Our Ally, the Enemy

It’s not exactly a formal pact between the United States and Al Qaeda, but no one honestly thinks it’s anything really different. Either it’s a rough triangles play, or it’s sheer insanity.

Time won’t tell, but it will hint, as the intervention proceeds. If it makes things worse, before guttering out into indecision, stalling resolution, then it might make sense. In any case, it’s big.

(Drew M. at AoS is a seriously hard-core rough triangles guy: “We should help whichever side is losing at any given moment but only to the extant that it enables them to fight on to take and inflict more casualties. There’s no scenario where one side winning helps us.”)

June 14, 2013admin 15 Comments »
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15 Responses to this entry

  • Thales Says:

    Sooo…the rough triangle is the American people, the US government and…whomever the USG is fighting, right? 😉


    Posted on June 14th, 2013 at 2:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • To the Good People of Syria… | The Reactivity Place Says:

    […] I see that British expat cult leader Nick Land had nearly simultaneous and similar thoughts to my own… must be his powerful mind-control techniques. <oohhmm> […]

    Posted on June 14th, 2013 at 6:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    No rough triangles, alas. Assad’s days have been numbered by USG definitively for several months. Frankly, I’m surprised he’s lasted this long, which he wouldn’t have without some significant Iranian and Russian assistance. It’s Escalation Of Force from here on out – whatever help the Extremist Sunni Insurgents needs to end the regime they’ll get. That’ll be training, materiel, air power, and propaganda. Their blood, our everything else.

    The real ‘rough triangle’ theory is actually that Russia (and to a lesser extent, China), bog down the US and sap our focus and resources in these kinds of pointless, draining skirmishes, and they help whichever guy’s on the top of our target list. The benefit for them is not only frustrating us and making money selling to our enemies, but that they establish themselves as patrons of the damned – any leader out there who thinks that the US is handling him too rough also has an alternative regime or two to run to for help. That’s how China’s winning Africa. Correction, that’s how they already won it, game’s over.

    Anyway, the play in Syria is to neutralize Iran’s regional hegemony ambitions, and especially to cut them off from their interests in the Mediterranean (and, long shot, to pressure them further to slow their nuclear weapon project). The road to thwarting and pressuring Tehran runs through Damascus, because then you disturb the link between the Persians and Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas in one blow, and disconnect their most important lines of communication. Yeah, just like Libya, Al Qaeda and the Wahhabis will probably benefit the most, and no one actually cares about the Syrians one way or the other, but the Iranian pear is too juicy not to pick.


    Handle Reply:

    Oh, also, I forgot to mention, there’s been a bit of a rapprochement between USG and Ankara lately, and the Turks and Iranians are natural rivals. Turkey isn’t currently blocked from extending its influence int he Southern Levant by regimes that also pose potential second-front threats as Persian Proxies. With Assad out of the picture, the Turks could potentially dominate the Northeast Mediterranean. It’s no coincidence they’re helping the insurgents communicate.


    admin Reply:

    I agree entirely insofar as deliberate strategic decision-making is concerned. The more open-ended topic is whether rough triangles ‘strategies’ can emerge spontaneously — or through ‘providence’.

    ADDED: Take a step back into the rough triangles idea. The highest-level strategic objective is not to prevail, but to escalate and sustain a conflict whilst positioned as the outer third. The single most indicative sign of such a strategy is support switching, always from the stronger to the weaker antagonist, in order to re-balance against the prospect of resolution.

    Now look at the Bush-Obama history of intervention. Few would want to argue that the Bush II administration made a deliberate strategic option in favor of the Shi’a forces in the region, but there can be little doubt that in fact the US invasion and occupation of Iraq strengthened the Shi’a bloc (from Iran through to Lebanon), by eliminating a Sunni regime, and installing a Shi’a one in its place. The Afghan intervention reinforced this pattern, although much less significantly. The much-noted ‘Shi’a Crescent’ scarcely existed in 2002, except as a projection. By 2007 it was an unmistakable reality.

    The impending Obama intervention is quite clearly the exact rough triangle complement of Bush’s. Outside this framework, it can only be interpreted as an inconsistent reversal, either remedying a prior error, or making a new one (or perhaps both). Yet, as a rough triangle re-balancing, it appears perfectly consistent, ‘designed’ to nourish and prolong an antagonism. As a matter of historical and political science, it looks clumsy and directionless, but as an expression of ‘pure’ strategy it conforms tightly to expectations.


    Handle Reply:

    Not a pretty picture of the future. Every administration clumsily blundering in an effort to undo the geopolitical results of the previous administration’s clumsy blundering.

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Clumsy blundering on an ever increasing scale. America entering her senescence at far too young an age, leaving her (the world’s) children ever more puzzled, bitter, and alienated. The American Empire ends not in a blaze of glory, but in months of painful visits to the nursing home.

    fotrkd Reply:

    Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent today, doesn’t go quite as far as rough triangles, but he begs the question (and, not surprisingly, contradicts everything Cameron has been uttering over recent days).

    admin Reply:

    @ Handle
    On the Turkish angle, this is worth looking at. (It contains this little gem in passing: “Then the region collapsed – some call it the ‘Arab Spring'”.)


    Posted on June 15th, 2013 at 12:12 am Reply | Quote
  • Mike Says:

    So this is what the Iran-Iraq war felt like. Snicker. Get the popcorn.

    The Cathedral had a devil of a time with that one. They were horrified when two regimes they liked – Soviet-client Iraq and post-Shah Iran – went to war, but they completely melted down when the US gubment started helping whichever one was behind, thus prolonging the war and probably making a buck to boot.

    The Iran-Contra scandal (the Contras being another group loathed by the Cathedral, for committing the unspeakable heresy of being anti-communist) was therefore the political manifestation of the Cathedral’s animus at getting rolled. (Does anyone think that Iran-Contra would have been a story if the Contras had been communists?)

    The Iran-Iraq war may very well qualify as one of the few comprehensive Cathedral losses I can think of. Too bad it didn’t directly involve the Cathedral, but we’ll take our wins where we can get them, I suppose.


    admin Reply:

    The Iran-Iraq War was the occasion for Kissinger’s rough triangles classic: “It’s too bad they both can’t lose.” Retrospectively, it’s noteworthy that this phrase was already being applied to a Sunni-Shi’a conflict (from outside).


    Posted on June 15th, 2013 at 3:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • anarco-reactionary Says:

    “Retrospectively, it’s noteworthy that this phrase was already being applied to a Sunni-Shi’a conflict (from outside).”

    hmm, makes one wonder how we (america) are being played from outside.


    Posted on June 16th, 2013 at 2:11 am Reply | Quote
  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    The “cold civil war” in America is way too one-sided to fit the “rough triangle” model.


    admin Reply:

    If one was to try to shoe-horn it in, who would be the outer third party? It’s a sufficiently intriguing thought-experiment to pursue, but ARs musing doesn’t rely on it. America could be ‘played’ in an enveloping triangle by constituting, as a whole, one pole of an antagonism manipulated from an outside third.


    Handle Reply:

    Cui bono? Who wins from keeping the cold civil war going? Obviously the top X% has done the best to elevate themselves to the truly global empire aristocrats. As has the whole “Cathedral Class” (? – Analogue to Irving Kristol’s American “New Class”?) – and I’ll include myself in the lower reaches of the comfortable part of that set, kind of like Derb’s “Lower Lower Upper Middle Class”.

    And I think one cannot deny that, materially (if not culturally or ethically), the bottom Y%, especially Blacks and Mexicans (and immigrants in general), are doing much better than the Cathedral-suppressed counterfactual. The elite Blacks and Mexicans (actually elite-anything-except-white-hetero-males) are doing orders of magnitude better.

    So, is the “outer-third” is just Moldbug’s OBV alliance, keeping the white middle class at war within itself over ridiculous distraction politics?

    In other news, the proposition that Syria is really about Iran (not Russia or China) is that Russia and China sell arms and ‘consult’ (as they always do for anybody), but Iran actually send boots on the ground.


    Posted on June 16th, 2013 at 5:40 am Reply | Quote

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