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Terror, climate chaos, financial crisis are the costs of 'doing business'

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The techno-narcissism of predatory neoliberal capitalism is locked into an endless war with the bastard monster of its own creation - Islamic State

Fifteen years into the 21st century, humanity has made little progress in addressing major threats to civilisation. In fact, on terrorism, climate change and the economy, we're not making progress at all, but making things worse.

The "war on terror" has been waged for 14 years since 9/11, but far from terror being defeated, it has metastasised into a regional quasi-state occupying parts of Iraq and Syria.

Despite the much-lauded "binding" climate accord agreed in Paris, the governments most responsible for carbon emissions are still avoiding the reductions necessary to prevent us breaching crucial tipping points into dangerous climate change.

Governments have tried every neoliberal trick in the book to kick-start prosperity, but the legacy of the 2008 banking collapse lives on through tepid growth, astronomical global debt even higher than pre-crash levels, and the perpetual risk of another financial crisis.

At first glance, these failures appear unrelated.

In reality, ineffective hysteria in fighting terror, chronic inertia in tackling climate change, and impotence in the face of looming capitalist meltdown are part of the same structural problem: our civilisational paradigm.

Mind the gaps

Thanks to scientific and technological advances, information has never been so voluminous, and so accessible, to so many people.

But the epistemological gap between our perceptions of the world and how we are affecting it remains as wide as ever.

Sometimes, the gap is manufactured for political convenience. Senior US military commanders, for instance, have deliberately massaged intelligence to promote an image of victory in the war on the Islamic State (IS) -- fabrications reminiscent of intelligence manipulation on weapons of mass destruction during the 2003 Iraq War.

The gap is also related to deep-rooted geopolitical structures integral to the way the West interacts with the Muslim world. At the forefront of the US-led war on IS is a coalition of regional powers who over the past half-decade had siphoned arms and funds to the very militant groups in Syria that coalesced into IS.

Declassified intelligence documents reveal that despite knowing full well that their own allies -- the Gulf states and Turkey -- were empowering the most extremist Syrian rebel factions, Western governments continued to support them.

No wonder Alain Chouet, former head of the Security Intelligence Service of the French Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE), has described the "war on terror" as a "sham" concealing an ongoing "military alliance" between "Western governments and the financial sponsors of jihad " [W]e remain allies with those who have sponsored this terrorism for the last 30 years."

Addicted to oil

A core reason for this self-defeating alliance is oil addiction. Since the Second World War, the US has fostered alliances with autocratic regimes across the Muslim world to access regional fossil fuel energy sources deemed critical for the very survival of global capitalism.

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Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the 'System Shift' column for VICE's Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work.

Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New (more...)

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