Things Fall Apart

Pax Americana is easy to laugh at, but so — no doubt — was Pax Britannica and even Pax Romana. Imperial order isn’t a tidy or pretty business. It was, however, something, and it’s very rapidly ceasing to be.

Powerful nonlinear dynamics are triggered at certain critical points of systemic transformation. The positive network effects that induced powers great and small to buy into a credible world order switch into reverse, with every defection making the value of continued adherence less convincing to everyone else. In Europe and East Asia the defection dominoes have yet to cascade, and the slow work of fundamental subversion proceeds at a misleadingly languid pace. In the Middle East, in sharp contrast, little remains of the preferred American status quo beyond a ghastly husk. It’s hard to see any way back.

America’s traditional regional lynch-pin allies — Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are united (only) in alienation. The most important structural reason for this, beyond the inexorable decline of American global management capability, and coherent options for intervention, rumbles beneath the surface of this WSJ article. Everything the US is still trying to accomplish in the region is pushing it into deeper complicity with the Teheran regime — whether on the specific issue of the Iranian nuclear program, operations against ISIS, or involvement in Yemen — and this makes it an objective antagonist of the Sunni establishment. A deep Sunni reformation — in the most blood-drenched sense of the word — is unfolding in the region, and the US is simply incapable of aligning with it. Yet as conflict escalates, and polarization intensifies, even the most conservative Sunni players are driven into solidarity with revolutionary Jihadi radicalism. If an Iranian-orchestrated campaign, coordinated with Iraq’s Maliki regime*, Assad, and the Kurds, succeeds in crushing the ISIS Islamic State, it is a near certainty that the major Sunni powers will commit to its resurrection, or displacement, rather than concede to the triumph of a new Shia order in Mesopotamia. … Then Yemen happened.

A new Middle Eastern war scarcely raises an eyebrow outside the region today. The Islamic Vortex has passed the point of ignition, and the old order is beyond salvage. Among Western observers, impotence translates immediately into apathy, even when they notice a deluge of blood de-pinkering the world. The Battle for Saudi Arabia Begins, writes Fernandez — and there’s nothing at all that anybody can do about it.

* Only very roughly speaking (see comments).

ADDED: I should have guessed there was already a Things Fall Apart (I) here. Apologies for any subsequent confusion. (WordPress is entirely relaxed about non-unique post titles, but I’m going to try not to be.)

ADDED: Pax Americana is over.

ADDED: David Rothkopf combining some valuable analysis with disastrously misconceived recommendations.

March 27, 2015admin 34 Comments »

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34 Responses to this entry

  • E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Says:

    They lit the candle at both ends
    With a pan to catch the burning wax
    Raised as a dilemma suspends
    Which belief shall accord with the facts
    All throw their coins in a sophist’s hat
    For to know the past is not enough
    The past is not truly made of star-stuff
    But the future is, and nothing to scoff at
    To power his unprofitable turbine farm
    Did man sow the wind – to no alarm
    The whirlwind comes of its own accord
    It sustains, even if it only sustains in harm
    They lit the candle at both ends
    A race of fire against fire
    As a note before the resolve suspends
    A harmonic waits on the piano wire
    When they tired of God’s hard laws
    They turned again to the bright Gods
    But now made body again against all odds
    Athena, Ares, Zeus, ideas without flaws
    Later comes the terror turn, it depends
    On how soon Thunder sleeps, who defends
    The city? It is upside-down, a map, Unreal–
    They lit the candle at both ends.


    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 4:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • nodge Says:

    “ISIS Islamic State” should just be either “ISIS” or “Islamic State”.


    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 5:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • Brett Stevens Says:

    The bigger a power becomes, the more it expands its franchise, and thus includes paradoxical interests under its aegis. This leads to inherent instability, first internally (diversity) and second among its vassals.


    Scharlach Reply:

    That’s a pretty good analysis, actually, for three lines.


    Hegemonizing Swarm Reply:

    The basic mechanism of necrosis is thought to be a loss of control over cell volume, related to changes in the permeability of the cell membrane.
    Encyclopedia Britannica on cell death


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    What Scharlach said.


    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 6:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jefferson Says:

    Back when I was but a humble Arabic linguist working targets on all sides of the Iraqi ethnic cleansing conflict, it occurred to me that the sort or return to nature occurring there was likely to spread and engulf the world within 20 years. I figured we’d either hit some sort of positive singularity in that time frame, or the world would burn. Nearly 10 years later, it feels like everything is proceeding as anticipated.


    Amon Khan Reply:

    Right, Islamic eschatologists like Sheikh Imran Hosein consider this the beginning of the Malhama (Great War). It seems this could be the big one.

    But how will this chaos will spread to the rest of the world? Will Americans finally feel some real pain from all the chaos they create in the world, or are they truly blessed by Yahweh as long as they keep killing raghead terrists?


    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 6:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    The thirty years’ war was considered a failure of civilization by those involved. It isn’t clear that the Islamic wars are seen the same way. Rather than a failure of an old order, it is the passing of a case of hiccups, a return to equilibrium.


    Richard P. Reply:

    I don’t know, America seems to be quite overextended and unable to muster a response beyond drone attacks upon wedding parties and on anyone carrying a riifle in the desert sands of Yemen. While it may all be a tempest in a teapot, I think very huge changes are ocurring which will affect Israel and it’s largest benefactor, America.


    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 6:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • R7 Rocket Says:

    DNLee doesn’t like the idea of the kulaks escaping her clutches.


    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 7:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    Good riddance. In context of the Middle East and Islam this war began when the Caliphate was de-established by Ataturk – that wasn’t the West’s, England’s or America’s doing.

    So long. Good Riddance. This neighborhood in particular, and to the entire Imperium.
    Ciao. Ta. Piss off. Die. Many will Die.

    Not our problem.

    Enjoy the Popcorn while it’s far off, when the flames are close you may suddenly feel very …full..then…POP!


    Irving Reply:

    Actually, the disestablishment of the Ottoman caliphate really was to a large extent the doing of the West.


    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 7:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mike Says:

    Maliki regime? You might have started writing this a while ago.


    admin Reply:

    The Shia rump of Iraq still has a Maliki regime, no?


    Mike Reply:

    Well, no. Haider al-Abadi is PM of Iraq. (Unless you’re trying to make some extremely subtle point I’m missing, which is entirely plausible.)


    admin Reply:

    No subtlety, just slovenly plot-dropping. Got taken in by a piece on the Kurds I was reading yesterday that concluded: “We’ll get our independence, and it will all be because of Maliki.” — Only now sensitive to the retrospective pitch of that. (Maliki still VP.)

    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 7:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • Things Fall Apart | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on March 27th, 2015 at 7:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • aerdeap Says:

    It’s happening!


    Posted on March 28th, 2015 at 12:55 am Reply | Quote
  • Perhaps Not Says:

    What leads you to believe that Israel and Saudia Arabia are united in alienation?

    You bought into the theater? Netanyahu’s so aggressive and deceptive that even allies have been pushed away?

    The Zionist power in the US is far more entrenched than that. The Brookings institute floated a plan a while back to run precisely this script, including apparent progress in negotiations with Iran, in order to convince the public that the inevitable invasion was truly a last resort provoked by Iranian unreasonableness.

    Popular antisemitism is on the rise, so you’re likely to see more playing tough with Israel. But that doesn’t matter, as social unrest and apparent global chaos don’t matter, so long as the world-defeating military remains under covert Zionist control.


    admin Reply:

    You think there are unambiguous ‘Zionist’ interests in this situation? How does the furthering of (Sunni) Islamic Jihad contribute to the security of Israel?


    Perhaps Note Reply:

    Israel is usually not very shy about its interests. Pretty vocal.

    So why haven’t they made any fuss about ISIS? Researching this, you’ll find they’ve actually offered them tacit aid, if anything. That might be something of a stretch, but there are few signs of worry.

    And why does a Jihadi organisation not target Israel, the clearest and most unifying enemy for common Muslim people? Everybody hates them. But instead they attack fellow states and Muslims, creating fragmentation instead of unity.

    And notice that Israel and ISIS share a common enemy (Iran and Shiites), and that ISIS has justified more intervention in the middle east by the West of precisely the kind that Israel has pushed for in every way it can for well over decade.

    Sunni Jihad contributes to the security of Israel by aiding in the destabilisation and fragmentation of other powers in the region. This has been the stated plan and applied strategy of Israel for a long time. Destabilise, fragment, and continually prevent presiding order from coming to fruition. Continuing on from colonial policy. Divide and rule. Or divide and manipulate.

    The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the “best” that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: “The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part” (Ha’aretz 6/2/1982).

    This might seem scary, if ISIS were really threatening to achieve some kind of hegemony. Surely they’d target Israel then? Not really, because the US would never let that happen. Intervention would come first. And, given Israel’s calm and how we know that Western intelligence agencies provided a lot of the logistical support and arms to Syrian rebels (thus to, or in proximity to, ISIS), we can suspect that they have inside info and leverage anyway, so don’t need to worry about that scenario.


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    Maybe Isis is afraid of getting nuked.

    admin Reply:

    I think they hate Shia more than Jews, in the same way Luther hated Catholics more than Turks.

    Posted on March 29th, 2015 at 2:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • Perhaps Not Says:

    They might. And yet Israel still benefits, and my analysis of the geopolitical leverage involved remains largely accurate.

    ‘Perhaps they’re afraid of being nuked’.

    Probably. Shiites are a more realistic target. And yet Israel still benefits, and the fragmentation and war fits their oft-stated plans and similar strategies floated by the most prominent US think-tanks. And they were still funded and set up in Syria with the aid of Anglo agents.

    Either way, the Israel-US split is still theater, and you’re still playing into it. The bonds between England, Israel and the US run deeper than you realise. And if they had wanted relative stability in the region, they would have had it.


    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Israel is, will be, and has always been the State Dept’s bitch. If it starts to get unhappy about these terms, bad things will happen for it. Israel will only ‘benefit’ inasmuch as it can align its interests with the State Dept’s, which as soon as the State Dept realizes there are some brown people to save who aren’t Jews, it won’t be able to anymore.

    Interesting to see how the WN perspective contorts itself in the face of these facts, though, isn’t it?


    Perhaps Not Reply:

    They’re not facts. That you really think men with power care about ‘saving brown people’, and that this kind of thing is a concern driving geopolitics, only shows that you have no practical experience of power.

    Please do correct me if I’m wrong. You’re not from a power family, are you? You’ve never experienced significant social power, have you?

    The World Bank and IMF have been intellectually raping brown people for profit for decades. The CIA has been destroying brown(ish) people countries and economic interests in South America for decades, to open them up to the neoliberal drive for profit. America has not had a revolution. Just because your attention has been diverted by identity politics and culture wars (excellent tools to divide and conquer your own population further, and to prevent any opposing consensus), that doesn’t mean men who think practically and pursue their own interests have bought into this sophistry.

    People in the State Department will do as their masters tell them, because their masters have information with which to blackmail almost every single one of them, and are more than capable of taking out any others with media blitzes or other tricks of the trade. Their masters live in a world where the interests controlling Zionism are immensely powerful.

    But you’ve never been close to that world, have you?

    No closer than NRx’s infatuation with the ‘Deep State!’, at least.


    admin Reply:

    From outside, this kind of monomania looks like a mind dying.

    What’s being said about the nature of reality if the one, infallible key to the meaning of history is “The Jews!” It’s a serious question. Is this some kind of satan-centric theology, or what?

    Perhaps Not Reply:

    How is it monomania, if it’s an assertion of the preeminence of one factor over another in a specific circumstance.

    What you seem to be saying is that there’s some kind of rigidity or automation in my thought process. But I’ve never actually talked about ‘The Jews!’ or claimed anything other than that a specific mis-evaluation of the power of a specific entity is being made. So whose side is the automation on, really?

    You don’t know whether I think Zionism rules exclusively, or whether it is just powerful. You don’t know whether I think it serves another purpose, or is an end in itself. You don’t know much about my position other than that I’m saying there’s theater and that the actors in that theater have less power than you’re attributing to them, and are part of a more intelligent kind of operation than you’re positing.

    The cream rises to the top. There are smart people in global geopolitics. There are huge fortunes at stake. Manufacturing a few tiffs to deal with public perception is not beyond them. It’s a complex, intelligent reality, yes. With many factors and players, yes. A few of those players want to go to war. They’ve talked about it for years, and there is hard evidence of their think-tanks planning the present PR script.

    That doesn’t mean Israel won’t fall some time, or that it couldn’t have a schism with the US, or that political Zionism’s power might not significantly lessen. It just means that, if that happens, it won’t be by this childish theater.

    Perhaps Not Reply:

    In response to your more interesting question, it could be fun to reconstruct a theology of that kind:

    We could consider the present system of Central Banking, dependent upon a resource scarcity not so different from Greer’s and inherently functioning as a black hole of debt swallowing up human energy. It’s a closed system, cut off from the open-ended growth and abundance which comes with inventiveness.

    I suppose if you did want to focus on ‘The Jews’, you could look to the Talmudic vision of vicious fighting over scarce resources, with the crowning of the Tribe over the unformed masses as an end-point. You could see them as the people of the spirit of that scarcity. Of manipulation of others to accrue maximal amounts of the limited power available to themselves, under such circumstances. Sounds like a decent evolutionary strategy, at least.

    Farrell’s position on the intricate connection between High Finance and Deep Physics would be illuminating. And then we could consider the gnostic idea of the demiurge as a kind of sub-creator who seeks to trap a portion of the greater reality within his own mind and dominion. In that context, the infinite unfolding of Physis that comes with abundant energy and a population not beholden to the inherently vampirical mathematics of private central banking might be seen as the political version of gnosticism. And Jews would be Satanic. As would the more feudally inclined gentiles who banking Jews have tended to inter-marry with.

    That’s honestly not what I think though. Just an exercise.

    Posted on March 30th, 2015 at 5:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lightning Round – 2015/04/02 | Free Northerner Says:

    […] collapse of Pax Americana in the […]

    Posted on April 2nd, 2015 at 5:02 am Reply | Quote
  • Richard P. Says:

    Pretty good article by Richard Ferandez. It does seem that Iran has brought the battle to Saudi Arabia’s front doorstep and that Yemen is a very strategic piece in the overall scheme of things. No wonder the Israelis fear Iran as the Iranians may be the more clever.


    Posted on April 4th, 2015 at 7:19 am Reply | Quote
  • Behind the Sofa Says:

    ‘Israel is, will be, and has always been the State Dept’s bitch.’

    Oh cute, Moldbug’s State Department conspiracy theory. Well, at least somebody’s legitimisting his Daddy issues. Here:

    It’s almost as interesting as the psychoanalytic take on NRx posted further down in this thread:


    Posted on April 19th, 2015 at 3:53 am Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2015/03/27) | The Reactivity Place Says:

    […] Nick Land catches Marc Faber in the act of insufficient enthusiasm about democracy. Also round 7,234 of failed American will-power (and brain-power) in the Middle East. […]

    Posted on May 27th, 2015 at 2:49 am Reply | Quote

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