« Uranium supply elasticity | Main | Red Dawn »

November 14, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Why the resonance of all the “chaos is upon is!” mongering, when that is pretty clearly not the case?

I dunno. An even better writer than Robb who's been on this track is William Langewiesche, formerly of the Atlantic and now of Vanity Fair. Great writer, great researcher. And yet, in his book on maritime happenings, The Outlaw Sea, even he trots out the well-worn memes of "Al Qaeda has a navy!" and "the Straits of Malacca are in danger of being shut!"

That was all written before the current Somali piracy flap was front-and-center in the western media (not that admittedly said piracy hasn't been going on at a lower level of intensity for awhile). So how come we haven't seen the Islamic Courts Union or AQ make much of an effort to make the pirates a franchise? Could it be that, just like MEND, it's about the money, not the chaos?

As to where the whole "chaos is upon is" thing comes from, I think we can safely blame Robert Kaplan's 1994 article "The Coming Anarchy" for the current version. Kaplan declared that West Africa was going completely insane and there was nothing anybody could do about it.

It became conventional wisdom so fast that almost every book about Liberia and Sierra Leone from the 90s has a section on how Robert Kaplan is full of it. (Some of them don't mention him by name but still snipe at him.)These specialists are really, really angry about how Kaplan convinced the chattering classes to completely write off a continent.

Of course, Kaplan is the same person who declared that every country on Earth was going to face death and chaos except Israel, which would have peace. I think the only reason he's taken seriously is that he rode the anti-Fukuyama backlash all the way.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)