Home | About | Donate

A Plan Must Be Made for ‘Life After Isis’ in the Middle East


A Plan Must Be Made for ‘Life After Isis’ in the Middle East

Robert Fisk

There are times in the Middle East when nightmares and delusions take the place of the real and growing tragedy which is consuming the Arab lands. More and more earnest are the calls for peace as more and more nations launch more and more air raids, from Kabul to the Mediterranean, and down through Sinai and Yemen and across to Libya. The bloodbath is real, yet no one plans for a future – for “Life after Isis”. By my reckoning, there are now 11 different national air forces bombing five different Muslim countries to “degrade and destroy” their enemies. But what comes afterwards?


Zbigniew Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard" is the plan. It is sick and evil, but it is the plan.


I'm a big fan of education, but I think this idea of "just visualize what you want your nations to look like in the future" is rather ridiculous.

First put a cease and desist order on U.S. Weapons firms from arming the Middle East despots! Then stop the damned bombs and drones and "arming insurgents" and all the other insanity that's tearing this region apart!

Fisk makes it seem that the problem is one of how the locals visualize their future rather than the FACT of so much barbaric Western interference, resource exploitation, corruption, and control!

"By my reckoning, there are now 11 different national air forces bombing five different Muslim countries to “degrade and destroy” their enemies. But what comes afterwards?"

Honestly, this article reads like Soma!

Afterwards? After the remnants of D.U. interfere with fetal genetics and development? After the populations are decimated and the region left denuded of infrastructure?


There's no THE problem; there are a lot of problems. I think Fisk is focusing here on his idea of the need for an overarching "positive" vision for the future on the part of the people who are going to live it out. He's already spent years (decades, sigh) describing the systematic destruction of middle east cultures and societies by Euro and US forces. He's saying "visualize what you want...", not "JUST visualize what you want..."

Certainly if Sanders was doing nothing but excoriating the exploiters in the USA, he'd have galvanized a lot less "energy" than he has by also working to articulate a vision of a happy future, don't you think? It seems to me that's what Fisk is getting at here.


I know what he's saying, thank you very much.

But it reminds me of someone talking about the Great City of Oz to people freezing in lifeboats NOW.

AND the force that forced them into their lifeboats is not changing its modus operandi. THAT is the point!


Here you have it, in sum.

It's always worth reading Fisk. Here what feels remarkable is that with all the Western plans for the region, there is no published and acknowledged Plan. The heads of empire would project the impression that their actions all come down to the autonomy and the responsibility of their victims.

That cannot be new. It is not as though the Marshall Plan or the Balfour Declaration were acts of altruism, as often as they have been presented to all of us in like ways. No, no no no no, the leaders of yesteryear had their cant and their hypocrisy; their greed and their blood lust, and none of this turns out, on examination, to be very subtle. Still, there was a story that could be told people that bore some identifiable relationship to action, particularly after WWII. The Marshall Plan was presented to credulous generations as an act of generosity, a sage response to lessons learned from the failure of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI. It was touted as generosity and aid to achieve peace, when it was more properly an investment in fascism and empire to head off the autonomy of nations and peoples freeing themselves from the finally self-exhausted European empires.

The current plan, it seems, must be too monstrous to appear in a representative fiction. Popular cooperation is of too little value, popular education is too great (imagine that!), or the dismissal of reality required to maintain loyalty through some anticipated process has been judged as too great to merit the national fiction of an overarching plan. Instead, we are treated to a collage of effusive notionry of terror this and attack that.

So what is the plan? Tagging it to Brzezinski must mostly sum it up, but I wonder whether we might not have cause to update a 70s analysis. Certainly main elements are there: control of hydrocarbon reserves, fear of cooperation of Asian powers, anticipation of military conflict with Russia, China, and probably also India.

At this point, however, our relationship to existing oil reserves and to peak oil has lurched towards what must become some kind of endgame, and the notion that one may sacrifice larger and larger sectors of a global population for the good of whoever "we" is must by now have some under some stress, even in the tight little circles that plan these things. The schadenfreude of these realpolitik tank-thinkers must now map to some sort of plan for a warming globe and a fairly early approach of peak oil, even if they might still ignore large scale poisoning of water and exhaustion of agricultural soils and so forth.

We had best start by being very suspicious of this "no plan" stuff. But what are my undergraduates doing while I say, "Yeah, sure, Brzezinski"? In terms of our continuing discourse, we have a problem because the principals have quit discussing the plan so closely, though somewhere they must be examining it, in whatever form it remains, more closely than ever. It is very difficult to debate against an unarticulated position, and the falling off of discourse suggests incipient increases in force.

Part of what this does is raise the stakes. We cannot just align against a single policy or issue because these are not usefully described. We cannot just align against a single politician or party because these have begun to become almost interchangeable with the ubiquity of business-class direction and the increasing, homogeneity of business-class directive. The global system that we call "Western society" or "the community of nations" has expended most of its available resilience in displays of sound and fury, and without either signifying a good great deal beyond immediate suffering. If we allow Goldman-Sachs to run an economy, if we allow Monsanto to modify genes and sell poisons, if we persistently purchase goods that float on boats and travel in airplanes, then we must withstand, as a cost of our actions, the damages that such relationships entail. This should be regarded not as a risk, but as a certainty.

The plan of Western governments and businesses, then, is not the question, but only a preliminary. The question is how we get rid of such governments and such businesses and stop them from planning such things. This sort of raise of stakes has generally heralded revolution, but here I suspect that we must handle something more profound, if we might still hope that it might be less directly violent. We need a plan to have the life and not the petroleum, the food and not the Roundup, the global solidarity and communication and not the globalized economy.

A problem with this is that it is that what any of this entails is what has come to be called a "complex, self-organizing system," something reliably and famously beyond our capacity to envision it in its details. Still. some central plan will be necessary for any cooperation, and the plan of government and large business will not even benefit its perpetrators in any foreseeable long run. I think we collectively need to plan and consider an alternative, something along the lines of local economies in a federation of some sort, and we might footnote that to Jefferson and to permaculture as well.


No, that is not THE point. That is YOUR point. And it's a very good point, and I agree with you and support it. But it is not the only point. Fisk is making a quite different point, and it is also a very good one. (This paragraph is MY point.)

MLK's "most famous" speech is "I have a dream". He gave that speech in the midst of terrible oppression, but it was a lot more than a response to circumstances.

Fisk would like to hear something like that from middle eastern voices. I would too. I'll bet you would too. We needn't be dismissive of issues of the mechanics of oppression to want to hear hopeful visions as well.


Seems to me that Robert Fisk is the only sane voice in the Middle East. Putin might come a distant second as back in 2011-2012 he was suggesting jaw jaw more than war war. The USA seems to produce politicians who want to race each other to the bottom of hell, and take us with them.


"This is insanity. Europeans react with horror when a million refugees cross their borders – yet while it’s informative to know that Hungary thinks it is the frontier of Christendom, no one has suggested that we need to address the original problems of all these poor people. We obsess about persuading Turkey to stop the refugees and asylum seekers pouring into Europe, but without any long-term planning for a new Middle East which will reduce their numbers."

Extraordinary with all the media coverage, where do you find the awareness of the real problem that Robert Fisk expresses in his usual eloquent fashion. So obvious, yet so ignored.

Perhaps, the Russian action to support the Syrian people, whatever the reason, is the beginning of an awareness that the first step is to give the Syrians their country back and to make it possible for Syrians to return to their homes.

What America needs to do is to support the efforts of the Russians, Iranians and the Syrian government to rid the country of extremists and foreign mercenaries and invest in restoring what it has helped destroy. It can help in so many ways.

That is a lot to ask.