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<nettime> perry rhodan's world?
Alex Foti on Mon, 13 Apr 2015 17:20:11 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> perry rhodan's world?

(nettime lives:)

when i was a kid, a nerdy boy gave me to read this coldwar sci-fi
series which i have now found out was originally west-german (thought
it was brit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Rhodan). The hero
is an American space major who defends the West against its foes.
Can't remember much about the 007-like plot except one thing that got
me thinking: in the next future it won't be America vs Russia, but
America vs China, with Russia a lesser ally of the latter. Well, it's

China and Russia have signed multibillion energy and arms deals
to counterbalance the US, whose hegemony over the Pacific and the
Middle East is clearly vacillating. The whole multipolar ordeal is
consolidating along a more familiar bipolarity - america vs china
over asia, america vs russia over eastern europe with the eu somewhat
caught in the middle. All the signs from Ukraine to the South China
sea escalation point toward a more confrontational relation between
America and the two continental quasi-empires. And one thing is
certain: no matter who gets elected after Obama, she/he will be more
hawkish in foreign policy. Hillary is certainly more pro-israel and
martial than the hawaian boy who used to love bob marley;)

More seriously, there's a chance that in retrospect we'll regard the
US-Iran peace deal as a "Nixon goes to China" moment. Overriding
israel's opposition, Obama (and the hitherto lame Kerry) decided to
shift the weight of the US on the shia side, away from the traditional
support given to sunni petromonarchies, a bit like Nixon and Kissinger
decided to give a preference to chinese maoism over russian stalinism
to decisively weaken the former as they were losing the Vietnam
war. Here the US after losing the middle-eastern wars is giving a
preference to Iran's revolutionary islamism over Saudi Arabia's
reactionary islamism. Of course the new accord leaves out very messy
grey areas (e.g. Yemen and Syria), but puts ISIS' necrosalafism on the
defensive, because it's shia militias and Iran's pasdarans who are
fighting them on the ground, along with kurdish forces (peshmerga and
YPG/YPJ), inflicting serious defeats to the black ghouls of evil.

One should nevertheless be wary of manicheism in observing the
shia/sunni divide. If there's a clear regional split between the
Sheikhs and the Ayatollahs, it's also evident that the sunni Muslim
Brotherhood is closer to Iran (and Qatar) than it ever was to alqaeda
and isis (which was spawned by the first battle for falluja). However,
the shia hezblollahs are fighting on assad's side (supported by
iran) supporting the alawite shia minority against the uprising of
the sunni majority, which has the sympathy of the Brotherhood in all
arab countries. In Yarmouk refugee camp where incredibile atrocities
are being committed against Palestinians, hamas has to fight on
two fronts, against isis and bashir. The Gulf coalition is showing
its true colors by bombing the Houthis: it is a holy alliance, a
counterrevolutionary force at work to bury the Arab spring once for
all (Sissi and Bahrein are ardent supporters of the military alliance)
with the pretext of hitting isis, while in fact it's mostly US planes
bombing al-baghadi's private army.

For all the coldwar reruns, we live in a world politically shaped
by the 1979 persian revolution and the 1978 conversion of china
to (state?) capitalism. But while communist ideology is arguably
moribund, political islamism has been the dominant ideological
opposition to (neo)liberal democracy for three decades. I've long
thought islamophobia is today's functional equivalent of antisemitism
between the two wars. While the European right is invariably
islamophobic (think lepen, lega or pegida), it has also become clear
that, in the absence of an anticapitalist ideology that speaks
directly to them, the lure of jihadism and the violent refusal of
women's rights and other secular values are popular among young
european arabs. This should be no cause for hysteria, but it did
make me give SOUMISSION a fair-minded reading. Well, I cite it not
for its (dubious or not) literary merits, but because it contains a
clear geopolitical prediction: the islamization of europe and the
political reunification of the Mediterranean, with the european union
enlarging itself to embrace the maghreb and the middle east. The house
of saud takes over the sorbonne by ensuring its funding, since public
education is abolished by the new regime (a beur has been elected for
president, supported by hollande and sarkozy vs le pen). I'm a secular
catholic (spaghetti atheist) and i certainly hope secularism and human
rights will vanquish ignorance, repression and intolerance all over
the world, but i'd favor the shias over sunnis anytime - they're more
populist, modernist, and inclusive (women's rights are less curtailed
in iran in comparison to saudi arabia), not least because they fight
on the side of Kobane to liberate Ninive and Mosul.

ciao for now,


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