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Jordan Peterson Sold Out to the War Party
Sifting Through His Terrible Foreign Policy Takes
“I don't really regard myself as a political figure”
When Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson first burst onto the news cycle in 2016 he was seen by many as a principled iconoclast among the spineless intellectuals who was speaking out against an approaching toleration left. Protesting the gender identity rights bill C-16, he was thrusted into the public eye when he made viral Youtube videos warning that such a law would force compelled speech on a slope towards big-brother state overreach. Beloved and hated by many, years of interviews, public lectures, and debates has made Peterson one of the most influential intellectuals on Earth — but with his recent partnership with the conservative media giant The Daily Wire, he has been shifting closer to the neocon-prointervention war-wing ideologies of the world, cozying up to their version of tolerationism while lamenting the others. Attacking woke leftist ideology is still the ex-professors main grift, but now he has stuck his feet in the water of the “promoting democracy through regime change” faction of conservatives. He sold out to the war party, and may never come back around.
Like so many of the contrarian figures that challenge pervading narratives about culture, there is something immensely likeable about Peterson. Self-described as a critic of academic neo-Marxist post-modernism, he will use his Harvard psychologist background to attack leftist gender ideology and progressive views on environmental fanaticism. Part of his appeal comes from pushing back on cultural narratives that attempt to marginalize and insult responsible and competent people. He capitalizes on our personal need to rebel. Only, the rebellion is in the culture war, not the institutional. Be it his ignorance, his desire for capital, or ability to stay within the guidelines of the system, Peterson has come to promote and greenlight some of the most hawkish, pro-interventionist, and pro-war narratives.
The common theme when Peterson dives into geopolitics is he doesn’t have the foundational background knowledge to correct or even pose the right questions to these assertions. Last February, when the Russians had launched their invasion in Ukraine, the first person Jordan interviewed about the conflict was none other than Fredrick Kagan, one of the intellectual architects of the disastrous 2006-07 surge in Iraq that would define U.S. foreign policy in the region post Second Iraq War.
In the interview, Peterson asks legitimate questions out of an honest curiosity. What are Putin’s motivations? What separates the West from Russia? Kagan goes to portray the invasion as entirely unprovoked, that NATO expansion was a necessary and acceptable consequence of a Russian threat loomed in post-Soviet Europe and the portrayal of Putin as a Hitlerian thug, out for blood and conquest.
There’s no issue of platforming the awful ideas of Kagan, but the fact that Jordan is led by his trusted friends to him speaks to the kind of circle he surrounds himself with. With no ability to provide pushback on the geopolitical, Peterson can only make inferences about the difference in cultural and religious lines. Kagan’s blatant empire apologist rhetoric falls apart under the lightest of scrutiny. — The U.S. spearheading the expansion of the NATO military alliance post-1991 was never about it’s national security, or the security of Europe, but a hawkish and dangerous attempt to capitalize on it’s unipolar moment in the world.
For example, Bruce Jackson, vice president of military contractor Lockheed Martin, founded and led the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. He was responsible for the Republican National Convention foreign policy platform of 2000 where Bush and Cheney made their acceptance speeches as they establish their leadership over the neo conservative agenda of the 21st century.
The same administration that would support the anti-Russian color revolutions of 2003-04, despite Russia's involvement in helping the United States with its war on terror. Tensions would mount so high as the Bush Administration tried to bring Georgia into NATO, when the Russo-Georgian conflict broke out in 2008, Dick Cheney nearly got Bush to strike at Russian troops in the Russo-Georgian war.
With NATO expansion, arms manufacturers had an ability to sell military grade weapons to Eastern Europe. Even though the Soviet Republics were given their independence under the condition that NATO would not expand “one inch to the East” past Germany, the late 90’s and early 2000’s would see new members join the alliance. But not Russia. ”The Russians are prone to reject the invitation to become part of the sovereign, voluntary association of the western states…for some reason, they distrust the West.” Peterson says.
In July, presumably in the wake of some backlash for these he makes a video posing an alterative view of NATO expansion after he watched a lecture by John Mearsheimer —Why Is Ukraine the Wests Fault? “I was concerned that he might be a Russian apologist” Peterson said, where he gives merit to the idea that expanding NATO was aggrandizing a Russian fear and distrust of western influence. But he proposes another reason for the decision to invade Ukraine:
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And are we degenerate in a profoundly threatening manner? I think the answer to that may well be yes. The idea that we are ensconced in a culture war has become a rhetorical commonplace. How serious is that war? Is it serious enough to increase the probability that Russia, say, will be motivated to invade and potentially incapacitate Ukraine merely to keep the pathological West out of that country, which is a key part of the historically Russian sphere of influence?
This is where Peterson’s lack of knowledge about the issue leads him to extrapolate into delusional territory. Here Peterson cannot step out of his role as a culture warrior. Here the motivations for war are not Russian or western aggression, but wokeism. The GOP party is on the other side of the culture war, while has almost unanimously signed off on historic amounts of aid and armament for Ukraine. Never mind an assertion that Putin’s motivations for the heavy cost of war could be as trivial as keeping Ukraine away from the post modernists.
Peterson has always had an affinity for the Zionist perspective even before his employment with the aggressively pro-Israel Daily Wire. But also, as a recently fired professor whose popularity could be capitalized on with speaking tours, it just seemed like he took some gigs that were paying him well — qualifications be damned.
In 2018 he gave a speech in Toronto for the Speakers Action Council, which hosted a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration. The Council was sponsored with now defunct or inactive 501c3’s and advocacy groups. “It’s not my area of expertise…to say anything about the political situation[of Israel], anything definitive, that just seems like absolute hubris.”
He then follows that statement by explaining that Israel builds resentment (and respect) in the middle east because of their success. Not because of their illegal occupation or numerous human rights violations. But because they just do so well! He references Israel as a moral exemplar, a “city upon a hill”, or at least it is “compared to that god forsaken part of the world”.
He has routinely praised the Abraham Accords as a historically successful peace agreement that brought Israel closer to Arab world. The “treaty” was between the U.A.E., Bahrain and Israel, all nations that are not at war. It is as pointless for peace as signing a treaty between the U.S. and Canada. As any Palestinian under occupied territory will tell you, it was a nothingburger and did nothing to achieve lasting peace in the middle east.
Now working for Ben Shapiro, who said Israel should be building a synagogue on the temple mount and that the illegally occupied city of Jerusalem needs to “stay in Israeli hands,” Peterson has only leaned heavier into the conservative Zionist dogma that pervades the Christian right. Tough on Syria, tough on Iran. Soft on Saudi Arabia and soft on the occupation of the West Bank. He has touted the lie that Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, has gassed his own people lie, which is the ideological basis for overthrowing his regime.
But in his worst showing, his new employment has led him to an interview with infamous Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No questions were asked about Netanyahu’s current criminal investigation, instead the Prime Minister was allowed an unchallenged platform to give a grossly revisionist Zionist perspective of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Repeating the claim that Palestine before the migration of Jews was a “barren wasteland” and that they “did nothing with it." It wasn’t, and they did.
Out of all of these strong geopolitical takes, Peterson is the most aggressive on Iran. While it’s impossible to say how much of this is due to his new employment or his legitimate longstanding views, he’s been relentless on making it out to be the worst place in the world. It is however very convenient that Israel’s number one strategic geopolitical enemy is the government in Tehran — and that the nations that have a better relationship with the Israelis are off the hook. "Despite the sins of the Saudis, which are manifold” Peterson says, “the idea that they are not preferable to the Iranians is a form of political insanity.”
Neverminded that the Saudi regime holds the death penalty for adultery, gets away with killing American journalists, and is responsible for starting the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Political insanity.
Just a few days ago in an interview with Walter Russel Mead, a fairly hawkish foreign policy teacher and analyst, Peterson asks in the context of American foreign policy, “what is the rationale for being soft on Iran? Iran is a terrible, repressive theocracy with nuclear ambition. It’s a dangerous regime.” He goes on to say that they are “not to be trusted to negotiate”. For one, the notion that the west is soft on Iran is laughable. We have maintained the strictest economic sanctions program on Iran arguably in the history sanctions on any country. In the 1980’s we armed Saddam Hussain in his attempts to wage war with the Iranian people. The Iraq war surge in 2006-07, and American intervention in Syria was largely to weaken the Shiite powers in the region to avoid Iran from getting too many allies in the middle east. To say we’ve been easy on Iran is only a position of the greatest hawks and hardliners who just want to stoke already high tensions for no short-term good.
Earlier this month, Peterson interviewed Masih Alinejad, an American activist and an Iranian born citizen about the current situation in Iran. Alinejad is a controversial figure with a hazy past. She allegedly had to flee Iran because of her political activism in the 2000’s—despite having returned to Iran in 2009. At first, she still wore a hijab and did not talk about overthrowing the Iranian government. Then, sometime shortly after her meeting with former CIA director General David Petraeus, also responsible for all U.S. forces in the middle east, she became a hardliner on the Iranian issue. Muhammad Sahimi describes:
It was after meeting General Petraeus that Alinejad began her work in the Persian division of Voice of America, the official US propaganda machine broadcasting into Iran. Whether the meeting with General Petraeus and Alinejad’s move to VOA were related remains unclear at this time. She has been producing a weekly program, which since 2017 has become the hotbed of activities for many exiled Iranians that advocate economic sanctions, threat of military attacks, and even separation of some provinces from Iran. Alinejad has received large contracts from the VOA for her work.
She has also allegedly been the target of two kidnapping attempts by Iranian intelligence to bring her back to the country to face punishment. The details of those events are quite grandiose and shady. In short, her messaging can be boiled down to what she kept repeating over the course of the interview: we must overthrow the Iranian regime.
This interview is a perfect example of how Peterson, who once correctly criticized Marxism for not observing what would go wrong if there was such a radical change in social order, hardly gives any pushback on what exactly would go wrong if the powers that be would overthrow the ayatollah’s theocracy. In the wake of overthrowing Saddam in Iraq, Gadhafi in Libya, or the attempt to overthrow Assad in Syria, the disastrous consequences of the pro-regime change faction of the U.S. empire is more apparent than ever, but it is lost on Peterson.
It is difficult to say if these views are only a result of him not being in touch with the right voices, and can be redeemed if opposing viewpoints can reach his ear, as happened with professor John Mearsheimer’s argument, causing him to see the dangers of NATO expansion. It seems that his geopolitical outlook has changed little since he’s jumped into the public eye, only entrenching himself in his ideas of the neoconservative dogma and the need for western hegemony.
What is perhaps most lost is in doing this he has joined the western war machine’s drum beating for pro intervention, pro regime change, selective condemnation of human rights. The empires enemies are his enemies, and their allies are his allies. Thus, he becomes a counterculture voice in domestic issues only, and his ability to thrive so well in our institutions is because his rebellion is in the confines of their acceptable framework only.
As Ted Kaczynski says in The Systems Neatest Trick:
The university intellectuals also play an important role in carrying out the System's trick. Though they like to fancy themselves independent thinkers, the intellectuals are (allowing for individual exceptions) the most oversocialized, the most conformist, the tamest and most domesticated, the most pampered, dependent, and spineless group in America today. As a result, their impulse to rebel is particularly strong. But, because they are incapable of independent thought, real rebellion is impossible for them. Consequently they are suckers for the System's trick, which allows them to irritate people and enjoy the illusion of rebelling without ever having to challenge the System's basic values.
So will you please, sort yourself out bucko.
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