Cognitive Misanalysis: Heightened risks for the Region
In the US, the Beltway and mainstream media narrative has pirouetted from ‘Russia losing’ to that of an ‘Ukrainian defeat is inevitable’ and is ‘on its way’.
The Middle East may feel itself somehow insulated from the western ‘war fervour’ over Ukraine and Russia, by insisting that the Middle East is ‘its own side’. But the tentacles of the Ukraine ‘war’, slowly but surely, are coming for the region.
In June 2021, Jonathan Rausch, in his Constitution of Knowledge, described how a Metro Élites had appropriated to themselves the power of credentialisation. This Class determined who or what gets recognized and esteemed, and that which must be disdained and dismissed.
This ‘Creative class’ (as they liked to see themselves), by 2000, had moved into the information economy. And the tech boom duly showered them with unconscionable amounts of cash. They flocked together, into large metro area cliques, creating gaping inequalities within cities. They presided over who or what gets credentialled in culture, media, education, and tech – and to censor who or what is to be disdained and suppressed.
Of course, I refer to the US and – to a lesser extent — Europe.
I wrote previously (in August 2021) “that this dynamic is on course to become the biggest dividing line in global politics — as it already is in US and EU politics. It is getting worse both in the US and Europe, and it is going to leach out into geo-politics. It already has. It’s not what you may want. But it’s coming anyway. And if the long drift of history is any guide, it will bring increased tensions and the risk of war”.
When I wrote this, the Metro Élites very much viewed themselves as the future – and as being on the ‘right side of history’. The ‘others’ of course, weren’t – these latter beings represented the last gasps of a dying era, the ‘Creative class’ believed.
Well, all this is reversing. Today, if Republicans and Democrats talk as though they are living in different realities – it is because they are. Not only are they living different realities, but increasingly they are separating themselves into distinct spaces – unwilling to ‘share air’ with the despised ‘other’.
The US Conservatives (rightly or wrongly) today increasingly see the future as theirs, and see the woke globalists as passé.
Put simply, today it is “Israel” and Ukraine that are the new vogue in this ideological ‘war’. The Israeli Religious Right and the Settlers believe their cultural moment is ‘come’, whilst that of the Herzliya crowd and the secular Kibbutzniks is ‘gone’.
As Israeli journalist Ofri Ilany writes, this cultural war ultimately “will be decided – not in Israel – but in Ukraine”.
Naturally, the Israeli circumstances are not exactly consonant with those of America (at least for now), yet it still prompts Ilany to pose a similar question (to that suggested by some Americans): “Will it be possible to go on living in this country? … The government’s deranged plans are being revealed, one after the other, and from the perspective of the secular-liberal camp, what’s at stake is the very possibility of existing in “Israel” in the long run. It’s no longer a question of victory, but of survivability”.
Amos Biderman adds to this picture: “Not a day goes by without more business owners moving their money and their activity, or at least some of it, abroad”. And Israeli-commentator Anshel Pfeffer notes, “a civil war is no longer unthinkable”.
In the US, the Beltway and mainstream media narrative has pirouetted from ‘Russia losing’ to that of an ‘Ukrainian defeat is inevitable’ and is ‘on its way’. Indeed, Kiev is hanging on by the slenderest of threads. It stands in trepidation of the massed Russian reserves, believed to be ready to enter the conflict when Kiev shows signs that it has entering its ‘End Game’.
In essence, if Biden is to avoid a repeat of the US’ humiliating Afghan débacle, America needs urgently to move-on from Ukraine, before the 2024 Presidential ‘calendar’ kicks-off this summer – with Ukraine/Russia perniciously sucking all the oxygen out from the coming primary debates, thereby leaving the Administration with little space to ‘sell’ their economic platform.
But that’s not what is happening. Biden seems rather, to want to double down in Ukraine, believing Russia to be vulnerable. Establishment Circles in the US, however, increasingly are worried that Biden may be miscalculating as the evidence of Ukrainian military erosion accumulates.
These Élite factions fear that a decisive Russian win in Ukraine might trigger financial market collapse — and worse, risk US and NATO reputational collapse in the lead up to the expected ‘war with China’. A leaked memo from the head of Air Mobility Command, General Minihan, last week predicted the US will be at war with China within two years. General Minihan’s warning, which one has to assume had the approval of his Chain of Command, is taken seriously in Beijing. American officials too, seriously question whether the US will be ready for war by then. They want a pivot away from Russia to China – now!
Nonetheless, Biden may opt to double-down in Ukraine; but this won’t work because his logic is based on an egregious misanalysis.
Olexii Arestovich, Zelensky’s friend, former senior adviser, and ‘spin doctor’, has described the circumstance of the Russian SMO first entry into Ukraine: It was conceived as a bloodless mission and should have passed without casualties, he says: “They tried to wage a smart war … Such an elegant, beautiful, lightning-fast special operation, where polite people, without causing any damage to either a kitten or a child, eliminated the few who resisted. They didn’t want to kill anyone: Just sign the renunciation”.
The point here is that what occurred was political miscalculation by Moscow, and not military failure. The initial aim of the SMO didn’t work — no negotiations resulted. Yet from it, flowed two major consequences: NATO controllers pounced on it, to trumpet their pre-conceived bias that Russia was militarily weak, backward and stumbling. That misreading underlay how NATO decided that Russia would come to prosecute the war. It miscast Putin’s motivations, however, and sent NATO off on a false tack of funnelling the Ukrainians into the Russian ‘meatgrinder’ along the ‘Zelensky Defence Lines’.
‘Devilish Iran’ is subject to very similar western normalcy biases and mis-analysis, as are heaped upon Russia. Weak, corrupt, publicly reviled, and with an economy that is imploding being the standard western memes on Iran. Well, if Netanyahu and Washington were to attempt war with Iran – either to divert from Netanyahu’s personal legal ‘bind’, or to secure some wider political ‘win’ (Biden-style) -- it may prove as cognitively misconceived and flawed as the West’s war in Ukraine.
These collective misappreciations could see regional war with “Israel”, unless the latter’s tit-for-tat spats with Iran are very carefully managed.