; it denominates, in a general way, &quot;the right path&quot; (indeed each community, be it Muslim, Jewish or Christian is to have its own such &quot;path&quot;). </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in Intern</em><em>a</em><em>tional Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.The recent articles include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4228">A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world</a>&quot; (8 January 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni, Shi&#39;a </em>and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot; (9 February 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot; (25 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4591">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a>&quot;(4 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot;(4 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914,1967, 2003</a>&quot;(15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus&#39;s risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islam_europe">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/11M">Justice in Madrid: the &quot;11M&quot;verdict</a>&quot; (5 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/mysteries_us_empire">The mysteries of the US empire</a>&quot; (30 November 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/the_assassin_s_age_pakistan_in_the_world">The assassin&#39;s age: Pakistan in the world</a>&quot; (28 December2007)</span> </p> <p> A common confusion is made between <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/beliefs/sharia_1.shtml"><em>sharia</em> </a>and <em>fiqh </em>(Islamic juridsprudence) - the <a href="http://www.aml.org.uk/_jurisprudence.php">corpus</a> of law which has arisen over centuries and which forms the basis for law in many Muslim countries, andis obliged like any modern legal system to pronounce on all matters, from the personal to the commercial. This is not divinely sanctioned. Indeed the only parts of Islam that have such sanction are classified as <em>deen </em>(religion). </p> <p> <em>Fiqh</em>, therefore, is a system of conventional law,without divine sanction, and allowing of many interpretations. Beyond the fact that the <em>Sunni</em> world has four main schools of <em>fiqh</em> - Maleki, Shafei, Hanbali, Hanafi - each reflecting developments in medieval Islamic society and politics, the <em>Shi&#39;</em><em>a</em> have their own, distinct, system. Where the confusion has arisen - and where both Islamic fundamentalists and well-meaning but ill-informed western observers like the Canterbury archbishop have contributed to the problem - is in pretending that there is one single legal text (<em>sharia</em>) and that this supposedly univocal code carries divine authority. Nothing could be further from the truth. </p> <p> <strong>The interest at stake</strong> </p> <p> A similar ideological slippage, and abandonment of a comparative common sense, arise in regard to the issue of Islamic &quot;economic principles&quot; and in particular of &quot;Islamic banking&quot;. A dose of economic realism, and firsthand knowledge of the region, may also help to dispel some of the effusions thathave been circulated in recent years about a supposedly different basis for conducting economic life in the Muslim world (from the &quot;Islamic economics&quot; of the Iranian revolution, to the current <a href="http://www.hsbcamanah.com/1/2/hsbc-amanah/about-islamic-banking">vogue</a> for &quot;Islamic banking&quot;). These fashions reveal - as much as do the straight exercise of political power or the subjugation of women - the way that supposedly religious or cultural values are used to rebrand or disguise what are on closer examination universal forms of resource- and power-manipulation. </p> <p> The Iranian <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/islamic_revolution/islamic_revolution.php">revolution of 1979</a> proclaimed a new set of &quot;Islamic economic principles&quot;, based on some vague extrapolation of the principle of <em>zakat</em> (charity), one of the five duties of the Muslim. It succeeded, however, only in creating a perfectly recognisable ramshackle rentier economy, laced with corruption and inefficiency; in short, a conventional product of &quot;development&quot; in what was known as the &quot;third world&quot;, and little different from its oil-producing counterparts Nigeria, <a href="/democracy-protest/venezuela_oil_3580.jsp">Venezuela</a> and Indonesia. </p> <p> The resurgence of &quot;<a href="http://www.islamic-banking.com/ibanking/whatib.php">Islamic banking</a>&quot; - a practice and idea that has spread from Malaysia to Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf - is now expected to account for assets reaching $1 trillion bythe year 2010. Such western institutions as HSBC, Dow Jones, Citibank, BNP Paris and others have all signed up to this parade of corporate piety. The financial press of the middle east is full of articles concerned about the shortage of &quot;experts&quot; and &quot;appropriately qualified scholars&quot; in Islamic finance. But all this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, good secular salt at that. Anyone who has studied the economic history of the Muslim world - from the trading activities of the <a href="/faith-europe_islam/mohammed_3866.jsp">Prophet Mohammed</a> in Mecca and Medina in the 7th century to the banks and finance houses of the Arab Gulf today - will know that business is conducted as it is everywhere on sound capitalist principles. </p> <p> There is no basis for the supposed textual or canonical theory of &quot;Islamic banking&quot;. The late <a href="/globalization/Rodinson_2819.jsp">Maxime Rodinson</a> - the greatest authority on this matter- showed in his great work <em>Islam and Capitalism</em> that there is, in fact, no Qur&#39;anic or authoritative prohibition on the taking of interest; there is only (as in most religions) a condemnation of <em>riba</em>&#39; (excess, or profiteering). Muslim writers have long differed on what <em>riba</em>&#39; means; some confine it to profiteering in essentials like foodstuffs. </p> <p> Nor, in the end, do the supposedly &quot;Islamic&quot; banks of today provide a fundamentally different service. They do two things: first, offer a degree of local affiliation or allegiance to investors (much as does in principle the Bradford &amp; Bingley building society, or the Chase Manhattan bank); second, serve as a more friendly recipient for investors with cash (especially in the sense of asking fewer questions about the origin of the funds than do - in this era of client identification and post-9/11 controls - many other financial institutions in the west). Islamic banking is capitalist banking with a different <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e0e93ea-d51e-11dc-9af1-0000779fd2ac.html">cover</a>: a way in the end to ensure that more money -whether it comes from the exports of the oil producers, drugs production in Afghanistan, or the hard-earned toil of minimum-wage service-workers in Europe&#39;s cities - is put into circulation. It is, as the British ambassador to one Gulf state put it to me, &quot;a means of getting the money out from underneath the bed&quot;.Its relation to tradition, sanctity, the Qur&#39;an and all that is purely presentational. </p> <p> Moreover, the supposedly compulsory ban on profiteering does not apply when interests of state are involved: if Islamic authority and what is often misleadingly called &quot;<em>sharia</em>&quot; prohibit excess profits, then where are the voices of criticism when it comes to exorbitant and (in terms of production costs) wholly unjustified increases in the price of oil? If ever there was a case of <em>riba</em>&#39;, one to which all Islamic oil producers subscribe, it is the rent that Opec (and its free-riders like Russia) extract from the sale of oil. Here, as in so many other matters, it is religious text and tradition that serve capital (when not greed) and not the other way around. </p> <p> <strong>The fist of &quot;tradition&quot;</strong> </p> <p> Much of the controversy about Islamic law, as in the current British uproar over the remarks of the <a href="http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/71">Archbishop of Canterbury</a>, leads those proposing a compromise with <em>sharia</em> to allow &quot;some&quot; elements of it,but to condemn its &quot;inhuman&quot; or &quot;barbarous&quot; (to cite two familiar adjectives of choice) side such as stoning, or denial of the legal equality of women. But this is not the fundamental issue, which is respect for tradition itself (and, a closely related factor, the official obsequiousness towards bearded patriarchs of all religions who today claim to own and be able to interpret it). </p> <p> The supposed authority of Islamic text and tradition is the greatest of all fallacies underlying this moving theatre of Islamic banking and finance, as of the misconceived <a href="http://www.yahyabirt.com/?p=139">debate</a> on <em>sharia</em>. Similar sleights of authoritarian hand occur in Judaism and Christianity, in regard to such issues as the status of women, the rights of gays, and the celibacy of the clergy. A lot of forgetting is necessary to uphold reverence for such traditions, which are based often on medieval practice (e.g. the principle of a celibate clergy must suppress the fact that St Peter and many of his successors were married). </p> <p> In any event, the reverence for tradition is only the other side of power-interests seeking expression and consolidation. The word &quot;tradition&quot; should alert a person to the very modern forces it connotes, and often conceals. </p> Globalisation ourkingdom global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright Sharia Tue, 12 Feb 2008 17:31:52 +0000 Fred Halliday 35778 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The assassin’s age: Pakistan in the world https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the_assassin_s_age_pakistan_in_the_world <p> The consequences of political assassinations - what in Spanish are termed <em>magnicidios</em> - are variable and unpredictable. Some radically change history and inaugurate a new phase in the politics of the country concerned; others, for all their horror and symbolism, do not inaugurate fundamentally new eras. </p> <p> The 20th century, an epoch punctuated by assassinations as much as by wars or scientific inventions, offers many examples of this variety (see &quot;<a href="/globalization/cold_war_2753.jsp">Political killing in the cold war</a>&quot;, 11 August 2005). The most dramatic such event was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo in June 1914, which led both to the &quot;great war&quot; and the collapse of the whole European and middle-eastern order that had preceded it. On a smaller scale, the killing of the Colombian politician <a href="http://www.icdc.com/%7Epaulwolf/gaitan/gaitanassassination.htm">Jorge Gaitán</a> in April 1948 inaugurated a civil war and a decades-long period of violence that has <a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/colombia_farc">lasted</a> to this day. A case unnoticed by most outside observers, but with immense consequences for his own country and for its neighbour Pakistan, was the murder of the Afghan communist leader Mir Akbar Khyber in <a href="http://www.afghanan.net/afghanistan/daoud.htm">April 1978</a>; this <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/afghanistan/cs-invasion.htm">led</a> to a pro-Soviet coup later that month, and opened the way to the three decades of war - and attendant diffusion of Islamist violence across the world - that have followed. </p> <p> The killing of <a href="http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts+About+Israel/State/Yitzhak+Rabin.htm">Yitzhak Rabin</a> in November 1995 deprived the pro-Oslo forces in Israel of their one commanding advocate. In modern Spanish history the deaths of three political figures - the conservative leader Eduardo Dato (1921), the rightwing monarchist Calvo Sotelo (July 1936) and <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/20/newsid_2539000/2539129.stm">Luis Carrero Blanco</a> (the dictator Francisco Franco&#39;s prime minister, in December 1973), were also moments of dramatic change. By contrast, and for all the drama associated with the events, the death of <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/sadat/">Anwar Sadat</a> (Egypt&#39;s president, in October 1981) and <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/31/newsid_2464000/2464423.stm">Indira Gandhi</a> (India&#39;s prime minister, in October 1984) had no such dramatic, history-changing, impact. </p> <p> In matters of assassination, it would seem that the 21st century will write its own bloody and varied chapter. Its first few years have seen killings with major political consequences: among them the events of 9 September 2001, when the one Afghan leader with the authority to challenge the then Kabul regime - the guerrilla leader <a href="http://www.afghan-web.com/bios/yest/asmasood.html">Ahmad Shah Massoud</a>- was assassinated by agents of Osama bin Laden disguised as journalists; and the murder of Lebanese leader <a href="/node/2347">Rafiq Hariri</a> in February 2005, which further polarised the national and regional politics of his country, and opened a period of serial targeting of Syria&#39;s critics in Lebanon. Now, in December 2007, the killing of Benazir Bhutto <a href="/article/conflicts/india_pakistan/benazir_bhutto">reverberates</a> in Pakistan and across west Asia in dangerous and unsettling ways. </p> <p> <strong>A political daughter</strong> </p> <p> The strategic importance of <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/pakistan.htm">Pakistan</a> - at once opportunity and tragedy - lies less in its internal politics or economic endowment as in its regional location. More than most countries it has a just claim to the overused description &quot;pivotal&quot;: as a link between China and the middle east, as a counterpart to India, as the aspirant hegemonic power in Afghanistan, and as a long-standing (if often discreet) military guarantor of the monarchies of <a href="/article/conflicts/israel_palestine/annapolis_amman">Jordan</a>, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. </p> <p> In the cold war, and again in the post-1991 world, Pakistan has played this importance for all it is worth. It has succeeded, above all in matters of nuclear proliferation and the narcotics trade, in escaping almost completely from international sanction. At the same time, the fervid Islamism of some of its political forces, and the seditious ambitions of its intelligence services, have embroiled it over many years in the conflict in <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.co.uk/article/conflicts/india_pakistan/partition_peoples">Kashmir</a> (to the disgust of most Kashmiris, Hindu and Muslim alike) and, with even greater consequence, in the affairs of Afghanistan. </p> <p> Herein lies the link between Benazir Bhutto&#39;s murder and the other main news story of the moment from the region: the <a href="http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article3284880.ece">expulsion</a> of two European diplomats from Afghanistan for having talked with the Taliban. This initiative reflects the reality that no military victory over the <a href="/article/conflicts/democracy_terror/neo_taliban">Taliban</a> is possible, precisely because of the support the movement receives from Pakistani intelligence; while the wider impact of Afghanistan&#39;s war has been to augment violence and Islamist militancy in Pakistan itself - fomenting what Benazir Bhutto herself called the &quot;Talibanistation&quot; of its political and social life. </p> <p> No one who met Benazir Bhutto and talked with her (as I did on several occasions) could forget the experience. She had great intelligence, determination and guts, combined with all the charm, culture and intermittently overplayed grandiloquence of the south Asian post-colonial elite (one thinks, among others, of her contemporaries <a href="/sir_salman_in_the_sea_of_blasphemy">Salman Rushdie</a>, <a href="http://www.tariqali.org/">Tariq Ali</a>, and <a href="http://www.moveforjustice.org/">Imran Khan</a>, no slouches when it comes to self-esteem and sharpness of tongue). In a way typical of members of the political elite of all four successor states to the British Raj (to which Burma could be added), her fiery political commitment was born of loyalty to the memory of close relatives who had lost their lives in political killings - in her case her father <a href="http://www.storyofpakistan.com/person.asp?perid=P019">Zulfikar Ali Bhutto</a>, himself a powerful orator, a mercurial and forceful personality, who served as Pakistan&#39;s prime minister 1973-77 and was judicially murdered by the country&#39;s military dictator in 1979. </p> <p> Benazir Bhutto - like <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/21/newsid_2504000/2504739.stm">Rajiv Gandhi</a> in India (murdered by a Tamil Tiger suicide-bomber in May 1991), <a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1991/kyi-bio.html">Aung San Suu Kyi</a> in <a href="/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/burma_future">Burma</a> (whose father was killed when prime minister in July 1947), Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka (widow of <a href="http://www.priu.gov.lk/PrimeMinister/formerprimeministers.html">prime minister</a> Solomon Bandaranaike, killed in September 1959), and Begum Khaleda Zia (widow of <a href="http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/history/overview.html">Bangladesh&#39;s</a> former military leader Zia ur-Rahman, killed in May 1981) - felt the familial legacy as at once obligation, acquisition of legitimacy, and as a a ticket to political <a href="/article/conflicts/india_pakistan/beyond_bhutto">power</a> and wealth (the last element confirmed by the instant, quasi-feudal <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/12/30/wbhutto930.xml">selection</a> of her husband Asif Ali Zardari and callow student son Bilawal as effective present and putative future <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/c2ba400e-b6e5-11dc-aa38-0000779fd2ac.html">leaders</a> of her Pakistan People&#39;s Party). </p> <p> I had direct experience of this combination over dinner at the house of Benazir&#39;s American biographer, when I chided Benazir for having contravened her a secular credentials by supporting the Islamist guerrillas in Afghanistan. She brought the conversation to an abrupt end with the words: &quot;It was daddy&#39;s policy!&quot; I had no answer to that. </p> <p> <strong>The power of presence</strong> </p> <p> As many commentators on her life have observed, Benazir Bhutto had the <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/28/asia/28bhutto.php">ambition</a> and ruthlessness of her profession. The last time I saw her was when, in exile in London and somewhat out of the limelight after her second dismissal as prime minister in 1996, she persuaded me to organise a public meeting for her at the London School of Economics (LSE). As the student society in our department, the <a href="http://www.lse-students.ac.uk/grimshaw/">Grimshaw Club</a>, was happy to host her and arrange the venue, I agreed to do so, on condition that I did not introduce her. I also arranged with the LSE photographer that we would not be pictured together. </p> <p> At the appointed time - and when her supporters in the front row of the appointed lecture-hall were already in high, party-loyalist spirits - she rang, apparently distraught, to say she had had to return to her house as she had forgotten her lecture notes. </p> <p> This was, it transpired, a characteristic ploy, designed to give time for the temperature in the lecture-hall to rise. When a composed Benazir did arrive ninety minutes later, with her supporters in even more joyously south-Asian- public-meeting mode, she had the gathering in her hand. </p> <p> My own part in the event concluded, I returned to my office. I did not see her again. My late LSE colleague <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,1595200,00.html">Geoffrey Stern</a>, an academic who also hosted many interviews on the BBC, later visited her in Dubai and found her unchanged and undaunted. As part of a series of interviews about leadership with then-prominent politicians (among them Helmut Schmidt, Edward Heath and Lee Kuan Yew) he asked Benazir Bhutto what she most missed about life after taking the decision to enter politics and run for prime minister. Her reply was: &quot;Having a drink with the boys!&quot;, words she requested not be included in the broadcast. By such remarks, as much as in her operatic, almost Shakespearean public life, the measure of the person is revealed. </p> Conflict conflicts Globalisation india/pakistan global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright Fri, 28 Dec 2007 11:30:11 +0000 Fred Halliday 35478 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The mysteries of the American empire https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/the_mysteries_of_the_american_empire <p> The debate on the future of American power – and what is increasingly (even casually) referred to as the American “empire” – is almost as old as the United States itself. It was <a href="http://www.tocqueville.culture.fr/en/oeuvre/o_demo-01.html">Alexis de Tocqueville </a>who, in the 1830s, anticipated a future dominated by the two continental states of Russia and America; and the <em>Time </em>magazine editor <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521543682&amp;ss=exc">Henry Luce </a>who, in 1941, on the eve of America’s decisive entry into both the Pacific and European wars, predicted “the American century”. </p> <p class="pullquote_new"> <strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI).<br /> <br /> His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong><br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4228">A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world</a>&quot; (8 January 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni, Shi&#39;a </em>and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot; (9 February 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot; (25 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4591">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a>&quot; (4 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot; (4 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus&#39;s risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islam_europe">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)<strong><br /> <br /> &quot;</strong><a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/11M">Justice in Madrid: the &quot;11-M&quot; verdict</a>&quot; (5 November 2007) surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.The recent articles include: </p> <p> Since then, many observers have predicted that US hegemony (or in post-cold-war terminology, &quot;unipolarity&quot;) is dissolving. Indeed, this a key motif in each decade, an accompanying chorus to (for example) the Soviet Union&#39;s space programme in the 1950s; the &quot;third-world&quot; revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s; and the emergence of Japan, Europe and (now) China as major economic powers in the 1980s-2000s. </p> <p> That one day the US&#39;s dominance over the world will lessen is indisputable; but that another power will emerge in the foreseeable future that can rival it (as the Soviet Union did from a position of overall weakness) is less clear. A world of one dominant, and several medium powers, seems more probable. Paul Kennedy&#39;s famous book, <em><a href="http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl/9780679720195.html">The Rise and Decline of the Great Powers</a> </em>(1989) - which speaks of &quot;imperial overstretch&quot;, of the mismatch of political and strategic goals with economic and (not least) fiscal reality - set the scene for a whole range of such works; more recent examples include the work of the historical sociologist Michael Mann, (<a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/klm/m-titles/mann_m_empire.shtml"><em>The Incoherent Empire</em></a>), the veteran <em>Guardian </em>columnist Martin Woollacott <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/ibtauris/display.asp?ISB=1845111761&amp;TAG=&amp;CID=ibtauris">(<em>After Suez</em>)</a>, the more meta-Hegelian speculations of Tony Negri &amp; Michael Hardt&#39;s <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/HAREMI.html"><em>Empire</em></a>, as well as substantial chorus of Islamist triumphalists. </p> <p> The financial press&#39;s rich reportage of American domestic financial troubles - from the sub-prime <a href="/article/the_end_of_neo_liberalism">crisis</a> to the long-term dangers of the trade and current-account deficits - is, again as in earlier decades, a potent source for doom-laden <a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/debtonation">projections</a> of the fate of the behemoth. In the Gulf states, major investors are leaving the dollar, as they did the pound sterling in 1967. In August 2007, total holdings of US long-term securities fell by a record amount, $69.3 billion. </p> <p> <strong>Seven doubts</strong> </p> <p> Robert S Singh of Birkbeck College, London, and co-author with Timothy J Lynch of a forthcoming book - <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521880046"><em>After Bush: The Case for Continuity in American Foreign Policy</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2008) - is not persuaded of these arguments. In a crisp summary of seven main points at issue, he lays out an alternative view: </p> <p> ▪ historical perspective: we have been here before, not least in the late 1980s under the Ronald Reagan presidency; yet in the 1990s - be it in military expenditure, international influence, pop culture or information technology - the United States ran further ahead of all its rivals. </p> <p> ▪ hard power: the US has by far the largest military budget and capability, and continues to have the strongest and must dynamic economy in the world, accounting even today for 20% of world output. It has a per-capita income of around $40,000, compared to a Chinese of $2,300. </p> <p> ▪ international influence: the US has treaties with no less than eighty-four countries, and of the total of 200 in the world no more than five - Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela - are outright enemies. </p> <p> ▪ resilience: while US influence has certainly been battered in recent years - be it in the middle east, Europe or Latin America - it remains both resilient and (as the initiatives of French president <a href="/article/globalisation/institutions_government/sarkozy_strikes">Nicholas Sarkozy</a> indicate) capable of recovering ground. </p> <p> ▪ competition: the major rivals the US faces are much weaker than they appear: Russian military power is exaggerated; China&#39;s economy and social fabric, not to mention political system, face increased <a href="/article/china_from_the_inside/china_modernisation">strain</a>. </p> <p> ▪ global image: for all the hostility to the US over Iraq, or <a href="/democracy-americanpower/article_2110.jsp">Guantànamo,</a> people around the world continue to admire and desire aspects of the American way of life (and, not least, demonstrate in large numbers their desire to live there) </p> <p> ▪ domestic aspirations: perhaps of greatest importance, there is no evident wish in the US - whether in the political elite in Washington, or in the Democratic Party, or in the nation as a whole - to abandon US primacy and <a href="/node/2081">exceptionalism</a>. The new president of 2009 will only in some degree alter existing policies. Washington will continue to want to run, if not control, the world. We should not expect that much would change with the advent of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. </p> <p> <strong>Four questions</strong> </p> <p> The issue of United States power is without doubt one of the half dozen most important questions in the world today. It is also one which, along with the others - the development of the world economy, the future of China, the limits on Russian reassertion, the spread and time-frame of the <em>jihadi</em> military campaign and, in the shorter term, the future of Iraq and the likelihood and consequences of a <a href="/article/conflicts/global_security/iran_war">war with Iran</a> - allows of no definite answer. The current data, historical precedent, and the assessment of probabilities and scenarios can offer guidelines, but little more; an added complication is that a never-to-be-discounted subjective factor, namely wishful thinking, often skews analysis in one direction or another. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Also in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> on the power and contradictions of empireStephen Howe, &quot;<a href="/node/1279">American Empire: the history and future of an idea&quot; </a>(11 June 2003)<br /> <br /> Anatol Lieven, &quot;<a href="/node/2081">America right or wrong</a>&quot; (7 September 2004)<br /> <br /> Stephen Howe, &quot;<a href="/conflict-iraqwarafter/article_2223.jsp">Dying for empire, Blair, or Scotland?&quot;</a> (12 November 2004)<br /> <br /> Anatol Lieven, &quot;<a href="/democracy-americanpower/article_2348.jsp">Bush&#39;s choice: messianism or pragmatism?</a>&quot; (22 February 2005)<br /> <br /> Nick Robins, &quot;<a href="/globalization-vision_reflections/east_india_company_3899.jsp">The East India Company: the future of the past</a>&quot; (12 September 2006)<br /> <br /> Piers Brendon, &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/visions_reflections/british_empire">A moral audit of the British empire</a>&quot; (6 November 2007)</span>At the same time, the back-and-forth of this debate may serve to obscure what, for any observer of US foreign policy, must remain four equally intractable questions. </p> <p> First, what is the real impact on the US economy, and on the world economy as a whole, of the US campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan? In a world where it is often said that politics and economics are closely intertwined, there seems (so far) remarkably little interconnection here. That the two wars have and will continue to consume vast amounts of money, and greatly reduce US credibility, is evident; yet, to date, the economic impact seems to be very small: the crisis in confidence in the US financial system is a result of debt mismanagement, mortgage and trade figures, not Iraq. The spread of inflation (and in particular the rise in the price of oil) reflect market conditions, not least Chinese demand and a shortage of refining capacity, not the reduction in Iraqi oil exports or the military and civilian costs of the war. </p> <p> Second, why has it taken the US so long to recognise the crisis it is in in Iraq? Those working with the US and British forces in Iraq knew from spring 2004 at the latest that the stabilisation of Iraq would not work; from the latter part of 2005 - two or more years ago - there were many in Congress, including Democratswith close ties to the military such as Senator <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/01/AR2007120101750.html">John Murtha,</a> as well as combat personnel in Iraq, who were speaking out as the disaster in that country. True, great powers are notoriously unable to face up to realities (look no further than the US in Iran in 1978-79, or the Soviet Union in east-central Europe in the late 1980s); but after all the reports, debates, criticisms, and initiatives, the US today is as bogged down and as lacking in any coherent strategy as it was in 2004-05. </p> <p> Third, what can be said of the extraordinary phenomenon of a major power that has gone to war in two middle-eastern states, Afghanistan and Iraq, and which is now contemplating a third, with Iran, but which is almost devoid of people with expertise or experience in, and on, these countries (see Godfrey Hodgson, &quot;<a href="/article/democracy_power/washington_discovers_islamabad">Washington discovers Islamabad</a>&quot;, 27 November 2007)? Those specialists on Iraq, and Iran, who work in Washington or across the US have been systematically marginalised from policy discussions, their place taken by a motley gang of irresponsible and often corrupt political <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/11/fakhravar.html">exiles</a>, &quot;terrorism experts&quot;, &quot;security specialists&quot;, and other mountebanks. Many of those who pontificate about Iran in the US these days have never been there, and could not write a newspaper article, or academic essay, on the history, culture or politics of that country. </p> <p> Fourth, a question that goes to the heart not only of recent US policy in the middle east but of the very character and sources of US foreign policy and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521875165">decision-making </a>itself is so simple that it is often overlooked in the welter of polemic and self-justification that besets the story, namely: why did George Bush decide to invade Iraq in the first place?<em> </em>The dispute over &quot;weapons of mass destruction&quot; and subsequent policy blunders has left this question unanswered and usually unasked, yet it remains unclear. Many have immediate, single-factor, analyses - from the &quot;military-industrial complex&quot;, to &quot;oil&quot;, by way of evangelical Christians or pro-Israel <a href="http://www.fsgbooks.com/searchnn.htm">currents</a> in the US, neo-conservative bellicosity after 9/11, and the simple desire of George W Bush to avenge a <a href="http://hnn.us/articles/1000.html">supposed</a> assassination attempt on his father by Saddam Hussein in Kuwait, in 1993. </p> <p> The best answer may be some variant of &quot;all of the above&quot;. But as with the other mysteries of US empire and the US decline, no definitive answer to these questions is likely to become available in short order. The US empire, and all who love or hate it, or who merely seek to analyse it, must await the verdicts of history. </p> Globalisation american power & the world global politics Fred Halliday Creative Commons normal Mon, 03 Dec 2007 18:06:51 +0000 Fred Halliday 35228 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Justice in Madrid: the “11-M” verdict https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/justice_in_madrid_the_11m_verdict <p> A dark, rainy, early autumnal, 6am outside my hotel on the pavement of Calle Goya is perhaps not the most obvious place or time to begin an encounter with what is to be, in the history of Spain - and indeed of Europe as a whole - a historic day. This morning, the court set up on an exhibition site on the southwest side of the city, on the old road to Estremadura and Portugal, will aim to draw some line under the largest massacre (after Lockerbie in 1989) by a non-state group in the continent&#39;s history: the Atocha train bombings in Madrid on 11 March 2004, which killed 191 people and wounded over 1,000. </p> <p> This is 30 October 2007: the day when, after three and a half months of hearings from over 300 witnesses and four months of deliberations, the court is to pronounce sentence on the twenty-eight accused in the &quot;11-M&quot; trial. As we drive through the still empty streets, the morning radio carries interviews with correspondents speculating on the outcome, predictable claims by representatives of the main political groups that the outcome will vindicate them, and a statement by the representative of one of the victims&#39; groups: she wants to know who and how this attack took place, but above all why. A general anxiety is reflected in a report about the unlicensed and thus &quot;clandestine&quot; mosques operating in Spain (reportedly around 400 out of a total of 700). A temporary courthouse has been created in a low-lying building opposite the main <em>Casa de Campo</em> exhibition hall. By 8am, the victims&#39; relatives and survivors have started assembling on the corner, visibly apprehensive and restless; those who by now know each other well exchange embraces. They are joined across the street by camera crews, which by midday number around thirty. Armed police are much in evidence; and a helicopter, glistening in the sun as we remain in morning shade, flies overhead. </p> <p> More than just the fate of the twenty-eight accused (twenty-seven in court and one on a video link from Italy) hangs on the conduct of the court today. The Madrid bombings prompted a major political crisis in Spain, in an acrid debate which continues to this day. The then-ruling <em>Partido Popular</em> (Popular Party) accused the opposition, socialist PSOE of manipulating the event in an effort to to win the general election due three days later, on 14 March 2007; the PSOE itself, which indeed was elected to office, blamed the massacre on the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq; the relatives of those killed and wounded, and the many traumatised survivors are grouped in two politically rivalrous victims&#39; associations, each of which are represented in court and in the post-verdicts public debate. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in Intern</em><em>a</em><em>tional Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005)<br /> <br /> Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.The recent articles include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4228">A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world</a>&quot; (8 January 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni, Shi&#39;a </em>and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot; (9 February 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot; (25 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4591">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a>&quot; (4 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot; (4 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus&#39;s risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/islam_europe">Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam</a>&quot; (1 October 2007)</span> </p> <p> For the Spanish government this is an occasion to show the strength of its judicial system and of the rule of law, in a country whose democratic order has long been subjected to terrorist assault from the Basque group, <em>Euskadi ta Askatasuna</em> (ETA). The judges know too that they are addressing a wider range of publics even than the accused, the victims, the press, and the Spanish and European publics. The Muslim world too is part of their audience: most of the accused are Moroccans, from a community that originates in a country only twenty kilometres across the Straits of Gibraltar and forms the largest immigrant group in Spain. It is hardly by chance that on this very day it is announced that King Juan Carlos very soon will pay an official visit to the two Spanish enclaves that remain in north Africa, Ceuta and Melilla - his first trip there in his thirty-three-year reign. </p> <p> <strong>The end of the line </strong> </p> <p> My job is to provide intermittent commentary to CNN on the day&#39;s proceedings - as what is called a &quot;presenter&#39;s friend&quot;. The first interview comes at 8 am as the earpiece crackles with the news headlines of the day - from the Cuban hurricane to the tense border dispute between Georgia and Abkhazia. At this hour, I am under the control of an anchor in London; later in the day it shifts to Hong Kong, before ending under instruction from the CNN centre in Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout I remain positioned on the piece of black tape our cameraman has laid down for me on the pavement opposite the courthouse. </p> <p> On the other side of the flimsy tent-wall, I can hear the ex-BBC man who now works for Al-Jazeera&#39;s international service, choosing his words about Islamist groups with what feels like especial care. Faces familiar from the main Spanish TV news programmes rush back and forth. Between commentaries, the occasional Spanish crew approaches to interview me about the international attention (particularly from the United States) being paid to this event. None of the four major US channels (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox News) have bothered to show up, though it would be unseemly to point this out. </p> <p> The first interviews cover the main issues of the day: how and why the March 2004 bombings became such a source of controversy in Spain, what Europe and the US are looking for in the verdicts, how the Muslim world may react. Several events of the past few years, I point out, have brought to an abrupt end the comparative insulation of Spain from broader international conflicts: among them the death of Spanish intelligence personnel in Iraq and the bombing of the Spanish cultural centre in Casablanca (2003), the 11-M massacre; the death of soldiers in Afghanistan; the killing of Spanish peacekeepers deployed after the war in southern Lebanon (2006), the murder of Spanish tourists in Yemen (2007). </p> <p> The effect has been felt on the public and media culture. Alarmist authors publish books on <em>Jihad in Spain</em> and play up the wilder rhetoric of al-Qaida about reconquering &quot;Andalus&quot; - medieval Muslim Spain - for Islam. The Catholic bishops&#39; often rabid <em>Radio Cope</em> feeds its listeners with a seamless web of anti-socialist, anti-secular and anti-Islamist patter. I try gently to correct the occasional insinuation that Spaniards sense have been singled out for attack, and point out that all major western countries (Britain, France, and Germany as well as the United States) as well as many Muslim countries (Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco) have also been targeted. </p> <p> After 11 am, expectation rises that the verdicts will come soon. The resident CNN correspondent has been allowed into the courtroom, while the rest of us huddle over a small monitor displaying intermittent feeds of the presiding judge and a broken translation. The judge delivers his summation in the rapid mechanical Spanish heard every day on radio and TV news programmes which - reinforced by the legal and factual complexity of this case - here is almost impossible to understand or digest for the viewer. Rumours about what he actually said sweep through the assembled press corps. </p> <p> By 1 pm, however, the outcome is clear: of the twenty-eight accused, only three are found guilty of the most serious charges and sentenced to <em>sentencias millenarias</em> (multiple terms in prison), while several others are given lesser sentences for complicity in a crime or membership of a terrorist group. The group has no connection to the Basque ETA, nor any evident linkage to al- Qaida. </p> <p> <strong>The search for closure</strong> </p> <p> In the CNN interviews I am repeatedly asked about the prospects for &quot;closure&quot;, on both collective and levels: whether this verdict will end the controversy within Spanish politics about 11 March and bring some solace to the victims&#39; relatives and survivors. In one sense, this is an impossible demand to make of the court: the traumas of bereavement and of physical and psychological damage cannot be eliminated by one court hearing (and some traumas could never find &quot;closure&quot; even in the best of subsequent circumstances). But the immediate response of the victims&#39; groups is not encouraging: they are disappointed by the acquittals, and declare that they may appeal what they consider to be the inadequate sentences. The spokesperson for the main group, Pilár Manjon - now a public figure in Spain - appears later on a TV show clasping and unclasping her hands, and looking visibly distraught. </p> <p> Political closure is possible if there were general consensus that the verdict was correct in its essentials. The immediate post-11M controversy will hopefully ebb once the next elections (scheduled for March 2008) are held. In any case, the row over the 2004 bombings is only one of several potent sources of of inter-party dispute in contemporary Spain: they include the role of the Catholic church in education, the constitutional status of Catalonia and the Basque country, and the &quot;law of memory&quot; in regard to crimes of the Franco period. For the moment, both prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (PSOE) and opposition leader Mariano Rajoy (PP) welcomed the outcome, the latter with evident unease. But the PP, some of whose leaders long claimed an ETA connection with 11-M, still tries to keep the controversy going by saying that it would welcome &quot;further investigations&quot;. </p> <p> If such partisan and speculative considerations were to prevail, this would only compound the damage and pain caused by 11 March itself. The conduct of this trial, the attitude of the government throughout, and the content and manner of delivery of the verdict, were a tribute to democratic Spain. Everyone was perhaps too muted and restrained to make this point, but the contrast with the United States response to 9/11, and the frenzy of nationalist, extra-judicial and aggressive behaviour it has occasioned, could not be greater. Nor could the outcomes: Spain has detained, tried and convicted dozens of those responsible and who remain alive, as well as others involved in <em>jihadi</em> activity; the US&#39;s record in convicting anyone involved in 9/11 or subsequent Islamist activity within the homeland bears no comparison. </p> <p> There is a pscyhological dimension in the relatives and survivors&#39; search for &quot;closure&quot; that is too rarely recognised. Their disappointment at the acquittals, the sense that something was not completed, misses a very important point: of the dozen or so who committed the crime of 11 March 2004, eight are already dead (seven in a confrontation with police outside Madrid three weeks later and an eighth reportedly after going to fight in Iraq). The seven blew themselves up (along with one policeman) on 3 April 2004, when they were located by police in a first-floor flat in the Madrid suburb of Leganès; one member of the Islamist gang managed to run away, but was later detained. </p> <p> Both the symbolism of Leganès and the psychological distortions it occasioned need recognition. When I visited the site in June 2004, the mangled four-storey apartment block in this quiet, clean and modern Spanish suburb was surrounded by streets endowed - by some curious quirk of ideological fate endowed - with feminist names: Avenida Petra Kelly, Calle Flora Tristan. Nothing could more poignantly illustrate the clash of values, the contrast of true with false emancipation, that the choice of this suburb (a favourite for young couples to bring up children while commuting to central Madrid) for the bombers&#39; final act. That one of the sites they had apparently planned to bomb was a recreational farm outside Madrid with the improbable name of &quot;Masada&quot; only added a further macabre twist. </p> <p> <strong>The 11-M enigma</strong> </p> <p> More complex, and obscured by the partisan political dispute between the Spanish parties, is the inability of the court to satisfy the need for explanation. The whole question of &quot;why&quot; - the reasons for this group&#39;s coalescence and its choice of 11M and the slaughter of civilians - remains unanswered. This is perhaps the greatest failure both of the trial and of the whole public debate in Spain. </p> <p> The very important question of the date of is no better answered than is the choice of 11 September in New York, of 7 July in London. Was 11 March selected because of its proximity to the Spanish elections, in order to promote a PSOE victory or simply for maximum political impact? The Leganès flat&#39;s material evidence suggests that a series of attacks was planned, implying that a particular objective (influencing the election result or securing a Spanish withdrawal from Iraq) was not the central aim. </p> <p> The issue of explanation is all the more elusive because of the vocabulary, and indeed legal terms of reference, of the Spanish investigation. The final verdict refers to &quot;terrorist cells or groups which, by using all sorts of violence, aim to bring down democratic regimes and eliminate the Christian-western cultural tradition replacing them with an Islamic state under the domination of the <em>sharia</em> or Islamic law in its most radical, extreme and minoritarian interpretation&quot;. If this were a serious analysis of the causes, it would have to be deemed a failure: by implying that such groups are only aimed at western, democratic and Christian states the verdict ignores the record of the past two decades, wherein most of the violence of such Islamist groups has been directed at Islamic, or (in the case of India) Hindu-inspired states. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>openDemocracy</strong> writers debate the Madrid bombs and their aftermath:<br /> <br /> Diego Hidalgo, &quot;<a href="/democracy-madridprevention/article_1790.jsp">Why the Spanish government lost</a>&quot; (March 2004)<br /> <br /> Diego Muro, &quot;<a href="/democracy-madridprevention/article_1791.jsp">ETA after Madrid: the beginning of the end</a>?&quot; (16 March 2004)<br /> <br /> Douglas Murray, &quot;<a href="/conflict-madridprevention/article_1794.jsp">Spain&#39;s shame</a>&quot; (18 March 2004)<br /> <br /> Ivan Briscoe, &quot;<a href="/conflict-madridprevention/article_1795.jsp">A victory for Spain, not al-Qaida</a>&quot; (18 March 2004)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflict-madridprevention/article_1808.jsp">Terrorism, democracy and Muslims after the Madrid bombs</a>&quot; (March 2004) - a discussion involving Timothy Garton Ash, Maï Ghoussoub, Stephane Gompertz, Diego Hidalgo, Isabel Hilton, Kirsty Hughes, John Lloyd, and Matthias Matussek<br /> <br /> Peter R Neumann, &quot;<a href="/conflict-terrorism/democratic_response_2708.jsp">Madrid, London, and beyond: don&#39;t reinvent the wheel</a>&quot; (27 July 2005)<br /> <br /> Mariano Aguirre, &quot;<a href="/democracy-terrorism/11-M_3341.jsp">Spain&#39;s 11-M and the right&#39;s revenge&quot;</a> (10 March 2006)<br /> <br /> Plus, read Luisa Barrenechea&#39;s blog reports on the trial for toD <a href="/terrorism_opendemocracy_tags/11_m_trial">here</a></span>Moreover, very little is revealed about any of the Madrid cell&#39;s links to groups active in north Africa, the most likely source of inspiration and organisation. One of the leading accused (who received a sentence of fifteen years), Hassan al-Haski, was said to be a member of Morocco&#39;s Islamic Combatant Group, but even that was left unexplored; and the identity, even existence, of this organisation is debated. Such a failure to examine the causes, even the most immediate political and social, is of course not specific to Spain: the greatest failure of the US response to 9/11 has been its silence on the background of the war in Afghanistan and Washington&#39;s role in creating the forces, the Islamist sorcerer&#39;s apprentices, who hit Manhattan on that day. </p> <p> Here, perhaps, the very form of the judicial investigation and trial precluded an answer to these questions. The case was treated as a criminal one, thus framing it in terms of the conventions of crime (perpetrators and &quot;masterminds&quot; - what in Spanish legal terminology are called the &quot;intellectual authors&quot;). The demand of the victims and survivors to know who &quot;conceived of&quot; or &quot;inspired&quot; the cell&#39;s actions was in a similar vein. But the by-now-familiar decentralised, often self-starting, nature of Islamist groups across the world means that they cannot be understood in terms of a model of &quot;orthodox&quot; criminal organisation. The inspiration comes from young men watching militant videos, the news, and of being radicalised at certain kinds of mosques. No wonder that the judges did not answer the question: the very concepts of &quot;intellectual authorship&quot; and &quot;mastermind&quot; are inappropriate one. The inspiration comes from contemporary international politics and society. In this sense, the &quot;intellectual author&quot; is world history. </p> <p> <strong>A Spanish moment</strong> </p> <p> The greatest lesson of the 11-M verdicts is, however, of a more positive nature. The care, calm and authority of the Spanish court were, in judicial and human terms, impressive. This will and must serve as an inspiration for future cases and responses. For, much as the deeper causes of 11-M were not examined, it is clear that this is far from being the last trial of Islamist groups in Spain: already two other major judicial processes are in train, one of a group charged with trying to blow up the main courthouse in Madrid, another with recruiting and fundraising via an Islamist website in Burgos. </p> <p> Other countries in Europe already have, and for sure will have more, such cases. Violence, fear and suspicion are fed by both sides in a spiral that only democratic rule and law can counter. The alternative is the road of Guantánamo, arbitrary arrest and rendition, the legitimation of torture, a chauvinist and aggressive interpretation of international law. </p> <p> Spain can be truly proud of its stand on these issues and of its exemplary conduct on this historic day, 30 October 2007. It would take a Goya, with his eye for the grotesque sufferings and cruelty of war, to transform the nightmare of 11 March 2004 into art. But were he to be painting today, he would have seen too the redemptive dignity of the aftermath. </p> openSecurity Globalisation global politics terrorism.opendemocracy Fred Halliday Original Copyright 11-M trial Mon, 05 Nov 2007 13:32:06 +0000 Fred Halliday 35019 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Islam and Europe: a debate in Amsterdam https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/islam_and_europe_a_debate_in_amsterdam <p> Over the past three years, the accidents of academic travel and a certain curiosity about historical sites have taken me to most, if not all, of the places in the western world where <em>jihadi</em> terrorism has left its mark: </p> <p> * New York, even as most inhabitants of the city seem to be exhibiting &quot;<a href="/conflict-us911/debate.jsp">9/11</a> fatigue&quot;, the site of the World Trade Center south of Chambers Street is now being reworked to construct a monumental Freedom Tower </p> <p> * Madrid, where the attacks of <a href="/conflict-madridprevention/debate.jsp">11 March 2004</a> now have a permanent memorial, even if the four-storey apartment block in the Calle Carmen Martín Gaite, in the restful Madrid suburb of Leganès, has been replaced in such a way as to erase the memory of those who later <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/04/04/spain.bombings/">blew themselves up</a> there, on 3 April 2004 </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday&#39;s</strong> &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.The recent articles include:<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4228">A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world</a>&quot;(8 January 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni, Shi&#39;a </em>and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot;(9 February 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot;(25 March 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/node/4591">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a>&quot;(4 May 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot;(4 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007) <br /> <br /> &quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_politics/cyprus_stalemate">Cyprus&#39;s risky stalemate</a>&quot; (26 August 2007)</span> </p> <p> * Buenos Aires, where on 18 July 1994 eighty-six people died in the explosion at the Jewish cultural centre (Amia), an <a href="http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2369844">action</a> that is ascribed to the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6612951.stm">Iranian government</a> or to a branch of Hizbollah or of Islamic Jihad based in Argentina, but which has many, as yet unclarified, dimensions; the building itself has been restored with fortress-like appearance and the names of those who died are listed at street level outside. </p> <p> * London, where I have only to look out of the window of my flat in <a href="/conflict-terrorism/gandhi_2700.jsp">Tavistock Square</a> to see the small plaque commemorating the thirteen people who were killed on an everyday, number 30, two-decker red bus - outside the headquarters of the British Medical Association - on <a href="/node/2655">7 July 2005</a>. </p> <p> By contrast, Linnaeus Street in a suburb of Amsterdam bears no memorial of the event that occurred there on the morning of 2 November 2004 and which so shocked the inhabitants of the Netherlands. It was here, on a nondescript street flanked on one side by the building of the local municipality, on the other by food shops and chemists, that <a href="http://www.theovangogh.nl/">Theo van Gogh</a> was killed by his assailant, Mohammad Bouyeri. </p> <p> <strong>One day in November</strong> </p> <p> My companion in a visit to this part of Amsterdam is the Turkish-Dutch writer <a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Ahmet Olgun</a>, correspondent for the daily paper <a href="http://www.nrc.nl/"><em>NRC Handelsblad</em></a>, and himself co-author (with Jutta Chorus) of an in-depth investigative book on the event, <a href="http://www.uitgeverijcontact.nl/index.php?id=166"><em>In Gods Naam</em></a> (Uitgeverej Contact, 2005). He explains to me what happened. Van Gogh normally cycled to work in the morning along this street. At the end is the railway bridge where Bouyeri waited for van Gogh. The first of five shots were fired on the side of the street outside the municipality building, where an employee filmed the event on his mobile. <a href="http://www.ifex.org/20fr/content/view/full/62414/">Van Gogh</a> then staggered across the street and was then killed. </p> <p> Bouyeri then tried to cut his throat in sacrificial gesture, but only half succeeded, and then pinned on his chest a letter denouncing the enemies of Islam in Holland. The assailant subsequently fled to the nearby Oosterpark (&quot;eastern park&quot;) where he was wounded and captured by the police. </p> <p> To find a memorial to van Gogh, Ahmet Olgun and I have to go to the Oosterpark itself, now rich in late summer greenery and with a first hint of autumn on the leaves. Here stands a monument to van Gogh by the sculptor <a href="http://www.jeroenhenneman.nl/">Jeroen Henneman</a>, a four-and-a-half metre high construction of wavy steel lines: there is no mention of van Gogh himself on the statue, or accompanying plaque, which is named simply <a href="http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/pers/aanwinsten/henneman?lang=nl"><em>Die Schreeuw</em></a> (&quot;The Cry&quot;), yet his profile is visible in the lines of the monument. The title is perhaps an allusion to the painting of alarm and pain, by <a href="http://www.munch.museum.no/content.aspx?id=15">Edvard Munch</a>, but also a reference to van Gogh&#39;s association with the cause of free speech. </p> <p> There was some public controversy about whether to put up a monument at all: Dutch friends are mildly surprised the statue has lasted as long as it has. The day before I visit, it was daubed with a pro-al-Qaida slogan, but by the time I get there next morning this has been cleaned away. </p> <p> There remains much that is unclear and hence unsettling in the killing of Theo van Gogh and in the relation of this event, analysed for English readers by <a href="http://www.ianburuma.com/">Ian Buruma</a> in his fine book <a href="http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781594201080,00.html"><em>Murder in Amsterdam</em>:<em> The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance</em></a>. Buruma himself is of Dutch-English parentage and grew up in the Netherlands, before leaving in the mid-1970s in part to escape from the cloying conformity of much of its intellectual and political life. </p> <p> Despite intense police and journalistic investigation, it is not clear how far Mohammed Bouyeri acted on his own, how far he was part of an organised clandestine group, known to its Arab members as The Lions of Islam and to the Dutch police as The Hofstad Group (&quot;Hofstad&quot; or - capital city being a conventional name for The Hague, the city where the group was based - that The Hague is the seat of government but not the capital of Holland, which is Amsterdam, is another, here irrelevant, complication.) Bouyeri himself was in many ways a loner, a second generation of Moroccan descent, whose Arabic was weak and who had become intensely <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/07/13/wbouy13.xml">politicised</a> by watching videos on the recent wars between Muslim fighters and western forces. </p> <p> <strong>Theo the artist-provocateur</strong> </p> <p> Van Gogh, a remote descendant of the famous painter, was known through his TV programme and a set of controversial films; he was not an angel or ideal hero, but at times boorish, a provocateur who had made a name for himself as an enthusiastic exponent of the Dutch practice of <a href="http://www.erikweijers.nl/pages/translations/polemic/theo-van-goghs-polemic-prose.php">verbal insult</a> and name-calling (<em>scheldkritikien</em> or &quot;abusive criticism&quot;). That he frequently insulted Muslims and their prophet, calling the former <em>geiteneuker (&quot;</em>goat-fuckers&quot;), did not stop him from also insulting Jews and many others. </p> <p> To compare him, as some Dutch supporters do, to <a href="/author/Salman_Rushdie.jsp">Salman Rushdie</a> is ridiculous - Rushdie satirised the early history of Islam, but never propagated racist insults against Muslims as living people. (Incidentally, and almost certainly unknown to van Gogh, the Dutch obscenity he used, <em>neuken</em>, is by origin Arabic, indeed to be found in the Qur&#39;an, where it is the normal term for marital relations: French, English and Spanish all have the same slang word - <em>niquer</em>, <em>nooky</em>, <em>noqui-noqui</em> - transmitted in the Dutch case via contact with Arab traders in South Africa, as is the all-purpose racist term of abuse <em>kaffir</em>, from the Muslim term for an &quot;infidel&quot;, in the others via colonial contact with north Africa). </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in Intern</em><em>a</em><em>tional Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005) </span>On any conventional criteria, van Gogh should certainly have faced legal sanction for some of what he did. But he did not deserve his fate. Some weeks before he was killed he had shown, on an small audience TV channel, the film <em>Submission</em> a twelve-minute denunciation of Qur&#39;anic and other Islamic views on women, the verses projected over the body of a naked woman. However, since the film was only shown in October 2004, and there is evidence that the plan to kill him was first laid in July, <em>Submission</em> may not have played a part in his death. </p> <p> The person the film most certainly affected is the Somali exile, later Dutch MP, <a href="http://www.aei.org/scholars/filter.all,scholarID.117/scholar.asp">Ayaan Hirsi Ali</a>, van Gogh&#39;s collaborator on the film; she had to have police protection and then left for the United States amid a dispute over her right to stay in Holland; on 1 October 2007 she is reported as having <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/10/01/europe/EU-GEN-Netherlands-Hirsi-Ali.php">returned</a> to live in the Netherlands after the Dutch government refused to pay for the cost of her protection. </p> <p> <strong>The Dutch trauma</strong> </p> <p> This series of events - the death of van Gogh, the threats against and controversies surrounding <a href="http://www.radionetherlands.nl/currentaffairs/nl071001">Ayaan Hirsi Ali</a>, and the physical assault on others, notably an Iranian-origin secularist writer and local councillor for the Dutch Labour Party, <a href="http://www.ehsanjami.pvda.nl/">Ehsan Jami</a> - have provoked a major, often acrimonious and as yet far from resolved debate in Dutch politics. Jami´s book, <em>The Right to be an Ex-Muslim</em>, a short and reasonable <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2779524,00.html">plea</a> for freedom of thought and belief, is on prominent display in Dutch bookshops, as are the <a href="/democracy-village/infidel_kilday_4408.jsp">writings</a> of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. </p> <p> Some of the causes of this acrimony lie in <a href="http://www.aup.nl/do.php?a=show_visitor_book&amp;isbn=9789053564981">longer-term</a> trends in Dutch life: the authority of the older and more moderate political leaders, of both the Labour and Liberal Parties, has eroded in recent years as senior figures have retired and as it becomes evident that they have in some measure lost touch with their constituencies. At the same time, as Buruma relates in his book and as I could observe when working in Amsterdam for several years on and off in the 1970s, there is a particular, above average, defensiveness in Dutch political life, perhaps strengthened by the loss of empire in the late 1940s, also reflecting enduring unease about the years of Nazi occupation in the second world war. </p> <p> More recently, the <a href="http://www.srebrenica.nl/en/">scandal of Srebrenica</a>, when in 1995 a group of Dutch soldiers assigned to the United Nations allowed the Serbs to <a href="/conflict-yugoslavia/srebrenica_2651.jsp">massacre</a> almost 8,000 Bosnians in a town they, the Dutch, were supposed to be protecting, also left its mark. It was probably irrelevant on the day but the fact that those so murdered were all Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) is, in retrospect, a further cause of unease. No one draws a direct link between the impact and shame of Srebrenica and the touchy, often aggressive, character of current debate on Islam, but some mild psychoanalytic speculation may here be in order. </p> <p> To this long-run loss of status and confidence is added the impact of immigration and the presence in large Dutch cities of Muslim communities that now number upwards of a third of the urban population. Stories abound of attacks on - unveiled - Dutch women by second-generation immigrants and, on the other side, of continuous racist taunting by white youth. If tension between indigenous Dutch society and the immigrants from Morocco and Turkey had been building up during the 1990s, two events in the early 2000s brought matters more openly, and acridly, into the open: the 9/11 attacks in the US had an important impact on Dutch political life, perhaps more than on any other western European society, and the media devoted saturation coverage to them. </p> <p> It was, however, the assassination in May 2002 of the populist politician <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/05/07/wfort07.xml">Pim Fortuyn</a>, himself an outspoken critic of Muslim culture and belief, that brought matters to the boil. Fortuyn was in fact killed by a Dutch assassin, Volker van der Graaf, an angry animal-rights fanatic who objected to Fortuyn&#39;s display of fur coats, but Fortuyn&#39;s death, the first political assassination in Dutch life since 1584, legitimated and augmented his anti-Muslim rhetoric. The rise of <a href="http://www.pimfortuyn.com/asp/default.asp?t=show&amp;var=793&amp;tk=1">Fortuyn</a>, a shrewd and vocal critic of established views in Dutch political life, and of the <em>regenten</em>, the somewhat complacent Dutch political elite, was itself a reflection of the loss of authority of the traditional parties: that his party, Fortuyn&#39;s List, has fallen apart since his death may not be surprising, but some of the more angry nationalist and anti-Muslim rhetoric has been taken up by <a href="http://www.geertwilders.nl/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=blogsection&amp;id=4&amp;Itemid=101">Geert Wilders</a>, leading of the minority Freedom Party, who has repeatedly called for the banning of the Qur&#39;an, as a contemporary equivalent of <em>Mein Kampf</em>. </p> <p> <strong>The statesman&#39;s case</strong> </p> <p> It is against this background, that I am invited to public debate in Amsterdam on <a href="http://www.debalie.nl/artikel.jsp?siteid=&amp;articleid=180690">18 September 2007</a> with one of Holland&#39;s most established and venerated politicians, <a href="http://www.fritsbolkestein.com/index.htm">Frits Bolkestein</a>. At 74, the former minister, European Union <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/archives/commission_1999_2004/bolkestein/curriculum_en.htm">commissioner</a> and academic cuts a dignified silver-haired figure in his suit and tie, amidst the rather more informally attired audience of the central Amsterdam cultural centre <a href="http://www.debalie.nl/"><em>De Balie</em></a> (<em>The Tribune</em>). </p> <p> Bolkestein is a senior figure in the main right-of-centre party, the Liberals (or <a href="http://www.vvd.nl/">VVD</a>); although formally out of a senior position, he has been actively involved in recent disputes within the party (one of which has led to the expulsion from the VVD&#39;s parliamentary section of the outspoken <a href="http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=1&amp;story_id=44475">Rita Verdonk</a>, a former minister of the interior who favours a <a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article577915.ece">tougher</a> line on immigrants). Although Bolkestein made his mark by being one of the first to question the Dutch model of multiculturalism, he is believed to have supported the action against Verdonk. </p> <p> The event is gently but firmly chaired by our host (and my fellow <strong>openDemocracy </strong>author) <a href="/author/Markha_Valenta.jsp">Markha Valenta</a>, an American journalist who has lived in Holland for eight years and who evidently impresses Bolkestein with her fluent Dutch. It is a Dutch tradition to offer broad guidelines to speakers, and the organisers of <em>De Balie</em> are true to form in offering suggestions for the fifteen minutes we each have. It is the kind of rubric that drives any normal speaker mad: is Islam compatible with democracy, what should be America&#39;s role in the world, how can we get from unilateral to multilateral politics, should Europe and the US work with Hizbollah and Hamas, how to curb illegal American intelligence operations in Europe, how to network with democratic Islamists. Everything, it would seem, except the hardiest nut in Dutch politics, the Friesian question. </p> <p> With characteristic courtesy, Bolkestein invites me to speak first but I feel it is better for him, who knows the Dutch audience, to start. And so, in terms mellow, considered but with more than a hint of determination, he lays out what can be taken to be the case for a moderate Dutch conservatism on some of these issues. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new"><strong>openDemocracy</strong> writers explore the Netherlands&#39; - and Europe&#39;s - argument about Islam, secularism and democracy:<br /> <br /> Tjebbe van Tijen, &quot;<a href="/democracy-newright/article_382.jsp">The sorrow of the Netherlands</a>&quot; (22 May 2002)<br /> <br /> Dienke Hondius, &quot;‘<a href="/people-migrationeurope/article_1616.jsp">Become like us&#39;: the Dutch and racism</a>&quot; (4 December 2003) <br /> <br /> Theo Veenkamp, &quot;<a href="/arts-multiculturalism/article_2239.jsp">After tolerance</a>&quot; (24 November 2004) <br /> <br /> KA Dilday, &quot;<a href="/democracy-village/infidel_kilday_4408.jsp">Sister in spirit: Ayaan Hirsi Ali&#39;s Infidel</a>&quot; (6 March 2007)</span>Bolkestein reiterates his consistent opposition to the Iraq war of 2003. On Islamist terrorism: this is not a product of western policies, but of &quot;resentment&quot;, a term he repeats several times, going back to the loss of <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300106033">Islamic imperial power</a> in past centuries. The Arab-Israeli question should be solved by resettling the Palestinians in Arab countries, as Europe did with 11.5 million refugees from eastern Europe after 1945. To blame the west for the economic and social problems of the middle east is fallacious. Citing recent reports by the <a href="http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/december-2006/ahdr-launch-20061206.en">United Nations Development Programme</a> (UNDP), he argues that it is up to the Arab states and Iran themselves to sort out their problems and to stop blaming others. As for disaffected second-generation Muslims in Holland and other countries of western Europe, the best thing they can do to help themselves is get a good secondary-school education and find employment. </p> <p> On the implications of Islam and the middle east for Dutch society, Frits Bolkestein has a clear, sharp and most evidently well-polished set of views. Multiculturalism, a variety of practices, laws and values is acceptable on secondary issues, but not on primary ones: Dutch society cannot and should not accept forced marriage, honour killings, the assassination of apostates, stoning of adulterers. Moreover, &quot;not all Muslims are well-meaning&quot; and some have &quot;ugly habits&quot;. Some want to create a new international Islamic state and impose <em>sharia</em> law on Europe. In conclusion, he returns to his overarching view of the different historical trajectories of <a href="http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cup/catalog/data/023112/0231127960.HTM">Islam and Christianity</a>: the latter began as a religion of the poor and oppressed and only later came to exercise state power; Islam, on the other hand, enjoyed power in its early centuries, in Baghdad and al-Andalus, and has felt resentment at the loss of this power in subsequent centuries. </p> <p> <strong>The long view</strong> </p> <p> Bolkestein takes his seat. Markha Valenta invites me to approach the rostrum. There is much I had prepared to say, and much more had occurred to me in response to Bolkestein. But there are constraints: I do not want to be heard, particularly with the distortions of any second-hand oral report, as expressing some partisan and inevitably pigeon-holed alignment with the set-piece arguments, and derogations, of Dutch public debate. These days I sometimes seek to lend putative authority to what I say by pointing out that I am now a senior citizen, a professor of over two decades&#39; standing in a major university, and so on: but such tropes are not going to cut any ice with a man a decade older, and with a visage far more venerable, than mine. </p> <p> As for alluding to the fact that I have now four decades of experience working on and analysing the middle east, this will have no effect on Fritz Bolkestein, who, as he is keen to point out, derives his arguments from reading, and having personally talked with, such leading experts on the middle east as professors <a href="http://www.princeton.edu/%7Enes/faculty_lewis.html">Bernard Lewis</a> and the late <a href="http://www.dangoor.com/74006.html">Elie Kedourie</a>. </p> <p> So I begin with two obvious, but heartfelt, observations. First, the issues being discussed in this De Balie debate, and more generally in Dutch public life over recent years, are of much broader import and context: the questions of immigration, secularism, multiculturalism, gender that the Dutch are talking about are also being debated in all other major countries of western Europe. No European Union country has a monopoly on these questions. What is urgently needed, for reasons of common political challenge and of self-critical debate, is to break out of the national confines and terms of each argument and discuss the issues at a European level. The French have no monopoly on the question of secularism, the British on that of free speech, the Dutch on those of blasphemy and apostasy. </p> <p> Second, the questions Frits Bolkestein and I are debating in Amsterdam, and which in a Dutch context are framed by events of the past five years, have a much longer and wider history. Holland and some other European countries have in recent years witnessed generic denunciations of &quot;Islam&quot; or Islamic treatment of women, or whatever, sometimes by supposedly ou-spoken western writers (for example the late <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/15/news/obits.php">Oriana Fallaci</a> [in Italy], <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%252Fnews%252F2002%252F09%252F18%252Fwislam18.xml">Michel Houellebecq</a> [in France], <a href="http://www.esferalibros.com/libros/librodetalle.html?libroISBN=8497341627">César Vidal</a> [in Spain], <a href="http://www.gov.harvard.edu/faculty/shuntington/">Samuel Huntington</a> [in the United States], and sometimes by people who are by origin Muslims by family or culture. </p> <p> But these critics, whose sincerity is not in question, run the risk of being banal and theatrical until and unless they recognise that they are far from being the first to raise these question: for decades there have been people in the Muslim world itself - in Egypt and Turkey, Pakistan, Algeria and Iran - who have, and often at great risk to themselves, debated issues of authoritarianism, violence, dogmatism, secularism. In an audience with many faces from the radical Amsterdam of decades ago, I recall that the first time I spoke at De Balie was in 1981, at a meeting with exiled Iranian speakers, denouncing the repression of the left and secular forces in the Islamic Republic of Iran. </p> <p> On the specific points raised by Frits Bolkestein, I reply to a select number; as I point out, I am not a politician nor a clergyman, and so do not have to express an opinion on every topic. My own understanding of the origins of <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521791405"><em>jihadi terrorism</em></a> is very different from that of Frits Bolkestein; it is, in the terminology of our, rather good, academic debates on the matter, &quot;modernist&quot; as opposed to &quot;primordial&quot;. I consider the remote past of little or not relevance to understanding contemporary terrorism; rather we must look at the contemporary political and regional context, in particular the rise of militant <em>Sunni</em> movement in the 1980s, in opposition to failed secular states and, in some cases such as Afghanistan, with the direct support of the west. </p> <p> On Palestine I <a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">repeat</a> what I have said for over thirty years: that there are two peoples, each of which is entitled, and in broadly equal share, to a state (it occurs to me later that to tell the Palestinians to merge with neighbouring Arab states is a bit like telling the now very dissatisfied <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/18/wbelgium118.xml">Flemish-speakers</a> in Belgium to go and live in Holland). </p> <p> On the UNDP reports, with which on many issues I am in sympathy, I merely point out that the claim that the Arab world hardly translates any books is in error: the point is that, not being signatories to international copyright conventions, they do not ask permission for, or officially register, most of the translations they carry out. On &quot;ugly habits&quot;, I entirely agree, but point out that Europe too has, in the past <a href="http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780679757047">century</a>, had ugly, much uglier indeed, habits - visiting colonial violence and invasion on many parts of the middle east, and subjecting its own peoples (not least the Dutch) to invasion, massacre, racism and war. </p> <p> <strong>The Turkish nerve-end</strong> </p> <p> Our speeches and short replies concluded, Bolkestein and I face the audience&#39;s questions, under Valenta&#39;s invigilation. One questioner asks how far we agree with the gendered analysis of Islamist violence, that it is a result of a crisis of patriarchal power among middle-eastern males; a questioner from Macedonia asks why the west failed to note and counteract the rise of Islamism in the Balkans, especially in <a href="http://www.bergpublishers.com/us/book_page.asp?BKTitle=Al-Qaida%27s%2520Jihad%2520in%2520Europe">Bosnia</a>, during the 1990s; another relates the rise of Islamism in the middle east to the tensions produced by urbanisation; another seeks to include the <a href="http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/ReligionTheology/?ci=0192806068&amp;view=usa">fundamentalism</a> of Evangelical Christians in the US, and of George W Bush in particular, in our denunciations. Another questioner asks Fritz Bolkestein why he did not sign a letter in support of the secular writer and politician <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=3607887&amp;page=1">Ehsan Jami</a>, who has since been beaten up: &quot;Perhaps I now will&quot;, he replies. </p> <p> Somehow the debate and questioning come closer to an issue hitherto rather marginal, but latent, in our meeting, that of Turkey. I state, as robustly as I can, that Europe has a modest, but definite, role to play in regard to the middle east, in Darfur, Afghanistan, Palestine and, above all, in regard to Turkey. In this context I greatly regret the <a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/holland_2567.jsp">Dutch rejection</a> of the EU constitution in June 2005 which, conjoined with the <a href="/node/2557">French &quot;no&quot; vote</a> three days earlier, has served to freeze and almost certainly kill off Turkey&#39;s application to join the EU. With this Fritz Bolkestein is not happy: Turkey is not <a href="/democracy-turkey/debate.jsp">part of Europe</a> and if people in the middle east are going to blame colonialism and occupation for their woes, why not start with the Turks, who were the worst of all? </p> <p> Some of the audience are bemused, but the lady from Macedonia jumps up to attest to the terrible five centuries her country suffered under Turkish rule. I begin to suggest that <a href="http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/MP-24421/The-Balkans.htm">Balkan</a> nationalists tend to complain far too much about Turkish rule, but realise this may not get us very far. I stop myself from going into pro-Ottoman mode (the &quot;sick man of Europe&quot; turned out to be Germany, not Turkey). I rest with the observation that of all the major states of western Europe with a colonial past the Dutch are the only ones who avoided the middle east entirely, and, instead, sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and on to the east Indies. (That their record in <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521542623&amp;ss=exc">Indonesia</a> up to 1949, and the ideological legacy of their three centuries in South Africa, leave much to be desired, and contain not a little of what one may term the &quot;ugly&quot;, I leave for another occasion). </p> <p> <strong>Amsterdam</strong><strong> and Europe&#39;s argument</strong> </p> <p> After a couple of brandies, and a chat with colleagues from my old employers and colleagues based in Amsterdam, the <a href="http://www.tni.org/">Transnational Institute</a>, I head for home, dodging the trams and, as always in Amsterdam, the cyclists as I cross the Leidseplein. It maybe merits reiteration that in these as in all other matters debated at De Balie the Dutch are not alone: it is up to all involved in debating such questions self-critically, but with some sense of urgency, to clarify and move the argument forward. </p> <p> Yet I strongly suspect that if, after another absence of twenty-six years, I return to Amsterdam to debate contemporary politics, the conversation in the bar afterwards, animated by much Heineken and genever, will, in 1981 as in 2007, still be engaging with the relationship of Europe and America, with Islam and secularism, with free speech and <a href="http://www.signandsight.com/features/1167.html">multiculturalism</a>. These are challenges facing all who are concerned, in Europe as in the middle east, with current and often alarming developments. And they allow of no immediate or definitive answers. With this, I feel confident, my courteous, if somewhat unyielding interlocutor, Fritz Bolkestein, would agree. </p> Globalisation global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright Tue, 02 Oct 2007 16:55:48 +0000 Fred Halliday 34677 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Cyprus’s risky stalemate https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/cyprus_s_risky_stalemate <p>On the three-and-a-half-hour flight eastwards from Rome to Larnaca, I re-immerse myself in the details of the &quot;Cyprus question&quot;. As I read again the half-truths, self-indulgent rhetoric and bogus history that accompany most discussion of the island&#39;s modern politics and its associated massacres and invasions, my heart sinks and uneasy memories return.</p> <p><span class="pullquote_new">Also in <strong>openDemocracy </strong>on the politics of Cyprus:Alex Rondos, &quot;<a href="/democracy-turkey/article_1861.jsp">Cyprus: the price of rejection</a>&quot; (22 April 2004)</span>The last time I had been in Cyprus was in July 1974, on holiday but in time to have a ringside view of the dramatic events of that time: the growing tension on the <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/cyprus.htm">island</a> as the Greek nationalist right sought, with the help of the military junta in Athens, to undermine Archbishop (and president) <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/14/newsid_3747000/3747247.stm">Makarios</a>; the dramatic events on that Monday morning of 15 July when I went to buy fresh yoghurt at the village shop to find the owners in tears and the radio announcing that Makarios was dead; the realisation that a fascist coup had taken place, but that Makarios was alive and that his people were resisting; the days of tightening military control, the arrest by a group of paramilitaries of the socialists from the Edek party who were holding their summer school in the hotel next door. In Nicosia itself there was chaos at the airport, but all seemed sure that the Turks would not attack: &quot;the Russians will make sure it never happens&quot;, I was told.</p><p>On the morning of Saturday 20 July, there was the sound in Nicosia of artillery shells being fired from nearby and the sight of Turkish paratroopers, their parachutes like puffs of smoke across the dawn sky, dropping on the northern part of Nicosia. Messages on the BBC World Service instructed us to assemble at the Hilton hotel, from where we were evacuated to a British base in the south of the island, then in transport planes to somewhere in Wiltshire. </p> <p>Much leftwing analysis of these <a href="http://www.cyprus-conflict.net/Greek%252520v%252520Turk%252520narr%252520-%2525201974.htm">events</a> exaggerates United States responsibility in identifying the hidden hand of a US-inspired conspiracy masterminded by then secretary of state Henry Kissinger, a reprise of the coup in Chile in September 1973. In any event, and somewhat in contrast to Chile, Cyprus gradually slipped from the news. (Years later, at a Royal Institute of International Affairs meeting in London, I told the visiting <a href="http://www.economist.com/obituary/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8134722">Bülent Ecevit</a> - the Turkish prime minister who ordered the 1974 invasion - that, in addition to the other burdens of history he carried, he had also once interrupted my breakfast...) </p> <p><strong>The crossing-place </strong></p> <p>The 1974 crisis indeed marked the most dramatic turning-point in the <a href="http://www.cyprus-conflict.net/www.cyprus-conflict.net/chronology.html">history</a> of the Cyprus question. It led to the occupation of 40% of the island by Turkish troops and - in effect, and despite the proclamation in 1983 of a &quot;<a href="http://www.trncpresidency.org/">Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus</a>&quot;, the annexation of this area to Turkey. It also involved what, two decades later in the context of disintegrating Yugoslavia, would be termed &quot;ethnic cleansing&quot;, the forced reallocation of population into a wholly (with a marginal exception in the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3651414.stm">northeast</a> of the island) Turkish north and wholly Greek south, and the establishment of a militarised frontier between the Greek and Turkish regions. </p> <p><span class="pullquote_new"><strong>Fred Halliday</strong> is professor of international relations at the LSE, and visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI). <br /><br />His many books include <a href="http://www.palgrave-usa.com/catalog/product.aspx?isbn=1860648681"><em>Islam and the Myth of Confrontation</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2003), <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?K=9780863565298&amp;sf=KEYWORD&amp;sort=sort_title&amp;st1=halliday&amp;x=0&amp;y=0&amp;m=1&amp;dc=11"><em>100 Myths About the Middle East</em></a> (Saqi, 2005), and <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521597412"><em>The Middle East in Intern</em><em>a</em><em>tional Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology</em></a><em> </em>(Cambridge University Press, 2005) <br /><br />Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on <strong>openDemocracy</strong> surveys the national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across the world.The recent articles include:<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/node/4228">A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world</a>&quot;(8 January 2007)<em><br /><br />&quot;</em><a href="/node/4334"><em>Sunni, Shi&#39;a </em>and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam</a>&quot;(9 February 2007)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="http://bt.yahoo.com/">Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared</a>&quot;(25 March 2007)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/node/4591">The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts</a>&quot;(4 May 2007)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/globalization/political_impasse_4671.jsp">Palestinians and Israelis: a political impasse</a>&quot;<br /><br />(4 June 2007)&quot;<a href="/globalisation/global_politics/crisis_middle_east_2003">Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003</a>&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/conflicts/middle_east/lebanon_gaza_iraq_three_crises">Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises</a>&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/gloablisation/global_politics/yemen_murder_arabia_felix">Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix</a>&quot; (13 July 2007)<br /><br />&quot;<a href="/article/globalisation/global_village/eta_vitoria">Eternal Euzkadi, enduring ETA</a>&quot; (3 August 2007)</span> </p> <p>Both sides share responsibility for the outcome (not forgetting the British colonial inheritance that allowed the &quot;question&quot; to be <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/europe/04/cyprus/html/independence.stm">posed</a> at all). If the Turks certainly acted without justification in occupying as much of the island as they did and in remaining intransigent for so many years thereafter, the Greeks are also to blame for provoking the crisis in the first place, and for years of indulgent calls for <em>enosis</em> (union with Greece) from the 1950s onwards. </p> <p>In the ensuing decades many attempts were made to overcome this partition, with the aim of restoring the unity of Cyprus (even minimally) as a single state with common citizenship, and of finding a means of resolving the many property disputes and personal abuses on both sides that accompanied the <a href="http://www.cyprus-conflict.net/www.cyprus-conflict.net/intro%252520page.html">1974 events</a> and which political and religious leaders have done much to keep alive.</p><p>In April 2003 it seemed as if a breakthrough had finally been achieved, following a change of policy in Ankara by the <em>Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi </em>(Justice &amp; Development Party / AKP) <a href="http://www.esiweb.org/index.php?lang=en&amp;id=243">government</a> (elected in November 2002), and the emergence within the Turkish Cypriot community of a new leadership under prime minister (later president) <a href="http://www.trncpresidency.org/">Mehmet Ali Talat</a> that was more flexible than the previously unbending one associated with <a href="http://www.cypnet.co.uk/ncyprus/people/famous/ppl-raufdenktash.htm">Rauf Denktash</a>. When the Turks unilaterally (and to the great surprise of many) opened the frontier, tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots drove north to visit the towns and properties they had once known, and later visited the casinos of the north that have no counterpart on the Greek side; at the same time, many Turkish Cypriots, who remained under Cypriot law citizens of the once united island, found work in the south and, reclaiming citizenship, took advantage of health and other facilities available to them there. </p> <p>Many Greek Cypriots I met said they they refused to make the trip, as it would mean having a foreign state, in this case Turkey, stamp their passport on the territory of their own country; but they nonetheless welcomed the reduction of tension and the new <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2969089.stm">mingling</a> of populations, albeit on only a daily basis, that had followed. At a slower pace, but with broadly positive intent, the Greek Cypriot government removed some of the guard-posts and other obstacles erected in 1974 along the &quot;green line&quot; through the heart of Nicosia itself. Most surprisingly, given the violence and bitterness of the past, and some lethal incidents in the years prior to 2003, there have been no serious incidents of conflict of any kind reported since then in either the north or south of the island. </p> <p>Today the crossing at the <a href="http://www.nicolette.dk/cyprus/ledpal-gal.php">checkpoint</a> in central Nicosia beside the restored Ledra Palace hotel is a relaxed, even somewhat surreal, affair: a desultory guard on the Greek side checks your papers, you then walk a few hundred metres along a dusty road that skirts the old Venetian defensive walls of the city on the right, and the hotel (alongside a United Nations building) on the left; once around the corner, you encounter a Turkish guard beside a few faded propaganda posters. Apart from the odd tourist, many of those trudging between frontier-posts are Turkish Cypriots who have been on shopping visits in the south. There is little sign of military occupation, or menace, at least on this sunny weekend afternoon. This is not <a href="http://www.lifeinkorea.com/Travel2/218">Panmunjom</a>, the Allenby Bridge or cold-war-era <a href="http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2127074,00.html">Friedrichstrasse</a>. </p> <p><strong>The referendum switchback</strong></p> <p>The optimism generated by the opening of the frontiers in 2003 was compounded by the decision of the European Union to agree to the <a href="http://www.delcyp.cec.eu.int/en/eu_and_cyprus/cy_acc.htm">accession of Cyprus</a> to the EU. It was expected that in return for this agreement, both sides would make concessions: the Greeks to ensure that the entry actually took place, the Turks to ensure that their part of the island was given access to the benefits of European Union membership, and that flexibility on their part would help in the overall negotiations with Brussels on Turkish entry to the EU. </p> <p>Moreover, responding with renewed diplomatic enthusiasm to events in Cyprus, the United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan sought in a series of meetings inside the island and at international venues to broker an agreement between the two communities. This would have restored a confederal Cyprus, reduced the level of Turkish and Greek forces on the island, provided a mechanism for settling property and other issues arising from 1974 and given all the citizens of the island access to the European Union. A major obstacle to Turkish <a href="/democracy-turkey/turkey_europe_4130.jsp">entry into the EU</a>, an irritant in relations between the Islamic and western worlds, and one of the last remaining intractable conflicts in Europe, would have been resolved. </p> <p>The international community, i.e. the EU and the UN, certainly believed things were going well. It was widely assumed that everyone involved would come to their senses: the incentives were simply too great. But such optimism was to hit the rocks of political reality, within the island and within the two externally involved states: when it was put to a referendum in both parts of the island in April 2004, the <a href="http://www.unficyp.org/">Annan plan</a> was rejected by a great majority of Greeks, even as it was supported by a majority of Turkish Cypriots. </p> <p>The manner of the Greek <a href="http://www.europaworld.org/week175/great30404.htm">rejection</a> was another example (if one were needed) of the folly, self-indulgence and international irresponsibility of nationalist politics. Greek Cypriot leaders wilfully and frenetically misrepresented the terms of the Annan proposals; Greek Orthodox bishops piled in with menacing sermons; the Greek press engaged in weeks of invective and scaremongering; soldiers doing their military service were simply ordered to vote no. But pride of place for irresponsibility and mendacity must go to the president of Cyprus, <a href="http://www.presidency.gov.cy/presidency/presidency.nsf/dmlpresidentcv_en/dmlpresidentcv_en?OpenDocument">Tassos Papadopoulos</a>, a conservative politician with a less than stellar record over inter-ethnic violence who had long opposed UN reconciliation efforts and. His speech calling for a &quot;no&quot; vote, delivered just before the referendum, was a masterpiece of ingenuousness. </p> <p><strong>The Greek refusal</strong></p> <p>The underlying reasons for the Greek rejection, however, require closer attention and are of a more substantial character. The veteran socialist politician and leader of Edek, <a href="http://lyssarides.com/main.shtml">Vassos Lyssarides</a> - one of the Greek Cypriot politicians who always sought to include Turks in his party - gave me a detailed account of the ways in which he found the agreement unworkable. In a discussion at his home, whose front door is still marked by bullet-marks from the 1974 events, he told me that the UN negotiating process (involving closed meetings between top officials) failed to bring Greek Cypriot opinion with it; and that the effort to raise support for the proposal referendum process was hampered by the distribution to voters of an unwieldy and unreadable volume documenting the statements and laws. </p> <p>Greek Cypriots also <a href="http://www.un.org/Pubs/chronicle/2004/webArticles/073004_Cyprus.asp">objected</a> to the fact that the agreement would have left large numbers of Turkish troops on the island, that immigrant from mainland Turkey since 1974 and who did not count as Cypriot citizens could stay, and that the process for settling property disputes and compensation was protracted and almost certainly unworkable. </p> <p>However, beneath these specific points, and all alarmism and distortion apart, were three other important and deeply embedded factors.</p> <p>First, while in recent years the Turks have been much more reasonable than the Greeks, and <a href="/node/2271">deserve support</a> from Europe for this, Ankara simply waited too long, left it too late, in effect three decades, before making serious concessions to the Greek side.</p> <p>Second, and equally on the negative side, was the issue of insecurity, the sense that the Turkish army could, if included within any unitary agreement, occupy the whole of the island, and that, in effect, the Greek Cypriots were safer inside the EU and with the Turks remaining outside.</p> <p>Third, on the incentive side, the fact that the Greek part of Cyprus has, since 1974, and with the integration of tens of thousands of Greeks who fled the north, become a much more prosperous country, enriched by tourism, services, and, at least until EU membership imposed tighter controls, the inflow of large quantities of questionable Russian money. </p> <p>Many Turkish Cypriots feel increasingly uneasy in their own region, and resent the newly arrived central Anatolian and other immigrants. An informed local observer, whose own landlord lives in north London, tells me that about half of all Turkish Cypriots live outside the country. As any visitor can see, the north is much poorer than the south. There are far fewer ATMs and no Starbucks, in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. By the same token, it is safe to walk the streets at night. </p> <p><strong>The cost of illusion</strong></p> <p>The international consequences of the Greek &quot;no&quot; vote are serious indeed (see Alex Rondos, &quot;<a href="/democracy-turkey/article_1861.jsp">Cyprus: the price of rejection</a>&quot;, 22 April 2004). In the years, decades, perhaps centuries to come it may be seen as one of the decisive moments in that short-sighted, and bigoted, European rejection of the middle east and of the Muslim world that will lead to centuries of conflict. It is will certainly not be counted as the only such event. The French and Dutch votes on the European constitution were equally problematic, and the Islamic world plays its own due part in this mutual incomprehension: yet as an act of parochial self-indulgence, the Greek Cypriot vote of April 2004 has few equals. </p> <p> The Cyprus question has come to embitter Turkish negotiations with the EU and to be one of those questions - along with treatment of the Kurds and <a href="/article/turkey_and_history_shoot_the_messenger">recognition</a> of the Armenian genocide - which are used by opponents of Turkish accession to block progress. Yet while on the latter two issues the Turkish case is indeed a weak one, and open to much criticism, the use of the Cyprus issue and the Annan plan&#39;s failure against Turkey is partisan: a one-sided campaign by the Greek Cypriots, a complacent government in Athens and other European states (with France in the lead) that has little justification. For whatever else Ankara can be blamed, Cyprus is not a leading item on the list. </p> <p>In the aftermath of the April 2004 rejection, the island therefore <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/21/wcyprus121.xml">remains divided</a>; the Turkish mood has hardened; and the diplomats and well-wishers of the international community will require a lot of reassurance to spend even more time and credit to get involved once again in the affairs of Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots cling to the idea that the world will in the end come to them and on their terms. </p> <p>The Nicosia press is full of stories about new international initiatives. When I asked a Nicosia taxi-driver what he thought of Tony Blair, he regaled me with a stinging denunciation. Blair, he told me, was a &quot;complete failure&quot;. Why? Not because of Iraq or any such triviality. &quot;The man never set foot in Cyprus&quot;, he told me, &quot;and he never came up with new proposals...on the Cyprus question&quot;. Needless to say, this same taxi-driver told me that the whole Turkish invasion of 1974 was organised by the British and that captured British pilots flying Turkish planes had been captured. </p> <p>The expectations of a major new international initiative may prove illusory, not least because of impending parliamentary elections in Greece (<a href="http://www.angus-reid.com/tracker/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/16936">16 September 2007</a> - unless delayed by the fallout of the forest-fire <a href="/article/greece_the_political_ecology_of_disaster">disaster</a>) and presidential elections in Cyprus itself (<a href="http://www.angus-reid.com/tracker/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/16630">8 February 2008</a>) that are sharpening the political atmosphere in both countries. But the apparently more realistic view, echoed in much international coverage of the island, may also prove to be unfounded: that Cyprus in effect has been partitioned, and that the situation of today will now last, with a partially independent Greek protectorate in the south, and an almost wholly dependent Turkish colony in the north. </p> <p><strong>An unstable stability</strong></p> <p>In some ways the change of heart in Turkey <a href="/democracy_power/future_turkey/election_hope">under the AKP</a> and the increased contacts between the two communities on the island itself do mark a significant and welcome step forward. However, the Cyprus situation is rarely straightforward, and the path ahead is unlikely to be smooth. This was brought home to me in discussion with an astute former Greek Cypriot diplomat I first met in 1974. He had voted &quot;yes&quot; in the 2004 referendum, but, as he put it, &quot;only when I was sure it would lose&quot;. As he argued, the situation in Cyprus is in some respects unstable: </p> <ul><li>Turkey and Greece have far from settled their overall regional rivalry, which can flare up at any time, as the death of a Greek air-force <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/05/23/greece.crash/index.html">pilot</a> in a mock dogfight over the Aegean sea in May 2006 demonstrated</li><li>the mood of nationalist self-assertion in Turkey may have consequences for Cyprus (as it may, for different reasons, in northern Iraq)</li><li>international (<a href="http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unficyp/index.html">United Nations</a>), European and bilateral (United States, United Kingdom) capacity for controlling local events and the actions of their local allies is less than ever. </li></ul> Meanwhile, and on the island itself, with the initiative perhaps passing to a new generation of more nationalist politicians, there has since 2003 (and probably will continue to be) almost no progress on the practical issues of property, compensation, territorial readjustment and commercial freedom of movement. Some see hope in the fact that Dimitris Christofias, the leader of <a href="http://www.akel.org.cy/English/eu.html">Akel</a>, the Greek Cypriot communist party, has now broken with Papadopoulos and has announced he will run for president in the next Cypriot elections; but no one can be sure this is more than a tactical gambit, and in any case Akel itself has sunk (its progressive veneer notwithstanding) into a mire of clientilism and dogmatic verbiage such that few can believe it is capable of taking a decisive initiative. <p>To students of other inter-ethnic and regional disputes - from Kosovo to the post-Soviet &quot;frozen conflicts&quot;, this may sound all too familiar. In Cyprus too, the risks that remain, not least those caused by neglect and diplomatic complacency, may be as great. </p> Globalisation global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright Tue, 28 Aug 2007 16:30:33 +0000 Fred Halliday 34460 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Eternal Euskadi, enduring ETA https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/eta <p>The association of the Basque country with political (and often violent) conflict in the eyes of much of the world is at first sight belied by the sense of tranquil prosperity exuded by its capital, Vitoria. Yet as soon as the visitor even begins to make sense of the city&#39;s basic geographic and historical coordinates, it is impossible to avoid being confronted by the intractable nationalist dispute that has wracked the region, and Spain itself, for almost forty years. </p> <p>This city of 250,000 people is known in the Basque <a href="http://www.euskaltzaindia.net/index.asp?hizkuntza=en">language</a> as Gasteiz, just as the Basque country as a whole is Euskadi. It is capital too of Álava, the largest of the three Basque provinces; Guizpúchoa and Vizkaya [Biscay] are the others, though Basque nationalists also include within the historic (and imagined) nation the neighbouring province of Navarra and the area of southwest France, both home to Euzkerra [Basque-speakers]. This wider territory comprises for local nationalists the entirety of Hegoalde (the four provinces of southern Euskadi) and Iparralde (the northern, French area). In the weather reports of the local nationalist press, for example, this aspirational Euskadi is represented as a separate geographic unit. </p> <p>Vitoria is a long-established manufacturing centre which has expanded multiply since it was named as Euzkadi&#39;s capital under the system of regional &quot;autonomy&quot; (in British terms, &quot;devolution&quot;) that was introduced in 1978 as part of the transition to democracy to Spain after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in November 1975. The choice of Vitoria was in part by default: the other obvious candidates were excluded for reasons of political sensitivity (<a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/PATGUE.html">Guernica [Gernika</a>], the historic capital devastated by the German air-force attack in May 1937) or reluctance to grant disproportionate influence to the largest cities (the ports of San Sebastian [Donostia] and Bilbao [Bilbo]). </p> <p>Vitoria&#39;s layout is clear from any high point around the city: on a slight hill stand the churches and narrow streets of the old walled town, established by Sancho the Wise, King of Navarra, in 1181, far from the Arab armies to the south; beyond lies the urban civility of modern Spain that in turn gives way to the arid hills that lie between the cereal-growing plateau of Álava and the Bay of Biscay. The vast Cathedral of Immaculate Mary (completed only in 1973, and one of two cathedrals in Vitoria) exists among a variety of churches, whose most prominent ones are floodlit at night. </p> <p>The main square - named &quot;The White Virgin&quot; after the city&#39;s patron-saint, hosts a large memorial to the victory of the Duke of Wellington in the battle of Vitoria of 21 June 1813, a decisive moment in what for Spaniards is the &quot;war of independence&quot; (and for some others the &quot;peninsular wars&quot;). In August the same square is the site of a curious local custom, whereby everyone in the crowd lights a cigar as an angel &quot;descends&quot; from the belfry of the 14th-century St Michael&#39;s church.</p> <p>The summer is a time of regional festivals, and the papers are full of their attractions - from the annual San Fermin bull-run in Pamplona, capital of Navarra, to musical performances by Norah Jones and Ornette Coleman. This is also the season when the University of the Basque Country runs its summer school, generously supported by local and provincial Basque authorities, at which I have been invited to give a series of lectures. </p> <p>I duly begin each talk with a few words in Basque: <em>egún on deóri</em> (good day everyone). The welcome is warm, and on my second night in Vitoria - accompanied by the other teachers and students of the school - we are invited to walk a short distance along a sunny tree-lined avenue, to the house of the <em>lehendakari</em> (president of the Basque country): <a href="http://www.lehendakari.euskadi.net/r57-2340/en/">Juan José Ibarretxe</a>.</p><p><span class="pullquote_new">Fred Halliday is professor of international relations at the LSE, and<br />visiting professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies<br />(IBEI). His many books include Islam and the Myth of Confrontation (IB<br />Tauris, 2003), 100 Myths About the Middle East (Saqi, 2005), and The<br />Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology<br />(Cambridge University Press, 2005).<br />Fred Halliday&#39;s &quot;global politics&quot; column on openDemocracy surveys the<br />national histories, geopolitical currents, and dominant ideas across<br />the world.<br /><br />The articles include:<br /><br />America and Arabia after Saddam&quot;(13 May 2004)<br /><br />Iran&#39;s revolutionary spasm&quot; (1 July 2005)<br /><br />Political killing in the cold war&quot;(12 August 2005 )<br /><br />A transnational umma: myth or reality?&quot;(7 October 2005)<br /><br />Iran vs the United States - again&quot;(14 February 2006)<br /><br />A Lebanese fragment: two days with Hizbollah&quot;(20 July 2006)<br /><br />A 2007 warning: the twelve worst ideas in the world&quot;(8 January 2007)<br /><br />Sunni, Shi&#39;a and the &quot;Trotskyists of Islam&quot;(9 February 2007)<br /><br />Al-Jazeera: the matchbox that roared&quot;(25 March 2007)<br /><br />The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts&quot;(4 May 2007)<br /><br />Palestinians and<br />Israelis: a political impasse&quot;(4 June 2007)<br /><br />Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003&quot; (15 June 2007)<br /><br />Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq: three crises&quot; (22 June 2007)<br /><br />Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix&quot; ( 13 July 2007) </span></p> <p><strong>Vitoria&#39;s secret </strong> </p> <p>After the customary mass photograph in front of the <a href="http://www.lehendakaritza.ejgv.euskadi.net/r48-2286/en/contenidos/informacion/palacio_ajuriaenea/en_5481/palacio_ajuriaenea.html">presidential residence</a>, Ibarretxe welcomes us with an introduction of judicious nationalist affirmation to the place of the Basque country in today&#39;s world. The notes he strikes are familiar enough, if no doubt heartfelt, and are immediately comprehensible to the motley collection of visitors (students from elsewhere in Spain and from Latin America, as well as two academics from Turkey): the Basque nation speaks the oldest language in Europe; it is part of Europe and of the globalising world (Ibarretxe never mentions the word &quot;Spain&quot;); its future rests on the skills and education of its peoples; it is open for visitors and business alike.</p> <p>Juan José Ibarretxe is an economist who has been <em>lehendakari</em> since 1998, and it shows: he exudes a strong and well polished confidence. His party, the centre-right Eusko Alderdi Jeltzalea / Partido Nacionalista Vasco (Basque Nationalist Party / PNV) - which long predates the Spanish civil war of 1936-39 - has been the ruling party in Euskadi since the late 1970s. In recent years it has governed in coalition with two smaller leftwing, and more overtly nationalist, parties. </p> <p>Yet all is not well in the PNV, or in the Basque country or, indeed, in Vitoria&#39;s relations with the rest of Spain. Vitoria itself is far from being the bucolic urban space that it at can first appear: in the days after I was there police discovered a house in which a military commander of <a href="http://www.cfr.org/publication/9271/">Euskadi Ta Askatasuna</a> (Basque Homeland and Freedom / ETA) - the armed opposition group that has been waging a guerrilla war since the late 1960s for Basque independence - had been until recently based; its streets are regularly convulsed by the Basque practice of <em>kale borroka</em>, a form of street violence in which crowds of young people armed with Molotov cocktails attack government and commercial buildings, intimidate the general population and attack, in a clearly targeted way, the homes of those who do not support the nationalist cause. Much as ETA and its friends claim that all of this is spontaneous, a &quot;natural&quot; response to Madrid&#39;s repression, it is an open secret that the <em>kale borroka</em> is controlled and switched on or off by ETA and its allies.</p> <p>In the Spanish provincial and municipal elections of May 2007 the PNV&#39;s share of the vote in the Basque provinces fell significantly, in a sign of general tiredness with the party&#39;s long period in office, as well as of punishment for corruption. A few weeks earlier, ETA had announced it was ending a ceasefire it had <a href="http://www.eitb24.com/portal/eitb24/noticia/en/politics/effective-on-march-24-eta-cease-fire?itemId=D20829&amp;cl=%252Feitb24%252Fpolitica&amp;idioma=en">declared</a> in March 2006 with the expectation of negotiating with the Spanish government: arrests and discoveries of substantial supplies of weapons have followed, in Spain and France. The Basque country, if not all of Spain, is on alert for a new wave of ETA attacks, possibly coinciding with the summer tourist season. The morning after Ibarretxe welcomes us, the press carries reports of an attempt by rightwing politicians to prosecute him for illegal contacts with ETA; while the moderate chairman of his party, <a href="http://www.eaj-pnv.eu/popup_8_1.asp?id=3">Josu Jon Imaz</a>, has opposed Ibarretxe&#39;s plan to hold a referendum by the end of 2007 on Basque sovereignty.</p> <p><strong>The ETA conundrum</strong></p> <p>Thirty years after the reintroduction of democracy to Spain, and the granting of substantial autonomy to the Basque provinces, the central problem in the politics of Euskadi remains what it was three decades ago: the <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/eta/">armed campaign</a> waged by ETA. ETA has continued to call for the full independence of Euzkadi and has persisted in maintaining the claim to Navarra, despite the fact that everyone knows that the great majority in that province do not consider themselves Basques. As with Sinn Féin and the IRA in Northern Ireland, ETA historically mobilised political support through an allied political party, Herri Batasuna, which (again like Sinn Féin) regularly won 15%-20% of the vote: more than enough to sustain a mass political base, and provide flexible and compliant political cover, for the armed movement.</p> <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herri_Batasuna">Herri Batasuna</a> (HB) was banned before the last municipal elections, but much of its support went to another party, the Acción Nacionalista Vasca (ANV), until then a relic of a split from the PNV of the 1930s, but recently strengthened by the award of 700,000 euro in compensation for property seized during the civil war. It is hard accurately to read the results of the May regional and municipal elections in terms of ANV support, because of a high level of abstention and disqualification of candidates (for being associated with HB); but it would seem that the pro-ETA vote largely held up. In some municipalities, the ANV is now the governing party.</p> <p>Ibarretxe&#39;s problem is that while ETA is condemned by most Basques, and has suffered major blows as a result of arrests in Spain and France, the underground nationalist group continues to be able to dominate, if not control, the political agenda, not only in the Basque country but, because of the inflamed nature of the debate on ETA within Spanish politics as a whole, on the national level. His own party, the PNV, is split at least three ways: one wing favours (without saying so too loudly) Basque independence, but by democratic means; another, led by Imaz, is opposed to independence; while Ibarretxe, himself inclining against independence, believes the best way to weaken ETA is to put the question of independence to the vote, something the Imaz wing believes will only legitimate ETA&#39;s intransigence.</p> <p>This is, however, only part of the problem: for the question of ETA, and the related issue of Navarra, are at the centre of national - Spanish - controversy and denunciation. Even more than the other &quot;hot&quot; questions of contemporary Spanish politics - compulsory citizenship education in schools, gay marriage, and the &quot;law on historical memory&quot; relating to the Franco repression - the issue of ETA is the one that the opposition <em>Partido Popular</em> (Popular Party / PP) uses to berate the government. </p> <p>Although the Jose Maria Aznar government did hold talks with ETA during an earlier 441-day ceasefire in 1998-99, the position of the PP now is to denounce all negotiation and to mobilise rightwing opinion and the families of ETA victims to oppose any such talks. At the tenth anniversary celebrations of the killing by ETA of Miguel Ángel Blanco, a PP local councillor in the Basque town of Ermus, the PP sought to exclude representatives of the government and to use the ceremony to stake a partisan position. </p> <p>On his side, Spain&#39;s prime minister <a href="http://www.la-moncloa.es/Presidente/Biografia/default.htm">José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero</a> took a risk in June 2006 when he followed his cautious welcome of ETA&#39;s March announcement of a ceasefire with a pledge to <a href="http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/29/news/basque.php">open discussions</a> with the organisation&#39;s representatives; Madrid&#39;s emissaries are reported to have met five times with ETA in Geneva in ensuing months. But a bomb in the the four-storey car-park of Terminal 4 of Madrid&#39;s Barajas international airport on <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/49938b7a-980c-11db-b2ac-0000779e2340.html">30 December 2006</a>, in which two immigrant Ecuadorian workers were killed - as well as ETA&#39;s continuation by of recruitment, training, reconnaissance and intimidation - suggest that the organisation was, at best, divided on the wisdom of the ceasefire. </p> <p>The announcement of an end of the supposedly &quot;permanent&quot; ceasefire, laced with mendacious and self-serving attacks on the Zapatero government, was timed for 6 June 2007 - a week after the municipal elections, but two days short of the 441 days of the &quot;indefinite&quot; ceasefire of 1998-99. From what can be made out of the murky internal politics of the <em>abertzale</em> (the pro-ETA political world), those who genuinely wanted an exploratory dialogue with the socialist government have been overruled by a new, younger and harder, <a href="http://search.ft.com/ftArticle?queryText=ibarretxe&amp;y=0&amp;aje=true&amp;x=0&amp;id=070126000491">generation</a> of militants. The latter holds the democratic process, the tolerance of other parties and the massive social protests that their actions have occasioned within the Basque country in contempt. </p> <p><strong>Basques and Irish</strong></p> <p>Against this background, and with the polarisation of Spanish politics as a whole, it would appear that the Basque question is, once again, at an impasse. Far from having learnt the lessons of the past, or come to accept that any campaign for independence should be conducted by peaceful and constitutional means, ETA would seem to have set itself on a course of non-negotiable confrontation with Madrid. </p> <p>Allusions are often made in Spain to a possible knock-on effect of the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, and <a href="/democracy-protest/sinnfein_3068.jsp">Sinn Féin</a> has, while continuing to indulge Basque nationalism, called for such a repetition. In some senses there are analogies: the majority of the population in the province concerned clearly oppose violence and most probably do not want independence; any sense or legitimation of armed opposition ended with the death of Franco in 1975. Instead, an underground armed group has hijacked the imagination of a significant part of the younger generation, and has maintained its hold through intimidation, extortion, street violence and the systematic abuse of the autonomous linguistic and education rights acquired in the late 1970s. </p> <p>An article in the weekly supplement to <em>El Pais</em> on the town of Hernani, where the ANV runs the local council, gives a chilling, and entirely convincing portrait of a world where intimidation, fear, silence are the order of the day (see Alfredo Cáliz, <em>El silencio de Hernani</em>, 22 July 2007). </p> <p>However, the differences with Ireland are also significant. Five in particular deserve emphasis:</p> <ul><li>Spanish opinion as a whole is agitated by the Basque question and would not tolerate loss of the Basque provinces, whereas, since the 1970s at least, the mass of British opinion would have been happy to see all of Northern Ireland disappear into the Atlantic<br /><br /></li><li> There is no equivalent in Basque politics of the United States&#39;s Irish lobby, an influential but external nationalist grouping that, while indulgent of Catholic nationalism, sought a compromise and was willing to give political and financial backing to it<br /><br /></li><li>The fundamental axis of the Northern Irish conflict, from 1968 onwards, was - &quot;anti-imperialist&#39; and nationalist rhetoric notwithstanding - between two communities within Northern Ireland, whose more extreme representatives finally made a deal, not between extreme Catholic / Irish nationalism and Westminster<br /><br /></li><li> After the Provisional IRA leadership broke with the leftist &quot;Official&quot; IRA in 1969 and established hegemony over the Republican movement, there was a continuity of leadership over the ensuing decades - such that, once it became evident in the course of the 1980s that a complete victory was impossible, this leadership was able, in agonisingly slow and crab-like manner, to bring Sinn Féin and the IRA to a negotiation<br /><br /></li><li>In Ireland, the political wing, Sinn Féin, more or less controlled the military wing, the IRA; in Euskadi it would seem to be the other way around. </li></ul> <p><strong>A journey through ruins</strong></p> <p>On the last evening of my stay in Vitoria I walk to the the Basque parliament, a three-storey building on the other side of the Florida park that once housed an educational institute. In front of this democratic and constitutional edifice, with the word <em>Legebiltzarra</em> inscribed above the entrance, I recall my first visit to Euskadi in 1966, and a ride on a country bus from Bilbao to visit - in effect to pay homage to - Guernica. At that time, it was still forbidden to use or display the Basque language in public, and local officers of the Guardia Civil, Franco&#39;s thuggish police force, were all from other provinces of Spain. </p> <p>In a little bookshop down a side-street, in response to an enquiry from my side about the Basque language, the owner surreptitiously produced a little booklet, <em>Apuntos del Idioma Vasco</em>, a book I still possess. In Guernica, I visited the famous tree, one of four in the Basque country, under which in medieval times the newly created Lords of Biscay would come to swear to protect the <a href="http://www.eitb24.com/about-basque-country/fiestas-traditions/en/"><em>fueros (rights)</em></a> of the Basques. In 1483, Queen Isabel, clad in Basque national costume, visited the town.</p><p><span class="pullquote_new">Also on the Basque country&#39;s politics on <strong>openDemocracy</strong><br /><br />Diego Muro, &quot;A Basque peace opportunity&quot; ( 18 March 2006)<br /><br />Diego Muro, &quot;ETA&#39;s farewell to peace&quot; ( 23 January 2007)</span></p> <p>In 1966 some of the ruins of the 1937 attack were still visible, while the walls of the town were covered with slogans calling for the restoration of the <em>fueros</em>: these had, in fact, been lost in the 1870s, when the Basques had sided with the insurrection of the the rightwing rebel Carlists. In 1966 the <em>fueros</em> were above all a symbol of constitutional and legal resistance to Francoism. However, the outbreak of the ETA military campaign two years later changed the demands of Basque nationalism, from one demanding restoration of historic and constitutional rights, to one in which the most vocal and intransigent were demanding independence. </p> <p>In 2007, standing outside the Basque legislature in Vitoria, it was not unreasonable to conclude that, in large measure at least, the <em>fueros</em> have indeed been restored, by a sorely tried and increasingly exasperated Spanish democratic system. One of my Turkish companions observed: &quot;If the Kurds had 20% of what the Basques now have, they would be happy indeed.&quot; Such proportion, and self-restraint, are not, however, the mark of modern nationalism, in Euskadi, or anywhere else. </p> Globalisation europe global politics Fred Halliday Original Copyright Fri, 03 Aug 2007 17:09:51 +0000 Fred Halliday 34272 at https://www.opendemocracy.net