By James Clark
In the aftermath of the horrendous terrorists attacks in Paris in which over 100 lives were tragically lost it is understandable that restraint has once again become a difficult concept to maintain. Following Putin‘s step into the breach Western leaders will almost certainly begin to itch over whether, or perhaps when, it is to follow suit. The mandate for increased intervention, has now almost certainly been provided. Bombing and drone strikes are likely to be presented, perhaps even celebrated, through a multitude of equally questionable and deceiving grounds of argument varying from domestic security to humanitarianism and to any other rhetorical favourite that can be found in-between.
The dismal outcomes of military intervention in the Middle East; the vast destabilisation, the loss of innocent life but to name a few continue to remain very much on the side-lines when it comes to the political and foreign policy decision making process. Churned out once again into an approach of the hands clean and the quick fix will be the go to bombing and outsourced military campaigns; the tried, tested and failed measures that continue to chase the grotesque failings of the past.
Indeed, citing and relating the West‘s blunderbuss approaches from the past to the current isn‘t the most strenuous of tasks. The support of one‘s “enemies enemy” has continually proven to be folly, supporting a vague ally on the basis that they oppose a clear opponent at that moment of time has often done little more than to shunt an even greater issue into the near distant future. The less subtle approach, the good old “if you want something done do it yourself” course of action, the boots on the ground that successfully stamped out military opposition, came of course only at the mere cost of absolute destruction, destabilisation and mass civilian casualty.
Despite the plethora of empirical examples prescribing against such actions, power play and intervention continue to remain the West‘s first port of call in the Middle East. The pouring of arms and money behind groups who‘s true interests we barely understand, whether it be the Mujahedeen of yesterday or the Kurdish Paramilitaries of today, the support of one despot or the military removal of another, ensures that the source of strength for the next decades evil continues to directly originate from the futile attempts to crush the decades prior.
Forged from such questionable debates of moral relativity come both blunt solutions and dubious recipients of varying levels of support. When such a response is viewed within the context of centuries of bitter and ingrained cultural conflict, the worsened outcomes we witness surely become somewhat unsurprising to even the most vague of observers. The question expectedly raised from such a conclusion is equally evident, what path should be taken in place? The answer, the only credible first step to peace and regional stability, is an unrelenting drive for the raising of prosperity of a region which must be the first step to take in quashing the parasites that leech off of societies most despicable features.
Indeed even the starkest of cultural divisions, are at the very least aggravated by stark economic division and destitution. Sadly the West‘s influence in such credentials can be traced to the aftermath of the First World War when, drawn as simply as it sounds as straight lines in the sand, were the geographical contours of the Middle East we observe today. Supported and placed into rule were figures favourable to the West‘s relatively new found reliability on Crude Oil, the cultural landscape of the region was fundamentally ignored through a mixture of ignorance and blatantly biased economic interest, the seeds for today’s conflict were undoubtedly at least partially sewn and cultured by the vested interests of the West in the early decades of the twentieth century.
One must also consider that discussion a century prior to this day regarding the prospects for peace in Western Europe, were likely to be spoken in similarly pessimistic tones. With a better tomorrow prioritised healed were the scars of the abhorrence of conflict, economic interests were unified in an upward direction, vast swathes of spare capacity were employed, workers and resources alike. Indeed even capacity in its very self were forged, a lesson of vast importance when we consider the economic make up of the Middle East within the context of where, if predictions are to be believed, the ability to rely upon oil supply and revenue are likely to decline.
Perhaps even the neoliberal economic institutions, should bear in mind in their prescriptions both the inherent development of the developed economies in which they essentially represent, and the gains that have and can be made when the baseless obsession with price stability and fiscal “responsibility” were left to one side and human and societal development were given priority. Perhaps lessons can be learned from the remarkable success of Chinese development, in which through a mixed economic system the real economy and the productive sector has witnessed unprecedented growth lifting millions out of starvation and illiteracy, an undoubted feat in relation to any course of action taken upon the advice of the IMF or the World Bank. Cohesion across a thoroughly culturally diverse and vast region has been ensured, albeit through culturally ingrained authoritarian means – a feature that regardless of Western “morality” does have an element of practicality in relation to the societal structure of the Middle Eastern region – especially in the short to medium term domain.
Thus maybe if the economic development of the Middle East was encouraged or assisted in place of the toxic concoction of military bombardment and market fundamentalist “expertise” the scope for hatred and heinous acts would have less of an ability to flourish bereft of its position within the environment of destitution and division in which it fosters. From the horrific acts of individuals involved in Paris, must come a Western response of an absolute polar opposite, not one akin to the past that is fundamentally in line with such a degradation of the very nature of humanity. The response to atrocity, must indeed be one of progression.
Image: “Peace for Paris” by Jean Jullien