A strange thing bobbed to the surface this week in Syria. While this scenario happens all the time, across the world, the situation isn’t supposed to be revealed – let alone framed. But here it is, clear as day.
The LA Times reports that two or more Syrian militia groups engaged each other near the crippled northern city of Aleppo. Perhaps that’s not startling, given the hundreds of estimated rebel groups arrayed against Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Except in this case, one militia group was backed by the CIA, while the other was apparently receiving support from the Pentagon.
Technically, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) receive Pentagon support and one of its cohorts did clash with CIA-backed Arab and Turkmen rebels. However, the details are murky on who supports whom and why. So while this scenario doesn’t imply US interagency warfare, something is happening in the shadows for which the standard model of international relations doesn’t account.
Now, this curious story might ring some bells for clever readers. As this column previously described, the CIA is a State Department entity and the Pentagon is controlled by the Department of Defence. Those departments are most accurately understood as two power bases competing for control over the US government. They each chase this goal – not only within the continental US – but using other countries’ conflicts too, as in Syria.
In this case, Washington’s explanations for the clash range from the fog-of-war and Russian intervention to ethnic tensions and the usual lack of communication between US government departments. Standard stuff, really. But it is much more informative to view this event through the lens of competitive imperial projects. And yes, there is more than one imperial project alive today.
The rebels, whether they know this or not, represent a fronts in the imperial project known as the “international democratic movement”. This movement is presently conducted by the US government, but it predates America. The leftist or democratic tradition in Anglo-American history is almost four hundred years old. If you read Hobbes’ Behemoth (‘Or, The Long Parliament’), it'll pop right out at you in full colour. Today, wherever resides a parliament, so also is the “movement”.
For instance, all OECD countries are members and regardless of nominal boundaries the movement appears to coordinate policy not just in the US, but throughout the Western world. The long-term goal is to spread the ideology globally. In true Orwellian terms, we call the member nations of the UN “independent countries”. Actually most are American satellites at best, possessions at worst. Even those with partial sovereignty, Russia and China, are sterile upstarts with no real relationship to the old civilizations of the Romanovs or the Qing.
Within this movement there are total and partial client states. A total client is friendly with all important elements in the sponsor state (State and Defence Departments). The revolutionary states were (and are) partial clients – friendly with some sponsor state elements, and hostile (often to the point of actual war) to others. The client needs the sponsor, because the friendly elements protect him from the anger of the hostile elements. Thus the relationship is symbiotic, and can continue for decades.
In the standard international relations model, all the world’s death and destruction is the fault of the enemies of democracy. It follows then that human civilization cannot tolerate the existence of nondemocratic states – since they caused all this death and destruction. So democracy conquers the world and produces an outbreak of peace. To conquer is to pacify. The fact tells you nothing about the goodness of the conquering ideology.
Basically, the self-interpretation of the standard model is that the US conquered the world in self-defence. All alternative ideologies are a threat. Which may be accurate, but it sounds strange. Fascism was an alternative, for example, but it was crushed. And Communism? Well, democracy is socialism – the two are the same. In actuality, the international democratic movement hasn’t had a real enemy for half a century.
The empire is already far advanced. The question now is which Washington faction will have final power. The rebel clash in Syria is a rare instance of this contest spilling into the mainstream. It should be no surprise that the rebels are fighting for freedom and democracy. They probably think it was their idea.
These ribbons can be tied neatly together if we bring in the Islamic State (IS). Theirs is the only, although very weak, alternative to the movement which is also trying to carve its own imperial regime. Both IS and the movement are equally religious, and equally bent on world domination. Neither shies from using violence to achieve empire.
Anglo-American democracy was the last philosophy standing in the 20th century. Not because it is perfect and lovely, but because it was more lethal to its neighbours and predatory than its enemies’ ideology. It hasn’t yet bared its true fangs against the Islamic State’s imperial project because IS isn’t anywhere near as threatening to the advanced of the movement as the media portrays.
That Syrian rebels are fighting each other, Damascus (which has a seat at the UN) and the Islamic State should be no shock to the astute observer. That is what clients of the movement do. The Nazis never wanted to control the world, but IS does. Both are feeling the heavy hand of the most successful and predatory imperial project in human history. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen.