Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fighting for Their Lives

An existential threat is a threat to a people’s existence or survival.

The subject is war.  The place is throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.  The time is now.

The subject is not the “why”: Why these wars?  Why now?  These are not for today.  For this post, I merely consider the reality of the wars.  They are – this is certain, regardless of why and why now.

Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Afghanistan.

An existential threat.  The term is often applied to a nation.  Of course, one can debate if this is an appropriate use of the term but one cannot debate that it is used this way.  For this post, I will accept that it is used this way.  I will further accept that political leaders see things this way; they are the ones with a) something to lose, b) the weapons necessary to do something about it, and c) a legacy to consider.

What if the political leaders of Russia see these current wars as posing an existential threat to the viability of an ongoing Russian state?  With NATO on its borders and Ukraine playing the part of the rope in a tug-of-war between east and west, why not?  With Afghanistan in continuous play?  With the arming and radicalization of Muslims in the Middle East threatening the security of the Muslim regions of the Russian Federation?

What of Turkey?  One hundred years ago – having already suffered the embarrassment of losing almost all lands in North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe – Turkey’s Ottoman predecessor saw in the Armenians such a threat; a risk of losing what is today eastern Turkey.  From the Turkish perspective, then it was Armenians, today it is the Kurds.

Iraq?  It is already gone, divided into at least three – one reason the Turks are worried about the Kurds.  Syria?  In process; one cannot deny that to Assad’s Syria what is going on is an existential threat.

Israel?  We are constantly reminded of this nation feeling existentially threatened.  Iran?  It has been bullied like few others in recent decades, with today only a slight opening.  Saudi Arabia?  If there was ever a regime ripe for revolution from below, this one would seem to qualify.

What if the national leaders in each of these countries sees in the current condition an existential threat – the risk of loss of political borders, loss of sovereignty, loss of power and wealth, loss of control over subject populations?  How will they fight?  How long will they fight for?  What measures (military and otherwise) will they be willing to consider in order to delay the day of reckoning?

What of the United States, with fingers in each pie yet without facing any existential threat – at least to its political borders?  What if the existential threat is to the empire?

What if the fight is not for oil (in any case not a convincing reason)?  What if it has devolved into nothing less than a fight for their lives – not the lives of the individuals within a given nation-state, but the lives of the various nation-states – personified in the various political leaders? 

If the alternative is death, why not fight to the death without concern of collateral damage – no matter how massive the destruction?  Yes, why not?  Might this explain the seemingly irrational behavior of many of the actors? 

Might this be what we are witnessing?  Every actor facing what is considered to be an existential threat?


  1. I think the Islands in the South China Sea are playing a roll in this also. I think the Empire is keeping China worried so they don't venture into the Middle East with their Russian partners.
    I also think that Ukrine was suppose to play that roll with Russia, but Putin stared back and went to Syria even with the "threat" happening in Ukraine and NATO pushing its borders.
    I have been thinking about this a lot BM, maybe more so than I should, but just how far will they all go? Putin has told Erdogan he will use tactical nukes to keep his 20,000 soldiers safe in Syria. Russia has moved advanced mig-29's to Armenia just a few miles from the Turkish border. Russia's very formidable S-400 anti-air systems are all around Turkey and Syria now. The Saudis have moved a good chunk of their Air Force into Turkey, while still trying to defeat the Houthis in Yemen. Turkey seems to really want to invade Syria. How can this be the thinking of a logical person? War with Russia?
    This very well could be the beginning of WW3. I think the shots have already been fired for it.
    And for what?
    A friend of mine who was a Captain in Iraq war 2 told me he knew plenty of American generals who still were pissed we never had a full on war with the Soviet Union to see who would win.
    And in the background of it all is the existential threat to all mankind right now, the US government. And we have all heard of conspiracies of the powers that be wanting to cut the worlds population by 6-6.5 billion people.
    It sounds crazy, but political power changes and clouds men's thinking. More power is their only goal and ambition.
    I hope it all settles out without a massive war. I hurt for the millions of people in the Middle East among other places in the world that have had their lives lost and destroyed for the pleasure of the Empire.
    I try not to dwell on it.
    But it's more important to our lives right now than what a Libertarian Society would look like, and I think about that a lot too, and living 90 miles from the US land based missile defense system, it keeps burning in the back of my mind.

    1. Let's also keep in mind that Turkey is a NATO member. So any military conflict with Russia could, by treaty, commit the U.S. along with all of NATO to war with Russia. At the very least, Europe could see its Russian energy supplies cut off.

      War between Russia and Turkey will either trigger WW3 or cause a breakup of NATO as European national leaders come to their senses and decide not to commit suicide for the 3rd time in a century. Somehow I just don't see the Greek people willingly embracing an existential threat in order to defend Turkey.

  2. One the strengths of the old Caliphate was the elimination of any rival to a new ruler –male relatives and others with any pretension of power were executed. With no threat to power the ruler could bring to bear the full potential force of the system while being somewhat undemanding of newly conquered peoples.

    The Middle East now has scores of potential threats and aspiring rulers as a result of outside intervention and opportunistic alliances. The result is about as should be expected. Perhaps the despotic rulers the U.S. took out were more appropriate than the rampant and aggressive anarchy now being experienced.

  3. Metacynic, Luckily we are seeing smaller NATO members saying "heck no" with a war with Russia, and I did read a couple articles where NATO told Turkey that the NATO charter only says they have to come to aid only if another NATO country is aggressed on, not if they start the war themselves. Of course how easy these days to change the narrative and say that Russia is the aggressor. But there are a few NATO countries calling for Turkey's ouster of NATO.