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Emmanuel Todd: 'Iran is not dangerous' (but Sarkozy is)

by Jerome a Paris Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 07:45:21 AM EST

In yet another fascinating interview, demographer Emmanuel Todd (best known for his prediction - based on demographic trends - of the Soviet Union collapse, and his more recent predictions of the "end of the US empire") discusses Iran at length, and suggests that demographic trends in the Muslim world, and in particular in Iran, suggest a massive weakening of the influence of religion over their populations, rather than the opposite.

From the diaries - afew





Dans « L'invention de l'Europe », j'avais montré que la montée de l'alphabétisation des populations ne suffit pas à expliquer, à elle seule, la baisse de la fécondité. Pour observer une chute du nombre des naissances, il fallait qu'à l'alphabétisation s'ajoute une diminution de l'influence religieuse.

(...)

In "The invention of Europe", I had shown that increasing literacy rates in a population was not enough, on its own, to explain dropping fertility rates. To actually see a drop in birth rates, you needed a reduction in religious influence in addition to growing literacy rates.

(...)

Si on observe dans de nombreux pays musulmans des taux de fécondité proches de deux enfants par femme, la montée de l'islamisme que nous observons aujourd'hui ne masque-t-elle pas une réalité plus profonde, à savoir un ébranlement de la croyance religieuse ?As we can see in many Muslim countries fertility rates very close to 2 children per woman, this suggest that the rise of Islamism actually hides a deeper reality, i.e. a profound weakening of religious belief.

He notes that such a transition is never simple or peaceful but that, compared to our own experience in Europe, the Muslim world's own behavior is rather restrained and consequences of the upheaval of such a transition period are rather benign, overall.




Il y a plus de différence démographique entre la France et l'Allemagne qu'entre la France et l'Iran !

 Nous avons fait une étude comparée de l'Iran et de la Turquie. La Turquie, plus proche de l'Europe, reste dans ce domaine moins moderne que l'Iran. L'étude des minorités kurdes en Turquie, en Syrie, en Irak et en Iran montre que, partout, ces communautés ont une surfécondité. Parmi elles, une seule s'est modernisée démographiquement et alignée sur le coeur du pays : il s'agit des Kurdes d'Iran.

Dans ce contexte, les attaques actuelles contre l'Iran apparaissent absurdes et oppressantes. L'Iran n'est pas le danger !

There's a bigger gap, demographically speaking, between France and Germany than between France and Iran!

We've compared Iran and Turkey. Turkey, which is geographically closer to Europe, is less modern demographically than Iran. For instance, the study of the Kurdish minorities in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran shows that, in each country, they have higher fertility rates than the country they reside in - all, except in Iran, where the Kurdish minority has modernised demographically and is aligned on the rest of the country.

In that context, the current attacks on Iran appear absurd and oppressive. Iran is not a threat today.

Le cas du Pakistan est problématique. Ce pays est en retard en termes de fécondité, possède l'arme nucléaire et se trouve au début d'une explosion islamiste. Pourtant, les alliés américains prennent ces données avec beaucoup de légèretéPakistan is a lot more worrying. The country is late in its demographic evolution, has nuclear weapons, and is in the midst of an Islamic explosion. And yet these facts are treated with carelessness by its American 'ally'.

This reminds me of the sad joke that the "Eurabia" concept is, considering that fertility rates in Iran, Algeria, Turkey or Morocco are now all lower than in France. But again, that reflects widespread ignorance about demographic trends and what they may mean - where Todd brings truly compelling data.

One might note as well the added hypocrisy of demonizing countries and being surprised that their populations rally around their (opportunistically nationalistic and populist) leaders, not to mention the double standard inherent in a discourse that explicitly puts countries on a target list - while using missionary language (the 'axis of evil') and then points to their hostile reactions as proof of their danger...

Todd has little more to say about the USA beyond what he said earlier, but has a few choice words for Sarkozy:




Je n'ai pas changé d'avis. Les États-Unis sont en situation de perte de puissance : ils n'ont pas réussi à prendre le contrôle de l'Irak et n'ont pas empêché la reprise d'autonomie de la Russie. A la limite, la seule conquête des américains c'est Nicolas Sarkozy ! Mais ils sont en train de perdre les Anglais...

(...)

I have not changed my mind: the USA is losing power: it could not take control of Iraq, could not prevent Russia from regaining its autonomy. In a way, the USA's only conquest lately has been [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy! They are even losing the English...

(...)

Les commentateurs politiques comparent la manière dont Nicolas Sarkozy exerce le pouvoir et le bonapartisme, une sorte de droite autoritaire spécifique au génie national.

Le moment est venu de s'interroger sur la dimension internationale du bonapartisme. Les deux Bonaparte nous ont valu plusieurs invasions du territoire national, la politique extérieure de Napoléon III a mené à la défaite de Sedan.

La provocation généralisée avec les autres pays européens et la morgue agitée de notre gouvernement, ajoutées à ses prises de position sur l'Iran, commencent à m'inquiéter.

Pundits in France compare Sarkozy's behavior in power with bonapartism, a kind of right wing authoritarianism infused with a strong belief in France's genius.

It's time to worry about its international implications. Both Bonapartes [NB: the better known Napoleon after the French revolution, and self-proclaimed Emperor Napoleon III who ruled France between 1851 and 1870] brought France repeated invasions of its territory and Napoleon III's policies led to the defeat in Sedan [France's humilating defeat against Prussia in 1870].

The current attitude of permanent provocation against other European countries and the noisy arrogance of our government, together with its attitude towards Iran, are really worrying me.

Bonapartism is often described as the combination of an activist, interventionist, but forward looking State with a vibrant private sector (favoring big companies cosy with those in power). A milder version of fascism if you're inclined to be critical, or a more competent, paternalistic version of Bush's corpocracy.

Display:
I's so much easier to demozise them as "others" or worse, as that stunning cartoon, posted in an open Thread a couple days ago, shows:



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 11:36:20 AM EST
OMG.  I'm just speechless.  Did this cartoonist graduate from the National Socialist School of Racist Propaganda Art and Design?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 11:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thankfully, that disgusting cartoon seems to have generated quite a bit of controversy.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 11:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh, looks like the usual suspects to me protesting to the rest of us usual suspects. Tilting in the wind in the present environment.

I particularly enjoyed the first one to pop up - it's a letter to the editor of the offending yellow journal rightfully decrying the offensiveness of the cartoon. Note how she has to say "I'm neither Muslim, nor Middle Eastern, nor do I love the terrorists". I half expected her to pledge allegiance to the flag first.

   

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 03:17:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the cartoon both defamatory to Iranians in general as well as just plain stupid in whatever point it is trying to make.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 10:04:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed; In fact, its existence defames the entire human race.

The problem is that things like this are logical extensions of the narrative put out by...who? I would guess that the Bushites are merely pawns in some other players hands. Not to take anything away from their inglorious crimes.

And once the narrative has reached this point, it is may be much too late to re-capture those who are turned by this logic. They think it is clever. They pass it on to their friends and get trapped into espousing even worse.

What to do?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 12:18:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What does the picture show? Plenty of ants or something, and then something on Iran? What is it?

Feeling stupid today...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 01:56:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, it's a sewer! (Right?)

And all problems coming out of it. Ok.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 01:58:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It says "shia = roach".

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:25:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where does it say shia? It says Iran in the middle of the sewer, not shia. Or am I taking you too literaly?

If so, you might be too. My "ok" was as in "ok, I get it" not as in "ok, all Iranians are cockroaches".

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:30:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Put that swarm of roaches next to a map of the geographical distribution of Shia. To claim that Iraq's Shia come from Iran, or Syria's, or Lebanon's is rather wrong.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:34:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition, what is the reflex that assaults one when seeing that cartoon? To stamp one's (heavy) boot on Iran.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 01:41:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wish I could say I was surprised that an American cartoonist would draw this. The resemblance to Nazi iconography is stunning. It's as if Michael Ramirez consulted Goebbels' sketchpad before penning it.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:02:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In that context, the current attacks on Iran appear absurd and oppressive. Iran is not a threat today.

Pakistan is a lot more worrying. The country is late in its demographic evolution, has nuclear weapons, and is in the midst of an Islamic explosion. And yet these facts are treated with carelessness by its American 'ally'.

I agree totally with this, based upon my own experience of Iran.

The fact is that the Iranian nuclear issue is a relatively recent concoction - which I cannot recall having seen pre Fallujah and my own first visit to Teheran in May 2004.

The US doesn't give a monkey's about Pakistan.

Why not? Because they don't have oil.

Demographics is a useful secondary tool: but energy has been the primary consideration since the invention of the internal combustion engine.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 11:44:57 AM EST
It's the nukes. Pakistan has nukes, so there's little they can be told, because they can fight back. Iran doesn't, so it can still be attacked, and it is somewhat rational, if you want to attack them, to do it before they actually have then nukes.

Don't understimate demographics. Todd goes back to 17th century trends that explain a lot of things. energy is superimposed on this - i.e. it has created new geopolitical stakes, but these do not eclipse the underlying social changes.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 12:05:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an interesting question whether Pakistan's nuclear capability makes them attack proof.

Re demographics, my take on it is that the demographics of Malthus' day are totally different from those we see in technologically advanced societies, particularly car-mobile and internet-enabled societies.

But then I haven't read enough to know what has been written - by greater intellects than mine - about that.

My simplistic view is that for thousands of years we had a society that was decentralised but disconnected: we are now at the zenith of a society that is centralised and connected; and that we are seeing the rapid emergence of a society that is decentralised but connected.

Within such a networked society will be created "value" - by which I mean "money's worth" rather than money - an order of magnitude greater than hitherto.

The consequences of this emergence will include the end of "middlemen"/intermediation; "profit" and "loss" and double entry book-keeping; debt and interest etc etc

And I believe this will happen: indeed HAS to happen, within a generation.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 12:47:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pakistan hasn't got a second strike capability. So with the mad logic of the cold war - à la Curtis Lemay - they are now in a more dangerous position than without nukes as a rational actor (for a given value of "rational") should now launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on them before they get a second strike capability and become impervious.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 01:56:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think so. Pakistan has "non conventional" second strike capability. That is, disseminate nukes to networks of people who will ship them into the US several months or years after the first strike. I think US intelligence understands that, and also understands that if 20 nukes are shipped to the US via different routes over several years, one is bound to get through, be it in a tourist submarine or a hot air balloon...

Pierre
by Pierre on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:16:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is why a liberal use of warheads on all possible targets is needed. To make sure you don't miss anything. Destroying all infrastrucuture which can possible transport a Pakistani weapon, like roads and bridges, is also priority.

As far as I know, the US has several thousand warheads - a few hundred should suffice.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:27:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a thousand warheads would guarantee that a territory the size of Pakistan get enough neutron to disable all nukes. The US don't know where they are. Some could be in the tribal zone or technically in Afghanistan. Some could be prepositionned in Kashmir or India for the other angle of second strike - borders are quite permeable in that part of the world...

Actually, it's not possible to rule out that some are already in the US. It's a total fuck situation: the US are toast wrt the Pak nuke. They've been for 10 years now, they just pretend it's fine and Pervez is an ally because they can't acknowledge they're fucked.

And now, AQ Khan is somewhere in Iran or SA, disseminating the blueprints everywhere. Each one of the United Arab Emirates will have its nuclear crown family jewels in 15 years, and the US still expect they can stay on top of the oil. Dream on...

Pierre

by Pierre on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 03:25:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I would be interested to know how sophisticated these nukes are - I certainly don't see them as being suitcase sized, for sure.

And I would be amazed if the US (and every country with a serious intelligence service) hasn't bought or otherwise got exact knowledge of where the nukes are.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 04:42:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My impression is that they are sized to be carried by a F-16 fighter bomber, a few hundred kilos under a wing. Classy drop-stuff with a parachute to make up for the inaccurate fuse (France still has the same kind of shit on the active inventory).

So it's not suitcase (noone, the smallest ever made still take a huge back pack). But it can definitely go in the trunk of a SUV, the tyres will make it (take away the aerodynamic envelope). And you can still drive it to ... no wait, they want to eliminate surface trafic within miles of capitol hill, no shit, what are they afraid of ?

So it's pretty easy to keep at least a few of them moving around all the time in ordinary looking ordnance trucks. Any country on a permanent war footage like India-Pak should be expected to do just that. The west does it with subs, Russia restarted it with bombers. The poor guys still do it with a truck (big countries had trailer-launched ICBMs for that purpose at some time).

And there's no such thing as "serious intelligence service".

Pierre

by Pierre on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 07:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well according to the Federation of American Scientists the warhead weights of their missiles come to 500 and 700 kg

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 08:41:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Building such small nukes is far harder than just building nukes.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 05:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But being a state, they have a lot of resources to throw at this. plus they have the advantage that they know that it is possible, and it is just a question of working out how.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 05:38:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're making the assumption that Pakistan, or whoever, has nothing better to do than to refine and miniaturise nuclear weapons.

I'm not sure that is the case.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is a mini-nuke as easy to build as depicted in The Fourth Protocol?

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:23:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One would assume not, the design in the Fourth protocol is basically the same as that utilised in the Hiroshima bomb, and from what I have read to make that work took firing one half of the neuclear material at the other down a discarded 8" naval gun. If less force was used the two halves would blow themselves apart in the initial stages of the reaction causing the reaction to stop.

Later devices have relied on some form of explosive compression of a subcritical lump which is assumed to be a necessary technology to build miniaturised weapons.

However take this all with a grain of salt because I'm not a physicist with any real expertise in building these things, and much of the information in public literature is probably misleading.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:11:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought the desinged involved shooting a cylinder into a sphere with the cylinder cut out, so that the two pieces can't really blow each other apart so easily.

But what do I know, I didn't even read the book, just saw Pierce Brosnan playing the Russian agent in the movie.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:28:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's possible that if you dont fire the central lump in fast enough the initial reaction welds ths slug without it fully penetrating, preventing the full reaction from happening.  but as I said I may be talking out of another orifice.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:47:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that's exactly the problem with gun type bombs. It makes the design suitable only to U, not Pu which is more fissile and usually polluted with poison isotopes which amplify the "fizzle" effect.

Pierre
by Pierre on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 09:57:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By building, you mean actually designing, and making the parts at the factory, or just putting them together after they've been made ? The latter is easy, depending on where you "cut". The explosive polyhedron for a compression bomb is on a carefully adjusted lattice, you can't rebuild it like lego, but after all it's only 20cm or so in diameter. Of course, it's also the heaviest part with the Pu in the middle, but in all it's probably less than 50 kg. All the rest is power electronics, with circuit board full of capacitors and boost convertors. You can take it apart and rebuild it in any place reasonably clean. The wire length are carefully adjusted to carry the impulsions so that they all arrive at the same time at their target point on the sphere, but all that matters is that you don't mix them up when reconnecting. This is light stuff, except for the battery which will be very high power in a real bomb (you need very high energy accumulated in HV condos, a bit like for a giant flash light, because there is no intermediate fuse: in order to have a synchronous compression, the explosives are triggered directly with an electric arc). Of course, a stripped down bomb could replace the battery with a mains supply or a car alternator.

Pierre
by Pierre on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 09:40:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well almost anything they did would be better  for them than expending the resources on building miniaturised nuclear weapons,  However government by penis size still appears to be relevent to those in charge.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:48:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's government by penis size surely miniaturisation is not what we could expect?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:51:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well it's like greek stsues, smaller is better

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:02:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thats statues

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:02:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/9/22/10244/7805

With the added paragraph:

Bonapartism is often described as the combination of an activist, interventionist, but forward looking State with a vibrant private sector (favoring big companies cosy with those in power). A milder version of fascism if you're inclined to be critical, or a more competent, paternalistic version of Bush's corpocracy.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 12:30:19 PM EST
Quick edit on this and on kos - you give Todd as Tood in both first paras.

No biggy, but I sorta like him...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:08:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's so much more typically American to look at foreign peoples and assume they're all the same, and are defined by their most extreme elements!

What you and Todd make is an absolutely crucial point. Islamism is a reaction to a population that is moving away from their views, that is thinking for itself and preferring to not live under far-right oppression.

Afghanistan is a great example of this. Until the US armed the Taliban, places like Kabul were very progressive cities, where women had a lot of education and empowerment. After the US helped empower the Islamists, this was taken away.

Which leads me to something Todd did NOT say (in the excerpt you gave): that it's not just a decline in birth rates that suggest a turn away from Islam. Who controls birth rates? The women do. What Todd is describing is an Islamic world in which women are getting power in the households, and want it in the society. Islamism is a rear-guard action against this, and it is doomed to fail.

As to Sarko, well, Marx DID say his "history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce" quote about the first two Bonapartes. It's a shame France is going to repeat the failures of Bonapartism once again, especially by following the USA down the drain.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 01:47:09 PM EST
Until the US armed the Taliban

Nitpick: the Mujahedeen, not the Taliban.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 01:55:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You sure about that? That the US directly armed the mujahedeen is widely known, but I have read several reports that they indirectly armed the Taliban, and supported their ascendancy through various intermediaries, particularly the Pakistani ISI, in the '90s. I'll try and dig up those references.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 01:59:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the contexxt of what you wrote, it was the Mujahedeen who turned Afghanistan from something more liberal to something rather conservative, and the Taliban only enhanced this.

In my memory, the Taliban was primarily a creation of the Pakistanis -- first supported by Bhenazir Bhutto against the then ISI-preferred Mujahedeen factions, then ISI supported them too -- with the US coming with some support now and then in opportunistic fashion (betting on the winning faction, hope of pipeline deal).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:09:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many of those factions took on lives of their own and created havoc in Pakistan (in particular the NWFP and Baluchistan), I'm thinking of a particular scumbag named Hekmatyar whose faction took to kidnapping many local notables (including the brother of a friend of mine) in the Peshawar/Mardan area.

Then there was/is a Paktoonistan political movement which would seek to break the NWFP (where the Tribal areas are, where Osama bin Laden is likely hiding out today) and merge with the Pashtun regions of Afghanistan (if not the whole of the country) which Islamabad is not terribly taken by but of course many factions in Afghanistan were.) When I was at U Peshawar (1987-88, making me quite old I know), they shut the place down due to student demonstrations for this. They take this sort of stuff very seriously.

Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan needs to be taken as a whole, in this context. It may seem crazy of them to support the Taliban, but in reality it was more a best of many bad choices deal, with the added benefit of having a very weak Afghanistan which, with hostile India on the other side, has very important advantages of its own...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahmed Rashid's Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (2000) provides the best study of the rise of the Taliban and the American role in it. According to that book, it was all about oil - the US was trying to break Russia's control over Caspian oil and saw the Taliban, financed by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as the best option for control of Afghanistan. Unocal was proposing a pipeline through Afghanistan to get oil from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea in Pakistan (and Hamid Karzai's background is in Unocal). The CIA, who had long-standing links with both the Saudis and the ISI, helped funnel money to the Taliban in the service of this goal.

Rashid quotes the US State Department as saying in February 1997 "the Taliban will probably develop like Saudi Arabia. There will be Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that." (Taliban, 179)

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:26:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I sort of don't believe this story. Afghanistan has been wrecked by instability and civil war for nearing thirty years, and was two-decades into this horrible instability when the Taliban came to power. And they never had control of the whole country, notably the areas bordering the former Soviet Union were not under their control. So it's sort of hard to figure major western Capital would move into a risky project like this - pipelines are quite vulnerable to instability, as the FARC in Colombia and the Iraqi resistance are showing on a near daily basis.

I do not, however, think it impossible that someone from the Clinton state department would say such a thing - competence was not their thing either.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 03:10:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may not have been a sensible move from the US' perspective, and after '98 the Clinton folks appear to have moved away from whatever flirtation they did have with the Taliban.

But the interest was there, and Rashid isn't the only one to have made claims about a CIA role in the creation of the Taliban. Most agree that the Pakistani ISI played the crucial role, but that the CIA was there with money, some weapons, and a supportive posture.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 05:16:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that what Rashid was saying is that the CIA had an important role in the creation of the Taliban. More in its strengthening. (In fact I probably got the first-Bhutto-then-ISI version from another Rashid book.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:11:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Redstar, this is not a matter of believe or not. Representatives of the Taliban even visited Texas in 1997 to discuss the matter with Unocal -- and also Governor Dubya (which was taped, Michael Moore included it in Fahrenheit 9/11). The Clinton admin not only pursued the thing, but they and Unocal received strong feminist protests in reaction. Unocal then gave up at the end of 1998.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:22:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the stories about Afghanistan being about oil are absurd - see one of my early diaries on dKos: why the afghanistan pipeline will not be built.

Turkmenistan has no oil, only gas.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 03:42:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Switch "natural gas" for "oil" then. I agree with your point that the politics of post-2001 Afghanistan are about FAR more than pipelines. But there are credible reports to suggest that in the 1990s US policy toward Afghanistan was based on energy and on keeping the Russians out, and that the CIA and some in the State Department saw the Taliban as a potentially stabilizing force that the US could live with. After 1998 that view dissipated, but it was there long enough to help direct actual aid to the Taliban, especially as they neared Kabul in '97.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 05:19:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The period where women had proper rights in many places in Afghanistan was in the 1980's. One of the plus sides of communism, that. There were of course negatives, but when Najibullah went, so too did the rights.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:10:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Relative to Pakistan, there was much more freedom already under the Shah.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on who you were. The shah gave freedoms to those who could afford them, provided in return they supported his regime.

If you weren't one of those, and you had the affrontery to complain, you weren't likely to be very free. Khomeiny did not happen in a vacuum, though it is true the left in Iran didnt know what they were getting into with him and were quickly dispatched once he came to power.


The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:23:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Methinks above you confused the Shahs of Iran and Afghanistan.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:52:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, I'm not used to hearing him refered to as shah - he's always been refered to as King by people I knew (one of whom was a nephew of his who owns a restaurant here in the Twin Cities who I went to the local international school with...)

True shah equals king in farsi. In Pashto the word is kahn; most of my friends are the latter. Actually I think the last king was pashtun too, even Peshawar-based, as his nephew certainly is here in St Paul.  

Sorry for the confusion on my part.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 03:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How did this thread move from Afghanistan to Iran?

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 02:30:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 09:04:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I also had not seen the King of Afghanistan referred to as Shah before, so I thought when dodo said "the Shah" he meant Iran.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 01:43:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's part of his commonly quoted name, Mohammed Zahir Shah, so I am surprised about you and redstar never having heard such a reference to him. Regarding his language background,

Mohammed Zahir's father was born in Dehradun, India descending from a Peshawar based Pashtun family, in other words Pakistani based...

Zahir Shah was sent to be educated in France at the Pasteur Institute and the University of Montpellier.[1] He spoke fluent Persian, and some French, English and Italian.[2]

His preference of the Persian language gave him credibility with the single most important group of the country: the Persian-speaking elite of Kabul.[3]



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:03:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the Shah is not the same thing as Mohammed Zahir Shah. To me "the Shah" is Reza Pahlavi.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:48:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias, while "The King" is Elvis.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 10:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Precisely.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 03:45:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
backlash redux.
by wu ming on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:36:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not convinced Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.  

I am convinced there are factions within the US government that wish to attack Iran:

  •  to protect Israel (AIPAC, et.al.)

  •  so as to establish control over the oil  

  •  to greatly reduce the possibility they could develop nuclear weapons in the next 10 years

Sarkozy is providing external and, for all I know, internal support to and for these factions.  By so doing he is raising the probability - however slightly - for an attack by the US on Iran.  Whether he is doing so for (whatever) reasons of his own or whether he is stupid I leave to them who know.  

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 03:11:19 PM EST
Somewhat off-topic but interesting insofar it is indicative of currents in iranian society as well as debunks some of the myth about the crazy mullahs, here is an article which discusses a TV serie about the holocaust on iranian TV: "It is Iran's version of Schindler's List, a miniseries telling the tale of an Iranian diplomat in Paris who helps Jews escape the Holocaust - and people around the country are riveted, tuning in every week to catch the latest episode."
by Fete des fous on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 04:38:45 PM EST
I'm going to leave this comment at the bottom of this thread. You'll read the article I provide below or not, but it describes in detail an intelligence-related context that raises plenty of questions as to what western intelligence agencies are up to. [it's lengthy; skim the article, if you're short on time, the conclusion provides a good summary]. But my impressions is that it provides a model for the kinds of supra- or sub- national crises that are being used to advance broader policies.

The real danger that faces the world today, as far as the nuclear threat is concerned, is not so much policies of nation states, such as Iran, as it is subterranean intelligence/mafia/drug-related rogue elements. A number of western countries are no longer in control of their intelligence apparatuses. One hand no longer has the faintest idea what the other is doing. All of this exacerbated by the privatisation of inteliigence-gathering and mercernary forces.

We need, urgently, to address the question of Intelligence and the drug industry, which, collectively, fuel world markets and provide cover for any number of deadly incidents.

The issue is no longer Iran, or Syria or N. Korea. It's a question of absolute, mind-boggling, institutionalized, across-the-board corruption and unprecedented supra-national chaotic control.

It we're to address the threat of nuclear weapons and their eventual deployment in a "terrorist" context, we need first and foremost to consider the factions that are most likely to be willing to use them.

The article I mentioned above:
Inside the Crevice
http://www.globalcrisis.org.uk/main/PDF/Inside%20the%20Crevice.pdf

by Loefing on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 06:48:57 PM EST


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