15 November 2015   Leave a comment

Pankaj Mishra has written a fascinating and insightful essay for  The Guardian on how best to understand the rise of the Islamic State.  The argument advanced is elegant and rooted in the forces of globalization and how it seems to be taking control of the choices we can make for the future.  He rightly identifies the power of ideology for both the Islamic State and the great powers that are dedicated to maintaining control of the course of globalization.  The most revealing sentence of the essay is:

Clashing in the night, the ignorant armies of ideologues endow each other’s cherished self-conceptions with the veracity they crave. But their self-flattering oppositions collapse once we recognise that much violence today arises out of a heightened and continuously thwarted desire for convergence and resemblance rather than religious, cultural and theological difference.

In other words, the Islamic State is simply one manifestation–out of many other contemporary movements–of the desire to retain a sense of uniqueness and solidarity in a world that seems to demand nothing less than total conformity and submission.

The negotiations in Vienna about how to end the civil war in Syria took an interesting turn today as the Russians indicated that they do not consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization.  The US, Europe, and Israel consider Hezbollah a terrorist group because of its adamant opposition to Israel.  But Hezbollah has elected representatives in the Lebanese Parliament and has worked with that government on a variety of projects.   By its announcement, Russia moves closer to Iran which considers Hezbollah to be an important ally.

There really is no accurate count of how many Muslims live in Myanmar.  Official statistics suggest that Muslims comprise 4% of the total population, but that figure is certainly too low.  Nonetheless, no Muslims were elected to the new Parliament and no party in Myanmar fielded a Muslim candidate.  The election was the first free election in many years and that one was held at all is cause for celebration.  But the lack of effective representation in this Buddhist-majority state is something to regret and something that must change.

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Posted November 17, 2015 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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