Syria: What’s to be done?

International affairs do not have to be complicated. This is the case of Syria today. What’s to be done? In a word, hegemony must be established for the side that seeks human rights and freedom. That side is being championed by the United States of America.

On the struggle to establish hegemony, a crucial question is this: On whose side is time? In other words, who can afford to wait, to take time, to go slowly? The answer is this: time is with the side that has a prosperous economy. In this post I will argue that the nations that blindly follow an ideology do not have the environment in which a prosperous economy can grow. Therefore, time is not on the side of those ideology-based nations. Hegemony, sooner or later, will come to those countries that fight for human values, freedom, human empowerment, and peaceful cooperation.

This reminds me of another scenario, in which world hegemony was in dispute: the 1960s and 1970s, in which the Vietnam War took place. During those conflicts, time was not on the side of the Communists. The United States and its allies, by going slowly and taking the long view, eventually provoked the unraveling of the Soviet Empire and the Communist bloc.

The challenge in today world is no longer Communism but rather religious extremism. Here also, religious extremism does not have time on its side. It needs to keep on fighting and winning in order to continue to subsist. If it stops, it loses power. In time, all extremist ideologies will collapse in ruin, since they are not conducive to a prosperous economy.

The reason, therefore, has to do with the economy. Both Communism and religious extremism are effective tools to get people out in the streets and throw bombs, but they are virtually incapable of producing economic progress. Also, these ideologies go against common sense and human good will. People who are blinded by them need to act fast and get quick results, or else they may stop to think and may realize that their ideologies are crazy. That was true with Communism, and it is true with religious extremism. We can see, then, that time is definitely not on the side of senseless ideologies.

The lesson from the US actions during the Vietnam War is that it pays to resist evil ideologies even when that is not a popular thing to do. It pays to be engaged in the fight. Engaging in the struggle against crazy ideologies–even when the odds are against you–brings about victory because it buys time, and time demolishes crazy ideologies. We saw that with Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Again, the great force that acts against ideological regimes is the economy. The economy does not lie, cannot be cheated, and cannot long conceal its real fruits. This shows that time is not on the side of religious extremism.

Iran and World Hegemony

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

Ayatollah Khomeini (Wikipedia)

Iran has a long history of seeking hegemony–if not in the world, at least in the Middle East. In recent times, Iran had a viable opportunity to achieve regional power during the regime led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902 – 1989). At that time, the ideological fervor of devout extremists was at fever pitch in Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini demanded complete Islamic purity, which attracted huge numbers of dedicated and radical Islamist crowds ,  who followed the Ayatollah blindly and completely. But again, such individuals are great to go out and create revolutions, but they are inept when it comes to building a viable and prosperous economy. Therefore, time was not on the side of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

What went wrong for Ayatollah Khomeini? The fly in the ointment for the ambitious Ayatollah Khomeini was that a young American president, John F. Kennedy, decided to face up to Communism in South East Asia by involving US troops in Vietnam. For that reason, Ayatollah Khomeini was not able to receive any help from the Russians.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who was in power until 1964, was totally involved in blocking the US influence in South East Asia and offered no help whatsoever to further the political ambitions of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. Without Soviet help, Khomeini was no match to the liberal government led by the Shah of Iran. Khomeini was forced into exile and had to wait until 1979 to take over power in Iran. Again, it was too little, too late for the Ayatollah Khomeini, as events would show.

For example, Iran could not prevail in its war against Iraq (1980-1988). In that war, Iran had another opportunity to assert its hegemony as a world power. However, the best that the Ayatollah Khomeini could do was to agree to a cease-fire brokered by the United Nations at the end of that war. Khomeini died in the following year.

The lessons of history show us, therefore, that ideologies must be confronted with resolute military might in order to allow time to work its magic and bring the ideologies to failure. That is so, again, because ideologies cannot produce a prosperous economy. Without a prosperous economy, no nation can long endure.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
September 17, 2013
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA


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