Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Egyptian Guerrilla

The Russian Communists embarked on their revolution in the aftermath of WWI, when their country was in chaos. That’s how modern revolutionaries work. The Chinese Communists revolted in the aftermath of WWII, when their country was in chaos. Mao Tse Tung wrote the definitive book on how guerrilla warfare works: they create chaos, then present themselves to the population as the best ones to restore peace. That’s how twentieth century revolutionaries worked. They were well organized, well equipped and intentional. And in the last century the world’s biggest monarchies fell; Russia and China.

There are extremist factions in the Islamic world who follow this same pattern: they too, have read Mao Tse Tung’s book. The first nation to fall to the Islamic Revolution was Iran in 1979, when the Shah of Iran was deposed and Ayatollah Khomeini took control. He and his successors have been in control of Iran ever since.

Chaos is erupting in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. Protesters are demanding the downfall of the dictators who rule those countries. Who knows how many nations will be involved when the chaos finally stops spreading? Will it spread to Libya? Lebanon? Jordan? Saudi Arabia? Will it eventually spread to the Islamic states of southern Russia? What about Pakistan? Are these current upheavals something that just started in December or are they part of the Islamic Revolution that started in the 1970s?

This is a strange concept for our western minds to follow. Our understanding of hostilities flows from European traditions of war. In Northern Europe two thousand years ago, war was tribe-against-tribe. It evolved to city state-against-city state. Then country against country. Modern wars are fought between armies; country against country, army against army. It’s our way of thinking about war. For western minds to understand the Communist revolutions or the Islamic revolution, we must think differently. These are wars of insurrection: the soldiers fight from among the people. And the combatants are citizens of the same country. The Islamic Revolution is a religious concept, not a national or political concept. They fight by different rules. That’s why it is so difficult for the west to defeat these persistent soldiers: they are hard to find until it’s too late.

How will we westerners react to a threat to our oil life line? What would America do if Arabian oil stops flowing? We have observed that the Americans can bring a country to its knees by destroying it’s infrastructure. We’ve all seen the tapes of American bombs destroying bridges, buildings and power plants. But that kind of activity seems out of place in the Islamic Revolution scenario. It simply creates even more chaos and helps the extremists.

In the last century, almost no one predicted the devastation that followed the Nazi’s ascent to power in Germany. But history has accurately recorded the unification of Germany and Hitler’s story. And history is currently recording the methodical and chaotic spread of the Islamic Revolutions.

In late 2010 and early 2011 the spread of chaos has re-emerged in Northern Africa. And it’s still spreading. What kind of risk does the continuing progress of the Islamic Revolution have for the Canadian people? What should an ordinary Canadian do?

First we have to wake up to the danger. Whenever you buy an airline ticket, you encounter the Islamic Revolution: these are the guys who refined hijacking in the 1970s. And they took it to a whole new level on September 11, 2001. We know that active cells of revolutionaries have been caught in Toronto, Madrid, London, the USA, India, The Philippines and Germany. We know that there are particularly strong Islamic revolutionaries operating in southern Russia. And now we are seeing instability in North Africa. Because it’s a religion, not a country, we westerners have difficulty identifying the source of the violence. We are used to hostile countries (Japan in WW2) or hostile political parties (Nazis in WW2, Communists in The Cold War). But the Islamic Revolutionaries are religious. We have been taught not to be prejudiced against people because of their religion. Nevertheless, we do have to wake up to the danger. It would have been better for the world to have woken up to the Nazi threat long before 1938.

Secondly, we have to look for patterns. An old university friend introduced me to Chairman Mao’s works in the 1960s. Now, instead of viewing the news of hijacked airplanes, car bombs, honour killings, subway attacks, suicide bombers and violent demonstrations as individual unrelated news stories, I see them as part of a pattern. I see the underlying theme. Slowly and intentionally the Muslim extremists are taking political power. First it was Iran – then Afghanistan (the American invasion has reversed that one for now), then Palestine… and now we have unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan.

Canadian note: Remember the old FLQ kidnappings in Quebec in the early 1970s? Bombs in mail boxes? The murder of Pierre La Point and kidnapping of James Cross? That was the beginning of a Mao Tse Tung style guerrilla operation. Fortunately for Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau had also read Chairman Mao’s famous book; he invoked The War Measures Act and snuffed out the FLQ before the movement took root in Quebec. Trudeau saw the pattern early and acted decisively. Unfortunately, the Islamic Revolution has evolved way beyond the early stage. It is firmly rooted in Muslim communities, both in the Arab world and Canada, Spain, England, USA, India, The Philippines and Germany.

Thirdly? Once enough people take steps one and two, we will know what to do. Until we wake up to the danger and see the pattern, we will view the Islamic Revolution as if it were a hockey game on Saturday night. Entertaining, lots of fights, but if our team loses, who really cares.

In my investing book, Beyond the Bull, I encourage investors to develop their own personal investment techniques. An investment technique involves two steps: Step 1 – observe the investment world. Step 2 – react to what you see in a pre-planned way. That’s how we improve our lot as investors. This same notion will work well in the much larger arena of international politics.

There are long term patterns in human history and human economics. Empires have risen and fallen. We Canadians are both observers of history and economics and a participants in history and economics. As individuals, let is observe our world and react to it. Let us be vigilant and remember the words in our national anthem: “we stand on guard…”

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1 comment:

Shawn Severin said...

But the US stock market keeps going up...