September 24, 2007

The George W. Bush-Prester John Alliance

The Bush Administration recently encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia, which had, after a number of years of quasi-anarchy, come under the rule of Islamic clerics. Who knows, it might work! An alliance with Ethiopia from the mid-1970s onward sure did the Soviet Union a load of good!

The funny thing is that forging an alliance with Abyssinia to catch the Musselmen in a pincer movement has been the most legendary of all strategic brainstorms. The Crusaders had heard that their was a Christian king named Prester John somewhere on the other side of the Islamic world, and their grand strategy was to get him to open a second front in the war with Islam. Eventually, they narrowed Prester John's home down to the Christian kingdom in the Ethiopian highlands, and over several centuries diplomatic missions were exchanged. Thirty Ethiopians visited Pope Clement V at Avignon around 1306. In 1520, Farther Francisco Alvares was part of a 13 man delegation from the King of Portugal to Prester John, King of Ethiopia. Alvares published a detailed account of his travels in 1540. He returned from Ethiopia with a letter from the king of Ethiopia to the king of Portugal expressing the hope that "we might tear out and cast forth the evil Moors, Jews, and heathens from [our] countries."


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

35 comments:

Ross F said...

Edward Gibbon thought that Abyssinia's failed attempt to control southern Arabia in the 6th century was ultimately responsible for the birth of Islam in the first place. Abyssinia was an ally on the Byzantine Empire back then.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, can you tell me why this is a bad idea? Or is it just the automatic assumption that anything that Bush does is wrong?

If we had fought our war in Iraq by "proxies" as we did in Afghanistan and in the Cold War, we would be in far better shape today. An alliance with Ethiopia seems like a rare example of good sense on Bush's part.

Anonymous said...

Such an alliance is one of the less inane stratagems of the Bush crowd. It’s back to playing by Superpower rules using proxies and client states to keep enemies occupied and off balance. This has been a historically more successful, sustainable and domestically supportable strategy than the current Neocon bent on the US invading and then inviting the world as Steve summaries it.

Although I don’t have a lot of confidence in Ethiopian mercenaries suppressing Islamic gangs on their urban turf, perhaps it will work out better than expected if the Somalis don’t find a US counterweight patron. The locale and religious colors of the participants are unfortunate as it may draw in Saudi, Iranian or other radical Islamic support for the Somalis.

The Soviet Union screwed up in Africa and around the world by following a Neocon strategy in seeing everyone and everything as a reflection of their selves. The USSR saw Africa as a collection of impoverished colonial or post-colonial nation states in a global struggle against capitalism instead of the reality of poor tribal and ethnic clans in localized struggles to setup nepotistic, corrupt and oppressive dictatorships.

This wanton self-delusion is a primary cause for the USSR internal collapse – it exhausted itself trying to impose its vision on rat holes like Somalia and Afghanistan that were destined to fail and offer huge negative ROIs (return on investments).

- JAN

C. Van Carter said...

Some think the earlier (12th century) Prester John legend, which located his kingdom in Asia, was based on the Assyrians of Kurdistan.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. I thought the Ethiopian people (if not those "in charge) were characterized by their resistance to both Islamic and Communist influence, and this was rare, if not entirely unique, in Africa. Didn't Todd talk about this in his The Explanation of Ideology?

Anonymous said...

He returned ... expressing the hope that "we might tear out and cast forth the evil Moors, Jews, and heathens from [our] countries."

Sound policy and timeless wisdom for all Westerners.

How the heck do we think the West has been maintained all these centuries against aggressive Middle Easterners? Embracing Muslims and Jews as "brothers" means the end of the West as is being proved in the here and now.

Anonymous said...

He returned from Ethiopia with a letter from the king of Ethiopia to the king of Portugal expressing the hope that "we might tear out and cast forth the evil Moors, Jews, and heathens from [our] countries."

The essential gear-grinding conundrum of post-modern Western man is his tolerance of the alien other, the "Moors, Jews and heathens" referenced above, while at the same assuming he can keep hold of his unique culture, world, existence.

No, the West must become the East. Deevolution down to their level. That is what is required.

Steve, your wife and daughters can look good in a Burka. Don't laugh. You're a rational man. Eventually you'll convert in order to avoid the jizha (tax on non-Muslims).

Long Live Citizenism!

Anonymous said...

perhaps it will work out better than expected if the Somalis don’t find a US counterweight patron. The locale and religious colors of the participants are unfortunate as it may draw in Saudi, Iranian or other radical Islamic support for the Somalis.

Is there any doubt of it? It's hard to imagine Iran, for example, resisting the opportunity to win one for the gipper against a Christian usurper of Muslim lands, especially one supported by the United States.

Two questions: (1) What excuse would the Ethiopians give for invading? There has to be one - a fairly believable one at that - if they are to receive Western support.

(2) What would that Western support be? Whom can the Ethiopians count on? The US ... as long as we didn't decide to give them up in exchange for some imaginary concession by Somalia or its Muslim backers. Israel, of course, but very, very covertly to avoid inflaming the political situation even further. Other countries? Anyone ...? Bueller ...? I think it will be a long, long time before any European country regains its appetite for intervention in this part of the world (not counting inevitable French and British meddling - er, rather, assisting - in former colonies).

daveg said...

With all due respect, can you tell me why this is a bad idea?

Such an alliance is one of the less inane stratagems of the Bush crowd. It’s back to playing by Superpower rules using proxies and client states to keep enemies occupied and off balance.

It is interesting that people assume Islam is the enemy. It doesn't have to be that way.

Truth is, Ethiopia became more peaceful as Islam took over. Something is better than anarchy.

Now we are throwing this country into chaos once again. And the comments indicate the lives, homes and well being on the Ethiopians who live there are not a factor in the decision to keep "enemies off balance."

America can deal just fine with Islamic nations. They are perfectly willing to sell us oil and other natural resources.

Our only problem come when we let Muslims into America.

Of course, Israel might not have this same luxury. But I can't imagine the people posting here are thinking of the well being of Israel and just assuming that the United States has the same interests.

Brian said...

This is a great little exchange between Maher and Scheuer here on YouTube.

Who says there aren't patriotic and loyal Jews - Scheuer is a regular mensch!

I love that guy!

Anonymous said...

In the case of Somalia, I agree that religion is not necessarily the enemy. That is why I wrote the “reality of poor tribal and ethnic clans in localized struggles” is key and omitted the term religion (which derivative of primary tribal and ethnic affiliations).

If the US intervenes in Somalia using Ethiopia as a proxy, religion will matter as Muslim fanatics will use it as an anti-US rallying call. More radical Muslims in the region and around the world will use any conflict to directly and indirectly attack the US. Although not the major consideration (such folk will naturally hate the lone Christian, Capitalist Superpower), it is one that goes into the overall cost-benefit equation.

Note also how I stated a proxy war would be “one of the less inane stratagems of the Bush crowd”. This is not an endorsement, just a rationalization that if Bush is busy burning down the outhouse he’ll hopefully be distracted from doing the more destructive things he’s been doing like blowing the kids college funds on slots (e.g. invading Iraq).

I don’t see any short term or long term value for the US in Somalia. Any engagement, even via an Ethiopian proxy, seems to have as much strategic, economic and historical relevance as fighting to “save” Cambodia post 1975. All we’ll end up with are unnecessary costs, ill-will and more refugees from these countries.

- JAN

Bill said...

With all due respect, can you tell me why this is a bad idea? Or is it just the automatic assumption that anything that Bush does is wrong?

-anon


I can tell you why this is a bad idea:

When America leaves the Middle East the jihadis will settle old scores with our abandoned allies. Ethiopia is almost half Muslim now, and if the Muslims take over eventually the Christians will be routed. It could spell the end of two millennia of Chrisianity in Ethiopia, just as Christianity is close to being extinguished in Iraq, Israel and Palestine.

I know this makes no difference to neocons, but I have a hunch they won't make much of a difference to anyone 100 years from now.

Anonymous said...

Steve --

This is one of your more boneheaded columns, really, no kidding. You're very insightful in almost everything else, here you're just boneheaded.

Somalia *WAS* and still *IS* a problem just like Afghanistan was under the Taliban. Sept 11, 2001? Ring any bells. The central lesson is that absent any will to seal off borders and kick all Muslims out, prevent any new ones coming in (which is politically impossible), allowing places where nothing BUT Sharia Law and Jihadis rule is stupid.

Allying with Ethiopia was BRILLIANT. Being a African country it gets automatic Press exemption from anything it does. As a proxy the casualties are theirs not ours. The enemy is the same: The ICU (Islamic Courts Union) wanted whacking great bits of Ethiopia under JIHAD and also had many hard-core AQ. You recall the 1998 Embassy bombings don't you? The same guys were in Somalia protected by the ICU and plotting new attacks. Maybe YOU would like to lose Downtown LA, but I have to work their from time to time.

The Military did a BRILLIANT job and this was part of what Rummy was after: small/fast/light forces working with local proxies. The US Navy was off-shore to provide air support. AC-130's "Spooky" provided gunships from airfields in Kenya. We killed a lot of dangerous AQ bad guys at very little cost and got some useful intel.

This last is the most important and why your piece is so boneheadedly stupid. The BEST intel does not just waltz in by magic or somehow land on the desk of a trophy wife on the Georgetown circuit. It is the result of military-to-military contacts, often at the lower levels (Captain to Captain), from proxy forces who yes have their own agenda but are plugged into local kin/clan/tribal networks in a way we are not and never can be. INTEL is the key to stopping future 9/11 plots before they happen. YOU may be so foolish as to bet your life on somehow "magically" thinking that nuclear proliferation will be waved away with worthless pieces of paper, other rational adults would like to have information about specific plots to stop attacks before they get started.

In short I think you are guilty, just as much as Liberals are in other areas, of "magical thinking." In some respects, Rummy *WAS* right. Proxy warfare when aided by decisive US advantages in Air and Naval operations offers a way to kill lots of jihadis at little cost, deny C-n-C jihadi places for plotting and training and administrative functions, and most importantly gain vital intel on jihadis from local proxies that we cannot get any other way.

[Note we had almost NO real troop presence -- just a few AC-130s and a Naval Carrier Task Force. Fast, cheap, and lethal.]

Anonymous said...

I don’t see any short term or long term value for the US in Somalia. Any engagement, even via an Ethiopian proxy, seems to have as much strategic, economic and historical relevance as fighting to “save” Cambodia post 1975. All we’ll end up with are unnecessary costs, ill-will and more refugees from these countries.


Not to mention dead human beings. Not everything is just about "strategic value" for the U.S. empire. Sorry to sound like a bleeding heart, but I rally do think dead bodies matter, even if they do have brown skin.

Anonymous said...

Who says there aren't patriotic and loyal Jews - Scheuer is a regular mensch!

Who says Scheuer is Jewish?

Aubgzr said...

wtf, anonymous? Jews and heathens are highly functional members of Western society, and have been for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Well, as to the overall strategic competence of Bush & Co. -- we should be pessimistic about the likely outcome and its benefit to our nation.

Related topic: North American strategy and Bush's insistance on integration with Mexico ...

Steve, you have commented in the past on the lack of news coverage of Mexico we get here in the USA. Maybe the lack of coverage is due to this:

"The Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders reported that Mexico was the most dangerous country for journalists in 2006, after Iraq."

Here's the link to the full story on Mexico's crime society surpassed only by certain parts of Africa in its lawlessness:

Mexico crime continues to surge

Unbelieveable stats! Kidnapping capital of the world!

Let's have Miss Mexico and ole Uncle Sam get married!

Since Mexico is about as dangerous as Somalia, can we assume that if Somalia shared a border with the USA ... Bush would still declare "family values don't stop at the border" and push for integration?

Yes, I think we can.

Brian said...

Who says Scheuer is Jewish?

He was wearing a Kippah at a Ron Paul press conference.

Anonymous said...

Over at the Taki website Justin Raimondo discusses the Scheuer appearance also.

Scheuer Decks Maher

If Scheuer is Jewish, that's good news. We need a lot more Jews (and non-Jews) in this country to reject dual loyalty completely. I am angry about this issue. There should be a web site dedicated to naming all persons with dual citizenship in government. Shouldn't that be basic public information? Is the man in charge of our borders right now, Comrade Chertoff, a dual citizen?

Dual citizenship was anathema in the USA not so long ago. Now it's just the another accessory for globe-trotting jetsetters. Of course, this mentality is leading us straight to the treasonous North American Union.

Simon Newman said...

I actually find Scheuer's total rejection of ethnic solidarity with Israel slightly unnerving. As an Anglo-Celt (British in my case) I feel a natural solidarity with the other Anglo-Celtic nations; if Australia were under attack I'd want Britain to help her out.

Of course that's a long way from subordinating British foreign policy to Australian foreign policy, and the Israeli Likudniks certainly have too much influence in the USA, but then so do the Saudis - and as Scheuer has also said, the Saudis are more dangerous to America's interests.

Evil Sandmich said...

This has more do to with Ethiopia's ongoing beef with Eritrea than anything else. Rumor was that Eritrea was stirring up the ethnic Somalis on Ethiopia's side of the border. In this case Ethiopia and the U.S. interests are somewhat aligned.

Ash said...

Not only is Steve wrong in this case, he is inconsistent with himself.

Steve, you were pretty supportive of the policy Bush chose in Afghanistan: find a local force that opposes the Taliban and give them air (and in some special cases, ground) support. Simple. Then, don't try to change the fundamental character of Afghanistan in a generation, just make sure the Taliban never gain a real foothold again. (Pity Bush has decided to obey the fiction that is the Pakistan border.)

In Somolia, a place that was headed towards being just like Afghanistan was before 9/11 (a big Al Qaeda base), Bush essentially used the same tactic, and guess what? It worked great.

Before, everyone was wringing their hands: "Oh, no, somolia is becoming a Qaeda base and Bush is doing squat about it." Now, nobody worries about Somolia anymore (except Steve Sailer).

Why should Americans care if, decades from now, some Muslim force attacks Ethiopia in retribution. If you believe that is going to happen, then what makes you think it wouldn't happen even sooner if Somolia was jihadi central?

All this silly referencing of Prester John is just to hide the fact that Steve can't find anything wrong with Bush's policy vis a vis Ethiopia. Steve, that's all interesting and all, but what's your point?

Brian said...

I feel a natural solidarity with the other Anglo-Celtic nations;

Really?

Would you support England if it was holding people in "occupied territories" for 40 years?

Would you support settlements?

What have you done about Zimbabwe? or South Africa? Probably not much.

How much are the English people doing to preserve the "English" majority in their country?

Not much.

Yes, if England was threatened in an immediate fashion you would step up, but other than that not so much.

simon newman said...

brian:
"Would you support England if it was holding people in "occupied territories" for 40 years? "

You're asking the wrong man - I'm an Ulster Unionist! :P

"What have you done about Zimbabwe? or South Africa? Probably not much."

South Africa - the Afrikaners made the decision to abolish apertheid, nothing to do with me. Zimbabwe is tragic and I'd have supported Ian Smith's Rhodesia back then, but the remaining Anglo-Celts in Zim are a tiny number, that battle is long lost. The main victims in Zim are black.

"How much are the English people doing to preserve the "English" majority in their country?"

Less than nothing? Personally I do argue for immigration restriction, end the EU, etc.

"Yes, if England was threatened in an immediate fashion you would step up, but other than that not so much."

My point was just that I feel solidarity with other Anglo-Celts, and Anglo-Celtic nations, and I think their wellbeing is worth some blood & treasure. I also respect some closely related groups like Afrikaners and Jews.

Anonymous said...

Ash, you're inconsistent and unrealistic in suggesting we attack any and all centers of radical Islamic followers like Somalia.

First, the inconsistency. It's pretty far fetched for you to worry about impoverished semi-nomadic Somalis tribes detonating a nuke in downtown LA. Following the logic of your fears, we should be directly invading Pakistan which does have nukes, radical Muslims/AQ and where we don't have any desperate local proxy to do our biddings. We should be invading Saudi Arabia where a lot of the funds and religious training originates and we again have no local proxy. Next on the list is Iran and many other ME countries. If your fears are what drive you, you should use some reason to logically attack the problem by knocking out the most dangerous threats first. Somali is a dirt stand sideshow although it would be far easier to address than the much bigger threats.

Now for the unrealistic part. How do you expect to conquer, occupy and control all these hostile Islamic countries around the world when we can't even do this in Iraq? We can't and we have to learn to live with non-zero threats in the world as we always have despite the latest media, political and special interest frenzy. Futilely expending our limited resources and overextending ourselves only creates a more dangerous world for the US.

Brian said...

Ah, that was not a Kippah!
Apparently Scheuer went to a Jesuit School.

Man it sure looks like one in the video.

I would still like to see his family background, but for him to take that stance on Israel and not be Jewish is impressive. (Yes it is easier for Jews to speak out against Israel just like only jews can make Jew jokes - remember the Seinfeld episode.)

none of the above said...

Anon 527:

The question is, does our intervention in these hellholes make us safer or less safe? On one hand, maybe we can make the hellholes into places where fundamentalist Muslim would-be-suicide bombers are too busy blowing up the local infidels to worry about the Great Satan. On the other hand, maybe we convince more fundamentalist Muslim would-be suicide bombers that it's no use striking at the local infidels, because they're ultimately backed by Washington. It's not at all clear to me which of these is the better model.

What is clear to me is that we have a really, really bad record intervening in foreign countries. We often seem to make things worse, or to bloody our own noses. So even though it might be possible for some highly competent Machiavelli to play some variant of the Great Game worldwide and have it work to our advantage, I don't see much reason to think that's going to happen with the state department, CIA, and political leaders we have.

SFG said...

Would you support England if it was holding people in "occupied territories" for 40 years?

Isn't that what they did to the Irish for a few hundred?

Martin said...

"This is one of your more boneheaded columns, really, no kidding. You're very insightful in almost everything else, here you're just boneheaded."

As opposed to your opinions, Mr. Anonymous? - All of which are boneheaded.

"The central lesson is that absent any will to seal off borders and kick all Muslims out, prevent any new ones coming in (which is politically impossible), allowing places where nothing BUT Sharia Law and Jihadis rule is stupid."

Who says it's politically impossible? If it's impossible, then so is the continued existence of our nation, as that is the only way to defend it.

We are developing a bad reputation in the world, much of which views America as a nation of cowards and arm-chair generals who rain down fire and death all over the world. It will do us no good in the long run.

I do not wish to live in the Empire that this country is becoming - rather I would prefer to live in the Republic that it is supposed to be.

Brian said...

Isn't that what they did to the Irish for a few hundred?

Right, and we now all agree that it was wrong to do that.

Or at least I think we agree on that.

Simon Newman said...

brian:
"Or at least I think we agree on that."

Are you people who complain about England ruling Ireland the same people who want to stop the Mexicans taking back California, Texas etc? Seems a bit hypocritical to me, unless you're ethnically Irish-American and simply being ethnocentric.

ash said...

In response to Anonymous of 9/25/2007 11:45 AM:

Nice beating of straw men there, Anonymous! No where did I say anything like "We should attack any and all centers of radical Islamic followers like Somalia."

All I said was, in the specific case we were discussing, Ethiopia made short work of the radical Islamic followers in Somolia for us.

Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somolia#2006_Civil_War_and_Invasion_by_Ethiopia . Was there ever a easier U.S. victory over jihadis since 9/11? Ethiopia seemed ready to do it with or without our help anyway. Ultimately, all we did was send one plane into one specific battle, apparently because there were high-level Al Qaeda guys who needed offinf, and we didn't want them to get away.

And, the beauty of it is, nobody except us war nerds even noticed or cared that it was happening! Christmas morning, I searched the legacy media in vain for any mention that Ethiopia at that very moment marching through Somolia.

Truly, there is nothing to complain about here.

Brian said...

Are you people who complain about England ruling Ireland the same people who want to stop the Mexicans taking back California,

This might be the worst analogy I have every seen in my life.

I really can't do it justice in a comment, but let's just say Northern Ireland might be a better comparison, and virtually no one is called for Northern Irish to be driven out of Ireland.

And you really need to learn some history about Mexico, California and Texas and who claimed it and who settled it.

simon newman said...

brian:
"virtually no one is called for Northern Irish to be driven out of Ireland."

But the Northern Irish Protestants (like me) don't want NI to cease to be part of the UK. The consenus (among UK & Irish political leaders) seems to be that once they become a minority then NI will be removed from the UK and attached to the Republic of Ireland. If Mexican nationalists became a majority of Californians, then by the same logic California should go back to Mexico.

tommy said...

After the resolution of conflicts between the U.S. and Mexico, the Mexican government formally relinquished any future claims to lost territory. The issue is settled: Mexico has no more right to California or anywhere else in the U.S. than Germany does to Alsace or East Prussia. The question of whether an individual state can secede was answered in the negative during the Civil War and Mexican nationalists (even assuming Mexican nationalism was overwhelmingly popular among Hispanics) cannot possibly get the votes needed to secede at the federal level. Aztlan activists who happen to be American citizens should be executed for treason for any silly attempts at secession employing illicit means. If the Mexican government itself were to assist in such endeavors, Mexico City should be promptly nuked.

That said, I think fears of secession are nothing but fantasy. I do worry that the Mexican nationalist clowns might eventually spawn more anti-social gangbanger Hispanic youth the same way black nationalist groups gave way to Bloods and Crips. I suppose we could also see some low-rent terrorism from Hispanics though I highly doubt that a bunch of Aztlan slobs are going to be able to organize themselves as effectively as a group like the IRA. On average, they just aren't that bright.