The Collapse of the Middle East

Yes, I know it has been going on for some time, but I don’t think most people are fully aware of just how bad it is – Spengler writes about Turkey’s problems:

…Turkey is a mediocre economy at best with a poorly educated workforce, no high-tech capacity, and shrinking markets in depressed Europe and the unstable Arab world. Its future might well be as an economic tributary of China, as the “New Silk Road” extends high-speed rail lines to the Bosporus…

…The whole notion was flawed from top to bottom. Turkey was not in line to become an economic power of any kind: it lacked the people and skills to do anything better than medium-tech manufacturing. Its Islamists never were democrats. Worst of all, its demographics are as bad as Europe’s. Ethnic Turks have a fertility rate close to 1.5 children per family, while the Kurdish minority is having 4 children per family. Within a generation half of Turkey’s young men will come from families where Kurdish is the first language…

Spengler also notes that corruption is a big problem and, of course, that Turkey is honey-combed with bad debt, now coming due with little chance the Turks can pay.   Iran has the same sort of problem – declining birth rate, low-skilled labor force, corrupt, bad debt…its why they were so eager to cut a deal with Kerry in return for easing the sanctions: Iran’s economy teeters on the edge of complete collapse and the deal frees up money for the mullahs (and, of course, the Iranians were doubly delighted to do it as, having taken the measure of Obama, they knew that they could get the sanctions eased and still just go on sponsoring terrorism and making nukes).  So, add Turkey to Iran to Syria to Egypt to Libya to Sudan as failed States…and look warily at the corrupt monarchies of the Arabian peninsula which keep themselves alive only so long as the oil keeps flowing and they can bribe people to silence.  Meanwhile, Islamism continues to spread and even in Afghanistan – with American troops still there – the Afghan government works out how to implement laws allowing for the stoning to death of adulterers.

So, what of it?  What can we do about it?  Not much.  Suffice it to say that at some point, this mess will draw us back in militarily, but for now there is not much we can do.  First and foremost, because Barack Obama is President of the United States.  The level of ignorance of facts and unwillingness to face the truth about the Middle East entirely cripples any efforts made by the Obama Administration – and if we did get sucked in to active military operations, it is certain that the lack of courage and military knowledge of the Obama Administration would ensure an American defeat.  All we can do is watch in fascinated horror while this goes on.

In the longer term, when we hopefully have better leadership, when we are forced to again fight in that area, it is to be hoped that we will do so with a clear eye to the harsh realities.  For whatever reason, Islamic peoples are simply incapable, as such, of building and maintaining a civilization.  They can take over from others (as they did when they first conquered such areas as Turkey, Syria and Egypt), but they cannot maintain or build on their own.  There is something in Muslim theology which prevents rationality – which prevents a Muslim government from really exercising democracy, from really allowing people to be independent, from really allowing minorities to have rights.  When we have to go back in, our policies must be governed in this light.

To be sure, I don’t want us to have to govern large, Muslim populations – whatever else may be said about them, Muslims dislike intensely any foreign domination.  So, no attempt at nation building.  But when the next war in the Middle East comes to our door, we must ensure that at the end of it, we are firmly protected against the violent acts of Islamist extremists and that the minority peoples of the area are afforded independence from Muslim rule – or even from a Muslim minority within their territories.  This will require a significant reworking of the map of the Middle East.  As I’ve pointed out in the past, new nations will have to be created where non-Muslim minorities can live in peace and independence – in places like Lebanon, parts of Syria, parts of Iraq, parts of Egypt, land must be carved out so that non-Muslims can be safe, with the additional benefit of locking the Muslim nations, themselves, in to positions from which they cannot by offensive action influence the course of world events.

We all of us – right and left – have been living in a bit of a dream world as regards policy towards the Middle East.  It is time we woke up to reality and acted accordingly.

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24 thoughts on “The Collapse of the Middle East

  1. Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] December 29, 2013 / 8:17 am

    This is quite possibly, no certainly the most misguided view on the Middle East I have ever heard.

    • Amazona December 29, 2013 / 10:52 am

      Great post, there, “Freddy”.

      Perhaps if it had been written in your imaginary language so you and your imaginary friends in your imaginary country in your imaginary world could have read it without need for translation, while you took imaginary breaks from your imaginary jobs at your imaginary newspaper, you might have been able to understand it better.

      You seem to be saying that your imaginary credentials in this imaginary world, etc., give you a better grasp of the Middle East, one that is not “misguided”. But then, you also think you are an editor, so………………..

      • Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] December 29, 2013 / 12:01 pm

        Since this isn’t an “imaginary” problem here’s a bit of enlightenment on the Turkish Economy from the CIA World Factbook:

        “Turkey’s largely free-market economy is increasingly driven by its industry and service sectors, although its traditional agriculture sector still accounts for about 25% of employment. An aggressive privatization program has reduced state involvement in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication, and an emerging cadre of middle-class entrepreneurs is adding dynamism to the economy and expanding production beyond the traditional textiles and clothing sectors. The automotive, construction, and electronics industries, are rising in importance and have surpassed textiles within Turkey’s export mix. Oil began to flow through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in May 2006, marking a major milestone that will bring up to 1 million barrels per day from the Caspian to market. Several gas pipelines projects also are moving forward to help transport Central Asian gas to Europe through Turkey, which over the long term will help address Turkey’s dependence on imported oil and gas to meet 97% of its energy needs. After Turkey experienced a severe financial crisis in 2001, Ankara adopted financial and fiscal reforms as part of an IMF program. The reforms strengthened the country’s economic fundamentals and ushered in an era of strong growth – averaging more than 6% annually until 2008. Global economic conditions and tighter fiscal policy caused GDP to contract in 2009, but Turkey’s well-regulated financial markets and banking system helped the country weather the global financial crisis and GDP rebounded strongly to 9.2% in 2010, as exports returned to normal levels following the recession. Growth dropped to approximately 3% in 2012. Turkey’s public sector debt to GDP ratio has fallen to about 40%, and at least one rating agency upgraded Turkey’s debt to investment grade in 2012. Turkey remains dependent on often volatile, short-term investment to finance its large trade deficit. The stock value of FDI stood at $117 billion at year-end 2012. Inflows have slowed because of continuing economic turmoil in Europe, the source of much of Turkey’s FDI. Turkey’s relatively high current account deficit, uncertainty related to monetary policy-making, and political turmoil within Turkey’s neighborhood leave the economy vulnerable to destabilizing shifts in investor confidence.”

      • Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] December 29, 2013 / 12:10 pm

        That covers the first problem I have with Mark’s post the next is that he includes Sudan and Libya as a part of the Middle East which they are not. Sudan and Libya are African nations as is Egypt though I can understand why that nation is closely associated with the ME.

        Mark goes on to insist that America will be drawn militarily back into the ME. I disagree. Their is no practical purpose for American military action in the ME now or at any time in the near future. I believe the Iraq war being the failure as it was taught even Mark the lesson that nation building is something Americans are ill equipped to accomplish. The US simply doesn’t have the stomach for the drudgery, blood and crap that long term occupation entails. His final notion of creating a space for “non Muslims” in the Middle East that would surround a cobbled together Muslim nation is simple foolishness. To do this would be to cut off America from its vital flow of oil. Now Amazona I’m sure you are going to shout “drill, baby, drill!” in response to that, but you know as well as I do that America cannot produce the 22.75 million bbl a day that is required to keep the greed machine lubricated nor does it have the current refining capacity to make enough gasoline to keep the cars running on its own.

        Less harpy bickering and more understanding of the facts would serve you better in 2014.

      • M. Noonan December 29, 2013 / 1:30 pm

        Fred,

        Well, congratulations on at least commenting on the point of the article. This may eventually lead to all sorts of good things. But, that aside, we can produce enough oil in the United States and non-middle eastern areas to supply all our oil needs. We don’t need anything from the Middle East (and, yes, Egypt and Sudan are part of it, though geographically part of Africa…Constantinople is in the Middle East, as well, even though it is physically in the European continent).

        As for understanding the facts – I think I understand them quite well, having long studied that area of the world. There is some malfunction in Islam which prevents rationality from carrying the day. And, so, no longer bother trying to get them to be rational – just get them in to a position where they can do us no harm and then leave them alone to work out their own destiny.

      • M. Noonan December 29, 2013 / 1:31 pm

        Amazona,

        Well, let’s see – our friend Freddy is convinced that Turkey is just doing splendid. We’ll know in 2014 if he is right. Then we’ll find out if he’ll come back here, quote himself, and admit error.

      • Amazona December 29, 2013 / 8:59 pm

        “Freddy” ——– meow

        Now go have yourself a nice saucer of milk

  2. Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] December 29, 2013 / 2:25 pm

    Mark I just don’t see any collapse coming in the ME any time soon. Changes in governments or even systems? Sure. But a collapse that renders the ME ripe for the carving up into colonial territories where Muslims are surrounded by non Muslim newly created countries is simply a fantasy. I will predict that Assad likely will win the civil war in Syria. The Muslim brotherhood will become the new Al Qaeda and most of the world will ignore the tribal war in Sudan between the Dinka and the Nuer despite their oil. President Obama will leave office in January of 2017 and whomever the new American leader is will inherit all the problems that have been torturing American foreign policy in regard to the region since the 1930s. The more things change the more they stay the same.

  3. Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] December 29, 2013 / 2:31 pm

    Mark for a clearer and more informed insight on the convoluted and complex nation of Turkish politics and economics I would suggest Hurriyet in English and Louis Fishman’s blog on Turkish politics as the best sources.

    • M. Noonan December 30, 2013 / 12:33 am

      And I suggest I just go with what I know, already. We’ll see how things come out. We’ll know in about a year or so.

      • Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] December 30, 2013 / 6:51 am

        And right there is the difference between Progressive thinkers and those who consider themselves conservative intellectuals. I am always looking for more facts about a topic, an event or even a theory. On the other hand, the conservative has read a few things that fit into his rigid and comfy worldview and voila! nothing new needs to go into the old brain pan. A year or so? Hmm, you do this quite often Mark; calling for this collapse or that event but oh it will take a year or two for this to play out but it never does.

        You have been consistently wrong, wrong wrong, on the collapse of banks in the US, the collapse of the dollar, the collapse of the Chinese economy, the double dip recession, all of these and more because you honestly are just going with what you pray and hope [in that order] will happen so you can be seen as prescient on the Intertubes about something. Well we both know that will never happen unless you predict right now that Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee for the Democrats in 2016.

      • M. Noonan December 30, 2013 / 3:11 pm

        Well, I didn’t expect that the Fed would keep helicoptering in that much money for this long – even with the “taper”, the Fed is still funneling $75 billion per month to the banks. What do you think happens when that money is cut off? Anything that needs $75 billion in free money per month is dead as a doornail.

        If the economy were doing well, labor force participation wouldn’t be back to 1978 levels.

        If China hasn’t collapsed, then why did the government there recently decree that no one is allowed to report on the cash crunch?

        The Turkish PM says Turkey’s problems are caused by the International Jewish Conspiracy.

        France is double-dipping in to recession – while Italy, Spain and Greece remain mired in depression.

        You’re the one who won’t look at the facts – you prefer the BS numbers produced by the Obama Administration and the happy talk in the MSM. Stay in your dream world, if you like – but I live in the real world.

      • Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H. [Journ.] December 30, 2013 / 3:25 pm

        Anything that needs 75 billion per month is dead as a doornail? Are you the same guy that supported the Iraq war? Do you have any idea how much money was wasted on that? Now I’m not saying the US economy is dead at all but that is one horribly poor analogy. The collapse of the housing derivative markets was the most devastating blow to the global economy ever and America nearly solely responsible for the bulk of it, is along with the larger EU members dragging the rest of the world out of it. This wasn’t a one time six month fix it is a laborious hard to accomplish ten year fix at best. That means the world economy is only half way to recovery and sure there have been some harsh casualties [See Iceland, Ireland and Greece] on the road to this point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You often trumpeted your certainty the banking system was in a free fall because of the number of failed banks. Can you tell me how many banks have failed in 2013?

      • Amazona December 30, 2013 / 12:18 pm

        And right there I stubbed my toe on the oxymoronic “Progressive thinker” comment.

        What I have observed you Progressives do is, read a lot about this or that or the other, and my how you do love to trot out what you have “learned” for the edification and, hopefully, embarrassment of others.

        The thing is, you are so selective about what you read, and what you “learn”. You stay in the bubble of Progressive writing, you research what other Progressives say, and you recycle it all, albeit with great smugness.

        Here’s an idea: Put down all the stuff you “study” to support your Progressive views, and study PROGRESSIVISM.

        That is, delve into the history of the movement. Learn, really LEARN, where it started, how it got named, what were and are its goals, who were the leading members of the movement, its political philosophy.

        You brag; ” I am always looking for more facts about a topic, an event or even a theory.” OK—look for more facts about Progressivism. Really really learn about it. When you have learned about what Progressives have said about the glory and majesty of the movement, then “look for more facts” from other, more objective, sources.

        Since you are all about “….more facts about a topic, an event or even a theory.” you should be fascinated to learn as much as you can about people like Margaret Sanger and Woodrow Wilson, about their ideas for improving the lot of the human race by improving the human race itself by applying breeding standards used for livestock and culling the races deemed less valuable.

        When you can, and will, be a Progressive who actually knows what the word MEANS, who can and will explain it to others (accurately, without the starry-eyed flutter of emotion about it being so kind and fair and all) and who can and will engage in a discussion about its real pros and cons, then when you start off something with a reference to being a Progressive people might be willing to read beyond that statement.

        And who knows? When you finally know what it really MEANS to be a true Progressive, you might have enough room in your head to finally learn what a conservative is.

        And then, maybe, you will be qualified to engage in discussion in which you can support your passion for infinitely larger and more powerful Central Authority, the human and economic and even spiritual benefits of dragging down some to create an illusion of “equality” by simply moving “equal” down the scale, and so on. You know, explain how it is a better system than giving people the freedom to explore their capacity and potential and reap any rewards from success, explain the historical record of Progressivism in increasing economic prosperity and personal liberty—-that kind of thing.

        Me? Ain’t holding my breath.

      • Amazona December 30, 2013 / 12:51 pm

        And BTW, I don’t think conservatives are nearly as enamored of the word “intellectual” as you Progressives, as it really just means people who produce nothing but ideas. The wonderful thing about this, to your kind, is that once the label of “intellectual” has been applied to someone whose only claim to any kind of productivity is that he has ideas, from that point on it never matters when the ideas are wrong.

        It’s really kind of a Lefty word, like “Progressive” and “Liberal”—–just wordplay to allow some people to delude themselves into thinking they are smarter, or more advanced, than others.

        Like “intellectual”, “Progressive” has no relationship to reality. It is not about progress. In reality, it is a seriously REgressive movement, harking back to the Bad Old Days when the Left destroyed everything it ever touched. Its ideas, such as they are, are old and musty, when they are not simply pious platitudes. “Liberal” refers to the most rigid and illiberal movement of our time, or at least its kissing cousin, but gee golly that WORD makes people feel so——liberal.

        People in the real world sit back and watch you guys prance and posture, proudly wearing your labels, which are supposed to convey impressions of superior intellect, dedication to progress, expansive tolerance and eagerness to embrace new ideas, etc. What is so funny is that you are all so oblivious to the glaring fact that the reality is the opposite of the words.

        “Intellectuals” are often dumb as dirt, but with elaborate vocabularies and the conviction that if they produce ideas it will not matter that the ideas are wrong. They are ideas, and ipso facto they come from intellectuals, because intellectuals produce ideas. It’s a little closed circle, but it has the right label on it, and a certain faction of the population is impressed.

        “Progressives” seldom know the slightest thing about the movement they lay claim to, but they sure do like that word, because it makes them feel so………progressive. So modern, so forward-thinking. And after all, if you are NOT “Progressive” you must be against those cool things, right? Double whammy. The facts that the ideology of the movement has been tried and rejected every time it’s been given a chance, is based upon theories which dehumanize people while telling them they are being protected and uplifted, is an affront to human dignity while posturing as being caring and nurturing, are all unimportant to the modern Progressive. All he cares about is the label. And to him, there is no difference between being truly progressive and being A Progressive.

        LOOK AT ME!! I’M PROGRESSIVE !!! (AND YOU’RE NOT) !!!!!!

        And as for the self-proclaimed “Liberal”, all we have to do is look at the passion with which “Liberals” fight to silence oppositional voices and shut down, demonize or eliminate anything that is not part of their own little bubble. Grotesquely illiberal, but they’ve got the label.

        Nah, it’s all just silly, superficial, Identity Politics, with nothing behind it but the passion for having a trendy label.

      • Retired Spook December 30, 2013 / 3:41 pm

        Can you tell me how many banks have failed in 2013?

        Too funny, Fred. Never ask a question you either don’t know the answer to or don’t want the answer to: There were 24 U.S. bank failures in 2013, bringing the total number of U.S. bank failures during Obama’s first 5 years to 464. By comparison, there were 50 U.S. bank failures total during Bush’s 8 years. Helluva job, Barry.

      • M. Noonan December 31, 2013 / 1:38 am

        Spook,

        And without the $75 billion a month, hundreds more would immediately fail.

      • tiredoflibbs December 30, 2013 / 4:03 pm

        Spook…Spook…Spook….

        You must remember…..

        Anything that has negatively happened during the obame’s administration is Bush’s fault! It doesn’t matter that obame is pumping money into Wall Street and the banks to keep the economy up and interest rates low. It doesn’t matter. When the bottom falls out because of artificial propping up by the “intellectual” (a term used very loosely here) proggies, it will be Bush’s, the TEA party’s, conservatives’ fault.

      • Retired Spook December 30, 2013 / 4:13 pm

        it will be Bush’s, the TEA party’s, conservatives’ fault.

        How silly of me, Tired. I don’t know how I could possibly have thought otherwise.

      • Amazona December 30, 2013 / 4:46 pm

        It’s ALWAYS Bush’s fault. I am sure it is just a matter of time till they come up with plans for the secret WayBack Machine that let Bush go back into the Carter era to force (FORCE!! I tell you !!!) the banks to lend money to people who don’t have jobs and who can’t pay back the loans.

        The sneaky bastid.

        Because the entire, and yes I do mean ENTIRE, as in whole, complete and total, housing/banking collapse was started under Carter, with the government forcing banks to engage in bad business practices, and then exacerbated by subsequent bandaids slapped onto the inevitable consequences of this Progressive foolishness. As the problems got worse, two things happened—–the Left expanded the original Carter-era mandates and with the help of the government forced, bullied and blackmailed banks into even more self-destructive banking practices, and government tried to head off the inevitable problems by inventing bigger and bigger bandaids.

        And some of us sat back and watched it happen, as the inexorable forces of economics moved on. Banks loaned out millions or billions to people who could not repay the money and this was used to buy houses they could not afford. The sudden demand for houses resulted in a construction boom, and as the inventory dwindled and demand went up (thanks to all that mortgage money the Feds were extorting from the banks) housing prices went up, as well. Then when the interest rates went up, as they had to do, and these people learned that when a document says they will owe X number of dollars at a given time this really does mean they will owe X number of dollars at that time, no matter what ACORN told them, they defaulted on those loans.

        Again, this was totally predictable. And it was predicted all over the place, including on this blog.

        So suddenly the bloated housing market collapsed. Inventory shot waayy up as people defaulted on their loans, housing prices plummeted as a result, people found themselves owing a lot of money on houses they had bought at the top of the market because that was the only way to buy a house then, and the whole housing thing fell in on itself.

        Expanded construction companies went under because they grew to accommodate the demand for more houses. The domino effect took over.

        As part of this, and ONLY part of this, the government bandaids slapped onto the growing owies in the banking industry—–that is, the ability to sell off these toxic mortgages before they hit the tipping point of too-high payments——contributed to the rest of the economic meltdown.

        And to hear the whining of the PROgressives, none of this had the slightest thing to do with government interference in the market, government social engineering experiments, or the inherent flaws in Leftist redistributionist and anti-capitalist antics.

        Nope. It was all the fault of the man who was in office when the fuse finally burned down.

        You notice that Bush never whined that he INHERITED this mess. No, he just rolled up his sleeves and tried to deal with the problems that were already in motion before he was elected. Did he do the best job possible? No. But did he invent the problem, cause the problem, or create the problem? No.

        Was it capitalism or the free market approach that did so? No.

        Then Barry was swept into office on the crest of an uber-emotional now-we-can-prove-we-aren’t-racist wave of irrational gullibility, and when faced with any decision to make on any economic issue he has, without fail, chosen the wrong one.

        (To be fair to Barry, he has also inevitably made the wrong decision on every other kind of problem or issue he has faced, from international affairs to race relations. He may be horrible, but he IS consistent.)

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