Thursday, 29 September 2016

The second story of Skittles and warfare

Sun Tzu wrote how the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. He was right. And it's curious that a simple candy can prove the West’s victory in this so-called war.

“If I had a bowl of Skittles and told you three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian problem,” the son of a US presidential candidate said recently. He is updating the “one rotten apple spoils the entire barrel” analogy to outline the problem of hundreds of thousands of Muslim peaceful refugees with a few potential Muslim terrorists in their midst.

This connects to the “so-called war” mentioned above. It refers to how the core countries of the West have fought, along with their allies, a global battle against a particular strain of Islamic monotheism since the autumn of 2001. This conflict was never clear on whether it met the criteria for respectable warfare or criminal prosecution, hence why it still doesn’t have a name.

If it is war, that would require a particular enemy and measurable victory conditions. But since this conflict has neither, it’s more enlightening to view it as a criminal prosecution. So, what is the fundamental ingredient for organising suppression of a criminal threat? Both the criminal and the legal apparatus must be in the same jurisdiction. And what happens when the world is assumed to be a single jurisdiction? You get the last 15 years.

Acceptance of a global jurisdiction requires a predominance of the world’s humans to agree with the tenets of a particular set of beliefs. As I often write, the shorthand for this preponderance is called the “international community” – a set of beliefs led by the tools, statecraft and institutions of the US. The “rules of the road” in every sphere are written or are being written by Washington and those who share its viewpoint.

Those Skittles (people) travelling to Western countries do not come from another planet. They have lived in a world of a single power structure for almost 30 years. During which they have consumed and subsumed the media and ideology of that power structure. True, their own traditions of Islam and local beliefs mix with this global ideology, but aside from a few individuals their traditional ideas cannot overwhelm the acceptance of the power structure in their neighbours.

The West can conduct a criminal prosecution of Islamic radicals because those radicals live in a world where they accept the default assumption of the overarching power structure. They rail against Washington and demand their viewpoints are included. But this is founded on the assumption that the US has the authority to set standards and norms. In their captured brains, their reflex is to complain about the contents of the world order, not assert the insignificance of that order.

It is impossible to bluff someone who isn’t paying attention, and figuring out the short con is part of the long con. Islamic radicals do not think the US-based power structure is legitimate, but they will let it have power over them in exchange for the right to brag that they know it isn’t legitimate. This obsessive worry about what Washington does or says is completely predicated on the assumption that its institutions have the power to decide what is true.

If anything, the three dangerous Skittles represent as close to victory conditions for which Washington could have planned. In fact, someone better check they didn’t plan this. Millions of Muslim migrants is not the “Islamification” of the West, it is the westernisation of the Middle East.

Arabic social networks code in English, the product is translated to Arabic after the fact. The internet oozes Western values – it is the quintessential Western invention: free, egalitarian, laissez-faire, etc. And, most importantly, it accepts Western-style advertisements. In other words, advertisements which are aspirational, not representational, showing the viewer how to want (not what to want). Showing them they can only be happy or feel accepted if they adopt Western assumptions.

Six months, let alone 10 years, of the internet beamed into a pliable migrant’s mind is all the magic the Western power structure needs. Any Samaritans waiting for migrants at the airport terminals will turn to their fellow placard-holders and say, “you know, they’re not so different from us, they want the same things we want!” Of course they do. Why do you think that is?

Pretending to fight a war when 98% of the Skittles don’t even know they are actually on your side is a police action. That there are real missiles and stealth aircraft involved is theatre. The West won the “fight” even before al qaeda changed the New York skyline. Is this power structure impervious to the hate of the recalcitrant 2%? No. But changing the force of the Western status quo would be like using one’s arms to clear a path through the ocean. Good luck with that.

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