by Andrew Korybko
The US’ regional proxies in the Mideast and Ukraine are on a rampage against history, doing whatever they can to bury their associated countries’ past so that they can more easily build their version of a ‘utopian’ future. This trend of ‘historical warfare’ is endemic of the militarization of historical memory that the US is rolling out all throughout Eurasia. With ISIL grabbing global headlines over its seizure of Palmyra and the urgent threat this poses to the UNESCO world heritage site there, it’s worthy to revisit how the terrorist group’s anti-historical crusade actually doesn’t differ at all from what the Kievan Nazis are doing in Ukraine, and how all of this destruction connects together with the new type of asymmetrical warfare that the US is practicing across Eurasia.
(Physically) Breaking With The Past
ISIL and the Kievan Nazis are dead-set on eliminating any links to the past that don’t correspond to their radical ideologies of Wahhabism and Fascism, respectively. Here’s a brief overlook at the historical carnage they’ve carried out so far:
CNN reported in April about the sweeping trail of historical destruction that ISIL has left in its wake. Their surprisingly comprehensive listing detailed the damage done to the ancient cities of Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Hatra, as well as the destruction of the Mosul museum (now believed to have been filled with replicas ), the Mosul Library, and Jonah’s Tomb. Still, such examples should only be taken to represent the most large-scale attacks the group has carried out on historical objects, as it’s assured they’ve done much more damage to artifacts of relatively lesser importance or renown.
While some of their stunts were used for propaganda purposes, they don’t detract from the sincerity of the terrorists’ intent in forcefully trying to rewrite history. ISIL’s goal evidently appears to be the elimination of all unifying civilizational symbols that predate the dawn of Islam in order to create the false impression that the lands they currently occupy had no worthwhile history before this period. The group apparently believes that their militancy against historic objects somehow enhances their ‘legitimacy’ and makes them more appealing (and fearful) to others.
The pro-Western regime in Kiev also partakes in its own share of physical historical revisionism, being known for toppling over 500 Lenin monuments across the country in the past year alone. This violent obsession with Lenin is tragically ironic since the first Soviet leader was the one who actually created modern-day Ukraine, but to a Ukrainian Fascist, he represents nothing more than supposed ‘Russian control’ over the region, and consequently, must be eliminated from sight and mind.
Taking matters further, Kiev has banned communist symbols and even gone as far as changing both the date and manner in which Victory Day is celebrated. The country now enforces a poppy symbol instead of the St. George Ribbon and commemorates the event ( referred to the ‘Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation’) a day before Russia does, in accordance with the Western Europeans. What Kiev is aiming to do, then, is to force a type of distorted ‘historical continuity’ between the Banderites and post-coup Ukraine, selectively eliminating elements of its Soviet-era history that ‘inconveniently’ stand in the way of this myth but not address the documented Soviet creation of modern-day Ukraine.
Manipulating The Future
ISIL and Kiev’s physical attacks on history are directed just as much against the future as they are against the past. The ‘historical lustration’ that both are partaking in is purposed so that their controlled populations reinterpret the past in such a way as to facilitate very specific forthcoming ambitions. By changing history, they change the people’s identity, and with it, the course of their development. Thus, they’re using the tool of historical memory in order to forcefully alter the future trajectory of the territories they administer, no matter how brief their hold on them may be.
This is because the war they’re waging is astoundingly uneven, in that the aggressors are able to attack any historical monument or event of their choice while the defenders have nothing of equal value to counter against. Essentially, it’s a never-ending defensive war that must be fought by the true side of history, while the militant revisionists are free to choose when and where they launch their next offensive. In the case of Kiev, it controls most of the Ukrainian state and is thus presented with a carte blanche by the West, but ISIL doesn’t control all of Syria or Iraq, thus giving both civilization-states the chance to defend at least some of their physical heritage.
It must be emphasized that no matter how long ISIL or Kiev rule over their territories, they’ve already committed irreparable historical damage by this point. ISIL’s destruction of millennia-old sites speaks for itself, while Kiev’s campaign, despite not being as ‘grand’ as its Mideast counterpart’s, has succeeded in schizophrenically splitting the identity of the newfound state. Even if they’re eventually defeated, it’s impossible for each affected territory to return back to the status quo ante bellum, demonstrating that the ephemeral (and potentially, periodic) assassins of Wahhabism and Fascism are capable of carrying out immense historical damage in a very brief period of time. One should be reminded, however, that it’s not all doom and gloom, since the people’s resistance in fighting back against these evils can form the basis for a new historical memory that could help smooth over the divisive rifts of the past if the conflict ends in their favor.
ISIL and Kiev’s similarities don’t end with their violent revisionism and intended future manipulations, since they also share a few other critical details in common:
ISIL and the EuroMaidan Nazis both came to power in their respective areas via asymmetrical means, with a preference for urban terrorism. Upon reaching their current positions, they then began to implement hybrid conventional tactics as well; ISIL ‘seized’ American and Iraqi military vehicles while Kiev commandeered the entire Ukrainian Armed Forces. It therefore stands as a matter of fact that both entities follow the same military patterns in pursuing their objectives, and it’s no coincidence that both of these (overthrowing the Syrian government and weakening Iraq, and expelling Russians and Russian influence from Ukraine) overlap with the US’ own grand strategic goals and had direct American support in their origins.
This brings to the forefront the fact that both groups were created by the US, although at times they happen to fall outside of its direct control. Much has already been written about the US’ $5 billion support to Ukrainian regime change operations and Victoria Nuland’s active participation in EuroMaidan, yet ISIL’s connections to the US establishment have evaded considerable mainstream media attention. Russia, however, hasn’t kept silent about the link between the two, with Lavrov decrying the US’ strategy of ‘good terrorist, bad terrorist’ and even the Director of GRU himself taking aim against Washington’s creation of Islamic terrorism. No matter which way one tries to spin it, both ISIL and Ukrainian Fascism owe their current forms to American ‘seed funding’, no matter how shameful this fact may be to the majority of the country’s taxpayers that unwittingly contribute to it.
The Wahhabis and Fascists are both vehemently dedicated to overthrowing the stable and established orders that came before them, be it secular republicanism or pragmatic (but far from perfect) East-West balancing. They envision imposing the complete opposite of once was, which is represented by a Wahhabi dictatorship and a Fascist, Western-fawning state, respectively. Through their social media exploitation and propaganda campaigns, both radical movements attempt to market themselves as ‘romantic revolutionaries’ to the droves of wayward and vulnerable youth that constitute their core recruits. They’ve manipulated the semi-global zeitgeist of ‘anti-government suspicion’ (crafted and proselytized by the West for the purpose of promoting Color Revolutions [ironically via government hijacking of the Wikileaks and Snowden causes]) to ‘legitimize’ their state-building and revisionist attempts in forcibly attacking historical memory.
The US’ support of militant historical revisionists in the Mideast and Ukraine is extremely significant in signaling a dangerous escalation of postmodern tactics and weaponry. The utilization of historical memory as a physical weapon in the battlefield for ‘hearts and minds’ exceeds what developed society has witnessed since the end of World War II. While such backwards tactics occasionally reared their ugly head from antiquity until 1945, it seemed like the world was finally on the verge of realizing how unnecessary and harmful they are to human civilization when ISIL and the Ukrainian Nazis began their anti-historical campaigns (with the former destroying things that hadn’t been targeted for thousands of years by a multitude of adversaries). The greatest shame is that the US’ acceptance and support of both groups might herald in a larger return to historic savagism, where no monuments or artifacts are considered ‘sacred’ to the historical memory of either the battleground state or civilization as a whole. Opening these floodgates would portend negatively for all that mankind has accomplished in the past 70 years, but bearing in mind that the US is crazily intent on creating chaos to maintain its grip on Eurasia, it should be expected that more ‘historical assassins’ will emerge in the coming years as the New Cold War intensifies.