Sunday, January 10, 2016

Decline or remedy?

I have earlier predicted, that we will see more and more signs of the political decline in the form of phenomena like populism, badly prepared legislation and not least obstructionism making administration and legislation difficult or impossible. And to contain and counteract this we will need stronger executive power.

At the same time I have criticized the moves toward greater governmental or even personal power in some countries as a sign of the same political decline. How do these forms of stronger executive power differ from each other?

Obviously the question is whether a strengthened government is a goal in itself to achieve power for certain persons or groups. Or it is a remedy to control and overcome the decline.

When the present leaders of Hungary, Poland and Turkey increase their control, it is a sign of the political decline as it is not necessitated objectively, but only serves to gain more dominance and power. When the present US president uses decrees or other means bypassing Congres, it is in order to manage the lack of governability resulting from the decline.

Of course often matters are not so clearcut as in these examples. When are obstacles for legislation strong enough to justify executive force? Which legislation is important enough? Also motives for stronger governments can at the same time be both governability as such and a wish for power. Worse, over time the two types of motives will tend to fuse more and more. This is clearly to be seen in the figure of Julius Caesar, who lived in a time corresponding to our 21. century.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Saudis and Iranians

There have already been many justified critical comments on the Saudi execution of a Shia cleric. Here I will not add much. Together with the severing of diplomatic relations with Iran it seems to be a deliberate irresponsible act of the same sort as those carried out by Turkey. Sacrificing internal coherence for other purposes. For Erdogan strengthening personal power. For the Saudis sabotaging Iran's integration into int'l politics.

The execution is morally wrong, and on the political level stupid. Anti-Iranian hawks in the West could have used the Iranian rocket program and the provocation by the Revolutionary Guard in the Golf to disrupt Iran's integration. But the Saudi action rightfully turns attention to the semi-barbaric nature of the leading circles in Saudi Arabia.

The adverse effects on the efforts to reach a political settlement in Syria and the fight against ISIS are obvious. But seen in Riyadh as of less relevance or even desired.

The rising ethnic tensions in Saudi Arabia already fueled by the intervention in Yemen will worsen still more. As with the result of the new oppression of the Kurds in Turkey the saudi kingdom faces ethnic tension and conflict. Whether this is a result of political decline as in Turkey or just political immaturity is not clear. It is probably both. It would seem less likely that Sheik Yamani as minister would have sanctioned such policies.

As said in other posts (see Ethnic Cleansing in the Arab World) during the last century the distributed patchwork-nations of the Oriental civilization have been and still are being transformed into Western type territorial nations with a wish for coherent territories. This process often involves ethnic cleansings.

Generalized to the wider Middle Eastern context the execution of the cleric and the resulting conflict with Iran and Shias elsewhere could contribute to the start of a new round of ethnic conflict and cleansing in the Middle East. This time between Shias and Wahhabis or worse Sunnis in general. There have already been attacks on Sunnis in Iraq and new tensions between Sunnis and Shias in Bahrain following the execution. We don't need Sunni-Shia conflicts aggravating and spreading to more countries. And we certainly do not need ethnic cleansing and streams of refugees in an area from Iraq to Yemen. The Middle East has problems enough already!