The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Sticks and Stones: The Language of Racism and Section 18(c)

When I first came to this country, it was still considered the height of comedy to pull at the corners of one’s eyes and yell, “Ching ching chong!” at Asian looking people in the street. In my early primary school years I remember having one single, solitary friend. I think his name was Paul, and it was his habit of unscheduled, location-independent defecation that placed him on the same social footing as myself. For the rest, I remember those years as one long, unhappy, hate-filled series of fist fights. It was here that I was first taught that stand-by of the persecuted, the aphorism: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” which was presumably meant to make everything better. It didn’t. Fights and screaming matches over my race coloured my life well into adulthood.

Now, I don’t want you to run away with the idea that I’m playing some kind of tiny violin for myself. My experience of Australia has been overwhelmingly positive and, when all is said and done, it’s my country and I’m proud and happy to be a part of it. No, the reason I mention these things is to establish my authority as someone who understands, first hand, what the language of bigotry does to people, and how much better it is to live without it. Experiences like this twist a person. I now, for example, cannot enjoy the rich vein of comedy that is afforded by the existence of Chinese people. The front of my brain knows that when Alan Davies does his Charlie Chan accent, or when somebody makes a joke about Chinese philosophers and egg foo-yung, that there really is no malicious intention. But my hindbrain doesn’t. Years of mockery and abuse have created a sort of Pavlovian reflex of hatred. I understand full well that this is my problem and nobody else’s, but I think various random people along the way have helped me to develop it.

We also shouldn’t run away with the idea that I’m one of these racialist activists who think that we should edit English language and thought in order to render it impossible for any minority group of any kind to ever be offended in any way whatsoever. I see these efforts for the steaming piles of faeces that they actually are. No normal person should give a flying toss about the number of times the dreaded ‘n’ word appears in Huckleberry Finn, or take personally anything Rudyard Kipling has to say about any race whatsoever (especially white people) – it’s just important that people are not subject to abuse.

Which leads me to the time when all this nonsense suddenly ceased, as if somebody had found the racism tap and decided to turn it off. I wasn’t to know then, but this sudden and dramatic improvement in my circumstances roughly coincided with the introduction of section 18(c) of the Racial Discrimination Act, which made it illegal to “…offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; …[when]… the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.” Political correctness gone mad, if you like, or possibly a dangerous attack on free speech. Sure, why not. But the net result of this legislation, from my ant’s eye view, is that the children of my generation of immigrants are perceptibly lacking in the kind of hate that lives deep down inside me. Asian immigrants, that is. The Muslim newcomers, unfortunately, are all over it.

I think the drafters of this little bit of legislation understood what the language of racism actually does to people. They understood that it’s not about the intent of the speaker, and that it’s not just a question of simply growing a thicker skin and shaking it off. Allowing this kind of bigotry creates a regenerative cycle of hatred and exclusion, one that is ultimately toxic to society and to individuals, and that can legally be defined as actual harm. Sure, when we look at it objectively, and without reference to the tiny minority of Australians who don’t happen to be white, 18(c) can appear to be an unwarrantable attack on our right to be obnoxious and offensive to anybody we choose, but I don’t really believe it is. As George Brandis says, everybody has the right to be a bigot, but do we or should we have the right to inflict that bigotry on others? I don’t know. But what I do know is that subjecting people to bigotry has a deep and lasting impact – one that often leads to violence.

So really, that old aphorism needs to be edited. I propose: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names are where it starts.”

A Three Point Plan For Dealing With Muslims In Australia

A deeply worrying number of otherwise rational people seem to be calling, with ever-increasing fervour, for the removal of all Muslims from this country and the utter obliteration of the religion of Islam. They believe that Islam is a cult of death and violence whose continued existence can only mean the eventual destruction of the West. We hear a constant stream of assertions regarding Islamic intolerance, terrorism, misogyny and absolutism, amidst calls to ban the migration or residence of Muslim people anywhere in the world at any time.

I’m not going to repeat here the simple, plain facts of the matter. I’m not going to point out that the fundamentalist proportion of not only Islam, but of every other religion, is miniscule. I’m tired of re-iterating the easily provable fact that terror organisations of every stamp are primarily political and not religious, and that this becomes confusing when we are talking about a part of the world that has not fully embraced the separation of church and state. I’ve become completely nauseated at the prospect of once again highlighting the logical contradiction inherent in believing that all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are nihilistic terrorists and simultaneously being alive and well and unconquered by Muslim extremists. And I am absolutely sick to death of pointing out that cherry-picking violent verses from the Quran doesn’t prove a single, solitary thing, especially in light of the fact that the same thing can be done with the Torah and the Bible, and that drawing conclusions about Islam on such a basis rests on the (false) assumption that all Muslims are fundamentalists.

So I’m not going to bother.

Instead, what I am going to do is a thought experiment, which, as it involves thinking, will probably seem to pointy-headed fascists like some form of sorcery. Let’s have a look, shall we, at how we would actually enact the wishes of those who wish to see Islam eradicated from Australian culture.

Firstly, the banning of Sharia law. This is pretty easily done – Sharia law isn’t formal law in any Western country, and no Western judiciary is ever going allow it to be written into common law. Any ban would therefore be wildly successful, and an utter waste of millions of dollars in order to outlaw something that is not actually in any danger of being instituted.

Now, the idea of ‘getting rid’ of the Muslims. This could also be done quite easily. All we’d have to do is find the roughly 2 percent of Australians who identified on the last census as Muslims and deport them. Of course, a significant portion of these people were born in Australia and only have single nationality, so we’d be technically making them stateless. As such, removing them from our soil would be illegal, but that’s not a problem. We could just put them in detention centres, or camps somewhere, until we can come up with a final solution.

Then there’s the far more insidious problem of Muslim ideology. Obviously it’s virulent, because radicalisation is so contagious that it’s effected a staggering 300 odd people out of 22 million. Clearly a five alarm, brown trouser time crisis. But how do we fight it? How, indeed, does one kill an idea? We have a few models from history for this. There’s the Maoist method, where we simply round up everyone we suspect of ever having had an idea, as well as all their families, and starve them to death somewhere or, if they can afford the bullet, shoot them in the head. Or there’s the Stalinist method which involves rounding people up into labour camps and starving them to death or shooting them. Or the Pol Pot method… actually, scratch all that. There’s actually only the one method, and it’s about camps and mass executions. Which integrates nicely with the ‘putting stateless Muslim deportees in detention centres’ policy.

And then, finally, we’d have to make sure that Islam could never raise its ugly head again, which would mean banning its practice by law. This would of course necessitate re-writing or amending part of the constitution and destroying the provisions for freedom of religion which exist in law, but we’ve demonstrated again and again that we don’t give a tinker’s cuss about our civil liberties anyway. Of course, having laws about one religion would mean that we would have to institute a kind of religious law to protect the faiths that we do like, but needs must and so on.

So, to sum up – in order to effect the policies of people who think Islam is dangerous and should be banned, we need to enact the following provisions.

  1. A program of non-judicial detention and deportation against people on the basis of their faith
  2. The attempted genocide of a group of people who we have decided are ideologically unacceptable
  3. The institution of religious law

None of which should be very difficult as we currently have a live, working model of such policies from which we can observe and learn. It’s called ISIS, and it operates in Northern Iraq and Syria. I suggest that those who wish to see these kinds of policies enacted should fly immediately to Raqqa or Erbil so that they can learn exactly what it is that they are asking for.

GBAV – Genesis 9

In which we learn that it’s apparently OK to have sex with your family, but don’t ever, ever accidentally see your dad naked.

Gn 9:1-3And God blessed Noah and his sons, and he said to them “Go and re-populate the earth. And because I killed everyone, that means you have to have sex with your family. Sorry about that. But on the plus side, all the animals will now be terrified of you, probably because you just killed a lot of them in that tasty, tasty BBQ from Chapter 8. So you can kill and eat anything that lives and moves about, except your family of course, because you have to have sex with them. Sorry about that.

Gn 9:4-5“Actually, now that I’m thinking about this a bit more, best not to eat anything that still has blood in it.

Gn 9:6-7“Also, whoever sheds human blood, then by humans shall their blood be shed. I think this is a good, unambiguous rule, and I can’t see any loopholes – periods. But anyway, go and have sex with your family. Sorry about that.

Gn 9:8-11“And I will make you a deal. Never again will I kill everyone in a worldwide flood. But I reserve the right to kill most of you with a flood, or kill all of you by some other means, like making Donald Trump president.

Gn 9:12-17And lo, I will use rainbows as a symbol of my promise. Every time I see a rainbow, I will remember not to kill you all with a worldwide flood, because I will probably forget otherwise. And every time you see a rainbow, you will remember that I love you so much that I won’t kill you all with a worldwide flood. Again.”

Gn 9:18-19The sons of Noah were Shem, Ham and Japheth (Ham was a shifty bugger). And after a bit of adultery and incest, they populated the whole earth.

Gn 9:20-22Noah needed some beer goggles for incest, however, so as soon as he got off the ark he went and planted some pinot noir. And then he got blind drunk, and passed out naked in his tent, which makes Noah the most awesome 600-year-old in history. And then Ham the shifty bugger walked in to Noah’s tent, and saw his father naked, which can’t be a good experience for anyone (no offence, Dad). So he did what most of us would have done, and ran outside to tell everyone.

Gn 9:23-24But Shem and Ham weren’t really interested in seeing their father naked, so they walked into his tent backwards and covered his naughty bits. And then Noah woke up in a really bad mood, probably because he had a raging hangover, and he realised he had to have sex with his family, but mostly because Ham had seen his naughty bits.

Gn 9:25-27“Screw you, Ham!” he said “You will be a slave to your brothers! And I will make Japheth fat, and he can live in Shem’s tent!”. And Shem said “But Japheth has his own tent”. And Noah told him to be quiet.

Gn 9:28And Noah spent the next 350 years getting drunk and passing out naked and cursing anyone who accidentally saw his naughty bits. And then he died. Probably because he had liver failure, and skin cancer on his naughty bits.

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<< Genesis 8 | Genesis 10 >>

GBAV – Genesis 8

In which all the flood water goes away, and Noah realises he now has to have sex with his family.

Gn 8:1And God found that waiting for everything on earth to drown was a little boring, so he went and did something else for while. But then he remembered Noah and his family and all the animals on the ark, and he thought he should probably help them out a bit. So he released his divine wind, and lo, his divine wind blew all the water away, and also warmed everything up a bit.

Gn 8:2-4And it stopped raining, and the water started disappearing, but we’re not sure where it went. And after 150 days, in the seventh month, God’s divine wind blew away enough water for the ark to come to rest on Mt Ararat. And if you don’t believe this story, you can find the remains of the ark there, I promise.

Gn 8:5-7And in the tenth month, the tops of the mountains were seen, except for Mt Ararat of course, which, as I just said, had been seen three months previously. And lo, the ark was pretty smelly by this stage, because Noah had only built one window (seriously). So he opened the one window he had made, and just for shïts and giggles he decided to send 14% of the earth’s entire population of ravens out the window. And that one raven didn’t really have anywhere to land, so it just flew around in circles for a while.

Gn 8:8-9And lo, Noah needed to know when the water had all gone, so he could leave the smelly ark, and even though he was on top of a mountain with great views, and was on speaking terms with the all-powerful creator of the universe, he thought the best way to find out was to send 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves out the window. But the dove couldn’t find anything to land on, so she returned to the ark muttering something that sounded suspiciously like “Why can’t you send a frikken pigeon”.

Gn 8:12But seven days later Noah still couldn’t be bothered using his eyes or asking God about the water situation, so he sent 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves out again to see if the water had all gone, and this time she returned with an olive leaf, which made Noah happy, because he knew the water had all gone, but also sad, because he would have preferred a mango. So after seven days Noah sent 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves out to find a mango, but the dove didn’t come back, probably because she was busy eating mangoes.

Gn 8:13And lo, in Noah’s 601st year, he opened up the ark and looked around, and he saw the earth was dry, and he realised that was a much better way to find out if the water had all gone, instead of risking 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves.

Gn 8:14-17And a month later the earth was still dry, and God said “You and your family and all the animals can leave the ark now.” And Noah realised that waiting for God to tell him when to leave was a much better way to find out if the water had all gone, instead of risking 14% of the earth’s entire population of doves. And then God said “Lo, incest is a bit gross, but have at it with your family for a while, just to get your numbers up”. And verily, this made Noah’s son Ham much happier than it should have, for he was a shifty bugger.

Gn 8:18-19And so Noah and his family and all the animals left the ark. And they looked around and realised that the top of a remote mountain was a silly place for an ark to stop when it’s carrying the only living things on the planet, and Noah wished that God had stopped it next to his old house instead, but on the plus side he was glad he wasn’t an emperor penguin.

Gn 8:20And Noah decided to give thanks to God, so he built an altar, and sacrificed one of every bird and one of every clean beast. And, if you think about it, killing and burning 14% of the earth’s entire population of birds and 14% of the earth’s entire population of clean beasts is the perfect way to thank someone who just made you build a ridiculously implausible oceanic zoo so he could kill everything on the planet except you and your family and all the animals on the ark and whales and fish and seagulls and herpes such that now you have to get some incest going with your family.

Gn 8:21-22And God smelled Noah’s huge BBQ, and the smell was so good he thought to himself, “You know what, I will never again use a worldwide flood to kill everything on the planet except whales and fish and seagulls and herpes. I’ll stick to localised tsunamis that only kill a few million, and pandemics that only kill a third of the world’s population. Not because it’s a shït thing to do, mind you, but because humans can’t help being ärseholes, which is kind of my fault, when you think about it, because I made them.”
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<< Genesis 7 | Genesis 9 >>

If You Don’t Like Australia, Just Leave

If you don’t like Australia, why don’t you just leave? It’s a habit amongst many on the left of politics to dismiss people who say things along these lines as ignorant, racist and reactionary. Which, if you think about it, is pretty reactionary in itself. I think that the idea actually deserves a little consideration. And no, I haven’t lost my mind or suddenly become a racist, but I am rapidly losing all tolerance for the mindless, hysterical reactionism that is coming more and more to define our political discourse. So let’s think about this for a moment.

Let’s say you suddenly wake up in a country whose core values and laws are such that you can no longer abide by them. As I see it, you then have three options. You can:

  1. Whinge about it endlessly
  2. Become an insurgent
  3. Proceed in the general direction of ‘away’

If you are the sort of person whose first and only reaction to problems is option 1, then I’m afraid you’re dropped from the list of people who actually matter. So let’s move on and talk about option 2. Taking action in this way presents the western world with a challenging dichotomy. On the one hand, we have a long and proud tradition of civil disobedience as one of the safeguards of democracy, and there are many elements of our culture that would seem to actively encourage this. On the other hand, however, we have learned, since the latter half of the 20th century, to develop a whole new level of abhorrence for politically motivated violence. Should you become a political insurgent in this country, there is a very good chance that you will establish a new Guinness World Record for ‘Shortest Career in History’. In short, option 2 is a non-starter.

Which brings us to option 3 – leaving. I understand that for many people this seems unthinkable. It’s a very expensive process, for a start, and on top of that, many people who would take serious exception to Australian values were born here. So the question is not only how they are to leave, but why they even should. For me, the answer is simple. If you disagree violently with the values of your native or adoptive country, then it is by far preferable that you leave it rather than causing harm to the people with whom you share it. The world is a big and varied place and, whatever your values, there is a very good chance that you’re going to be able to find a corner of the globe where most people agree with you, no matter how crazy you might be. And if it matters that much, people generally find a way. But as pointed out, this is a major and often expensive step. So how should a person determine when it is no longer possible to stay here?

I think the test is a simple one. Firstly, identify the core values of the country that you live in. In the case of Australia, these values would include pluralism, tolerance and freedom of worship. If you find any of these values to be completely unacceptable, I’m sorry, but you probably don’t belong here. If you can’t tolerate the idea of Muslims trying to live and worship freely in our country and you think that the entirety of the Islamic religion should be expunged from the Australian community, then I’m afraid that you fail to share some of this country’s most fundamental values. That brand of intolerance really belongs elsewhere, like the Aryan brotherhood controlled wing of a US prison. Or the training camps of organisations like Al Qaeda or ISIS.

Tonight, the chairman of the Parramatta mosque, Neil el-Kadomi, is going to tell his congregation that anybody who doesn’t like Australia or Australian values should just leave. I wish to mirror this call. If you can’t get on board with the core Australian concepts of acceptance, tolerance and religious freedom, then you should pïss off too.

Russia and the USA: Competing Visions of History

Putin

When Vladimir Putin first came to power in 2000 he began to attract attention for all the wrong reasons. Various world leaders described him as ‘unsophisticated’, ‘crude’ and ‘breathtakingly ignorant’. It was noted that he had next to no understanding of history or politics and that, on some levels, he was basically a conspiracy theorist and holocaust denier. To be fair, his background as what amounts to a secret policeman probably wasn’t the best preparation for suddenly being rocketed to the leadership of one of the world’s key nations. Dragging people out of their beds at midnight in order to beat them with socks full of birdshot is an absorbing occupation, and doesn’t tend to leave much time for studying the finer points of world history or international diplomacy.

In the last decade Mr Putin has taken himself to school. References to Putin in various memoirs, interviews and Wikileaks revelations show us an arc of evolution for the Russian leader. Sure, he still believes that the Allies deliberately held back in WWII in order to sap Russian resources ahead of the coming peace, but it seems he now agrees that the holocaust took place and no longer believes that Americans are hiding aliens in Fort Knox or wherever. Let’s pause there a minute: Putin believes that the Allies, especially the USA, strategically held back on their assault of Germany so that Russia would be in a weaker position at the end of the war.

We in the West are far too quick to laugh at foreigners. We look at Chinese military parades and the blatant lies they tell through their media outlets, we see golden Kalashnikovs and Gaddafi’s Amazon bodyguard, we hear the bizarre proclamations of African leaders and see their funny costumes and we watch videos of Putin riding horses shirtless and pumping iron in the gym and our first and last reaction is to laugh and assume that they’re just crazy. They’re not.

If we were to set Russia’s history to music, the piece would be used exclusively for funerals. From its first appearance in recognisable form, Russia has been informed by its trauma. It’s aggressive imperial phase can be seen as a direct response to the horrors of Mongol invasion and extortion. Since then, their whole history can be seen as a process of squaring off against the greatest powers in the world and losing. The collapse of the USSR, its second (or third, depending on your definition) attempt at security through empire, is just the latest incident in what could be described as the longest, darkest, coldest winter in the world. For Russia, life is hard and every hand is turned against it.

So how crazy is it, then, to have a culture that worships strength of all kinds? Even to the extent of reacting positively to your shirtless Prime Minister knocking back vodka and doing chest flies? And just how crazy is it to have a foreign policy made up of equal parts of paranoia and bluster? And can we really, in light of their entire history, find it difficult to understand a historical world view that casts Russia in the light of a perpetual victim? It’s not really crazy at all. We in the West are plagued by similar historical delusions. Like the delusion that the war crimes in WWII lie exclusively in the Axis camp. Or the delusion that what the world fixates on when it watches us is our individual freedoms, rather than our power and aggression. We think of ourselves as a beacon of light, hope and freedom but, if we were to attempt to look at Western civilisation from the outside, we’d see a story of greed, exploitation and unending, savagely aggressive warfare. We have the same kind of delusions as Rome. We have winner’s delusions. Russia, for obvious reasons, does not.

Why should anybody care? We should care because we are currently watching the almost exact repetition of a cycle of history. It’s not hard to see our recent failure to enfold the new Russia into the international cool kids’ club as primarily a failure to understand their perspective. Our smug, superior dismissal of Putin’s ignorance and victim-philosophy can be taken as an analogue of the broader relationship. We failed because we don’t really understand the kinds of trauma they have experienced, or the kind of mentality and world view that they can create. We offended and alienated them even as we attempted to embrace them and, somewhat more egregiously, invited them to play a game with us without explaining any of the rules. We expected them to instantly start behaving like a world citizen whose security and wealth made compassion and restraint affordable. And then we had the gall to be perplexed when they did not.

So now we see a Russia that has given up on its brief experiment with global citizenship. The walls are going back up and they are once again securing their border and hinterlands as a buffer designed to desperately hold on to security in a hostile world. It’s the aftermath of Genghis Khan all over again, the cold war 2.0, the realisation of every gloomy dream of persecution the Russian polity has ever had. And while a significant portion of the blame for this rests on their own inability to see past this, a good part of it also belongs to us.

Maybe we’re happy to just let Russia wall itself off again, to search for its living in those parts of the world made up solely of countries we advise our citizens to avoid, but it’s not a good sign for the future. Our inability to understand the wounded national soul of Russia is a symptom of a broader failing which, left unaddressed, will taint our attempts to engage with Cuba, the Arab world and the bulk of East Asia. Because Russia doesn’t have a monopoly on the losing side of history, and nor is it unique in its wariness and resentment of the West.

 

 

Russia, Syria, Iran and World War III

From the air ... A video grab from footage made available on the Russian Defence Ministry

It has been apparent for months that Russia was planning a serious move in Syria. Russia, bless them, rarely varies its tactics when it comes to making moves on the QT, possibly because most Russian leaders have always been far more worried what their own people think of them than the opinion of the rest of the world. So, the same tired old ‘subterfuges’ of aid shipments which were really arms and troop shipments, and materiel sales that were really incremental mobilisation have been taking place right under our noses. And most of us guessed what was happening, to our credit.

Judging by the news cycle, however, a whole lot of people seem to be very surprised and, in this state of shock, have begun to scream hysterically about World War III. The argument is that Russia is more or less openly striking targets other than ISIS, and that these targets include rebel groups that are being backed by the USA and a raft of other countries. So, if Russia is killing American allies, then what’s to stop the USA from declaring war on Russia? And also, Iran’s announced its intention of sending ground troops in to fight ISIS and every time anyone says ‘Iran’, heads the world over begin immediately to explode.

I, however, would recommend remaining calm. As I pointed out in a previous post, fears about the advent of WWIII are basically academic. To all and intents and purposes, that gig’s already on, so the worry is not when will it start, but when and to what extent will the West join in. At this stage, it is abundantly clear that aside from limited deployment of air and SF assets, most of the Western powers don’t want a bar of it – not now or any time in the future. The scale of crime against humanity being perpetrated here is more than enough to justify all kinds of force, but we’re simply not willing. In the case of our recent historical experience with warfare, the West has a case of “once horrifically mauled, forever shy”.

The Russia/Syria relationship is a close and long-lived one, and it is widely known that Syria provides the Russian navy’s holy grail – a warm water port – as well as access to lucrative energy markets. Everybody knows this, so it’s not as if anybody is surprised or confused as to why Russia is conducting airstrikes in support of the Syrian regime. And nobody who’s been paying any attention at all (and one would hope this group includes the US government) is in any way surprised. This makes the chance of some state actor reacting rashly from shock or anger a fairly remote one.

Russian airstrikes have followed a pattern that makes it blindingly obvious that they are not targeting ISIS [Institute for the Study of War]

Sure, the people being targeted are, in fact, largely made up of groups that have more or less official US backing, but to call them allies would be ludicrous. In the first place, they’re not countries and in the second, they’re clearly proxy fighters in the same way that the Mujahideen and the Peshmerga have been in the past. And one thing we know for certain about the USA is that they do not make a habit of going to war in defence of their proxies. For evidence, we just have to look at the spectacular non-reaction of the US when Turkey used its UNSC authorisation to begin systematically murdering Kurdish forces. You know, the Peshmerga who we all apparently loved and supported so much. Nobody goes to war in defence of their proxy fighters. If they did, what would be the point of having them in the first place?

And the ‘entry’ of Iran into the war in support of their Shi’ite style brothers in faith, the Alawite Assad regime, is not so much a worrying recent development as it is a worryingly late public recognition of something that’s been going on for a very long time. Iranian militia (and their army is almost entirely organised on a militia structure) and special forces have been on the ground for at least 6 months and probably a great deal longer. I wrote an article about it, predicting that greater rapprochement with Iran would very soon become necessary as a result. But that’s beside the point. The point is, Iran isn’t just arriving – they’re reinforcing. And their entry all that time ago was so far from being a flash factor that it was quietly encouraged by the major Western powers.

Russia Syria

Remember the Kurds?

What we’re looking at with the situation between Russia, Syria, Iran and the USA is a situation that is indistinguishable from most of the cold war. A region is imploding, richer, bigger powers line up on either side according to their national interests and provide varying degrees of support to players who are already on the ground. Sound familiar? That’s right. When thinking specifically about the involvement of Russia and the West in the Syrian conflict, probably the most accurate way to frame it is not as a new confrontation, but as a continuation of the cold war. The last two decades appear to have been half-time, and now that the oranges have been handed out and eaten, we’re unfortunately back to business as usual.