Is Economic Inequality Behind Rising Global Jihad? - Chris Cook

Thursday, June 26th, 2014 @ 10:32PM

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History has shown for millennia that grotesque disparities in wealth and power, and ownership of resources, are unsustainable in the long run.

I see ISIS as merely the visible tip of a regional economically-based unrest based ultimately upon wealth disparity generally, and in Iraq exacerbated by the malign effects of the Curse of Oil; an increasingly dysfunctional deficit-based global dollar economy, and in Iraq, catastrophic levels of corruption in a failed state.

I don’t think that there is any wish in the region for seventh century desert Islam, and any momentary and bloody success for a small cadre like ISIS will end the same way as Pol Pot’s Year Zero. Solve the economic issues (and there is in fact – which is, I think, Norman’s case – plenty [of them] to go round), and all religious or ideological  revolutionaries, apart from a few psychopaths, will put away their AK47s and go and do something more fulfilling with their lives.

I think you know my view of Iran.

Everything I hear from there says that their revolutionary days are long past and that the current regime is completely interested in engagement with the West.  Those against are the corrupt IRGC elements who were looting Iran on a cosmic scale throughout the regime of the useful idiot Ahmadinejad.

A combination of factors brought Iran to the negotiating table:

* catastrophic scale of corruption;
* management vacuum caused by replacing the competent with the loyal; and
* older generations incapable of managing an emerging knowledge economy
operated by an educated and increasingly (despite more useless and completely self-defeating US sanctions) IT-literate younger generation (Iranian women are key here) which is growing exponentially.

Interestingly, the financial sanctions — which cut off the looters from their hard currencies and Swiss and other overseas accounts — acted in a strange way as a mechanism to shore up the regime.

But I digress.

Neither the US nor Iran can currently be seen to co-operate, but they both have every interest in co-operation, and I think that this is where Israel should re-assess its own strategic approach to such co-operation and recognise where the real problem is and always has been; i.e., on the other side of the Persian Gulf from Iran.

You don’t have to like each other to co-operate, and to begin to re-build trust. The only truly objective and neutral source of value in existence is energy, and energy co-operation between Israel and Iran is not new.  Iran was quietly selling oil to Israel via Marc Rich throughout the truly radical Khomeini regime from 1979 to 1993. After that, elements in the new government saw no reason why Marc Rich should get all the gravy, and the corruption in Iran began in earnest.

So my advice to Israel would be to quietly dial down the opposition, and prepare for energy co-operation and one of the 21st Century Big Trades with Iran: i.e., the exchange of the value of Israel’s IP for the value of carbon fuel, water and resources saved and renewable energy generated.

The interesting side effect is that — as we are finding in the EU – energy efficiency and renewables make nuclear energy redundant, and an economically unsustainable policy, whether you use $ economics or — as I advocate — ‘least carbon fuel cost’ energy economics.

In other words, if Israel ensures Iran and her neighbours are flooded with these technologies, their nuclear energy will soon be seen to be the white elephant and/or corporate boondoggle it is everywhere else.

As for Iraq, I think a bottom up Swiss-style federal/confederal solution is the only political hope, combined with a new generation of economic infrastructure based upon mobile payments and energy economics.

The tools exist — all that is necessary is the agreement, and the political will.

* Chris Cook is Director of the UK based Wimpol international

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