Semih Idiz | Jun 13, 2018 | 0
The Normalization of War and Death
It’s everywhere! Television, websites, video games, newspapers, magazines; you just can’t seem to get away from it. Death is everywhere!
But when you watch and listen to commentators, political analysts and military strategists on debate and discussion programs they are talking about it as if it were normal. It’s all about exerting power, dominating a region and having bargaining chips at the negotiation table where a country is going to be carved up by imperialists and then handed over to their mega corporations.
Of all the regions of the world, the Middle East has the unfortunate honour of being the most comfortable with death and violence. Since World War I and the slow and painful withdrawal of European colonialism in post World War II, the people of the Middle East have experienced violence in seemingly limitless forms.
The international media’s treatment of death and destruction in the Middle East today is evidence of just how commonplace it is. For a suicide attack to be noticed either Western soldiers or civilians have to die or local death toll has to exceed tens even hundreds. The sad truth is that few people are surprised when such incidents occur, and the loss of a typical local life rarely qualifies as front-page news.
The fixation of Middle Eastern governments on military strength has been extremely costly. In the ranking of countries by military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, the top spots are all from the region. Arms deals, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), are reaching astronomical numbers. This seems particularly perplexing in the case of the oil-rich GCC members who are firmly under the protection of the United States of America.
It is unfortunate how bloody Western stereotypes about the Middle East are, but little is being done in the region to counteract this characterization. Diplomatic efforts continue to fall short, and both the governments and the people continue to rely on violence to solve disputes.
Another way of getting everybody in the killing and death game is Proxy Wars; the cost-effective and efficient method to unsettle a region without getting your hands dirty. And if you are really clever you can even utilize your proxies to justify your ulterior motives.
Some military historians go back all the way to the Assassins of the 11th century others go even further back in history to the ages of Pharaohs. In contemporary history, however, it is mostly agreed that Iran and the Soviets have been the ideologists and initiators, to say the least, of Hezbollah and PKK among others. And look what they brought to these lands: nothing but death!
The Americans have been catching up in the past twenty-odd years. And not doing bad at all to legitimize their ambitions and claims in the region. Of course it is not only about oil and gas.
Camp Bucca, a forsaken desert fortress in the south of Iraq, was the birthplace of ISIS. Baghdadi was leading and rising to build the Islamic State. If there were no American prison in Iraq, there would be no ISIS. Bucca was a factory. It forged the leadership and built the ISIS ideology. Considering their intelligence and analysis capacity to think that the USA did not catch even a glimpse of these developments would be naïve, to say the least.
In the next phase, ISIS emerged in an abhorrent and vicious way on our desktops, TV’s and newspapers. We were all terrified and appalled by the violence. But soon enough it all became distant, somewhat normal. Death became normal, again.
To counter and eliminate ISIS, a new group emerged as the heroes combatting Radical Islamist Terror, the Kurds. ISIS having slaughtered their way into Syria was just too convenient a justification for a number of countries to settle in the oil-rich North East.
By labeling the Syrian arm of the PKK as YPG and SDF they somewhat legitimize an organization that they too recognize as terrorists. Whichever letters of the alphabet they use or call themselves they appear to be in the process of becoming the legionnaires of American interests in parts of Syria and Iraq. The dream of an independent and sovereign Kurdish entity in the region had been crushed in the aftermath of the KRG referendum of 25 September 2017, anyway. We’ll see how it turns out for the Kurds in Syria with all the red-lines and off-limits and other pre-conditions of all the “major actors”.
In today’s most graphic example, the Turkish Armed Forces is embarking on a campaign in Afrin. Whatever the reasons may be and however much these reasons are of critical importance for Turkey’s sovereignty, unity and self-preservation, at the end of the day, people are going to die. Did Turkey utilize any proxies? Yes. If you consider the Free Syrian Army, which had been brought together around 2011 in a partnership with Obama’s USA.
The effects of all the conflicts and wars in the region have caused the unsettling and uprooting of masses, displaced crowds and migration influx towards the West. We all watched them die on the way, including women and children. Did anybody bother to ask why these people are risking theirs and more importantly their children’s lives? Maybe now that migration poses a security threat for which the real immigrants are not responsible for. Normal families just want a safer life.
What is it that countries want? Is it what their people want? Yes, maybe. The US constituency has voted; Germany is about to choose their Chancellor, Britain is busy with their exit and so on. To what end? Have they agreed to change borders, states, government, again? Or have they chosen, in some cases persons, groups of people which they have believed to represent their believes?
Changing of borders, identities, alliances, and affiliations. Recent history of the Middle East has proven that all lead to death!
One can’t refrain from thinking if Western societies of the Czech Republic, Germany, Demark, Spain, Croatia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy and all other EU member countries, Canada and the United States, really truly realize and understand the cost of their comfort.
When, one wonders, will it end?