Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog
On January 5, Hassan Nasrallah stated: „ January 2, 2020 is a date that separates two stages in the region. It is the beginning of a new phase, a new history, not just for Iran or Iraq, but for the whole region.“ Obviously, this feeling is widely shared. The crime was too big, too heinous, and way too adventurist.
In the new phase, the general aim is to kick the US military forces out of the whole region. Of course, this will take some time. „Responding to the Soleimani assassination is a long track that must lead to expelling the US presence in the region; the Ain Al-Assad operation was just a ‘slap.’ ” (Nasrallah, January 12) First steps were already taken. Besides these very precise attacks on two US-bases in Iraq, there were these extraordinary ceremonies, not only in Iran, but also in other countries, notably in Iraq, in Yemen, in Syria, and in Lebanon. “Soleimani had the biggest and greatest funeral in history after that of Imam Khomeini. The funeral has strengthened the Islamic Republic and brought life again to its revolution. We are before a new birth of the Islamic revolution in Iran.” (Nasrallah) Then there was the historical decision of the Iraqi parliament that US military forces have to leave the country. I further guess that the fight against terrorism in Syria will be more and more seen as a fight against the US military presence. It is again Nasrallah who hints at this: “All suicide attacks and crimes committed by the Takfiri terrorism must be branded ‘Made in USA’.”
But there is a further question that should be taken very seriously. In my eyes, this is the question of moral values. Or, if you prefer, ideology. This is a new development. It has become clear that China and Asia are on the way to outpace Western economy. Concerning military matters, Russia in particular is – at least qualitatively – better than USA; this has become quite evident, see in particular the books by Andrew Martyanov. Concerning politics, many people will agree that Putin is superior to any Western leader. In these domains, a comparaison between Western hegemonic forces and anti-hegemonic forces is quite standard. But this is not yet the case for ideology.
Common moral values and ideology are crucial for a country. Not only has each country a government, but also some instances of moral values. They very much differ from one country to another. In China for example, there is the Communist Party which is considered as the moral instance; the more traditional morality of Confucius is important too. In Iran, this role is filled by different Islamic bodies and finally by the Supreme Leader. In Iraq, apparently, Ayatollah Sistani is crucial. In Russia, the situation is much less clear (by the way, this is true for the whole Russian system). In some sense, Putin represents the common moral values, but of course, this will need some kind of institutionalization.
In Western European countries, the views on moral values are confusing. According to polls, more than 90% think that religion is a private matter. This is believed as „modern“ while countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran are judged „backward“. On the other hand, many West Europeans are convinced that their countries are the most moral in the world and that they are some kind of a „moral compass“. This colonialist arrogance is very profound. Nevertheless, Western European countries also have their instances of moral values; these are a mixture of sciences, media, churches, and the humanitarian industry.
The combat of moral values should not be underestimated. As a Christian saying goes: „Man does not live by bread alone.“ Even if Western leaders like Trump seem to say that only money and power count, it remains capital who is considered as „good guy“ and who is considered as „bad guy“. The strength of inner convictions is significant. In (Western) business and sports, building more self-esteem is regarded as a key factor for success.
Coming back to January 2 (or the night between January 2 and January 3), I have the feeling that in the West, the inner conviction got a blow. The murder of a statesman, who was very popular in his country and was on a diplomatic mission in a neighboring country, is infamous, even for Western standards, especially as it was shamelessly vaunted by the US president. As far as I know, absolutely no moral instance in the West has condemned this open crime. No moral instance has exclaimed: „Stop. This is immoral.“ The „best“, which one could hear, was something like: “Among international lawyers, it is actually agreed that the killing was inadmissible.” (This came from Saxer, professor of international law at the university of Zurich, during a Swiss television debate.) Moreover, Western media were – and are – full of primitive hate against Iran. What were the „values“ promoted by Western political leaders during these days? Arrogance, humiliation, denigration, extremism, lies; not a single positive value. In short, the level of common morality in the West is now very, very low.
On the other hand, I was hugely impressed by the high standard of moral values of Iran and her Arab allies. They showed compassion, faith, restraint, dignity, courage, honesty. No primitive hatred, but determination. Nasrallah underlined that the „Ain al-Assad slap signifies the unprecedented courage of the Iranian leadership ever since WWII“. The fight for expelling US military from the region is assessed as a moral one. Nasrallah: “Hajj Qassem’s martyrdom has brought back the true image of the US, which is the head of arrogance, corruption and criminality in the world.” Iran and her Arab allies give the world a great example and eminent lesson of ethics, of moral behavior, of true faith, and of high ideals; this is my strongest feeling of the last 10 days.
The Western media remain influential, and with them the Western ideology. There is a long track to go in order to convince the world that the moral values of the anti-hegemonic forces are much higher than those of the Western hegemonic forces. This is one of the central tasks in the new phase after January 2. This is not only a new phase for West Asia (Middle East), but for all of us.