Theater of Cruelty

The unbearable ease of politics

Brexit in June and failed coup in Turkey in July – and heck, then the whole situation in Europe had changed to the unrecognizable.


Europe, this continent named after a Phoenician princess, who has leaders who believe they are the center of the world, even though the continent is just a dead end to the Eurasian land mass – this Europe is in its worst crisis since World War II, and politicians are watching not seem to understand any thing.

For three years, the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State, and which is also called Daesh, declared that in the name of Islam it wants to restore the caliphate and that it should cover not only the Middle East and North Africa, but also parts of southern Europe. This group has emerged in a strange way. It has not grown out of the social conflicts anywhere, but appears more as a franchise for a couple of the oil dictatorships and Turkey, a foreign legion with recruits from over 100 countries. And it has obviously received funding, weapons and access to lucrative markets by the same powers, and with the US and the West as backers. When the United States agreed to step up the war to destroy Syria, the CIA planners knew that this would lead to the creation of the "caliphate" – and they regarded it as a good thing.

This group, which confesses to an interpretation of Islam that is close to Saudi Salafism, has been very clear on what they want all along: hitting "the unbelievers", and creating fear and division in the countries of the unbelievers. They have said they want to trigger a mass escape to Europe and send their suicide bombers hidden among the refugees. In Europe, they have said, they want to kill more or less random unbelievers to create fear.

Going in the trap. And then they do what they have said they want to do – and those who call themselves Europe's leaders are just as surprised every time. ISIS militants, who have even been on the intelligence service's shortest lists of suspected terrorists, have traveled back and forth to Europe in preparation for the terrorist attacks.

And what do politicians respond to, apart from gossip and incantations? Yes, with more surveillance and more police state, just as if armed police on every street corner can prevent people who want to die from taking hundreds of others to their deaths. This is a reaction the terrorists must have calculated with. They want to destroy Western societies and the European way of life, and then the police state is an answer to their prayers. And Europe's leaders are responding with more war in Syria and Libya, which only leads to a metastasis of terrorist groups that will spread here as well.

At the same time, people who share their ideology, but not their methods, have been allowed, with the blessing of politicians, to cultivate segregation, exclusion, the cultural-religious ghetto, which is nothing but fertile ground for the terrorists' message. Da'esh does not aim to win a majority of Europe's Muslims for its cause. But they aim to cut a deadlock between the Muslim minority and the majority of Europe's population, so that there will be more enmity and suspicion. And they want to win the small minority who are prepared through the training of the extreme imams to take the leap to become among the elect.

Of late, European leaders realized that Turkey is not a simple farmer on the geopolitical chessboard.

Hubris. This is happening in a Europe that is already catching up. After Brexit, the EU is no longer the same. The EU's non-elected bodies continue as before; the overpaid and unelected presidents of the EU continue to send out their decrees. But no one listens to them. The euro, this misconstructed currency that was supposed to unite Europe, is now contributing to an ever stronger division. The next financial crisis is likely to sweep it over. It is not only Greece, but also Spain, Portugal and Italy, yes, France as well, that are losing out on being tied to it.

In their hubris, Western leaders have stepped in to devour the entire former Eastern Europe up to Russia's borders, both for the EU and NATO. But the result is a ruined Ukraine, which will never join the EU, and a war incitement that has brought the world closer to a new world war than ever since the Cuba crisis.

This Europe would also make a deal with Sultan Spire Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. He was to take the lead in crushing Syria, and in return gaining access to the EU. Of late, European leaders, if they have now understood it, realized that Turkey is not a simple farmer on the geopolitical chessboard. Turkey is a regional superpower with its own superpower ambitions. Erdogan plays the EU tops easier than they play him.

Not before had NATO adopted its most belligerent policy ever, before NATO's southern flank was in total chaos. Exactly who was behind the coup attempt in July, I should not have said anything about, but that it had sympathy in western capitals, there can be no doubt. And suddenly Erdogan counters. The US base in Incirlik with its 50 to 90 tactical atomic bombs is being surrounded and without power. And Ankara resumes talks with Moscow. Brexit in June and the failed coup in Turkey in July – and with two blows, the entire strategic situation in Europe was changed beyond recognition.

Blind to the realities. And while European leaders are daily demonstrating their incompetence and inability and unwillingness to ensure both security and economic development for their citizens, a development zone is emerging in the East that has a dynamic that is completely unknown in Europe. China's offer to Europe is investment, trade and infrastructure development, an economic belt from the Pacific to the Atlantic, with no requirement for national identity or self-government. The United States 'offer to Europe is more war, less democracy and no autonomy, but on the contrary the corporations' autocracy through NATO on the one hand and TTIP on the other.

Europe can end the war in Syria if it wants to. It is only to stop leading it, and to cooperate with the Syrian government in isolating and cracking down on jihadists. It will drastically reduce the flow of refugees and deprive terrorists of their fertile recruitment base. Europe can lead to growth in industry and employment – if the will is there. But it requires an end to sanctions against Russia and a yes to cooperation with China. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe's leaders are, as Robert Musil would have said, "men (and women) without qualities," people who are so isolated in their upper-class ghettos that they have no idea what is going on around them. They are puppets for these criminal corporations that are driving our world to the brink of collapse. And we others, voters, employees, what do we do? Until now, we have kept them on.

Pål Steigan
Pål Steigan
Steigan has its own blog on

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