How to explain barbarity? 2: Failed States - Militant democratic opposition - Constellational thinking Volker von Prittwitz (December 02, 2015)
Why do failed states come into existence? The emergence of barbarity is stimulated through failed states that have lost control of their territories and do not dispose at legitimate authority to make collective decisions. Under those preconditions -  currently see Libya, Syria, and Iraq - competing sub-units easily get unlimited power -  resulting in civil war and brutal ways of exerting power. That’s why the question of how failed states come into existence is of paramount importance for the explanation and overcoming of barbarity. Three hypothetic answers on this question used to be cited in the passed decades: 1) Colonial heritage: Colonial policies (of the 17th to early 20th century) destroyed traditional social structures; these gone structures have not been replaced by modern constitutional structures. In the contrary, the colonial powers had no interest in fostering effective and vital nation-building of the formerly colonized areas; instead they tried to spark and to reproduce  national conflicts between them. 2) Neo-liberal programs of structural adaptation: The weakness and decay of certain states has been induced or strengthened by programs of World Bank and International  Monetary Fund to enforce privatisation. Credits were only given if the concerned states agreed to drastically reduce their state budgets and to privatize state departments resulting in a long-term reduction of political integration. 3) End of Cold War: During the Cold War dictatorial regimes often were held at power by the one or the other superpower because of ideological and strategical interests. After the end of the Cold War the lack of internal legitimation of those regimes came to the daylight resulting in a political rise of oppositional movements and rebel groups. These older explanations focus on external factors - cognitively reproducing structures of complete external dependency. Current phenomenons of barbarity such as the IS, indeed, can only be understood by taking also internal factors and processes into consideration - resulting in models of external and internal factors. In this view, three new explanations come to the foreground: A) With rising economic independency based on rich oil  reserves, the rule of one and only religion (Wahhabi Sunni Islam or Shiit Islam) reestablishes as a predominant perspective. Linked with that re-orientation (im)moral criterions and measures of former times, going back until the foundation of Islam in the seventh century, get significance in Islamic views. That fall back implicates heavy conflicts up to brutal violence and war in a world of complex relationships. B) The US military intervention in Iraq 2003 - legitimated by Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the alleged (falsified) proves of mass destruction weapons - made authoritarian state structures in Iraq be smashed without an effective replacement. The resulting anomy became a basic preconditon of the fast rise of Islamic State. In this sense, the USA has been the obstretrician of the IS, as it had been already an early financier of Al- Khaida. C) The so-called Arabian Spring, the 2011 and 2012 emerging social and political movement with democratic claims in several countries of North Africa and the Middle East, led to a vital democratic system only in Tunisia. In all other concerned countries, it implicated heavy riots up to civil war or the return to authoritarian structures. While Egypt went through a conflictual way to re-establishing its authoritarian structure under el-Sisi, particularly in Syria and Libya war is going on - a power basis of  Islamic State.
Militant democratic opposition? In all these cases, the ruling government has been blamed by the reproach of  exerting violence against  its own people. Although that reproach seemingly can be substantiated in some cases, it has clearly proved to be a fatal trap to endless civil war and to the rise of barbarity; since the formula of violence against the own people  usually is interpreted as a legitimation to build up a militant opposition against an authoritarian system. At least if the attacked authoritarian system is able to stand against this militant opposition, long lasting cruel war and barbarity are probable. Even if the military chances to overthrow an authoritarian ruler are better, military opposition is highly precarious insofar as any war fosters one-dimensional thinking and feeling - just the contrary of plurality and democracy. That’s why the way of militant opposition usually does not lead to democracy - in the contrary, it is often an open door for the rise of barbarity and totalitarian thinking. Facing the described sources of barbarity, a) the destruction of given power structures, b) militant opposition proclaiming democratic power, the dramatic failure of international politics during the last decades becomes explainable. Particularly the US foreign policies that aimed at fostering militant democratic opposition led exactly to the contrary they were intended to aim at - no bad luck, but result of a wrong political strategy. Constellative Thinking A significant factor of that political failure is the dominance of short-term interests particularly in US policies, another factor the prevailing thinking in simple two-pole patterns of the good ones and the bad ones. Since roles can change in practical politics, US foreign policy often fosters (relatively) good ones that soon reveal to be bad ones - steadily running behind dynamic processes and, all in all, producing dramatically bad results for the international community. In strict contrast to that myopic and reflex ways of policy-making, international politics has to be analyzed based on models that help to understand constellations and processes (Political Analysis). At it, diverse forms of totalitarian, authoritarian, and democratic systems have to be differentiated (see: Then situational and processual constellations between diverse actors have to be stated and assessed - finally leading to political conclusions. Totalitarian organizations that behave in barbarian ways such as IS have to be overcome with all available means, that is by effective military, political, and economic means, last but not least by convincingly communicating and realizing the wonder of life in all its facettes. Authoritarian systems, without any doubt, usually do not comply with regular demands of democracy. Indeed, sometimes they protect people against totalitarian actors - see the Egyptian system; even the Bath party system enabled certain degree of plurality in Syria before the war. Hence totalitarian and authoritarian systems are systematically to be differentiated - leading to the main perspective of supporting evolutionary changes to more democratic rights and freedoms.   Any assistance of barbarity should be clearly denounced and exerted under political and economic pressure - see some practices in Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. What we need is a global coalition against barbarity - as soon and as effective as possible. The meanwhile active roles of Russia and France to bring about such an alliance should be appreciated and supported also in the United Nations.