Galip İsen: reading the mocha stains

Posted by on February 22nd, 2011
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Galip Hoca also recommend his article for this post, E.S.

as the globalization of capitalist-world-economy gained impetus in the last few decades, the role of the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia, or to put in another term, the oil rich muslim countries, in the process has been reduced in rapid gradation almost exclusively to the production of petroleum and some related products (1), anti-israeli rhetoric and a vague antagonism toward the west in general.

it is true that the world economy is still primarily dependent on oil for energy. thus the countries of the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia that continue to sit on a huge fortune they did nothing to earn or develop, gain a significance added to the bleary historic role their geography has afforded. the preconception is, we have it, they have to buy it, and they have to pay to buy it. and indeed after iraq (2), paying for petroleum has been understood, as well as proved to be to be the wisest way of obtaining it.

as all commodities, petroleum, too, is subject to the vagaries and vicissitudes of the market. if its price rises exorbitantly, world economy stutters and limps, demand falls, and some balance is restored. if the price goes down, consumption increases and so on. such undulations equally effect ahmadinajad?s iran or qaddafi?s libya (3) as they do the pro-western sheikdoms and the strange land of saud. oil as a commodity. whatever its ascribed ?strategic? values, obeys the rules of demand, supply, the butterfly effect, etc.

in such conditions, whether the wave of jasmine scented insurrections bring forth dedicated western oriented liberals or vengeful radicals to power in thle lands of the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia, which seems less probable as conservative, hard-core but soft step islamic semi-regimes are the likelier alternative, any attempt to revive the spirit of the 1973 embargo, when, in the aftermath of the yom kippur war, oil was used as a ?weapon? by what later became opec in an embargo, is bound to be self defeating since the producers in the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia have no other economy to speak of but oil revenues. if sales or prices drop, they are bound to condemn their populations to starvation (4). one further fact is that quite a bundle of wealth from oil revenues is invested in western businesses whose profits are vulnerably linked to the price of the gas in the tank.

so far, nothing new, all statistics… there is noticeable apprehension in the western media as well as excitement about a measure of democracy that is expected to rise from slumber but a cold blooded analysis thus reveals that at least as far as energy goes, the peril is not lethal.

now come the hairy questions… the arguments above are built on the rationale that:

a) the revolutionary surge in the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia must because they cannot not adversely effect the global flow of energy;

b) there has to be some disquietude in western administrations that a takeover by anti-western forces instead of the current ?relatively moderate? governments may disturb that flow, especially considering the israel factor.

then;

the core capitalist western forces in the world-economy are/should be primarily concerned with keeping their ?rationale? safe; i.e., persuading the new power elites of the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia that trade is good, and what is good for trade is good for all.

only after that premiss is established, the industrialized powers are likely to infiltrate the ideational processes of the new administrations and enroll them as allies. there will be political bargainings, dropping the gauntlets, close-shave deals and a whole new array of bribe dispensing and slightly more smoothly paved alleys of corruption to build.

lo and behold, the most functional method of doing that is establishing some sort of a quasi-democracy al?la turca, available also in ex-sovietic dictatorships, former yugoslavia and in its best current form, greece. translated, what is best for now, is an internally strong state structure, governed by whomever as long as stability is established (5), with a demonstrable, albeit frequently violated rule of law, regularly held elections that pass as symbol of democracy, privatization, a mock enfranchisement of the underdogs, the poor, women, labor ? represented, of course, by trade union bosses.

actually, that was a solution long endeared by the globe-engineers of the u.s.: about a decade ago, the nuclear idea of reshaping the so called ?broader middle east and north africa? was conceived and launched as an ?initiative? by george ?dubya? bush himself, only to be shelved because in the face of iraq and afghanistan, washington did not see much benefit in alienating the despots of the region who hardly took the slightest shine to giving up even an iota of their absolute power over their subjects and treasuries.

once again, the bmenai was nothing original. america?s post world war II policy originally envisaged the political and cultural modernization of the third and further worlds, as well as introducing technical innovation into their economies. comparatively speaking, both failed but the underdeveloped societies rode on capitalism?s prosperity train to stations they could never have arrived flying solo ? not everything that sounds bad is always bad is it?

now lessons have been learnt. the zillions of dollars that flowed into boris yeltzin?s vodka glass after the fall of the iron curtain taught america and its allies to teach (or lead) nascent quasi and pseudo democracies to finance their own transitions (with the possible exception of greece) or at least, profit from assistance rendered.

currently, the obvious problem in the case of the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia is the lack of any immediate technological or productive potential and a mediocre people-material. whereas, during the long ride of the prosperity train, a peripheral, hand-me-down economy has flourished in second or third tier countries around the core where the absence of easy western money from oil or having befriended israel as in the case of egypt, has dictated it.

so, the question is how to set the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia on a track to some sort of a viable economy that does not spurt from desert sand. remember, china became a world giant, instead of a world class hoodlum state through western investments that still are the mainstay of its capacity.

are we then looking forward to some sort of western capital infusion in the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia? more advanced technological investments and gradually, more education and comparative liberation? a serious boost for take off, possibly attached to some proviso that will safeguard israel, even though it may allow the new leaders much rhetorical leeway in deriding tel aviv to appease the pious masses at home?

or…

are we to expect more cold war style tactics to drive the new leaders, radical islamists or plain dictators of the old school, false multi-party corrupt political classes etc., into a corner where, true to tradition, they rob their own lands and peoples as they preload more of god and islam in their politics and on their tongues?

hopes for a working, lasting, accomplished democracy in the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia is dependent on a significant condition: the emergence and preponderance of an educated, functional bourgeois class which is fairly endowed capital-wise or organized well enough to raise it free of state influence and interference. if any factor puts the levante, mesopotamia, maghreeb, saheel, arabia and persia at a more advantageous position compared to countries like turkey, it is this reserve-elite class; barred heretofore from access to effective power, not allowed to function unhampered socially and culturally but nevertheless savvy in world affairs and able both in knowledge-power and numbers to constitute a managerial class that is secularly oriented without being alienated from their islamic cultural background.

not a sure bet under present conditions but still a viable option. and certainly the best for all (6)… also one that at least some in the west are/should be working on.

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(1) the latter rarely on a scale to compete with the petro-chemical industries of the techno-economically developed world, unless that industry is ?delegated? to that particular country.

(2) garfucius belongs to the clan of analysts who believe the war in iraq was not made for oil but once it was, why leave it to get wasted?

(3) provided those two can hold on to the helm… at the time of writing, the colonel of camels was reportedly wrapping up his tent to leave the country… the reference in this text is to the sad fact that however and whenever he and iran?s chief executioner ungraciously exit the scene, they will have left a dirty mark in historical structures they could somehow touch.

(4) any selective breach of a hypothetical embargo, for instance, selling to china while depriving the rest of the major economies is also basically counter productive because the buyer?s economy is dependent on the wellness of the economies of those denied the energy. like liquids in combined vessels, eventually, total global activity levels out.

(5) has anybody ever complained about not being able to buy iranian oil from ahmadinajad? that is stability…

(6) this class is likely to include some non-muslim elements, which is not to say their cultural background is not significantly shaped by the influence of islamic elements. in the longer run, this is probably the only class that can be expected to forebear and let others pass in a proper, laissez faire democracy which in all likelihood, only they can establish.

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