jeudi 21 octobre 2010


I suppose so long as we don’t talk in terms of the alleged Churchillian dictum of “ feed the Arabs, starve the Persians”, anything we all say is passable.

The problem with Iran is not really in whether this regime stays or is overthrown by outside machinations or internal revolution, rather, with the manner Iran has defined its national strategic interest, and the manner it will continue to do so.

For the first time, the world; especially the superpowers, witness a new phenomenon in which a Near Eastern country, actually defines its national strategic interest beyond the circumference of its neighbourhood. The closest any country from the region came to doing that, was Hashemite Iraq, when late prime minister Nuri al Saeed defined Iraq’s national interest extending to the borders of the Soviet Union. Even Nasser’s United Arab Republic did not come close to the ambitious definition of Iran regarding its national interest.

Therefore, in this respect one believes that, Iran is truly a new phenomenon on the international scene, moreover, it is acting with the pretensions of not only a regional power, but also a super-power. It is not only a Gulf power, but actually is also a Mediterranean power now, with an arch that envelopes all the oil rich Arab states within its Shiite Crescent, threatening at the same time the national security of Jordan, Egypt and Israel, and with potential capability to expand its influence to the “Stans” of the ex-Soviet Union, as well as Afghanistan.

A regime with such an extension and influence, is not likely to give up such gains merely because others wish that to happen. Also, it is a folly to think that the current regime in Iran will be willing to negotiate its nuclear programme, which is essentially, the leitmotif of the status of a super-power. In addition, any regime which potentially replaces the current one, will not give up on the gains made by the current regime, nor will negotiate its nuclear programme. Therefore, the only two options for the US are, either accept Iran as a partner, and build its foreign policy on the basis of such realism, or, go to war against Iran and hit it hard, to make it impossible for Iran to pick the pieces of power after that, and even, make it more impossible for any replacement of the current regime to be able to contemplate any such current pretensions.

At the same time, what is the status of the institution of Velyati-Faqih in all this?. I don’t think anyone can seriously think that, a change of regime, or the current regime would change its nature, so long as the leadership of Veli-Faqih remains as the main arbiter in Iranian politics. However, the Mullah vs. Mullah conflict which is still going on in Iran, indicates that the position is no longer held as, sacrosanct any longer. As a matter of fact, and one is making a wild bet on this, I dare say that Ayattullah Khamina’I is most likely to be the last office holder in this institutions, because Iran will gradually slip into a military and security controlled regime, with a religious veneer only. Even any potential replacement, I don’t think will be different to the character which the current regime has evolved.


BY: Khairi Janbek

As a Jordanian citizen amidst having to jump hurdles, and avoid puddles in order to go through the daily routine of living; semi-successfully, one gets moments of respite for reflection on broad issue. You may share some of those reflections. So for instance :

In our country, we have I suppose, highly qualified officials and functionaries. Yet, at the same time, all their talents and education stumble at the first hurdle when they utter to you the word “prohibited”. It is really the easiest thing in the world to say that something is prohibited, because it provides the official with the convenient excuse, of not having to think about finding solutions to circumvent a problem for the convenience of the citizen. I mean if prohibitions only take a word to enforce, then any elementary school child can utter or write the word, without any training or qualifications. So, why are we bothering to train and qualify our officials, if a child with the simplest elementary education can say the same thing with the same precaution?.
That takes me to the next sequence of reflection, having mentioned the word education. We boast over two scores of universities, and schools even in the remotest areas of the Kingdom, making us perhaps the highest university per capita in the world. Yet, we are still searching for a role for education. No fear, suddenly we have discovered that education is supposed to make the Jordanian citizen, a lover of the middle ground and hater of all shades of extremism, as if the world terrorists are not aware of education and are not themselves educated. Why did we build all those universities and schools if they were not teaching the “right stuff” in the first place?. What is desperately needed is the creation of centers of learning and specialization in European and American affairs in our country, otherwise how can we conduct negotiations and consistent dialogue, when from our side of civilization, the interlocutors have minimal information about the “western” history of ideas, politics, and current affairs?.
Then what about reflecting on the idea of national identity?. One has gathered, from various conversations, and reading various local articles and newspaper columns, that we are really not sure what we are. Every now and then, someone steps in to define us in Jordan. Half of our writers, thinkers and intellectuals agree with the definition, while the other half go their own way and decide to counter-define us according to their own taste. Maybe under such circumstances, it would be prudent for Jordanians to hold a general dialogue among each other, because the only parties whom are talking to all Jordanians are actually the foreign embassies.
And last but not least, one keeps hearing the heartening, yet not all together wise old folks tale, that we should persevere and sacrifice now, so that the future generations can have better times and less problems. I am sorry, but only a fool would persevere and sacrifice, in the name of a future that he/she has no clue about, let alone guarantee that they will be alive at its dawn, to see the future generations having fun.

lundi 18 octobre 2010

Democracy and US.

By: Khairi janbek

The democratic way of political life is not an easy one, but, you don’t need me to tell you that its’ rewards are great. Although, no form of government is simpler than autocratic dictatorship; yet all history stands as a record of the abuse of power so concentrated. So, democracy requires from its citizens a level of political intelligence, experience, maturity, public spirit, self-restraint, and demands the exercise of ingenuity in finding solutions to problems, in addition to the development of a political machinery appropriate for the desirability of freedom, responsibility and efficiency.
We have to understand that, the strength of democracy is that its’ way of life fosters and encourages these aforementioned qualities. One is not really writing to expound on the virtues of democracy, rather hoping to remind our officialdom, that only with such a catalogue of virtues, the Jordanian citizen can appreciate the need for experimentation in attempting to find solutions to the many current problems we have, without having to feel as if being treated as a specimen in an experimental laboratory.
Unfortunately, each time the term democracy is mentioned in our midst, lectures, speeches and conferences are organized by our officialdom to tell us that, education is the lynchpin of democracy. In other words once we are educated then we are democratic. I am sorry, but really, much more than education is required for the cultivation of democratic attitudes, because democracy has also requirements from the government and not only from the citizen.
Undoubtedly, democracy flourishes best, where there is a feeling of economic well-being and security. A person whom lives under conditions of potential civil strife or violence, is all too likely to consider order, even if brought about by a strong dictatorship, much preferable to the uncertainty and potential risks of a freer society. Likewise, the person whom suffers from grinding poverty, and the anxieties of unemployment, finds it difficult to be detached and reasonable in his/her opinion, to weigh judiciously the fate of the whole country, when their own children go hungry. Life teaches all, that desire for human dignity does not cease even under conditions of misery and discrimination, therefore, the citizen is concerned with the system which provides purposes and results, rather than the technical means of accomplishing them. It always requires a technocrat to plan and build a scheme, but it is the citizen whom knows better than anyone else, whether the government is satisfying them or not.
Therefore, it becomes very dangerous for the future of our democracy, when the government decides not to listen to the people. It will send the message then, that it is becoming ruthless in its assessment of the political incapacity of the people, and is becoming more and more credulous in its willingness to attribute supernatural qualities of wisdom and integrity to the higher echelons of the state and administration; regressing thus, to a totalitarian type of a discourse.
There is an old political wisdom which says that, in a democracy “what is not prohibited; is permissible”, while in a totalitarian system “what is not prohibited; is compulsory”. We only seek the permissible.

samedi 16 octobre 2010

By ; Khairi Janbek

Geography and Stereotyping.

What is it about stereotypes?. Take me for example, when I was younger, I got introduced to the names of the countries of the world; not through geography lessons, rather through my intense interest in soccer. Therefore, the news worthiness of one country or another; at least as far as I was concerned, was very much related to their soccer performance in world championships, or how well they faired playing against Brazil. In this sense, GDP, GNP, dictatorships, democracies, were all concepts beyond the reach of my evaluation of the potentials of any country in the world. What mattered at the time, was the names of goal scorers and brilliant goalkeepers.
I am sure that those nations wanted to be assessed by the usual socio-economic and political indicators, but as far as yours sincerely was concerned, every single person regardless of age and sex from the countries of the world, was judged in soccer standards. Therefore, a person from Germany; irrespective of how they felt about the game of soccer, even if they hated it, to me, he/she must be a brilliant player. The same went for any individual from Brazil, or anyone from Italy. In any case, those were the days of heavily censored mass media organs in our part of the world, and the only news worthy items that entered our living rooms, were those related to soccer.
However, as time went on, and in the age of breaking news, my geographical information developed according to the lines of war, death and destruction. For instance, I started hearing about Chechenia. I never knew before that Bosnia excited anyone outside the books of history and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. I had hardly heard of Afghanistan let alone Tora Bora and the Panjir Valley, after all soccer was not a big thing in those areas. Who had heard about Rwanda and the Tutsis and Hutus until they decided to massacre each other, then of course Banda Ache came into the news, and made me wonder who was dreaming about its independence all the time, in our part of the world !!. In essence, war and destruction has brought in many nations to every household through the news, and very far away places into our living rooms.
However, just as the Soccer nations of my childhood may have wanted to be heard of through their other achievements, I am positive that the peoples of those war-torn countries wish to be known also with achievements other than, their ability of blood letting. But I think, my stereotyping and that of many others like myself, can take away from such nations their achievements as well as their humanity. I must admit, each time I meet someone from a war-torn country, it is his/hers potential violence that comes first to my mind, and not the fact that one is meeting another human being, whom wants the same safety and security which I am blessed with in my country. I am afraid, for me now, it is mass murderers that symbolize nations, in as much as Pele symbolized the nations of my childhood. I suppose, I have to thank again the mass media organs which report nothing but, statistics about war, death and destruction.
But, what can the mass media do, when we seem to be pleased with what they cater on their programme menus?. The next step of stereotyping for this century will be, crew-cut and short skirt/tight trousers, and the meaning of sporting a beard and wearing a veil.

Long Term Arab Strategy?.

If we ask ourselves, what would be in common between the national security of Palestine and that of Mauritania, and we ask ourselves also, what would be in common between the national security of Morocco and that of Oman for instance, it would not be difficult to conclude that a common Arab national security arrangement, is nothing more than an emotional concept based on folkloric aspects, than a real issue based on practical concerns. One is neither criticizing all the proposed efforts aiming at a common Arab national security arrangement, nor reflecting on the countless signed and sealed Arab common defense agreements on the shelves of the Arab League, but rather one is attempting to find a shred of any reason, for the persistence of the myth that there is a real Arab common national security concern.
The fact that the Iranians have proposed a non-aggression pact with the Gulf Arab states, and the preference of those states as well as many others beyond, for security arrangements with the USA, is a blunt indication that the myth of Arab common security concern exists only in the minds of those, whom propagate it constantly. So would that mean, it is the end for this myth?. One certainly hopes so, because unless the Arab people start debunking this myth, we shall find it impossible to get alternative and real proposals for a functional Arab national security order.
However, having said all that, why would any Arab country want to enter into a regional security arrangement with other Arab countries, when an alliance with the USA is actually on offer?. Mind you, it must be said while attempting to answer this particular question under the heightened state of tension between the USA and Iran, that if the USA decides to withdraw militarily for one reason or another, from the Gulf zone, or manages to create a modus vivendi with Iran by reaching an amicable arrangement over the Iranian nuclear programme, what would be the position of the Gulf Arab states having rejected a rapproachement with Iran?. Or what happens if the current political status quo in the Arab Gulf states becomes dispensable for the USA and even not part of its immediate priorities?.
I am sure that, such a question is on the mind of the various Arab leaders, and they must have taken it into consideration when defining the national security policies of their individual Arab countries, but what seems difficult to break, is the mold of Arab strategic short-term thinking. Of course this short-term thinking has always been justified by the criterion that, everything in the Arab world develops very quickly, making it thus difficult for the Arab leaders to develop long-term strategies, and for short-termism to be inevitable. But by the same token, this one and the same, criterion should be a strong enough reason, for the Arab leaders to master the destiny of their own region, for it is after all, the hope of every Arab individual to see Arab leaders plan for the future of Arab generations, and not only for the duration of their own rule. Therefore, common Arab national security concerns cannot be defined essentially, without long-term Arab strategic planning.

jeudi 14 octobre 2010


By: Khairi Janbek

There was a time, when the overwheliming majority in the Arab eorld considered themselves Muslim. There si now a small minority of extremists claiming Islam to themselves and proclaining all other Muslims to be apostates. There was a time when the worst insult that could be directed against anyone in the Arab, world was the accusation of being an agent of the CIA. Now the CIA is orgabnising the security forces and agencies of many countries in the Arab and Islamic worlds. There was a time in the Arab world when the greatest sin ever was to talk to israel, but now, the whole Arab region and beyond, are trying are trying to find the slightest excuse in order to talk to Israe.

There was a time when the Arabs, believed in the existence of an entity called the Arab world. Today Arabs would consider it a great achievement if they can go beyond the tribe, as a refernce of identity and loyalty. Moreover, there was a time when the individual Arab state, was the main provider of jobs and opportunities to its own citizenry. Now the Arab state has reliquished this role to the private sector; in the name of privitization.

These are not written fro the purpose of comparison, or in order to make a vlue judgement on the past or the present, but rather to make the point that processes which had taken generations from start to completion in the civilized world, in the Arab world it took more or less a decade. The result?. The individual Arab state and its citizens, are still under a constant headspin, searching for new values. Unfortunately, this erosion; having happened in a very short period of time, managed to morphe many of the Arab values into totally their opposities. Any new values in the making?.

mercredi 13 octobre 2010

Karl Markx and Religion.

By: Khairi Janbek.

When Marx said "Religion is the Opium of the People", he was charcterising religion as a painkilling drug, and shocking as it is still is to many, was eevn more radical in its day. And yet, marx more than condemning religion itself, was actually critiquing the condition of a society that would lead people to it.

What Marx really meant, was that religion functions to pacify the oppressed; and oppression is definitely a moral wrong. religion; he said, reflects what is lacking in society; it is an idealisation of what people aspire to but cannot now enjoy. Social conditions in mid-19th.century Europe had reduced worlers to little better than slaves; the same conditions produced a religion that promised a better world in the afterlife.

Therefore, to him, religion isn't merely a superstition or an illusion. It has a social function : to distract the oppressed from the truth of their oppression. So long as the exploited and downtrodden believe their sufferings will earn them freedom and happiness hereafter, they will think their oppression part of the natural order; a necessary burden rather than something imposed by other men.

This is then what Marx meant by calling religion "opium of the prople": It dulls their pain but at the same time makes them lazy, clouding their perception of reality, and robbbing them of their will to change.

What did marx want?. he wanted the people to open their eyes to the harsh realities of 19th.century bourgeois capitalism. The capitalists were squeezing more and more profit out of the proletariat's labour, and at the same time alianating from self-realisation. What workers deserved, and could have if they arose from their "slumber", was control over their own labour, possession of the value they created through work, and thus, self-esteem, freedom and power.

To that end, marx called for the abolition " of religion as the illusory happiness of the people". he wanted them to demand real happiness, which in Marx's materialist philosophy (which i talked about before) was freedom and fulfillment in this world.

lundi 11 octobre 2010


BY: Khairi Janbek

A lot of people have the wrong idea about Maerx, he didn't think capitalism was something a nation can do without. The materialist dialectic is about the gradual and regular march from oppression to liberty, from feudalism to communism, and capitalism is a necessary step on this path.

Now, by materialism Marx did not mean a lust for possessions. He meant that human attitudes, aspirations, and activities are shaped by material circumstances (such as a geography and economy). As for the dialectical part; Hegel had pictures history as an ongoing and progressive struggle, in which thesis clashes with anti-thesis to produce a better sythesis. Marx like the model, but rejected Hegel's aaumption that, the hisrotical dialectic is guided by ideas or a "Spirit"; ie God.

History does indeed progress through a series of reversals and upheavels, Marx believed, but these are inspired by material circumstances of life, whose base is the economic structure of the time. Economic arrangements determine every form of cultural expression and change; from politics and class to art and religion. Marx called these expressions; Superstructures.

Dialectic arises out of the conflicts inherent in economic systems. In the capitalist system, to take the best known example, there is inevitably and necessarily conflict between those who control the means of production (the bourgoisie) and those who actually produce (the Proletariat). But capitalismis a necessary ddtage of economic development. Sprung from the ruins of feudalism which met its anti-thesis in the development of the bourgeois class, the capitalist system promoted the development of indutrialism and effeciency in production. But the internal conflict between capitalist and worker will lead inevitably to class struggle, with the workers coming out on top. In dialectical terms, the "thesis" of capitalism meets its "antithesis" in an organised proletariat , and from the resulting struggle emerges the "synthesis" of the socialist system.

dimanche 10 octobre 2010

I AM CONDEMNED TO BE FREE. (sartre) Youuuuuppiiieee

By: Khairi janbek.

When someone says to you "its a free country", you know I guess what he/she means. You're generally free to do what you want (which is known as positive freedom), and generally free from persecution for your views (which is known as negaitve freedom). Positive freedom involves choices, while negative freedom involves consequences.

For people whom have those twin freedoms, they can consider themselves lucky. But the important word here is "lucky". If in any event a dictator seizes contro and decides to abolish those freedoms in a second, well, no more freedoms. So what would be left?. is there an essential freedom that can never be taken away from us?.

Well, according to JP Sartre, there is. The answer is yes. But this "yes" is a mixed blessing. Sartre says, to be human is to be absolutely free, to always have the power of choosing. But the one thing we cannot choose, is to renounce choice, or to quote Sartre's paradox " I AM CONDEMNED TO BE FREE". Choosing not to act is still achoice. This is the existential

According to Sartre, all action arises out of nothingness. If you were always directly attuned to the present, unable to escape it, you not only couldn't imagine, but also you couldn't act. The present is just what it is, and unless you consider how things might be different, there's no motive to do anything. Sartre took this point a step further. He said, all our actions are directed at a goal that doesn't exist in the here and now. Our actions, then, being based on nothing, are never necessary either. Goals are things we freely create for ourselves, and along them we create our own values.

Defending My Old Pal Nietzche..Please be Kind.

By : khairi janbek (kj)

" ......have you heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly, I seek God ! I seek God!. As many of those who do not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Whither is God he cried. I shall tell you. We have killed God killed him- you and I. All of us are murderers. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him." (Friedrich Nietzche. The gay Science, section 125. 1882 .

Now before you jump on your high horses in the eternal Arab way, and start foaming in the mouth, count to five and listen for a change. Just as Shakespeare didn't say "To be or Not To be"; for he wrote it and Hamlet said it, Nitzche did say "God is did" it was a madman who said it. While it is true that Nitzche dies at 45 as madman, yet, there is a big diffrence between life and philosophy.

So what does the madman mean?. Not that there are unbelievers in the world, for that is always true, nor to that effect that God doesn't exist. For if "God is dead" then he must have once been alive, which is in itself rather paradoxical, since if God were ever alive, He, being eternal, could never actually die.

So the madman doesn't speak of the God of the believers, whom always was and always will be, but rather, of what God represented and meant to his culture. This God was a shared belief in God, and it is such a belief that, in 19th century Europe, was expiring. Where once God stood; at the centre of knowledge and meaning, there was then a void. Science and philosophy treated God as irrelevant, and once again, man became the measure of all things.

samedi 2 octobre 2010

In and out of the marital bed : Seeing Sex in renaissance Europe.

By : khairi janbek.

In her work; In and Out of the marital bed : Seeing Sex in Renaissance Europe, Diane Wolfthal says that, art historians are often reluctant to confront the sexual content of imagery in paintings. In Renaissance paintings, to outline the spatial topography of sexuality, the work's structure lists discrete sites : The bed, the dressing area, the window, the bath, and the street.

Whereas in the paintings, the marital bed was often linked to both anxiety and chaste sexuality, the dressing area was often became a setting for erotic images whose real subject is sexual desire. The window was associated with courtship, carnival, and prostitution; the bath was ofetn the site most often identified with voyeurism, and the street was associated with temptation and sin.

religious themes often concealed sexual innuendos to allow cardinals and princes to hang "risque" paintings in their homes. Coded visual annotations, such as falcons as well as the much paraded image of Jupiter; yearning for a youthful and beautiful ganymede, were used to hide images of homosexual desire.

can you look at a renaissance painting the same way again?.

Britain tried to Dupe the Jews.

By: khairi janbek.

New reserach as revealed by the American historian Prof. Jonathan Schneer, in his work " The Balfour Declaration : The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict", says that, while promising the Jews a homeland in Palestine in 1917, the British were secretely negotiating to offer the territory back to the Ottomans.

The then British Prime Minister Lloyd George, issued his key secret instructions to his chief negotiator with the Ottoman officials; Basil Zaharoff, on january 9th. 1918; unknown to historians till now " It is agreed that in the vent of a free passage through the dardanelles being opened to British submarines and of favourable opportunity being afforded to them to torpedo the warships "Gokben" misspelled (Goeben) and breslau and to return through the Dardanelles, the sum of $5,ooo,ooo will be paid. (sic. both ships are German).

It is agreed that in the vent of all Turkish troops in palestine and on the Hejaz Railway [in Arabia] being withdrawn north of the railway line from Haifa to Deraa, a sum of $2,ooo,ooo will be paid and the following guarantees be give : 1) The Turkish forces will not be molested while carrying out the withdrawal. 2) Palestine will not be annexed or incorporated in the British Empire.".

But the, with Russia quitting the war after the Bolshevik Revolution, the Ottomans sensed possible German victory and terminated the discussions in Switzerlan.