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Classical mechanics is a much better model to understand history than the theory of chaos or the theory of random processes

Reader comment on item: The Slap Heard Around the World
in response to reader comment: Is history really chaotic, or merely slightly random?

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Dec 22, 2011 at 16:48

I greatly admire people who understand advanced physics and don't hesitate to explain it to laymen like me. I find it always commendable and worth knowing but I suspect that even these great theories have their internal limitations and are not applicable to any arbitrary non-physical process without a lot of further refining and elaboration. How can the theory of chaos or random processes, which is applicable to matter ,explain a process put into operation by individuals endowed with intellect and having ulterior goals in mind which they intend to obtain from the process itself ?

Any theory stands with the facts it explains and predicts and falls with those it doesn't explain and doesn't predict. It means that if we see facts not deducible from a theory , this theory is eo ipso false or at best incomplete, isn't it ?

Now , dear Dan Simon, you say i.al. :

"Similarly, I would argue that the Arab governments that collapsed as a result of a slap were the ones that were ripe for collapse."

First, let me observe that the connection between the slap and the collapse of the Arab governments is quite arbitrary and needs first to be rigorously proven and by all means it can't be used as a fact , let alone a firm starting point for a far-reaching theoretical discussion. And not even all the admirable eloquence of our dear Dr. Pipes helps against this principal objection.

It seems that Dr. Pipes really believes that regimes designed and used to brutally suppressing in blood any opposition, let alone a direct attempt to overthrow them, and having large military, intelligence, spying and police forces can fall just so ... because of a slap and the macabre suicide of an abused fruit vendor. How does he explain the passivity of the police ? Another randomized accident ? If allowed to act as they should have done, these regimes and the forces at their disposals would have burnt alive not just all the family and neighbourhood of this vendor but half a country in order to secure their boss a few more years in power as it is exactly what they had been trained and paid for. Yet they did nothing. Why?

Can the random and/or chaos model explain what inhibited the police and military to act in Tunisia and Egypt to get rid of the opposition swiftly and with or without much ado and what allowed them to act in such a contrasting way in Libya,Saudi Arabia and Bahrein? Was it a smile of a fruit vendor to a generous custormer in Medina or a stray butterfly in Obama's bedroom on that romantic morning during his trip to Saudi Arabia that made all the difference ?

I am sure the theories you mention have their legitimate place in explaining some aspects of history, but definitely they explain nothing of what happened in the Arab world in 2011 and what is more , they obscure and make understanding the events there more difficult. It is so because instead of giving us the model of classical mechanics that explains motions of an object in terms of forces acting upon it, they leave, firstly, the question of real, easily discernible forces involved, particularly those acting from outside and most interesting in abolishing some Arab regimes and very anxious to preserve others, out of sight and, secondly, they are unable to account for a number of relevant facts.

Consider e.g. the notoriously known cable from the US Embassy in Cairo where the mechanism for paralyzing the forces designed to defend the regimes in case of a threat is clearly outlined. Let me give a longer passage from the cable to see what is meant in a broader context :

" On December 23, April 6 activist xxxxxxxxxxxx expressed satisfaction with his participation in the December 3-5 \"Alliance of Youth Movements Summit,\" and with his subsequent meetings with USG officials, on Capitol Hill, and with think tanks[...]

4. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx described his Washington appointments as positive, saying that on the Hill he met with xxxxxxxxxxxx, a variety of House staff members, including from the offices of xxxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxx), and with two Senate staffers. xxxxxxxxxxxx also noted that he met with several think tank members. xxxxxxxxxxxx said that xxxxxxxxxxxx's office invited him to speak at a late January Congressional hearing on House Resolution 1303 regarding religious and political freedom in Egypt. xxxxxxxxxxxx told us he is interested in attending, but conceded he is unsure whether he will have the funds to make the trip. He indicated to us that he has not been focusing on his work as a \"fixer\" for journalists, due to his preoccupation with his U.S. trip.

5. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx described how he tried to convince his Washington interlocutors that the USG should pressure the GOE to implement significant reforms by threatening to reveal CAIRO 00002572 002 OF 002 information about GOE officials' alleged \"illegal\" off-shore bank accounts. He hoped that the U.S. and the international community would freeze these bank accounts, like the accounts of Zimbabwean President Mugabe's confidantes. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he wants to convince the USG that Mubarak is worse than Mugabe and that the GOE will never accept democratic reform. xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that Mubarak derives his legitimacy from U.S. support, and therefore charged the U.S. with \"being responsible\" for Mubarak's \"crimes.\"" "

In short , there is an easy and relatively obvious method to paralyze the police and the military of any regime before "revolution" can happen. The usually corrupt top police and military officials have their bank accounts in Western banks.So it's enough to tell them to keep quiet while a "revolution" is taking place , for if they move to defend their boss as they should they will lose all their beloved assets on their bank accounts. It works, doesn't it ?

This is the explanation why the Egyptian and Tunisian police remained rather passive while their bosses was being kicked out of power and why in Libya the trick didn't work. Qaddafi invested the oil money at home and his police and military chief had no bank account in Switzerland, Lichtenstein or the US.

Saudi Arabia has a privileged alliance with the US going back to the mid-70-ies . with a pledge to re-invest billions of dollars back in the US , so this bloody,anti-Western and medieval tyranny is under no circumstances exposed to the slightest danger of "democracy" whatsoever and Bahrein enjoys also American protection so that troops from Pakistan could do exactly that for which Qaddafi's troops were smashed with NATO bombs and rockets.

In my opinion , history is a human process where acts of individuals and groups can be explained rationally. It goes without saying that many individuals and groups for whatever reasons are interested in hiding their acts and not in explaining them to others. And one of the cleverest ways to achieve that objective is to suggest an explanation that in fact doesn't explain anything and just leads away from the painful acts.

I am afraid that all this "slap theory" has been designed to lead us astray from a deeper issue involved here which is "Against whom does the US intend to use radical Islam it has first empowered Afghanistan then in the Balkans and now in North Africa?"

Submitting....

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