Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Not WWIII...

Slavoj Zizek, "The drone attack on the Saudi refinery is no game-changer. But is there a new ‘axis of evil’ in the Middle East?"
The Saudi-led destruction of Yemen - and the inevitable Houthi response - is part and parcel of the usual geopolitical games. Israel re-shaping the West Bank under the radar is where the rules are changing

When, a couple of days ago, Saudi Aramco’s crude-oil processing facilities were attacked with drones – it is thought by the Houthis in Yemen – our media repeatedly characterised this event as a “game-changer”. But was it really this? In some sense yes, since it perturbed the global oil supply and made a large armed conflict in the Middle East much more probable. However, one should be careful not to miss the cruel irony of this claim.

Houthi rebels in Yemen have been in an open war with Saudi Arabia for years, with Saudi armed forces (and the US and the UK supplying arms) practically destroying the entire country, indiscriminately bombing civilian objects. The Saudi intervention has led to one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the century with tens of thousands of children dead. As it was in the cases of Libya and Syria, destroying an entire country is obviously not a game-changer – just part and parcel of a very normal geopolitical game.

Even if we condemn the Houthis' alleged act, should we really be surprised to see them, cornered and in a desperate situation, striking back in whatever way they could? Far from changing the game, could the attack have been its logical culmination? They might have finally found the way to grab Saudi Arabia where it really hurts. Or, to paraphrase Brecht’s famous line from his Beggar’s Opera “what is robbing a bank compared to founding a new bank”, what is destroying a country compared to slightly disturbing the reproduction of global capital?

The media attention grabbed by the “game-changing” attack also conveniently distracted us from other truly game-changing projects like the Israeli plan to annex large, fertile chunks of the West Bank. What this means is that all the talk about the two state solution was just that; empty talk meant to obfuscate the ruthless realisation of a modern-day colonisation project in which what awaits the West Bank Palestinians will be in the best case a couple of tightly controlled Bantustans. One should also note that Israel is doing this with the silent connivance of Saudi Arabia – a further proof that a new axis of evil is emerging in the Middle East composed of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and the emirates. It is here that the rules of the game are truly changing!

And, to broaden the scope of our analysis, one should also be attentive to how the game is changing with Hong Kong protests. A dimension as a rule ignored in our media is that of class struggle which sustains the Hong Kong protests against China’s efforts to constrain its autonomy. Hong Kong protests first erupted in poor districts – the rich were prospering under Chinese control.

Then a new voice was heard: one banner carried at the march read “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong” in English. Some marchers sang the US national anthem as they moved towards the consulate. “We share the same US values of liberty and democracy,” 30-year-old banker David Wong said. Every serious analysis of the Hong Kong protests has to focus on how a social protest, potentially a true game-changer, was recuperated into the standard narrative of the democratic revolt against totalitarian rule.

And the same goes for mainland China itself. In the last few days our media have reported on how the Unirule Institute of Economics, one of China’s few remaining outposts of liberal thought, has been ordered to shut down. Another sign of the dramatically shrinking space for public debate under the government of the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping?

Yes, sure. But we are here far from the police intimidation, beatings and arrests to which leftist students are submitted to. Ironically, taking the official return to Marxism more seriously than it was meant, groups of students organised links with workers who suffer extreme exploitation in factories around Beijing. Pollution in chemical factories is largely uncontrolled and ignored by state power, and students have been helping workers to organise themselves and formulate their demands to improve their conditions.

It is these links – between students and workers – that pose the true challenge to the regime, while the struggle between the new hard line of Xi Jinping and the pro-capitalist liberals is ultimately part of the dominant game, the tension between the two versions of the unbridled capitalist development, authoritarian and liberal.

In all these cases, from Yemen to China, one should thus learn to distinguish between the conflicts which are part of the game and the true game-changers. These are either ominous turns to the worse masked as the continuation of the normal state of things (Israel annexing large parts of the West Bank), or the hopeful signs of something really new emerging. The predominant liberal view is obsessed by the first and largely ignores the second.

22 comments:

Gert said...

Aren't the Saudis now blaming that Old Foe, Iran?

Joe Conservative said...

Who else has the tech?

Joe Conservative said...

The drumbeats of war are growing...

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

you have the tech

Gert said...

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - The United States wants to build a coalition of European and Arab partners to deter Iran after an attack on Saudi Arabia that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described on Wednesday as “an act of war” against the world’s top oil exporter.

Ain't gonna happen (Europeans).

Joe Conservative said...

Ain't gonna happen (Europeans).

Where's their oil going to come from, Russia?

Gert said...

Don't know but you won't have the Europeans partake in a possibly disastrous war with Iran.

Gert said...

Does Russian oil smell particularly bad or something? Worse than ME oil? ;-)

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Never send armies to do the job of thermonuclear warheads.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Does anyone see Iran's right to exist in the US Constitution? It ain't there. Fuck 'em.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

This is one of those times that having a far left liberal pussy like Trump in the Oval Office is a tragedy.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

"I don't want a war with Iran" - Trump

"I want to nuke Iran off the face of the Earth and send in fire teams to locate and kill survivors and pull that shit on pay per view" - Beamish

Vote accordingly.

Joe Conservative said...

Like I said before, I'm willing to play "air force" for the Saudi's, but unless they're willing to supply 1 million ground troops, I'm not even willing to do that.

That inludes the glass manufacturing business that beamish is willing to toss in.

Iran is what neutron bombs are for.

Joe Conservative said...

...and since the Russians are no longer communist, I don't thing that there's anything wrong with Russian oil... I just don't think that Europe is willing to exchange a Russian umbrella for an American one, at least not yet.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Well, when the Iranian government's motto is "Death to America" any negotiation with them has to be filtered through "how much American death will appease these shitstains?"

Donald Trump wants to play "Let's Make A Deal." I want to play Logic 101. Iran wouldnt be a problem if Iran didn't exist.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Re: Russia... customers control policy to a certain extent. Europe can set the price of Russia's return to geopolitical relevance.

Gert said...

Iran is what neutron bombs are for.

Lets hope it doesn't end up as Peace with Honour II! ;-)

Gert said...

A hard rain's gonna fall? ;-)

-FJ said...

...a hard rain's better than a black rain.

-FJ said...

;p

-FJ said...

ooops. sorry. I thought the link was only going to show The Blood Fountain in Tehran's Beheshte Zahra cemetery, April 1984. Photo: Arash Golbon