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A Millipolar/ Bipolar/ Unipolar World

Reader comment on item: Caliph Ibrahim's Brutal Moment
in response to reader comment: all very puzzling

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Aug 13, 2014 at 05:07

Hi, Sara

Perhaps two years ago, events in the Middle East were already so complex, I had to begin a serious study in the matter. I grew up with the Cold War, wherein the whole world was painted as either "Red" (which, in those days meant the opposite of what it does today. Nowadays, "Red" means "Republican, whereas then it meant "Communist") or "White" (as in, "white hats, the good guys"). It wasn't a perfect picture, because a third group, the "nonaligned" nations, was growing with each newly-independent state. The US was a nuclear superpower and one of two countries with manned space programs (the other was the Soviet Union). The British and French were closely allied with one another and with the US; and the Germans and Japanese were occupied countries. The Chinese were a hidden society, allied with the Russians, India was impoverished and everyone else seemed to be struggling to get back on its feet after a devastating Second World War.

That "Red-White" division, along with "swing states" that generally traded with the "whites" but militarily lined up with the "reds", provided a good thumbnail sketch of the world clear up to 1967: Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iran were the "good guys"; and Egypt, Syria and Libya were the "bad guys". Then the Arab-Israeli War came back to life, with a now-powerful Arab League crossing Red/White lines to gang up on the Jews. In 1973, all the Arab oil states turned on the US, along with the Iranians; and we tried to counter this trend by getting the Egyptians to make peace with Israel and join the "White" side. The same year the treaty was signed, however, the Ayatollah came to power in Iran -- vehemently anti-US and anti-Israel, and no friend of the Russians either. The Islamist bloc had come unto its own.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, and China becoming a free-market economy, it looked as though the "whites" had won: We had become a unipolar Utopia, with only a few renegades such as the Ayatollah standing in our way. With the 9/11 attack in 2001, the US was at a historic high point, able to get the direct cooperation of virtually every country in the world, including the Russians, to invade Afghanistan and vanquish the Taliban. We followed this up with a show of force in Iraq, and the West seemed invincible. The Saudis were our allies, and the Egyptians, and the Syrians and the Israelis; the Russians were "Partners for Peace", etc.

Between 2003 and today, all hell has broken loose. 2008 was an especially bad year, with the worldwide financial crisis. The Chinese were seen as the bogeyman of our financial woes, and Putin started reasserting Russian independence. By the end of 2012, the Russians dominated the Eastern Mediterranean; and the next year, they humiliated us in Syria. Meanwhile, the "Arab Spring" turned into a bloody nightmare. As you say, it looked as though a fight along sectarian lines had developed; but when Ultra-Super-Crazy al-Nusra started going tooth-and-claw against Ultra-Super-Crazy ISIS, it started getting really hard to tell the players apart.

In order to divide the world into "teams", I at first considered which groups were having at one another the most. I was surprised to find that one of the biggest conflicts in the world was the Mexican Drug Wars, in which drug cartels that had once been under the same godfather were going after each other and anyone else who got in the way. On the other hand, countries that had not yet gone to war with one another and were actually "allied" with each other, such as Israel and Turkey, were bitter enemies.

What I've come up with, is not two or three, but seventeen groups of countries that have some sort of internal cohesiveness but have a major tiff with others. As splintered as this grouping is, I had to lump together Turkey, Qatar, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and others into a single group; and I grouped Israel as an ally of the US -- something one would seriously doubt, if one were to listen in on a phone conversation between Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama. Also in the latter group are the Japanese and Koreans, who hate each other more than they hate the Chinese.

The Bible says that in the last days, people would be notorious covenant breakers; and members of families could not trust one another. At the same time, there would be conspiracies and alliances everywhere. With the US spying on everyone, including its own citizens, the times prophesied are painfully with us.

Nobody's really on anyone's side; and about the only thing the nations of the UN have been able to agree on, throughout that institution's existence, is the condemnation of Israel. The only thing that has stood in the way of an all-out attack on Israel by the "United Gentiles" ("gentiles" and "nations" are equivalent translations of the same Hebrew word) has been the US veto in the Security Council.

That's the bottom line, as I see it.

Shalom shalom :-)

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".


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Reader comments (38) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1folly of the 'experts' [94 words]David, ThailandSep 20, 2014 23:48218084
Will NATO have to save Turkey and stop the barbarians at the gate? [164 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
PezDispenserAug 16, 2014 16:26217194
1Turkey's intentions are aggressive, not defensive [136 words]Michael S.Aug 19, 2014 16:35217194
Er, just for the record... [140 words]David, ThailandSep 21, 2014 00:45217194
3Iraq's al-Malik gave ISIS $500 Million? [822 words]Michael SAug 12, 2014 16:41217111
2all very puzzling [124 words]saraAug 12, 2014 20:36217111
1A Millipolar/ Bipolar/ Unipolar World [857 words]Michael SAug 13, 2014 05:07217111
1Complex response [577 words]saraAug 14, 2014 21:46217111
1The Samson Option [527 words]Michael S.Aug 15, 2014 03:07217111
1ISIS AND THE SAUDI GOVERMENT [260 words]IMAD NAHAS /NEO KORBENAug 25, 2014 19:06217111
1Turkish support for IS [217 words]Michael SAug 27, 2014 04:28217111
Looking at the map… [14 words]Richard BudelbergerAug 11, 2014 08:47217078
2Will the "clerks" wake up? [373 words]Fred BaehrAug 9, 2014 15:13217032
حش كوكب or Hash Kawkab? It is the ultimate punishment for a Khalifa! [171 words]dhimmi no moreAug 9, 2014 11:29217016
1al-Khulafa' al-Rashidiin الخلفاء الراشدين three of them we murdered [253 words]dhimmi no moreAug 9, 2014 08:33217008
1El califato universal [19 words]Angel OterosAug 8, 2014 02:39216978
2You made a minor mistake in the Map of Dawlat-al-Khilafa [133 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
PrashantAug 7, 2014 04:53216948
1Nice to Hear from a real Historian [307 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
AlexAug 6, 2014 22:13216827
The Real Reason Why "INTO THE DARK" Made it Into The Journal of Middle East Studies [46 words]PezDispenserAug 9, 2014 11:00216827
close but not complete... [131 words]shAug 6, 2014 21:06216812
4Genocide Against the Yazidi in Iraq by IS [64 words]LudvikusAug 6, 2014 09:55216649
4Evil flourishes when the good do nothing (or not enough) [149 words]Doug MayfieldAug 6, 2014 06:49216607
the map reflects a narrow world view [55 words]mythAug 6, 2014 06:12216598
1Time for lies [64 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
MuslimAug 5, 2014 21:04216554
5Cannot underestimate the Caliphate [148 words]Michael Hanni MorcosAug 5, 2014 17:32216548
1barbarians at the gate [26 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Steve bryanAug 5, 2014 16:04216544
Interesting [94 words]PHILIORAug 5, 2014 14:40216543
Interesting is perhaps Too interesting [138 words]Jules PostenAug 7, 2014 03:27216543
Far Too Sanguine? [507 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Ron ThompsonAug 5, 2014 13:40216542
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Mateo MathausAug 5, 2014 13:09216540
Spheres & power [40 words]David W. LincolnAug 5, 2014 12:26216538
maps differ [26 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
JayAug 5, 2014 10:38216536
Your title may be premature [13 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Roslyn FranklAug 5, 2014 10:31216534
Hopefully the west will wake up [10 words]Ilana GoldsteinAug 5, 2014 10:08216532
The World stands on the Brink [371 words]Jules PostenAug 5, 2014 09:45216531
2From the Arab Spring to the Islamic Caliphate - While Operation Protective Edge Simmers [209 words]LudvikusAug 5, 2014 09:22216530
We might encourage the Caliphate... [190 words]Mr. DownerAug 5, 2014 08:52216529
Domestic Vignette in ISIS Household [14 words]DaveAug 5, 2014 08:11216528

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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