Tag Archives: ISIS

Putin Dreaming

A while ago I hazarded a prediction on the future of ISIS — one based solely on telling a story. It was from a mind adept at predicting plot-lines and surprises in stories. (Here) Today I will venture again into the world of predicting the future. Or, at the very least, the future that I believe with almost certainty figures in the daydreams of one Vladimir Putin.

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The daydream starts with the Kurds. See, the Kurds have always been somewhat close to Russia since Turkey was NATO and the Kurds and the Turks don’t get along (to say the least). Russia has certainly supported Kurdish separatists ( or terrorists, depending on who you ask) In fact, I would say that Putin already veiws the Kurds as a trump card to be played against Turkey.  I believe that the imminence of a Turkish intervention in northern Syria to ‘establish a safe zone’ but in reality to eliminate a budding Kurdish state on the Turkish border was the real cause of the recent Russian intervention in Syria. With the Russians running around and particularly bombing northern Syria, how would the Turkish army move in? Today, that would almost certainly involve going to war against Russia.

Since there are no ethnic Russians in Turkey, I have seen it assumed that Putin could not pull off in Turkey what he did in Ukraine. But, there are somewhere around 10 million Kurds in Tukey. Putin could put advisers in Syrian Kurdistan and send in Kurds. I think, under this hypothesis, that Ukraine (while part necessity from Putin’s point of view) was also a dress rehearsal for Putin’s plan for Turkey.

So Putin (who has probably long dreamed the daydream that I will get to) wakes up one day and realizes that it might (oh so infinitesimally small odds) be possible. (Due in some large degree to Erdogan.) The daydream requires a knockdown dragged out Turkish civil war. So Putin dreams thus:

The Syrian civil war and the Turkish unrest whirl together. The Turkish border (in the Kurdish regions at least) is currently well secured. But in the event of even a large scale uprising, the border would become more porous. Putin continues to dream. He dreams of massive civil unrest. The different pieces of the Turkish state finally tears themselves apart. The Kurds are only one piece of a messy puzzle. The Alevi are considered Heterodox and Shia. There are roughly as many of them as there are Kurds. They certainly know what happened to the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek Christians in Turkey. There are the strict, zealous Sunni Turks and there are fairly Westernized almost European Turks… No country is even remotely as monolithic as it seems from across the sea. So Putin dreams of a civil war in Turkey like that on Syria. A mess with no on in charge. (And you would have to be very sheltered to think that Putin would not happily assist Turkey down this road of self destruction.)

And then, for two reasons, one altruistic and one practical, he would intervene. Both reasons are such that the international community would have a hard time condemning,.the Russians seize the Bosporus and the strait of Dardanelles. The practical reason is to protect international commerce and Russian military and civilian access to the Mediterranean.

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Does anyone know what is right by the Bosporus?

That’s right… Istanbul… also known at one point as Constantinople. What is there? That is where Putin’s dream lives. The Patriarchate is there, also the Hagia Sophia is there. (The Hagia Sophia is the oldest Cathedral in Christendom, and it is currently owned by the Turks. ) Why, someone must protect the few Christians left in Turkey… Someone must be a shield to the Patriarchate. If that someone liberated the patriarchate from the Turks….

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And so, Putin dreams on. He dreams of Charlemagne. The one who liberates the Patriarchate (so long as they at least pretend to Orthodoxy)  could be crowned Emperor. Not just any Emperor, but Roman Emperor — something the Russians have always been keen on. And Putin would be crowned in a renovated Hagia Sophia which would again become the seat of the Patriarchate.

Oddly enough, the world might be better off with an Emperor. Less pretense all around (since the Russians already basically are an empire, as are the Chinese, and Iran…)  It would be ironic, or poetic depending on how you look at it if this had the result I would write into a novel. I suspect that having an Orthodox emperor, and a free Patriarchate of Constantinople would breathe fresh life back into the some of the very countries whose souls were slaughtered by the Soviets (Bulgaria springs to mind).

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What would Putin do if he had this in mind? What would have to happen in a novel to make this even slightly believable?

  1. Prop up the Kurds
  2. Get Assad (or at least the Alawites… Assad is technically disposable) on the same page as the Kurds
  3. Generally provoke the Turks 
  4. Giggle about Erdogan 
  5. Start making noises about the Hagia Sophia (To signal to the Patriarchate that he was looking out for them)
  6. Set international precedent that seizing territory to protect military assets is something that everyone just complains about (no one actually does anything).
  7. Establish Russian presence  in the Alawite region of Syria (soon to be part of the Empire)… and invite all the oppressed Christian and Shia communities to relocate to there… that practically makes him a good guy
  8. Get seen in churches a lot
  9. ?

Well, that’s all for now… What does a powerful man dream of? More power and more prestige… maybe more on the topic later… such as Putin the intelligent and cautious… 🙂

 

Vanity

It has been so long since blogging, so long since writing what I wanted to write that I am full up of ideas and don’t have the time or patience to write them all out, so I made a list, a list of things that are true.

1) The grass is green.

2) The snow is white.

2b) The snow is crystalline, therefore purified, water.

3) The night sky is black.

4) The tyrannical impulse of the nannies in this world is almost to the point that I could be permanently branded a racist for points 2 and 3 above.

5) Old people being nostalgic inspires exactly zero young people.

6) To restate 5, your ‘good old days’ never existed.

7) I am sick to exhaustion of people telling me ‘Conservative should do X, Y or Z’ or “don’t enjoy Star Wars, it is ‘unredeemed Pagan’”. We enjoy Star Wars because it is a riot while ‘The Children of Hurin’ is soul-crushingly sad. As a corollary, those pimple-faced wimps that everyone complains about, that de-masculinization of the American man, not sure I buy the premise. I think the reality may be that in the past the weak died, and now we can feed everyone. I think its possible that the only way to have a society of a bunch of really tough people is if 10% of the population dies every few years to plagues and wars. I for one am willing to make the trade. Also, a lot of those ‘pimple faced kids’ care more about life and joy and their liberty that you old curmudgeons who want to dictate what they can enjoy or say or do ever feel.

8) Is it any wonder that no young person wants to be an adult? The country, the church, the communities are all run by the ancient who treat them with disdain and dismiss them as incompetents. There is almost no place in this world, where the old hold on to power with the grasp of a miser, for the young to stretch out and be at liberty to be their own adults.

9) Increased oil production drives down prices, even on a global scale.

10) Given the chance, the free market will kill the cartel every time.

11) Liquid water is mighty wet stuff.

12) Accusations of any crime must be supported by evidence. The magnitude of the accusation carries no weight outside the kangaroo courts of tyrants.

13) False accusations that ruin someone’s life should have weighty penalties attached, otherwise the witch-hunters point at anyone they don’t link, shout ‘Witch’ and the innocent burn at the stake. (See: ‘Salam’, and ‘Duke Lacrosse’)

14) That I believe that 12 and 13 applies to accusations of rape as well as any other accusation of any crime apparently makes me a rape-denier or worse rape-apologist to some people.

15) Irrespective of what people in 4 and 14 think, the truth matters.

15b) There can be no such thing as a lie told to illustrate the truth. Its a lie,                      and  it cannot point to the truth.

16) Eventually, every worldview, every set of beliefs that is not founded upon truth will itself be crushed into tiny fragments by the truth.

17) Sometimes 16 takes a very long time.

18) There are whales in our oceans and trees in forests because of the exploitation of oil.

19) Wind farms slaughter birds and bats.

20) A philosophy of truth that does not include the ability to communicate that truth is fundamentally useless for science: the mass adoption of such a philosophy will return science to the black magic of a priestly caste, i.e. the state that Christian men found science in to begin with.

21) Andrew Klavan is almost always right.

22) If you are unmarried and without children you must put massive effort into serving others, otherwise you are becoming more selfish and self-centered every day.

23) Having a family is sanctifying, because you are constantly required to surrender your wants to the needs of your family: and this is very good.

24) Babies are great, but toddlers are awesome.

25) This morning Leonidas was saying ‘stumble trip. Stumble trip…’ (while moving his feet up and down) ‘WHATS THAT??’ (while pointing) and then in a near roar ‘A BEAR!!!!!’ ‘Raaaaar!’ (With his hands up like bear claws)… Toddlers are awesome.

26)  I probably made 20 paper airplanes over the weekend, at the incessant request for ‘Airpane… airpane’ from a little boy holding yet another flat piece of paper… He even threw a couple such that they flew a little…Toddlers are awesome.

27) The campaign against ebola amounts to nothing more than whack-a-mole… every time the disease lets up a little, we scale back our efforts as if trying to ensure it becomes endemic to the region. If it starts to recede, we should be doubling or tripling our efforts in order to stomp it out of existence…

28) Fighting terrorists should be done the same way, when they are losing, hit them even harder until they are crushed. The goal of campaigns against Ebola and terrorism isn’t containment, the goal is elimination.

29) Ebola doesn’t have to get out of control, it merely has to outlast us. It (obviously) doesn’t know it, but if it lasts long enough those socities will break down entirely and then it will explode out of control.

30) The terrorists, on the other hand, know this full well. ISIS is the ‘exploding out of control’ phase.

31) The grass is green.

Let us end with a fantastic poem from Chesterton.

Ecclesiastes: G. K. Chesterton

There is one sin: to call a green leaf grey,

Whereat the sun in heaven shuddereth

There is one blasphemy: for death to pray,

For God alone knoweth the praise of death.

There is one creed: ‘neith no world-terror’s wing

Apples forget to grow on apple-trees.

There is one thing is needful – everything-

The rest is vanity of vanities.

 

PS. If you want to argue about any of these… I’d be happy to do combat in the comments.

ISIS again

I promise, sometime I will blog more frequently and it will be about something other than ISIS… but for now: read.

Saudi Arabia is not the source of ISIS, it’s the group’s primary target.

ISIS’ core objective is to restore the caliphate (an Islamic empire led by a supreme leader), and because Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of Islam and the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina, ISIS’ road to the caliphate lies through the kingdom and its monarchy. Indeed, ISIS has even launched a campaign against Saudi Arabia, called qadimun, or “we are coming” to take over the country.

Here is a piece discussing what I mentioned many months (I think) ago. I believe that ISIS is run by some men who are at least canny and clever and sly. Perhaps they are brilliant too, but they don’t really need to be brilliant. It doesn’t take a brilliant leader to smash things. We should absolutely be taking ISIS at its word when it says that it is restoring the caliphate. THe article above points out the massive refugee recruiting pool, but not as clearly as Spengler at PJ Media:

There are always lunatics lurking in the crevices of Muslim politics prepared to proclaim a new caliphate; there isn’t always a recruiting pool in the form of nearly 14 million displaced people (11 million Syrians, or half the country’s population, and 2.8 million Iraqis, or a tenth of the country’s population). When I wrote about the region’s refugee disaster at Tablet in July (“Between the Settlers and Unsettlers, the One State Solution is On Our Doorstep“) the going estimate was only 10 million. A new UN study, though, claims that half of Syrians are displaced. Many of them will have nothing to go back to. When people have nothing to lose, they fight to the death and inflict horrors on others.

With this  recruiting tool: the water and food crisis makes these men realize that even if everyone has 10% of the food that one man needs in a day, he only has to kill (or displace) 10 people and take their food…  Its a snowball. And that is what ISIS wants. To be a caliphate, they need Mecca and Medina and money (three M’s). It seems to me that the best strategy to get these three things is to intentionally inflame the Sunni-Shia tension to add nucleating points for the regional chaos. The Saudi’s may be able to stand at their borders and keep ISIS out, but if they are dealing with a Shia insurgency in their east (over their oil fields, see last post) then, maybe, ISIS can come in too. They figure that if the whole region goes up in flames and slaughter, the Saudi’s will fall eventually. Then, they just have to be in the best position to pick up the pieces (Mecca, Medina, and the oil fields). If they keep up winning battles, holding territory and attracting the angry, hungry, and violent young men in the region, they might just manage.

What should we do about it? Well you should go read the Spengler piece. There doesn’t seem to be much that can be done, given the fundamental issues of food, water, population and violent tribal heritage. I’d say start arming the Kurds in earnest, and arm Israel even more (two stable and genuinely friendly societies on the edges of the coming insanity) and don’t pick one set of evil people to support… Playing favorites among a morass of evil and capricious potential allies seems to be insanity. (Like thinking ‘Hey, lets help Assad… he will massacre the ISIS folks if he can…) I’d also add, stand strong with our long time (though not nice at all…) allies the Saudis: mostly because they are sitting on the caliph-maker and have no interest in being caliphs. Its better if they have it than Al-Baghdadi.

A Map to Think About

Someday I may take up blogging more regularly again, but for now here is an interesting map. Bonus points to whoever can guess why I think it is important in the comments.  It is from a site with lots and lots of awesome maps: The Gulf/2000 Project that I came across looking for the information needed to make (poorly) my own version of this map. But they made it, so I don’t have to.

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ISIS and the Caliphate

Warning: a non-expert, speculative discussion follows… although given the given the nature of prognostication, I have as good of a chance predicting the future as anyone.

The current turmoil in the middle-east, essentially a region wide war of different Muslim countries, entities and groups against each other, was, I suspect, inevitable. I think this would have been the case even if America had not invaded Iraq. While discussing that ISIS wants to build a caliphate, no one seems to be interested in the fact that the conquest of richer and weaker and non-Muslim neighbors is how the first caliphate was built. The problem now for ISIS is that if you look at the edges of the Islamic world, all of its neighbors are either dirt poor or much more powerful than an organization like ISIS.

From Wikipedia

There is pretty much nothing to loot in the Congo, and who in their right mind would invade China? Sure Europe is getting weaker and weaker, but it still wouldn’t be very easy to wreak up the place and steal millions of dollars of cash like ISIS just did in Mosul. But there is this convenient catch for barbarians like ISIS. All they need is an ‘apostate’ Muslim (the definition of which is fungible) to attack and they can claim legitimacy to their members. And, behold, there are numerous weak, fractured and unspeakably oil rich areas that ISIS can attack. Places so fractured that the army just leaves when ISIS attacks its second largest city. And conveniently, Iraq is run by ‘apostates’ and can therefore be pillaged. Iraq has oil, which is a tyrant’s dream. Every kingdom and petty tyrant in that region is fabulously wealthy based on a resource that they did not invent how to refine or use, did not mine, and do not have to exert any effort or risk to gain. They have this money because they were ruling their areas at the right moment. Now, ISIS simply wants in on the money and the power.

I will venture to predict events based on how I would write a novel from this point. I think that Europe and the US (though certainly hated and on their hit list) are back-burner hatreds. I suspect very much that ISIS has its eyes on the Saudis. I suspect that what ISIS wants is not really to conquer the Shi’a areas of Iraq, but rather to light the fuse to the Sunni-Shi’a bomb, and taking advantage of the chaos eat up Medina and Mecca. The Saudi’s main source of Islamic clout comes from controlling who gets to go to Mecca on the Hajj, and their main source of international clout is their oil. Without those, no one would care about them. If ISIS really wants a caliphate, they need Mecca. If the Shi’a in Saudi Arabia and the Shia’ in Iraq and Iran help explode the Sunni-Shi’a bomb, the Saudi’s would probably half-fall like Assad, and now Maliki, clinging to power in regions of their territory. They would be fighting Shi’a separatists and ISIS on opposite sides of their country. Now, if and when ISIS takes Mecca and Medina, while controlling some of the oil in Iraq, they will only be short a Caliph and in all other respects they could count as a Caliphate.

If I were an Intelligence official (or even someone who had/wanted the credentials of an expert on the region) I’d be looking out for which person(s) the leaders of ISIS could install as Caliph and control as a puppet. (Perhaps their current leaders (strange that in the news stories there never seems to be a named leader) could choose among themselves, but that would most likely lead to ISIS factions fighting each other.) I think what they need is someone who’s lineage would give them broader Sunni credibility. I havn’t the faintest idea of who that might be, but there must be some candidates out there. Once they have oil money, Mecca and a Caliph: that is when the Western world is in trouble.

There, that’s my fanciful prediction, now back to the salt mines of my dissertation.