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Web Log - "Watching the pot come to a boil"

16-Jan-17 World View -- With Libya in chaos, migrant deal with Italy collapses

Over 100 migrants drown in Mediterranean after their dinghy sinks

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Over 100 migrants drown in Mediterranean after their dinghy sinks


Migrants in a dinghy rescued on Thursday of last week (AP)
Migrants in a dinghy rescued on Thursday of last week (AP)

Italy's Coast Guard was able to rescue only four people after a rubber dinghy with 110 migrants sank in rough waters in the Mediterranean Sea about 30 miles off the coast of Libya.

These situations are brought about by people smugglers. They charge desperate migrants thousands of dollars each. Typically, the people smugglers put hundreds of migrants into a single large rubber dinghy, and give the migrants enough fuel to leave Libyan waters and a cell phone to use to call the Italian coast guard.

The four who were rescued were among 550 who were rescued on one day, Friday.

It's expected (or feared) that, like last year, hundreds of thousands of migrants will attempt to cross from Libya to Italy this year. According to Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat:

"Come next spring, the number of people crossing over the Mediterranean will reach record levels. The choice is trying to do something now, or meeting urgently in April, May ... and try to do a deal then."

It's also expected that there will be thousands of migrants departing from Egypt, with the same objective. Libya Herald and Reuters and Telegraph (London) and AP

With Libya in chaos, migrant deal with Italy collapses

Italy reopened its embassy in Libya's capital city Tripoli last week, the first Western country to do so since 2015. Italy had hoped that doing so would lead to an agreement with the government of Libya to slow the flow of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

Unfortunately, the agreement was never signed by the government of Libya because the phrase "the government of Libya" is meaningless. There are several governments in Libya:

None of these three governments recognizes either of the others, and so there's no hope of getting any agreement.

In fact, the Beida government last week accused Italy's Coast Guard of violating Libyan sovereignty with its rescue program. Italy had received the approval of the Government of National Accord, but in a note last week, the Beida government said,

"An Italian military vessel loaded with soldiers and ammunition has entered Libyan territorial waters. It is a clear violation of the UN charter and a form of repeated aggression."

One other government could be mentioned -- the so-called National Salvation Government, led by Khalifa Ghwell, who claimed several days ago that his forces had seized several ministries in Tripoli, and that the Government of National Accord (GNA) had been defeated. His claims could not be confirmed. VOA and Libya Herald and North Africa Post and Libya Herald

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jan-17 World View -- With Libya in chaos, migrant deal with Italy collapses thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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15-Jan-17 World View -- Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades

US troop deployment in Poland angers Russia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades


Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, commander of Poland's 11th Armored Cavalry Division, conduct a review of U.S. and Polish troops during an official ceremony in Zagan, Poland (DVIDS)
Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, commander of Poland's 11th Armored Cavalry Division, conduct a review of U.S. and Polish troops during an official ceremony in Zagan, Poland (DVIDS)

People across Poland are celebrating "Operation Resolve," the arrival to Poland the largest US military deployment to Europe in decades. The deployment includes about 4,000 troops and also 2,400 pieces of military equipment, including tanks and Humvees.

The deployment is a reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. Other countries in eastern Europe are concerned that they will be the next victim of a Russian invasion, and it's hoped that the presence of US troops will deter Russia.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said,

"Welcome to Poland. ... The presence of American soldiers in Poland is another step in our strategy to ensure safety and security for Poland and the region. ...

It's a great day today when we can welcome, here in Zagan, American soldiers who represent the best, the greatest army in the world."

Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said:

"We have waited for you for a very long time. We waited for decades, sometimes feeling we had been left alone, sometimes almost losing hope, sometimes feeling that we were the only ones who protected civilization from aggression that came from the east."

The American troops will be part of a Nato contingent that will include troops from Britain and Canada. The troops will be rotated every nine months through Poland, the Baltic countries, Bulgaria and Romania in order to provide a technical workaround to a promise made to Moscow after the fall of the Soviet Union that Nato would not permanently base large numbers of forces east of Germany. Deutsche Welle and CNN and AFP

US troop deployment in Poland angers Russia

Russia's president Vladimir Putin is always calling everyone he dislikes "Nazis" and "Fascists," but he doesn't like to admit that Russia's were also "Nazis and Fascists" prior Adolf Hitler's invasion of Russia. Hitler and Josef Stalin had signed a treaty (the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact) in 1939 where they split up Poland between them. The agreement also divided Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Romania between the Nazis and the Communists. It was only in 1941, when the Nazis invaded Russia, that Stalin finally learned being a Nazi is not a good thing. Even so, after Hitler was defeated, Stalin's Soviet forces occupied Poland and other east European countries for decades.

These events are far ancient history to today's young generations in America and Western Europe, but they're still very raw memories to the people of Poland and other East European countries. They've seen Russia invade and annex parts of Georgia and Ukraine, and they have no doubts that Russia would invade their countries, as has happened in the past.

Putin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the US troops in Poland would be "a threat to Russia's national security."

It's hard to believe that 5,000 American troops would be a threat to Russia's security, inasmuch as Russia has something like 330,000 troops along its western border. Furthermore, Russia has long-range Iskander cruise missiles in Kaliningrad that can be made nuclear.

The US deployment is being described as a "tripwire" force, designed to prevent Russia from getting away with an easy invasion of some other country, as they did with Georgia and Ukraine. It's thought that Russia would not be willing to risk a larger war by attacking an American force of any size.

Russian military expert Vladimir Kozin says that another reasons for the deployment is that outgoing President Obama wants to box in Donald Trump:

"According to the German military, some 900 railroad cars will be needed to deliver all this equipment to the deployment sites. But what is the reason? First, [US President Barack] Obama wants to play a mean trick on President-elect Donald Trump who won the election."

It's worth mentioning that there's one other possible theory why Obama did this in the last few days of his administration: It's possible that Trump asked Obama to do it before leaving office, so that he wouldn't have to do it.

Kozin said that the deployment is unprecedented since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the US is forcing Europe to accept it:

"Finally, the US wants to maintain tensions around the world and particularly in Europe. They want to turn the region into another tinderbox ready to ignite. This number one priority. ...

The US and NATO plan to increase aerial, anti-submarine, missile defense and intelligence activities with the use of heavy military equipment. In order to justify sanctions, the situation needs to be tense all the time. Europe is becoming a prisoner of this new Cold War initiated by Obama."

Sputnik News (Moscow) and Deutsche Welle (14-Nov-2016) and Sky News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jan-17 World View -- Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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14-Jan-17 World View -- Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus

Israel's motive was probably to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus


Huge explosions could be seen above the buildings of Damascus
Huge explosions could be seen above the buildings of Damascus

The Syrian army said that Israel has launched a missile strike on the al-Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus early on Friday morning. The army said it was a "flagrant attack" by Israel with the purpose of aiding the "terrorist groups" in Syria. According to the army statement:

"Syrian army command and armed forces warn Israel of the repercussions of the flagrant attack and stresses its continued fight against (this) terrorism and amputate the arms of the perpetrators."

Syrian state television quoted the army as saying several rockets were fired from an area near Lake Tiberias in northern Israel just after midnight. The report said that the rockets landed in the military compound of the airbase, causing explosions and a large fire. Other reports were contradictory, saying that the Israeli attack was from missiles launched from Israeli warplanes.

Syria says that there have been several such attacks in the past, and that they all coincided with defeats for the armed terrorist groups in Syria, especially Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), which recently changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria). Syria said that the purpose of the attack was to "raise morale" of the terrorist organizations who are attempting to overthrow the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has sent letters to the United Nations demanding international retaliation against Israel:

"The new Israeli missile attack on Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus comes within a long series of Israeli attacks since the beginning of the terrorist war on the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria which has been planned in the Israeli, French and British intelligence agencies and their agents in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other countries that wanted to impose control and hegemony on Syria and the region."

Iran's media added to the charges by claiming that Israel was attempting to prevent Syria's army from restoring water supplies to Damascus. SANA (Syria) and Jerusalem Post and Press TV (Tehran)

Israel's motive was probably to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah

As is their usual practice, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that the attack took place. Some analysts are saying that the large explosions occurred because the target of the attacks was several large weapons stores. Syria's army was using to those weapons to attack rebels in Syria, but it's possible that Israel believed that some of those weapons were to be transferred to Lebanon's Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006 that largely ended in stalemate. However, it's known that Iran has been supplying rockets and other weapons to Hezbollah in preparation for the next war. Israel has taken steps where possible to prevent other weapons from reaching Hezbollah. Missiles and chemical weapons from Syria are particular concerns.

In statements to Israel's parliament (Knesset) in December, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman described Israel's policy in Syria:

"Israel has no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria. Our policies and our positions are very clear and are based on three red lines: we will not allow any harm to come to Israeli citizens, we will not allow any harm to the sovereignty of the State of Israel and we will not allow the smuggling of sophisticated weapons or chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon for Hezbollah."

Hezbollah’s major arms supply route between Damascus and Lebanon's border has been targeted on several occasions in recent years by Israeli air strikes. This has included strikes on warehouses and convoys of weapons. Reuters and Israel National News and Middle East Monitor

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jan-17 World View -- Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Jan-17 World View -- Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal

History of Cyprus suggests that there is little hope for permanent reunification

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal


A Turkish army tank passes through the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. (AP)
A Turkish army tank passes through the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. (AP)

Negotiations in Geneva to reunite Cyprus ended on Thursday evening without a deal, but with plans to resume after January 18.

Almost two years of peace talks between leaders of Greek side and the Turkish side of the island of Cyprus have led to what Europe and Turkey will be the final negotiations leading to a united Cyprus.

Cyprus has been bitterly divided since a 1974 war, with Greek Orthodox Christian Greeks governing the south, and Muslim Turks governing the north. The two sides are partitioned by a "no-man's land," a strip that stretches 112 miles across the entire island.

The capital city Nicosia is in the center of Cyprus and is partitioned as well. While partitions of other cities, including Beirut, Belfast and Berlin, have disappear in the last few decades, the partition remains in Nicosia.

It's not known whether Thursday's negotiations brought the two sides close together, but the two most difficult issues are these:

According to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the talks on Thursday showed progress, but there is no "quick fix." Cyprus Mail and AP and Cyprus Mail

History of Cyprus suggests that there is little hope for permanent reunification

Because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus has been repeatedly conquered throughout history by different groups, including the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Egyptians and the Persians. It was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1571, but was conquered by Britain in 1878 and annexed in 1914.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960 under a power-sharing agreement between the Greeks and the Turks. Three countries -- Britain, Greece and Turkey -- would be responsible for guaranteeing security in the new country.

Violence erupted soon after. In 1974, Greece's military junta backed a coup against the president of Cyprus, leading to a civil war. Turkey responded by invading northern Cyprus. About 165,000 Greek Cypriots fled or were driven from the Turkish-occupied north, and about 45,000 Turkish Cypriots left the south for the north.

Since ancient times, at least as far back as the time around 1200BC that the face of Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships, Greece and Turkey (Anatolia) have been at war repeatedly, in one of the most violent ethnic fault lines in history. Turkey's greatest victory over Greece occurred in 1453, when the Ottoman's conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) and destroyed the Greek Byzantine Empire. None of these wars has been forgotten by the participants. Guardian (London) and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jan-17 World View -- Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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12-Jan-17 World View -- Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend

Pakistan's army accused of dumping over 1,000 bodies in Balochistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend


Demonstrators in Pakistan rally to protest the abduction of Salam Haider and others
Demonstrators in Pakistan rally to protest the abduction of Salam Haider and others

In separate incidents, four secular anti-military activists in Pakistan have disappeared within the last few days, apparently kidnapped by the army. All of them actively post on social media, to the discomfort of the army.

Asim Saeed, who was abducted from his home in Lahore on Friday, and Ahmad Waqas Goraya, who was abducted the same day, both help run the Mochi Facebook page critical of the military.

Another man, Ahmed Raza Naseer, was taken from his family's shop on Saturday. Naseer suffers from polio.

The disappearance on Saturday of Salman Haider, a lecturer at Fatima Jinnah Women University, was brought all four abductions to national attention. Haider frequently wrote about how troubled Pakistan's society it, with government security forces targeting Shias and ethnic Hazaras in Balochistan. Haider also wrote about other people whom the army the abducted, and that perhaps angered the army the most.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for country-wide protests against the abductions:

"HRCP is greatly alarmed by Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed disappearing on January 4, Salman Haider on Friday and Ahmed Raza Naseer on Saturday. All four are known for airing their views, sometime critical of authority, extremism and intolerance, on social media.

Pakistan has never been a particularly safe country for rights activists. Many have been killed, injured, abducted and threatened for their work… The events of the last week demonstrate that the dangers already extend to digital spaces. We cannot be sure if the four cases are connected but expect that would be worth looking into as well.

Threats and violence have never deterred Pakistan’s activists from speaking their mind and flagging issues that conscious citizens must raise in a civilized society. We know that the events of the last few days, will not change that. At the same time, however, HRCP also implores the government to wake up to its obligation to provide a safe environment for human rights defenders and activists."

The abductions seem to be working. In the last two days, several activists have closed down their online accounts.

Last year, Haider wrote a poem about the abductions. The following is a translated excerpt from the Urdu:

"Now friends of my friends are going missing,
Then it will be my friends, and then,
It will be my file [of me missing] that
my father will take to the courts."

Unfortunately, Haider's prediction came true on Saturday. Dawn (Pakistan) and Guardian (London) and The Diplomat

Pakistan's army accused of dumping over 1,000 bodies in Balochistan

According to Pakistan's Human Rights ministry, over 1000 dead bodies of suspected armed separatists and political activists have been found in Balochistan over the past six years.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) says it has recorded 1,200 cases of dumped bodies and there are many more it has not been able to document. VBMP says that most of the bodies were activists who, one day, were picked up by authorities and were never seen again.

However, Pakistan's government claims that they had nothing to do with the killings. According to one provincial official: "There are several explanations. Sometimes insurgents are killed in a gunfight with law enforcement agencies but their bodies are found later. Militant groups also fight among each other and don't bury their dead fighters. Then there are tribal feuds, organized crime and drug mafia." BBC and International Business Times (London) and India Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jan-17 World View -- Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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11-Jan-17 World View -- China threatens Trump with 'revenge' over one-China policy

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen meets with Senator Cruz in Texas

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen meets with Senator Cruz in Texas


Tsai Ing-wen (standing) meets with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday
Tsai Ing-wen (standing) meets with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday

Ignoring demands that the US forbid Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen from making "transit stops" in Houston and San Francisco en route to and from meetings with Central American leaders, Tsai met with both US Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott during a stopover in Houston.

China's foreign ministry spokesman made this statement about the visit:

"I have taken note of relevant reports. I want to reiterate that we are firmly opposed to the Taiwan leader's contact with any US officials in any form and engagement in actions that disrupt and undermine China-US relations during the so-called transit. We once again urge relevant people from the US to abide by the one-China policy and the principles of the three Joint Communiqués, and cautiously handle Taiwan-related issues so as not to harm the overall interests of China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits."

As I've said before, it really amazes me that the US is supposed to bow to demands from China not to speak to or meet with people that China tells us not to speak to or meet with, and yet we're supposed to accept without question China's right to build military bases in the South China Sea, in clear violation of international law as decided by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague in July of last year, while annexing other countries' territories as Hitler did just prior to World War II.

Prior to the meeting, China's Consul General Li Qiangmin of Houston sent a letter to Cruz:

"For U.S. leaders in administration and legislature, not to make any contact with Taiwan leaders nor send any implication of support of ‘Taiwan Independence’ are in the interests of China, the U.S. and the international community. So, dear Senator, I sincerely hope that you will neither meet, nor have any contact with Tsai during her upcoming visit to Houston, and continue to play a significant role in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples of China and the U.S."

After the meeting, Cruz issued a statement saying the US doesn't dictate to China whom its leaders can meet with, and China should not dictate to the US:

"Shortly before our meeting, the Houston congressional delegation received a curious letter from the Chinese consulate asking members of Congress not to meet with President Tsai, and to uphold the ‘One-China policy’.

The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves. This is not about the PRC. This is about the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend. The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.

The US-Taiwan relationship is not on the negotiating table. It is bound in statute and founded on common interests. I look forward to working with President Tsai to strengthen our partnership."

Governor Abbott said, "It was an honor to meet with President Tsai and discuss how our two economies can expand upon our already prosperous trade partnership." Houston Press and China's Foreign Ministry

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China threatens Trump with 'revenge' over one-China policy

The "One-China Policy" states that there is one China, not two, but leaves ambiguous exactly what that means. Beijing interprets it to mean that Taiwan is province of China, to be completely governed one day by Beijing. Taiwan interprets it to mean that they are the official government of all of China. By not speaking these interpretations out loud, everyone is supposed to get along by saying "there is only one China."

China's politicians have made it clear that they will use military force against Taiwan and the United States if there is any threat that Taiwan will declare independence. In 2005 Beijing passed an "anti-secession law" requiring China to take military action even if Taiwan's leadership simply makes plans or gives speeches about independence. President Tsai has refused to confirm the "1992 consensus" which is the vehicle that reaffirms the One-China policy.

Under these circumstances, it's not surprising that China is becoming increasingly belligerent towards Taiwan. Arguably, Taiwan has already met the conditions set forth in the anti-secession law.

The reaction from China's Foreign Ministry, quoted above, states China policy, but is fairly non-belligerent. However, an editorial in the state run Global Times promises revenge if Donald Trump abandons the one-China policy after taking office:

"The US passed bills that allow serving officers to visit Taiwan, while Chinese fighter jets patrolled around Taiwan and China's aircraft carrier passed the island. It is widely expected that the mainland will impose further military pressure. Tsai needs to face the consequences for every provocative step she takes.

Trump is yet to be inaugurated, and there is no need for Beijing to sacrifice bilateral ties for the sake of Taiwan. But in case he tears up the one-China policy after taking office, the mainland is fully prepared. Beijing would rather break ties with the US if necessary. We would like to see whether US voters will support their president to ruin Sino-US relations and destabilize the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Beijing does not need to feel grateful to Trump for not meeting Tsai. The one-China policy is the basic principle reiterated in the three Sino-US joint Communiqués. It is also the foundation of the profound bilateral relationship. Sticking to this principle is not a capricious request by China upon US presidents, but an obligation of US presidents to maintain China-US relations and respect the existing order of the Asia-Pacific. If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining."

This article threatens to break relations with the US if Trump does not reaffirm the one-China policy, and hints at unspecified military action against Taiwan.

Trump has said that his administration will review the one-China policy, but in view of the real possibility that China will end diplomatic relations, I'm going to assume that Trump will adopt the one-China policy, or some close variant.

But completely apart from anything the US administration does, it's the attitude of the Taiwanese people that is most important. Time is not on China's side, and Chinese officials know it, as the Taiwan's population become more pro-independence every year. The Chinese people are highly nationalistic with regard to Taiwan, and it won't be too much longer before Chinese officials decide that time has run out. Global Times (Beijing) and Xinhua

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jan-17 World View -- China threatens Trump with 'revenge' over one-China policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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10-Jan-17 World View -- Thousands of migrants trapped in deep freeze temperatures in Greece and Balkans

European Commission resettlement plan appears to be a disaster

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of migrants risk freezing to death as deep freeze spreads across Europe


Screen grab from viral video showing migrant tents on Lesvos island
Screen grab from viral video showing migrant tents on Lesvos island

Europe's migrant crisis has been mostly out of news since March 18 of last year, when the EU and Turkey signed their migrant deal, in which Turkey agreed to police the flow of migrants from Turkey across the Aegean Sea to Greece.

Even though it's been out of the news, severe problems still remain. There are about 60,000 migrants still in Greece. When migrants travel from Turkey across the Aegean Sea, they usually stop at Greece's Lesvos Island, because it's close to Turkey, and because they've been welcomed by the Lesvians in the past. There are over 6,000 migrants at the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos Island, far over its capacity of 3,500, and the number is still increasing by a few dozen every day, since the Turkey blockade isn't completely effective. About 1,000 are living in tents covered with snow.

There are 15,600 migrants on all the Greek islands put together. Last week, Greece's Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said:

"There are no refugees or migrants living in the cold anymore. We successfully completed the procedures for overwintering."

So a volunteer worker posted a video showing migrants on Lesvos living in extremely harsh conditions, with no heat and their tents buckling under the heavy snow.

European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud called the situation "untenable," but that the Commission was ready to help:

"We can no more dictate policy in Greece than we can in any other member state.

I have to be quite clear here, the commission is aware that the situation is untenable but we also have to be clear as I was saying that ensuring adequate reception conditions in Greece is a responsibility of Greek authorities. ...

We are pursuing a dual strategy of political pressure and financial and technical support to the Greek authorities to improve the situation."

She explained that by "political pressure," she meant a continued series of recommendations by the EC in its reports to Greece. Greek Reporter and EU Observer and EurActiv

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Migrants in eastern Europe trapped in deep freeze temperatures

When the so-called "Balkan route" was closed to migrants last year, it left thousands of them stranded. More than 7,500 people are currently stranded in Serbia, living in overcrowded camps and informal settlements. In Belgrade, around 2,000 young people, mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria are currently sleeping in abandoned buildings in the city center, while temperatures plummet to as low as -20°C (-4°F). Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Deutsche Welle and Reuters

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European Commission resettlement plan appears to be a disaster

During the first week of 2017, 373 refugees and migrants crossed the sea from Turkey to Greece, an average of 53 per day. Most arrivals were from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Most arrived on the islands Chios and Lesvos.

During the same week, 1,080 people arrived by sea to Italy, mostly as a result of Italian and European search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Most arrivals were from Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Gambia, with lesser numbers from . Senegal, Mali, Sudan, Somalia and Bangladesh.

In September 2015, the European Commission adopted an "emergency relocation scheme," whereby 160,000 refugees, mostly in Greece and Italy, were supposed to be relocated to other EU countries.

However, the program has been something of a disaster. Out of the 160,000, only 8162 people were relocated since the beginning of the scheme. Austria, Denmark, Hungary and Poland have refused to take any migrants at all. The Czech Republic has taken 12, and Slovakia has taken 9.

With the rise of far-right, anti-migrant and even anti-EU populism growing in Europe, it seems unlikely that any of these problems will be resolved soon. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and European Commission (PDF) and Daily Sabah (Turkey)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jan-17 World View -- Thousands of migrants trapped in deep freeze temperatures in Greece and Balkans thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Jan-17 World View -- Iran's 'moderate pragmatist' Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82

Is Rafsanjani's death a victory for Iran's hardliners?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran's 'moderate pragmatist' Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82


Hashemi Rafsanjani (L) shares a laugh with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, under a photo of the original Supreme Leader, Rouhollah Khomeini.  All three fought together in the 1979 revolution.
Hashemi Rafsanjani (L) shares a laugh with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, under a photo of the original Supreme Leader, Rouhollah Khomeini. All three fought together in the 1979 revolution.

Iran is mourning the death of 82 year old Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, born in 1934, and a key figure in Iran's Great Islamic revolution of 1979. He was jailed several times by the Shah of Iran during the 1960s-70s for his political activism, and then after the revolution he became the second most powerful man in Iran, behind Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, who ruled Iran as Supreme Leader until his death in 1989.

Khomeini's chosen successor was Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader. After Rafsanjani was passed over for Supreme Leader, his star began to fade, although he was elected to the presidency from 1989 to 1997.

Politicians in Iran are generally categorized into three groups:

There was a serious split between Rafsanjani and Khamenei after the 2009 presidential elections, when young people were protesting, and there was blood running in the streets because Iran's security forces were massacring students and other protesters. Khamenei wanted the security forces to be completely unleashed, so they could kill, torture, rape, jail and bash anyone they wanted, with impunity. Rafsanjani wanted to permit peaceful protests, and wanted the jailed protesters to be released. As a result of the split between Rafsanjani and Khamenei, two of Rafsanjani's children were jailed on separate charges. Rafsanjani's daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, got herself into even more legal trouble while on leave from prison by visiting a leader of Iran's persecuted Bahai religious minority. Mehr News (Tehran) and BBC (28-May-2016)

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Is Rafsanjani's death a victory for Iran's hardliners?

Many analysts are calling Rafsanjani's death a victory for Khamenei and the hardline principlists, because he will no longer be able to exert moderating pressure on them. That's one way of looking at the situation.

The other way of looking at it is that it's a victory for the young reformists, because he will no longer be able to exert a moderating pressure on them. In other words, in this view Rafsanjani was a powerful buffer between the two extremes, and without him they will both be free to pursue more radical policies. His death might even be the trigger for an Awakening era climax.

Generational Dynamics cannot predict short-term politics, but in many cases it can predict long-term trends, and in this case the long-term trend is clear. The old hardline geezers are dying off, and the young reformists are growing in number and gaining power.

As I've pointed out many times, Iranian college students started holding pro-Western and pro-American protests in the late 1990s, and continuing into the 2000s. These protests were quashed by Khamenei, who ordered the security forces to bash any students that expressed any opposition opinions.

But by the year 2017, those students are now 30-40 years old, and they're increasingly in positions of power, making reformist decisions and implementing reformist policies. And by the way, this is also true within the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

By contrast, the old geezer hardliners are dying off or are becoming senile, and are less and less able to exert decisions as they used to. Rafsanjani was a moderate and a pragmatist, but he was also well-respected by everyone, and could influence moderation in both extremes. Without his moderating influence, we can expect the generational differences between the reformists and the principlists.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Iran is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, characterized by a "generation gap," and a generational clash between the hardline survivors of the last generational crisis war (WW II in America's case) and the generations growing up after that war. This political clash almost always ends up in a victory for the younger generation, as the older generation retires and dies off. In America, the Awakening era climax was the resignation of Richard Nixon, which signaled a victory of the Boomers over the GI and Silent generations that had survived WW II. In Iran, no such Awakening era climax has not yet occurred, but it's 100% certain that it's coming.

As I've been writing for years, Iran will be the West's ally during the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the US, Japan, India, Iran and Russia will be allied again China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Mehr News and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jan-17 World View -- Iran's 'moderate pragmatist' Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Jan-17 World View -- Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China's takeover of Hambantota seaport

Britain's hospitals run out of beds as Red Cross declares NHS in 'humanitarian crisis'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's hospitals run out of beds as Red Cross declares NHS in 'humanitarian crisis'


About 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances because the hospital is too crowded to admit them (Evening Standard)
About 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances because the hospital is too crowded to admit them (Evening Standard)

The British Red Cross is declaring the National Health Service (NHS) to be in "humanitarian crisis," because 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances outside of hospitals that have run out of beds. When patients are left in ambulances, then the ambulances can no longer be used to transport new patients in medical emergencies. So the NHS has asked the Red Cross to help out by providing volunteers and use Land Rovers to transport patients.

Red Cross chief Mike Adamson said:

"The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country.

We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds.

This means deploying our team of emergency volunteers and even calling on our partner Land Rover to lend vehicles to transport patients and get the system moving.

We call on the UK government to allocate immediate funding to stabilize the current system and set out plans towards creating a sustainable funding settlement for the future."

Not surprisingly, a politician like Adamson is simply calling for more money. I've been writing about the NHS for years, and the problem is that there's no more money.

As we reported a year ago, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020.

The system is corrupt, with doctors falsifying records, claiming for work that was never done, or putting in for bogus overtime. Dentistry services are so bad that people are buying "do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry kits" to take care of their whole families, as was done centuries ago.

In desperation to save money, many hospitals have had bed cuts, or have closed their Accident & Emergency departments (known in America as Emergency Rooms). Many maternity units have also been targeted for closure.

One of the biggest farces of the 2016 was perpetrated by the "Leave European Union" camp of the Brexit campaign. They promised that if the UK left the EU, then £350m-a-week that is currently being sent to Brussels would not be invested in the NHS. It was a total lie, and it was retracted soon after the referendum passed, but it's typical of the lies we hear from politicians on a daily basis.

It would be nice if it were possible to give free health care to everyone, but it isn't. In America, both the Veterans Administration and Obamacare are financial disasters. At least the NHS was designed carefully enough that it was financially healthy for fifty years of its life, but Obamacare was so poorly designed that it's a financial disaster within five years of its life. Jonathan Gruber said that Obamacare passed because of "the stupidity of the American voter," and that same stupidity is continuing, in both America and Britain. London Evening Standard and Reuters and British Red Cross and Guardian (London, 10-Sep-2016)

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Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China's takeover of Hambantota seaport

Thousands of Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks and anti-government protesters held demonstrations on Saturday that turned violent, protesting China's takeover of Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport by the Chinese in repayment of a debt to the Chinese incurred by the government.

In 2009, China invested $1.2 billion in the port as part of its "string of pearls" strategy to surround India. Sri Lanka had expected to repay the debt through profits earned by the port, but the slowdown in trade throughout the entire region in the last few years has meant that Sri Lanka has been unable to repay the debt.

Now Sri Lanka's government has been forced to give China a 99-year lease to take over the port. In addition, China will lease 15,000 acres in the region for an industrial zone for Chinese factories. China is expected to invest another $5 billion in Sri Lanka for industrial development.

At least 21 people were injured on Saturday in violent clashes between government supporters versus those opposed to the plan, the latter led by Buddhist monks. The two groups threw rocks at each other, and police responded with water cannon.

Opponents of the plan say that thousands of people will lose their homes because of the project. They say that China will establish a "Chinese colony" on Sri Lankan soil that will grow and can never be removed.

Supporters of the plan say that China will invest $5 billion in the region, and the new industries will generation 100,000 new jobs.

There are other international implications. China will have responsibility for security at the port, which means that it the port will host the Chinese military, including warships and submarines.

China already has similar seaports in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and India is concerned that it's being surrounded by China's military and warships. Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) and AP and News First (Sri Lanka) and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jan-17 World View -- Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China's takeover of Hambantota seaport thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Jan-17 World View -- The Gambia's president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19

Congo's president Joseph Kabila refuses to step down after losing election

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Gambia's president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19


The Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh (Reuters)
The Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh (Reuters)

The Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh is joining the ranks of national leaders, mostly African, who refuse to give up power after their terms are up, violating their national constitutions, and inflicting violence by the country's armies and security forces on any opposition figures that protest.

Yahya Jammeh came to power through a military coup in 1994. Jammeh's reign was authoritarian, intolerant and violent, with executions of political opponents. There were subsequent elections, and Jammeh always won them, but suspicions were great that Jammeh had rigged the elections.

So it was with some surprise that Jammeh lost the recent presidential election last month on December 1 to Adama Barrow, a businessman.

An even more shocking event occurred: Jammeh called Barrow and conceded the election, congratulating Barrow on his victory. Jammeh said that Barrow would become president on January 19, as called for in the constitution. This concession caused dancing in the streets in the capital city Banjul, and enormous relief in the international community, particularly among The Gambia's neighbors in West Africa.

A week later, Jammeh reneged on his concession, declared that the election had been a fraud, and said that there would have to be a new election.

ECOWAS is the Economic Community of West African States, with 15 member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte D'ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

ECOWAS is meeting on Saturday to decide what to do. Senegal in particular has vowed that ECOWAS must do all it can to enforce an orderly succession of power on January 19, and has put forces on alert.

In a New Year's statement on January 1, Jammeh called the ECOWAS statement a "declaration of war":

"‘‘What is clearly incontrovertible is the decision of ECOWAS to implement the results of the December 1st 2016 election results by whatever means possible. It is totally illegal as it violates the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, which is an entrenched clause in the ECOWAS treaty.

It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution. It is therefore absolutely unacceptable. This blatant, impartial and one-dimensional approach clearly indicates that the role of ECOWAS is not predicated on the pursuit of justice in the resolution of this stalemate."

According to Alexander Yearsley, Managing Director of Martello Risk, with 20 years of experience conducting field and forensic investigations across Africa, Jammeh is recruiting mercenaries to fight in a possible with ECOWAS. Yearsley refers to Charles Taylor, the former dictator of Liberia, who was convicted of war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war for terror, murder and rape. Yearsley says that the same people who fought for and against Charles Taylor are now being recruited as mercenaries by Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia (my transcription):

"From what we're being told by people who are attending some of these recruitment meetings, a senior figure who used to be in the Taylor fighting setup - they will phone their own contacts, their networks, and they will explain the situation, how much money will be offered on a daily rate, what fighters they need. And they're recruiting across the boards - their former enemies - they are happy down differences and for $100 a day, they will be getting some very experienced fighters that know how to operate."

Yearsley's claims are supported by a former Liberian army commanded who used to fight for Charles Taylor: "Jammeh is ready to fight to the teeth and spend money to stay in power." Reuters and Africa News and Jollof News (The Gambia) and Deutsche Welle

Congo's president Joseph Kabila refuses to step down after losing election

Joseph Kabila became president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2001, when his father was assassinated. He's been reelected to office, but his final term in office ended last month on December 19.

Joseph Kabila pulled a stunt that can only be described as mind-boggling. He claims that he can't step down because there haven't been any elections to select a president to replace him. There were supposed to be elections in November but they weren't held. His political opponents said that they weren't held because Kabila refused to budget the money to hold the elections.

So that's the situation. He'll do everything he can to prevent elections from being held, and so he won't have to step down because there's no replacement.

African leaders are always complaining the Europeans and Americans don't take them seriously, but they have only themselves to blame when you see this kind of nonsense occurring almost every week. Whether in Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Sudan, or The Gambia -- and let's not forge Syria, which is not an African country -- leaders use everything from torture and rape and jailing to wholesale genocide to stay in power.

In DRC last month, there was a threat of civil war, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections will be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila's successor, and this time, Kabila will really, really, really, really have to step down. This farcical agreement was signed by members of Kabila's government, but it wasn't even signed by Kabila himself. All Africa and Daily News (Zimbabwe)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jan-17 World View -- The Gambia's president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Jan-17 World View -- New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R)

Central African Republic crisis war continues to spin out of control

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R)


A UN convoy with Moroccan peacekeepers like this one was attacked on Wednesday
A UN convoy with Moroccan peacekeepers like this one was attacked on Wednesday

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been riven since 2013 by a civil war mainly between the Muslim Séléka militias and the Christian anti-Balaka militias. However, there are numerous other ethnic militias, including vigilante groups made up of nomadic, predominantly Muslim Fulani herders, as well as others specializing in highway robbery. All of these groups have been guilty of massacres, rapes, scorched earth attacks, and other atrocities, often in revenge for similar attacks by a militia on the other side.

One of the Muslim Fulani herder groups, the Peul tribe, has emerged as a relative new militia group inflicting horrors on civilians in the northwest of CAR, particularly near the borders of Cameroon and Chad. Although they have been mainly allied with the Muslim Séléka militias, fighting against the Christian anti-Balakas, they also claim on occasion to have fought against Séléka militias for the protection of their own Peul tribe.

The Peul armed militia is calling itself "Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation" or "3R". The group appeared in December 2015, and throughout 2016 they burned down villages, causing tens of thousands of civilians to lose their homes. They've killed and raped civilians, and committed other atrocities.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) conducted interviews in November, and documented numerous atrocities and murders. One 30-year-old woman said that 3R fighters broke into her home:

"One said, “Where is your husband?” I said that he was not there. ... One of them cocked his gun and pointed it at me and said, “We are going to have sex with you.” He threw me on the ground and [one of them] raped me. Another was waiting for his turn, but there was shooting outside while the first one was finishing, so when he was done they both left. ... [M]y two younger children were right beside me, crying."

I wish that I could tell you, Dear Reader, that this kind of atrocity was rare, but it's common fare during a generational crisis war, such as the war in Central African Republic. Rape and extermination of opponents is part of the human DNA, and all people of all races and religions are susceptible, often in a cycle of escalating tit-for-tat revenge. Human Rights Watch and Reuters

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Central African Republic crisis war continues to spin out of control

On Wednesday, a convoy of United Nations peacekeepers in Central African Republic near the Cameroon border was attacked unknown assailants who killed two Moroccan peacekeepers and then escaped. It's not known whether the attackers were from the 3R militias, but this attack shows that the UN peacekeepers have almost no control in the country outside the capital city Bangui.

A month ago, Ban Ki-moon, the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that he was "deeply concerned over renewed violence last week in the Central African Republic." A UN Special Adviser Adama Dieng added, "Given the country’s recent history, this kind of targeted violence is extremely dangerous and must be stopped."

It's good to hear UN officials making the hard-hitting statements, which are sure to convince both the Muslims and the Christians in CAR to put down their weapons, because other actions by the UN have been useless, and in a sense may have made things worse.

After a coup in March 2013, Muslim Séléka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christians. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Séléka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Séléka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-Balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Sélékas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

The French peacekeepers were supposed to remain in CAR for just six months, until a United Nations force could take over. However, they remained in CAR for much longer than six months, and their withdrawal was only announced in October of last year, after several years of almost total failure. In addition, some of the French peacekeepers were charged with raping some of the CAR civilians that they were supposed to be protection. There is now a UN peacekeeping force of 12,500 troops known as MINUSCA, but as Wednesday's attack illustrates, it hasn't been any more successful.

Actually, I've written about this many times in the last four years. CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a generational crisis war cannot be stopped by "peacekeeping troops." It begins when the traumatized survivors of the previous crisis war are no longer around, and are no longer able to prevent the younger generations from starting another crisis war. Massacres and atrocities by both (or all) sides continue to grow and worsen on a tit-for-tat basis, usually for five years or more, until there's an "explosive climax," some genocidal massacre that's so horrific that it brings the war to an end, and causes the traumatized survivors, both winners and losers, to vow that they will never let such a war occur again.

UN peacekeeping forces have been more or less successful in minimizing the violence in one city, the capital city Bangui, but everything outside of Bangui is completely lawless, and completely out of control of the peacekeepers. The rise of the 3R militias, and the new atrocities that it's perpetrating show how far the CAR civil war has yet to go. United Nations and International Business Times and RFI

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jan-17 World View -- New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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5-Jan-17 World View -- Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter

Comparison to Pakistan murder of Salman Taseer

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter


Screen grab from video of March 4, 2016.  Israeli soldier reloads his gun just before shooting dead the Palestinian lying wounded and bleeding (AP)
Screen grab from video of March 4, 2016. Israeli soldier reloads his gun just before shooting dead the Palestinian lying wounded and bleeding (AP)

Israelis appeared to be deeply polarized in reaction to a verdict handed down by a military court on Wednesday convicting an Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, of manslaughter, for having shot and killed a Palestinian who was lying on the ground wounded.

On March 24 of last year Abdel Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi Qasrawi Tamimi, two 21-year-old Palestinians, stabbed an Israeli soldier in Hebron, a majority Palestinian city in the West Bank. Tamimi was shot and killed immediately.

Al-Sharif was also shot. The shot did not kill him, but left him wounded and bleeding, lying on the ground. Almost 15 minutes later, one of the soldiers, Elor Azaria, shot al-Sharif in the head, killing him. The entire situation was videoed, and the video was posted on the internet and went viral.

In Wednesday's court hearing before three military judges in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The lead judge, IDF Col. Maya Heller, spent almost three hours reading the decision that concluded with a conviction on a charge of manslaughter. Azaria had claimed in his defense that he felt he was in danger because al-Sharif might be wearing a concealed explosive vest. The judges rejected that claim, and pointed to the testimony of Azaria's friend, who testified that Azaria originally said Sharif needed to be killed out of revenge for stabbing a fellow soldier. 24-Mar-2016 and Jerusalem Post

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Protesters clash with police to protest the verdict

Some 400 protesters clashed with police to protest the guilty verdict. One protester wore a shirt saying, "The people of Israel don't abandon a soldier during battle." Others referred to him as a hero.

A number of protesters threatened violence by chanting, "Gadi, Gadi beware, Rabin's looking for a friend." The protesters were threatening to assassinate IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister of Israel until November 4, 1995, when he was shot dead by an Israeli nationalist who opposed Rabin's support of a peace treaty with the Palestinians.

Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah said that Palestinians don't expect anything to change as a result of the verdict:

"[The verdict is] divisive in Israel because there is a widespread view that Israeli soldiers should be able to kill Palestinians with complete impunity. ...

Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the past 15 years by the Israeli army and there has been no accountability. I think, if you ask practically any Palestinian, they will tell you that even though there was a guilty verdict in this case, in all likelihood he will receive a very light sentence."

The sentence will be handed down on January 15. The maximum sentence that Azaria could receive for manslaughter is 20 years. However, because of the circumstances -- al-Sharif had just stabbed an Israeli soldier before being shot -- it's expected that the sentence will be considerably lighter than 20 years. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to grant Azaria a pardon. Ynet and Radio France Internationale

Comparison to Pakistan murder of Salman Taseer

As we described yesterday, Mumtaz Qadri was showered with roses and treated as a hero in 2011 after brutally murdering Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province.

Elor Azaria was also treated as a hero after murdering a wounded Palestinian who lay bleeding.

The circumstances are different in that the Palestinian had just stabbed another soldier. But what both cases have in common is that they both show how polarized societies around the world have become in this generational Crisis era.

As I've been saying for several years, nationalism, xenophobia and racism have been growing in countries around the world. Those who suffered the horrors of World War II and survived realized that nationalism, xenophobia and racism had been the core reasons for the war, and vowed to make sure that they were permanently extinguished. But now, with the survivors of WW II almost gone, and young generations having grown up after WW II not understanding the dangers, nationalism, xenophobia and racism are returning and are a strong as ever. Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new world war, the worst war in world history, and the rise of nationalism, xenophobia and racism is one of the reasons that war occur. Vice News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-17 World View -- Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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4-Jan-17 World View -- Pakistan's bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor

Pakistan's Imran Khan forced to apologize after being accused of blasphemy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan's bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor


Shaan Taseer, threatened with death for Christmas greeting (Pakistan Daily)
Shaan Taseer, threatened with death for Christmas greeting (Pakistan Daily)

Shaan Taseer, the son of governor Salman Taseer, who was brutally murdered in 2009 for questioning Pakistan's blasphemy laws, is receiving death threats for, again, questioning Pakistan's blasphemy.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, was shot 28 times in broad daylight in an open marketplace on January 4, 2011. The killer was his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. The motive, as described by Qadri, was to punish Taseer for objecting to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, and for calling for the release of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was in jail facing execution for violating the blasphemy laws.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws are totally bizarre and are almost completely meaningless except as a political weapon, similar to sexual harassment laws in the United States, but with much greater consequences. In Pakistan, a politically connected person can manufacture a charge of blasphemy to have a political enemy or hated former friend put into jail or even executed.

In the case of Asia Bibi, there was an altercation between her and another woman in 2010. Bibi drank water from a Muslim cup (whatever that is), and since the other woman was politically connected, Bibi was charged with blasphemy and thrown into jail, scheduled for execution.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, spoke out in defense of Bibi, and criticized the blasphemy laws. This triggered mass hate rallies against Taseer and Bibi, with many religious clerics calling for the immediate execution of Bibi. Finally, Mumtaz Qadri, Taseer's bodyguard, shot and killed Taseer. He shot Taseer in the back 28 times just to make sure.

Qadri immediately became a national hero. The next day, when Qadri was brought to court to face charges of having assassinated Taseer, the other lawyers in the court showered him with roses. A statement by 500 Pakistan religious scholars praised Qadri for keeping alive a "tradition of 1,400 years in Islam" which they claim requires the killing of anyone committing an act of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.

Qadri was convicted of murdering Taseer, and much to everyone's surprise, Qadri was put to death by hanging on February 29 of last year. This triggered new violent protests across Pakistan. One terror group, Sunni Tehreek, demanded the immediate execute of Asia Bibi, and demanded that all five million members in Pakistan of the Ahmadi branch of Islam be expelled from the country.

So now, on Christmas, the Shaan Taseer, the son of the murdered Salman Taseer, posted a video message on his Facebook page, wishing a happy holiday to Christians, and calling for prayers for Asia Bibi and for others victimized by blasphemy laws.

One can reasonably question Shaan Taseer's sanity for doing this, but if his objective was to be threatened with death, he got his wish, and now says that he's received "very credible death threats," adding:

"They are sending me Mumtaz Qadri’s photos with messages that there are several Mumtaz Qadris waiting for me."

It's expected that we will hear more about this story. Daily Pakistan and Reuters and Daily Pakistan (29-Feb-2016) and BBC

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Pakistan's Imran Khan forced to apologize after being accused of blasphemy

Imran Khan was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz. He turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become an extremely colorful and extremely anti-American politician. He refers to Pakistan's relationship with America as "client and master."

Now the same cleric that's threatening Shaan Taseer death for blasphemy is also demanding apology from Imran Khan because one of Khan's speeches contains "blasphemous sentences for the Prophet Mohammed," adding:

"If the state fails to execute Imran Khan, it wouldn’t be a crime if any ‘aashiq-e-Rasool’ (lover of prophet P.B.U.H) kills him. He will be exempt from Qisas and Diyat (blood money)."

I've read several news stories trying to find out exactly what Khan is accused of saying, but I can't find it anywhere. I suspect that Pakistani editors are afraid to quote him, for fear of being targeted for death themselves.

It's ironic that Khan is being charged with blasphemy, because he's used charges of blasphemy against others when it was politically convenient. At any rate, Khan apologized, saying, "It was a mistake, and I assure that it won’t happen ever again." Daily Pakistan and Daily Pakistan

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-17 World View -- Pakistan's bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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3-Jan-17 World View -- Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks

Video emerges from Burma (Myanmar) showing police beating Rohingya Muslims

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Video emerges from Burma (Myanmar) showing police beating Rohingya Muslims


Screen grab from video. Dozens of Rohingyas on the right are being forced to watch the beating
Screen grab from video. Dozens of Rohingyas on the right are being forced to watch the beating

For months, Burma (Myanmar) police and soldiers have been committing ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State by scorched earth attacks, burning down their villages, and committing massacres, rapes and other atrocities that have forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives across the border into Bangladesh.

Burma has forbidden any journalists or humanitarian groups from entering Rakhine State to investigate, which many people consider to be an implied admission of guilt by Burma's government.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented the ethnic cleansing through a series of "before and after" satellite images. Burma's government agrees that the satellite images show that Rohingya villages are being burned down, but they make the laughable claim that the Rohingyas are burning down the villages themselves in order to embarrass the government. There have also been dozens of videos showing Burma's police beating and raping Rohingya civilians, but Burma's government claims that all of these videos are phony and have been fabricated.

So now a new video has emerged showing police beating and kicking a civilian, and forcing dozens of other Rohingyas to watch as the beating takes place. The video was taken by a policeman smoking a cigarette. Other policemen obviously knew that he was taking the video, suggesting that taking videos of policemen beating, killing and raping Rohingyas is some kind of standard procedure.

The mystery is how this video became public. It's thought that some dissident official with access to the video, and shocked by the behavior of his fellow policeman, published the video on the internet surreptitiously, where it has gone viral.

The second remarkable thing, beyond the fact of the video itself, is that Burma's government is acknowledging that the video is portraying a real event. The policemen appearing the video have been arrested, and the government says that there will be an investigation for police brutality.

Nobody seriously believes that anything will change. The investigation may lead to the conviction of one or two policemen, but the Buddhist xenophobic hatred of Muslims in Burma goes very deep. The root of the violence is xenophobic attacks by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect.

There are about a million Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, where they have lived for generations, but Burma's government refuses to recognize them as citizens. They are, for all practical purposes, a stateless ethnic group, living on the Bangladesh-Burma border for generations, but rejected by both countries. In fact, Burma refuses to identify the Rohingya as a unique ethnic group, preferring to call them Bengali, and referring to them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In the last few years, large mobs of Buddhists have massacred entire neighborhoods of Muslims in various regions of the country, mutilating, raping and killing hundreds, and displacing thousands from their homes. We're used to hearing about atrocities committed by Muslim jihadists in the Mideast, but in Burma the situation is reversed -- it's the Buddhists who are committing the atrocities, while the Muslims are, for the most part, innocent victims. Russia Today and Bangkok Post and YouTube: Rohingya beating video

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Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), a coalition of "moderate" groups opposing Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, have suspended peace talks because of repeated ceasefire violations by al-Assad's warplanes and by al-Assad's ally, the Iran-backed Lebanon militia Hezbollah.

The ceasefire was announced last week, brokered by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and was to lead to peace talks soon, taking place in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. The United States, the United Nations, and the European Union were all excluded from negotiations about the ceasefire and peace talks, which presumably was supposed to make them more likely to succeed.

Al-Assad has always been the most volatile of the participants in any of these discussions. Al-Assad started the civil war in 2011, when his bombers started targeting innocent women and children, including Palestinians in a refugee camp near Latakia, which drew young jihadists from around the world to Syria to fight al-Assad, resulting in the formation of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

So the question that I've asked repeatedly for months and years is how can any "peace deal" ever succeed in view of al-Assad's evident determination to exterminate as many Sunni women and children as he can?

The FSA has issued its statement suspending its participation in the peace talks because his warplanes have been bombing civilian targets in a region near Damascus in which the city's water supply is located. Hezbollah and Syrian army troops are also headed for the same region. According to the FSA, "Any (advance) on the ground goes against the (ceasefire) agreement and if things don't return to how they were before, the accord will be considered null and void."

It's been assumed that Russia and Iran would control al-Assad and force him by any means necessary to honor the ceasefire, but it appears that assumption is wrong. Unless Russia and Iran find a way to control al-Assad, then the "ceasefire" will collapse completely within a few days. France 24 and VOA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jan-17 World View -- Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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2-Jan-17 World View -- Istanbul Turkey New Year's terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks

Terror attacks expose deep divisions in Turkey's society

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Istanbul Turkey New Year's terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks


Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, several hours after the attack (EPA)
Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, several hours after the attack (EPA)

The people of Turkey were once again traumatized by a new terror attack, this time on a well-known Reina night club in Istanbul, where crowds of 700 people, both Turks and foreigners, were celebrating the New Year. At around 1:15 am on January 1, a gunman opened fire on people in the packed nightclub, killing at 39 people and injuring 65 others. The gunman fled and is still at large.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it's believed to be the work of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), because of the similarity to attacks in Paris and Orlando, where attackers killed civilians indiscriminately in entertainment venues.

In Paris on November 13, 2015, three suicide bombers detonated themselves at a football (soccer) game. Then terrorists targeted three cafes and restaurants with gunfire, and then attacked the Bataclan theatre, where three gunmen opened fire on a large crowd. In all, 130 people were killed. These attacks were planned and carried out by an ISIS terror cell in Brussels.

In Orlando on June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed by a gunman at a local gay nightclub. The assailant had sworn allegiance to ISIS, but no concrete links were found.

Turkey has suffered dozens of terrorist attacks in the past 18 months, killing hundreds of people. The perpetrators have been both ISIS and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), including the PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK). There have been four previous terrorist attacks in just the five weeks:

The Turkish people have been traumatized not only by the endless stream of terrorist attacks, but also by the July 15 failed coup attempt. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and AP

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Terror attacks expose deep divisions in Turkey's society

Ever since the July 15 coup attempt, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been fired or jailed well over 100,000 people. Erdogan has particularly targeted journalists that write dissenting articles, but the targeted people also include members of parliament and other politicians, judges, police, and teachers.

Since many of the people targeted are from the political opposition or are dissenters from Erdogan's policies, many people believe that Erdogan is using the coup attempt to eliminate his political enemies by force, including violence. This view is supported by the fact that Erdogan had already begun targeting the political opposition when he shut down the opposition newspaper Zaman several months before the coup attempt. These attacks have enormously polarized the Turkish people, with about half supporting Erdogan, and half despising him.

One analyst, Soner Cagaptay of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute says that Turkey's population is sharply divided into two approximately equal groups:

Another analyst, Simon Waldman, notes that Erdogan's reaction to the New Year's attack was different from his reaction to other attacks in that, unlike other times, Erdogan did not refer to the people who were killed as "martyrs." This word is almost always used by Erdogan with the death of a Turkish citizen in a terrorist attack or from military combat. But in this case, Erdogan said, "I offer my condolences to our citizens’, to our foreign guests’ and to our security officer’s families."

Waldman speculates that the reason is that the attack was on a nightclub where alcohol was served, and the people were celebrating not only the New Year but also Christmas, as these two holidays are often conflated by Muslims. These are secular things that are strongly condemned by hardcore conservative Muslim clerics, and indeed it's suspected that the terrorist attack was inspired by opposition to Christmas and New Year's parties. Indeed, the attacker was wearing a Santa Claus hat.

In fact, Hurriyet columnist Murat Yetkin suggests that the "poisonous" atmosphere in Turkey is because by "rising nationalist and religious chauvinism":

"Another question surrounds the political atmosphere in Turkey, which is getting more poisonous every day with rising nationalist and religious chauvinism. Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez was quick to make a statement after the attack, saying there was “no difference” between terror attacks targeting places of worship and attacks targeting entertainment sites, and they should be equally condemned. That statement followed cheering after the attack among certain social media users who believe that celebrating the New Year is un-Islamic and something to be despised.

Görmez’s statement was welcome. But just two days before, the Friday sermon prepared by Görmez’s Diyanet and read in more than 80,000 mosques across Turkey harshly criticized New Year celebrations as illegitimate and having no place in Islam or Turkey’s cultural traditions. Only a few days ago, members of an ultranationalist group made headlines by performing street theater in the Western province of Aydin by pointing a pistol at the forehead of another militant dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Unlike the cases frequently opened against critical media in Turkey, the police and the courts took no action against them for “praising crime” or “stirring hatred among the people.”"

In fact, many commentators are pointing out that Turks are now fighting each other as much as they're fighting ISIS and the PKK. CNN and Globe and Mail (Canada) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jan-17 World View -- Istanbul Turkey New Year's terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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1-Jan-17 World View -- Taiwan's president responds to military threats from China

Did Taiwan's president say that Taiwan is 'an independent, sovereign country'?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In New Year's address, Taiwan's president responds to military threats from China


Tsai Ing-wen at news conference on Saturday
Tsai Ing-wen at news conference on Saturday

In the aftermath of the 10-minute phone conversation with president-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen, tensions between Taiwan and China have been substantially increasing.

Reports indicate that China's military, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), has become increasingly alarmed by this phone conversation, since they feel that it threatens additional steps towards attempts by Taiwan to become an independent nation, not a province of China.

Since then, China's military has been stepping up military drills near Taiwan, in a show of military force. China sent its aircraft carrier and a naval fleet into waters near Taiwan, and also sent military jets to circle the airspace near Taiwan. Taiwan's defense minister has warned that enemy threats were growing daily.

In a New Year press conference on Saturday, president Tsai addressed a range of issues, including relations with China. She accused China of threatening Taiwan, and said that "we will not bow to pressure":

"Since [we took office on] May 20, we have endeavored to maintain peaceful and stable relations across the Taiwan Strait in accordance with the people’s will and consensus in Taiwan. Driven by our respect for history and the spirit of seeking common ground while setting aside differences, we have continuously expressed goodwill towards the other side across the strait. We hope that the two sides can gradually reduce confrontations and differences through positive interactions.

But in the past few months, it has been the general feeling of the Taiwanese people that the rational and calm position that both sides have worked hard to maintain has seen certain changes. Step by step, Beijing is going back to the old path of dividing, coercing, and even threatening and intimidating Taiwan. We hope this does not reflect a policy choice by Beijing, but must say that such conduct has hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese people and destabilized cross-strait relations.

For the sake of safeguarding regional peace and prosperity, I want to once again reiterate that our commitments will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation.

Whether cross-strait ties can take a turn for the better in the coming year will depend on our patience and resolve. But it will also depend on how Beijing sees the future of cross-strait relations, and whether it is willing to assume its share of the responsibility for building new models for cross-strait interactions. This is necessary to answer the collective hope for peace from the people on both sides of the strait, as well as the different parties in the region."

Tsai added, "In 2017, our society is going to face some turbulence and face some uncertainties. It’s going to test our whole national security team, as well as the whole government’s ability to handle change. We need to face this matter calmly."

Reports indicate that China is planning retaliatory measures against Taiwan, such as conducting war games near Taiwan or imposing trade sanctions.

It never ceases to amaze me that China gets away with illegally annexing huge regions in the South China Sea, in violation of international law by the international tribunal in the Hague, but then considers a ten-minute phone call an act of war. AFP and Office of Taiwan's President and Reuters

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Did Taiwan's president say that Taiwan is 'an independent, sovereign country'?

The excerpt from Tsai's press conference quoted above is the official translation of Tsai's statement from a Taiwan government web site.

However, other news reports say that Tsai also said the following:

"The Republic of China is an independent, sovereign country."

This is a highly inflammatory statement by the president of Taiwan, and so it's not surprising if it was removed from the official text. (Republic of China is the full official name of Taiwan.)

In a press conference two weeks ago, President Obama said:

"China views Taiwan as part of China, but recognizes that it has to approach Taiwan as an entity that has its own ways of doing things.

Taiwanese have agreed that as long as they’re able to continue to function with some degree of autonomy, that they won’t charge forward and declare independence."

Obama's description of Taiwan as an "entity" has angered some Taiwanese activists, saying "Taiwan is an independent state, not an entity."

Some activists claim that Taiwan is already a de facto independent state, because "Taiwan has already cut through the mire of its troubled history to become recognized by humanity, irrespective of official diplomatic relations." In fact, these activists claim that calling Taiwan an "independent nation" does not contradict the One-China principle.

That may be the reason why President Tsai felt that it was OK to refer to Taiwan as "an independent, sovereign country." Bloomberg and Reuters and Taipei Times and China Post (Taiwan)

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Taiwan president's planned US visit angers China even more

Taiwan has confirmed that president Tsai Ing-wen will make a foreign visit to Central America, and will visit Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras between January 7-15.

The part of the trip that's further infuriating the Chinese is that Tsai will make "transit stops" in the US before and after the trip to Central America. She will make a stopover in Houston en route to Central America and San Francisco on her return trip to Taiwan.

There has been media speculation that Tsai will meet with representatives of Donald Trump during one of the stopovers, but Tsai's office has refused to confirm or deny these speculations.

China has repeatedly demanded that Washington not permit Tsai to visit the US during her trip. However, a Tsai spokesman says, "These transit stops are undertaken out of consideration for the safety, comfort, convenience and dignity of the traveler. President Tsai's transits will be private and unofficial." China Post (Taiwan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jan-17 World View -- Taiwan's president responds to military threats from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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31-Dec-16 World View -- Hacking of Democratic National Committee computers - I blame the victim

It's almost always the victim's fault when computer networks are hacked

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Obama and Putin play bizarre diplomatic game after expulsion of Russian spies


Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin
Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin

So President Obama is pissed off because Russian hackers hacked into the Democratic National Committee, and so, just three weeks before he's leaving office, he ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin, who always permits his security people to threaten and harass American diplomats just for the fun of it, announced on Friday that Russia would not reciprocate. Instead, Putin invited the children of US diplomats in Moscow to a New Year's party in the Kremlin.

In the back and forth between Obama and Putin, I sometimes feel as if I'm watching the psychodrama of delusional politicians -- a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched in one-sided peace negotiations over Ukraine and Syria over eight long years -- played out on the international stage. Russia Direct (5-May) and Belfast Telegraph

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It's almost always the victim's fault when computer networks are hacked

As a Senior Software Engineer who has developed many web sites, I'm pretty much in the camp of "blame the victim" when a company's networks get hacked. At one company where I worked several years ago, I told my managers that they needed to encrypt the social security numbers in their database, and I even told them how to do it easily. I reminded them again after one of their servers got hacked. But the problem is that protecting your networks doesn't generate sales, and Gen-X managers think that when a Boomer software engineer tells them what to do, they'd rather eat mud than do it.

So that's one reason there's a news story almost every week about another company whose networks have been hacked. I write about these every now and then.

However, the real monster hack, the mother of all hacks, was announced last year. Chinese hackers stole the personal and security information of many millions of Americas from the servers at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Department of the Interior. That hack included the SF-86 forms that everyone fills out when applying for security clearances.

There is little doubt that the Chinese military is still sifting through this massive amount of data and using it in a variety of ways -- from simple blackmail and extortion of individuals to the creation of sophisticated "spear phishing" e-mail messages used to hack into networks of other agencies and corporations. This massive collection of espionage data will be a powerful weapon in any future military confrontations.

OK, so the DNC hack hurt President Obama's feelings, while the OPM hack is putting the survival of the country at risk. So which is more important? Why, the DNC hack is more important, because President Obama's feelings are always more important than the survival of the country. That's why there have been no expulsions of Chinese diplomats.

I was really appalled when I read the stories about Hillary Clinton's home server and other flagrantly stupid violations of common sense. Apparently the same stupidity pervaded all of the networks of the Democratic National Committee, so it's not surprising at all that they got hacked. The CIA and other intelligence agencies have concluded that the perpetrators were linked to Russia's government, and I believe them, but the DNC servers were apparently so poorly protected that the hacker could have been from anywhere.

I last wrote about the hack of the DNC's computers in July. At that time, I made the following points:

So my personal conclusion is that most likely explanation of what happened was that the hacker tried to hack both parties' servers, but succeeded only with the Democratic party servers, and then released the e-mails because that's what hackers do, and probably didn't care who won the election.

It's not always the victim's fault when computers are hacked, of course. Hacking is a huge worldwide industry, and hackers are always finding new ways to get around firewalls or to install malware or ransomware. A good idea is to keep separate backups of all your data, so that if you're hacked then you still have the backup. All you can do is reduce the probability that you'll be hacked, and for that you need to be totally paranoid. Lawfare (11-Mar-2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Dec-16 World View -- Hacking of Democratic National Committee computers - I blame the victim thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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30-Dec-16 World View -- Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria

Damascus Syria is without water after reservoirs were poisoned

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria


Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan

There have been two major ceasefire announcements so far this years, plus a few smaller ones. None lasted more than a few days.

But Russia and Syria have previously declared that a victory in Aleppo would mean victory in the entire war, and an end to the fighting. The rebel groups would be so decimated, despondent and dispirited that they'd lose the will to fight. So Russia's president Vladimir Putin had to make good on that promise.

So even though the rebel groups fighting against Syria's president Bashar al-Assad are nowhere near defeated, Russia and Turkey on Thursday declared that there would be a nationwide ceasefire. Let's point out a few things.

Why would the Syrian rebel groups sign on to the agreement? A representative gave the answer in an interview on RFI on Thursday (my transcription):

"Obviously after Aleppo I think everyone realizes that there is no limit to the level of violence and barbarism that can be exercised against any target, including hospitals and civilians, to reach some object. And therefore if one get that to stop, the military solution should absolutely be stopped."

In other words, some of the "moderate" rebel groups signed on, but only to stop the bombing.

And that's the problem with the whole deal. There's no compelling force behind the ceasefire. It's all transitory. As soon as any one of a number of factors on the ground changes, the whole ceasefire will unravel, as previous ones have done.

I consider Bashar al-Assad to be the most volatile of the participants. His air force is going to continue bombing al-Nusra and ISIS forces, many of whole will be indistinguishable from the "moderate" rebels that he's promised not to target. He considers all of these rebels to be like cockroaches to be exterminated, and he seems likely to be unable to control his impulses and target any of them. As soon as another barrel bomb hits a hospital or a marketplace or a hospital, it will be clear that there's no ceasefire.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also very volatile. He used to get along with al-Assad until 2011, when al-Assad's bombers started targeting innocent women and children, including Palestinians in a refugee camp near Latakia. Erdogan must have had to swallow hard to sign this deal, as he's watch Syrian and Russian bombers target Turkmens and other ethnic groups related to Turks, as well as Palestinians, whom Erdogan supports.

Iran could be pretty volatile as well. They're known to be strongly against any Turkish presence in Syria, and Erdogan has no intention of withdrawing from northern Syria. Also, there are pockets of Shias living in regions controlled by rebels, and Iran will feel compelled to protect them.

The only thing that's really changed on the ground in the last few weeks is that the Russians have taken control of Aleppo. The rest of Syria is still an uncontrolled scattered collection of militias, armies and jihadists of various ethnicities and religious sects.

Peace talks are scheduled to be held within a month in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, assuming that the ceasefire is still holding. The choice of Kazakhstan makes it clear that this is deal involving Turkey, Russia and Iran, and not including the United States, the United Nations, or the European Union. BBC and Russia Today and Gulf News (Dubai) and Vice News

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Damascus Syria is without water after reservoirs were poisoned

Four million people in Damascus, Syria's capital city, have been without water for five days after water reservoirs were poisoned with diesel. It's not clear who was responsible for the poisoning, but it's believed that the perpetrators are some of the same militias that signed on to the peace agreement on Thursday. However, they claim that they're not responsible, since they would be harmed more than anyone else.

Despite the ceasefire, Syrian warplanes have been bombing a valley northwest of Damascus to recapture the region that provides most of the water to Damascus. Reuters and Middle East Eye and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Dec-16 World View -- Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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29-Dec-16 World View -- China punishes Mongolia for Dalai Lama visit during financial crisis

Mongolia's herders faces a 'dzud' weather catastrophe

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mongolia's herders faces a 'dzud' weather catastrophe


During a Mongolian 'dzud', animals starve because they cannot dig through a thick, solid layer of ice to reach food
During a Mongolian 'dzud', animals starve because they cannot dig through a thick, solid layer of ice to reach food

An extremely harsh winter in Mongolia is sending temperatures to -50°C (-70°F), causing a humanitarian disaster, and threatening both lives and livelihoods.

Mongolia appears to be headed for another winter "dzud." The word "dzud" refers to a phenomenon that appears to be somewhat unique to Mongolia.

It usually occurs after a dry summer combines with heavy snowstorms creating an ice crust that makes it difficult for livestock, mostly cows, sheep and goats, to dig through to reach grass. This year, the dry summer in the northeast and late autumn rains means the dzud risk is high. Heavy snowfall from October has refrozen after more heavy snow in November.

A third of Mongolia's population rely directly on livestock -- milk, cheese and meat for food, dung for heating, fur for clothing, and income from selling these items. Over 1.2 million livestock died in last winter's dzud, leaving tens of thousands of herders in poverty. The worst dzud in memory occurred in 2010, killing 8 million animals. UB Post (Mongolia) and Deutsche Welle

China punishes Mongolia for Dalai Lama visit during financial crisis

In 2011, Mongolia economy grew by an astronomical 17.5%, thanks to its huge reserves of copper, coal and gold, making the economy seem invincible. Instead of saving some of that money, Mongolia borrowed billions of dollars more to invest in huge road and infrastructure projects. Now Mongolia is in a major economic crisis, thanks to reduced purchases by China and falling commodity prices, at a time when it's being hit hard by a new harsh winter "dzud."

In the midst of this economic and financial crisis, the Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia's capital city Ulaanbaatar in November for a six-day visit. More than half of Mongolia's population are Buddhist, and tens of thousands of them flocked to see the Dalai Lama, with some traveling hundreds of miles.

China does not like the Dalai Lama, as he is worshipped by millions of Tibetan Buddhists in China. So China punished Mongolia by closing part of the border, leaving hundreds of trucks carrying copper and coal backed up on the highway in sub-zero temperatures.

Mongolian officials quickly saw the error of their ways. Foreign minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil made what is apparently an official apology to China:

"You can understand that during the full term of this government, the Dalai Lama will not be allowed to visit Mongolia even for religious purposes."

According to a Chinese analyst: "China shall accept Mongolia's apology because China doesn't want to create friction in Northeast Asia either, particularly at a time when it is facing tensions with other nations, such as Japan and South Korea." Shanghaiist and Global Times (Beijing) and Al-Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Dec-16 World View -- China punishes Mongolia for Dalai Lama visit during financial crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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28-Dec-16 World View -- Bank run worsens Italy's banking crisis

Following the money, Sao Tome and Principe switches allegiance from Taiwan to China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bank run worsens Italy's banking crisis


A horse-drawn carriage passes a branch of Banca Monte dei Paschi bank in Rome.
A horse-drawn carriage passes a branch of Banca Monte dei Paschi bank in Rome.

A week after Italy's government announced that it would bail out the failing the Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) bank, with a "bail-in" that would put the life savings of tens of thousands of depositors at risk, the European Central Bank said on Tuesday that MPS's financial situation is deteriorating far more rapidly than expected.

MPS has €55.2 billion in bad loans. Three weeks ago, MPS said that it had enough funds to stay afloat for 11 months. Then last week, MPS said that it would run out of money within four months.

According to one financial analyst:

"It’s a national tragedy. Monte Paschi survived the Inquisition, the unification of Italy, fascism and two world wars. But it couldn’t survive the mismanagement and corruption of bankers and politicians in the 21st century."

The government of Italy announced last week that the size of the bailout would be €5 billion, the amount needed to allow MPS to meet its immediate obligations and avoid bankruptcy. However, the ECB said that MPS's financial position has suffered a "rapid deterioration" during the period from November 30 to December 21, now the €5 billion figure is too small. €8.8 billion will be required to get past the immediate emergency.

It's believed that the "rapid deterioration" is being caused by run on the bank. It's known that from June to September of this year, customers removed deposits of €6.7 billion, and it's believed that this run on deposits is continuing, or even accelerating and spiraling out of control.

ECB rules require that if any government bails out the country's banks, then a percentage of the bailout must come from the assets of investors who had invested in the shares and bonds issued by the bank. In most countries, that would "bail in" sophisticated investors, who would then "take a haircut." But Italy has a special problem that many ordinary savers have invested their life savings in bonds, so that would put their life savings at risk. This situation has been the subject of intense public debate in Italy at least since June, and that would explain why depositors have been rushing to move their funds out of the bank.

Italy's government is looking for a way under ECB rules to avoid having to "bail in" bond holders. Since MPS is still technically solvent, the plan is to take advantage of a loophole in the ECB rules by calling the cash injection a "precautionary recapitalization" rather than a bailout. However, this path limits the amount of money that the government can inject into the bank, so it's far from clear that it will work.

Jens Weidmann, the president of Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, says that Italy's bailout plan requires careful scrutiny:

"For the measures planned by the Italian government [to work], the bank must be economically healthy at its core. The money cannot be used to cover losses [that are] already expected. All this must be carefully examined. ...

These [rules] aim to protect taxpayers in particular and keep responsibility on investors. Government bailout is only meant to be a last resort, that's why the bar is high."

Italy's rescue plan requires approval by both the EU and the ECB.

Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) was founded in 1472, and is the world's oldest operating bank. Seeking Alpha and MarketWatch and Financial Post

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Following the money, Sao Tome and Principe switches allegiance from Taiwan to China

China scored a victory over Taiwan on Monday, when the nation Sao Tome and Principe officially resumed diplomatic relations with China after breaking relations with Taiwan. The former Portuguese colony Sao Tome and Principe is an impoverished island nation off the coast of west-central Africa with a population of almost 200,000.

China will not have diplomatic relations with any nation that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. There are now about 20 countries that still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

It's often a question of money. China would like Taiwan to be recognized by as few countries as possible, and so China will offer financial aid and investments to a country willing to switch. It sometimes gets into a bidding war, but China is much wealthier and always wins such battles.

Other countries, including The Gambia, Malawi, and Senegal, have in recent years broken off relations with Taiwan, in the hope of enjoying financial largesse from China. China has not always been willing to establish relations with these countries because of a long-standing "diplomatic truce" between China and Taiwan, designed to prevent countries from playing China and Taiwan against each other. However, China abandoned the diplomatic truce after this year's election as president of Tsai Ing-wen, who is lukewarm to the "One-China Policy" that makes Taiwan a province of China.

The United States officially recognizes the One-China Policy and does not officially recognize Taiwan, but has a close relationship with Taiwan anyway. President-elect Donald Trump has said that he'll review the US position.

It's not just China who is playing this diplomatic game. After Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, it declared two Georgia territories, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, to be independent nations until Moscow's protection. Only five countries sided with Russia in recognizing at least one of the two territories as independent. In 2011, Tuvalu recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia in return for "promising areas for bilateral cooperation [with Russia], including trade, fisheries and education." However, Tuvalu switched sides in 2013, for a reason that was not explained. Med Africa Times (Switzerland) and China Post (Taiwan) and New Republic (2-Apr-2014)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Dec-16 World View -- Bank run worsens Italy's banking crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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27-Dec-16 World View -- Furious Israel retaliates against UN for condemning West Bank settlements

Palestinians declare a defeat for the forces of darkness

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Palestinians declare a defeat for the forces of darkness


When Netanyahu and Obama met in Washington on May 20 2011, it didn't go too well.
When Netanyahu and Obama met in Washington on May 20 2011, it didn't go too well.

The United States Security Council on Friday passed Resolution 2334, which says that Israel's West Bank settlements constitute "flagrant violation of international law." Similar resolutions in the passed have failed because of a United States veto, but in a major reversal of policy by the Barack Obama administration, the United States abstained on Friday's vote, allowing the resolution to pass.

The Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, interviewed on the BBC, was ebullient, and said that the resolution was a major victory for Palestinians and the "two-state solution, and a defeat for the forces of darkness (my transcription):

"This is a day for peace. This is a day for hope. This is a day when the international community stood tall. To tell the Palestinians and Israelis that peace is possible. Through the establishment of a two-state where the state of Palestine can live side by side with the state of Israel in peace and security on the 1967 line.

This is a day where the international community unanimously have told the Israeli government stop the settlements. Stop the dictation. Stop the occupation. This is a day when the international community have told the Israeli people if you want to live in peace and security, it's not going to be through dictation and occupation and settlements. It's going to be through fairness, through neighborly relations, through the freedom of the Palestinian people, through international law. I hope this clearcut message to the Israeli government will be understood. I think that this is a major defeat for the forces of darkness and extremism and dictation. [Inaudible] for Palestinians and Israelis in peace. So today, it's really a day of hope not only for Palestinians and Israelis, but for the whole region as a whole, for the people of this region as a whole."

Resolution 2334 contains the following text:

"Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention ...,

Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,

Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines ...

1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard. ..."

In another interview, Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinians will pull membership in the United States for the State of Palestine. United Nations and WAFA (Palestine News & Information Agency)

Statements by diplomats show they live in fantasyland

One can't help but laugh at the statement by Saeb Erekat quoted above, and his victory over the forces of darkness, but statements by other diplomats were equally idiotic.

The problem is this "two-state solution" fantasy. The very first Generational Dynamics prediction that I wrote was in May 2003, when President George Bush announced his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace." President Bush called for a Palestinian State by 2005, to live in peace and security side by side with Israel. It provided a series of steps for both sides to follow, mostly having to do with eliminating violence against both Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

As I wrote at that time, the Jews and Arabs were headed not for a two-state solution, but for a full-scale war, as the generations of survivors of the 1949 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel died off. Since I wrote that analysis, there are certainly no signs of a two-state solution, as there have been numerous Mideast wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza and Libya, with skirmishes in other countries. The Mideast is still headed for full-scale war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see all that. Talking about a two-state solution today is nothing more than political posturing in order to gain power and votes. Any politician who actually believes what he's saying is living in fantasyland.

Here's what Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN, said after the Security Council vote:

"One cannot simultaneously champion Israeli settlements and champion a viable two-state solution that would end the conflict. One has to make a choice between settlements and separation. In 2011, the United States vetoed a resolution that focused exclusively on settlements, as if settlements were the only factor harming the prospects of a two-state solution. The circumstances have changed dramatically. Since 2011, settlement growth has only accelerated. Since 2011, multiple efforts to pursue peace through negotiations have failed. And since 2011, president Obama and secretary Kerry have repeatedly warned publicly and privately that the absences of progress toward peace and continued settlement expansion was going to put the two-state solution at risk and threaten Israel's stated objective to remain both a Jewish state and a democracy."

This statement, which attempts to explain the Obama administration's complete reversal of policy, makes no sense at all. There are no prospects for a two-state solution, or Power would have been more specific. Instead, Power uses her statement to blame, by implication, Israel for the failure of the two-state solution.

Even under the most benign interpretation of Obama's policy reversal, I cannot see how it improves chances for any peaceful solution, or for how it benefits the Israelis, the Palestinians, the UN, or anyone else. Under any reasonable interpretations, all of those groups are hurt by the policy reversal.

It was clear from the start that this policy reversal would have consequences that would have to be dealt with. If Obama had made the policy reversal a year or two ago, then he would have had to deal with the consequences, and Power's statement might be more credible. Instead, Obama waited until three weeks before leaving office, so that other people will have to deal with the consequences, while he sits on the sidelines and probably provides commentary.

Barack Obama and Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu have always had a visceral dislike for each other. President Obama comes from an activist community of black leaders many of whom are openly anti-Semitic (google the words "anti-semitic black leaders" for plenty of examples). This doesn't mean that Obama himself is anti-Semitic, but the company he keeps certainly inflames the situation. Netanyahu has returned the favor by being openly hostile to Obama, including open support for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. So it's possible that Obama may simply have been looking for a way to get revenge against Netanyahu before leaving office.

Anti-Semitism has always been prevalent in America, as I wrote in 2006. In the Catholic Church, it was official policy for centuries that Jews were responsible for the murder of Jesus Christ, and that all Jews must be punished for it. A Papal bull issued by Pope Paul IV on July 14, 1555, began:

"As it is completely absurd and improper in the utmost that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal servitude, can under the pretext that pious Christians must accept them and sustain their habitation, are so ungrateful to Christians, as, instead of thanks for gracious treatment, they return contumely, and among themselves, instead of the slavery, which they deserve, they manage to claim superiority."

This teaching, which goes on to justify forcing Jews to live in ghettos, was never withdrawn and was certainly known to Hitler. It was only reversed on April 13, 1986, when Pope John Paul II gave a major speech at the Great Synagogue of Rome.

In this generational Crisis period, it appears that anti-Semitism is reviving, just as all forms of racism, xenophobia and nationalism are increasing in countries around the world. This is undoubtedly part of the scenario that will lead the Mideast to full-scale war as described above.

Dennis Ross, a Mideast diplomat who served under both Presidents Clinton and Bush, said in a BBC interview that the UN Security Council resolution was the wrong way to go (my transcription):

The language in the resolution equates all settlement activity beyond the June 4 1967 lines, and yet the position of the US as stated by the president in the two speeches he gave in 2011 was that the final border should be determined by settlement blocks and swaps. ...

What I'm suggesting - if you turn this into a legal question, then you're not going to find a simple way, or any way, of actually resolving this through negotiations. When you turn this conflict into a legal conflict, when in fact it is a historic conflict between two national movements, then you move away from being able to come up with compromises that would be able to resolve the issues. I think what we want to do is find a way to have negotiations, not find a way try to try to impose things from an international perspective, meaning from a UN perspective, or even from a legal perspective, because that isn't going to produce an outcome."

Of all the statements from politicians that I heard, this is probably the closest to making sense. None of the politicians that I heard who praised the UNSC resolution explained how the resolution in any way promoted peace. Ross's statement that it's a "historic conflict between two national movement" comes closest to the Generational Dynamics analysis.

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Israel's Netanyahu orders retaliation against the United Nations

After the UNSC vote, a furious Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that steps be taken to respond:

"I share ministers' feelings, anger and frustration vis-à-vis the unbalanced resolution that is very hostile to the State of Israel, and which the [UN] Security Council passed in an unworthy manner. From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed."

Reports indicate that Israel has suspended working ties with 12 of the Security Council countries that supported the resolution: Britain, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, Spain, Senegal and New Zealand.

Even if these suspensions are only temporary, what this shows is that this reversal of US policy has not only harmed the Palestinians and Israels, it's harmed the United Nations itself. Israeli Prime Minister and The Hill and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Dec-16 World View -- Furious Israel retaliates against UN for condemning West Bank settlements thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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26-Dec-16 World View -- Greece calls its European lenders 'Ebenezer Scrooge' from A Christmas Carol

European lenders relent and unblock the frozen bailout loan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Greece evokes Dickens' Christmas Carol, calling its lenders 'Ebenezer Scrooge'


Ebenezer Scrooge meets Jacob Marley's ghost -- by John Leech, from the 1843 edition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  Greece used this picture to accuse European officials of being Scrooges. (Gutenberg)
Ebenezer Scrooge meets Jacob Marley's ghost -- by John Leech, from the 1843 edition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Greece used this picture to accuse European officials of being Scrooges. (Gutenberg)

Greece's finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos has sent a Christmas card to journalists, apparently mocking Greece's bailout lenders, and accusing them of being as stingy and hard-hearted as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1843 book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Greece's Christmas card displays the picture shown above of Ebenezer Scrooge meeting the ghost of his dead partner Jacob Marley. The picture was an illustration by John Leech in the original 1843 edition. The picture in Tsakalotos's card was accompanied by the following caption:

"Perhaps in all of our Christmas tales there is a terrifying character like Ebenezer who receives the season's spirit in an immense solitude, and closed like an oyster. And maybe our Christmas tale is no exception.

But, dear friends and colleagues, our wishes go beyond all the Ebenezers of this world. We don't give up on our wishes."

Greece is undoubted alluding to the decision by Greece's creditors to cancel a planned bailout loan, after Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras announced new social spending -- a one-time pre-Christmas bonus to poor pensioners, and a reduction in taxes for Greece's Aegean Sea islands whose tourist industry had suffered because of the refugee crisis. Greece needs the bailout loan to meet its debts and avoid bankruptcy.

Charles Dickens describes Ebenezer Scrooge as follows:

"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?” No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”

But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call “nuts” to Scrooge."

So that's what Alexis Tsipras and other Greek ministers think of Greece's creditors. Tsipras may particularly be thinking of Germany's cranky finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who would undoubtedly be quite effective playing the part of Scrooge in a new production of A Christmas Carol.

In 1843, an elderly man like Scrooge would have been of the same generational archetype of today's Silent Generation, the generation that grew up during World War II.

Scrooge would have grown up during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Many people in Scrooge's generation had died in wars or in poverty. Dickens talks about prisons, Union workhouses, the Treadmill and the Poor Law. London's Panic of 1825 had been financially devastating.

In Dickens' story, the three ghosts that visit him convince him to forget all that, and start being generous with his time and money. Tsipras is hoping the Schäuble and Europe's other finance ministers turn out the same way. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843 edition (Gutenberg) and Kathimerini and Deutsche Welle and AFP

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European lenders relent and unblock the frozen bailout loan

There's no word about whether Greece's Christmas card played any part in the European officials' Christmas eve change of heart, but Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Saturday that negotiations would restart for the debt bailout loan to be unfrozen in January.

The softening the Eurogroup's hearts came about not because of visits by three ghosts, but because Greece's finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos had sent a letter saying that the pension bonus was a one-time thing, and reaffirming the government's commit to financial reforms. According to Eurogroup officials and Dijsselbloem:

"We have received a letter by the Greek authorities in response to the concerns raised by the institutions as well as the Euro Working Group on the recently legislated fiscal measures.

We have been reassured by the accompanying assessment of the institutions indicating that their initial significant concerns, both on process and on substance, are alleviated by this letter as regards MoU commitments, especially regarding pension. ...

I'm happy to conclude that we have cleared the way ... to go ahead with the decision-making procedures for the short-term debt measures, which will be conducted in January."

As Scrooge said to Bob Cratchit:

"A merry Christmas, Bob! A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!"

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, "God bless Us, Every One!" Reuters and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Dec-16 World View -- Greece calls its European lenders 'Ebenezer Scrooge' from A Christmas Carol thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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25-Dec-16 World View -- Tunisia fears more terrorism after Berlin attack by Tunisian national

Bartella Iraq celebrates Christmas after liberation from ISIS

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bartella Iraq celebrates Christmas after liberation from ISIS


Christmas eve mass held in Bartella on Saturday (Agora Magazine)
Christmas eve mass held in Bartella on Saturday (Agora Magazine)

Christians from around the region are flocking to Bartella, Iraq, to join in the celebration of Christmas, the first since Bartella was liberated.

Bartella, just 24 km from Mosul, used to be home to thousands of Assyrian Christians. They were forced to flee in August 2014, when the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) overran Mosul and neighboring villages. Bartella was liberated from ISIS two months ago, on October 20, by the Iraqi army operation to recapture Mosul. Rudaw (Iraq, Kurdistan) and Agora Magazine (Italy)

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Tunisia arrests three people over the Berlin terror attack

After Anis Amri, the 24 year old perpetrator of Monday's terror attack in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring dozens by ramming a large, hijacked truck into a crowd at a Christmas market, was shot to death in Milan Italy by police on Friday, there have been hundreds of investigators all over Europe trying to determine whether Amri had help from other jihadists.

Amri himself was a Tunisian national who sought asylum in several European country, including Germany, but was refused. He had a criminal record in Italy and Tunisia, and spent four years in an Italian prison before traveling to Germany.

Tunisian authorities have arrested three people on suspicion of being part of a "terrorist cell... connected to the terrorist Anis Amri." Two of the three were arrested in the capital city Tunis.

The third arrest was Amri's own 18-year-old nephew, Fedi, his sister's son, arrested in Amri's home town of Oueslatia. During initial questioning, Fedi said that he had been in contact with uncle Anis through the mobile app Telegram, which provides for encrypted communications that can't be traced. He also said that uncle Anis had sent him money to come to Germany, and asked him to pledge allegiance to ISIS. Sky News and AP

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Hundreds of Tunisians rally against jihadism at Bardo Museum in Tunis

Hundreds of people rallied at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia's capital city, on Saturday, protesting the lack of government action to prevent jihadists who fought overseas from returning to the country without facing punishment.

The news that Anis Amri, a Tunisian, was the perpetrator of last week's terror act in Berlin has embarrassed and infuriated the Tunisian people.

Tunisians are proud that their country launched the "Arab Spring" that began in 2011, and the resulting transition of power was largely peaceful. The Arab Spring uprisings were triggered on December 17, 2010, when a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia, in protest of the police confiscation of his vegetable cart. After days of clashes between protesters and the police, long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee the country to exile in Saudi Arabia.

However, that peaceful transition has come at a price. Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has faced repeated jihadist attacks, killing more than 100 soldiers and policemen, as well as about 20 civilians and 59 foreign tourists, according to official figures.

In March of last year, two terrorist gunmen infiltrated security at the well-known Bardo Museum in Tunis, right next door to the parliament building. They took and killed 22 hostages, with 50 people injured. Almost all of the casualties were foreign tourists.

Tunisians were still in shock from that attack, when another attack occurred in June. A gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at a Tunisian hotel in Sousse on Friday, killing 37 people.

Perhaps the most significant fact about Tunisia is that it's been the number one source of foreign fighters who have gone to Syria to join ISIS. Some 5,500 Tunisian citizens have left the country and are now fighting in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and to a lesser extent Mali, far more than the citizens of any other country.

It's believed that about 800 of these jihadists have returned to Tunisia in the last year. It's always been feared that Tunisian nationals returning would form terror cells in Tunisia and conduct more terror attacks, like the ones that have occurred frequently since 2011, but the actions of a Tunisian national in the Berlin attack has heightened those fears and created new anxieties. In fact, with ISIS losing territory in Syria, Iraq and Libya, it's feared that these jihadists are going to be flooding back into the country.

The purpose of Saturday's rally was to demand that further action be taken. In particular, they demanded that the government to bring home all Tunisian nationals living abroad who have links to extremist organizations, so they could face trial in their home country. Deutsche Welle and ITV

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Dec-16 World View -- Tunisia fears more terrorism after Berlin attack by Tunisian national thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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24-Dec-16 World View -- South Sudan increasingly parallels Syria in genocidal violence

UN Security Council fails to impose arms embargo on South Sudan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN Security Council fails to impose arms embargo on South Sudan


UN peacekeeping forces in South Sudan (AP)
UN peacekeeping forces in South Sudan (AP)

Humanitarian organizations are expressing outrage as the United Nations Security Council failed on Friday to pass a US-sponsored resolution to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and placed a travel ban and asset freeze on three senior South Sudanese leaders.

According to the UNSC rules, for the resolution to pass it would have required 9 of the 15 members to vote in favor, and none of the 5 permanent members (US, UK, Russia, China, France) to veto it. As it turned out, those who opposed the measure needed only to abstain, since there were not 9 votes available to pass it. Japan, Russia, China, Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, Egypt and Senegal all abstained.

South Sudan is the world's youngest nation, having gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The region's last generational crisis war was an ethnic war mainly between two tribes, the Nuer and the Dinka. That war climaxed with the "Bor Massacre," which began on November 15, 1991. The Nuer army marched toward the provincial capital Bor and massacred the people of the Dinka tribe. Over the next three months, 2,000 civilians were killed, thousands more wounded, and at least 100,000 people fled the area. Famine followed the massacre, as looters burnt villages and raided cattle, resulting in the deaths of 25,000 more from starvation.

A new conflict began on December 15, 2013, led by the president Salva Kiir, of the Dinka tribe, fighting against forces led by vice president Riek Machar, of the Nuer tribe. Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement in August 2015, but that did little good.

Human Rights Watch is expressing outrage that the UNSC resolution failed to pass. According to HRW, both sides have been importing weapons and using them to fight the other side. HRW says that African Union and UN investigators have documented war crimes, including killings and rape of civilians, and forced recruitment of children by the warring parties in South Sudan. In the last few months there has been an increase in incitement to violence, hate speech by senior leaders, and targeting of civilians, sometimes based on ethnicity.

United Nations officials had been calling for the arms embargo and also an injection of peacekeeping forces, saying that South Sudan is getting closer and closer to a "Rwanda-like genocide." However, they've been saying that for months, and no Rwanda-like genocide has occurred, largely because South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era. not in a Crisis era, which would be required for a Rwanda-like genocide to occur.

Earlier this year, the Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing 4,000 troops from African nations to join 12,000 U.N. peacekeeping forces there. However, South Sudan's president Salva Kiir rejected the peacekeeping troops to enter the country, saying that he would fight them as if they were an invading army. Those peacekeepers who did serve in South Sudan were withdrawn in the summer, after they were accused of failing to protect civilians from rape and sexual violence.

As an aside, you may wonder why decades of international aid to Africa has failed to have any effect whatsoever on poverty. The situation in South Sudan provides a good illustration of what happens. Usually the international aid goes into foreign bank accounts of leaders, but otherwise it's spent on weapons to kill, rape and torture people opposing the leaders. Reuters and Human Rights Watch and NPR (11-Nov)

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Leaders of South Sudan and Syria following parallel paths to genocide

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Syria and South Sudan are in very similar generational eras, with leaders who are behaving in similar ways.

South Sudan's last generational crisis war was an ethnic civil war between the Dinka versus the Nuer tribes, climaxing with the Bor Massacre in November, 1991, as described above. The Bor Massacre stands as a defining moment in the history of South Sudan. It was so shocking that it largely ended the war.

Syria's last generational crisis war was a religious/ethnic civil war between the Shia Alawites versus the Sunnis. That war climaxed in February 1982 with the destruction of the town of Hama. There had been a massive uprising of the 400,000 mostly Sunni citizens of Hama against Syria's Shia/Alawite president Hafez al-Assad, the current president's father. He turned the town to rubble and killed or displaced hundreds of thousands. Hama stands as a defining moment in the Middle East. It was so shocking that it largely ended the war.

So both Syria and South Sudan today are in generational Awakening eras, as the first generation of children growing up after the previous crisis civil war come of age. These children did not personally experience the wars, but they listened to stories of how the other side committed massacres and rapes while their fathers were heroes who endured despite those atrocities. The children never hear about how their fathers also committed atrocities and rapes.

Another parallel between Syria and South Sudan is that the wars depend on outside intervention, almost to the point of being a proxy war. In South Sudan, Kiir is receiving military aid from Uganda, while Machar is receiving military aid from (northern) Sudan. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is receiving military aid from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, while different opposition groups are receiving military aid from Turkey and from Salafist groups in Saudi Arabia.

From a theoretical point of view, when a country goes through a civil war that's also a generational crisis war, then as the first post-war generation grows up, the leaders become increasingly oppressive and violent towards peaceful opponents (usually a different religious or ethnic group), and use as an excuse the claim that they might start another civil war (which is almost impossible during a generational Awakening era). This is a generational pattern that's followed over and over, in country after country, throughout history.

What we're seeing in both Syria and South Sudan is a familiar pattern that I've described many times in countries like Burundi, Thailand, and Zimbabwe, starting 5-15 years after the climax of a generational ethnic crisis war. The leadership in the country, which represents one ethnic tribe or group, decides that in order to prevent a new civil war, it's necessary to impose "security" by having the security forces commit atrocities against the other ethnic group.

There's a wide spectrum of violence of this type. In Thailand, there's been sporadic violence by the army, backing the "yellow shirt" market-dominant light-skinned Thai-Chinese elite minority against the the "red shirt" dark-skinned Thai-Thai indigenous ethnics, but so far the violence hasn't been too serious.

In South Sudan, possibly the biggest driver of the war is not ethnic differences but oil. South Sudan has a wealth of oil, and all the warring parties would like to control as much of that oil as they can. A particularly interesting example of this is China, which is heavily invested in South Sudan and is supporting Salva Kiir. Chinese officials scream bloody murder when anyone complains about their massacring of Tibetans, saying that no one has the right to interfere in their internal affairs, but China has no hesitation to interfere in other countries' internal affairs when their own interests are a stake.

Another parallel between Syria and South Sudan is that as genocide by the countries' leaders continues right under the noses of everyone in the world, the United Nations is powerless to do anything about it because the two nations that fully support massacres, rapes, genocides and other atrocities are Russia and China, and they have veto power in the UN Security Council.

In Syria and South Sudan, in contrast to Thailand, the violence is reaching the highest levels, approaching full-scale genocide. What makes this difference from a crisis civil war is that in the latter case, the violence is "organic", in that it comes from the people and cannot be stopped. In the case of Awakening era genocide, the violence could be stopped simply if the leader stopped massacring the opposition tribes, or if outside countries would stop supporting the genocidal acts. NPR and Sudan Tribune and Al Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Dec-16 World View -- South Sudan increasingly parallels Syria in genocidal violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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23-Dec-16 World View -- Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both call for nuclear weapons increase

Germany criticized for too few CCTV cameras, and Britain for too many

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both call for nuclear weapons increase


Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pointing, earlier this year
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pointing, earlier this year

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted that the United States should increase its nuclear missile arsenal:

"The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

Several hours earlier, Russia's president Vladimir Putin had made a similar call for Russia:

"We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems.

We must carefully monitor any changes in the balance of power and in the political-military situation in the world, especially along Russian borders, and quickly adapt plans for neutralizing threats to our country."

US State Dept. John Kirby responded to a question of Trump's tweet:

QUESTION: "During the campaign there was a lot of discussion, especially from the Clinton side, about how Mr. Trump didn’t have the temperament to handle the nuclear weapons arsenal, that he was unpredictable and impulsive. Is this – does this kind of tweet, especially coming a few hours after Mr. Putin said something similar without any kind of policy statement or thinking to back it up – does that reinforce concerns that he might not be a steady hand?"

KIRBY: "Not for me to say, Barbara. I can’t speak for what – the president-elect’s nuclear views or his policy going forward. That’s for his and his team to speak to. What I can speak to is the approach that this Administration has taken to trying to get us on a path to a world without nuclear weapons."

This is a particularly laughable and moronic statement.

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the US and Russia will be allies in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Russia will be allied with India and the United States, while China will be allied with Pakistan and China and the Sunni states. Iran will also be allied with India and Russia, as Shia Muslims and Hindus have been allied against Sunni Muslims at least as far back as the Battle of Karbala.

As I've been describing for many years, China is engaging in a massive military buildup, developing multiple new nuclear weapons systems with the purpose of destroying American cities, military bases, and aircraft carriers. According to a Pentagon report issued in May of this year, China has been on a weapons binge, with quality improving even faster than quantity. Although the US military was confident in the past that it could successfully defend against a Chinese attack, the report suggested that China's military is at a tipping point, where it could overwhelm American defense forces.

Russia's officials must also be getting alarmed by the massive buildup in weapons by its historic enemy, China. Thus, Thursday's statements by Putin and Trump should be viewed not as presenting a danger of nuclear war between Russia and the US, but as a sign that the both the US and Russia are moving to protect themselves from the inevitable preemptive nuclear missile attack by China. AFP and AP and State Dept. and NBC News

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Germany criticized for too few CCTV cameras, and Britain for too many

German police have announced that the perpetrator of Monday's truck-ramming attack on a market in Berlin was Anis Amri, 24, a Tunisian asylum seeker who arrived in Germany last year. Amri has a criminal record in Italy and Tunisia, spent four years in an Italian prison. It took many hours for the police to figure out what happened, allowing Amri to be able to escape. There is now a major manhunt across Europe for Amri.

Many analysts are astonished that Berlin police have been unable to produce any CCTV (closed-circuit TV) footage that recorded the event, and that the police have to depend on asking the public for any available mobile phone footage.

Privacy laws are very strict in Germany, and Germans are particularly sensitive of state surveillance by any means, because of their collective memories of state surveillance by the Stasi secret policy in Communist East Germany and by the Gestapo in the Nazi era. So Berlin in particular is almost barren of CCTV cameras. According to the Berlin police union chief, "We would know a lot more about the perpetrator by now if we had been allowed to install video cameras." If cameras had captured the event, then Amri might have been identified much more quickly, before he had a chance to escape.

There's a particular irony to this situation, in that the EU just gave Britain one more reason for Brexit. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Wednesday struck down a UK's surveillance laws on the grounds that they violate the EU's privacy laws. The ruling did not specifically apply to CCTV, but it said that e-mail and internet records from the general public had to be destroyed within a year.

Undoubtedly, all of these privacy laws will be debated again, to balance privacy against public safety. However, it's worth noting that technology is improving rapidly to the point where it will be possible for the police to identify each person in CCTV footage, and use that information to track every person's movements on a daily basis. Daily Mail (London) and Telegraph (London) and International Business Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Dec-16 World View -- Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both call for nuclear weapons increase thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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22-Dec-16 World View -- Italy announces bank bailout that will 'bail in' ordinary depositors

European officials refuse to unblock the next bailout loan to Greece

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy announces bank bailout that will 'bail in' ordinary depositors


The Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), established 1472, the world's oldest operating bank
The Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), established 1472, the world's oldest operating bank

Italy's parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a €20 billion bailout package for the country's banks, particularly the famous Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world's oldest operating bank, which is close to collapse because it has $55.2 billion of bad loans on its book.

MPS has been trying various desperate measures to bail itself out by borrowing money from international investors, including the Qatar Investment Authority, but those attempts have failed. MPS said on Wednesday that it would run out of money within four months. Last week, MPS said that it had enough money to last 11 months.

It's not clear how much of the €20 billion bailout that MPS will get, since the money is intended as a bailout fund for all of Italy's banks. Italy's banks hold a total of about $383 billion in non-performing loans, which is about one-third of the total for the entire eurozone. So the bailout amount is nowhere near enough to save Italy's banking system.

The new law authorizing a bailout would seem like a good idea, but it actually has the potential to be politically disastrous. This has to do with new rules that the European Central Bank (ECB) introduced in the last year, saying that if a country's government bailed out a bank, then the investors (e.g., holders of the banks stocks and bonds) would have to be "bailed in" -- meaning that they would "take a haircut" and lose a percentage of their investments.

Usually, anyone who invested in the stocks and bonds issued by a bank would have to be considered a "sophisticated investor." But Italy's banks are unique in that thousands of ordinary people, including many elderly savers, who wanted to deposit their money in savings accounts instead were sold bank bonds by the bank's staff. The result is that a "bail-in" of supposedly sophisticated investors will actually cause tens of thousands of people to lose their life savings.

It's thought the bailout of MPS will occur next week, before the end of 2016, and then we should have an idea of how many depositors are going to lost money. Some Italian politicians are claiming that they'll find a way to protect ordinary people's savings accounts, but whether that's even possible under ECB rules remains to be seen. Deutsche Welle and Guardian (London) and International Business Times

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European officials refuse to unblock the next bailout loan to Greece

On December 5, Greece's creditors reached an agreement to a new bailout loan. However, once the agreement was reached, Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras suddenly announced new social spending -- a one-time pre-Christmas bonus to poor pensioners, and a reduction in taxes for Greece's Aegean Sea islands whose tourist industry had suffered because of the refugee crisis.

This caused European officials to block the new bailout loan, and on Wednesday the Euro Working Group (EWB) announced that it had not been able to reach agreement to unblock the bailout. The countries that wanted to block further aid included Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland and Germany. Greek Reporter and Kathimerini

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Dec-16 World View -- Italy announces bank bailout that will 'bail in' ordinary depositors thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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21-Dec-16 World View -- Russia, Turkey scramble to mend relations by blaming US for assassination

Turkey and Russia blame Fethullah Gulen and the US for the assassination

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Man who shot Russia's ambassador in Turkey was in security forces


Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Moscow to discuss a Syria peace plan.  The U.S. was not invited
Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Moscow to discuss a Syria peace plan. The U.S. was not invited

Turkey's police have arrested six relatives of Mevlut Mert Altintas, the 22 year old who shot Andrey Karlov, Russia's ambassador to Turkey, in Ankara on Monday.

Little information about Altintas has been released. He was born in western Turkey on the Aegean Sea, and has been working as a policeman for 2-1/2 years.

He used his police badge on Monday to gain access to the art exhibit where Karlov would be speaking, and to avoid having to go through a security X-ray device. He took his place and stood behind Karlov as part of Karlov's security detail. After Karlov had been speaking for a few minutes, Altintas pulled a gun from his coat pocket and shot Karlov dead. Anadolu (Ankara) and Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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Turkey and Russia blame Fethullah Gulen and the US for the assassination

I've always considered it somewhat fanciful that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the aborted July 15 coup attempt on a 76-year-old political enemy living in the Pocono Mountains in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, as if Fethullah Gulen had directed the coup himself from his easy chair.

Erdogan has repeatedly asked the Obama administration to extradite Gulen back to Turkey, charging him as being the leader of what Turkey calls the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO). Last month, Erdogan said:

"I was disillusioned, because I would expect this? I served both as a prime minister and president in this country and whenever the U.S. requested extradition of those kinds of terrorists I handed them over. Obama also should have done it and handed that man to us."

The Justice Department has said that they would be happen to extradite Gulen to Turkey, provided that Turkey provides evidence satisfactory to an American court of law that Gulen was really involved in the coup. The administration says that it has not received such evidence.

There are other problems with automatically blaming Gulen.

Gulen is a Muslim cleric with a worldwide network of schools and businesses, run by his followers. For Erdogan, this worldwide network was for many years a good thing, a sign of a progressive Turkey, fighting extremism, and providing education and jobs. But relations between Erdogan and Gulen started to sour in 2012, and were severed completely in 2013. Since then, this huge international network has turned in Erdogan's eyes from a good thing to a bad thing, promoting terrorism instead of fighting extremism.

This sudden change in Erdogan's view of Gulen has caused confusion, and raised suspicion that the issues are more political than otherwise. And so there's a great deal of skepticism when Turkey is not able to provide any credible proof of Gulen's involvement in the July 15 coup.

However, the continued presence of Gulen in the United States provides a convenient target for Erdogan's blame and mockery. Whenever there's a domestic problem, Erdogan can just blame it on Gulen and the United States. Both Erdogan and Russia are increasingly blaming Monday's assassination of Russia's ambassador on the US.

Ilnur Cevik is an advisor to Erdogan. He says that the US and Germany are responsible for lots of things:

"Growing relations and intensive cooperation in all areas between Turkey and Russia has created anger in the West, especially in the United States and Germany. The latest example has been the joint efforts of the two countries to save the civilian people of Aleppo. It was inevitable that the West would try to sabotage these relations. It is sad that they used a policeman affiliated to Fethullah Gulen's terrorist organization to assassinate the ambassador. This organization was also behind the downing of the Russian fighter that hurt our relations."

So, the US and Germany are responsible not only for the assassination of the Russia's ambassador, but also for the July 15 coup and, even more incredibly, for Turkey's shootdown of the Russian warplane in November of last year!! But it's very convenient for both countries, rather than have to deal with the consequences to their own relationships.

This is laughable, and it reminds me of a completely different story in the news these days. The demented loony-left-wing socialist president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, has been so thoroughly destroying his country's economy that the inflation rate is 67% per month, and is continuing to accelerate. But he gets away with it by blaming it all on a foreign conspiracy, led by the United States. It seems that there is no leader's policy so loony or so destructive that he can't get away with it by blaming the United States. World Bulletin (Turkey) and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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Both Turkey and Russia stand to gain by blaming US for assassination

The Turkish people have for years had to look on as Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah combine to massacre, bomb and slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians, including many women and children, who are ethnic Turkmens and other ethnic groups close to Turkey, and to drive millions more from their homes.

So why would Turkey be willing to bend over backwards to mend relations with Russia?

There's no doubt that the past year has been hell for Turkey. There have been six or eight major terrorist attacks in cities across the country, perpetrated by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). There was the July 15 aborted coup attempt. The country's resources have been strained by some three million refugees pouring into the country to escape the war in Syria. There was the chaotic break with Russia after a Russian warplane was shot down.

After the shootdown of Russia's warplane last year, Russia imposed harsh sanctions on Turkey that were devastating to Turkey's economy. Politically, Erdogan became increasingly isolated, having had very public splits with Syria, Russia, Israel and Egypt. So, Erdogan began healing some of those splits -- with Russia and Israel, though not with Egypt. And Erdogan became resigned that Bashar al-Assad is here to stay.

Russia has a completely different set of motivations. Russia is on the verge of scoring a major political victory.

On Monday, leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey met for a summit in Moscow to discuss a peace agreement for Syria. Turkey has dropped its demand that Bashar al-Assad step down. The United States has become so irrelevant to the Mideast that it was not invited, and besides, both Turkey and Russia are blaming the United States for the assassination and other problems.

For Russia, this is an opportunity to show the world that Russia is back, it's in charge of the Mideast, while the US has been pushed out. This is the kind of political victory that Vladimir Putin is working for.

So this is a critical time for both Turkey and Russia. The assassination of Russia's ambassador in Ankara has the potentially to really explode the relationship between the two countries. How was an off-duty security guard so easily able to get into the exhibition? Why was the ambassador so poorly protected? After the shooting, why the did the police shoot Altintas dead, rather than just wounding him, which would have allowed Russian investigators to question him? Who else was involved in the assassination plot?

By rushing to blame the United States, the two countries do not have to deal with a lot of very difficult questions. In particular, Russia can continue with its plan to declare itself the world leader in the Mideast.

Generational Dynamics predicts that this friendship between Turkey and Russia won't last, and that Russia and Turkey will be on opposite sides of the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Russians and Turks have hated each other for centuries, and have fought many bloody wars, and it won't be long before they're fighting one more. Telegraph (London) and Tass (Moscow) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Dec-16 World View -- Russia, Turkey scramble to mend relations by blaming US for assassination thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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20-Dec-16 World View -- Terror in Berlin and Ankara as Russia's ambassador to Turkey shot dead

Large truck kills 12 driving into a crowded Berlin market

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's ambassador to Turkey shot dead in Ankara


Andrey Karlov giving his speech in an Ankara art museum, just before being shot.  In the left rear is the assassin, Mevlüt Mert Altintas. (Hurriyet)
Andrey Karlov giving his speech in an Ankara art museum, just before being shot. In the left rear is the assassin, Mevlüt Mert Altintas. (Hurriyet)

Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was shot dead in Turkey's capital city Ankara on Monday around 7:30 pm, as he was giving a speech during the opening of an art exhibition. Karlov has been a diplomat for 40 years, and has been ambassador to Turkey since 2013.

The killer was Mevlüt Mert Altintas, said to be a 22 year old off-duty policeman who had joined Turkey's police force two years ago.

After shooting Karlov, Altintas waved his gun around and should "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is great), and then in Turkish, "Don't forget about Aleppo. Don't forget about Syria. As long as they aren't safe, you won't be safe either."

Further information about Altintas has not been released, but it's believed that he's not from groups that have conducted terror attacks in Turkey in the last year, such as Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). There have been widespread protests in Turkey against Syria's president Bashar al-Assad for his bloody slaughter of civilians in Aleppo, and it's believed that he's a particularly demented anti-Assad protester who believes that he can attain a political objective by killing an ambassador.

In November of last year, Turkey's F-16s were involved in the shooting down of a Russian warplane that had allegedly crossed the border from Syria into Turkey. Relations between the two leaders, Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, extremely vitriolic, and they imposed economic sanctions on each other, harming both their economies.

The relations began to improve, even to signing an agreement in October to jointly build a natural gas pipeline. However, this was thought to be an agreement out of pragmatism, rather than a real warming of relations, as the two countries are still bitterly divided over the Syrian civil war.

Some observers have speculated that Altintas's political goal in killing the Russian ambassador was to renew the hostility between Putin and Erdogan. However, Putin issued a statement saying that he does not blame Erdogan or Turkey for this terrorist act.

Putin announced that Russia is sending a team of investigators to Ankara to investigate the shooting. Unless the investigation reveals gross negligence by Turkish officials in not preventing the shooting, it's expected that pragmatism will continue in the relationship between Turkey and Russia. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Bloomberg

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Large truck kills 12 driving into a crowded Berlin market


Aftermath of truck massacre in Berlin (DW)
Aftermath of truck massacre in Berlin (DW)

At least 12 people were killed and dozens injured after a large truck rammed into crowds at a market in Berlin, Germany. The driver has been arrested, and a passenger in the truck died in the crash, although he may have been killed. Authorities are reluctant at this time to say whether it was an "accident" or an "attack," although signs point to it being an attack.

The truck had Polish license plates and was carrying steel beams from Poland to a site in Italy. The dead passenger in the truck has been identified as a Polish national. The driver is said to be an asylum seeker from Pakistan or Afghanistan, who had arrived in Germany in February.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, ISIS has previously called on its followers to carry out "lone wolf" terror strikes in Europe, and driving a truck into a crowd is one type of attack that ISIS has suggested. In July, an attack of that type occurred in Nice, France, when a delivery truck driver drove his truck into a crowd. That attack occurred on Bastille Day, July 14. Deutsche Welle

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Dec-16 World View -- Terror in Berlin and Ankara as Russia's ambassador to Turkey shot dead thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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19-Dec-16 World View -- Chinese bombers circling Taiwan raise talk of war during Trump's first term

China says it will back down over US military drone seizure in South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China says it will back down over US military drone seizure in South China Sea


A drone similar to the one that was seized
A drone similar to the one that was seized

China's Defense Ministry said on Saturday that it will return to the United States an American military drone it seized in international waters in the South China Sea, near the Philippines. However, China has not yet returned the drone, and says only that it will return the drone "in an appropriate manner" at an unnamed time.

The Pentagon says that on Thursday, a Chinese naval ship approached the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey vessel with a mostly civilian crew, which was trying to retrieve an American military drone that had been collecting unclassified data for oceanic research. A Chinese warship, a "submarine rescue vessel," that had been following the Bowditch, send out a small boat and outran the Bowditch to capture the drone.

According to the US Defense Department, China intentionally captured a "sovereign immune vessel," which is an act of war. The Chinese rushed to provide a laughable excuse, saying that the drone was captured "in order to prevent the device from causing harm to the safety of navigation and personnel of passing vessels."

The drone was captured in waters near the Philippines, far from China. China has declared its intention to annex the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory, even though its claims have been shown to be a hoax, and even though a judgment by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague has made it clear that China was violating international law.

Chinese state media made it clear that the seizure was intentional. It quotes Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert:

"This is not the first time that we seized a US underwater drone in the South China Sea, but the one we seized on Thursday is new and more advanced than before and might carry valuable information just gathered in the South China Sea."

According to one theory, China seized the US military drone to send a threatening message to US president-elect Donald Trump, after he accepted a phone call from Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen on December 2. Trump has also indicated that he is also reviewing America's support for the "one China" policy, which says that Taiwan is a province of China.

China was forced to back down and promise to return the drone because not doing so could force a military response by the US. However, until China fulfills its promise and actually returns the drone, a military response remains a possibility. Washington Post and Xinhua and Global Times (Beijing) and Daily Beast

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Chinese bombers circling Taiwan raise talk of war during Trump's first term

Anxieties about war have been raised in Taiwan after Chinese bombers twice circled around Taiwan's periphery, though without entering the countries air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

Some people have speculated that this is one more act from Beijing, like the seizure of the US drone, to send a message in response to Donald Trump's phone call with Taiwan's president. However, that would seem an unlikely explanation, since the two actions by the Chinese bomber occurred on November 25 and December 10, with the first action occurring prior to the phone call.

However, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense on Sunday appealed for calm, as further concerns were raised this weekend when China's air force published a photo on social media showing a bomber flying above clouds with two mountain peaks in the distance, apparently depicting the November 25 flight. Chinese military commentators said that the peaks are of a mountain in Taiwan.

China's state media quoted a Chinese military analyst saying that military action could occur in Donald Trump's first term:

"Military conflicts would occur between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan by 2020. It is quite possible that the mainland will take the island in one stroke."

However, another Chinese analyst is quoted as saying that China's leadership might not favor reunification by force, which would hurt both sides' interests. China Post (Taipei) and Global Times (Beijing)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Dec-16 World View -- Chinese bombers circling Taiwan raise talk of war during Trump's first term thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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18-Dec-16 World View -- Syria and Russia see 'the light at the end of the tunnel' after Aleppo victory

Syria's civil war shows similarities to America's Vietnam war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's Bashar al-Assad calls Aleppo's 'liberation' a historic event


Russia holds a concert on 5-May to celebrate the recapture of Palmyra from ISIS.  Note that Vladimir Putin is on the wide-screen tv on the left side of the stage (AFP)
Russia holds a concert on 5-May to celebrate the recapture of Palmyra from ISIS. Note that Vladimir Putin is on the wide-screen tv on the left side of the stage (AFP)

A year ago, al-Assad himself said that his army was close to being defeated. Since then, three more armies -- from Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah -- have rushed to his aid, and al-Assad is claiming a "history in the making" victory:

"[The liberation of Aleppo was] history in the making and worthy of more than the word congratulations.

History is being written in these moments. Every Syrian citizen is taking part in the writing. It started not today, but years ago when the crisis and the war on Syria began."

I think that after the liberation of Aleppo we’ll talk about the situation as ... before the liberation of Aleppo and after the liberation of Aleppo."

An analyst, Alexander Khrolenko, quoted by Russian state media agrees. He says that the city's liberation has had a ripple effect across the country. The victory has weakened radical groups located in the province of Idlib:

"Until recently, the militants controlled key oil fields and communications channels with Turkey in the Euphrates valley. Aleppo's liberation has undermined the economic base of terrorist groups and the supply routes to Raqqa, the capital of Daesh's caliphate. Now the Syrian Arab Army could focus on two regions, Idlib and Raqqa."

In the title of this article I referred to "the light at the end of the tunnel," because that phrase was used by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in making claims about victory in the Vietnam War that sound very similar to those of al-Assad and Khrolenko. Al Masdar News (Damascus) and International Business Times and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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Syria and Russia suffer a big military setback in Palmyra

If it takes four armies to capture one city, Aleppo, in a period of many months, it's delusional to believe that the rest of the country is going to fall quickly.

Al-Assad and Russia's president Vladimir Putin received a taste of what they're in for this week when the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) recaptured the city of Palmyra from Syrian and Russian forces last weekend. Not only that, but ISIS entered the big Russian-Syrian T-4 air base outside the town, carrying off substantial quantities of Russian armaments including assault rifles, ground-to-ground missiles, anti-tank missiles, and anti-air rockets.

Russia's troops, backed by massive airstrikes, had captured Palmyra in March of this year. Putin had declared the recapture a major victory in the war and a major turning point (which is what he's saying now about Aleppo).

Putin even held a triumphal, widely televised concert in Palmyra's Roman ruins on May 5, with the orchestra conducted by the internationally distinguished maestro Valery Gergiev. So ISIS's success in Palmyra is a major fiasco for Russia and a major humiliation.

According to reports, the way it happened is that Palmyra was originally recaptured from ISIS by Russia's special forces (Spetsnaz). Afterwards, the special forces were withdrawn from Palmyra and sent to Aleppo, where they are involved in the war there. According to Igor Konashenkov of the Russian defence ministry, ISIS immediately sent about 5,000 jihadists from Raqqa to Palmyra to achieve its victory.

Undoubtedly, once Aleppo is captured, Syria and Russia will turn back to Palmyra and recapture it again from ISIS. But will that leave Aleppo vulnerable? And if it took four armies to capture Aleppo, while losing Palmyra, how can they hope to recapture the entire regions of Syria that are under control of the Free Syrian army, al-Nusra, and ISIS, and keep captured areas under control?

When American forces scored victories in the Vietnam war, presidents Johnson and Nixon talked about the "light at the end of tunnel," but the North Vietnamese forces did not stop fighting, which is what al-Assad and Putin expect ISIS to do after the capture of Aleppo. Guardian (London) and Debka

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Syria's civil war shows similarities to America's Vietnam war

In 1953, French forces under the command of Gen. Henri Navarre were fighting Ho Chi Minh's communist forces in Vietnam. Navarre said, "Now we can see [success in Vietnam] clearly, like light at the end of a tunnel." The French forces were decisively defeated at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954.

In June 1966 President Lyndon Johnson said "I urge you to remember that Americans often grow impatient when they cannot see light at the end of the tunnel - when policies do not overnight usher in a new order. But politics is not magic. And when some of our fellow citizens despair of the tedium and time necessary to bring change - as, for example, in Vietnam today - they are forgetting our own history."

The phrase "light at the end of the tunnel" was repeated frequently in the 1960s in reference to the Vietnam war, both by government officials and by antiwar activists mocking government officials. The Tet Offensive in 1968 turned public opinion negative towards the war, though it did not end until several years later.

This week, Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are talking about a "history in the making" victory. It's not exactly the same phrase as "light at the end of the tunnel," but it has the same flavor.

Let's make three comparisons between America in the 1960s and Syria today:

Now let's look at what's happening in Syria today:

Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were all delusional about the war in Vietnam. Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are even more delusional about the war in Syria. The Syrian civil war will be an even worse disaster than the Vietnam war. History.com and Global Security

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Dec-16 World View -- Syria and Russia see 'the light at the end of the tunnel' after Aleppo victory thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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17-Dec-16 World View -- Former UN leader Ban Ki-moon may run for president of South Korea

Russia and Japan fail to agree on ending World War II

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia and Japan fail to agree on ending World War II


Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin at their meeting on Friday (AP)
Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin at their meeting on Friday (AP)

Russia and Japan are technically still at war, having never signed a peace treaty ending their conflict in World War II. Japan has demanded the return of their Northern Territories, consisting of four islands that the Soviet Union forces seized at the end of the war. Russia calls them the Kuril Islands.

So when Russia's president Vladimir Putin came to Tokyo for the last two days to visit with Japan's president Shinzo Abe, a lot of people were hoping they'd reach an agreement on the disputed islands, and that they'd sign an agreement ending World War II.

Unfortunately, no such agreement and no peace treaty were forthcoming. Press reports seem to imply that Abe had hoped to develop a personal relationship with Putin and perhaps charm him into reaching an agreement on the islands. As it turned out, even that goal might not have been reached, as the two leaders met only briefly. Afterwards, Putin said, "It would be naive to think we can solve this problem in an hour, but there is no doubt that we need to look for a solution." Abe said, "We need to work toward a breakthrough so that we don’t disappoint the next generation."

Instead, they signed economic deals whose net effect will be Japanese investments in projects in Russia. Russia and Japan will each put $500 million into a new fund that will make investments in Russia's energy, urban planning and medical services. There were reports of agreements on joint Russian-Japanese economic activities on the islands, including fisheries, tourism, culture and medicine, but no talk of sovereignty.

Still, while Russian analysts are saying that Russia got the better of Japan in the summit, they hope that the joint economic activities will lead to an eventual peace treaty.

Russia achieved something else significant. Japan has supported the US-led economic sanctions on Russia for invading and annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, and Friday's economic agreements seem to

One might well ask oneself why Japan seems so eager to suck up to Russia without seeming to get much in return. China has been increasingly hostile to Japan, while Russia and China appear to be getting along, even militarily, so perhaps Abe felt that a friendship with Russia would protect Japan from China in the future.

Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the US, Japan, India, Iran and Russia will be allied again China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Japan Times and Russia Today and Tass (Moscow)

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Former UN leader Ban Ki-moon may run for president of South Korea

South Korea has been embroiled for months in an explosive corruption scandal that has led the parliament to vote to impeach president Park Geun-hye, and has had massive anti-Park protests every week. Park's fate will depend on a ruling by the Constitutional Court, which is expected early next year.

It's expected that there will be large crowds of protesters in Seoul on Saturday, calling for Park to resign from office without waiting for the Constitutional Court. It's feared that they'll clash with another large group of protesters, this group supporting Park.

Ban Ki-moon is stepping down after being United Nations Secretary-General for ten years, and was asked whether he will run for president of South Korea:

"I'll go back to (South) Korea, then I'll try to meet as many people as possible, which may include political leaders, leaders of civil society and my friends, and I will really consider seriously how best and what I should and could do for my country.

I can understand and share the anxiety of people about the future of their country. And this is one of the biggest challenges the Korean people are encountering.

I also understand the aspiration of people for a new type of inclusive leadership that can help them overcome the challenges ahead."

He sounds to me like a politician running for president. AP and Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and JoongAng Ilbo (Seoul)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Dec-16 World View -- Former UN leader Ban Ki-moon may run for president of South Korea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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16-Dec-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions rise as India celebrates 1971 victory over Pakistan

World Bank declines to mediate Pakistan-India water dispute

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India-Pakistan belligerent war of words continues to escalate


India celebrates its victory over Pakistan on December 16, 1971
India celebrates its victory over Pakistan on December 16, 1971

India and Pakistan continue on the path to war with new belligerent accusations.

The two countries maintained a veneer of civility for a few years, but it fell apart on January 2 of this year when there was a terrorist attack on an Indian air force base in Panthankot, Punjab. India blamed the attack on Pakistan, and Pakistan said that India has staged the encounter to defame Pakistan.

The most explosive event of the year occurred on July 8, when Burhan Wani, the leader of a separatist group in Kashmir, was killed by Indian police fire. Massive riots in Kashmir began the next day. Indian police responded with rubber bullets, leaving many protesters wounded or killed or blinded by the pellets, and that kind of violence has been an almost daily occurrence since then. India has accused Pakistan of actively supporting the riots, while Pakistan has incited further violence by glorifying Burhan Wani.

On September 18, terrorists made a major attack on an Indian army base in Uri in Kashmir. There was a five-hour firefight, and at least 17 soldiers were killed, as were the militants. This was the worst militant terrorist attack in Kashmir in years. Once again, India blamed Pakistan.

So this week, the war of words took another spike. India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said:

"Pakistan is conspiring to divide India on religious lines, but it will not succeed. We were divided in 1947 on a religious basis. We have not been able to forget that... All Indians are brothers, whether they are born from the womb of a Hindu mother or a Muslim mother. ... Pakistan came into existence [in 1947] after India got divided on religious lines, but it could not keep itself united.

Pakistan was divided into two countries in 1971. If it does not stop cross-border terrorism, it will soon be in 10 pieces."

The interpretation of Singh's remarks is as follows:

These remarks were interpreted by Pakistani officials as being a threat.

Nafees Zakaria from Pakistan's foreign office responded by saying that Singh's statement was an admission that India was involved in terrorism in Pakistan:

"Pakistan strongly condemned the absurd remarks of the Indian Home Minister [which were] in complete violation of all diplomatic norms, UN Charter and other international instruments. ...

These remarks vindicate Pakistan’s long-standing position that Indian government and its intelligence agencies are involved in subversive and terrorist activities and terror financing in Pakistan to fuel tension and destabilize the country. The international community must take notice of such irresponsible statements and India-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan."

Indian Express and Daily Times (Pakistan) and New Indian Express

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World Bank declines to mediate Pakistan-India water dispute

As we recently reported, India is threatening to divert water currently flowing from India to Pakistan back to India's farmers, in violation of the Indus Water Treaty, signed by the two countries in 1960.

The Indus Water Treaty is considered a model, because it was mediated by the World Bank and it has survived despite several wars between the two countries. In September, India and Pakistan separately asked the World Bank to mediate the current dispute. The World Bank agreed at that time, but has now "suspended" its mediation efforts until at least February, with the following statement:

"We are announcing this pause to protect the treaty and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolve conflicting interests under it and its application to two hydroelectric power plants. This is an opportunity for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable. I hope the two countries will come to an agreement by the end of January."

It's really not surprising that the World Bank is trying hard to wash its hands of this matter. One has to laugh at the suggestion that India and Pakistan will "resolve the issue in an amicable manner." This is just one more issue leading India and Pakistan to war. The Nation (Pakistan) and First Post

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India celebrates its 1971 victory over Pakistan

India on Friday is celebrating its victory over Pakistan in the India-Pakistan War of 1971, and Pakistan's surrender on December 16, 1971, creating the country of Bangladesh.

The United Nations partitioned the Indian sub-continent following World War II into separate countries for Hindus and Muslims, India and Pakistan, respectively. What we now call Bangladesh was the eastern region of Pakistan. However, East Pakistan's mostly dark-skinned Bengal population (language: Bengali) was in constant friction with West Pakistan's more multiethnic population (language: Urdu). East and West Pakistan never really got along, and the fact that East Pakistan was more populous than West Pakistan meant that in Pakistan's democracy, the Bengalis would dominate Pakistan's parliament and government.

In 1971, Pakistan's army attempted to bring East Pakistan's Bengalis under control, triggering a war. Pakistan was supported by Urdu-speaking Biharis from India, while India supported the Bengalis, and won the war.

Today, with India gloating over the 1971 victory, that war is just one more issue driving India and Pakistan to a new war today. International Business Times and First Post and Dawn (Pakistan, 10-Dec-2012) and Kashmir Watch (Pakistan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Dec-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions rise as India celebrates 1971 victory over Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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15-Dec-16 World View -- Greece financial crisis threatened after Tsipras announces new spending program

IMF says that Greece's budget must be 'more growth-friendly'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Greece financial crisis threatened after Tsipras announces new spending program


Alexis Tsipras in Athens on November 28 (Reuters)
Alexis Tsipras in Athens on November 28 (Reuters)

A new disagreement between Greece and Greece's three creditor institutions -- the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), formerly known as the "troika" -- is threatening to catapult Greece into a major new financial crisis by Christmas.

This has been going on for years, and as we've written many times in the past, there is no solution to Greece's financial crisis. It's not that no one has been clever enough to figure out a solution. It's that no solution exists. Greece's government accumulated an enormous amount of debt in the 2000s decade by repeatedly lying about its income and expenses, and ever since the day of reckoning, it's been clear that Greece will never be able to repay its debts.

If Greece declares bankruptcy, leaves the euro currency, and returns to its original drachma currency, it will be a financial disaster for the Greek people. And so, the three institutions have been kicking the can down the road by repeatedly providing money, and by requiring Greece to make various cuts in government programs, in order to give the appearance of forcing some discipline on the government, even though they know it will make little difference. Officials in Greece make arguments that boil down to the following: We all know that Greece is going to go deeper and deeper into debt anyway, so we might as well just keep spending more money on social programs.

On December 5, the three institutions reached an agreement to a bailout loan with enough more money to allow Greece to meet its next debt repayment and avoid having to declare bankruptcy. At the same time, they insisted that Greece's government adopt more reforms, thus playing their part in the game. But Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras didn't play the game. He announced that instead of reforms, he would grant a pre-Christmas bonus to poor pensioners. In addition, he will keep in place a discount in valued-added tax, to eastern Aegean islands whose tourist industries have suffered because of the crisis of refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece. He had previously promised to scrap that discount as one of his commitments in return for the latest bailout. Apparently he believes that he can get away with this because of Greece's central role in the refugee crisis.

This sudden announcement has caused the December 5 agreement to fall apart. The Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers issued a statement saying that Tsipras's announcement appeared "to not be in line with our agreements." The bailout loan has been put on hold, and the institutions will now put into place a full investigation of Greece's fiscal plans, before it will be reinstated. Kathimerini and Bloomberg

IMF says that Greece's budget must be 'more growth-friendly'


Left: Greece's tax collections have fallen sharply; right: More than 50% of Greece's household are exempt from paying any income tax at all (IMF)
Left: Greece's tax collections have fallen sharply; right: More than 50% of Greece's household are exempt from paying any income tax at all (IMF)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is being blamed by many people for demanding more austerity from Greece and threatening Greek people with starvation.

The IMF is responding that it's not demanding any additional austerity at all, but instead is asking that the public sector be restructured to make it "more growth-friendly." The IMF makes the following points:

The IMF recommends that the authorities should further reduce current pensions while increasing spending on a modern and well-targeted welfare system to protect those that are most in need. More should be spent on other essential public services and key public investments too. IMF and IMF (PDF) and Newsweek

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Dec-16 World View -- Greece financial crisis threatened after Tsipras announces new spending program thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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14-Dec-16 World View -- US's Samantha Power makes excoriating attack on Syria's al-Assad, Russia, Iran

Human Rights Watch reveals more ethnic cleansing imagery from Burma (Myanmar)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's Al-Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah score victory in Aleppo


A family of Sunni 'terrorists' flee the fighting in Aleppo (Reuters)
A family of Sunni 'terrorists' flee the fighting in Aleppo (Reuters)

It took four armies, but Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is claiming victory in recapturing Aleppo from anti-Assad rebels. A year ago, al-Assad himself said that his army was close to being defeated. But then his three allies stepped up their military support with people, weapons and bombs, and al-Assad is finally able to declare victory.

According to Matthew Rycroft, the UK ambassador to the UN:

"Al-Assad's forces, propped up by Russia and Iran, have once again redefined horror. They have gone from siege to slaughter.

Today the United Nations has received reports that pro-government forces have been entering homes in Eastern Aleppo. They have been going door to door, executing people on the spot. 82 people murdered. 13 of whom were women. 11 were children. None were terrorists.

We have heard reports of women committing suicide, in order not to be raped. We have heard reports of people being burnt alive. We have heard reports that hundreds of men have disappeared fleeing Aleppo, taken by the regime. All these reports evoke the darkest days of the history of the United Nations.

When it happened before, we said never again. Well, it is happening again, today."

As I've been writing for a long time, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far in this century. He continues a line of monsters from the previous century that include Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and others.

The civil war in Syria was caused by al-Assad when he unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Up to that point, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were friendly with al-Assad. Things really turned around in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians.

This attack alone shows that al-Assad's fight is not with "terrorists," but with innocent Sunni civilians. Al-Assad is a member of a Shia Alawite clan that has historically fought many wars with Sunnis. To al-Assad, Sunni civilians are nothing but cockroaches to be exterminated.

Al-Assad's genocidal extermination campaign on these "cockroaches" has been a geopolitical disaster. Tens of thousands of young Sunnis traveled to Syria to fight al-Assad, creating the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Syrians themselves formed the "moderate" Free Syrian Army (FSA), or else joined al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS). Millions of Syrians were killed or displaced, and well over a million of them have fled to Europe to escape the violence.

Bashar al-Assad has the delusional view that after capturing Aleppo, the war will quickly end. Al-Assad required three other armies to capture Aleppo. Al-Assad started the civil war not because rebels were taking up arms, but because civilians were peacefully protesting. If civilians begin peacefully protesting again, will al-Assad attack them again, and ask those three other armies to come back? UK Government and ARA News (Syria)

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US's Samantha Power makes excoriating attack on Syria's al-Assad, Russia, Iran

Many people, especially in the Mideast, blame al-Assad's geopolitical disaster on inaction by the Barack Obama administration, especially Obama's "red line" flip-flop on intervening when al-Assad used Sarin gas on his own innocent civilians. It's impossible to know what the outcome of intervention at that time would have been, but many people believe that the worse of the genocide would have been avoided.

In fact, the Obama administration and many Western administrations went farther, and avoided saying anything that might appear as a criticism of al-Assad, Russia or Iran. However, several years of built-up anger seemed to explode at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, with the excoriating remarks of American's UN ambassador Samantha Power:

"To the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran, three member states, behind the conquest of and carnage in Aleppo. You bear responsibility for these atrocities by rejecting UN ICRC evacuation efforts, you are signaling to those militia who are massacring innocents to keep doing what they are doing. Denying or obfuscating the facts, as you will do today, saying up is down, black is white, will not absolve you. When one day there is a full accounting of the horrors committed in this assault of Aleppo - and that day will come sooner or later -- you will not be able to say you did know what is happening, you will not be able to say you were not involved.

We all know what was happening, and we all know you were involved. Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and now Aleppo.

To the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran, your forces and proxies are carrying out these crimes. Your barrel bombs and mortars and airstrikes have allowed the militia in Aleppo to encircle tens of thousands of civilians in your ever tightening noose.

It is your noose. Three member states of the UN contributing to a noose around civilians. It should shame you. Instead, by all appearances, it is emboldening you. You are plotting your next assault. Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you?

Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child, that gets under your skin? That just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about, or justify?"

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitali Churkin, responded as if he were talking about another place altogether:

"The vast majority of the former members of the illegal armed groups that have handed themselves over to the authorities as a result of the amnesty and have gone through the procedures have been returned to their families. The most important thing is, the counterterrorist operation in Aleppo will conclude in the next few hours."

In fact, as the previous quote from Matthew Rycroft indicates, reports reaching the BBC and other media sources say that Sunnis who "hand themselves over" to the Syrian army authorities are most likely to be immediately shot. In fact, we can't believe any garbage that comes out of the mouths of Vitali Churkin, Bashar al-Assad, or Vladimir Putin. Middle East Eye

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Human Rights Watch reveals more ethnic cleansing imagery from Burma (Myanmar)

In the past few months, satellite photography provided by Human Rights Watch has documented that 30,000 ethnic Rohingyas living in Burma's (Myanmar's) Rakhine state have been left homeless after their homes and villages have been systematically burned down.

Few people doubt that the perpetrators are Burma's army, conducting ethnic cleansing . The BBC has broadcast footage of an undercover road trip through the region, including interviews who says that their husbands were burnt and killed by soldiers, and that they were repeatedly raped by soldiers.

Burma's government has been making the ridiculous claim that the Rohingyas are burning down their own homes and villages to embarrass the government. This is the kind of garbage that we always get from Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin, and now from officials of Burma.

So Human Rights Watch has released new imagery that shows a village being burnt down as multiple military transport vehicles and the periodic landing of military helicopters move about.

Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is the de facto leader of Burma, is losing her luster as a human rights icon. So far, Western leaders and media have given her the benefit of the doubt, suggesting that she was unable to control the army.

But more and more, the question is arising whether she's a full participant in and supporter of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, having the same hatreds as other Burmese leaders. Human Rights Watch

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Dec-16 World View -- US's Samantha Power makes excoriating attack on Syria's al-Assad, Russia, Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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13-Dec-16 World View -- Italy's bank crisis seems likely to cost thousands of people their savings

Egypt's Christians demand revenge after Sunday's church bombing

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's Christians demand revenge after Sunday's church bombing


Egyptian Christians shout slogans in front of riot police outside a Cairo church on Monday (Reuters)
Egyptian Christians shout slogans in front of riot police outside a Cairo church on Monday (Reuters)

Egyptian Christians are blaming the government for Sunday's suicide bombing that killed 24 people and injured 49 in a chapel adjacent to St. Mark’s Cathedral, Cairo’s largest church and home of Coptic Pope Tawadros II. Some are demanding the fall of the regime.

According to witnesses, the police didn't perform the usual checks and searches of people entering the Church. According to one witness, "There were police cars stationed in front of the church gates. ... They were too busy eating breakfast and drinking tea and soda. They weren’t doing their job."

Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi blamed the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the Muslim Brotherhood has denied this, and no one has claimed responsibility, but the only people celebrating on social media were supporters of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), who wrote, "God bless the person who did this blessed act." Al Arabiya and Reuters and AFP

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Italy's bank crisis seems likely to cost thousands of people their savings

We've been reporting Italy's banking crisis for a while now, and there's always been uncertainty about which of several paths it would take. After the events of the last week, a lot of that uncertainty has vanished, but the result isn't what would be hoped.

Italy held a referendum last Sunday on a change to the constitution that would make Italy's government more stable. Prime minister Matteo Renzi had promised to resign if the referendum was defeated. Italy's Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world's oldest operating bank, was hoping that the referendum would pass, since they believed that would make it more likely that investors would lend the bank 5 billion euros to make a debt repayment and avoid a bank crisis for a few more months.

Well, the referendum was voted down. Renzi resigned, as promised. Italy has a new prime minister, the outgoing foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, who took office on Monday. But whether investors would lend MPS 5 billion euros is still in doubt, and considered less likely. Hope is not dead, as there's still a chance that Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, will lend MPS one billion euros, and that will encourage other investors to provide the other four.

Failing that, Italy's government will have to bail out MPS. Under European Central Bank (ECB) rules that were imposed because of Greece's banking crisis, a government bailout of MPS would require a "bail-in" of MPS's bond holders.

For almost all banks, the bond holders are sophisticated investors who purchased bonds issued by the bank as an investment. But MPS is unique, in that thousands of ordinary people, including many elderly savers, who wanted to deposit their money in savings accounts instead were sold bank bonds by the bank's staff. The result is that a "bail-in" of supposedly sophisticated investors will actually cause tens of thousands of people to lose their life savings.

MPS asked the ECB for a few more weeks' time to get the loans, but the request was rejected by the ECB. As a result, either MPS must get its loans this week, or else the new prime minister Paolo Gentiloni will have to authorize a government bailout by next weekend. Guardian (London) and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Dec-16 World View -- Italy's bank crisis seems likely to cost thousands of people their savings thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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12-Dec-16 World View -- Terror bombing of Coptic Christian church in Cairo Egypt kills 25

Furious Turkey vows revenge, as PKK/TAK takes credit for Istanbul bombing

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Furious Turkey vows revenge, as PKK/TAK takes credit for Istanbul bombing


Aftermath of terrorist double-bombing in Istanbul on Saturday (Hurriyet)
Aftermath of terrorist double-bombing in Istanbul on Saturday (Hurriyet)

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a terrorist offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has claimed responsibility for the double bombing in Istanbul on Saturday. At least 38 people were killed, and 155 were injured.

The TAK has already taken credit for a February 17 attack in Ankara, killing 28 people, a March 13 bombing in Ankara that killed 37 people, and a June 8 attack in Istanbul that killed 11 people. There were at least three other terror attacks in Turkey this year, perpetrated by the PKK and by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and there was also the July 15 coup attempt.

The Turkish people feel vulnerable and afraid, and a furious president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed revenge:

"They should know that we won’t leave them unpunished. They should know that they are going to pay a heavy price. My people should have no doubt that we will carry out the struggle against terror until the very end. We wore our burial robes when we took this road. ...

No one should have any doubt about our fight against terrorism. We are the owners of this country and will not leave it to those scum if they aim to scare us with such attacks."

Interior minister Süleyman Soylu said:

"Sooner or later, we will have our vengeance. This blood will not be left on the ground, no matter what the price, what the cost."

Hurriyet (Ankara) and Guardian (London)

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Terror bombing of Coptic Christian church in Cairo Egypt kills 25

At least 25 people were killed and 49 others injured on Sunday morning in a terrorist explosion in the chapel of St Peter and St Paul (El-Botroseya) adjoining Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo Egypt. No one has yet claimed responsibility.

Cairo has not yet had a chance to recover from two terror attacks on Friday. First, an IED placed next to two security roadblocks in Giza killed six security personnel, and injured three others. Next, also on Friday, one civilian was killed and three security personnel were injured by a bomb in Egypt’s Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate.

Sunday's explosion took place during Sunday prayers. In these services, the men site on one side of the church, and the women sit on the other side. Apparently the bomb was brought in by a woman, and so most of the casualties were women.

A furious president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi called the Sunday attack a part of "a war against the great Egyptian people," and he vowed to put on trial all who have "incited, facilitated or participated" in the terrorist attack.

Orthodox Copts, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt's 90 million people, are the Middle East's biggest Christian community.

Violence in general has been growing in Egypt since the "Arab spring' in 2011 that resulted in the ouster of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, either because of terror attacks by al-Qaeda or so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), or because of clashes between different groups of Egyptians, including clashes between the army and peacefully protesting civilians. This has included sectarian violence between Muslim and Coptic Christians.

The worst attack on Copts occurred several weeks before the Arab Spring, with an explosion in the Two Saints Church in Alexandria on New Year's Day 2011, killing 23. There was also a bloody massacre of Coptic Christians in November of that year, and there has have been several minor attacks on Coptic churches since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Daily News Egypt and Reuters

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Europeans call Cairo bombing 'terror', but not the Istanbul bombing

According to Egyptian media, European governments have been falling all over each other saying that they would stand by Egypt after this terrorist attack, and support Egypt's fight against terrorism. Such remarks were issued in statements by France's president François Hollande. Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, UK ambassador to Cairo John Casson, among others.

However, Turkey's media points out that statements by European officials refuse to use the word "terror." Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said, "My thoughts & solidarity with Turkish citizens, with families of victims of Istanbul attacks. I wish speedy and full recovery to the injured." Other officials made similar statements.

However, there was one exception. Tomas Zdechovsky, a Czech member of the European Parliament, said that the terrorist group PKK must be banned from Europe. "There is no difference between Istanbul and Paris, Brussels attacks targeting civilians. Terrorism never succeeds, terrorists never win," he said. Al Ahram (Cairo) and Anadolu (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Dec-16 World View -- Terror bombing of Coptic Christian church in Cairo Egypt kills 25 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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11-Dec-16 World View -- Erdogan says some Greek islands should really belong to Turkey

Greece-Turkey relations deteriorate as Greece delays extraditing suspected coup plotters

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

A new terrorist bombing in Istanbul Turkey kills dozens


Turkish man with four wives has his 32nd child.  (Hurriyet)
Turkish man with four wives has his 32nd child. (Hurriyet)

At least 29 people were killed and another 166 were injured on Saturday because of two terrorist bombings near a soccer stadium in central Istanbul. The first was a car bomb. The second was a suicide bomber who detonated the bomb 45 seconds after the car bomb. It's believed that the intent was to maximize casualties.

Turkey has been plagued in the last year by a series of terrorist bombing and gun attacks by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

The last major attack on Istanbul occurred on June 28 with three coordinated suicide bombings at Ataturk National Airport, killing at least 36 people. That attack was blamed on ISIS. Since that time there have been at least two terrorist attacks in southeastern Turkey, thought to be perpetrated by the PKK.

In addition, the government is still in crisis following the July 15 coup attempt. As ordered by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, well over 100,000 people have been fired or jailed as a result, including military officers, government officials and schoolteachers.

Turkey has placed a gag order on reporting Saturday's attack. No one has been publicly blamed, but it's thought that ISIS was responsible.

**** UPDATE: The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a terrorist offshoot of the PKK, has claimed responsibility. (Paragraph added, 11-Dec)

Hurriyet (Istanbul) and Reuters and AP

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Erdogan says some Greek islands should really belong to Turkey

For several months, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been complaining about the Lausanne Treaty that was signed on July 24, 1923. On September 27, he said:

"They (threatened) us with [the Treaty of Sèvres] in 1920 and persuaded us to accept Lausanne in 1923. Some tried to deceive us by presenting Lausanne as a victory. At Lausanne, we gave away the (Greek) islands that you could shout across to. We are still struggling about what the continental shelf will be and what will be in the air and land. The reason for this is due to those who sat at the table during that treaty. Those who sat there did not do us justice and we are reaping those troubles right now. If the (recent) coup had succeeded, they would have given us a treaty that would have made us long for Sèvres."

Erdogan's remarks have been heavily criticized by Greece. Perhaps more surprisingly, the comments were also criticized by the opposition party in Turkey.

An official of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Gülsün Bilgehan, said that the Lausanne Treaty was the title deed of the Turkish Republic:

"Erdogan can learn the importance of Lausanne from the cabinet meetings which he chairs these days. Because Lausanne is the title deed of the Turkish Republic and a certificate of honor for those who signed it as Mr. Erdogan said in his message. In his speech today, he said ‘They cannot make us take one step back even if the whole world comes together.’ I invite him to read a real history book based on documents telling about Lausanne and Ismet Pasha [Inönü] to learn how it was made."

Greece's Foreign Ministry issued a statement two days ago saying that the sovereignty of Greece over its Aegean islands "is unquestionable and guaranteed by international law. Irresponsible reports to the contrary are challenging because the status of the islands and islets of the Aegean is clearly determined by a number of International Agreements in the last century." Greek Reporter and Hurriyet (Ankara) and History of Lausanne Treaty and Yeni Safak (Ankara)

Greece delays extraditing Turkish officers implicated in coup attempt

Since July 15, Turkey has been demanding the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to northern Greece after the coup. The eight soldiers, included two commanders, four captains and two sergeants, had escaped to Greece on a Sikorsky helicopter and landed in Alexandroupolis. The soldiers denied involvement in the coup, but said that they would not receive a fair trial in Turkey.

Greece has refused to extradite them without an appropriate court hearing. On Monday of last week, a Greek court ruled that three of the eight Turkish soldiers should not be extradited. On Tuesday and Thursday, the same court said that the other five SHOULD be extradited. Officials in both Greece and Turkey say that they are puzzled by these seemingly conflicting rulings.

All of these decisions will be reviewed by an appeals court, and a final decision may not be made until March. This delay is expected to increase tensions between Greece and Turkey.

Wars between Greece and Turkey go back millennia, even celebrated in Greek mythology in the story of the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy. In 1974, the countries fought a war over the island of Cyprus, with the result that the small island is split between a Greek portion and a Turkish portion. Cyprus unification talks are scheduled to begin soon, but with tensions growing between Greece and Turkey, they are unlikely to succeed. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Kathimerini (Athens) and Anadolu (Turkey)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Dec-16 World View -- Erdogan says some Greek islands should really belong to Turkey thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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10-Dec-16 World View -- EU agrees to grant visa-free travel to people of Ukraine and Georgia

Ukraine war: fighting just to carry on fighting

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine still on track to host Eurovision song contest in 2017


Jamala, after winning the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (DPA)
Jamala, after winning the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (DPA)

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced on Thursday announced, "Contrary to media reports, we can confirm there are no plans to move the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest to Moscow."

Ukraine won the 2016 Eurovision contest in May, and according to rules, will be the host of the 2017 contest. However, Russia is objecting that Ukraine is too financially strapped to be able to host the multinational spectacle. Russia is also objecting that Ukraine is threatening to forbid attendance by anyone who supported Russia's invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

The core of the dispute is that the Ukraine singer Jamala (actual name Susana Jamaladinova) won the contest in May with an extremely emotional song called "1944" that appeared to allude to Russia's 1944 deportation of 240,000 ethnic Tatars from Crimea to Siberia and Central Asia. Jamala herself is an ethnic Tatar, whose great-grandmother was deported, along with five children.

Thursday's announcement by the EBU is intended to reassure the public that the issues have been resolved, and that the 2017 contest will be held in Ukraine. Deutsche Welle and Telegraph (London, 11-May-2016) and Youtube - Jamala's performance at Eurovision

Ukraine war: fighting just to carry on fighting

According to France 24's Ukraine correspondent Gulliver Cragg, there is no sign that the war in Ukraine is ending, but it's not going anywhere either. The two sides are just fighting because of the political benefits that they gain as long as the war continues.

In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine, with troops and equipment to support separatists who wanted to break off the entire eastern portion of Ukraine and annex it to Russia. That hasn't happened, but Russia also invaded Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and annexed it and made it part of the Russian federation.

However, the war in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army, supported by the government in Kiev, and the Russian separatists, supported by Russian troops and equipment, continues. The following interview excerpts occurred on RFI (my transcription):

"I don't see very many signs of things changing in any major way in the near future in the east. It's important to stress this war is very much ongoing. People are being killed everyday pretty much.

It pales in comparison to what's going on in Syria - the death toll is far far lower, thankfully, and civilians are bearing less of the brunt of it than they were in 2014-15. The casualties tend to be military casualties on both sides.

And there's no clear sign of what people are trying to do. There's no evident attempt to take more territory by either side. It seems like, in a lot of ways, and I think there's quite a lot of evidence for this, they are mostly just carrying on fighting in order to carry on fighting.

The separatists need an excuse as to why life in the areas they control is so bad - why they aren't managing to build these pseudo states properly, and the easy thing to do is to blame the Ukrainians "who keep bombing us."

The Ukrainians find the war -- this is perhaps a cynical analysis -- but I think that there is an extent to which it's true -- the Ukrainians -- although and I would always stress that they did not start this war --- but now there's a situation where the more it goes on, they don't have to face the impossible task of applying the Minsk peace agreement which was signed in February 2015, which is actually basically impossible for Ukraine to comply with. They could never get the vote in parliament needed to pass the measures that they promised Russia they would pass. So as long as the fighting goes on, they don't have to do that."

RFI video

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EU agrees to grant visa-free travel to people of Ukraine and Georgia

France 24 Ukraine correspondent Gulliver Cragg went on to say that what the Ukrainian government wants most of all from the EU is visa-free travel for Ukrainians throughout the Schengen zone. (This is the same issue as with Turkey, which wants visa-free travel for Turkish citizens throughout the Schengen zone.)

In fact, the European Parliament on Thursday reached an agreement to grant visa-free travel to the people of Ukraine and Georgia. Under the terms of the agreement, visa-free travel can be quickly terminated after an investigation following a request by an EU nation. The deal still needs to be officially approved by the entire European Parliament, which is expected next week.

However, Cragg adds that visa-free travel won't be of much use to Ukrainians:

"That's the one small piece of good news -- that they're gonna get this visa-free travel, but it's not really gonna impact that many Ukrainians because they can't really afford to travel to Europe most of them. So there are those who will find it a bit easier to go to Europe and work illegally on short term temporary contracts, in Poland and Italy and things like that - that will make their lives a bit easier -- but they're still gonna be working illegally, because this visa-free access doesn't allow them to work."

If approved, then Ukraine and Georgia will join the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Israel, and Japan as countries having visa-free travel. Foreign Policy and European Parliament

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Dec-16 World View -- EU agrees to grant visa-free travel to people of Ukraine and Georgia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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9-Dec-16 World View -- China says its South China Sea military buildup is a boon to the world

Vietnam and Australia reject China's claims, while Philippines submits

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippines to reject US use of its bases for South China Sea patrols


Chinese army soldiers plant vegetables on Fiery Cross Reef, which China has illegally annexed (Global Times)
Chinese army soldiers plant vegetables on Fiery Cross Reef, which China has illegally annexed (Global Times)

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the country would not allow the US military to use its base in the Philippines for its freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea. In the past, some US aircraft and ships stopped in the Philippines on the way to the South China Sea patrols, but Lorenzana says that the US can now instead use its bases in Guam or Okinawa.

The awkward statement comes from the policy of new Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte. He announced a cutoff of relations with the United States first by calling President Obama the "son of a whore," and then he traveled to Beijing and sucked up to China's president Xi Jinping.

China's claims to the South China Sea were eviscerated by a ruling of United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in July. In particular, the Tribunal said:

"[The Tribunal] FINDS that Scarborough Shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities and DECLARES that China has, through the operation of its official vessels at Scarborough Shoal from May 2012 onwards, unlawfully prevented fishermen from the Philippines from engaging in traditional fishing at Scarborough Shoal."

Apparently Duterte ceded the Scarborough Shoal to China in their meeting, but he was rewarded when China graciously decided to allow Philippines fishermen to fish there again, as they had been doing for centuries prior to 2012.

The new announcement by Lorenzana is consistent with Duterte's policy of submission to China, but it seems unlikely to be popular with the Philippines people who, as I've previously reported, have a 92% favorable view of the US, but only a 44% favorable view of China.

The mutual xenophobia between the Chinese and Philippine people is substantial, and it would take just one accident or unpleasant incident to stoke nationalist feelings in one country against the other, and force Duterte to change his submissive policy. As I've written many times, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics it's the masses of people, the generations, not the politicians, who decide a country's policies. Philippines Star and International Business Times

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China says its South China Sea military buildup is a boon to the world

A Chinese military newspaper says that China's vast military buildup in the South China Sea is a boon to everyone in the region, and to the whole world. "China's construction in the South China Sea has turned its islands into the best-equipped, most advanced bases in the region with airports, hospitals, agriculture and 4G mobile signal." Furthermore, there are more than 20 scientific research projects, dealing with issues such as seawater desalination, refuse disposal, and marine ecology protection.

However, the paper adds, "So this region is advantageous geographically, and when conflict begins, who controls this region will dominate." It also quotes a Chinese joke: "When the US sends their warships to scare us, we just fill in one or two more islands to make ourselves calm down." Global Times (Beijing)

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Vietnam and Australia reject China's claims

The Vietnamese are not buying the message that China's annexation of the South China Sea is a boon to the world.

Satellite imagery shows that Vietnam has begun dredging operations in Ladd Reef in a corner of the Spratly Islands that China is now annexing, along with the rest of the South China Sea. Although the purpose of the dredging cannot yet be determined, it appears to similar to China's activities in creating artificial islands and military bases. However, the Vietnamese efforts are minuscule compared China's vast militarization efforts.

Vietnam has also fortified five of its bases in the Spratly Islands with rocket launchers -- a move described in August by China state-run media as "a terrible mistake."

Vietnam has its own historic claim to the South China Sea. In 1836, the King of Hue began dispatching soldiers once a year to the islands, hunting for pearls, giant clams and salvaged treasure from passing boats, often European, which sank on treacherous reefs. This regal connection is significant. According to a Vietnamese official whose family settled the islands in the 1600s, "Vietnam is the rightful owner of the Paracels and Spratlys."

Australia is also not buying China's claim that its vast military expansion in the South China Sea is a boon to the world. According to one Australian analyst:

"China has built six large islands — three substantial air bases and three sizeable electronic surveillance installations. With this, China effectively has moved 1100km south towards Australia and deep into the geographic heart of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN].

The new facilities’ size allows China to deploy off northern Borneo an air combat force larger and more capable than any current ASEAN air force. China can easily enforce an air defense identification zone across the South China Sea.

More worryingly, China for the first time poses a realistic air threat to Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and all of Borneo. With these new air bases, China today militarily dominates the central ASEAN region."

The analyst recommends that Australia, the US and ASEAN "build regional resilience to Chinese threats." Empty words, since no such resilience is possible, short of full-scale war. Australian Broadcasting and The Australian

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Dec-16 World View -- China says its South China Sea military buildup is a boon to the world thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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8-Dec-16 World View -- Venezuela's currency becomes worthless, as Zimbabwe introduces new currency

Venezuela to print 20,000 Bolivar note as currency

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela to print 20,000 Bolivar note as currency


This entire pile of Venezuelan currency is probably worth less than one American dollar.
This entire pile of Venezuelan currency is probably worth less than one American dollar.

The hyperinflation of Venezuela's currency is accelerating so rapidly that the money printing presses can barely keep up.

After a 180% inflation rate in the year 2015, Venezuela in December was forced to begin printing 500 and 1000 Bolivar bills, while phasing out the 2 and 5 Bolivar bills.

The larger currency not only did not solve Venezuela's hyperinflation problem, it actually exacerbated it, by providing the means for prices to accelerate even more rapidly. In just one month, November of this year, the inflation rate was 67%.

This evokes memories of the stories of Germany's Weimar republic, where the inflation rate reached 1000% per month by November 1923, with iconic tales of ordinary people buying a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow of money. Venezuelans have already begun carrying bags of cash for every day transactions.

That 1000 Bolivar note, issued in February, that was supposed to solve Venezuela's currency problems is now worth about 20 American cents. So Venezuela is now issuing 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 Bolivar notes, which will be available from banks on December 15. So the 20,000 Bolivar note is worth about $4 today, and probably will be worth about 4 cents within a few more months.

Venezuela used to be a wealthy country, thanks to oil exports, which are the country's only major source of revenue. The charismatic leader Hugo Chávez wasted the oil revenue on pet projects, on buying votes, and on supporting Cuba's failing economy. Today, Hugo Chávez is dead and oil prices have crashed. The current president, Nicolás Maduro, is increasingly using military power and violence to keep the population under control as the currency collapses. The new hyperinflated 20,000 Bolivar notes will give a boost to the economy that will last about a nanosecond, and then they'll trigger even more hyperinflation and more shortages.

Debt-ridden Venezuela may be forced to officially default in mid-December. Venezuelanalysis (22-Feb-2016) and International Business Times and CNN Money

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Zimbabwe introduces a new currency, 'bond notes'

In a sense, Zimbabwe is a few years ahead of Venezuela. Zimbabwe has already gone through its hyperinflation phase.

As recently as the 1999, Zimbabwe was a breadbasket of Africa, exporting up to 500,000 metric tons of surplus food. By 2003, Zimbabwe was starving. What happened during those three years was a Marxist socialist "land reform" program by Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe that confiscated 4,500 white-owned commercial farms and redistributed the property to his own Shona ethnic group.

After 2003, more and more Zimbabweans have been dying of starvation, because Mugabe has destroyed the farm infrastructure. By 2008, the official rate of inflation was 231 million percent. By 2009, 35 quadrillion Zimbabwe dollars were worth just one US dollar. Zimbabwe began to use the dollar, the rand and the euro as its official currency.

Now Zimbabwe has introduced a new currency called "bond notes," each one of which is said to be equal in value to one US dollar. The given reason for introducing the bond notes is that there are not enough US dollars in circulation, causing hardship for the people.

The reason that there aren't enough US dollars in circulation is because Mugabe has destroyed the economy and there aren't enough exports. Exports would be used to bring US dollars and other foreign currencies into the country.

Incredibly, Mugabe is continuing is destruction of the economy. The word "indigenization" is used by Mugabe to describe confiscating a farm owned by a white farmer and giving it to one of Mugabe's Shona tribe cronies, probably someone who doesn't even know how to farm. That's how Zimbabwe turned from the breadbasket of Africa into a major food importer.

So now Mugabe is extending his "indigenization" program from farms to all businesses, requiring all businesses to be majority owned by Zimbabweans, again mostly cronies from Mugabe's Shona tribe. Zimbabwe continues to shut down businesses, including foreign banks, that do not comply with the indigenization requirements.

So anyone can see that this will end badly. The destruction of more businesses means that there will be fewer products available. In the meantime, the bond notes will have the same effect that the 20,000 Bolivar note is having in Venezuela -- more bond notes for fewer products. It looks like Zimbabwe is on its second round of hyperinflation. Reuters and New Zimbabwe and Independent (South Africa)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Dec-16 World View -- Venezuela's currency becomes worthless, as Zimbabwe introduces new currency thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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7-Dec-16 World View -- Asian jihadists become radicalized by Burma's (Myanmar's) Rohingya slaughter

Burma's Rohingya attacks generate calls for military action in Malaysia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Evidence of Burma ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas continues to mount


Rohingya boat people fleeing from violence in Myanmar (Burma)
Rohingya boat people fleeing from violence in Myanmar (Burma)

According to the International Organization for Migration, around 21,000 ethnic Rohingyas from Myanmar (Burma) have fled across the border from Rakhine state to Bangladesh to escape violence by Burma's army.

As we've been reporting, Human Rights Watch has posted satellite images that show that villages of Rohingya Muslims are being systematically burned down. Some 30,000 Rohingyas have been displaced. Myanmar officials continue to make the laughable claims that the Rohingyas are burning down their own homes to embarrass the government. Burma's government is refusing to allow journalists into the region where the violence is taking place, but the BBC World News has broadcast footage of an undercover road trip through the region, including interviews who says that their husbands were burnt and killed by soldiers, and that they were repeatedly raped by soldiers.

The root of the violence is xenophobic attacks by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect. They are, for all practical purposes, a stateless ethnic group, living on the Bangladesh-Burma border for generations, but rejected by both countries. In fact, Burma refuses to identify the Rohingya as a unique ethnic group, preferring to call them Bengali, and referring to them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In the last few years, large mobs of Buddhists have massacred entire neighborhoods of Muslims in various regions of the country, mutilating, raping and killing hundreds, and displacing thousands from their homes.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been praised in the past for her support of human rights, but she is losing her luster as an international superstar as she is being increasingly condemned for refusing to speak out to condemn the current Buddhist violence against the Rohingyas. Under international pressure, Suu Kyi has formed a special committee to investigate the violence, but the committee is headed by an army general for the same army that's committing the violence, so the investigation is not considered credible. Deutsche Welle and AFP and Bangkok Post

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Burma's Rohingya attacks generate calls for military action in Malaysia

It's a rule of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that member states are forbidden from interfering in each other's internal affair.

So Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak violated that rule on Sunday, when he spoke to thousands at a pro-Rohingya rally in Kuala Lumpur. He questioned Aung San Suu Kyi's Nobel Prize, given her inaction, and said to thousands of Malaysians at the rally:

"The world cannot sit by and watch genocide taking place. The world cannot just say 'look, it is not our problem'. It is our problem."

Buddhist monks in Myanmar, from the Nationalist Monk Association, led a protest of about 150 people in Yangon, holding banners and chanting. An official in Myanmar said that Najib is wrong:

"What he said in Malaysia is not true. We’re trying to solve (this) with the international supporters. But it’s our choice, no other country can make (a) decision about our country."

He accused Najib of stoking religious extremism in order to score political points in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, hundreds of people from the hardline Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir, marched to the Defense Ministry, and demanded that Malaysia's army conduct a jihad against Burma. According to the group's statement:

There is no other solution to save Rohingyan Muslims except mobilizing the army to Myanmar, because the reality is the Arakan [Rakhine State] Muslims are being pummeled by Myanmar’s infidel army.

“The Armed Forces is obliged to help the Rohingyan Muslim by accepting the Allah’s call for jihad at the kafir harbi [infidels] country."

BBC and Channel News Asia and Malaysia Mail Online

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Jihadists become radicalized by the Rohingya slaughter

The Somali-born student who launched a car-and-knife attack at Ohio State University this week reportedly protested on his Facebook page about the killing of minority Muslims in Myanmar. And last weekend, Indonesian authorities arrested two militants who were allegedly planning to attack the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta.

Online extremists in Indonesia have expressed their desire to mount “jihad” on behalf of the Rohingya, with some supporters hoping that the ‘mujahidin’ will be able to smuggle into Myanmar. The Rohingya crisis has become a rallying cry for jihad. Some social media users in Indonesia have gone to the extent of declaring their readiness to be suicide bombers for the sake of the Rohingya. The Rohingya issue is fast developing into a security threat that would have an adverse impact on peace in the region. VOA and RSIS (Singapore) and The Statesman (India)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Dec-16 World View -- Asian jihadists become radicalized by Burma's (Myanmar's) Rohingya slaughter thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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6-Dec-16 World View -- China and Russia in military competition in Tajikistan

Russia promises Tajikistan a 'large quantity' of military aircraft

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China and Russia in military competition in Tajikistan


Joint China and Tajikistan military exercises in October (Asia-Plus)
Joint China and Tajikistan military exercises in October (Asia-Plus)

In a major change in policy, China is becoming more militarily active in the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan. Tajikistan, which was one of the republics of the Soviet Union, is usually thought to be in Russia's exclusive sphere of influence.

As we've reported in the past, China has been economically very aggressive in Tajikistan. It's thought that there are now 150,000 Chinese working in Tajikistan, and China has been buying up industries and huge amounts of farmland. In 2011, Tajikistan agreed to hand over around 1% of its territory to China in exchange for having some of its debts forgiven.

Unexpectedly, China's military activity in Tajikistan has also expanded substantially. In September 2016, Beijing offered to build 11 new border checkpoints and a new military facility along the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border, which raised [1]some concerns in Russia. On October 20–24, a combined 10,000 military personnel from the National Army of Tajikistan and China's People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were conducted five days of counterterrorism exercises in a region bordering Afghanistan.

China's military activity in Tajikistan serves multiple objectives -- protecting its economic interests, defending Central Asia and itself from jihadist terrorism, and containing Russia's influence. Russian officials have not commented on this change so far, but it's certain to raise tensions in Central Asia. Jamestown and The Diplomat and EurasiaNet (24-Oct)

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Russia promises Tajikistan a 'large quantity' of military aircraft

On Monday, defense ministers of Russia and Tajikistan, meeting in Moscow, signed a military aid agreement specifying that Russia would provide a "large quantity" of military aircraft to Tajikistan over the next year. Russia's defense minister Sergey Shoigu said after the meeting:

"Next year the key phase of our military-technical cooperation will begin, the delivery of weaponry and military equipment. In particular, this is a large quantity of aviation equipment, airplanes and helicopters. I think this will be implemented according to plan and on schedule. And, of course, it will contribute to stability in the region."

According to a Tajik source, the deal will include combat aircraft, armored vehicles and communications.

This agreement shows that China will not easily be able to displace Russia in Tajikistan. Russia had a special unit of border guards at the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border between 1992 and 2005 and repeatedly repelled attacks by Taliban forces. Russia has had a military base in Tajikistan for 70 years, and the lease of the military base was extended for another 30 years in a 2012 agreement. The agreement to deliver military aircraft may be an attempt to counter China's growing influence.

According to Russian analyst Andrey Serenko, Russia's military adventures in the Mideast and Ukraine may have left few resources to keep China from expanding its influence:

"There is a danger in this new alliance, along with Pakistan and Afghanistan China is including Tajikistan, which Russia has until recently considered part of its zone of influence. Russia's involvement in Ukraine and the Middle East has resulted in us losing our position in Central Asia. It appears that in this 'Central Asian NATO' under the Chinese umbrella, Russia may be the odd one out."

Tajikistan also shares a long border with Afghanistan. Increasing jihadist activity from the Taliban, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and Uighur separatists has raised fears of terrorist activity in Tajikistan, and both China and Russia are concerned.

Furthermore, the jihadist threat from Afghanistan provides a convenient justification for Russia and China to convince Tajikistan to allow their troops on Tajikistan's soil. EurasiaNet and Asia-Plus (Tajikistan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Dec-16 World View -- China and Russia in military competition in Tajikistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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5-Dec-16 World View -- No war erupted from Trump's ten minute phone call with Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen

From the Truman Doctrine to renewed nationalism

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

There was no "Generational Dynamics World View" posting on Sunday because Comcast crashed, and the internet was unavailable most of Saturday and Sunday. I apologize to my readers for any inconvenience.

No war erupted from Trump's ten minute phone call with Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen


Trump and Tsai (South China Morning Post)
Trump and Tsai (South China Morning Post)

On Friday, Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen had a "shock" 10-minute phone conversation with US President-elect Donald Trump. As usual, the mainstream media have reported this story in the most incompetent way possible. I saw and heard so-called "experts" talking on the BBC and CNN ranting and raving how this was going to cause a war. The printed mainstream press referred to it as a "major crisis."

The utter incompetence of the mainstream media in dealing with this story was amazing. We know that the SAT scores of students have been falling for decades, and now it seems like the reporters at the NY Times, NBC News, CNN and others apparently majored in sociology and women's studies in college, so they have no clue what journalism is.

Furthermore, having spent eight years simply re-publishing statements and press releases from the Obama administration, these reporters have absolutely no journalistic experience that would allow them to report a story on their own, which reporters were able to do before the rise of Generation-X.

As regular Generational Dynamics readers know, China has been aggressively preparing for full-scale war with the United States for years. They've developed one nuclear missile system after another, and manufactured perhaps hundreds of those missiles, with no other purpose than to destroy American cities, military bases and aircraft carriers. These developments have been deliberately planned, and it's clear that China plans to attack at a time of its own choosing, not to be triggered in a panic because of a ten-minute phone call.

Furthermore, China did not launch a war after much worse provocations. In January Tsai Ing-wen, president of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won an overwhelming and decisive electoral victory in January. China was outraged, but didn't start a war.

On July 12 ruling on the South China Sea, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration eviscerated China's claims to the South China Sea in a legal challenge brought by the Philippines. China was FURIOUS and thoroughly humiliated by the decision, and issued one angry, contemptuous statement after another, but didn't launch a war.

So it was really pretty obvious that China wasn't going to launch a war over a ten-minute phone call. The Gen-X so-called "journalists" at the BBC, NY Times, and CNN could have figured that out as easily as I could. In addition to being incompetent as journalists, they're emotionally traumatized by the enormous humiliation they suffered in the election results after aggressively supporting Clinton during the campaign with some of the most moronic "news" reporting in history.

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new world war, the Clash of Civilizations world war. The allies of the West will include Japan, India, Russia and Iran. The enemies will be China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries. This will be the world's greatest war in history.

So a war with China is coming, and would be coming irrespective of whether Trump or Clinton had won. It would be nice if the mainstream media could start reporting actual news instead of fatuous nonsense, but that's apparently too much to hope for. Xinhua and International Business Times and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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From the Truman Doctrine to renewed nationalism

I've written many times about the Truman Doctrine, from President Harry Truman in 1947, which made America policeman of the world. The justification is that it's better to have a small military action to stop an ongoing crime than to let it slide and end up having an enormous conflict like World War II. The Truman Doctrine was reaffirmed in President John Kennedy's "ask not" speech, and every president since WW II has followed the Truman Doctrine, up to and including George Bush. Barack Obama is the first president to repudiate the Truman Doctrine, essentially leaving the world without a policeman. As I've written numerous times, I believe that the cause of Obama's numerous foreign policy disasters is his repudiation of the Truman Doctrine. From various apology tours to flip-flopping on the Syria Sarin gas red line to prematurely pulling American troops from Iraq, Obama's rejection of America's role as policeman of the world has left the world without a policeman, and we've seen the results.

The phone call between Donald Trump and Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen indicates another serious turn in American foreign policy.

As I've been writing for over ten years, America and much of the world are in a generational Crisis era, and I've documented numerous examples in country after country of what always happens in a generational Crisis era -- the rise of xenophobia and nationalism. This has happened in China vs Japan, China vs Vietnam, India vs Pakistan, Europe vis-à-vis the Muslims and the Roma, and America vis-à-vis the Muslims and the Mexicans.

Fortunately, and much to my great relief, president-elect Trump has almost completely walked back his xenophobic remarks about Mexicans and Muslims, and this gives me hope that, unlike our current president, he's a person who is able to learn, though that remains to be seen.

However, even without the xenophobia, Trump has tapped into the increasing mood of nationalism that we see in America, and other countries. We saw the growth of nationalism in the anti-EU Brexit vote in Britain, we saw it on Sunday with the anti-EU referendum vote in Italy that may force the resignation of Matteo Renzi, and we saw it in the phone call with Taiwan's president.

Nationalism is not the same as the Truman Doctrine. The Truman Doctrine provides guidelines for a military action whose purpose is to prevent a foreign war from spiraling into a major war. A police analogy would be the Los Angeles police taking action to prevent further fighting between the Crips and the Bloods. Nationalism is much more ideological, as if the LA police took the side of the Crips for ideological reasons and fought with them against the Bloods.

Foreign policy for the last eight years has repudiated the Truman Doctrine and been highly anti-nationalistic and hence highly ideological, with highly undesirable outcomes. It remains to be seen in the next few years whether America follows a new ideological foreign policy, dictated by nationalism, or whether it's a return to a reasoned, methodical foreign policy, such as the one dictated by the Truman Doctrine, followed by every president from Harry Truman to George Bush. A war between China and Taiwan is inevitable, at a time of Beijing's choosing, no matter what president Trump does, but too much nationalism can make it appear that we're taking sides. With the Clash of Civilizations world war approaching, a reasoned, methodical, non-ideological foreign policy is what we need.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Dec-16 World View -- No war erupted from Trump's ten minute phone call with Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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3-Dec-16 World View -- India's Narendra Modi threatens to divert water from Pakistan to India's farmers

India says that Modi's 'demonetization' program reduced Kashmir violence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's Narendra Modi threatens to divert water from Pakistan to India's farmers


Indus River Valley (Reuters)
Indus River Valley (Reuters)

As tit-for-tat charges and insults between India and Pakistan continue to escalate, India's prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that India would abrogate the 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty and divert water currently flowing from India to Pakistan back to India's farmers.

Speaking to a rally in Punjab last week on Friday, Modi said:

"Under the Indus Water Treaty, India has the right over water of Satluj, Beas and Ravi rivers. It rightfully belongs to our farmers, but this water is not reaching the farmer's field, instead the water is flowing to Pakistan and eventually going to the sea. Governments came and went in Delhi, but farmers kept suffering as water continued to flow to Pakistan. Not any-more, I will ensure that farmers get what is rightfully theirs.

This water is neither being utilized by Pakistan nor does it come in Indian farmers destiny. I have set-up a task force. I'm committed to ensure that every single drop of water, which is rightfully ours, under the Indus Water Treaty, is brought to the farmers in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and other parts of the country. ...

There is no reason that we cannot use our rights (over our waters) and let our farmers suffer. I need your blessings in order to fulfill your requirements for watering your fields."

Sirajul Haq of the Islamist political party Jamaat-i-Islami responded:

"Yesterday, prime minister of India Narendra Modi sent a message to Pakistan that he would block our rivers. Today, standing here in Karachi, near the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah I want to inform Modi that the line does not exist on his palm that says that he can do any such thing. Mr Modi, if you stop our water, we will stop your breathing."

Pakistan officials so far has been relatively restrained in responding to this threat, possibly viewing Modi's remarks as merely campaign rhetoric. They pointed out that the Indus Water Treaty was mediated by the World Bank in 1960, and has survived despite several wars between the two sides. Pakistan media reports have pointed out that Pakistan is already short of water, and that Modi's threat, if implemented, would deal a severe blow to Pakistan's farmers. The News (Pakistan) and Hindustan Times (11-Nov) and Pak Observer and Dawn (Pakistan)

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Dangerous tensions continue in Kashmir

Pakistan and India abandoned any pretense at cordial relations earlier this year after a January 2 there was a terrorist attack on an Indian air force base in Panthankot, Punjab, which India blamed on Pakistan. Pakistan accused India of staging the attack to defame Pakistan.

The name-calling became extremely vitriolic after a September 18 terrorist attack on India's Uri army base in Kashmir. Four militants, carrying guns and grenades, stormed an Indian army base in Uri in Kashmir. There was a five-hour firefight, and at least 17 soldiers were killed, as were the militants. This was the worst militant terrorist attack in Kashmir in years.

This comes as the violence in Kashmir continues to increase. In October, India relocated 10,000 people in India-controlled Kashmir away from the Line of Control (LoC) that separates the India and Pakistan regions of Kashmir, and last month Pakistan evacuated 8,000 people from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir away from the LoC. CNN (1-Oct) and CNN (16-Nov)

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India says that Modi's 'demonetization' program reduced Kashmir violence

On November 8, India's prime minister declared 500-1000 rupee notes worthless. This "demonetization" policy has, in many ways, been an economic disaster, causing hardship for many people who have been standing in lines at banks for hours at a time just to exchange the worthless notes for new notes. Many people have been unable to buy necessities like food, and some have been stranded far from home, unable to purchase train tickets.

According to India's defense minister Manohar Parrikar, the demonetization program has substantially reduced the amount of violence in Kashmir, by reducing incidents of stone-pelting. According to Parrikar:

"Earlier, there were rates: Rs 500 for stone pelting [on security forces in Kashmir] and Rs 1,000 for doing something else. PM has brought terror funding to zero. In the last few days after PM's daring move there hasn't been stone pelting on security forces. I congratulate PM for it."

It's believed that separatist activists were paying stone-pelters in counterfeit notes that had been printed in Pakistan. By making all 500-1000 rupee notes worthless, the counterfeit notes also became worthless.

If all this is true, then it would certainly count as a fairly spectacular success story, even if the reduction in stone-pelting only lasts a few months. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the violence in Kashmir is "organic" or "indigenous," in the sense that it's not directed by armies or generals, but is rising up from the people. The violence comes from various tribal and ethnic groups, not from an army or militia obeying the orders of a national commander.

As I described in a recent article, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted India's Hindus against the British colonialists, and the 1947 Partition war, which pitted Hindus and Muslims against each other, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. As we described in that article, the 1857 war led naturally to violence between Hindus and Muslims decades later, and then to the 1947 war.

Now we're seeing that the 1947 war is leading, decades later, to new violence between Hindus and Muslims. Generational Dynamics predicts that we're seeing a kind of repeat of 1947, and that this increasing violence will lead to a new generational crisis war between Hindus and Muslims, and from there to full-scale war between Pakistan and India.

If Modi's demonetization program is really reducing the amount of stone-pelting, then it's a development that can almost be described as amazing. But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's only temporary, in that can't stop the generational changes that are leading to a major new war between Pakistan and India. Times of India and Business Standard (India)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Dec-16 World View -- India's Narendra Modi threatens to divert water from Pakistan to India's farmers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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2-Dec-16 World View -- Sunday's referendum in Italy threatens EU's stability

Referendum vote could affect stability of Italy's troubled banks

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sunday's referendum in Italy threatens EU's stability


A demonstrator calls for a 'no' vote on Sunday (AFP)
A demonstrator calls for a 'no' vote on Sunday (AFP)

On Sunday, Italy will vote on a referendum which, according to prime minister Matteo Renzi, will change the constitution to make Italy more governable, and more able to cope with the future.

The referendum is important in its own right, but it became geopolitically significant in January when Renzi announced that he would resign if the referendum failed. Many analysts call this an act of hubris that was unnecessary and even disastrous, but it's been done. And now the consequences are that the referendum is less about constitutional reform, and more about whether Renzi should remain in office.

After the spectacular failure of polling organizations to predict the result of Britain's Brexit referendum or the American presidential election, no one knows whether or not to believe polls anymore. Nonetheless, many politicians are nervous, because the poll results show that the referendum is more likely to fail than to succeed.

If the referendum fails, and if Renzi keeps his promise and resigns, and if the remaining MPs in parliament cannot find a way to select a "caretaker" government that will keep things going -- if all of those things occur, then there will be new elections.

It's thought that the party most likely to benefit from new elections will be the left-wing populist Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Beppe Grillo, an Italian comedian, actor, and political activist. M5S received about one-quarter of the vote in the 2013 elections, has won some major mayoral elections since then, and has become increasingly popular. And Grillo and the Five Star politicians are "euroskeptic" and have said that they'll sponsor a new referendum on whether Italy should pull out of the eurozone, and possibly the European Union.

So, if there are new elections, and if the Five Star Movement and its euroskeptic allies come into power, and if they sponsor a new referendum, and if that new referendum is approved -- if all of those things occur, then the stability of the eurozone and the European Union will be at risk.

That's a lot of "if's" that have to happen. Nonetheless, Europe's politicians have been unnerved by a series of populist setbacks, the main ones being the Brexit referendum and the American election, and they're afraid that Sunday's referendum vote in Italy will be the next one. Spiegel (Germany) and Express (London) and The Local (Italy)

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Referendum vote could affect stability of Italy's troubled banks

There's a completely different scenario where a "no" vote on Sunday's referendum could threaten instability of the euro.

As we've been reporting, Italy's Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world's oldest operating bank, is close to collapse because it has $55.2 billion of bad loans on its book. Other Italian banks are in trouble as well, holding a total of about $383 billion in non-performing loans, about a third of the total in the entire eurozone.

MPS has been trying to avoid collapse by trying to convince investors to lend the bank another $5 billion, despite having burned through two previous large loans.

It's believed that a "no" vote on Sunday's referendum will create enough uncertainty that Italy's borrowing costs might rise significantly. In fact, anticipation of a "no" vote has caused investors to sell off Italian bonds, pushing yields (interest rates) up to 2%, compared to just 0.3% for German bunds.

If borrowing costs increase further, then investors could be far less interested in lending MPS the $5 billion it needs to avoid collapse, and this could have a domino effect that could catastrophically affect Italy's entire banking system. In the most likely scenario, Italy's government would have to bail out the banks with taxpayer money, but this is a violation of new rules set by the European Central Bank, forcing Italy out of the eurozone.

Not everyone is so pessimistic. In the optimistic scenario, it will turn out that poll results were erroneous because voters were ashamed to admit that they're voting "yes" on the referendum, just as they were ashamed to admit that they were voting for Brexit or Trump. The optimistic scenario also notes that the Wall Street stocks surged to new highs following Trumps' election. So in this scenario, Renzi remains in office, Italian stocks surge, MPS gets it bailout money from investors, and Italy muddles through for another year. CNN and Market Watch and Stratfor

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Dec-16 World View -- Sunday's referendum in Italy threatens EU's stability thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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1-Dec-16 World View -- Europeans wonder if Turkey will reopen the refugee floodgates

Mediterranean migrant traffic to Italy and Greece continues, despite cold weather

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mediterranean migrant traffic to Italy and Greece continues, despite cold weather


Rescuing an overcrowded migrant boat off the Libyan coast (Reuters)
Rescuing an overcrowded migrant boat off the Libyan coast (Reuters)

About 171,000 migrants reached Italy after crossing the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, a new record. The previous record was 170,100 for all of 2014. The number arriving in Greece so far this year totals another 171,731, but this figure is well below the 2015 figure of 883,393, thanks to the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

More than three times as many migrants reached Italy this November as did so in the same month last year. On Monday alone, Italian and international rescuers reportedly pulled 1,400 people from the water to rescue them from drowning.

The EU-Turkey refugee deal has substantially reduced the number of migrants traveling from Turkey across the Aegean Sea to Greece. Those migrants are generally from war zones in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe are from African countries, according to the International Organization for Migration:

The process of Mediterranean migrant traffic has become an extremely efficient and cynical assembly line. People-smugglers launch overcrowded rubber boats from the Libyan coast, with absolutely no pretense that the rubber boats will reach Europe. The migrants are told to use their radios to call for help from European rescuers while they are still close to the Libyan coast. There is a high risk that the overcrowded rubber boats will sink or capsize before rescuers can find them. There have been 4,655 cases of deaths of missing at sea recorded in the Mediterranean so far this year, compared to 3,771 cases in the whole of 2015.

The cold weather is making the trip far more deadly. Nonetheless, more migrants are making the trip because they want to cross before winter, and because people-smugglers are telling migrants that the EU is going to close the Mediterranean Sea route. BBC and International Organization For Migration and International Business Times

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Europeans wonder if Turkey will reopen the refugee floodgates

The EU-Turkey refugee deal seems to be hanging by a thread. Last week's vote by the EU parliament to recommend ending negotiations for Turkey's membership in the EU has infuriated the Turks, especially president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said angrily, "Look, if you go further, the border gates will be opened. You should know that."

In fact, there are reports from Greece's intelligence unit that Erdogan has ordered that refugees be lined up along the Aegean Sea, ready to cross to Greece. The report indicates that as many as 3,000 refugees would cross every day, which would amount to about one million in a year.

Other reports indicate that some European nations are almost in a state of panic, and are making preparations. Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia and Hungary are reportedly planning to build fences and barriers that would effectively divide Europe in two, and seal off most of the continent.

However, some analysts are doubting Erdogan would ever launch this "nuclear option." The threat of ending the EU-Turkey refugee deal is a huge piece of leverage for Turkey in negotiations on any subject, and once he abrogated the deal, he would lose his negotiating leverage and invite retaliation.

In the past I've suggested my own possible scenario, which I've never seen discussed in the media. Ending the EU-Turkey refugee deal isn't a binary on or off decision. For example, Erdogan could move some of his troops from the coast along the Aegean Sea to southeastern Turkey to meet the threat from the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Protection from PKK would be perfect cover for a decision that would permit a small to moderate increase in the refugee flow. This would serve notice to the EU that more troops could be moved away at any time, to increase the refugee flow some more. This would permit Turkey to retain its negotiating leverage, although the fact that it was cold-blooded extortion would still be perfectly obvious. Independent (London) and Pro Thema (Greece) (Trans) and Express (London) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Dec-16 World View -- Europeans wonder if Turkey will reopen the refugee floodgates thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Dec-2016) Permanent Link
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30-Nov-16 World View -- Mahmoud Abbas, 81, reelected leader of Fatah/Palestinian Authority

Hopes again grow for Gaza-West Bank unity government

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mahmoud Abbas, 81, reelected leader of Fatah/Palestinian Authority


Mohammed Dahlan
Mohammed Dahlan

The 81-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, who took over as leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in January 2005, after the death of Yassir Arafat, was overwhelming reelected as leader of Fatah/PA, which governs the West Bank, on Tuesday, after ruthlessly shutting out his principal opponent, 55-year-old Mohammed Dahlan, and Dahlan's supporters.

Abbas's victory isn't a surprise, but it wasn't the outcome that the so-call "Arab quartet" -- United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan -- had hoped for. Much of the Arab world has been waiting for Abbas to retire or die, so that a younger leader like Dahlan could replace him.

Abbas, born in 1935, is part of the old generation of survivors of the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1947 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. When Yasser Arafat died in December 2004, Abbas was a natural choice to succeed him, because they were both war survivors and shared a common world view. But now the time is approaching for a successor and for a generational change.

The major aspirant is 55 year old Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan grew up poor in a Gaza refugee camp, but as a top aide to Arafat became Gaza's strongman in the 1990s, jailing leaders of rival Hamas which was trying to derail Arafat’s negotiation with Israel through bombing and shooting attacks. Abbas and Dahlan used to be allies, but the 2008 war between Fatah and Hamas, that made Hamas the governing power in Gaza caused tension between them, until 2011 when Abbas expelled Dahlan completely from Fatah.

The population of the West Bank is badly split between supporters of Abbas and Dahlan. Abbas, as a survivor of the bloody 1947-48 war, has devoted much of his life to achieving some kind of political solution to the conflict with Israel -- namely the so-called "two-state solution" with Israel and Palestine existing side by side in peace -- a "solution" that can only be described as delusional.

Supporters of Dahlan are generally much more belligerent, and are ready to go to war with Israel. Dahlan and his supporters are in the generations that grew up after the 1947-48, and have no personal memory of its horrors, and so is not afraid to see that war repeated.

The youngest generations of Palestinians, as far as I can tell, are pretty much disgusted with all the Palestinian leadership. This is the so-called "Oslo generation," kids growing up after the 1993 Oslo accords that were supposed to bring peace to the Mideast, but in fact are perceived as having accomplished nothing. They see the so-called "Mideast peace process" as nothing more than a failed series of humiliations for Palestinians.

There has apparently been one change in the last year. In 2015, there was a spate of knife attacks on Israelis by 15-25 year old boys in the Oslo generation of Palestinians. Those knife attacks have not been in the news in a long time, and so apparently have run their course. Al-Monitor and Israel National News and Middle East Eye

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Hopes again grow for Gaza-West Bank unity government

Ever since Hamas's stunning victory of Fatah/Palestinian Authority in 2006, which permitted Hamas to eject Fatah from Gaza, the two governments have seemed to hate each other more than they hate Israel.

There have been several attempts to form a "unity government" between the two entities. The most recent attempt followed the 31-day Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, which Israel won. After the war, there was enormous pressure from Arab states for Hamas and Fatah to unify into a single government. The United Nations General Assembly had created the nation "Palestine" in 2012, but it didn't make sense to have a state of Palestine, if the Palestinians had two separate governments in conflict with each other.

They did form a unity government in June 2014, but it was unity in name only. They never did function as a single government, and Abbas dissolved it in June 2015 over a disagreement about money.

However, hopes have arisen again of a unity government, after Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal said in a speech earlier this month that a reconciliation should be tried:

"It is time we reconsider the organization [Fatah/PA]. ... In order to build our lives and political system on democratic foundations, we must be partners in shouldering responsibility and partners in the decision of war and peace. ...

The wager on the diplomatic movement on its own has been proven a failure. Let us agree on a national strategy and that everyone is with the [armed] resistance, which is a legitimate right that raises the cost of the occupation."

The last sentence affirms that Hamas expects to continuing using violence against Israel, to end Israel's "occupation" of land in the Mideast and Israel's existence.

There's good reason to doubt that the West Bank and Gaza Palestinian populations can ever be unified into a single government. The two Palestinian territories have been separated for several decades, and so the two cultures have grown in separate directions. Times of Israel (2-Nov) and Israel National News (26-Apr-2015)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Nov-16 World View -- Mahmoud Abbas, 81, reelected leader of Fatah/Palestinian Authority thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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29-Nov-16 World View -- UN: Burma (Myanmar) committing 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingyas

Tens of thousands flee from northern Burma across border to China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN: Burma (Myanmar) committing 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingyas


Children recycle goods from the ruins of a market in a Rohingya village that was burned down two weeks ago (Reuters)
Children recycle goods from the ruins of a market in a Rohingya village that was burned down two weeks ago (Reuters)

As we've been reporting, Human Rights Watch has posted satellite images that show that villages of Rohingya Muslims are being systematically burned down. Myanmar officials are making the laughable claim that the Rohingyas are burning down their own homes to embarrass the government, but it's pretty widely believed that it's being done Myanmar soldiers and security forces.

Myanmar officials are refusing to allow any aid agencies, international investigative agencies or reporters to enter the area to determine who is burning down the villages. However, eyewitness reports have been coming out, and John McKissick, head of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in the Bangladeshi border town of Cox's Bazar says that Myanmar troops are "killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river" into Bangladesh. Other UN officials are saying that the Myanmar government actions are "ethnic cleansing."

This is all completely believable in view of the history of the past few years. In 2012 and 2013, Buddhist monks in Burma have been leading genocidal attacks on Rohingyas, in violation of the precepts of the Buddhism religion. In one attack, large mobs with hundreds of Buddhists attacked Muslims with knives and sticks.

The attacks have been led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," where 969 is a historic Buddhist sign, referring to the nine qualities of Buddha, the six qualities of Buddha's teaching, and nine qualities of the Buddhist community. 969 is supposed to promote peace and happiness, although Wirathu's 969 movement is a vehicle promoting violence. And now the Burma's army is apparently taking over the movement with ethnic cleansing.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a classic, historical act of genocidal extermination of one group targeting another. In this generational Crisis era, we're going to see more of these -- Hindu vs Muslim in Kashmir, Sunni vs Shia in the Mideast, reminiscent of Hutus vs Tutsis in 1994 Rwanda, Christian vs Jew in World War II or French vs English in the Hundred Years War, or Protestant vs Catholic in European wars of the past. AFP and The Hindu and Al Jazeera

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Bangladesh is blocking Rohingya refugees fleeing from Burma violence

Thousands of desperate Rohingyas from Burma's Rakhine state, threatened with ethnic cleansing by Burma's soldiers, have been fleeing into Bangladesh in the past two weeks, either walking across the border or by boat across the Bay of Bengal.

However, Bangladesh has ignored international appeals, and is refusing them entry, and has turned boatloads of refugees back, forcing them to return to Burma. Bangladesh's foreign ministry has confirmed that thousands of Rohingya have already sought refuge in the country, while thousands more are reportedly gathering on the border.

Those defending Bangladesh's policy point out that there are millions of Rohingyas living in Rakhine state, and if Bangladesh completely opened the border, then the surge of fleeing refugees would be overwhelming. VOA and BBC and Al Jazeera

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Tens of thousands flee from northern Burma across border to China

Burma has a completely separate problem with other ethnic groups in the north -- the Kachin Independence Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. As I recently reported, these groups are continuing decades' long fights with Burma's army, and tens of thousands of residents from the region are fleeing across the border into China to escape the violence.

China has put its army on high alert along the border, and is reinforcing its troops on the border with military trucks, tanks, heavy weapons and machine guns. China says that it is willing to play a "constructive role" in helping Myanmar resolve the problem, but no one knows whether that would mean that under some circumstances China's military would cross the border into Myanmar.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Burma is an extremely difficult country to analyze because there are so many different ethnic groups fighting with and against each other. Following World War II, Burma experienced a series of extremely bloody crisis civil wars that only climaxed in 1958 when the army took over power. There has been sporadic fighting among these groups in the decades since then, but nothing that has escalated into a major war. Of the 15 armed ethnic groups in Burma, only eight were willing to sign a peace agreement at a recent signing ceremony.

A major research project is needed for Burma. The objective would be to analyze all Burma's ethnic groups individually, and develop generational timelines for each of them. Any historian with knowledge or love of Burma will find this a rewarding project. Burma News International and CCTV (China) and VOA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Nov-16 World View -- UN: Burma (Myanmar) committing 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingyas thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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28-Nov-16 World View -- Iraq sending Shia militias to Mosul, directly violating promise to Turkey

The chaotic operation to liberate Mosul

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq sending Shia militias to Mosul, directly violating promise to Turkey


Shia militia carrying Iranian billboard (Anadolu)
Shia militia carrying Iranian billboard (Anadolu)

Iraq's parliament on Saturday voted overwhelmingly to allow Iran-backed Shia militias to take part in the military operation to recapture Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

The vote was apparently 208 to zero. That's because all the Sunni lawmakers boycotted the vote in protest, while all the Shia lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor. The parliament has 328 seats.

Mosul is a city of close to a million people, mostly Sunni Muslims. They're well aware that Shia militias are accused of atrocities committed against Sunni residents of towns that Shia militias have previously liberated from ISIS. According to a January report by Human Rights Watch:

"Members of Shia militias, who the Iraqi government has included among its state forces, abducted and killed scores of Sunni residents in a central Iraq town and demolished Sunni homes, stores, and mosques following January 11, 2016 bombings claimed by the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS. None of those responsible have been brought to justice."

For this reason, Turkey has predicted a sectarian war if Shia militias are part of the force sent to liberate Mosul, and has demanded that the Iraqi army alone liberate Mosul, a condition to which Iraq has previously agreed. But now Iraq has apparently reneged on that commitment.

Mosul is a historically Sunni city and was part of the Ottoman empire, and any attempt to change is demographic composition would be a direct threat to Turkey's security. The concern is that the population would be diluted by Kurds or by Shia Muslims coming from Iran. Turkey would consider that to be a threat to its security. Middle East Monitor and AP and Human Rights Watch (31-Jan-2016) and NRT TV (Kurdish)

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The chaotic operation to liberate Mosul

BBC news reporter Richard Galpin last week drove to the front line in Mosul along with one of the Iraqi army's top generals Najim al-Jibouri. Here are some excerpts from his report:

"On the way there we saw that Shia militias, not the Iraqi army, were manning checkpoints in areas taken back from the IS militants.

The militias have a controversial history. Some have been accused in the past of committing atrocities against Sunni Muslims. Now they're an integral part of the offensive on Mosul, which is a majority Sunni Muslim city - although they have been told not to enter the city.

Also taking part in the offensive are Kurdish troops, the Peshmerga, who've also agreed to stay out of Mosul to avoid inflaming ethnic tensions. And then there are Christian militias and some Sunni tribesmen.

While this complex mix of vested interests is currently bonded by the common goal of destroying IS in Iraq, it could fracture once that goal is achieved. For now though the focus remains on regaining the momentum of the offensive as elite troops try to push forward towards the center of Mosul.

It is heavy going - the IS leadership has had two years to prepare for this battle. And it's widely believed to have former Iraqi army and intelligence officers in its ranks, with the skills and knowledge to exploit the advantage of defending a city of narrow streets and with as many as a million people still living there. So far they've been using a stream of suicide bombers along with well-trained snipers to pin down the Iraqi special forces pushing forward street by street.

The troops are taking a lot of casualties and there are reports they don't have the back-up they need from units of the regular army which have not yet moved inside the city.

It was never going to be easy to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul, but unless the militants suddenly collapse or cut and run, it looks like it is going to be a long, costly battle."

Iraq's government has been bragging that the Iraqi army is going to strike a blow that will defeat ISIS in Mosul very quickly. Galpin's point was that Iraq's government is wrong, and also that nobody knows what's going to happen, except that it will take a long time.

A web site reader posted the following comment with regard to the situation in Syria: "I like to think I'm well-read and a capable reader. I don't have a clue as to who's doing what to whom and with what friends. How I wish America could afford to ignore this rabid dog fight, but we best not. Trouble is, who has enough mental acuity to keep all these abbreviations and their cloud-of-dust punch-ups straight in their minds? I surely don't."

This is an interesting observation, because it illustrates what an early and confusing stage the Mideast war is at, before it's completely clear who is fighting whom. When you think of WW II, you think of huge armies and navies from Germany, Japan, Russia, Britain, the US, and so forth. But the Mideast wars haven't yet reached that state. You have small tribes and militias fighting each other in what might be called "mini-wars" -- whether in Syria, Iraq, Yemen or Libya. National governments are trying their best to stay out of these mini-wars, except to provide weapons or money. Iran and Saudi Arabia are on opposite sides of wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, but one cannot at this time say that Iran and Saudi Arabia are at war.

In this generational Crisis era, that situation can't last forever. New generations of nationalistic, xenophobic young men are growing up in tribes and villages all over the Mideast. They're fighting each other in these mini-wars, but the number and ferocity of the mini-wars is growing. At some point, the Saudis will do something that the Iranians believe requires retaliation, or vice-versa, or maybe it will start with Pakistan versus India, or China versus Vietnam.

So what's going to happen in Mosul? If the Shia militias enter Mosul, will they liberate the Sunni residents or will they commit atrocities again, as they have in the past? Will Turkey decide to intervene to protect its interests in Mosul and protect the Turkmen citizens? Will that draw in more Iranian forces?

The fact is that nobody has a clue what's going to happen. This is an "organic" situation where you have lots of tribal and ethnic groups. There are commanders directing each of the small groups, but there's nobody running the whole show. Nobody knows what's going to happen, because all these groups are increasingly nationalistic, and even they don't know what they're going to do.

The good news is that, for the time being, these mini-wars don't affect us (unless you have friends or family in the region). The bad news is that these mini-wars are going to coalesce and become larger, and other nations will be forced to choose which side they want to be on. And then there will be a full-scale Mideast war -- Sunni versus Shia, Arab versus Jew, and ethnic group versus ethnic group. BBC and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Nov-16 World View -- Iraq sending Shia militias to Mosul, directly violating promise to Turkey thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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27-Nov-16 World View -- Egypt to send troops to Syria to aid Bashar al-Assad and Russia

Egypt rejects its former benefactor, Saudi Arabia, in favor of Russia and Iran

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt to send troops to Syria to aid Bashar al-Assad and Russia


Russian-Egyptian joint military exercises in Egypt's desert, emphasizing hostage rescue, especially in urban settings (RT)
Russian-Egyptian joint military exercises in Egypt's desert, emphasizing hostage rescue, especially in urban settings (RT)

In a new Mideast realignment, Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi has said in an interview that that he's officially backing the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

The Mideast Sunni countries used to be allies of Bashar al-Assad, but turned against him when he unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Things really turned around in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians. That massive assault turned Syria's civil war into the beginning of a regional sectarian war.

Shia forces from Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah actively joined al-Assad to fight Sunni militias. Young Sunni jihadists from over 80 countries traveled to Syria to fight against al-Assad, and formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Other Sunni forces, including those from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, turned against al-Assad, and began supporting "moderate" Syrian Sunni rebels, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

And it's exactly the rise of ISIS that apparently has motivated this realignment by al-Sisi. Egypt has been targeted by numerous terror attacks, especially in Sinai by the terror group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), which changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) when it changed its allegiance from al-Qaeda to ISIS in 2015.

According to al-Sisi:

"[Al-Assad's forces are] best positioned to combat terrorism and restore stability [in Syria]. Our priority is to support national armies, for example in Libya to exert control over Libya territory and deal with extremist elements. The same with Syria and Iraq."

Some analysts are suggesting that al-Sisi's statement of support is purely political, or only symbolic. But in fact reports indicate that al-Sisi is committed militarily as well. Several reports have indicated that al-Sisi has sent Egyptian helicopters and pilots to Syria to take part in the fighting, and that he plans to send a large deployment of Egyptian troops to Syria in January. Al-Sisi apparently believes that the best way for Egypt to fight ISIS in Egypt is to fight ISIS in Syria. Jerusalem Post and Middle East Monitor and Debka

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Egypt rejects its former benefactor, Saudi Arabia, in favor of Russia and Iran

Mohammed Morsi was elected president of Egypt in 2012, along with his Muslim Brotherhood government, and quickly assumed dictatorial powers. Qatar was a big supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, and provided a great deal of aid to Egypt when Morsi was in power. In July 2013 al-Sisi, then an army general, overthrew Morsi in a coup. That aid ended with the coup, and the slack was taken up by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia has tried to play a mediating role between Egypt on the one hand and Qatar and Turkey on the other hand, and has continued supplying aid. But with the fall in oil prices, Saudi's economy has been in trouble, and Egypt's economy has become desperate.

Russia has promised large investments in Egypt, and recently committed investing $11.6 billion to build up Egypt's Suez Canal industrial zone. In return, Egypt is allowing Russia to conduct joint Egyptian-Russian military drills on Egyptian territory. There have been reports that Egypt would permit a Russian airbase on Egyptian soil, but those reports have been denied.

I always like to use the phrase "forced to choose" when analyzing situations like this. Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is heading for a major war pitting Sunnis against Shias, Israelis against Arabs, and different ethnic groups against each other. When Egypt is forced to choose whether to side with Iran or with Saudi Arabia in the war, which side will it choose?

The situation is completely unclear, because the choice will be made not by al-Sisi but by the Egyptian people. And the Egyptian people are deeply split between loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and loyalty to a secular democracy. Al-Sisi is not as bad a genocidal monster and Bashar al-Assad, who has tortured, jailed, displaced or killed tens of millions of people, but he has tortured, jailed, displaced or killed tens of thousands of people, making the value of Egypt's secular democracy questionable. I do not believe that Egypt's people, when forced to choose, will choose Iran over Saudi Arabia, but I do consider it possible that there will be a split, and that part of the regional war will be a civil war among Egyptians, at least between the Egyptians in Cairo and the Bedouins in Sinai. Russia Today and ABNA (Shia) and Economist and Russia Today (19-Oct)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Nov-16 World View -- Egypt to send troops to Syria to aid Bashar al-Assad and Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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26-Nov-16 World View -- Turkey, Syria, Kurds, ISIS converge on a major military confrontation in al-Bab

Syrian airstrike on Turkish forces threatens wider war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey, Syria, Kurds, ISIS converging on a major military confrontation in al-Bab


Map showing forces converging on al-Bab in Syria (Yeni Safak)
Map showing forces converging on al-Bab in Syria (Yeni Safak)

In August, Turkey began "Operation Euphrates Shield," and became the first Nato member to invade Syria since the beginning of the war that began in 2011. Turkey has stated that there are two objectives -- to fight the so-called Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and force them to move south, and to fight Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), and force them to move back east across the Euphrates River.

The main ground force in Operation Euphrates Shield is the Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by Turkish supplies and air power. Turkey's next two objectives are to recapture the city of al-Bab from ISIS, and to recapture the city of Manbij from the YPG.

As FSA militias move south towards al-Bab, it seems that a major confrontation is developing. YPG forces are also moving towards al-Bab to capture al-Bab from ISIS.

If Turkey-backed FSA forces take control of al-Bab, then the FSA forces will be in a position to help break the siege in eastern Aleppo, a city that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad want destroy, killing over 250,000 people, mostly innocent women and children. Al-Assad has received worldwide condemnation for regime actions in Aleppo as war crimes and crimes against humanity, so al-Assad does not want to be stopped by the Free Syrian Army.

At the same time, FSA forces plan to move east and recapture Manbij from the Kurds.

Turkey's Retired Lt. Gen. Ismail Hakki Pekin summarized the plans for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK):

"Operation Euphrates Shield was necessary, especially for TSK-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, to prevent the establishment of a corridor [by terrorist PYD] near Kobani and the Afrin region. However, the operation must expand further south toward Manbij. Foremost, the operation must continue toward al-Bab before it moves toward Manbij, in order to prevent the corridor from being established to the south."

Operation Euphrates Shield appears to have slowed down substantially near the al-Bab region. Retired military officer and security specialist Abdullah Agar said that it's supposed to slow down because it's proceeding with caution:

"It was already known that the operation would become more difficult as it deepened and moved farther south. Al-Bab is the major obstacle that we are facing today. … [The PYD and its armed wing the People's Protection Units] YPG, the PKK, Syria's Assad regime as well as the Shiite militias have diverging plans regarding al-Bab. While the YPG-PKK hastens efforts to connect the Afrin region with the area west of the Euphrates, it also tries to seize regions that were cleared of Daesh. The[Syrian] regime is trying to further enhance its influence over Aleppo and surrounding region at the same time."

Daily Sabah (Ankara) and AP and Rudaw (Kurdish)

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Syrian airstrike on Turkish forces threatens wider war

Air strikes killed four Turkish soldiers in the region around al-Bab on Thursday.

Thursday was November 24, the one-year anniversary of the day when Turkey's air force shot down a Russian jet along the Syria-Turkey border. This caused a major break in relations between the two countries, but there's been an uneasy reconciliation since Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized.

Nonetheless, Erdogan suspected that Russia's president Vladimir Putin had ordered Thursday's airstrike in retaliation for last year's shootdown. Russia reassured Turkey that the airstrike was not carried out by them, and later notified Turkish officials that the attack was conducted by a Syrian air force Albatross plane.

The fact that a Syrian regime warplane attacked Turkish forces near al-Bab indicates the potential explosiveness of the situation. Any repeat of such an airstrike is almost certain to provoke Turkish retaliation on Syrian targets. Turkey has already threatened to retaliate for Thursday's strike, though the nature of that retaliation has not been specified.

Erdogan and Putin had a phone discussion over the incident. Little is known about what was said, except the usual vacuous statements issued by both sides. Erdogan reportedly told Putin that Turkey respected Syria's territorial integrity and that its military incursion showed its determination to fight militant groups. Putin reportedly said that the discussion on Syria was constructive and that both sides agreed to continue active dialogue to coordinate efforts against international terrorism. Blah, blah, blah. Undoubtedly, Turkey's invasion of Syria presents problems for Russia, who is the main sponsor of Bashar al-Assad.

According to Russian analyst Vladimir Sotnikov:

"What happened in northern Syria is highly dangerous, potentially for Russia too. President Erdogan is a violent and ambitious politician, sometimes acting on his emotions. If he decides that the strike on Turkish forces in Syria was not a mistake or a chance event, but a deliberate action by the Syrian command, he might take this as a challenge to himself. Then, as precedence dictates, it will be necessary to respond.

Such a response [in case Erdogan decides to use air forces] threatens to drag Turkey into war with Russia over who controls Syrian airspace."

Some Russian analysts are speculating that Bashar al-Assad ordered the airstrike on Turkish forces in order to provoke a war between Russia and Turkey. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Hurriyet and Kommersant (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Nov-16 World View -- Turkey, Syria, Kurds, ISIS converge on a major military confrontation in al-Bab thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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25-Nov-16 World View -- Turkey furious at EU parliament's vote to end accession talks

Terrorist car bomb in southern Turkey kills two

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Terrorist car bomb in southern Turkey kills two


Aftermath of Thursday's car bombing in Adana in southern Turkey (AFP)
Aftermath of Thursday's car bombing in Adana in southern Turkey (AFP)

A terrorist car bomb attack on Thursday on a government building in the city of Adana in southern Turkey killed at least two people and wounded dozens of others. The bomber fled in another vehicle, but was captured after police opened fire on the vehicle.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Turkey has suffered numerous terrorist attacks in the last year, perpetrated either by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is recognized as a terror group by Turkey, the US and the EU or by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Turkey responded with air force warplanes that destroyed a number of PKK targets in southeastern Diyarbakir province in Turkey, the PKK stronghold. Turkey's military said that six PKK members were killed, and that Turkish soldiers seized weapons and explosive substances in a warehouse following the airstrikes.

In addition to being targeted by numerous terror attacks, Turkey was targeted by an attempted army coup with tanks and jet fighters on July 15 that left 246 people dead and more than 2,000 wounded.

The seeming endless bombings and other attacks on Turkey have increased nationalist feelings and increased the popularity of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Middle East Eye and AP

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Turkey furious at EU parliament's vote to end accession talks

The European Union parliament on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to call for an end to EU's talks with Turkey to join the EU. The vote is non-binding, and may be ignored by the people in Brussels who are negotiating with Turkey.

Despite the symbolic nature of the vote, it has infuriated Turkish officials and people, who see a European Union not only unsympathetic to the coup attempt and repeated bloody terrorist attacks -- all of which they believe would be completely intolerable to Europeans if the same things occurred on EU soil -- but as even more sympathetic to the coup plotters and terrorists than to Turkey.

Despite the coup attempt and terrorist violence in Turkey, many Europeans have been appalled at the massive purge that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been pursuing -- arresting around 150 journalists, detaining more than 2,300 judges and prosecutors, suspending or dismissing almost 130,000 public employees, and arresting Kurdish members of parliament, accusing them of supporting the PKK. And many people point to the fact that Erdogan shut down the country's largest news organization, Zaman Media, months before the coup attempt.

There has always been a fairly high level of mutual xenophobia between Europeans and Turkey, some of it dating back to the days of the Ottoman Empire. The negotiations for Turkey to join the European Union, which began over ten years ago, have only increased the mutual xenophobia, as the EU made set one condition after another that the Turks considered unreasonable.

Within the last few weeks, Erdogan has suggested that Turkey might reinstate the death penalty, which was lifted in 2003 as one of the EU's conditions. Reinstating the death penalty would certainly kill any chance of Turkey joining the EU, and Thursday's symbolic vote by the European parliament may be considered a warning shot.

The EU needs Turkey as an ally for many reasons. One reason is the EU-Turkey refugee deal, which has cut the number of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees entering the EU by around 90%. That deal is now hanging by a thread. Another reason is that the US and Nato need Turkey's Incirlik air base for air operations in Syria.

Long-time readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the US will be allied with India, Russia and Iran, while China will be allied with Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim states, including Turkey. This prediction seemed fanciful when I wrote about ten years ago, but we've seen it come true step by step. The Barack Obama administration has been cozying up to Iran, and now the Donald Trump administration appears poised to cozy up to Russia. In the meantime, countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which used to be close allies, have become increasingly distant from and hostile to the US. So the trend lines continue to move in the direction of the ten-year-old prediction. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and VOA and Daily Sabah and Russia Today and Daily Sabah

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Nov-16 World View -- Turkey furious at EU parliament's vote to end accession talks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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24-Nov-16 World View -- How the First Thanksgiving led to American independence

The Pilgrims meet the Wampanoag Indians

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The First Thanksgiving -- The Pilgrims meet the Wampanoag Indians


The First Thanksgiving
The First Thanksgiving

In the year 1600, throughout what is now the United States, it's estimated that there were some 2 million Indians within 600 tribes speaking 500 languages. What happened, starting at that time, was a "clash of civilizations" between European culture of the colonists and the indigenous culture of the Indians. These cultures were so different that haven't yet merged even today, inasmuch as many Indian tribes still live separately on reservations. It's ironic that the American "melting pot" has merged so many cultures, but has not yet entirely merged the preexisting Native American cultures.

As with all tribes and ethnic groups in all places around the world, there were undoubtedly many brutal wars among the 600 tribes of the time. If there had never been any colonists, then the Indian tribes would have fought wars of extermination with each other, and probably today there would be one major tribe that was running the entire country, with other smaller tribes marginalized and discriminated against, perhaps even in reservations.

In this story, we're going to focus on just one Indian tribes: The Wampanoag tribe that occupied what is now southeastern Massachusetts (where Plymouth Rock is).

There is some historical evidence that there was a major war among the Wampanoag tribe and the Narragansett tribe that occupied what is now Rhode Island, and the Mohawk tribe (part of the Iroquois) of upstate New York. This war occurred in the years preceding the colonists' arrival at Plymouth Rock, probably in the 1590s. The Wampanoag and the Narragansett tribes were particularly devastated and weakened by that conflict.

So, when the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620, in the midst of the Wampanoag tribe during a generational Awakening era (like America in the 1960-70s), the Indians were still war-weary, and were quite friendly to the pilgrims. There were even some Indians who, astonishingly, spoke English because they had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery, but escaped in London. One of them, Squanto, helped the pilgrims learn to hunt, fish and survive.

The pilgrims, led by Governor William Bradford, and the Wampanoags, led by chief Massasoit, developed a warm relationship. In November 1621, after the successful corn harvest, they celebrated with a feast now remembered as "America's First Thanksgiving."

Thanksgiving has been celebrated annually since then, and in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday.

The fur trade with Britain and Europe

The Pilgrims were committed to have nothing to do with the English King and parliament. They had signed the Mayflower Compact, where they agreed that they would be governed by the will of the majority. They could provide for themselves, and they were friendly with the Indians.

This friendliness extended to trade. Before long, there was a mutually beneficial financial arrangement between the Indians and the colonists. The colonists acted as intermediaries through whom the Indians developed a thriving business selling furs and pelts to the English and European markets, and they used the considerable money they earned to purchase imported manufactured goods.

King Philip's war

By the 1660s, the Wampanoag tribal society had entered a generational Crisis era, and relationships between the colonists and the Indians began to deteriorate.

William Bradford had died in 1657, and Massasoit died in 1661. The personal ties between these leaders had vanished, and younger generations of colonists and Indians rose to power with personal friendships replaced by mutual xenophobia.

A generational Crisis era is usually accompanied by a major financial crisis -- that's certainly true in the world today. Things really began to turn sour in the 1660s because styles and fashions changed in England and in Europe. Suddenly, furs and pelts went out of style, and the major source of revenue for the Indians almost disappeared. This resulted in a financial crisis for the Indians, and for the colonists as well, since they were the intermediaries in sales to the Indians. Then and now, a financial crisis only feeds into and increases xenophobia, racism and nationalism, as different societies, races and nations blame each other for the financial crisis.

Massasoit was replaced as Wampanoag chief by his youngest son, Metacomet, who was nicknamed "King Philip" by the colonists. Relations between King Philip and the colonists worsened, and things came to a head in 1671, when King Philip himself was tried for a series of Indian hostilities, and required by the court to surrender all of his arms. He complied by surrendering only a portion of them.

Relations continued to deteriorate, and King Philip's War began in 1675, with Philip's attack on the colonists on Cape Cod. The war was extremely savage and engulfed the Indians and the colonists from Rhode Island to Maine. There were atrocities on both sides, and the war ended with King Philip's head displayed on stick. His wife and child were sold into slavery.

This was the most devastating war in American history on a percentage basis, with 800 of the 52,000 colonists killed. (It was devastating for the Indians as well.)

Aftermath of King Philip's War

After the devastating war, people began to ask: Why weren't English soldiers here to defend us?

That brings us back to the Mayflower Compact, signed in 1620, which guaranteed that local government would be independent of the English Crown. The colonists had thought they would build their new community without outside interference, with their own rules and their own self-government.

After the devastation of King Philip's war, they felt forced to acquiesce completely to English rule. All home rule was dissolved and Governors would be appointed from London. British troops would protect the colonists from the Indians and the French, and colonists would pay taxes to the Crown in return.

The Great Awakening of the 1730-40s

Anyone who was around during America's generational Awakening era of the 1960s and 1970s will recall the "televangelists" -- people like Herbert W. Armstrong, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, and dozens of others.

A similar thing happened in the 1730s-40s. Historians have named this period "The Great Awakening in American history," and in fact the phrase "generational Awakening era" was derived from this historical name.

Just as America's youthful Boomers were rebelling against their parents in the 1960s, the colonists' young generations in the 1730s were rebelling against everything English, including the Church of England, known as the Anglican Church in the colonies.

The issue of government by the English Crown was a divisive issue at that time. The older generations had ceded power to London in return for the protection of the English army. The younger generations rebelled against giving all this power to the Crown.

The Anglican Church never did have much success in establishing religious control in the colonies, as congregations of Puritans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and many other religions sprang up in the colonies from the beginning, and had to compete with one another for followers.

Starting in the 1730s, something brand new came about -- something we recognize today in the form of "televangelists." Various preachers went from city to city, telling thousands of rapt listeners that they would be punished for their sinfulness, but could be saved by the mercy of an all-powerful God. To take one example, John Wesley, born in 1703, created the Methodist religion, and traveled on horseback throughout the country for years, stopping along the way to preach three or four sermons each day.

The Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s was not just a religious revival; it was also an act of rebellion against the older generation that favored control by the British in return for protection. By rejecting the Anglican Church, the young colonists were symbolically rejecting British control.

The Revolutionary War -- 1772-1782

All the contradictions and compromises that were forced upon the colonists following the devastation of King Philip's War came to a head in the Revolutionary War. In particular, the taxes that England had levied against the colonies to pay for protection from the Indians and the French led to colonist demands for "No taxation without representation!", the catchphrase for pre-Revolutionary days.

By the 1760s, the British were moving to consolidate their control over America as a British colony. In particular, the Sugar Act and Currency Act of 1764 were imposed in order to prevent the colonies from trading with any foreign country except through England as an intermediary. The Stamp Act of 1765 was enacted to recover at least a fraction of the money England had to spend to maintain its military forces in the colonies.

These moves by England hardly seem unreasonable. The colonies were expensive children, and like a parent expecting his children to pay a little rent, England had a right to expect the colonists to pay for a portion of the cost of protecting them.

But the pressure for revolution had been building for a long time. The Stamp Act was particularly galling. All printed documents, including newspapers, broadsides and even legal documents, had to have a stamp affixed, with the cost of the stamp being paid to England.

An underground terrorist group called the Sons of Liberty was formed. This group used violence to terrorize Stamp Act agents and British traders in numerous towns. However, violence was rare: colonial opposition was designed to be non-violent. The colonies formed a "Stamp Act congress" to call for repeal. English imports were boycotted. The English sought to contain the problem and compromise. As a result, the Stamp Act was repealed by 1766.

However, England was still trying to find a way to collect revenue from the colonies without engendering riots, but they never succeeded. In 1767, England passed the Townshend Acts, imposing further taxes on goods imported to the colonies. Four more years of increasingly virulent protests forced England to repeal the taxes in 1771.

There's no question that England was doing everything it could to compromise and contain the situation. When occasional violence broke out, it was contained. In the most well-known incident, the 1770 Boston Massacre, where British soldiers fired into a crowd and killed five colonists, two of the soldiers were tried and convicted, and tensions were relieved again.

By 1771, all taxes had been repealed except a tax on importation of tea, and even that tax was often evaded. From a purely objective view, the colonists really had few major grievances at this time.

However, a financial crisis occurred in July 1772, when the English banking system suffered a major crash. Many colonial businesses were in debt to the English banks, and were suddenly unable to obtain further credit, forcing them to liquidate their inventories, thus ending their businesses.

In May 1773, The English Parliament passed a new Tea Act, and in December 1773, a group of Boston activists dumped 342 casks of English tea into Boston Harbor.

The Boston Tea Party can hardly be called a major act of violence. Tea was expensive, of course, but 342 casks of English tea shouldn't have been something to cause a war.

Nonetheless, the Boston Tea Party, has become world famous. It was so electrifying at the time that it surprised and shocked both the colonies and England. After that, one provocation after another on both sides finally led to war.

The furious English Parliament passed a series of "Coercive Acts" to dismantle the colonial Massachusetts government, close the port of Boston, and control the hostilities. This was tantamount to a declaration of war. With positions on both sides becoming increasingly hardened, war was not far off.

Hostilities actually began in April 1775, when the colonial minutemen attacked the British forces following the midnight ride of Paul Revere. The separation became official on July 4, 1776, when the Continental Congress endorsed the Declaration of Independence.

The war continued until November 30, 1782, when American and British representatives signed a peace agreement recognizing American independence.

Aftermath of the Revolutionary War

The end of the Revolutionary War didn't mean the end of the American crisis. There were still grave doubts as to whether the Union could survive. The colonies had formed a very weak Confederation, which left each former colony largely autonomous, adopting its own currencies, taxes, laws and rules. The economy suffered a major recession in 1786, resulting in severe acts of terrorism by bankrupt farmers and businessmen -- acts that couldn't be controlled since the terrorists could not be pursued across state lines because there was no federal army. The crisis did not end until 1790, after the Constitution was ratified and George Washington became president.

A generational crisis war is so horrific that the survivors, both the winners and losers, are willing to make compromises to make sure that nothing like it happens again. The survivors of King Philip's War had agreed to a compromise that allowed Britain to rule the colonies and collect taxes in return for the protection of the British army. That compromise became the issue that led to the next crisis war, the Revolutionary War.

The Revolutionary War was also resolved with a major compromise -- one that permitted slavery to exist in the South, though it was made illegal in the Northern states. The slavery compromise was necessary to create the nation in the first place. But it was also the seed that grew into the issue that almost destroyed the nation in the next generational crisis war -- the American Civil War.

Note: This material was adapted from Chapter 2 of my book, Generational Dynamics - Forecasting America's Destiny, which is available as a free PDF from my download page, http://generationaldynamics.com/download

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Nov-16 World View -- How the First Thanksgiving led to American independence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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23-Nov-16 World View -- Cameroon: One person killed in English-speaking vs French-speaking civil unrest

Activists call for independence of English-speaking Cameroon

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cameroon: One person killed in English-speaking vs French-speaking civil unrest


Protests in Bamenda on Monday (RFI)
Protests in Bamenda on Monday (RFI)

Reports indicate that there was at least one death on Monday in clashes between English-speaking (Anglophone) protesters and police, during protests of discrimination and marginalization by the French-speaking (Francophone) majority.

Thousands of Anglophone Cameroonians brought coffins to protests to the city of Bamenda, proclaiming that they were ready to die and be burned in their coffins. Security forces fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse the demonstrators. The amount of violence has been a surprise, causing some to worry of a government crackdown leading to genocide. The 1994 Rwanda genocide is in the minds of the Cameroon people, as it is in the minds of all Africans.

Monday's demonstrations were by Anglophone teachers who were protesting that the government was deploying Francophone teachers teach the French language in Anglophone areas of Cameroon.

The teachers' demonstrations followed demonstrations by Anglophone lawyers in Bamenda two weeks ago to protest that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. That demonstration was dispersed by security forces using tear gas. Cameroon Concord and Radio France Internationale (RFI) and International Business Times (London)

Activists call for independence of English-speaking Cameroon


Cameroon, highlighting the English-speaking Southern Cameroons (Nebafuh)
Cameroon, highlighting the English-speaking Southern Cameroons (Nebafuh)

In the 15th century, Portuguese explorers named the area near the mouth of the Wouri River the Rio dos Camaroes (River of Prawns) after the abundant shrimp in the water. Over time the designation became Cameroon in English. This is the only instance where a country is named afer a crustacean.

During the "Scramble for Africa" in the late 1800s, Cameroon became a colony of Germany. However, during World War I, Britain and France forced Germany out of the territory, and created two regions, British Cameroon and French Cameroon.

The war for independence began in 1955 in French Cameroon. Independence was won in 1960, with the Republic of Cameroon.

In 1961 British Cameroon, under a referendum sponsored by the United Nations, was given the choice of joining either Nigeria or the Republic of Cameroon. There was a split with the Northern part of British Cameroon voting to join Nigeria, and the Southern part voting to join the French speaking Cameroon. Overall, the latter won the referendum. The former British Cameroon is now known as the "Southern Cameroons" region of Cameroon, and is home to about 3.2 million English-speaking people. This month's riots and demonstrations took place in Bamenda, a city of 500,000, and the largest city in Southern Cameroons.

During the generational Awakening era that followed, a separatist movement called the Cameroon Anglophone Movement began in 1984. The Southern Cameroons region is adjacent to the Biafra region of Nigeria, and some activists would like to join the two into an independent country. Of course, this is opposed by both the Cameroon and Nigeria governments. International Business Times (27-Feb-2016) and Jacob Crawfurd (Copenhagen) and Nebafuh (activist) and CIA World Factbook

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Nov-16 World View -- Cameroon: One person killed in English-speaking vs French-speaking civil unrest thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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22-Nov-16 World View -- China puts army on high alert along border with Burma (Myanmar)

Burma's army appears to be exterminating Rakhine State Rohingyas

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China puts army on high alert along border with Burma (Myanmar)


Kachin soldiers in Burma praying
Kachin soldiers in Burma praying

In October of last year, the government of Myanmar (Burma) concluded a peace agreement with its armed ethnic groups that had been under negotiation since 2011. According to the government rhetoric, the agreement was "bringing hope" that the entire country would soon be "at peace."

However, of the 15 armed ethnic groups in Burma, only eight attended the lavish signing ceremony and signed the agreement. The others indicated that they wished to continue fighting Burma's army.

Now three of the non-signers have launched a series of violent attacks on military outposts and police stations across the northern part of the country. Hundreds of people have been forced to flee their homes, some crossing the border into China. The groups are:

The conflicts have resulted in a central part of the country dominated by the majority Burmese, surrounded by various ethnic minority populations who form the majority in their own areas. Most of Myanmar’s ethnic groups are now concentrated within particular regions corresponding more or less to the states named after the seven ethnic nationalities: Karen, Kachin, Mon, Arakanese, Karenni, Chin and Shan.

China's defense ministry issued a statement saying, "The Chinese army is on high alert and will take the necessary measures to safeguard the country's sovereignty and safety, as well as protect the lives and property of Chinese citizens living along the border."

China has not intervened in the Burma conflicts, but might do so if Chinese citizens, in either Burma or China, were threatened. There have at least nine deaths and dozens of wounded.

Following World War II, Burma experienced a series of extremely bloody crisis civil wars that only climaxed in 1958 when the army took over power. There has been sporadic fighting among these groups in the decades since then, but nothing that has escalated into a major war.

But now, 58 years after the climax of the last generational crisis war, Burma is entering a new generational Crisis era. 58 years is the point where the generations of survivors of the last crisis war lose enough of their power (through death or retirement) so that they can no longer influence events enough to prevent a new generational crisis war, and so a major new war could break out now or at any time in the future. South China Morning Post and International Business Times and Radio Free Asia

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Burma's army appears to be exterminating Rakhine State Rohingyas

As we recently reported, Burma's army is conducting a scorched earth attack on Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. As of a week ago, over 430 buildings had been burned down. Now, Human Rights Watch has released new satellite photos showing that 1,000 homes have been burned down, almost all in Rohingya villages, many of which no longer exist. Dozens of people have been killed, and at least 300,000 people have been forced to leave their homes, with many fleeing into Bangladesh. Witnesses and alleged victims also accused soldiers of widespread rape.

Burma's government has completely closed off the entire region, refusing to allow reporters or investigators to see for themselves what has happened. Furthermore, the government is saying that thousands of Rohingyas have burned down their own homes. I must admit, Dear Reader, that hearing crap like this from government officials really infuriates me. But it's what we've come to expect from leaders like Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe, and Pierre Nkurunziza. AFP and BBC and Deutsche Welle

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Nov-16 World View -- China puts army on high alert along border with Burma (Myanmar) thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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21-Nov-16 World View -- Bizarre monkey attack triggers tribal war in Jabha in southern Libya

Tribal warfare in southern Libya could destabilize all of Libya

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bizarre monkey attack triggers tribal war in Jabha in southern Libya


Map of Libya, showing regions occupied by different ethnic groups (Al-Araby)
Map of Libya, showing regions occupied by different ethnic groups (Al-Araby)

Clashes between two rival tribes in Sabha in southern Libya, killing dozens of people and wounding over 100, was triggered by a bizarre incident involving a monkey.

A monkey belonging a shopkeeper attacked a group of schoolgirls passing by, bit and scratched some, and pulled her headscarf off one girl's head. The shopkeeper was from the Gaddadfa tribe, which is the tribe of former Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi.

The schoolgirls are from the Awlad Suleiman tribe. After the incident, men from the Awlad Suleiman tribe killed the monkey and three people from the Gaddadfa tribe, the shopkeeper and his family according to some reports.

Fighting then escalated between the two tribes to involve tanks, mortars, shells and rockets, and has continued for several days. By Sunday there were still sporadic clashes.

During the 2011 Libyan war that resulted in the overthrow and death of Muammar al-Gaddafi, Sabha was the heart of al-Gaddafi's support base, which consisted mainly of the Gaddadfa tribe in Jabha and Sirte, as well as the Warfalla and Merghara tribes from other regions. Al-Araby and Information Nigeria

Tribal warfare in southern Libya could destabilize all of Libya

The region around Sabha is heavily populated by two Arab tribes, the Gaddadfa tribe and the Awlad Suleiman tribe. Also in the region are two non-Arab nomadic Berber ethnic minorities, the Tuareg and Tubu tribes, that are spread across Africa from Libya to the Algeria.

Muammar Gaddafi was successful in manipulating these tribes to his own advance, but since their disappearance there has been a power struggle, leading to frequent outbreaks of violence across Libya’s south. Groups are competing to control borders, strategic assets (such as energy infrastructure and roads), and the formal and informal economy.

The main tensions are between the Arab (Gaddadfa, Awlad Suleiman) and non-Arab (Tuareg, Tubu) tribes. The non-Arab tribes generally have much darker skin than the Arab tribes, and were discriminated against by the Arabs when al-Gaddafi was in power. Since his overthrow, and the end of many border controls, the non-Arab tribes have been moving into other areas, causing increased tensions with the Arab tribes, with clashes erupting among and between the Arab and non-Arab tribes.

The media have been focusing mainly on northern Libya, including cities like Tripoli and Benghazi. But a war among tribes in the south could quickly spread to the north, and even to other countries. Al-Araby (24-Nov-2015) and West Point Combating Terrorism Center (10-Dec-2014)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Nov-16 World View -- Bizarre monkey attack triggers tribal war in Jabha in southern Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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20-Nov-16 World View -- Sri Lanka Sinhalese Buddhist monks accused of racist hate speech against Hindu Tamils

Sri Lanka says that '32 élite, well-educated Muslims' have joined ISIS in Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sri Lanka Sinhalese Buddhist monks accused of racist hate speech against Hindu Tamils


Image grab from video shows Buddhist monk using racist language to a Hindu Tamil civil servant, while policeman looks on and does nothing
Image grab from video shows Buddhist monk using racist language to a Hindu Tamil civil servant, while policeman looks on and does nothing

Sri Lanka's bloody generational crisis civil war between the market-dominant mostly Buddhist ethnic Sinhalese and the mostly Hindu ethnic Tamils ended in May 2009, and in the seven years since then, the country has been devoted to achieving reconciliation between the two ethnic groups.

So a number of people in both groups are alarmed at the sudden occurrences of racist hate speech by Buddhist monks against Tamils. One video that's gone viral shows a Buddhist monk using extreme racist expletives and abusive language to verbally assault and threaten a Tamil public servant, as a (presumably Sinhalese) uniformed police officer watched, without taking action.

In another incident, a Buddhist leader threatened a "bloodbath" in protest over the arrest of a self-proclaimed "Savior of the Sinhalese."

However, the racist attacks are apparently more ethnically than religiously motivated, as Christian Tamils are also being targeted, as well as Hindu Tamils and Muslim Tamils. More than 70 percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million people are Buddhists, about 13 percent are Hindu, while Muslims make up around 10 percent.

A joint civil society submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in August 2016 documented 132 incidents faced by Christians and 141 incidents against the Muslims, in a span of one year, since 2015. These incidents include attacks on places of religious worship, and minority religious communities being disrupted during times of worship and prayer. Even worse, no attempt has been made to prosecute the offenders.

According to Father S. J. Emmanuel, president of the Global Tamil Forum, the attacks are signs of increasing Sinhalese nationalism by Buddhist monks:

"While the Sri Lankan Constitution clearly guarantees all citizens the right to equality, non-discrimination and freedom of religion and religious worship, the number of attacks against religious and ethnic numerical minorities across Sri Lanka, by ethno-nationalist majoritarian groups, typically led by one or more Buddhist monks, remains unchecked. Civil society groups have consistently documented and reported such attacks to relevant authorities. However, charges have never been brought against the perpetrators, despite the conduct of these monks being in clear violation of hate-speech and anti-discrimination protections under Sri Lankan law."

Both Christian and Hindu Tamil groups have called on the government to bring to justice all those in violation of Sri Lanka’s anti-discrimination and hate-speech laws, including Buddhist monks. This is not very likely to happen.

Sri Lanka is in a generational Recovery era, following the end of the civil war. This is a period of austerity when rules and institutions are devised by the survivors of the civil war to make sure nothing like it ever happens again. These rules and institutions survive for several decades until the Unraveling era, when younger generations have come to power, and the generations that survived the war are no longer running things.

These racist attacks by Buddhist Sinhalese against Hindu and Christian Tamils are the first signs of what's to come in few years, when the first postwar generation comes of age, in the generational Awakening era. Sunday Leader (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and The Hindu (India) and The Island (Colombo)

Sri Lanka says that '32 élite, well-educated Muslims' have joined ISIS in Syria

Sri Lanka's justice minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe says that 32 Sri Lankan Muslim have traveled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). According to Rajapakshe:

"All these (Muslims) are not from ordinary families. These people are from the families which are considered as well-educated and élite.

There is a greater fear among the public about ISIS. If somebody tries to spread extremism in this country, we will not allow for that from today. The law of this country is no different to Buddhist monks or ordinary people."

However, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) strongly objected to this statement, saying that the referenced incidents occurred over a year ago:

"We strongly object to this misplaced statement. The facts given by the Minister were reported in the media more than a year ago when a Sri Lankan combatant died fighting with ISIS.

There have been no new reports of any others getting involved since this was reported last year.

It is believed that one family had gone to Syria to provide humanitarian support to the war wounded and refugees. Some of the men are alleged to have joined or forced to join the fighting forces of ISIS. The Muslim community, including the Muslim Council, Jamiathul Ulema and other organizations cooperated with the government in identifying the families to provide the necessary support for the intelligence agencies to investigate."

According to the MCSL, Sri Lanka is unlike other countries in that Sri Lanka Muslims have been condemning un-Islamic comments by Muslims, and there are no madrassas "indoctrinating its children with fundamentalism."

This is entirely believable, and a credible contrast to Muslims in northern Africa, the Mideast and southeast Asia. All of those countries are in generational Crisis eras, with their last generational crisis war having been World War II or earlier, and so the popular mood in those countries is highly nationalistic and xenophobic toward non-Muslims or even Muslims in other branches (i.e., Sunni versus Shia).

But Sri Lanka is in a generational Recovery era, having just gone through an extremely bloody civil war that encompassed Buddhists, Hindus and Christians as well as Muslims. The population is war weary and eager to apply "lessons learned" from the civil war, creating laws and institutions to guarantee that no such horror will ever happen again. There will always be exceptions, but for the time being, Muslims in Sri Lanka are not jihadists and are not supportive of jihadists, as they are in the other 80 or so countries that sent young men and women to Syria to fight the genocidal actions of Bashar al-Assad. As years and decades go by, and new generations come of age, this attitude will change, of course, but right now there are few people who want to thwart the country's attempt at reconciliation. Reuters and New Indian Express

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Nov-16 World View -- Sri Lanka Sinhalese Buddhist monks accused of racist hate speech against Hindu Tamils thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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19-Nov-16 World View -- Japan's troops in South Sudan become first test of new 'collective self-defense' policy

United Nations warns of mass atrocities in South Sudan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan's troops in South Sudan become first test of new 'collective self-defense' policy


Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers in South Sudan, wearing United Nations blue helmets (Diplomat)
Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers in South Sudan, wearing United Nations blue helmets (Diplomat)

Japan has had peacekeeping troops from its Self-Defense Force (SDF) in South Sudan since 2012, but they were restricted to doing only one kind of thing -- rebuilding the country's infrastructure, such as roads and refugee camps. In particular, they were forbidden from taking part in any military operation of any kind, because Japan's pacifist constitution, written at the end of World War II, restricts military action to Japanese soil, and then only for self-defense from an invader.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has approved a change taking effect on November 20 that will deploy 350 SDF troops to South Sudan and allow them to engage in combat if they're attacked, or if other nations' peacekeepers are attacked.

This seems to be a relatively mild change in military orders, but in fact it's a major change in policy. Based on campaigning by Shinzo Abe, in 2015 Japan adopted new "collective self-defense" laws, partially departing from the pacifism in the constitution. The old self-defense clause of the constitution has been interpreted to permit military action only when Japan itself is being attacked, and only on Japanese soil. The new collective self-defense laws reinterpret the self-defense clause to include "collective self-defense," which would permit military action anywhere in the world under some circumstances when an ally (such as the United States) is attacked. I discussed the meaning of "collective self-defense" in detail in 2014 in "5-May-2014 World View -- Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan".

The reinterpretation of the self-defense clause has been extremely divisive in Japan, and at the time it was passed it even resulted in some fists being thrown in the Diet (Japan's parliament). Abe said that the change was essential for the survival of Japan, while opponents say that approving the exercise of the right to collective self-defensive is a "slippery slope" that will keep expanding to permit additional non-defense military activity.

Opponents of the South Sudan deployment in Japan do indeed view the it as the first step on a slippery slope. According to an editorial in Japan Times:

"Possible use of weapons by the SDF troops in rescuing civilians under attack might trigger counterattacks by enemy forces, which could erupt into unexpected fighting. The chance of such developments cannot be ruled out in the extremely fluid security situation in South Sudan. The Abe administration may think that the new mandate, which will be given to the 350 Ground Self-Defense Force personnel to be dispatched there next month, will bring Japan’s peacekeeping mission closer to international standards. But the government should also be aware of, and be accountable for, what it could possibly entail."

Deutsche Welle and Japan Times and Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo) and The Diplomat

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United Nations warns of mass atrocities in South Sudan

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning of a “very real risk of mass atrocities” in South Sudan and that peacekeepers deployed in the country will not be able to stop such a bloodbath. According to Ban, "There is a very real risk of mass atrocities being committed in South Sudan, particularly following the sharp rise in hate speech and ethnic incitement in recent weeks."

The mass atrocities are occurring as a result of renewed ethnic fighting between the Dinka tribe of president Salva Kiir and the Nuer tribe, led by former vice president Riek Machar. Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement last year in August, but it fell apart several months ago.

The last generational crisis war between the Dinka and Nuer tribes climaxed in 1991 with the "Bor Massacre," in which hundreds of thousands of Dinkas in the Bor community were starved, displaced or killed by invading Nuer militias led by Machar. Thus, South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era, and there are many survivors of the Bor Massacre from both sides who do not want to see anything so horrible happen again, and will do anything they can to prevent it. So an event similar to the Bor Massacre will not occur, and Ban's concern about a new full-scale civil war are not realistic.

What we're seeing in South Sudan is a familiar pattern that I've described many times in countries like Syria, Burundi, Thailand, and Zimbabwe, starting 5-15 years after the climax of a generational ethnic crisis war. The leadership in the country, which represents one ethnic tribe or group, decides that in order to prevent a new civil war, it's necessary to impose "security" by having the security forces commit atrocities against the other ethnic group. AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Nov-16 World View -- Japan's troops in South Sudan become first test of new 'collective self-defense' policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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18-Nov-16 World View -- After Brexit and Trump, Italy's Five-Star-Movement may be the next surprise

Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena floats desperate rescue plan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena floats desperate rescue plan


Matteo Renzi
Matteo Renzi

As we've been reporting, Italy's Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world's oldest operating bank, is close to collapse because it has $55.2 billion of bad loans on its book. These bad loans are so bad that it's estimated that selling these bad loans to a third party would only get 20% of face value.

Because of these bad loans, somebody is going to have to lose a lot of money. It's illegal under EU rules for Italy's government to use taxpayer money to bail out the bank, since that simply transfers the financial crisis from the bank to the whole country, which would lead to an Italian financial crisis similar to Greece's financial crisis that we've been reporting for years.

The other choice is for those who invested in the bank, by purchasing either stock shares in the bank or bonds issued by the bank, will lose a substantial part of their investments. This might be considered an ideal solution in some circumstances, but it's a disaster in the case of Italy, since many bonds have been sold to ordinary people as a kind of high-interest savings account for those saving for retirement.

MPS is looking for a deal to save the bank from collapse, and is under a kind of deadline. Italy is holding a government reform referendum on December 4, and prime minister Matteo Renzi has said he'd resign if the referendum fails, which polls indicate is likely. That would create government crisis that would spook investors involved in any deal to bail MPS out.

So MPS is floating a last minute deal bondholders (including financial investors and ordinary people) to offer bank stock to holders of $4.6 billion in bank bonds. It's a great deal until you learn that the market value of MPS's stock is just $740 million, which isn't going to go very far in paying off bondholders.

However, bank officials see another sign of hope: Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, which reportedly holds $256 billion in assets, is said to be interested in investing in MPS. New Europe and Bloomberg and Market Mogul

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After Brexit and Trump, Italy's Five-Star-Movement may be the next surprise

European leaders were completely unprepared for the passage of the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump, both the result of the rise of a younger generation demanding a change.

And now they're bracing for another jarring election result: The rejection by Italian voters on December 4 of a referendum to reform Italy's government. Prime minister Matteo Renzi claimed that the reform would make Italy's government more stable and efficient.

Renzi announced the referendum late last year when his personal popularity ratings were high, and he said that he would resign if the referendum didn't pass.

This promise probably made sense at the time, but has been disastrous in retrospect. Renzi's popularity has been falling, and the promise has energized his political opponents, particularly the left-wing populist Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Beppe Grillo, an Italian comedian, actor, and political activist. M5S received about one-quarter of the vote in the 2013 elections, has won some major mayoral elections since then, and has become increasingly popular.

Thanks to M5S's campaigning, it now appears more likely than not that the referendum will fail on December 4. Renzi has repeated his pledge that he would resign in that event. Structural problems that the referendum was supposed to fix will remain in place, and paralyze the government.

This would likely cause a loss in confidence in the government by financial investors, and possibly the collapse of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, forcing the government to bail the bank out. This would be a violation of EU rules, and could force Italy to leave the eurozone, replacing the euro currency with its former national currency, the lira.

A lot of things have to happen before that scenario could unfold, and until recently it was thought impossible. But Brexit and the election of Donald Trump were also thought to be "impossible" until they happened, and now European leaders' nerves are rattled as they consider the possibility of a third major electoral shock in 2016. The Local - Italy and UPI and Economist and The Local - Italy

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Nov-16 World View -- After Brexit and Trump, Italy's Five-Star-Movement may be the next surprise thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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17-Nov-16 World View -- African nations furious over possible collapse of climate change agreement

The 'science' of climate change

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

African nations furious over possible collapse of climate change agreement


Banner from an Australian march against climate change
Banner from an Australian march against climate change

The surprise election victory of Donald Trump, who has called climate change "a hoax," has been an extremely unpleasant shock to African leaders attending a climate change conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. Prior to the election, they had hoped that the international climate change agreement would be a financial bonanza, and they angry now that they see all that money slipping away, and are concerned that the entire climate change effort may be near collapse.

A statement by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Marrakesh conference on Wednesday urged a rapid scale-up in funding for climate change programs, especially to support developing countries. "Finance and investment hold the key to achieving low-emissions and resilient societies," he said.

Many leaders are urging that implementation of the climate change agreement be sped up so that as much as possible can be done while president Barack Obama is still in office.

World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, said that he's trying to mobilize as much as financing as possible."

"It is not just about trying to persuade donors and financiers to put up more money, although we are definitely trying to do that, but it also about creating the environment that crowds in a lot more financing. Even if we have the 100 billion dollars we are talking about, it is not nearly enough to reach our goals. ...

We are trying to find ways to improve the way the existing banking sector understands and considers the risks of climate smart investments."

Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta said that the developed countries have an obligation to provide plenty of money to developing countries like Kenya:

"We should aim to ensure achievement of the long-term global goal of stabilizing the global temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial levels, which gives hope to the most vulnerable countries and communities. ...

The process should also take into consideration the obligations of developed country Parties to provide additional, predictable and sustainable support in terms of finance, technology and capacity building to meet the adaptation and mitigation needs of the developing country Parties."

One thing that we've learned over the years is that giving free money to African countries is mostly a disaster. After decades of giving huge amounts of aid to African countries, the people are just as poor and the infrastructure is little changes. Money given to an African leader is used to buy weapons, or to build a new glittering presidential palace, or to be deposited in a foreign bank account. United Nations and Capital FM (Nairobi) and The Hindu

The 'science' of climate change

As I've written in the past:

I'm not aware of any evidence to support the belief that any money spent on the basis of an international climate change agreement would not be completely wasted. BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Nov-16 World View -- African nations furious over possible collapse of climate change agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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16-Nov-16 World View -- Communal violence grows in Myanmar (Burma) between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims

Syria and Russia resume bombings of women and children in Aleppo

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Communal violence grows in Myanmar (Burma) between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims


Rohingya villages burned down by Burma's army (HRW)
Rohingya villages burned down by Burma's army (HRW)

Fears are growing that Burma's army is conducting a scorched earth attack on Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine state, in revenge for the killing of nine army border guards in October by 20 militants.

Those attacks are believed to be in revenge for massive rounds of Buddhist attacks on Rohingya Muslims in 2012, including murders, rapes, and burning down villages, and for plans announced earlier this year by the government to demolish 12 mosques and 35 madrasas (religious schools) in Rakhine State because they had been built without permission.

Now satellite images published by Human Rights Watch show that Rohingya Muslim villages are again being burned down, but this time by the army. They troops had been sent to the region to prevent further violence, but instead they're conducting further violence. Over 430 buildings have been burned down.

Burma's government is denying that the troops had anything to do with the violence, and suggested that the Rohingyas had burned down their own homes to embarrass the government, a claim that's considered laughable. Burma's government is adamantly refusing to allow reporters or investigators into the area to determine what really happened.

Violence grew over the weekend increased as soldiers killed dozens of Rohingyas, and forced hundreds from their homes into already overcrowded camps.

Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (Burma) had lived there for generations have been slaughtered and driven from their homes by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu. The Rohingyas, described by the United Nations as "the most persecuted ethnic group in the world," are not even recognized as Rohingyas by Burma's government, who refer to them as Bangladeshis.

Following the massive attacks on Rohingyas by Buddhists, led by Buddhist monks, we're seeing tit-for-tat increases of violence on both sides. With Myanmar in a generational Crisis era, this is the kind of violence that leads to civil war. Human Rights Watch and Radio Free Asia and Frontier Myanmar

Syria and Russia resume bombings of women and children in Aleppo

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy for Syria, there are 275,000 people living in east Aleppo, but only about 1,000 of them members of Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) which recently renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) when it cut its ties to al-Qaeda.

But now the long-expected assault on east Aleppo is finally beginning, with the apparent objective of killing as many of the 275,000 people as possible. The new Russian naval war group, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, which has just arrived in at the coast of Syria, launched its first attacks today, sending warplanes and cruise missiles to east Aleppo, Homs and Idlib, while Syrian regime warplanes also pound Aleppo.

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has been widely condemned in the West as a war criminal, using barrel bombs, Sarin gas, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous, and other weapons on hospitals, schools and markets with no military objective except to kill as many innocent women and children as possible. Al-Assad continues in the delusional view that this will cause the residents to throw down their weapons and surrender, something that will never happen in Syria's generational Awakening era. AP and VOA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Nov-16 World View -- Communal violence grows in Myanmar (Burma) between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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15-Nov-16 World View -- Bulgaria and Moldova elect pro-Russian presidents, turning away from EU

Expect tensions to increase in Poland and Romania

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bulgaria: Socialist pro-Russian Rumen Radev wins election as president


Presidents-elect: Rumen Radev (Bulgaria), and Igor Dodon (Moldova)
Presidents-elect: Rumen Radev (Bulgaria), and Igor Dodon (Moldova)

Bulgaria's prime minister resigned on Monday after it became clear that his party had lost badly in Sunday's presidential election. The pro-Moscow Socialist candidate Rumen Radev won an overwhelming 59.4% of the vote, compared to 36.2% for his center-right opponent.

Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, and is also a member of NATO, creating a potential political conflict with Russia. Radev has frequently stated his support to end the sanctions on Russia for invading and annexing Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, and this week he praised U.S. President-elect Donald Trump for "seeking more dialogue" with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Bulgaria is a mostly Orthodox Christian country in eastern Europe, on the border with Turkey. Like other east European countries, Bulgarian officials fear the consequences of the collapse of the EU-Turkey refugee deal, which would result in a massive new influx of refugees from Syria. As a result, Bulgaria is building a fence along its border with Turkey and Greece.

Bulgaria also has migrant troubles in the other direction. In 2014, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain might have to leave the European Union if Cameron insists on adopting quotas that would limit the number of migrant workers coming to Britain from eastern European countries, like Bulgaria, Poland and Romania. The irony is enormous. RFE/RL and EuroNews and Greek Reporter (11-Aug)

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Moldova: Socialist pro-Russian Igor Dodon wins highly polarizing presidential election

Socialist Party leader Igor Dodon won Moldova's presidential election on Sunday with 52.2% of the vote, after campaigning to pursue closer ties with Russia rather than the EU.

However, unlike the situation in Bulgaria, the opposing government is not resigning. The opposition leader Maia Sandu said that the elections were neither free nor fair. and accused opponents of using "dirty methods" against her.

Moldova's people are extremely polarized in the political conflict between the European Union and Russia. At the center of the conflict has been the secessionist and mainly Russian-speaking province of Transnistria (also called Trans-Dniester or Transdniester). Russia has thousands of troops stationed there, supposedly as peacekeepers. At the time of Russia's military invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, the people of Transnistria, which is on Ukraine's border, were expressing the hope that Russia's military would annex Transnistria as well.

In fact, Dodon is apparently prepared to grant Transnistria a special status, short of full secession:

"For the first time in the recent seven years, all the pro-Moldova and pro-state forces have united for friendship with Russia, for neutrality, for our Orthodoxy, for the unity of the country in settling the Transnistria conflict. The first step has been made. ...

"My position remains unchanged," he continued. "We should grant a special status to Transnistria. ... I believe, the country’s federalization is the only solution."

On Monday, up to 3,000 mostly young Moldovans marched to the offices of the Central Election Committee in Chisinau, the country's capital city, shouting "Down with the Mafia!"

There are fears that a pro-Russian government in Chisinau will result in an expansion of Russian military forces in Moldova, and this would cause a hardening of relations with Ukraine and Romania, and indeed with the entire European Union. Al-Jazeera and Tass (Moscow) and RFE/RL

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Nov-16 World View -- Bulgaria and Moldova elect pro-Russian presidents, turning away from EU thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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14-Nov-16 World View -- Britain's National Health Service (NHS) forced to close emergency rooms

Syrian regime sending 'leave or die' text messages to Aleppo residents

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's National Health Service (NHS) forced to close emergency rooms


A patient in Britain is moved from an ambulance to an Accident & Emergency department.  (Getty)
A patient in Britain is moved from an ambulance to an Accident & Emergency department. (Getty)

There have been plenty of recent stories about the financial collapse of Obamacare, and the astronomical increases in premiums -- something that I predicted would happen that day after it was announced in 2009, because it was a repeat of President Nixon's wage-price controls, which were supposed to lower the inflation rate from 4% to 2%, but instead increased it to 12%. The increases in Obamacare premiums are following the same pattern as Nixon's price controls, as I predicted. Obamacare is a true financial disaster.

However, it's been less reported that Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is also facing financial collapse.

As we reported a year ago, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020.

The system is deeply corrupt, with doctors falsifying records, claiming for work that was never done, or putting in for bogus overtime. Dentistry services are so bad that people are buying "do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry kits" to take care of their whole families, as was done centuries ago.

New reports indicate that about half the hospitals will have bed cuts, and one-third will close their Accident & Emergency departments (known in America as Emergency Rooms). Many maternity units will also be targeted for closure.

The country has been split into 44 areas, with each told to produce proposals to balance the books and change the way care is delivered. The UK now has fewer beds for its population than almost any country in Europe. One quarter of hospital beds have been closed in the last decade, with 37,000 fewer general and acute beds now than in 2006/7, taking levels of hospital occupancy to a record high. Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London)

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Syrian regime sending 'leave or die' text messages to Aleppo residents

The long-expected mass slaughter of residents of east Aleppo by Russian and Syrian regime forces may finally be imminent, as the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is sending text messages to east Aleppo residents telling them to leave the area within 24 hours.

The text messages say the following:

"To the armed people in the neighburhoods of east Aleppo, we are giving you 24 hours only to decide if you are leaving. Your leadership abroad is incapable of getting you out. Whoever wants to stay alive must drop his weapons and we will secure his safety. After the 24 hours is up we will implement a strategic attack using highly sophisticated weapons.

The opposition leadership that stays in hotels and castles enjoying a luxurious life doesn’t care about the poor Syrian citizens in east Aleppo. They are using you for their personal benefit. We are giving you, the sick and the wounded, 24 hours to exit if you want."

The use of text messages is a new tactic, as the regime has previously transmitted messages by dropping leaflets or using loudspeakers.

However, anti-government activists have told reporters that few people are actually reading the text messages, since there no electricity to charge mobile phones. Many believe that the text messages are no more than psychological warfare.

A new Russian naval war group, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, has just arrived in at the coast of Syria, preparing for battle. East Aleppo has about 250,000 residents, already starving, mostly women and children, and the al-Assad regime has indicated that it wants to kill as many of them as possible. Al-Jazeera and Telegraph (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Nov-16 World View -- Britain's National Health Service (NHS) forced to close emergency rooms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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13-Nov-16 World View -- Multiple terror bombings cross Pakistan and Afghanistan

14-year-old suicide bomber kills dozens in Sufi shrine in Pakistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taliban attack on German consulate in Afghanistan kills six


German consulate in Mazar Hotel in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan destroyed by Taliban (Reuters)
German consulate in Mazar Hotel in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan destroyed by Taliban (Reuters)

A suicide car bomber rammed Germany's consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing six civilians and wounding more than 120. The ensuing gun battle continued for around five hours. All German and Afghan employees of the consulate were unharmed. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, "The attackers were fought off by the consulate's security personnel, Afghan security forces, and German, Georgian, Belgian and Latvian special forces stationed in the city as part of the Resolute Support mission." Mazar-i-Sharif is the provincial capital and one of the richest and most important cities in Afghanistan. Deutsche-Welle and AP

Afghan Taliban attack on Bagram base kills four Americans

A man wearing a suicide vest killed two U.S. service members and two U.S. contractors early Saturday inside Bagram military base, the largest NATO military base in Afghanistan. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, and said it had been planned for four months.

Bagram Airfield features several layers of security, including retinal scans. The attacker was one of the Afghan laborers working on the base. NBC News and Arab Times (Kuwait)

14-year-old suicide bomber kills dozens in Sufi shrine in Pakistan

At least 52 people were killed and over 100 wounded in a suicide bombing by a 14-year-old boy at a Sufi shrine about 760 km south of Quetta and 100 km north of Karachi in Pakistan's southwestern province Balochistan.

The bombing occurred just before sunset during a daily Sufi ritual trance-like dance or "dhamaal." Many people come each day just for the dance, including non-Muslims. At least 500 people had gathered on Saturday for the dance and for a picnic.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is claiming credit for the attack, giving rise to the speculation that the boy's parents have joined an ISIS-linked terror group in Pakistan. However, ISIS has the practice of claiming credit for terror attacks it's had nothing to do with, and that may be the case this time.

An attack occurred three weeks ago at a police training facility in Quetta, killing 61 people, mostly fresh police recruits. That attack was blamed on the Al Alami offshoot of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a terror group that has vowed to exterminate all Shias in Pakistan, and has carried out numerous terrorist actions targeting Shias and Sufis. LeJ is also thought to have links to ISIS, and it's possible that Saturday's attack was linked to LeJ.

In August, Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) claimed responsibility for another terror attack at Quetta's Civil Hospital, killing at least 75 people. JuA has also declared allegiance to ISIS.

Last month's Quetta attack sent shock waves through Pakistan's society, as they continue their internal debates between "good and bad Taliban," and this new attack will intensify that debate. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Press Trust of India (PTI) and Smithsonian Magazine on Sufi dance

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Nov-16 World View -- Multiple terror bombings cross Pakistan and Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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12-Nov-16 World View -- India's prime minister Narendra Modi declares 500-1000 rupee notes worthless

Many wives face hardship because their 'hidden cash' is now worthless

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Only 1% of people in India pay any income taxes at all


Man holding a wad of 500 rupee notes that have now become worthless paper (Reuters)
Man holding a wad of 500 rupee notes that have now become worthless paper (Reuters)

In May of this year, India's government released a report on tax compliance for the first time in decades. According to the report, only about 1% of India's population paid taxes on their earnings in 2013. By contrast, the figure is 45% in the United States.

Here are some reasons for this:

India Today (2-May) and International Business Times (6-Jun-2013) and CNBC

India's prime minister Narendra Modi declares 500-1000 rupee notes worthless

India's rupee currency fell sharply against the dollar this week, after prime minister Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday that all notes 500 rupee and 1000 rupee notes (equivalent to about $7.50 and $15.00, respectively) would immediately become worthless, in the sense that they are no longer "legal tender," and can no longer be used for commerce. New 500-1000 notes with additional security features will be issued "soon."

A person with 500-1000 rupee notes can deposit them in his bank account until December 31. However, anyone depositing more than 250,000 rupees will have to account for the money, and will be subject to tax, a 200% penalty, and prosecution.

The term "black money" refers to money that has not been declared to the income tax department. Someone who deposits a sack full of cash can expect to get notices from the income tax department demanding an explanation of where this money came from. The person will be subject to a full audit, and required to submit personal books of accounts. The income tax department will be conducting unannounced raids to look for assets like gold and property papers.

India's government hopes that this desperate measure will bring in several billion dollars in additional tax revenue.

Hopefully, someone in India's government will realize that this will work only once because of its surprise value, and that in the future people will figure out new ways to avoid paying taxes. India Times and International Business Times and New Delhi TV

Many wives face hardship because their 'hidden cash' is now worthless

Many people kept their cash for daily living in the form of 500-1000 rupee notes, and suddenly their cash was worthless.

People flooded the banking system on Thursday and Friday to obtain cash, but the banks were unprepared and ran out of cash, causing people to wait in line for a long as ten hours. Even worse, many rural areas of India have no banks at all. Commercial currency exchange businesses around the world immediately stopped accepting the 500-1000 notes, leaving Indian people stranded in foreign countries with no money.

Women in India are hardest hit by the new policy, according to the BBC Hindi correspondent Shivani Kohawk(?). She explained the problems that women in India have (my transcription):

"Basically, women in India have traditionally tried to save money by stealing from their husbands, and this is something I was told to do when I got married. My cousins have done it, my mother's done it. What they do is when the man comes back home, after a hard day's work, he's always carrying some cash, and they try and sneak out a couple of hundreds, and put them away, and that's their way of keeping money aside, for things they might want to do which they're not allowed to do, as part of the family remit, or buy extra presents for their close friends and family, or just even to tide over a rainy day.

And you will not believe it, but these sums can really really add up. And I think a lot of women now in India are wondering, oh my goodness, what should we do? How do we declare this so-called black money? That's one part of why Indian women would be holding on to cash.

There's also traditionally a culture of giving money as gifts, especially with weddings, close members of the family, instead of buying expensive presents would give you wads of cash, and the more affluent the relative, the bigger the sums of money, and as soon as the bride is done with all the wedding bonanza, she gets down to collecting her cash. And there she is, and obviously the more affluent the family, the bigger the sums. And again, this is her property. She holds onto it for her dear life. She doesn't give it to her husband.

The third thing that women do in India is called a Kitty Party. And what they do is - they get together and they pool in money. So you have a group of women, say, ten women, they all put 1000 rupees in, and at the end it there's ten thousands, and every month they'll meet, and one of them gets to take the 10,000 home."

She said that many women will be worried now that they have to deposit their "hidden money" into a bank. Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and Canadian Broadcasting and International Business Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Nov-16 World View -- India's prime minister Narendra Modi declares 500-1000 rupee notes worthless thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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11-Nov-16 World View -- Hundreds of Australian migrants to be resettled in the United States

As winter approaches, Syria's east Aleppo faces mass starvation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hundreds of Australian migrants to be resettled in the United States


Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea (AAP)
Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea (AAP)

Reports indicate that Australia and the United States are close to a deal where about 1,800 migrants from Australian detention centers in Pacific islands will be resettled in the United States.

There have been reports for months that Australia was working on a deal to resettle the migrants in an unnamed country. It now appears that the unnamed country is the United States, and the deal was held up pending the US presidential election, so that it would not affect the election results. Now that the election is over, the deal can be completed and implemented in the presidential lame duck period.

In past years, thousands of refugees from Asia have traveled by boat to Australia, often after paying huge sums to human traffickers, hoping to resettle there. Australia has dealt with the situation, starting in 2001, by setting up two "detention centers" on Pacific islands, one on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island, and one on the island nation of Nauru, under agreements reached with both countries. Australia intercepts the boat people while at sea, and redirects them to the detention centers. These two filthy, rat-infested detention centers have been enormously controversial, with numerous stories of beatings, torture, and sexual abuse at the detention centers. The detention centers were shut down in 2007, but reinstated when the number of refugees and asylum seekers surged again into the thousands.

The detention center policy has been extremely successful, in that the number of migrants reaching Australia has been sharply reduced. However, the policy has been widely condemned as cruel to people fleeing poverty and violence, and as a violation of international laws.

Immigration department chief Michael Pezzullo refused on Friday to confirm that a deal is pending, but said "We are working actively on those arrangements ... today we are closer than what we were yesterday." He also refused to discuss which countries are in negotiations with Australia, but some reports indicate that Canada may be in negotiations as well. Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and Sydney Morning Herald

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As winter approaches, Syria's east Aleppo faces mass starvation

With the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad blocking food aid to east Aleppo, the UN aid agencies are will run out of food next week, and some 250,000 people will be facing mass starvation, with winter approaching.

Russia has been building for a massive military assault on east Aleppo, including more warplanes, and cruise missiles. Al Jazeera and BBC and VOA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Nov-16 World View -- Hundreds of Australian migrants to be resettled in the United States thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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10-Nov-16 World View -- Donald Trump: The honeymoon calm before the storm

Is this the Apocalypse?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Donald Trump victory signals a major increase in nationalism


Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday (Boston Globe)
Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday (Boston Globe)

Two weeks ago, I wrote Clinton e-mail media storm shows sudden change in public mood after FBI Director James B. Comey made a Friday afternoon announcement that he might re-open the Clinton e-mail case. Friday afternoon announcements, including many previous announcements about Benghazi and Clinton e-mail dumps, are almost always immediately forgotten, but this one created a media storm in the mainstream media, indicating a sudden change in public mood.

As I wrote at the time, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the media storm was much more important than whether Clinton was guilty or innocent, because it indicated that the public mood was changing. And that media storm was a harbinger of the Trump victory which was a surprise to almost every media source and almost every polling organization.

Now Donald Trump has to govern. He's very similar to Barack Obama in that neither has the vaguest clue what's going on in the world. And after eight years in office, Obama seems to know as little today about what's going on in the world as he did eight years ago.

It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump will be any better at learning what's going on in the world than Barack Obama. Boomers are generally less arrogant and more willing to listen to reason than Gen-Xers, so there's hope.

One thing that his staff might do is develop some expertise in generational theory. Generational Dynamics is a non-ideological methodology that does analyses using MIT's System Dynamics applied to changes in generations. Since 2003, the http://GenerationalDynamics.com web site contains thousands of articles with hundreds of predictions, all of which have turned out to be right. There is no web site, analyst, politician or journalist with a success record in correct analyses and forecasts that comes even close to the Generational Dynamics success.

If the staff of Donald Trump, or any other politician in the country or the world, wants to base policy on what's actually going on in the world, rather than on fatuous left-wing or right-wing ideologies that are almost always wrong, then they should develop an understanding of generational theory, and read the daily World View articles.

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Brexit referendum and US election illustrate dangers of predicting elections

As I've been writing for years, starting long before the current election, this is a generational Crisis era, and as in other Crisis eras, nationalism, racism and xenophobia have been increasing in countries around the world.

This trend illustrates why pollsters have been so wrong in both the Brexit referendum and the US elections. Pollsters were using models that date back to the 1990s, a generational Unraveling era when the Silent generation was still in charge, and knew the enormous dangers of nationalism, racism and xenophobia from having survived World War II. Polling organizations using 1990s models simply did not see the change in attitudes caused by the disappearance of the generations of survivors of World War II.

During the campaign, I was asked several times whether Generational Dynamics could predict the result of the election. The easy answer is that Chaos Theory proves that election results cannot be predicted, and any polling organization would agree.

For those who would like some additional technical details about this, I use a fairly simple test to determine whether or not something can be predicted.

When I want to decide whether something can or cannot be predicted, I use what I call "the butterfly test." You may have heard about the finding from Chaos Theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in China could start a chain reaction that might (or might not) cause a hurricane in North America. That's one reason why it's mathematically impossible to accurately predict the weather more than about two weeks in advance. No matter how advanced weather science becomes, whether forecasting will never be any better than it is now.

So I build on that concept. A butterfly flapping its wings in China could cause a hurricane in North America, and that could cause people to stay home, changing the outcome of an election. Since something as tiny as a butterfly flapping its wings could change the outcome of an election, there's no hope of predicting the outcome of an election. Or if you use polls to predict the results of an election, you likely have no better than a 50-50 or 55-45 chance of getting it right.

What generational theory does do is predict broad trends involving entire populations or entire generations. These trends can't be affected by a butterfly flapping its wings because there are too many people involved. People have free will, so you can't predict the actions of an individual or a small group of people, but you can predict many things about an entire population or an entire generation.

The honeymoon calm before the storm

Almost everyone I know hated this presidential campaign, as the two candidates at times seemed to be in a race to be more sickening and disgusting than the other. How low could the country go?

Pollster Frank Luntz, appearing on 60 Minutes last Sunday, has been conducting political focus groups for years, and he traces the growth in political vitriol as starting in the 2000 presidential election, when Al Gore won the popular vote, but George W. Bush became president after six weeks and a Supreme Court decision. According to Luntz:

"And in that six weeks, we came from being Democrats and Republicans to being outraged, to believing that the other side is trying to steal the election. And when the election was over, there was no coming together. There was no honeymoon. And from that point on, the goal has been to delegitimize. Not to respect and at least to listen to, but to delegitimize the opposition. And now today in 2016, hours from now, it will be tens of millions of people who will believe that the loser should have won, that the election was rigged, and that the winner is illegitimate. ...

I feel like I’m a child of a divorce. These two candidates, the way they fight, the way they yell at each other, the way they make it personal, it’s like having your parents get divorced, and you don’t want to live with either of them. And the judge sits there and says, “Pick one or the other.” And you say, “How about the jury? Can I-- can I go there?” It’s awful."

Luntz suggested that the "social media" is at fault. "There were people in that focus group who used language that if my mom was still alive and I said it, she would literally cut me out of the will. There’s no self-censoring. So we now say exactly what we feel. And, goddamn it, you’re gonna listen to me. And that’s really what it is right now. You’re gonna listen to me. I’m not gonna learn from you. You’re gonna listen to me."

Many people are hoping that the vitriolic attacks will end, now that the election is over, and that things can return to "normal." And when they say "normal," they mean the 1990s -- a generational Unraveling era. That's not going to happen.

The generational Crisis era ("Fourth Turning") officially began in 2003, 58 years after the end of World War II, as the last of the Silent generation retired. The vitriolic attacks on George Bush had begun a couple of years earlier, as Luntz described, but they've only become worse since then, and they've gone in both directions between Republicans and Democrats.

I titled this article "the honeymoon calm before the storm" as kind of a joke. New presidents are supposed to have a "honeymoon" that lasts 100 days or so into his new administration, but that was before the rise of Generation-X. Trump will be lucky if his "honeymoon" lasts the rest of this month.

This kind of chaotic storm always happens during a generational Crisis era. In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt was deeply hated for many of his decisions. One of the worst was his decision to try to "pack" the Supreme Court by expanding it 15 judges, in order to get the court to stop declaring his favorite new laws unconstitutional. And you can imagine how vitriolic the attacks must have become when Roosevelt became the first US president to run for a third term.

The previous generational Crisis era saw the election in 1860 of Abraham Lincoln as president. This infuriated the Southern states, and led to the Civil War.

Many people are describing what's happening today as unique in American history. That's far from true. What's happening today happens in every country in every generational Crisis era. CBS 60 Minutes and History.com

Related Articles (58-year hypothesis)

Is this the Apocalypse?

I heard several journalists on the BBC and RFI on Wednesday talk about the end of the world, the Apocalypse. There were several reasons why the world was going to end. One was because Trump was going to end climate change talks, and we're all going to freeze to death ... I mean, burn to death. And the other was because Trump was going to start a nuclear war, and start dropping nuclear bombs on everyone. Nobody mentioned the Apocalypse caused by an attack by China.

This talk of Apocalypse is silly, but it's also not far from the truth. President Roosevelt's term led to World War II, and President Lincoln's term led to the Civil War. That's what happens during a generational Crisis era, no matter who's president.

As I've been writing for years, the world is headed for a new world war, the Clash of Civilizations world war. The allies of the West will include Japan, India, Russia and Iran. The enemies will be China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries. This will be the greatest war in history. By the time it's over, every nuclear weapon in the world will have been used on someone. I estimate that the total deaths from nuclear war, ground war, famine and disease to be around 3-4 billion people, leaving around 4 billion people to rebuild the world.

And here's another little bit of irony. Assuming that this war begins during Donald Trump's term in office, and assuming that the United States survives the war, then Trump will become a national hero, with the stature of Roosevelt and Lincoln.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Nov-16 World View -- Donald Trump: The honeymoon calm before the storm thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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9-Nov-16 World View -- EU's expected scathing report on Turkey may scuttle refugee deal

Austria says EU must prepare for collapse of Turkey migrant deal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU's expected scathing report on Turkey may scuttle refugee deal


Hungary border protection (AP)
Hungary border protection (AP)

The European Commission on Tuesday will issue it annual report on Turkey's progress towards European Union membership, and the report is expected to be scathingly critical. According to media reports, it will criticize Turkey's crackdown on more than 110,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants who have been fired or jailed. About 35,000 have been jailed after being accused, often with no evidence, of supporting the July 15 aborted coup attempt or of being a supporter of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

It will also reference the threat by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reinstate the death penalty. This alone will end talks for Turkey to join the European Union. It could also mean the end of visa liberalization plans that would permit Turkey's citizens to travel freely in Europe without a visa.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker said the following:

"I note with bitterness, I who am a friend of Turkey, that Turkey is distancing itself from Europe every day. ... All that the Turkish authorities are doing today leads me to believe that in the end Turkey does not want to ... meet European standards. ...

If tomorrow we refused visa liberalization for Turkey, the blame should not be put on Europe but on the Turkish authorities. Mr. Erdogan will have to explain to the Turks why they cannot travel freely across Europe like every other European, because he will be the one who has not fulfilled the conditions jointly agreed between Turkey and the European Union. ...

We need Turkey. But we cannot give up on our main principles."

In a speech on Sunday, Erdogan responded to accusations from the EU that he was becoming a dictator, and expressed contempt for the EU concern for human rights over the need to stop terrorism in Turkey:

"Europe has been on a course that is leading to its own demise.

Those who are willing to drown the rest of the world in blood to preserve the sense of security and peace inside their own borders move further from humanity each day."

Erdogan has ridiculed the EU for having a weak policy for refugees, when Turkey has taken in at least 2.7 million Syrian refugees and houses 270,000 in 26 provisional refugee camps with food, health and education services as well as psychological support, vocational education and social activities, and has spent 7 billion euros meeting their needs.

The EU-Turkey migrant deal has been dramatically successful, reducing the number of migrants traveling across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece to around a few dozen per day, down from thousands per day last year. However, the terms of that deal require visa liberalization, visa-free travel for all Turkish citizens in Europe's Schengen Zone, as well as billions of dollars in aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey. Those terms were to be met by June of this year, but they have not yet taken place.

Now Jean-Claude Jüncker is suggesting that visa liberalization will not occur at all. Turkish officials have repeatedly said that without visa liberalization, the EU-Turkey deal would be canceled, suggesting that once more there would be thousands of Syrian refugees per day crossing from Turkey to Greece.

The words between EU and Turkish officials have been getting increasingly vitriolic, but so far they're just words. Wednesday's EU progress report on Turkey could change things to stoking more nationalism in Turkey, but so far there are no signs that Turkey is really about to cancel the deal. Euro News and Reuters

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Austria says EU must prepare for collapse of Turkey migrant deal

Austria will meet next with the central European nations of the Visegrad group - Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic - all of whom are opposed to the EU's migrant policy, to prepare for the collapse of the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

According to Hans Peter Doskozil, Austria's defense minister:

"I have always said that the EU-Turkey deal should only be a stop-gap measure until the EU is in the position to effectively protect its external borders and thereby stem the flow of migrants. The time to organize for that is ever closer."

Austria is calling for tougher border controls, and an end of aid to Turkey.

Austria's foreign minister Sebastian Kurz said that the EU must adopt a different policy:

"Over recent years Turkey has moved further and further away from the EU, but our policy has remained the same. That can’t work. What we need are clear consequences.

In Turkey, opposition figures are being arrested, journalists are being persecuted, officials are being fired if they think differently and the return of the death penalty is being talked about.

[Stopping the funds] is the logical consequence ... It is quite clear that this money will not flow if Turkey does not stick to its side of the deal."

Other EU leaders are becoming using increasingly vitriolic words towards Turkey. Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn referred to Turkey's dismissal of civil servants and firing of academics:

"To put it bluntly, these are methods that were used during the Nazi era and that’s a really, really bad development ... that the EU simply cannot accept."

As I've been writing for years, in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the US and the West will be allied with Japan, India, Russia and Iran, fighting against China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries, including Turkey. Deutsche Welle and Hurriyet (Ankara) and EU Observer

Hungary's Viktor Orbán defeated in attempt to ban refugee quotas

Hungary's anti-immigrant prime minister Viktor Orbán suffered a setback on Tuesday when the the parliament rejected an anti-migrant bill in response to the European Union resettlement plan and a specific EU quota to allow a reported 1,294 refugees to relocate to Hungary.

The parliamentary rejection occurred because the MPs of the anti-immigrant Jobbik, which would have been expected to support the bill, abstained on the vote. Jobbik was objecting to a separate measure supported by Orbán that permitted any foreigner with $331,000 to settle in Hungary. According to Jobbik MP Marton Gyongyosi:

"We have said that of course we are against the resettlements to Hungary by Brussels and we are against migration quotas, but we are equally against migrants to Hungary who perhaps have €300,000 to spend. If you want to say 'No' to poor ones, you have to say 'No' to rich migrants."

This is Orbán's second recent setback. Orbán supported a divisive reference that was held on October 2 on the same subject. Of the 3.3 million people who voted, 98% supported the referendum. But the referendum failed anyway, according to Hungary's constitution, because only 40.4% of Hungary's voters voted, short of the required 50% threshold. Budapest Business Journal and CNN and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Nov-16 World View -- EU's expected scathing report on Turkey may scuttle refugee deal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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8-Nov-16 World View -- China orders Hong Kong to disqualify anyone not taking 'sincere' loyalty oath to China

Advice on traveling to China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China orders Hong Kong to disqualify anyone not taking 'sincere' loyalty oath to China


A protester raises a yellow umbrella in front of a line of police officers in Hong Kong on Sunday
A protester raises a yellow umbrella in front of a line of police officers in Hong Kong on Sunday

Mainland China has preempted Hong Kong's courts by ordering Hong Kong to "reinterpret" its laws so that the two pro-democracy "localists" who changed the wording of their oath of office will not be able to enter the legislature by taking the oath again.

China suffered a stinging defeat when a September 4 election gave pro-democracy or "localist" candidates 27 out of 70 seats in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo). Two of those elected, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chun-hang, from "Youngspiration," went beyond "pro-democracy" to advocating full Hong Kong independence from China. When they took their oaths of office on October 12, they changed the wording of the official oath of office to express support for Hong Kong's independence. They also referred to China as "Chee-na," mimicking the derogatory Shina used by Japan during the second world war. The Hong Kong courts were asked to decide whether the two should be permitted to re-take their oaths, or be completely disqualified from entering LegCo.

On Monday, Beijing's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee "reinterpreted" Hong Kong laws, essentially ordering the Hong Kong government to disqualify the two, and possibly others who have ever supported independence. The oath must be taken "sincerely and solemnly," and must "bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People' s Republic of China."

In addition, China may revive a long-dormant national security law that was dropped in the past. That law would provide legislation covering secession, subversion, theft of state secrets, and activities of foreign political organizations. Xinhua and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Hong Kong Free Press and Bloomberg

Hong Kong police prepare for massive street protests

Police in Hong Kong used pepper spray on Sunday to disperse 8,000 to 10,000 demonstrators protesting against the expected decision by Beijing to "reinterpret" Hong Kong laws. Some of the demonstrators used umbrellas to protect themselves from the pepper spray, as they had done during the 2014 demonstrations that launched the "umbrella revolution."

Hong Kong is deploying some 2,000 police officers around the clock this week, in preparation for further protests.

Several commentators have pointed out that Hong Kong politics has become more confrontational. In the past, when institutions were led by survivors of the bloody Communist Revolution, protestors saw peaceful protest as the best way to bring about change.

However, as survivor generations have died off, and radical new generations have come of age, protestors are argument that peaceful protests have achieved nothing, and that more confrontational tactics are required.

One can easily see that this won't end well. Hong Kong is only going to become more radicalized, and Beijing is only going to become more anxious and nationalistic. The same is true in Taiwan, and even in Tibet and Xinjiang. At some point, the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing will decide that enough is enough. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and BBC

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Advice on traveling to China

Are you planning a trip to China? A number of Holly pros offer the following advice:

Hollywood Reporter

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Nov-16 World View -- China orders Hong Kong to disqualify anyone not taking 'sincere' loyalty oath to China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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7-Nov-16 World View -- US-backed Kurdish militias in Syria make surprise announcement of Raqqa operation

Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad a 'necessary evil'?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US-backed Kurdish militias in Syria make surprise announcement of Raqqa operation


Kurdish forces on Sunday preparing to liberate Raqqa (Rudaw)
Kurdish forces on Sunday preparing to liberate Raqqa (Rudaw)

The Kurdish US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Sunday announced the beginning of an operation to recapture Raqqa from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Raqqa, a city of over 300,000 people, has served as the "capital city" for ISIS.

Different news reports of the operation are calling it by different, though similar names. The names I've seen so far are:

The announcement was a surprise, coming so soon after the beginning of the operation to recapture the city of Mosul in Iraq from ISIS. It's possible that the start of the operation was speeded up in order to give ISIS less time to prepare. However, both of the operations, in Raqqa and Mosul, are expected to take months, and to require bloody street to street fighting.

The announcement is also controversial because the principal fighters are Kurds, something that's opposed by Turkey and by many Arab Sunnis. The Kurds have treated Sunni Arabs harshly in other cities that the Kurds have liberated from ISIS, and have expelled many of the Sunnis, and Raqqa Sunnis are afraid that the same thing will happen to them. This is not an unreasonable fear. The Kurds are known to be trying to form an independent Kurdish state called "Rojava" in northern Syria and Iraq, along the border with Turkey, and so expelling Sunni Arabs from Raqqa would be consistent with this plan.

Turkey on the other hand has launched Operation Euphrates Shield on the other (western) side of the Euphrates River, allied with the Free Syrian Army, to recapture regions around Aleppo from ISIS, and also to block the Kurds from creating Rojava. Turkey is bitterly opposed to the use of Kurdish militias in Syria, since it considers them to be terrorists, allied with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by the US and Europe, and has been conduction terrorist bombings in Turkey.

Turkey had wanted to participate in the liberation of Raqqa, and didn't want the Kurds to participate. The US had to choose between the two, and chose the Kurds. Haaretz (Israel) and Rudaw (Iraqi Kurdistan) and AP

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Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad a 'necessary evil'?

I've written frequently that Syria's Alawite/Shia president Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal leader so far in the 21st century, because of his war crimes and his apparent attempted extermination of the Alawite's historic enemies, the Syrian Sunnis. One web site reader says that al-Assad is a "necessary evil":

"I personally do not like Assad, John, I even wrote a very lengthy article about how the U.S. should interfere to end the war and depose his regime, but my views have since evolved. As evil as Bashar may be, he is a necessary evil to the region -- at least for now, especially in the wake of the massive geopolitical changes going on right now."

I understand your argument, but there are two problems with it.

First, why is he "necessary"? You're making an assumption that the region is better off with him there, committing genocide against Sunnis, than the region would be without him. How do you justify that assumption? Was Adolf Hitler a necessary evil for Germany when he perpetrated the Holocaust? Was Mao Zedong a necessary evil for China when he perpetrated the Great Leap Forward? Was Pol Pot a necessary evil for Cambodia when he perpetrated the Killing Fields? I don't think you can successfully make the argument you're trying to make.

Second, I think it's demonstrable, or very close to it, that the region would be better off without him. The civil war in Syria didn't spring from nowhere. It was caused when al-Assad unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Up to that point, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were friendly with al-Assad. Things really turned around in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians. That's what led to the geopolitical disaster you're alluding to.

Since then, Sunnis have been fighting Shia/Alawite Assad on a sectarian basis. The Sunni groups fighting Assad can be split into rough categories:

Since 2011, The rise of Sunni groups fighting al-Assad has brought in countervailing sectarian forces from Iran and Russia. This has turned the Syrian "civil war" into a proxy war.

This is a generational Awakening era for Syria, like America in the 1960s when people were still living in the shadow of WW II and did not want another war. In Syria today, the war was begun by al-Assad in 2011 by attacking peaceful protesters, and is continuing today because of unceasing attacks by al-Assad, Russia, Hezbollah and Iran -- and even so, al-Assad's army is struggling for survival.

So I claim that it's demonstrable that if al-Assad were replaced by a technocrat, then the war would fizzle. Syria would once again get along with Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The Syrians -- the FSA and al-Nusra -- would then unite and expel ISIS. This is what happened in Iraq during the "surge" in 2007, when the Iraqi Sunnis united and expelled foreign fighters from al-Qaeda in Iraq. Millions of people in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and even Europe could then return to their homes in Syria.

So I disagree with you. Al-Assad is not a "necessary evil." He's an extremely destructive evil. Bashar al-Assad is the first major genocidal leader of the 21st century, and the most evil leader so far in the 21st century.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Nov-16 World View -- US-backed Kurdish militias in Syria make surprise announcement of Raqqa operation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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6-Nov-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan eliminates more opposition in quest for power

Erdogan continues his war against Turkey's media

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan eliminates more opposition in quest for power


The editor and leading reporters of Cumhuriyet, Turkey's oldest and most respected newspaper, were arrested on Saturday (Hurriyet)
The editor and leading reporters of Cumhuriyet, Turkey's oldest and most respected newspaper, were arrested on Saturday (Hurriyet)

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan never ceases to astonish, as he arrests, fires, and otherwise eliminates anyone or anything that might stand in his way to increased powers that are appearing more and more dictatorial in nature.

On Friday, the leaders and several MPs of Turkey's Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested, allegedly for links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a terrorist group that has conducted terror attacks on targets within Turkey. Eliminating members of an opposing party from Parliament gives more power to Erdogan's own AKP (Justice and Development Party).

Hours later, a car bomb killed nine people in Diyarbakir in a largely Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey. Diyarbakir has been the site of other recent PKK terror attacks as well.

Erdogan's supporters would claim that by arresting pro-Kurdish MPs, Erdogan was increasing internal security in Turkey, and protecting Turkey from PKK attacks. Erdogan's opponents would claim that by arresting pro-Kurdish MPs, Erdogan is inflaming Kurdish anger at the government, and providing cover for PKK terrorists to perform more terror attacks.

Erdogan has been seeking additional powers for years, eliminating political opponents. He has favored a constitutional change that would further concentrate power in his hands.

Among the HDP politicians that Erdogan had arrested was the party leader Selahattin Demirtas, who has led the opposition to the constitutional change. Demirtas and other HDP politicians out of the Parliament, Erdogan can now move forward with the vote on the constitutional changes.

Erdogan has been eliminating his opposition for years, but the July 15 aborted coup has stoked nationalism among his AKP supporters enough that he can now get away with things that might have been more difficult a few months ago.

In the past week alone, Erdogan had 10,000 civil servants dismissed, bringing the total since July to 100,000. He's arrested mayors and conducted a war against the media.

Turkey is increasingly a badly polarized country, with Erdogan's supporters passionately supporting his massive post-coup purge, and his opponents fearing that Turkey is headed for a dictatorship under Erdogan. It's possible in a sense that they're both right, and it's also possible that Turkey is headed for a civil war. Yeni Safak (Ankara) and BBC and Washington Post and Cumhuriyet

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Erdogan continues his war against Turkey's media

Erdogan's war against the media began well before the July 15 coup.

In March, Erdogan ordered a government takeover of Turkey's most important opposition media, the Zaman media group, publishers of Turkey's largest newspaper Zaman, its English language version, Today's Zaman, plus the Cihan News Agency and Aksiyon magazine.

Zaman was owned by a political enemy of Erdogan, an exiled Muslim cleric Felhullah Gülen. They once were allies but in 1999 Erdogan accused Gülen of trying to overthrow the government Gülen fled to the United States in 1999, and has lived in Pennsylvania since then. Erdogan's government has declared Gülen to be a terrorist and has asked the US government for extradition, but has been refused.

Erdogan has had tens of thousands of civil servants, academics, politicians, and media personnel fired or arrested, accusing them without proof of being linked to either Gulen or the PKK.

During the last week, fifteen more media outlets were closed, bring the total since July to about 170. The government has also crippled internet social media sources, making them unusable in Turkey.

On Saturday, Erdogan had the editor and other staff members of Cumhuriyet newspaper arrested. Cumhuriyet is a special newspaper in Turkey's history. It was started on May 7, 1924, at the time of of Turkey's founding by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Ataturk declared Turkey to be a secular state, and Cumhuriyet has since then strictly followed the secularist line.

Since rising to power in the early 2000s, Erdogan has repeatedly violated Ataturk's policy of secularism, and has sought to make Turkey a Sunni Muslim Islamist state. Cumhuriyet has continued to strongly support secularism, and has been critical of both Erdogan, Gulen, and the PKK. For that reason, Erdogan's charges that Cumhuriyet has supported Gulen and the PKK are not considered credible. Hurriyet (Istanbul) and Cumhuriyet and Cumhuriyet and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Nov-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan eliminates more opposition in quest for power thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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5-Nov-16 World View -- Egypt fears more social unrest after sharp devaluation of currency

Egypt's government says that 'the luxury of delay is not available'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt, in economic crisis, sharply devalues currency in order to get an IMF loan


People jostle with each other to get to the fuel nozzle on Friday in the hours before a scheduled 47% increase in the price of petrol (al-Ahram)
People jostle with each other to get to the fuel nozzle on Friday in the hours before a scheduled 47% increase in the price of petrol (al-Ahram)

In a step unprecedented for Egypt, in order to meet conditions for a $16 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Central Bank of Egypt announced on Thursday that its pound currency would be allowed to float in value against other currencies. Previously, the government pegged the currency at a fixed rate of 8.8 pounds per US dollar, but international foreign exchange (forex) traders were increasingly unwilling to pay a dollar for just 8.8 Egyptian pounds.

The "grey market" price was already at around 15-16 pounds per US dollar, so it's not surprising that when the currency was allowed to float, it quickly plummeted in a single day from 8.8 pounds per US dollar to a value of about 14.65 pounds per dollar. This meant that prices of imported goods will cost about 45% more than before the currency was floated.

The government also announced a 30-47% increase in subsidized fuel prices, as part of a plan to slash its total subsidy bill by 14%. The announcement was made about two hours before the price increase would take effect, resulting in long lines of cars hoping to fill up during those two hours.

Egypt's economy had been increasingly in crisis at the fixed exchange rate. US dollars were becoming increasingly scarce, and all imports had be purchased in Egyptian pounds, which exporters increasingly refused to accept. The result was that basic commodities like sugar and flour were almost completely unavailable. Egyptian citizens were becoming increasingly vocal in blaming the government for the shortages.

However, the shortages have now been replaced by prices that are 40-60% higher than before, so social unrest is only likely to increase. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Reuters and NPR and Guardian (London, 25-Oct)

Egypt's government says that 'the luxury of delay is not available'

Ever since the Arab Spring and the fall of Egypt's dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt's economy has been plagued by a series of disasters. There have been riots and jihadist terrorist attacks that have sharply cut Egypt's income from tourism.

When Mohamed Morsi became the first democratically elected leader of Egypt in its history, there was hope that things would settle down. However, Morsi turned out to be one of the stupidest leaders in Egypt's history, and proceeded to destroy one of Egypt's institutions after another in order to gain more power for himself and his Muslim Brotherhood government. This led to the army coup on July 3, 2013, led by then General Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who is now president of Egypt.

All this chaos once again resulted in harm to the tourist industry, but there was a more significant result. Qatar was a big supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, and provided a great deal of aid to Egypt when Morsi was in power. That aid ended with the coup, and the slack was taken up by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait. However, the collapse in the price of oil since then has meant reduced aid from these countries to Egypt.

During the last five years, Egypt's economy has continued to worsen, and the Egyptian currency was under attack by forex investors. Even so, Egypt's central bank continued to peg the pound at a fixed rate versus the US dollar. Finally, in July of this year, Tarek Amer, the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, announced that Egypt's longstanding policy of defending the Egyptian pound against devaluation had been a "grave error," because it hadn't helped the economy, but instead had caused numerous problems, including shortages of dollars.

This announcement exacerbated the crisis, since it became clear that some kind of currency devaluation was coming, especially when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) appeared to demand it if the IMF were going to approve a loan to Egypt.

On Friday, Egypt's prime minster Sherif Ismail held a press conference and said:

"Yesterday was an important day in the history of the Egyptian economy, with the moves in foreign currency and petroleum prices. ... We’re taking important decisions, decisions that will revive the economy and take it forward. ...

The luxury of delay is not available. It may have been available in previous decades but today we cannot afford such painkillers."

There has been massive social unrest in Egypt in the last five years, since the beginning of the Arab Spring. The government has good reason to fear that there will be substantially more social unrest, as the currency devaluation causes higher prices to bite further into people's incomes. Al Ahram (Cairo) and Bloomberg and Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (Cairo, 3-Oct)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Nov-16 World View -- Egypt fears more social unrest after sharp devaluation of currency thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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4-Nov-16 World View -- Britain's Brexit plans in disarray after court requires parliamentary approval

Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world's oldest bank, appears close to collapse

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's Brexit plans in disarray after court requires parliamentary approval


Anti-Brexit protestors on June 25 in London (Getty)
Anti-Brexit protestors on June 25 in London (Getty)

A shock court decision on Thursday threatens to significantly delay implementation of Brexit, the referendum mandate that Britain leave the European Union. Negotiations between the UK and the EU are scheduled to take two years, but that two-year period will not begin until Britain's prime minister Theresa May invokes "Article 50," which triggers the beginning of negotiations. May had previously announced that she planned to invoke Article 50 in March of next year.

However, Britain's High Court on Thursday ruled that Theresa May cannot invoke Article 50 on her own, without a vote in Britain's House of Commons and House of Lords.

The court ruling immediately raised hopes in some quarters that Brexit may therefore not take place at all, though analysts I heard seemed to doubt that the parliament would be willing to reverse a decision supported by popular vote in a referendum.

Nonetheless, the path to Brexit implementation is now in disarray because Parliament will be debating the terms of the Brexit plan. There are many major issues to be resolved in the negotiations with the EU -- whether Britain will be part of the European Common Market, whether Britain will have to continue accepting migrants, whether Brits will need visas to visit EU countries, and vice versa, how the land border between Northern Ireland (which is part of Britain) and the Republic of Ireland (which is an independent nation in the EU) will be managed, and so forth.

All of these issues require some sort of plan in advance of triggering Article 50, and May had hoped to keep that plan a secret until then. But a lot of people suspect that no such plan exists -- that May doesn't have a clue what positions to take on issues like the ones listed above. So with the Parliament debating these issues, May will be forced to take positions on the issues prior to March. EU leaders will watch these proceedings with a combination of amusement and horror.

Britain is deeply divided by Brexit, and that extends to the Parliament. Analysts are predicting that anti-Brexit MPs will use the debating opportunities to delay the invocation of Article 50 by up to a year.

May is appealing the decision to Britain's Supreme Court, which will hear the case in December and issue a ruling in the middle of January 2017. So expect the Brexit controversy to become extremely heated during the holiday season. Telegraph (London) and BBC

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Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world's oldest bank, appears close to collapse

A proposed 5 billion euro bailout of Italy's Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) by a consortium of other banks has been withdrawn, leading to the possibility that MPS will collapse by the end of the year.

Italy's largest bank is Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world's oldest operating bank. Its share of bad loans comes to $55.2 billion of bad loans on its books. These bad loans are so bad that it's estimated that selling these bad loans to a third party would only get 20% of face value, which means that MPS would require a bailout.

Investors are concerned that political pressure will force Italy's government to use taxpayer money to bail out MPS. When Greece used taxpayer money to bail out its banks, the result was that the financial crisis spread from the banks to the entire country, resulting in Greece's financial crisis, which is still unresolved. Italy's financial problems would be larger than Greece's. Italy also has a political issue: Prime minister Matteo Renzi has scheduled a referendum on a constitutional change for December 4, and he has promised to quit if he loses the vote.

According to a survey of 1,000 investors, Italy is now thought to be the country most likely to leave the eurozone this year, pushing Greece into second place. Reuters and Macedonia Online and The Street

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Nov-16 World View -- Britain's Brexit plans in disarray after court requires parliamentary approval thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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3-Nov-16 World View -- Hong Kong legislature in chaos, under threat of intervention by mainland China

Sudan follows Uganda, Namibia in cutting ties with North Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong legislature in chaos, under threat of intervention by mainland China


Newly elected lawmaker Baggio Leung is restrained by security while attempting to deliver his oath of office (AFP)
Newly elected lawmaker Baggio Leung is restrained by security while attempting to deliver his oath of office (AFP)

Hong Kong's legislative election on September 4 handed Beijing a stinging defeat, as pro-democracy or "localist" candidates won 27 out of 70 seats for the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo). There was little doubt at the time that this would substantially exacerbate the level of tension between Hong Kong and Beijing, and now, we're seeing the first results.

Hong Kong's LegCo has been in chaos for almost a month, thanks to two newly elected lawmakers, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chun-hang, from "Youngspiration" who have gone beyond "pro-democracy" to advocating full Hong Kong independence from China.

When they took their oaths of office on October 12, they changed the wording of the official oath of office to express support for Hong Kong's independence, and to describe China using a derogatory term. Their oaths were invalidated, and since then, pro-Beijing legislators have been staging walkouts and using other parliamentary tricks to keep them from being seated at all.

Anticipating trouble on Wednesday, the LegCo president moved the council's meeting from the main chamber to a conference room. The two localists responded by storming into the conference room and demanded to take their oaths of office and be seated. They were forcibly ejected by security personnel.

The two localists will appear in a Hong Kong court on Thursday, and there are a couple of outcomes that would be extremely controversial:

There is a growing reality with both Taiwan and Hong Kong. Mainland China's government in Hong Kong has been using a carrot and stick approach with both entities for years, hoping that the people would eventually fall in love with Beijing and want to be government by Beijing. This hope is extremely delusional, of course, but being delusional is China's only path other than full-scale invasions of both entities to bring them under control.

For both Hong Kong and Taiwan, the generations of survivors of World War II and Mao's Communist Revolution have taken steps to encourage unification with Beijing, or at least to avoid angering Beijing. But it's increasingly clear to everyone that younger generations are increasingly hostile to Beijing.

This means that there is no advantage to Beijing to waiting. Taiwan and Hong Kong will increasingly want independence. Furthermore, as we've seen with Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution and Taiwan's Sunflower Movement, independence movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong feed off of each other, and support each other, and may even have synergy with independence movements in Tibet (by Buddhists) or Xinjiang (by Uighurs). Beijing has already said that that it will violently crush anyone who even talks about "independence." This is a continually worsening situation that Beijing is certain to find increasingly dangerous, enough to trigger a violent reaction at some point. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and BBC and Global Times (Beijing)

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Sudan follows Uganda, Namibia in cutting ties with North Korea

Under pressure from South Korea, Sudan has ended all military cooperation and diplomatic connections with North Korea. According to a statement posted by South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

"[Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour of Sudan] mentioned that Sudan has completely cut off its military cooperation with North Korea, has no North Korean diplomatic missions in the country as well as no diplomatic missions of its own in the North, and has no plans for high-level exchanges. The Minister, calling nuclear weapons an obstacle to peace and security, stressed that Sudan is thoroughly implementing UN Security Council sanctions resolutions on North Korea."

Sudan is the third African country this year to declare that it would comply with UN sanctions against North Korea. Uganda announced in July that it would several military and security ties with North Korea, and this was followed by a decision of Namibia to oust two North Korean firms that were constructing an arms and munition factory in nation’s capital, Windhoek.

Other African countries are maintaining ties with North Korea. These include Angola, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and Equatorial Guinea -- also countries that are themselves targets of UN sanctions. N. Korea News and S. Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NK News (7/28)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Nov-16 World View -- Hong Kong legislature in chaos, under threat of intervention by mainland China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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2-Nov-16 World View -- Protests across Morocco after horrific death of fishmonger in garbage truck

Wife of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un has disappeared

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Wife of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un has disappeared


Kim Jong-un and Ri Sol-ju in 2012
Kim Jong-un and Ri Sol-ju in 2012

After the pretty Ri Sol-ju married North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un in 2012, they were often seen together in tours of factories, hospitals and parks. But now Ri has not been seen in public since March 28, and there's speculation that something has happened to her.

There are several theories:

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Protests across Morocco after horrific death of fishmonger in garbage truck

Protests have continued across Morocco for a fourth day on Tuesday over the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger, crushed by a garbage truck.

The story is this: It's apparently illegal to sell swordfish in Morocco at this time, but Fikri was selling swordfish anyway, after purchasing it at the port in the town of Al Hoceima in northern Morocco. A policeman confiscated his swordfish, reportedly worth about $11,000, and threw it into a garbage truck. Fikri jumped into the garbage truck to retrieve his fish, and he was crushed to death by the garbage truck. Some people who were present claim that the policeman told the garbage truck driver to crush him on purpose, though the police deny this.

The picture of Fikri being crushed went viral on social media, and triggered anti-government protests across the country. On Tuesday, the government announced the arrests of 11 people, in an attempt to stop the protests.

The "Arab Spring" has been roiling the Arab countries since 2011, when a new generation of Arabs came of age and began protesting across the entire Mideast.

The Arab Spring uprisings were triggered on December 17, 2010, when a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia, in protest of the police confiscation of his vegetable cart. After days of clashes between protesters and the police, long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee the country to exile in Saudi Arabia. By January 2011, the clashes had spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Lebanon, launching the Arab Spring.

Morocco is a Muslim country, but it has largely escaped the chaos of the Arab Spring, mainly because it's historically been ethnically Berber rather than Arab, putting it on a slightly different generational timeline, despite some Arab-Berber intermarriage.

Some analysts are comparing the death of Moroccan fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri to the death of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, and suggesting that Morocco might be about to undergo the same kind of chaos as the countries of the Arab Spring. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, one can safely predict that Morocco is headed for that chaos, but whether it's happening now or next year or the year after cannot be predicted.

Al Hoceima is in the Rif region of northern Morocco, with a population of about 55,000. The region was the heart of of the revolt against the Spanish colonists during the 1920s, and was the scene of a popular insurrection in 1958. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Al Jazeera and Quartz and Telegramme.info

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Nov-16 World View -- Protests across Morocco after horrific death of fishmonger in garbage truck thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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1-Nov-16 World View -- France pulls out of Central African Republic as sectarian violence grows

Widespread dissatisfaction with UN peacekeeping force MINUSCA

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France pulls out of Central African Republic as sectarian violence grows


French peacekeeping force in Central African Republic (AFP)
French peacekeeping force in Central African Republic (AFP)

France on Monday formally ended its peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic. Using an old trick to "just declare victory and go home," France hailed it as a success even though it's been pretty much a total failure, as violence in the country's civil war has continued in recent months and even surged.

The French mission, known as Sangaris, was launched in December 2013, and was supposed to last for six months, until a United Nations force could take over. The UN force is known as MINUSCA, which stands for Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. The French force had 2,500 troops at its peak, and MINUSCA has about 12,000 troops.

The CAR sectarian war began in March 2013, when François Bozizé, the Christian former president of CAR, was ousted in a coup in March 2013 by Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, who became president and served until January 2014.

After Djotodia's coup took place in March 2013, Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Seleka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Selekas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

France's defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced the withdrawal of the French troops, saying that MINUSCA is now ready to take full responsibility for the peacekeeping operation.

A prominent CAR official, Anicet Georges Dologuele, said that Le Drian was wrong:

"Sangaris is pulling out far too early. Our security forces are not ready to take over. The UN forces are more and more overwhelmed."

Le Drian was unsympathetic:

"It's always too early. These responsibilities are above all your own."

There are still numerous armed groups fighting in CAR. The main ones are the Muslim former Seleka force, and the Christian "anti-Balaka" militias, a reference to the machetes used by the Selekas. There are also vigilante groups made up of nomadic, predominantly Muslim Fulani herders, as well as others specializing in highway robbery.

Both the French forces and the MINUSCA forces have mainly been doing their "peacekeeping" in the region around the country's capital city Bangui. But CAR is a huge country, and much of the country has not been affected by "peacekeeping" at all. Thus there continues to be fighting among armed groups across the country.

Since the armed militias are reported to fear the French forces more than the MINUSCA forces, there are concerns that the withdrawal of the French forces will trigger a major surge in new violence. France 24 and Deutsche Welle

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Widespread dissatisfaction with UN peacekeeping force MINUSCA

During the past 18 months, there have been scores of allegations of child rape and other sexual abuse by MINUSCA's peacekeepers, though French troops have faced similar accusations.

Roland Marchal, of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, speaking on RFI, agreed that MINUSCA is not ready to take full responsibility for the peacekeeping operation, because they fail to act decisively, "they find an explanation not to move too quickly, not to move to the neighborhoods, and they procrastinate on making difficult decisions." He says that this sends a wrong message to the CAR population, who feel that MINUSCA is not doing its job. "The crisis is deep, it's structural, it's systemic, so you have to make radical decisions, to integrate more the countryside," and neither MINUSCA nor the government is willing to do that.

Marchal added that the French troops were not able to fulfill their mandate either, although they were there for three years. "Their mandate was to disarm armed groups, and have the country move to national reconciliation. But it became clear that disarming the armed groups would actually be a very hard task, and costly, and second, to undertake drastic reforms in car you need a legitimate government."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is exactly what is to be expected, as I've been writing since 2013 when the crisis began. CAR is in a generational crisis war, and a generational crisis war does not end until there's an "explosive climax," something so horrific that both sides decide to stop fighting. This could be a real "explosion," such as the nuking of Japan that ended World War II, or it could be a massive act of genocide. Whatever it is, it must be so bad that it will be remembered for decades or even centuries, and will convince the survivors that it must "never again" be allowed to happen -- and it doesn't happen again, as long as the survivors are alive.

We're seeing the same kind of situation in Africa's other generational crisis war -- the Darfur war. It's a similar story. In 2007, the a UN Security Council resolution established the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and provided peacekeeping troops to protect the Darfurians. Millions of people who were threatened with violence were moved from their villages to camps for refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) controlled by UNAMID. Today, there are still more than 3.1 million IDPs living in these refugee camps, and they are still suffering from hunger, thirst, and attacks from the militias that were attacking them ten years ago. Once again, the Darfur war will not end until there's a "explosive climax," a massive act of genocide that will convince all the survivors to stop fighting. Until then, the war goes on. RFI (Paris) and Al Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Nov-16 World View -- France pulls out of Central African Republic as sectarian violence grows thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Nov-2016) Permanent Link
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31-Oct-16 World View -- Clinton e-mail media storm shows sudden change in public mood

Australia proposes lifetime settlement ban on illegal immigrants

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia proposes lifetime settlement ban on illegal immigrants


Anti-government protestors in Sydney demanding that Manus detention center be closed (Getty)
Anti-government protestors in Sydney demanding that Manus detention center be closed (Getty)

Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced plans to introduce legislation that will ban illegal immigrants who arrive by boat from ever being allowed into Australia again, even legally. The bill is intended to target human traffickers, since their potential customers will know that they will never have a chance of living in Australia. According to Turnbull, "These people smugglers are the worst criminals imaginable. They have a multibillion-dollar business. It is a battle of will. We have to be very determined to say no to their criminal plans."

They will have a lifetime ban of coming to Australia, even as a tourist or as the spouse of an Australian citizen. The only exception will be children brought illegally by boat by their parents.

The proposed law is retroactive to July 19, 2013, because that is when the former prime minister Kevin Rudd said: “As of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia.” That means that the migrants currently imprisoned on Manus or Nauru will be forbidden from ever reaching Australia.

In past years, thousands of refugees from Asia have traveled by boat to Australia, often after paying huge sums to human traffickers, hoping to resettle there. Australia has dealt with the situation, starting in 2001, by setting up two "detention centers" on Pacific islands, one on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island, and one on the island nation of Nauru, under agreements reached with both countries. Australia intercepts the boat people while at sea, and redirects them to the detention centers. These two filthy, rat-infested detention centers have been enormously controversial, with numerous stories of beatings, torture, and sexual abuse at the detention centers. The detention centers were shut down in 2007, but reinstated when the number of refugees and asylum seekers surged again into the thousands.

The detention center policy has been extremely successful, in that the number of migrants reaching Australia has been sharply reduced. However, the policy has been widely condemned as cruel to people fleeing poverty and violence, and as a violation of international laws. The proposed law will receive substantial opposition during attempts to get it passed. Australian AP and Sydney Morning Herald

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Clinton e-mail media storm shows sudden change in public mood

Whenever there's a sudden change in public mood in any country, it's of interest to Generational Dynamics, because it's often a sign that generational pressures have been building, and the change in public mood is caused by the latest rise of a new generation.

Whatever the outcome of Friday's announcement by FBI Director James B. Comey potentially reopening the Clinton e-mail investigation, whether it helps or hurts Clinton or Trump, the unexpected media storm that followed the announcement is potentially significant.

My personal belief is that Comey made his announcement to cover his ass, for whatever reason. I also believe that he made the announcement on Friday afternoon expecting that, like almost all Friday afternoon announcements, it would be forgotten almost immediately. But that's not what happened. Instead of being forgotten, Comey's announcement is continuing to gain coverage in the mainstream media, which is a major surprise.

The standard is that massive criminal activity and corruption by politicians in Washington is simply ignored. As I've been writing for years, thousands of Gen-X bankers purposely created trillions of dollars worth of fraudulent subprime mortgage backed synthetic securities, and then sold them to investors, knowing that they're fraudulent, creating a massive financial crisis that made millions of people bankrupt and/or homeless. And yet, not a single one of them has ever been prosecuted, but instead they've gotten off by contributing a fraction of their fraudulent gains as contributions to the Obama administration. And in Congress, as Peter Schweizer showed in 2011 appearing on 60 Minutes, Congressmen and Senators of both parties are using inside information on secret lawmaking negotiations to line their pockets with huge profits in the stock markets. Ordinary people would go to jail for insider trading for this sleazy behavior, but Congress has conveniently exempted itself, allowing it to commit crimes and enrich themselves on a daily basis and get away with it.

The massive corruption and criminal activity in Washington is far greater than anything in my lifetime, much greater than ever occurred in Richard Nixon's administration. But today, the Washington standard is that criminal activities go unpunished. In the case of Hillary Clinton's e-mail activities, the mainstream media are so totally in the tank for Clinton, no longer even pretending to be unbiased journalists, that it's a shock to everyone that the stories around Comey's announcement are not only continuing, but growing.

The Republicans are gloating of course, because this is so unexpected. The Democrats are apoplectic with rage because they're suffering from a case of cognitive dissonance and are going through the five stages of grief, as all their fundamental beliefs about their right to commit criminal activity with impunity are suddenly being challenged.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what's interesting here is not whether Clinton is guilty or innocent, but why there is a sudden change in public mood that might mean that her allegedly criminal activities might actually have consequences this time. It may actually be possible that after years of not caring about corruption and criminal activity in Washington, the public suddenly does care. If true, this change would be extremely significant.

That someone in Washington, and Clinton in particular, could possibly face this kind of hostile media scrutiny may represent a major change in public mood that will be seen in other ways in the months to come, no matter who becomes president. Washington Post and Leon Festinger - Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Oct-16 World View -- Clinton e-mail media storm shows sudden change in public mood thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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30-Oct-16 World View -- Confusion and chaos in Iraq mark the operation to free Mosul from ISIS

ISIS using tens of thousands of men, women and children as human shields in Mosul

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Shia militias in Iraq may or may not be attacking Tal Afar near Mosul


Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire a mortar towards ISIS positions near Mosul last week (Reuters)
Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire a mortar towards ISIS positions near Mosul last week (Reuters)

The Iran-backed Shia militias fighting in support of Iraq's army to liberate Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), claim that they're on a mission by themselves to recapture the nearby town of Tal Afar.

Ahmad al-Asadi, the spokesman for the Hashd al-Shaabi militia, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), said:

The front that has been tasked to the Hashd al-Shaabi is one of the most significant and most dangerous fronts in this operation.

[The PMF] are tasked with one of the widest areas, ranging from Qayyara in the west, Tal Afar in the north to the Mosul outskirts in the east and some areas on the Syrian-Iraqi border to the west."

Tal Afar is about 55 km (35 miles) northwest of Mosul, and al-Shaabi indicated that the goals was to cut off any option of retreat by ISIS into Syria, or to prevent any reinforcements from arriving from Syria.

As we've discussed previously, there has been a debate over whether to leave open the roads west of Mosul, so that ISIS fighters will take advantage of it and flee without a fight to ISIS headquarters in Raqqa in Syria.

The claims by Shia militia (PMF) spokesman Ahmad al-Asadi seems to support closing the corridor to the West.

On the other hand, the active involvement of Iran-backed Shia militias would seem to violate Iraqi government promises to Turkey that Shia forces would be limited in their activities, to prevent sectarian clashes.

But all of al-Asadi's claims are being disputed by Turkey's military, according to a report in Daily Sabah:

"As reports from various sources indicate that Shiite militia groups have launched an operation Saturday to capture predominantly Turkmen town of Tal Afar in northern Iraq from Daesh, Turkish military sources said that these groups are not near the town and reports are part of a psychological warfare attempt."

The report suggests that the operation to recapture Mosul is not going as well as planned, and the claims that the PMF are about to capture Tal Afar are an attempt to fool both the international commit and ISIS.

This report is consistent with suggestions in other reports that the Iraqi army's advance on Mosul is stalled, and that the Mosul offensive has virtually ground to a halt. AFP and Reuters and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Debka

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ISIS using tens of thousands of men, women and children as human shields in Mosul

According to the United Nations Human Rights office, ISIS has abducted tens of thousands of men, women and children from areas around Mosul and are using them as "human shields." Describing it as "ISIS's depraved, cowardly strategy," they are being kept near military installations, to prevent the Iraqi army from advancing.

The UN says that the ISIS stronghold of Hamam al-Alil used to have a population of 23,000, but now has a population of 60,000, in order to slow an Iraqi army attack.

In addition, the UN is expressing "deep concern" at reports that some individuals in the areas south of Mosul have embarked on revenge killings and had vowed on television that there will be “eye for eye revenge” against those who sided with ISIS. United Nations and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Conflicts among ethnic groups lead to chaos in Mosul operation

Retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus was once commander of the U.S.-led forces in Iraq, and he led the troop surge in 2007 that expelled Al-Qaeda in Iraq. So he completely understands the issues that the Iraqi army coalition is facing in its attempts to expel ISIS from Mosul.

According to Petraeus, the Mosul campaign is unfolding "in quite a methodical way," and is a "textbook example" of such an operation. But he points out that the chaotic nature of the operation is caused by ethnic differences in both the Iraqi security forces and the millions of civilians being liberated:

"The Iraqi security forces [are] this mix of Iraqi army, Iraqi police, Kurdish peshmerga, the Iraqi counter-terrorism service, the Iraqi air force, popular mobilization units — some Shia Arab from the south, some Sunni Arab from the tribes of Nineveh province. And the challenge is going to be, first of all, to keep all of them pulling in the same direction. ...

As we used to say when I was privileged to be the commander there, Nineveh province has the most diverse human terrain in all of Iraq – Sunni Arab majority to be sure, but also Shia Arabs, numerous Kurdish communities, and they are broken out into several different political parties.

There are Yazidis. There are Shabak. There are Christians. And there are Turkmen Shias, as well as Turkmen Sunnis, and this explains why President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan of Turkey has been so vocal about the fact that the Turkish forces needed to be on the outskirts of Mosul should take some part in this effort."

The situation in the Mosul operation is even worse, according to Israeli analyst Anshel Pfeffer:

"On the ground, however, totally separate battles are being fought out. The Iraqi Army, the Peshmerga, Shi’ite-Iraqi militias and United States Special Forces teams are all rival forces, albeit with a common enemy, for now. They are all fighting ISIS while pursuing very different agenda.

The Iraqi Army are not even allowed into the territory of the Kurdish Regional Government without special authorization, and the Peshmerga constantly complain of how almost all the new weapons supplied by the Americans have gone to Baghdad’s forces, with the Kurdish fighters receiving only scraps. ...

“The Americans don’t learn,” says one Peshmerga officer. “The Iraqi army will just run away, leaving their new American weapons to ISIS. Just as they did two years ago.”"

Petraeus and Pfeffer agree that all the different armies and militias have a common objective to eject ISIS, and they'll succeed. But with growing Kurdish nationalism and growing Turkish nationalism, it won't be long before the different armies are fighting each other. LA Times and Haaretz

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Oct-16 World View -- Confusion and chaos in Iraq mark the operation to free Mosul from ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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29-Oct-16 World View -- China's president Xi Jinping given dictatorial powers

China permits Philippines to fish in Scarborough Shoal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's president Xi Jinping given dictatorial powers


Xi Jinping and wife, popular folk singer Peng Liyuan (Chinese Hour, 2012)
Xi Jinping and wife, popular folk singer Peng Liyuan (Chinese Hour, 2012)

China now has a need of a "strongman leader" or "Great Leader," the first since Mao Zedong, according to Chinese state media, so that China can again rise to greatness.

Apparently that wish has been granted by last week's four-day sixth plenum of the Central Committee, which issued a statement granting China's president Xi Jinping the role of "core of the leadership," giving Xi unchallenged personal authority in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Ever since taking office in 2012, Xi has led a breathtaking anti-corruption drive that has punished more than one million officials for such crimes as bribery and abuse of power. Xi's opponents claim that the anti-corruption campaign was really a purge of political rivals, which is certainly true, given that Xi is a politician.

According to professor David Zweig of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor, Xi has been making powerful enemies:

"The risk is that you will take power to yourself, undermine the power bases of the people beneath you. ...

Everyone in the Politburo has their networks, even in the Standing Committee of the Politburo, so if you give all the power to one guy you give him the power to push your people out and push his people through.

"Entrenched resistance was strong but if you really want to see China reform, you want to take some power away (from those) who protect their vested interests, like the state enterprises."

The contrast is to Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, who did not have the "core of the leadership" blessing, but instead was "first among equals," meaning that he had to rule by consensus. Xi has taken advantage of the anti-corruption drive to push his political enemies out and replace them with his acolytes, which means that he can rule in a dictatorial manner, without as much of a consensus.

As long-time readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that China is headed for two wars -- an internal civil war, the first major civil war since the Communist revolution, and an external war, leading a world war with the United States, their first world war since World War II. These two wars are not inconsistent with each other, any more than the Communist Revolution and World War II were not inconsistent with each other. Xi can similarly expect to be fighting two wars -- an internal civil war and an external world war with the United States. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Washington Post and SCMP (23-Oct) and BBC (24-Oct)

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China permits Philippines to fish in Scarborough Shoal

A week ago, Philippine president Rodrigo R. Duterte visited China and said "I announce my separation from the United States. Both in military... not maybe social, but economics also, America has lost. I will be dependent on you." This was after calling President Obama the "son of a whore."

Now China's president Xi Jinping has apparently waved his magic wand and granted a reward to Duterte -- China's warships have withdrawn from Scarborough Shoal, allowing Philippines fishermen to fish there for the first time since 2012.

Scarborough Shoal is an island off the coast of Manila and far from China's shores. Philippine fishermen fished there for centuries, until blocked by the Chinese.

In its July 12 ruling on the South China Sea, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration eviscerated China's claims to the South China Sea, and said:

"[The Tribunal] FINDS that Scarborough Shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities and DECLARES that China has, through the operation of its official vessels at Scarborough Shoal from May 2012 onwards, unlawfully prevented fishermen from the Philippines from engaging in traditional fishing at Scarborough Shoal."

So China has rewarded the Philippines by granting to them rights that they were legally entitled to anyway.

Among the Philippine people, 54% have a favorable view of China, while 92% have a favorable view of the United States, so it won't be very long before Duterte is forced to make some policy change that will infuriate the Chinese, and the warships could come back quickly. To paraphrase an old saying, Duterte should remember this: "The Xi giveth, and the Xi taketh away." Manila Bulletin and Reuters and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Oct-16 World View -- China's president Xi Jinping given dictatorial powers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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28-Oct-16 World View -- Thousands of refugees hide from French police as Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp is demolished

Destruction of Calais camp called 'really dangerous' for children

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of refugees hide from French police as Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp is demolished


Calais 'Jungle' camp goes up in flames on Tuesday (AFP)
Calais 'Jungle' camp goes up in flames on Tuesday (AFP)

France has declared "Mission Accomplished!" after demolishing "The Jungle," the refugee camp in Calais, and bussing some 4,000 migrants to 280 reception centers across the country after being separated into different categories – single men, families, vulnerable people and unaccompanied minors.

According to Fabienne Buccio, a local official, "There are no more migrants in the camp. Our mission has been fulfilled."

However, not every tent or shanty was actually "demolished." A lot of them were burnt to the ground by the refugees themselves, apparently as a way of saying "goodbye."

And a more serious reason why the mission hasn't really been accomplished is that there were 7,000 to 10,000 refugees in the camp. That means that several thousand refugees have fled from the camp, and are hiding out in order to stay near Calais. Many have simply gone to another refugee camp in nearby Dunkirk. On top of that, new refugees are arriving every day.

The people in the camp are escaping war or poverty mostly from Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea and Syria. The reason that migrants have come to Calais in the first place is because it's near the Eurotunnel that connects France to Britain underneath the English Channel. Britain is a favorite destination because of liberal welfare and medical services policies, and because they prefer an English-speaking country. So having been desperate enough to have risked their lives for months to reach Calais, they are going to resist being bussed far away to another part of France. The Local (France) and Express (London) and France 24

Destruction of Calais camp called 'really dangerous' for children

Concerns are being raised for the welfare of unaccompanied children. Although many children were bussed to reception centers, it's believed that there are hundreds of unaccompanied children who were forced to flee on Tuesday and Wednesday during the demolition and fire.

Many children were unaccompanied because they had been sent from Syria or Afghanistan to try to reach family members in the UK, leading some activists to claim that Britain is responsible for these children. According to Robert Innes, the Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe: "They are gravely at risk. At a time when the UK is rightly spending millions on investigating historic child abuse, it is striking that there is a massive influx of traumatized children to Europe at risk of current abuse, and for whom we are not yet doing enough." Church Times and CNN

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Oct-16 World View -- Thousands of refugees hide from French police as Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp is demolished thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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27-Oct-16 World View -- Spain blocks Russia fleet refueling stop over planned bombing in Aleppo Syria

The Gambia follows Burundi and S. Africa in leaving the International Criminal Court

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Spain blocks Russia fleet refueling stop over planned bombing in Aleppo Syria


Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the English Channel on Oct 21 (EPA)
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the English Channel on Oct 21 (EPA)

Spain on Wednesday asked for clarification on the intentions of a Russian fleet that was scheduled to dock for refueling in Spain's port of Ceuta between October 28 and November 2. Spain's foreign ministry issued this statement:

"Given the information which appeared on the possibility that these ships would participate in supporting military action in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the ministry of foreign affairs requested clarification from the embassy of the Russian Federation in Madrid."

Russian fleets had been refueling in Ceuta for years, but hostility is growing in Europe over the genocidal acts of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, and most recently his plans to destroy the city of Aleppo, killing as many civilians as possible, possibly including as many as hundreds of thousands of women and children.

The Russian fleet, which includes an aircraft carrier, had put on a great show last week by traveling through the English Channel, instead of taking the usual route north of Scotland. It's destination is to be a port in Syria, and it's suspected that Russia plans to launch additional bombers from the fleet to take part in the Aleppo slaughter. This prompted Nato to put pressure on Spain to demand a clarification from Russia.

Russia responded to Spain's request for clarification by withdrawing its request to refuel in Ceuta. Gibraltar Chronicle and BBC

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The Gambia follows Burundi and S. Africa in leaving the International Criminal Court

First, two weeks ago, Burundi announced it was withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. Then, two days ago, South Africa also announced its withdrawal.

On Wednesday, The Gambia became the third African country in quick succession to announce its withdrawal, calling it the "International Caucasian Court" because of its targeting of African countries.

Burundi and The Gambia have many similarities. Both are being led by presidents (Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia) who have been in power for years, and who are using violence, torture and mass slaughter of the opposition to stay in power. That's why both countries are leaving the ICC.

South Africa is in a different category. South Africa has been a democracy since 1994, when the first election was held following the end of apartheid. The African National Congress (ANC) political party has won every national election since then, but opposition political parties have increasingly been scoring victories in regional elections, to the point where ANC leaders fear they'll lose the next national election.

The current ANC leader Jacob Zuma is being widely criticized as corrupt and unaccountable, and is being blamed for ANC's losses in a recent election. The ANC is badly split, and Jacob Zuma's unilateral decision to withdraw South Africa from the ICC raises suspicions that he's about to take some steps similar t those taken by Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia to stay in power. Daily Maverick (South Africa) and BBC and Mail and Guardian (South Africa) and Sowetan Live

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Oct-16 World View -- Spain blocks Russia fleet refueling stop over planned bombing in Aleppo Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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26-Oct-16 World View -- Pakistan reels after 60 young police cadets killed in terror attack in Balochistan

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) may be getting revenge for police attack on leader

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan reels after 60 young police cadets killed in terror attack in Balochistan


Quetta attack
Quetta attack

At least 61 people, mostly fresh police recruits, were killed and 117 injured on Monday night in a terror attack on a Police Training cottage in Quetta, the capital of the province of Balochistan in Pakistan. The attack began with gunfire at 11 pm and continued for several hours, but most of the deaths were caused when one of the terrorists exploded his suicide vest. The attackers are thought to be Afghan Uzbeks. One of them was a 12-year-old boy.

The attack is being blamed on the Al Alami offshoot of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a terror group that has vowed to exterminate all Shias in Pakistan, and has carried out numerous terrorist actions targeting Shias. However, no Pakistan terror group has claimed credit. However, LeJ is also thought to have links to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and so ISIS has been putting out press releases claiming credit for the attack. ISIS seems anxious to take credit for every terror attack, whether they have anything to do with it or not.

Another possibility, though less likely, is that the terror attack is related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which over ten years will build a network of roads, railways and energy pipelines aiming to connect western Chinese cities to the sea port in Gwadar on the Indian Ocean. On Saturday, two Pakistan Coast Guard officers were gunned down in a region close to the Gwadar sea port, and there's a possibility, considered less likely, that Monday's terror attack was connected to the CPEC project.

Whoever the perpetrator, and whatever the motives, the attack is sending shock waves among the people of Pakistan, who are blaming the police and the government for the continuing stream of terror attacks. In past decades, Pakistan's government has supported Taliban terror groups who were attacking targets in India and Afghanistan, and now those terror groups are attacking targets in Pakistan itself. This new terror attack is certain to renew the "good terrorists versus bad terrorists" debate in Pakistan. Reuters and AFP and Reuters and Dunya News (Pakistan)

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Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) may be getting revenge for police attack on leader

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) is thought to be the perpetrator of Monday's attack on the police academy. Although the ethnicity of the victims has not been reported, the fact that it took place in Balochistan suggests that most of the cadets were Shias.

Lashkar-e-Janghvi has repeatedly stated that its goal is the extermination of all Shia Muslims in Pakistan, and has been methodically setting off bombs in order to achieve that goal. An LeJ statement issued in 2011 says:

"Our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people, the Shias and the Shia Hazaras, from every city, every village, every nook and corner of Pakistan. Like in the past, [our] successful Jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta is ongoing and will continue. We will make Pakistan their graveyard-- their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers. ... Jihad against the Shia Hazaras has now become our duty. ... We will rest only after hoisting the flag of true Islam on the land of the pure -- Pakistan."

However, there's an additional possible motivation for LeJ. LeJ's leader Malik Ishaq was killed while in a police convoy in July of last year. The police said that the convoy was attacked by 12-15 gunmen, and that Ishaq and his two sons were killed in the subsequent shootout, but LeJ has claimed that the gunfight was staged.

So it's possible that LeJ attacked the policy academy to get revenge for the killing of its Malik Ishaq. Dawn (Pakistan) and Al Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Oct-16 World View -- Pakistan reels after 60 young police cadets killed in terror attack in Balochistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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25-Oct-16 World View -- Turkey's military intervention grows in Syria and Iraq

In Syria, Turkey attacks both Kurds and ISIS near Aleppo and Mosul

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In Iraq, Turkey's artillery and possibly its jets are helping recapture Mosul from ISIS


Iraqi tribesmen protest the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq (Getty)
Iraqi tribesmen protest the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq (Getty)

There is a growing perception in Turkey that the Mideast borders, especially those of Syria and Iraq, are being redesigned, and Turkey wants to be sure to recover some of land lost in World War I.

In Iraq, Mosul is a historically Sunni city and was part of the Ottoman empire, and any attempt to change is demographic composition would be a direct threat to Turkey's security. The concern is that the population would be diluted by Kurds or by Shia Muslims coming from Iran.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in a war of words with Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who demanded that Turkey withdraw its troops and tanks from Iraq. Recently, Erdogan responded to al-Abadi:

"You are not my interlocutor. You are not at my level. You are not my equivalent. You are not of the same quality as me.

Your screaming and shouting in Iraq is of no importance to us. You should know that we will go our own way."

Turkey has for weeks been training Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) near Mosul. On Monday, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkish artillery fire is being used to aid the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting ISIS, and four Turkish fighter jets are on standby to take part in air operations.

Al-Abadi has repeatedly said that Iraq does not want Turkey's help. Turkey continues to insist that it must take part in the recapture of Mosul from ISIS to protect its own interests. Iraq's fear is that Erdogan will get his wish, and that part of Iraq, especially the region around Mosul, will become part of Turkey. Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al Jazeera and BBC

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In Syria, Turkey attacks both Kurds and ISIS near Aleppo

Turkey's military says that it struck dozens of ISIS and Kurdish YPG militia targets on Monday in northern Syria, about 35 miles from Aleppo, as part of Operation Euphrates Shield. Last week, strikes by Turkish warplanes killed 200 PKK/PYD 'terrorists' in northern Syria, according to the military.

Turkey said that the strikes were in the support of the Free Syrian Army, and were necessary to prevent the Kurds taking control of the entire region in northern Syria along the Turkish border, with the intention of creating a Kurdish state called Rojava. When Operation Euphrates Shield began three months ago, Erdogan said that stopping a Kurdish state would be a principal objective, along with liberating Syrian cities that had been captured by ISIS.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says that Turkey's involvement in Syria and Iraq is a thinly veiled attempt to take control of both Aleppo and Mosul.

Syria's military calls Turkey's action a "serious escalation," and a gross violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

Turkey's objectives are hardly secret, as Erdogan is pursuing the policies he's stated several times recently. What I'm waiting for is to see whether Turkey will try to break the siege of Aleppo being implemented by Syria's army in preparation for massive slaughter of Sunni civilians. That would bring Turkey into direct confrontation with Russia, just as the two countries have been cozying up to each other recently. Reuters and Anadolu (Ankara) and AP and Al Masdar News (Syria)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Oct-16 World View -- Turkey's military intervention grows in Syria and Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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24-Oct-16 World View -- South Africa's withdrawal throws future of International Criminal Court into doubt

The fallacy of prosecuting war crimes

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

South Africa's withdrawal throws future of International Criminal Court into doubt


International Criminal Court in the Hague (Getty)
International Criminal Court in the Hague (Getty)

A week after Burundi announced it was withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, South Africa's president Jacob Zuma announced that it would do the same. In each case, the withdrawal becomes effective one year after the ICC receives notice.

South Africa's action was triggered by Burundi's withdrawal, and also because the ICC criticized Zuma's administration for failing to arrest Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir when he visited Johannesburg for an African Union summit last year.

The ICC was set up in 2002 by the Rome Statute, which 123 countries have ratified, although the US is notably absent. Its purpose is to bring to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes -- terms that are all defined in detail in the Rome Statute.

However, in its 16 year existence, it's only prosecuted African states. Since 2014, the African Union has urged member states not to co-operate with the ICC, accusing it of being racially biased against Africa. Uganda, Kenya and Namibia have also discussed withdrawing from the ICC.

For South Africa, the government is currently in chaos because of corruption accusations leveled at Jacob Zuma. Zuma's opposition Democratic Alliance is opposed to the decision, as described by James Selfe, a leading official:

"The Democratic Alliance is disgusted at this decision. We think it sends out an entirely incorrect message around our commitment to human rights and our abhorrence of human rights abuses and of genocide, and we believe that it would set back our foreign policy and the way in which South Africa is viewed in a very fundamental way.

We also believe that the decision itself has been taken in a way which is unconstitutional, unlawful. Accordingly, we will we will be lodging papers in the constitutional court on Monday morning seeking the court’s ruling seeking that it reviews and sets aside this decision by the South African government."

According to activist opposition leader Mosiuoa Lekota:

"This government continues to destroy all the good and hard work that the former Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki spent many years to build. Now everything has been thrown out of the window."

Pulling out of the ICC will expose our children to war crimes in South Africa without recourse to a higher court."

Selfe added that a decision to withdraw from the ICC would require a vote by the parliament. Times Live (South Africa) and VOA and BBC and Foreign Policy

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Is the ICC racially biased against Africans?

It's just an accident of history that the ICC appears to be biased against Africans. There have been war crimes trials against other nations, but they've taken place in other courts. The African nation whining about bias know this, but they're looking for an excuse to avoid being held responsible for their crimes, even though it's the victims of the crimes that really want to see the court trials take place.

There are trials targeting the Khmer Rouge for their alleged war crimes in Cambodia's "killing fields" war in the 1970s, but that trial is being held in the "Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia" (ECCC) in Angk Snuol, Cambodia.

There's a trial targeting Ratko Mladic for atrocities committed at the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in the Bosnian war, but that trial is being conducted in a special court called the "International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia" in The Hague.

There were trials in 1945 for Nazi war criminals, but they were held in special courts in Nuremberg, Germany. Japan's war crimes trials were held in 1946 in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo.

So, taken as a whole, war crimes courts have certainly not specifically targeted Africa. Deutsche Welle and Human Rights Watch and Rome Statute creating the ICC

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The fallacy of prosecuting war crimes

Since World War II, this idea of prosecuting genocide and war crimes has been latched on to as a way to save the world. Ever since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders, "Never again!" must have uttered by politicians thousands of times, referring to the Holocaust.

And yet the Nuremberg trials didn't prevent Mao Zedong from killing 45 million people in the Great Leap Forward genocide (1958-59); didn't prevent Pol Pot from killing 8 million people in the Cambodia Killing Fields genocide (1975-79); didn't prevent 800,000 people from being killed in the Rwanda genocide (1994); didn't prevent Robert Mugabe from committing the Operation Gukurahundi genocide in Zimbabwe (1984); and isn't preventing Bashar al-Assad from committing genocide in Syria today, with the help of war criminals Vladimir Putin of Russia and Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei of Iran. (Paragraph corrected, 25-Oct)

Shakespeare wrote in Venus and Adonis: "Were beauty under twenty locks kept fast, Yet love breaks through and picks them all at last," a couplet that's often summarized as "Love laughs at locksmiths." Just as love laughs at locksmiths, war crimes laugh at the ICC.

No one could seriously believe that Adolf Hitler would have cancelled the Holocaust out of fear of being prosecuted by some court. Or that Mao Zedong would have canceled the Great Leap Forward for a similar reason. The whole concept is absurd.

Love, sex and genocide are all part of the base human DNA. They do not respect skin color, geography, race or religion. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, they are part of every human's core makeup, and they are the way the world works, whether we like it or not.

So the politicians in South Africa and Burundi see Bashar al-Assad in a full-scale genocide in Syria, and they're asking, "Why the hell is the ICC picking on us Africans? Go pick on Bashar al-Assad, and just let us go on committing atrocities, torturing, mutilating and exterminating people we dislike, and stop bothering us about it." Shakespeare: Venus and Adonis

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Oct-16 World View -- South Africa's withdrawal throws future of International Criminal Court into doubt thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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23-Oct-16 World View -- Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte in comic dance with China

Philippines president Duterte apparently cedes Scarborough Shoal to China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte in comic dance with China


Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte meeting in Beijing last week (CNN)
Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte meeting in Beijing last week (CNN)

Media headlines in the past couple of days have been saying things like "Duterte's flip-flop into bed with China is a disaster for the United States" and "While we watched the debate, the Philippines aligned with China."

The headlines are referring to the new Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte. He announced a cutoff of relations with the United States first by calling President Obama the "son of a whore." Then he visited Beijing, where he was given a red carpet welcome by China's president Xi Jinping, and made the following announcement to thunderous applause in the Great Hall of the People:

"Your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States. Both in military... not maybe social, but economics also, America has lost. I will be dependent on you. ...

I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia.

Americans are loud, sometimes rowdy. Their larynx is not adjusted to civility."

In a world where politicians are constantly making ridiculous statements, this isn't the most ridiculous recent statement (pretty much anything from Vladimir Putin is worse), but it's close.

For one thing, the Philippines does $24 billion in annual trade with the US. For another thing, the Philippines has a mutual defense treaty with the US which has been in force since 1951 where both countries pledge to come to each other’s defense in the event of an armed attack, and Duterte alone does not have the power to abrogate the treaty, nor would the Philippine people want him to. LA Times and Inquirer (Philippines)

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Duterte's statement generates backlash at home

As I've been writing for years, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. Thus, Hitler was not the cause of WW II. What politicians say or do is irrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes of the people that they represent, and so politicians can neither cause nor prevent the great events of history.

And in this case, the will of the people is pretty evident from polls conducted by Pew Global research: Among the Philippine people, 54% have a favorable view of China, while 92% have a favorable view of the United States. A recent survey shows that 55% of Philippines people have "little trust" in China, while only 11% feel the same about the United States.

In fact, Philippine senators crossed party lines and warned Duterte to back down. According to the Senate minority leader:

"Any drastic shift in our foreign policy direction should be well-thought-out and not simply blurted out. It should be a product of deep study and wide discussion. Because of its far-reaching implications, it cannot be an announce now, study later thing.

Yes, our relations with the United States may not be perfect. But a country which has illegally built a great wall of sand in our seas is not, and far from, the epitome of a good friend either."

Other politicians called him a madman and delusional. Duterte's spokesman "clarified" Duterte's statement by saying that he just wanted to "separate the nation from dependence on the U.S. and the West and rebalance economic and military relations with Asian neighbors" like China, Japan and South Korea.

The Chinese people are skeptical as well. China's politicians and media have remained mostly silent about Duterte's comments, but people on social networks see it as a ploy to get investments and loans from China. Some likened his “separation” from the United States to a new social phenomenon in China in which people make use of fake divorces to get around restrictive regulations in order to obtain a second housing loan.

So Duterte's announcement present an interesting case study for Generational Dynamics. China and the Philippines will never be friends, because their respective populations hate each other. It's not the politicians who decide policies, but the people. Inquirer (Philippines) and Pew Global - Philippines - China and Pew Global - Philippines - US and International Business Times (Singapore)

Philippines president Duterte apparently cedes Scarborough Shoal to China

In his trip to China last week, Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte may have ceded Scarborough Shoal to China.

In its July 12 ruling on the South China Sea, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration eviscerated China's claims to the South China Sea, and said:

"[The Tribunal] FINDS that Scarborough Shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities and DECLARES that China has, through the operation of its official vessels at Scarborough Shoal from May 2012 onwards, unlawfully prevented fishermen from the Philippines from engaging in traditional fishing at Scarborough Shoal."

China has been using its vast military power to build artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea both in international waters and in waters that are part of other countries. In 2012, China forcibly invaded and annexed Scarborough Shoal, and used military threats to prevent Philippine fishermen from fishing there.

So when Duterte went to China to declare "separation" from the United States, many fishermen hoped that Duterte would regain access to Scarborough Shoal. But apparently Duterte didn't even try. When he was asked about it, he said: "We cannot win that ... Even if we get angry, we'll just be putting on airs. We can't beat China."

Later, Duterte said: "I leave it to them to, it’s one of the things I said that in the private talks which I cannot, but tingnan natin [let us see]. Let us see what develops in the days to come."

So Duterte really got nothing except promises. He got promises of loans and investments, and he apparently got a promise that China would allow the Philippines to do a little bit of fishing there.

We've seen the US administration concede one thing after another to Iran for the nuclear deal and to Russia for a farcical ceasefire in Aleppo Syria. Duterte is doing the same thing with China. For those of you who, like me, wondered for years how it was possible for Britain to appease Hitler, you're seeing it happen here. This is how the world works. Defense One and International Business Times (Singapore) and Philippine Star and CNN Philippines

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Oct-16 World View -- Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte in comic dance with China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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22-Oct-16 World View -- France to demolish 'The Jungle' migrant camp in Calais

Italy struggles with the 'mini-Calais' refugee camp in Ventimiglia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France to demolish 'The Jungle' migrant camp in Calais


Aerial view of 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais France (CNN)
Aerial view of 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais France (CNN)

France has announced that it will begin on Monday demolishing the migrant camp in Calais known as "The Jungle." The 6,500 to 10,000 migrants living in the camp will be given two choices: Either to be deported back to their home countries, or to stay in some 300 temporary refugee centers across France, where they can apply for asylum. Children who can prove that they have relatives in Britain may be allowed to travel to their family members.

The people in the camp are escaping war or poverty mostly from Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea and Syria. The reason that migrants have come to Calais in the first place is because it's near the Eurotunnel that connects France to Britain underneath the English Channel. Britain is a favorite destination because of liberal welfare and medical services policies, and because they prefer an English-speaking country. Refugees risk their lives by attempting to jump onto trucks that are headed through the EuroTunnel.

Over the last three or four years, the refugee camp has become squalid, unsanitary and unsafe for most people, especially women and children. Attempts to move people out of the camp in the past have led to confrontations with police.

On Monday, sixty buses are scheduled to transport 3,000 migrants to alternate refugee centers in other parts of France. Activists are claiming that they've come this far because they're desperate to reach Britain, and they'll resist being forced to leave. Furthermore, activists say, they'll simply return to Calais as soon as they have a chance. Reuters and Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and CNN

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Italy struggles with the 'mini-Calais' refugee camp in Ventimiglia

Last week, Italian police with guns surrounded a small refrigerated van after a car chase, just before the van was going to cross the border into Italy. When they opened the back of the van, they were shocked to find 17 migrants in there. One passenger said he had paid 50 euros to a human trafficker to make the trick, and had feared suffocating inside the van.

The incident occurred in Ventimiglia, an Italian city on the border with France, opposite the French city of Menton. This area is often called "Mini-Calais" because every week hundreds of migrants try to cross the mountain passes and tunnels along the border either by foot or by hiding in vehicles. Those who succeed and are caught in France are sent back to Italy.

More than 24,000 refugees have been residing in Ventimiglia, where living conditions are getting steadily worse. That number is expected to increase, as more migrants arrive in Italy from North Africa. More than 145,000 have made the journey across the Mediterranean so far this year. EuroNews and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Oct-16 World View -- France to demolish 'The Jungle' migrant camp in Calais thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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21-Oct-16 World View -- Aleppo bombings in 'humanitarian pause' as residents await Russia's death blow

Russia's warship fleet sails through English Channel to Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's warship fleet sails through English Channel to Syria


Ghostly image of bombed out Aleppo (CNN)
Ghostly image of bombed out Aleppo (CNN)

Russia's Northern Fleet, which Russian media describes as as “the most powerful Russian naval task force to sail in northern Europe since 2014," will pass through the English Channel on Friday on its way to the eastern Mediterranean. It's believed that it will be used to deliver a massive blow to the hundreds of thousands of residents of Aleppo in Syria.

The fleet includes the flagship aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov. It also includes a nuclear-powered battle cruiser, Pyotr Velikiy, and two Udaloy Class Destroyers. The Admiral Kuznetsov itself is capable of carrying 50 war planes.

Russia already has about 10 ships off Syria, which have fired cruise missiles at targets in Syria.

Some fears of war have been expressed in European media because Russia is sending such a large fleet through UK territorial waters. However, it seems pretty clear that the fleet will simply continue traveling south, to be used with the intended objective of killing as many of the residents of Aleppo as possible.

Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said,

"When these ships near our waters we will man-mark them every step of the way. We will be watching as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe."

British and Norwegian ships and Swedish reconnaissance aircraft will be monitoring the Russian fleet with a view to gaining as much intelligence as possible. BBC and CNN and Russia Today

Russia extends 'humanitarian pause' in Aleppo Syria

When I was in college, one of the other kids kept a large snake in a glass cube in his room. I asked how he fed the snake. He said that once a month he'd put a live mouse into the cube. After a few days, the snake would eat the mouse. He told me that "in the meantime, the mouse would be a nervous wreck, because he knew what was going to happen."

That must be how the hundreds of thousands of residents of Aleppo feel right now. Russia has extended its "humanitarian pause" on air strikes for an additional 24 hours, but everyone knows that once the "pause" ends, Russian and Syrian warplanes will resume their destruction of Aleppo, including hospitals and civilian neighborhoods, using barrel bombs, chemical weapons (chlorine gas), phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs and bunker bombs.

Russia has also announced that six corridors were opened for civilians who want to escape the impending slaughter.

This is presumably a use of another weapon of war by the Russians and Syrians -- trying to create a new flood of hundreds of thousands more refugees, to add to the millions who are already flooding into neighboring countries and Europe. At any rate, it's believed that only a few hundred refugees have left Aleppo, for fear that they would be easy targets if they attempted to flee.

Some analysts have suggested that the purpose of the announcement of the "six corridors" is to be able to claim that the hundreds of thousands of civilians left in Aleppo, including women and children, must be "terrorists," to be killed by Syrian and Russian warplanes.

However, there is a logical contradiction. Russian media is saying that the reason that civilians haven't been fleeing Aleppo through the six corridors is because the terrorist rebels are telling them that they'll be shot if they try to leave. This claim contradicts the claim that the only civilians left in Aleppo are "terrorists."

At any rate, the Russian and Syrian destruction of Aleppo is expected to resume on Friday afternoon. Within a few more days, it's expected to be followed even more massive destruction from the warplanes and cruise missiles delivered by the new Russian naval fleet headed for the eastern Mediterranean.

According to one analyst I heard, the plan is for the destruction of Aleppo to be complete on the day before the US presidential election. Washington Post and BBC and Russia Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Oct-16 World View -- Aleppo bombings in 'humanitarian pause' as residents await Russia's death blow thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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20-Oct-16 World View -- Unrealistic expectations surround the battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS

Turkey views Iraq and Syria through the lens of World War I and the Ottoman Empire

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Unrealistic expectations surround the battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS


Homes destroyed by ISIS east of Mosul (Reuters)
Homes destroyed by ISIS east of Mosul (Reuters)

With the Iraq army's great battle to recapture Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) under way since Monday, politicians and military leaders are issuing the confident statements that things are going well. The press has been reporting that the military operation is already "ahead of schedule," which presumably means that the schedule for the first day or two was specifically designed so that the army couldn't fail.

The Iraqi politicians and military leaders are claiming not only to be ahead of schedule, but also to have everyone's agreement on how the battle will go. Specifically, Turkey's troops will not take part at all, and when the final battles are being fought, then the Kurdish militias and the Iran-backed Shia militias will wait outside Mosul, and only the Iraqi army will enter Mosul. It sounds an awful lot like a fairy tale.

The Iraqi force of 30,000 soldiers will consist of many groups of participants -- the US-led coalition, Turkey, Sunni tribes, Kurds, Iran, and Shia militias. These participants all save defeating ISIS as an objective, but when the battle is over, they all want to have as much influence in Mosul and control over events as possible. To imagine that all these other participants will simply cede control to the Iraq army seems like a fantasy.

We've already had the following:

Maybe all will go as Iraqi leaders have planned -- the participants will do as they're told, the battle will be quick, and only the Iraqi army will enter Mosul. But there are powerful forces at play, and powerful constituents, and they won't be stopped by a simple agreement, especially when something goes wrong. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Reuters and Dow Jones

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Turkey views Iraq and Syria through the lens of World War I and the Ottoman Empire

When the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I, troops from Greece, Armenia, France and Italy occupied Istanbul and partitioned much of the land previously controlled by the Ottomans. Turkey's War of Independence began in 1919, and continued until 1923, with Turkey's forces led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the revered founder of modern Turkey.

In 1920, the Ottoman Parliament approved a document known as Misak-i Milli, or the Turkish National Oath, which laid out Turkey's conditions for achieving peace, including a demand that "The future of the territories inhabited by an Arab majority at the time of the signing of the Armistice of Mudros will be determined by a referendum." However, when peace was finally achieved by the Lausanne Peace Treaty in 1923, many of the demands of the Turkish National Oath were not met.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has referred to the Turkish National Oath in his speeches. According to Turkish media, he sees the treaties that ended World War I as defining new national boundaries for the entire Mideast, and he sees the current wars in Syria and Iraq as a process of redrawing those boundaries for the first time in almost a century -- or as a plot by the West, the Kurds, Iran and other foreigners to divide up the Syria and Iraq among themselves.

Among the regions that Turkey was forced to give up in 1923 were parts of northern Syria and Iraq, including Mosul in Iraq and Manbij in Syria. Erdogan believes that if the Mideast boundaries are going to be redrawn, then Turkey must take part aggressively, or else be humiliated again as happened with the Lausanne Peace Treaty almost a century ago. Thus, in Erdogan's view, Turkey must take part in the Mosul operation, and Erdogan must eject Kurdish militias from northern Syria, where Turkey has been fighting Operation Euphrates Shield.

The Kurds are aware of this, of course, as they're trying to create their own state of Rojava in a region stretching from the Mediterranean to Iran in northern Syria and Iraq, along the border with Turkey. Erdogan has repeatedly said that anything like that would be intolerable.

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is now governing only a small fraction of the original Syria, mockingly called "Alawite-istan," in the west. Al-Assad is planning destroy the city of Aleppo, killing as many of the 250,000 Sunni civilians living there are he can, using barrel bombs, cluster bombs, chlorine, phosphorous bombs and bunker bombs, as well as Russia's warplanes. Aleppo is currently under siege, with no food or supplies able to enter the city.

Turkey has vowed to attack the city of Manbij in northern Syria, to eject the Kurds and the last of the ISIS fighters.

As it turns out, Manbij is not far from Aleppo. Some analysts are suggesting that Turkey might try to break the siege on Aleppo.

Regular readers know that Generational Dynamics has been predicting a major Mideast war. We've mentioned several possible scenarios how such a war might begin. Possibilities include a war between Israelis and Arabs, a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, or a war between India and Pakistan spreading to the Mideast. Each of these wars would create a scenario that leads to a full-scale Mideast war.

Now we must add another possible scenario. Turkey has become increasingly nationalist, especially since the July 15 attempted coup, and Turkey may end up fighting Iran, Iraq, the Kurds and al-Assad, attempting to recover the territory lost by the peace treaties that followed World War I. As in the other cases, this would create a scenario that leads to a full-scale Mideast war. Rudaw (Iraq-Kurds) and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Kurdistan 24 and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Oct-16 World View -- Unrealistic expectations surround the battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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19-Oct-16 World View -- Egypt turns to Iran for oil after Saudi relationship deteriorates over Syria

Egypt votes for two contradictory UN Security Council proposals on Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt votes for two contradictory UN Security Council proposals on Syria


From 2015: Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, left, walks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Riyadh (Reuters)
From 2015: Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, left, walks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Riyadh (Reuters)

The war in Syria, and particularly the targeting by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad of millions of innocent Sunni Arab civilians, has caused a split in the Arab community, particularly between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This has led to Egypt's representative voting for two contradictory UN Security Council resolutions.

The regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has been targeting millions of innocent Sunni women and children with barrel bombs, chemical weapons (chlorine gas), phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs and bunker bombs. Thousands of Sunni jihadists from dozens of countries around the world came to Syria to fight al-Assad, resulting in the creation of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Al-Assad, backed by Russia, Hezbollah and Iran, has not only created ISIS, but he's caused millions of Syrians to flee their homes into neighboring countries, including over a million that have flooded into Europe, causing the biggest refugee crisis since the end of WW II. Al-Assad and the Russians have created the greatest geopolitical disaster so far this century.

Although several Western politicians have denounced al-Assad, Russia and Iran as war criminals and guilty of crimes against humanity, the UN Security Council has been powerless to do anything to stop al-Assad's war of extermination.

The farcical impotence of the UN Security Council has been evident for months, especially as al-Assad and the Russians have made it clear that they plan to destroy east Aleppo and kill as many of the 250,000 civilians as they can.

On October 8, France submitted a proposal to the UNSC for a no-fly zone over Aleppo to protect civilians. Russia vetoed this proposal, and then submitted its own proposal that all the "terrorists" be killed in Aleppo before a ceasefire can begin.

The farce reached new heights when the ambassador from Egypt supported both proposals. Egypt was joined by Russia, China, and Venezuela in its support for the Russian resolution. Egypt's ambassador Amr Abul Atta defended the two votes:

"Egypt backs all efforts aimed at stopping the Syrian people’s tragedy. It voted for both resolutions based on their content, not political bidding that has become a hindrance to the Security Council’s work.

Egypt voted for halting deliberate targeting of Syrian civilians, backing for humanitarian access and cessation of hostilities according to relevant Security Council resolutions."

Saudi Arabia severely criticized Egypt's vote supporting the Russian resolution. Saudi's ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said:

"The Egyptian vote represents the Egyptian position and not the Arab one. It was painful to see that the Senegal and Malaysian positions were closer to the Arab consensus on Syria compared to that of an Arab representative."

Another Saudi official tweeted: "Sorry Egypt. But voting for the Russian draft resolution makes me doubt you are the mother of Arabs and the world." Daily News Egypt and Gulf News (Dubai) and Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and Egypt Independent

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Saudis retaliate against Egypt, which may turn to Iran for oil

Following Egypt's vote in the UN Security Council, the Saudi government-owned oil company Aramco suspended its oil deliveries to Egypt, possibly violating a five-year agreement.

Aramco is under a commercial contract to deliver 700,000 tonnes of refined oil products to Egypt at reduced prices. The $23 billion agreement was signed between Saudi Aramco and Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) during the visit of Saudi King Salman to Egypt last year.

Iran has offered Egypt refined oil products to replace the products that the Saudis will not deliver.

Relations between Egypt and the Gulf Arab states changed markedly after Egypt's army coup in 2013 that overthrew the democratically elected Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Both Qatar and Turkey are allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, and the coup turned both countries against Egypt. Qatar had been providing aid to the Morsi government, but that aid stopped, and Saudi Arabia stepped in to help Egypt.

Turkey has remained relentlessly hostile to Egypt's current president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi who, as an army general, led the coup that ousted Morsi. Saudi Arabia has attempted to play a mediating role between Egypt on the one hand and Turkey and Qatar on the other hand.

However, the Saudi mediating effort is apparently wearing thin, as the long-standing differences between the two countries have now become painfully public because of the UN Security Council vote.

However, long-time readers know that Generational Dynamics predicts that Russia, Iran and India will be allies of the West in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war against China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Muslim countries.

These new developments in the Mideast, along with Egypt's good relationship with Israel and its new relationship with Iran may appear to signal that Egypt will be allied the West. However, the situation is more complicated than first appears. As the Saudis themselves have been pointing out, their disagreement is with Egypt's government, not with Egypt's people. Egypt is badly split following the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, and this split will be carried into any major Mideast war or world war. MEMRI and Middle East Eye and Hellenic Shipping News and Middle East Eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Oct-16 World View -- Egypt turns to Iran for oil after Saudi relationship deteriorates over Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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18-Oct-16 World View -- Turkey and Iraq in dispute over Turkish participation in Mosul operation

ISIS may be given a chance to escape to Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey and Iraq in dispute over Turkish participation in Mosul operation


Kurdish Peshmerga forces in operation to liberate Mosul on Monday (Anadolu)
Kurdish Peshmerga forces in operation to liberate Mosul on Monday (Anadolu)

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted on Monday that Turkey will take part in the operation to recapture Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh):

"They say Turkey should not take part in the operation. How can Turkey not take part in the operation when it shares a 350-kilometer border with Iraq and receives all the terror threats from there? We have brothers in Mosul, Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds. If you go further north, we have relatives."

Turkish troops have been operating since 2014 in the Bashiqa military base in northern Iraq near Mosul, along the border with Turkey. Turkey has an estimated 2,000 troops in Iraq, around 500 of them in Bashiqa training about 1,000-2,000 Sunni Iraqi militia fighters in preparation for the Mosul operation.

On Thursday of last week, Iraq's foreign ministry in Baghdad summoned the Turkish ambassador. Iraq said that the Turkish forces in Bashiqa were "occupying forces" and "should be immediately withdrawn." Turkey refused to withdraw, and was able to produce a video of a December 2014 video in which Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi asked for "military, intelligence, arms and training support" from Turkey. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Anadolu (Turkey) and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

Turkey views the Mosul operation as a security threat to Turkey

In Thursday's statement, Erdogan reaffirmed that Turkey will do what is necessary in Mosul, and will not take directions from Iraq's prime minister.

Turkish officials are saying that the Mosul operation is a threat to the security of Turkey for several reasons:

The concerns are real. The Mosul operation will be led by Iraq's army (the one that dropped their guns and fled for their lives as ISIS fighters approached Mosul in 2014). The Iraqi force of 30,000 soldiers will have other participants besides the Iraqi army -- the US-led coalition, Turkey, Sunni tribes, Kurds, Iran, and Shia militias. These participants have a common objective -- to recapture Mosul from ISIS. However, once the recapture is complete, these participants will all have different objectives. In particular, just as Turkey wants to retain its influence in Mosul, the other participants will also want to maximize their own influence.

So far, none of these conflicting objectives has influenced the first day of the military operation. But it's still possible that this situation will cause major problems down the road. CNN and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and BBC

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ISIS may be given a chance to escape to Syria

Among all the analyst opinions, there seems to be little doubt that the recapture of Mosul will succeed. There are a wide variety of opinions on how long it will take, how many civilians will be killed, how much of the city will be destroyed, how big the humanitarian disaster will be, and whether new terror groups will fill the vacuum when ISIS is gone. But analysts seem unanimous in believing that the Iraqi force of 30,000, backed by US-coalition airstrikes, will succeed in defeating the 3,000 to 4,500 ISIS militants in Mosul.

The loss of Mosul will be a huge symbolic loss for ISIS. It's the largest city that ISIS has captured -- even larger than Raqqa in Syria. Even more important, it's the city where ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi declared his "caliphate."

However, some analysts say that Iraq is hoping that ISIS will flee without fighting. Iraqi forces have been surrounding Mosul and blocking exits from the north, east and south, but they're leaving a corridor open to the west, hoping that ISIS fighters will take advantage of it and flee to ISIS headquarters in Raqqa in Syria.

According to one analyst, ISIS commanders are aware that they're going to lose the battle, and that many of their forces will be killed, so they may decide to withdraw their best fighters, and leave the newbies behind to fight and be killed.

Other analysts aren't so sure. One of them points out that ISIS fighters fleeing to the west will be easy targets for US airstrikes, and so ISIS commanders may feel they have no choice but to stand and fight. Washington Post and Business Insider (Australia) and Economist

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Oct-16 World View -- Turkey and Iraq in dispute over Turkish participation in Mosul operation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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17-Oct-16 World View -- Iraq begins battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS

Sectarian violence may interfere with recapture of Mosul

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq begins battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS


ISIS (Reuters)
ISIS (Reuters)

Iraq has announced that a major long-awaited battle has begun to recapture Mosul, the capital city of the province of Nineveh, from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a televised statement early Monday:

"Our dearest people in Nineveh province, the victory bell has rung, and the operations to liberate Mosul have begun. I am announcing today the beginning of these heroic operations to liberate you from the brutality and terrorism of ISIS. God willing, we will meet soon on the ground of Mosul where we will all celebrate the liberation and your freedom."

The US State Department tweeted: "Godspeed to the heroic Iraqi forces, Kurdish #Peshmerga, and #Nineveh volunteers. We are proud to stand with you in this historic operation."

The US recently announced the deployment of 600 additional troops to aid in the battle, bringing the number of US personnel to more than 5,200.

On Sunday morning, Iraqi aircraft dropped thousands of leaflets over Mosul, advising residents how to protect themselves. The leaflets said, "The Mosul liberation operation is close and it is time to clean Iraq of Daesh (ISIS)," and advised residents "to avoid ISIS shelters, try to stay indoors and shut doors and windows."

Iraq's government is hoping for a quick victory and to avoid a humanitarian disaster. There are some 1.5 million people in Mosul, and Iraqi officials expect some 700,000 of them to flee Mosul. These people will have to be given a place to live and humanitarian aid.

ISIS captured Mosul in June 2014, when the Iraqi army dropped their weapons and fled, allowing ISIS to take the city almost without firing a shot. The loss of ISIS was a major catastrophe for Iraq, not only for the loss of the city, but also because ISIS took control of vast storehouses of American weapons, and also looted the banks of billions of dollars. CNN and Rudaw (Iraq-Kurdistan)

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Sectarian violence may interfere with recapture of Mosul

The Mosul operation is becoming as much a political battle as a military battle.

The main issue is the use of Shia militias backed by Iran. When ISIS attacked the city of Ramadi, the Iraq army initially fled from ISIS forces, as they did in Mosul. So for the recapture of Ramadi, Tikrit and Fallujah, Iraq army forces were accompanied by Shia militias. After the cities were recaptured, the pro-Iranian Shia forces committed sectarian violence against the Sunni residents of the cities.

Now many Sunni Muslims fear a repeat of that sectarian violence if Shia militias are permitted to participate in the military operation. This apparently is the expectation of the some of the Shia militias themselves. The leader of the pro-Iranian Ahl al-Haq militia Qais al-Khazali recently said that "the battle of Mosul is revenge for the killing of Hussein," referring to Hussein ibn Ali (or Husayn ibn Ali) who is considered to be a revered Shia saint who was killed in 680 at the Battle of Karbala, which was the seminal battle that resulted in the Sunni-Shia split.

For this reason, Sunni tribal leaders in Nineveh are demanding that Shia militias be kept out of Nineveh and Mosul. According to one tribal leader, "we are concerned and fear for what will happen after ISIS. The possibility of personal revenge makes people afraid."

According to officials in Turkey, numerous groups might participate in the operation: the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi soldiers, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) peshmergas, Iranian forces, Shia forces, Turkey-backed local forces and even PKK terrorists. The US-led coalition could include forces from Britain, France, Australia and Denmark.

Turkey agrees that Shia militias should not be involved in the recapture of Mosul, and they add that the same is true of Kurdish militias. Defense Minister Fikri Isik warns about the use of both Shia and Kurdish militias, and also offers Turkey's help:

"If you try to clear Mosul [from jihadists] with Shiite militias, you may start new chaos and a mess that would last 100 years. We are talking about these with the U.S. What we observe so far is that what we have been saying is being taken into account. ...

Let us give support to you for an operation to be conducted with local groups of this region. If you are to clear Raqqa, don’t do it with the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] or PYD [Democratic Union Party] because they could cause bigger problems after Daesh goes from the city."

Turkey has three main concerns: first, a potential sectarian rift between Sunnis and Shias, second, a new refugee crisis, and third, creation of a vacuum that would other terror groups to grow.

However, Iraq is strongly opposed to Turkey's participation.

Some analysts are questioning whether Iraq's army can be successful in recapturing Mosul, unless it has the help of Shia, Kurdish and Turkish-backed forces. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Rudaw (Iraq - Kurds) and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Oct-16 World View -- Iraq begins battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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16-Oct-16 World View -- Pakistan and India in farcical dispute over 'surgical strikes' in Kashmir

Farce continues, as Pakistan involves the German embassy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan and India in farcical dispute over 'surgical strikes' in Kashmir


Indian army soldier on guard in Kashmir (Getty)
Indian army soldier on guard in Kashmir (Getty)

War turned into farce this past week, as Pakistan claims that India was lying when India said that it conducted military "surgical strikes" into Pakistani territory in Kashmir.

We recently reported a major change in policy by India's military -- that it would invade Pakistan's soil if necessary. ( "30-Sep-16 World View -- Pakistan expected to retaliate after India invades Pakistani soil in Kashmir")

The series of events was triggered by a major terrorist attack, blamed on Pakistan, on an Indian army base in Uri in Kashmir on September 18. There was a five-hour firefight, and at least 17 soldiers were killed, as were the militants. This was the worst militant terrorist attack in Kashmir in years. India promised retaliation for the Uri attack.

The retaliation came on September 29 in the form of a series of "targeted strikes" or "surgical strikes" by India's armed forces on militant targets across the Line of Control (LoC) into the region of Kashmir governed by Pakistan.

The attack on Pakistani soil infuriated Pakistan's public, resulting in calls for retaliation, even at risk of starting a war. Pakistan's Foreign Office issued a statement:

"We can assure India that any such aggression will not go unanswered or unpunished. Pakistan is ready to defend its people and territory from any Indian aggression or Indian state-sponsored terrorism on Pakistani soil. The valiant armed forces of Pakistan have given and will continue to give a befitting response to any aggression,” said the Foreign Office spokesman in a statement."

There is particular sensitivity in Pakistan over the question of whether the Army is protecting Pakistani soil, after the American commando operation that captured Osama bin Laden.

But apparently Pakistani government officials found a solution to the problem.

They have declared that the "surgical strikes" never occurred, that they were just a "bluff," and that they were announced by India's military in order to confuse and humiliate Pakistan by making it appear that the country could not defend its own soil. Some of Pakistan's media is even claiming that the Uri military base attack was a "false flag" operation by India's military to provoke anti-Pakistan nationalism in India.

Some Pakistani officials are calling the Indian military "delusional" for claiming that the strikes took place. BBC (30-Sep) and Daily Times (Pakistan) and The News (Pakistan, 30-Sep)

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Farce continues, as Pakistan involves the German embassy

Pakistan's claims that India fabricated the story about "surgical strikes" took an even more bizarre and farcical turn when Pakistan media began to claim that a highly placed Indian official had confessed that the surgical strike story was phony.

According to Pakistan media, the German foreign office in Berlin told diplomats at the Pakistan Embassy in Berlin about a meeting that took place between Germany diplomats and the Indian foreign secretary in New Delhi. At the New Delhi meeting, the Indian foreign secretary Subramaniam Jaishankar is quoted as saying:

"the Indian Foreign Secretary has categorically denied and said that there was no ‘surgical strike’ undertaken by Indian Army inside Azad Kashmir, Pakistan."

Pakistan media also quotes an unnamed high-level Indian government official saying that it was all a plot by India's governing BJP party, which is led by the prime minister Narendra Modi:

"With the so-called mantra of surgical strike, the BJP government wanted to achieve many objectives such as to prove to the world that Pakistan is a terror sponsoring state and India has the military muscle to put it under restrain, Kashmir's freedom movement is nothing more than Pakistan's sponsored terrorism, to satisfy its populations' demand of avenging Uri attack and to create an unrivaled political space ahead of UP's state elections."

However, a spokesman for the German embassy in New Delhi said that no such conversation with German diplomats ever took place. "The report in News International Pakistan is baseless and without any truth," according to the German embassy.

According to the India-based South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG), the surgical strikes have had the "unintended consequence" of stirring debate in Pakistan itself whether Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency should continue protecting and sponsoring terrorists who attack targets in India. The News (Pakistan) and Daily News and Analysis (India) and South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG - India)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Oct-16 World View -- Pakistan and India in farcical dispute over 'surgical strikes' in Kashmir thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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15-Oct-16 World View -- Scotland considers separation from England as 'Hard Brexit' looms

EU president Donald Tusk tells Britain: 'Hard Brexit or No Brexit'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU president Donald Tusk tells Britain: 'Hard Brexit or No Brexit'


Turnalt sheep farm at the bottom of a U-shaped glen in Argyll, Scotland
Turnalt sheep farm at the bottom of a U-shaped glen in Argyll, Scotland

The recent meteoric fall of the British pound sterling currency is just one of the reasons why concerns are growing about the fallout from the results of the June 23 Brexit referendum, which mandated that Britain leave the European Union. The pound has plunged 18% versus the dollar to its lowest level in 31 years. At the same time, many international businesses that previously have been using Britain as a gateway to Europe are now moving their operations from London to cities like Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid and Warsaw.

The fall in the value of the pound means that the cost of imports like South African blueberries and Italian bathroom fixtures will be substantially higher. It could benefit exporters, who will get more money for their goods sold abroad, but since the UK imports much more than it exports, the economic news from Brexit suggests that there will be a substantial fall UK living standards.

During the Brexit campaign, the politicians make all kinds of moronic promises, such as we hear constantly from all politicians. One of those promises was that the UK would save 50 million pounds per day that was being sent to Brussels, and that that money could be used to bail out the crashing National Health Service.

Now a new report indicates that instead of saving 50 million pounds per week, the UK will be forced to pay to the EU an additional 350 million pounds per week, to cover shared EU liabilities, including unpaid debt and pension liabilities. This is being called a "Brexit divorce" bill.

More of the moronic promises had to do with Britain's relationship with the EU after Brexit. The pro-Brexit campaign had promised that the EU would be anxious to grant Britain the same access to Europe's single market that it had now, but without the requirement that Britain be subjected to control from Brussels. In particular, Britain would not have to accept Christian immigrants from Poland or Muslim immigrants from Syria and Afghanistan.

Since the vote, EU politicians said that there would no access to Europe's single market unless Britain accepts EU's four freedoms: freedom of movement for people, goods, capital and services. Britain would have to accept freedom of movement of people, along with the other three freedoms.

This was emphasized in a speech Thursday by European Commission president Donald Tusk:

"I do not need to remind you that the creation of the European Union was a response to a historic catastrophe. The source of this catastrophe was the questioning of those values and treating national egoisms, the use of violence and the unlimited right of the stronger to dictate conditions for the weaker as the norm.

As Stefan Zweig wrote in those days: "It is an iron law that those who will be caught up in the great movements determining the course of their times always fail to recognize them in their early stages." ...

Finally, let's move on to Brexit. ... Our task will be to protect the interests of the EU as a whole and the interests of each of the 27 member states. And also to stick unconditionally to the Treaty rules and fundamental values. By this I mean, inter alia, the conditions for access to the single market with all four freedoms. There will be no compromises in this regard.

When it comes to the essence of Brexit, it was largely defined in the UK during the referendum campaign. We all remember the promises, which cumulated in the demand to "take back control".

Namely the "liberation" from European jurisdiction, a "no" to the freedom of movement or further contributions to the EU budget. This approach has definitive consequences, both for the position of the UK government and for the whole process of negotiations. Regardless of magic spells, this means a de facto will to radically loosen relations with the EU, something that goes by the name of "Hard Brexit".

This scenario will in the first instance be painful for Britons. In fact, the words uttered by one of the leading campaigners for Brexit and proponents of the "cake philosophy" was pure illusion: that one can have the EU cake and eat it too. To all who believe in it, I propose a simple experiment. Buy a cake, eat it, and see if it is still there on the plate.

The brutal truth is that Brexit will be a loss for all of us. There will be no cakes on the table. For anyone. There will be only salt and vinegar. If you ask me if there is any alternative to this bad scenario, I would like to tell you that yes, there is.

And I think it is useless to speculate about "soft Brexit" because of all the reasons I've mentioned. These would be purely theoretical speculations. In my opinion, the only real alternative to a "Hard Brexit" is "no Brexit"."

Britain will remain part of the European Union for at least another 30 months. That's because Britain's new prime minister Theresa May has not yet invoked "Article 50," and has said she will do so in March of next year. Invoking Article 50 begins a two-year negotiation process for Britain to leave the EU. Donald Tusk is clearly suggesting that May not invoke Article 50 at all, a decision that would infuriate a large percentage of British (I mean English) voters. Guardian (London) and Independent (London) and International Business Times (London)

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Scotland considers new referendum to leave Britain and rejoin the EU

The Brexit referendum revealed that Britain's population is badly split, but not along the usual Labor-Conservative lines. Instead, it was split geographically (England and Wales were pro-Brexit, Scotland and Northern Ireland were anti-Brexit), and it was split by generation, with Millennials furious at Boomers for the vote.

On September 18, 2014, Scotland held a referendum on the question of whether Scotland should leave the UK and become an independent country. This would have dissolved the 1707 union between England and Scotland that came out of the War of the Spanish Succession. Voters rejected the referendum, with 55.3% voting no.

Many in Scotland are bitter that they are going to be forced to leave the European Union even though they voted 62% to stay. For that reason, Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said that she will introduce a plan for a new Scottish independence referendum.

Scotland is one of the four nations of the United Kingdom, the other three being England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Of the 63 million people in the UK, England has 53 million, and Scotland has only 5 million.

Scotland is far less densely populated than England, which means that Scotland welcomes immigrants to fill jobs, causing some Scots to call the English "xenophobic." In her speech on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon accused England of being undemocratic:

"They are using the result as cover for a hard Brexit for which they have no mandate - but which they are determined to impose, regardless of the ruinous consequences. Worse still, they intend to do all of this with no parliamentary authority. Virtually no scrutiny whatsoever. And to do it with complete disregard for Scotland's democratic voice. That is simply not acceptable."

Analysts consider it unlikely that Sturgeon will get her way. Polls show that the Scottish people still do not support separation from England. Even more important, few people believe that it would even be possible for Scotland to be in the European Union, and not in the United Kingdom. Reuters and International Business Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Oct-16 World View -- Scotland considers separation from England as 'Hard Brexit' looms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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14-Oct-16 World View -- Thailand mourns as Massachusetts-born King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies

Today's musical entertainment: The March of the Siamese Children

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand mourns as Massachusetts-born King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies


Thailand neighborhood with shrine to King Bhumibol (Reuters)
Thailand neighborhood with shrine to King Bhumibol (Reuters)

The 88 year old King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has been in deteriorating health for several years, so his death could hardly have been completely unexpected. And yet, it's surprising that the news stories coming out of Bangkok on Thursday after his death are of a shocked nation in mourning.

King Bhumibol, also known as Rama IX, was born on December 5, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He's has been on the throne since 1946, for 70 years, and so for almost every resident of Thailand, he's been ever-present as the King of Thailand. At his death, he was the longest-ruling monarch in the world. That title now passes to Queen Elizabeth of Britain.

The other surprising thing is that, even in death, it's illegal to say almost anything critical of the royal family. This is the so-called "lèse-majesté" law which says that it's treason to insult the king. And people have been sent to jail for even minor criticisms. Countries around the world are advising any of their citizens visiting Thailand to avoid saying anything about the royal family or Thai politics at this time.

Bhumibol is revered today because he led the country through numerous crises, including several coups and military takeovers. Even today, Thailand is governed by a military junta that overthrew the democratically elected government in 2014, and Bhumibol's influence is viewed by many as keeping the excesses of the military under control. Still, the army junta has made draconian use of the lèse-majesté as a tool for jailing dissidents.

Thailand's last generational crisis war was Cambodia's "Killing Fields" war in 1975-79, in which Pol Pot's communist Khmer Rouge government killed almost ten million people in a massive genocide.

The Cambodian war spilled over into Thailand in the form of a communist rebellion that began in the 1960s. King Bhumibol became an essential figure in the fight against the communists, although his role became more controversial in the savage anti-leftist coup of 1976, in which dozens of students were brutally killed by the security forces and royal-backed militias, and thousands forced to flee to seek sanctuary with the Communist Party. Despite his brutality, most Thai people look back at that time as central to upholding the authority of the state throughout the country. The Nation (Bangkok) and BBC and Public Radio International and AFP and BT (London) and Guardian (London)

As unpopular crown prince becomes King, Thailand's stability is questioned

In yesterday's article, I discussed a pattern that many countries follow after a bloody generational crisis civil war between two ethnic groups. The civil war is so horrific that the survivors vow that it will never happen again. The first generation growing up after the civil war, and with no personal memory of its horrors, begin peacefully protesting. The country leader, often from ethnic group that "won" the civil war, stays in power and resists peaceful protesters with violence, using the excuse that he wants to prevent another ethnic civil war. This pattern is currently being followed in generational Awakening eras in Burundi, Syria, and South Sudan -- and in Thailand.

In Thailand, the two ethnic groups are the minority light-skinned "yellow shirt" élite, mostly of Chinese descent, known as Thai-Chinese, versus the much larger population of dark-skinned "red shirt" mostly indigenous ethnic Thais, known as Thai-Thais. The indigenous Thai-Thais make up a majority of the population, and so they have been winning elections, much to the horror of the Thai-Chinese elite.

This exactly the kind of situation that gives rise to the Awakening era pattern described above. In this case, the Thai army have sided with the Thai-Chinese, and there have been three coups in the last ten years. In 2014, the army finally gave up even trying to hold elections, and they took control of the government, essentially giving control to the Thai-Chinese. King Bhumibol was a powerful influence in the last few years, keeping the excesses of the ruling junta under control.

With Bhumibol's death, the next in line to be king is his 62-year-old son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. Vajiralongkorn has been married and divorced three times, has seven children, is considered to be a partying playboy, is currently living with an airline stewardess, and is deeply unpopular. He's also thought to be aligned with the army, which will raise the anger of the large indigenous population.

With the loss of Bhumibol's calming influence, it's quite possible that we'll see Thailand move in the direction towards genocide that we've been seeing in Burundi and Syria, where the leader commits genocide against the other ethnic group in order to protect the people from another war like the last one. That hasn't started in Thailand yet, but it could happen, as some analysts are predicting that Thailand is headed for street protests, violent clashes, and other signs of increasing instability. LA Times and Economist (23-Jul) and International Business Times

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Today's musical entertainment: The March of the Siamese Children

The 1952 Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical, "The King and I", was based on the 1946 book "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon. The story takes place in 1862 Bangkok Siam (Thailand). A teacher from Britain, Anna Owen, arrives in Bangkok to tutor the family of King Mongkut. She regrets her decision to go until she is charmed by King Mongkut's children.

You must take three minutes off and watch "The March of the Siamese Children" from the 1956 movie "The King and I," starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner.

YouTube - March of the Siamese Children

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Oct-16 World View -- Thailand mourns as Massachusetts-born King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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13-Oct-16 World View -- Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza follows Syria's Bashar al-Assad on path to genocide

Burundi lawmakers vote to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN report on Burundi documents massive human rights violations


Burning barricades in Bujumbura, Burundi's capital city, last year (UN)
Burning barricades in Bujumbura, Burundi's capital city, last year (UN)

A United Nations reports on Burundi has documented human rights violations on a wide, systemic, massive scale by the government of president Pierre Nkurunziza.

The hundreds of documented violations include torture, sexual violence, arbitrary jailings, targeted assassinations and summary executions. The targets of this massive violence were mostly political opponents who opposed Nkurunziza's third term as president, in apparent violation of the constitution, which limits presidents to two terms. Nkurunziza claimed that his first term doesn't count because he was appointed by the parliament, rather than being directly elected.

Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term in April of last year triggered street protests by young people. Nkurunziza's security forces confronted the peaceful protests with bullets, tear gas and water cannon, killing about ten people in four days of violence.

Burundi's last generational crisis war was the 1994 Rwanda genocide, which also involved Burundi, in which ethnic Hutus killed some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis in three months. Burundi is now in a generational Awakening era, and is following the pattern where the first generation to grow up after the war are now staging protests. Nkurunziza is an ethnic Hutu, and his massive torture and violence is targeting Tutsis.

During America's last generational Awakening era, in the 1960s when the first post-World War II generation came of age, there were student protests, but the government did not resort to torture, sexual violence, arbitrary jailings, targeted assassinations and summary executions to counter them. So, there is a wide spectrum of behaviors that a government can exhibit during the Awakening era that follows the end of a generational crisis war by about 15-20 years.

Syria is also in a generational Awakening era, and Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is on the most violent end of the spectrum. The Syrian civil war pitted Shia/Alawites against Sunni Muslims, and climaxed in 1982. Today, the Shia/Alawite al-Assad is targeting millions innocent Sunni women and children with barrel bombs, chemical weapons (chlorine gas), phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs and bunker bombs.

We've described a similar pattern, including Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. The pattern is this: There is a bloody generational crisis civil war between two ethnic groups. The civil war is so horrific that the survivors vow that it will never happen again. The first generation growing up after the civil war, and with no personal memory of its horrors, begins peacefully protesting. The country leader, often from ethnic group that "won" the civil war, stays in power and resists peaceful protesters with violence, using the excuse that he wants to prevent another ethnic civil war.

Since the initial violence in Burundi began in April of last year, the violence has continued to worse. More than 500 people have died from extrajudicial killings, and at least 270,000 people have fled the country to Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and DRC. United Nations Human Rights and IRIN (United Nations) and All Africa

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Burundi lawmakers vote to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC)

The recent United Nations report accusing the Burundi regime of Pierre Nkurunziza of massive human rights violations has infuriated regime officials, and caused them to take several steps to isolate themselves and protect themselves from retribution for the human rights violations.

For a while last year, the African Union was discussing the possibility of sending in peacekeeping troops to protect civilians from violence, but that had to be abandoned when Nkurunziza said that the AU peacekeepers would be treated as an invading army. (Some analysts responded to this failure by calling it the "African disunion." Similarly, the UN failure to stop the genocide is Syria is sometimes called the "Disunited Nations.")

Last week, Nkurunziza barred three United Nations human rights experts from entering the country and declared them persona non grata. The three had been associated with the United Nations report.

Now on Wednesday, Burundi's legislature has voted to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC). One Burundi lawmaker said that "The ICC is a tool being used to try and change power," making the same sort of excuse that Syria's Bashar al-Assad uses when criticized for his war crimes. Burundi officials have expressed fear that they will be charged with crimes against humanity. They would be the first country ever to withdraw from the ICC.

The withdrawal from the ICC will take effect one year after the government formally notifies the United Nation of its intention. In the meantime, some politicians are asking the ICC to speed up the ongoing preliminary examination and bring charges within a year.

The violence in Burundi has not yet reached the full-scale genocidal slaughter that we're seeing from the al-Assad regime in Syria, but it's pretty clear that the Nkurunziza regime in Burundi is headed in the same direction. AFP and International Business Times and African Arguments

Related Arguments

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Oct-16 World View -- Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza follows Syria's Bashar al-Assad on path to genocide thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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12-Oct-16 World View -- Militants linked to Myanmar's Rohingyas kill border guards in revenge attack

Fears grow of new wave of Buddhist vs Rohingya communal violence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nine Myanmar (Burma) police killed in coordinated attacks on Bangladesh border posts


Rohingya family in Rakhine State in Myanmar (Burma)
Rohingya family in Rakhine State in Myanmar (Burma)

Nine Myanmar police were killed, with four others injured and one still missing, when some 20 militants conducted coordinated attacks on three border posts along the Bangladesh border. The attacks took place around 1:30 am on Sunday morning. The attackers were armed with swords and spears, as well as conventional firearms, and they made off with more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition and dozens of guns. Eight militants were killed, and two others were captured alive.

The attacks took place in Rakhine State, which was the site of mass communal ethnic violence by Buddhist Burmese against Muslims in the Rohingya ethnic group in 2012.

No one has claimed credit for the attacks, but it's believed the attacks were in revenge for the Buddhist attacks on Rohingya Muslims, and for plans announced last month by the government to demolish 12 mosques and 35 madrasas (religious schools) in Rakhine State because they had been built without permission.

Police are not making a statement on the identities of the captured militants, but police are saying that they're neither Myanmar nationals nor Rohingyas, but that they received help from Rohingyas. Myanmar Times and Dhaka (Bangladesh) Tribune and Anadolu (Turkey) and The News (Pakistan)

Fears grow of new wave of Buddhist vs Rohingya communal violence

There was a burst of violence of Buddhists attacking Muslims in June 2012, triggered by an alleged rape of a Buddhist Rakhine girl by Muslim Rohingyas.

In October of that year, there was a much worse wave of violence and massacres described as a genocidal "scorched earth attack" by Buddhists, killing dozens of Muslims, destroying 2000 homes, and forcing thousands of refugees into squalid refugee camps which already house hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas.

The Rohingya have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect. They are, for all practical purposes, a stateless ethnic group, living on the Bangladesh-Burma border, but rejected by both countries. In fact, Burma refuses to identify the Rohingya as a unique ethnic group, preferring to call them Bengali, and referring to them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Burma is almost entirely a Buddhist state, including the Rakhine ethnic group that make up most of the population of Rakhine state.

Then in April 2013, 20 Muslim boys were taken from a madrassa, and hacked to death, their bodies soaked in petrol and set alight. This was part of a much larger wild, frenzied attack by Buddhists on Muslims that killed dozens and reduced an entire established community of 12,000 Muslims, including homes, shops and mosques, to ashes and rubble. Police watched and did nothing while thousands of people -- women, monks, young people -- cheered when someone was killed.

The level of hysteria was similar to Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, when thousands of Germans cheered at seeing the the Nazis torch synagogues, vandalize Jewish homes, schools and businesses and kill Jews.

It's now feared that the Sunday's killing of the border guards Rohingya-linked militants will trigger another wave of mass slaughter of Muslims by Buddhists. According to Vijay Nambiar, UN envoy to Myanmar:

"At this delicate juncture, the local communities at all levels must refuse to be provoked by these incidents and their leaders must work actively to prevent incitement of animosity or mutual hatred between Buddhist and Muslim communities."

Myanmar authorities have sent troops into Rakhine State to prevent further violence. But the troops are also going to be hunting for any Rohingyas who might have been involved in Sunday's attack. Thus it's possible that the troops may not fail to prevent violence; they may trigger new violence. UN News Center and Radio Free Asia and Saudi Gazette

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Oct-16 World View -- Militants linked to Myanmar's Rohingyas kill border guards in revenge attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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11-Oct-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan and Russia's Putin sign TurkStream gas pipeline deal

Turkey-Russia TurkStream deal based on pragmatism rather than reconciliation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan and Russia's Putin sign TurkStream gas pipeline deal


Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday in Istanbul (Reuters)
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday in Istanbul (Reuters)

Officials from Russia and Turkey signed an agreement on Monday for the Turkish Stream pipeline project, to build pipelines supplying Russian natural gas to Turkey and to western Europe. The agreement was signed in Istanbul, Turkey, during the World Energy Congress, during a ceremony attended by Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Also attending was Ilham Aliyev of president of Azerbaijan, since Azerbaijan will be taking part in the project.

The agreement is being viewed as the biggest sign so far that Turkey and Russia are overcoming their differences after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November 2015. Nonetheless, all the signs are that this was a deal of pragmatism, rather than any real warming of relations between the two leaders or the two countries.

Both countries have become internationally isolated because of sanctions. The West imposed sanctions on Russia after Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. Turkey became isolated when Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey because of the shootdown.

The relationship between Russia and Turkey became extremely vitriolic, but neither country did anything that might be called a "nuclear option." The sanctions that Russia imposed on Turkey -- food imports/exports, tourism restrictions, etc. -- hurt both economies, but were not sufficiently serious to be significant.

For Turkey, the "nuclear option" would have been to close the Turkish straits (Bosporus and Dardanelles channels), the waterways that connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, to Russian ships that wish to travel between the two bodies of water. That never happened.

Russia could have canceled natural gas shipments to Turkey through the existing Blue Stream trans-Black Sea gas pipeline, but that never happened either.

Further plans on the new TurkStream gas pipeline project were canceled after the shootdown last year, as were plans for a Russian-built nuclear plant in Turkey. But with Monday's agreement, those plans are are all now being implemented. Sputnik News (Moscow) and VOA and Reuters

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Turkey-Russia TurkStream deal based on pragmatism rather than reconciliation

Both Turkey and Russia have had ailing economies recently. Signing the TurkStream deal on Monday will mean major economic benefits to both countries -- assuming that the pipelines are actually built.

Russia's existing pipelines run through Ukraine, a country whose relations with Russia are even worse than Turkey's. The TurkStream project would provide an alternate path for Russian gas to reach Europe. The TurkStream pipelines would bring infrastructure investment into Turkey, and would provide steady income in the form of transit fees of Russian gas through Turkey to Europe.

However, Turkey and Russia are still deeply divided over the war in Syria. It's hard to remember now, but before 2011, Erdogan, Putin and Syria's president Bashar al-Assad were all allies. Then the so-called "Arab Spring" began, and al-Assad began slaughtering peaceful protesters, as well as women and children in marketplaces and schools. In August 2011, when he launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians, Turkey turned against al-Assad. At the same time, Putin, who has plenty of his own experience in slaughtering innocent women and children, became al-Assad's ally and protector. Those bitter differences between Erdogan and Putin still exist, and will not disappear as long as al-Assad is governing Syria.

Another bitter difference arises from the fact that Turkey has invaded northern Syria in Operation Euphrates Shield, in order to drive fighters from both Kurdish militias and and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Turkey has set up a "safe zone" in northern Syria for Syrians fleeing from al-Assad's violence. This means that Turkey's troops are expected to remain for some time.

On the Russian side, Russia is installing advanced surface-to-air missile systems. Since the jihadist groups do not have an air force, these missile systems are presumably meant for aircraft from Europe, the US, and especially Turkey.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's clear where this is going. As I've been writing for years, in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be on one side, and the West, India, Russia and Iran will be on the other side.

People often say that two countries won't go to war because it would be bad for business, and that's being said now about the Russia-Turkey business deal. But that's not how the world works. If two countries have high volumes of trade, then that just becomes another weapon of war, as one country imposes sanctions on the other. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Time

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Oct-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan and Russia's Putin sign TurkStream gas pipeline deal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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10-Oct-16 World View -- Ethiopia declares extraordinary six-month state of emergency

Manufacture of Ivanka Trump's shoes will move from China to Ethiopia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ethiopia declares extraordinary six-month state of emergency


Irreecha festive on 2-October, prior to the deadly stampede (Reuters)
Irreecha festive on 2-October, prior to the deadly stampede (Reuters)

The declaration of a six-month state of emergency is a major development, as Ethiopia hasn't declared a state of emergency for decades. However, the government has been increasingly rattled by growing anti-government protests, especially among the marginalized Oromo ethnic group, which comprises 34% of Ethiopia's population, and among the Amhara ethnic group, which comprises another 27%.

The government is largely controlled by the ethnic Tigrays, who are a market and government dominant minority, comprising only 6% of the population. They are extremely authoritarian and have succeeded in marginalizing the other ethnic groups, and are said to have informants in villages throughout the country.

According to Ethiopian officials:

"The Council of Ministers has declared a state of emergency that will be effective as of Sunday evening so as to deal with anti-peace elements that have allied with foreign forces and are jeopardizing the peace and security of the country. ...

The state of emergency was declared following a thorough discussion by the Council of Ministers on the loss of lives and property damages occurring in the country.

We put our citizens' safety first. Besides, we want to put an end to the damage that is being carried out against infrastructure projects, education institutions, health centers, administration and justice buildings.

A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country.

The emergency will not breach basic human rights enshrined under the Ethiopian constitution and won't also effect diplomatic rights listed under the Vienna Convention.

The state of emergency will help restore peace and security shortly. It is also intended to smooth the progress of the efforts being made to resolve the problem peacefully."

The Ethiopian government is extremely authoritarian, and has always successfully met peaceful protests with arrests and violence. The government has not yet announced details of what the state of emergency will mean, but it's expected that the military will become even more in control, and may become even more violent. Fana Broadcasting (Ethiopia) and Deutsche Welle

Oromo protests grow after hundreds killed during Irreecha (thanksgiving) festival

The government considered the state of emergency to be necessary following violence at a peaceful protest last week. Dozens to hundreds of ethnic Oromo people were killed last Sunday (2-Oct) when security officials used teargas and gunshots to disperse protesters at the Oromos' annual Irreecha thanksgiving celebration in the town of Bishoftu. These actions triggered a stampede among the tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting against the government, resulting in the deaths.

The Oromos are the largest ethnic group in east Africa, and make up 34% of Ethiopia's population, where they are split approximately evenly between Christianity and Islam.

Most of them live in the Oromia region, which surrounds the capital city Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa is a major metropolis, and it has been growing and expanding. Last year, the government announced a plan to expand Addis Ababa into Oromo farmland, which triggered large scale protests. Massive protests in December 2015 caused the government to back down on the plan, but the protests have continued, because of deep poverty among the Oromos and what they see as marginalization.

In recent weeks, the protesters have become violent, and they attacked businesses, putting at risk the government-portrayed image that Ethiopia is the best place in Africa for business investments. This has caused the government to appear desperate to restore stability, so as not to scare away the foreign investors. AFP and BBC and IRIN News and African Arguments

Ethiopia's 'kebele' system imposes heavy government repression and control

The kebeles are the smallest unit of local government in Ethiopia, and exist throughout the entire country, in both rural and urban districts. When the USSR-dominated communist government, known as the Derg dictatorship, was in charge prior to 1991, they were used by the government to exert local control.

As I described recently in the Generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ethiopia's last generational crisis war occurred in 1991, when the Derg dictatorship was overthrown. The new constitution promised human rights for everyone. Theoretically, the kebeles were then to become a democrat way of devolving central government power to the local authorities.

An election in May 2005 threatened the power of the government dominant ethnic Tigrays, which are only 6% of the population. The kebeles became a powerful instrument for retaining power, according to Human Rights Watch in 2005:

"While originally intended to help implement the Derg’s ambitious rural development agenda and land reform program, the kebele system quickly evolved into a highly effective mechanism of control and repression. Kebele officials were expected to keep their communities under perpetual surveillance and to report any subversive activities to higher authorities. The kebeles were also used to disseminate government propaganda, implement government policies and maintain general order and discipline. When the EPRDF came to power it retained the kebele as the smallest unit of local government throughout Ethiopia and has continued to use the system to consolidate and extend the power of the ruling party.

In Oromia’s rural areas, kebele officials wield a great deal of power over the populations they govern. Most of the region’s rural population consists of subsistence farmers who depend upon kebele officials to provide them with a range of essential services and agricultural inputs. Perhaps most significantly, kebele officials distribute fertilizer to farmers throughout Oromia on credit and are responsible for collecting those debts when they come due. Farmers must also obtain letters from kebele officials verifying their identity and place of residence when they wish to access government services outside of their communities. Such letters are usually required, for example, in order to visit a doctor or send one’s children to secondary school in town."

Ethiopia is now in a generational Awakening era, and as I've described in Syria, Burundi, and other countries, these are times when anti-government protests only grow, and if the government is sufficiently paranoid, then these peaceful protests are met with increasing violence by government security forces. These protests are only going to increase, possibly sending Ethiopia into an increasing spiral of government violence.

Addis Standard (Addis Ababa, 9-Jun-2016) and Human Rights Watch (2005)

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Manufacture of Ivanka Trump's shoes will move from China to Ethiopia


Ivanka Trump's shoes will be manufactured in Ethiopia
Ivanka Trump's shoes will be manufactured in Ethiopia

The Huajian Group, a major Chinese shoe manufacturer, and the manufacturer of Ivanka Trump's shoes, is considering moving part of its manufacturing business from China to Ethiopia, to take advantage of workers who are paid lower wages.

This is not as fatuous a story as it appears to be. Donald Trump has criticized the number of manufacturing jobs that have moved from America to China, and the Chinese media are making a big deal of the fact that Ivanka's shoes may no longer be manufactured in China. Shanghaiist and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Oct-16 World View -- Ethiopia declares extraordinary six-month state of emergency thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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9-Oct-16 World View -- New Anti-India violence erupts in Kashmir after police kill 12-year-old boy

Indian media increasingly accepts the 'indigenous' nature of the Kashmir protests

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New Anti-India violence erupts in Kashmir after police kill 12-year-old boy


Kashmiri Muslim women shout anti-India slogans in Srinagar on Saturday (EPA)
Kashmiri Muslim women shout anti-India slogans in Srinagar on Saturday (EPA)

Junaid Ahmad Akhoon, a 12-year-old boy, died early on Saturday after being "sprayed with pellets" by police pellet guns on Friday during anti-India protests. About 50 more people were injured during the Friday protests. Police said the boy was injured during clashes between protesters and security forces, but the local residents alleged that the boy was not involved in any protest.

The killing triggered new violent clashes on Saturday between thousands of protesters in Srinagar, the provincial capital city of Kashmir, and Indian troops, who fired warning shots and used tear gas and pellet guns. Intermittent clashes spread to different regions in Kashmir throughout the day. Curfews were re-imposed in several districts, after having been lifted for only a few days.

It's now been 92 days of almost continuous protests and riots since the July 8 killing by security forces of Burhan Wani, the leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen separatist group in Kashmir. Over 90 people have been killed and over 12,000 injured since the July 8 killing. Stone-throwing crowds are met with security forces spraying the crowds using pellet guns. Hundreds of people have been blinded by the pellets. International Business Times and Daily Kashmir Images

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Indian media increasingly accepts the 'indigenous' nature of the Kashmir protests

According to official government figures, 446 people were arrested in the last week. Close to 7000 people have been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir since July 8, while more than 450 people have been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a 1978 law considered highly restrictive. In addition, police sources say that 1500 others are under detention without any charges, and their detention doesn’t reflect in the official records.

Judging from Indian media, numbers like these are driving increased acceptance of the view that the continuing protests and violence in Kashmir are not being caused by Pakistan, but are "indigenous" and "organic," meaning that it's coming from the people, rather than from the politicians.

One Kashmir government spokesman, Nayeem Akhtar, compared the situation today to protests that occurred in 2010, which were purely political:

"[We are finding] ourselves in an unprecedented situation. ...

There is a difference, lot of difference between 2010 and 2016. Like the local leadership apparently is not in control, the leadership has gone to 10 and 12 year old boys. Those who lead are driven by the street. In 2010, they could assert and bring it back. What we did (in 2010) is the role of opposition. I wish National Conference does the same but they have disappeared."

"National Conference" is a political party formed in 1947 with the objective of achieving Kashmiri independence from India through political means. Akhtar's point is that there is no longer political control of the protests, which are now being led by teenagers who weren't even around to protest in the past. It's this generational change that's caused a political protest to become a violent protest.

Parvez Imroz, a rights activist in Kashmir supporting the separatists, also emphasizes a generational change:

"The government doesn't really know what to do and how to control protests.

The state has become more vehement, firing bullets and pellets on unarmed people. But, despite all this use of force, people are organizing these protests well, which was not the case in the early 1990s. It was more of an emotional outburst back then. And many young people who are now on the streets have not seen the fear and terror that was instilled by the government forces in early 1990s.

Now that element of fear is gone. ...

The use of force against protesters is likely to continue. But one thing is certain - this uprising has given [a] new dimension to the resistance in Kashmir.

The young generation is really controlling things on the streets.

In [the] 1990s, and even till early 2000, some people from here would go and openly talk to the Indian government on behalf of people, but that can't happen now because people here have realized nothing comes out of these talks.

But it remains to be seen how young people leading the protests will organize themselves and lead the struggle in the times ahead."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is how the world works. The 1947 Partition war between Muslims and Hindus was one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, so horrific that the survivors did everything they could to make sure that it never happens again. And the survivors were successful, as long as they were alive. But now they're pretty much all gone, and the young people rioting in Kashmir have no personal connection to the horrors of the Partition war, and they're ready, willing, anxious and able to risk having it happen again.

As I described in a recent article, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted India's Hindus against the British colonialists, and the 1947 Partition war, which pitted Hindus and Muslims against each other, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. As we described in that article, the 1857 war led naturally to violence between Hindus and Muslims decades later, and then to the 1947 war.

Now we're seeing that the 1947 war is leading, decades later, to new violence between Hindus and Muslims. Generational Dynamics predicts that we're seeing a kind of repeat of 1947, and that this increasing violence will lead to a new generational crisis war between Hindus and Muslims, and from there to full-scale war between Pakistan and India. Indian Express and Kashmir Public Safety Act (1978) and Al-Jazeera (6-Sep)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Oct-16 World View -- New Anti-India violence erupts in Kashmir after police kill 12-year-old boy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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8-Oct-16 World View -- Reader comments and questions on Syria, Russia, and Russian trolls

The future of the Mideast

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian Trolls


Russian trolls - Bruce Plante (Tulsa World, 11-Jun-2015)
Russian trolls - Bruce Plante (Tulsa World, 11-Jun-2015)

There have been a number of questions and comments about my recent articles on Russia's involvement in Syria.

TheLastPlainsman: "It appears, Mr. Xenakis, that you are still the target of Soviet, err, I mean, Russian, trolls. At least there aren't any China ones. Today, anyway."

Yes, Russia has hired hundreds of trolls to harass people like me. At one point last year, I was being attacked and harassed by three Russian trolls at the same time.

In a sense, the whole policy has backfired. Every journalist by now has become aware that they'll be attacked by Russian trolls if they write anything critical of Russia. So the result is that any person who actually believes what he's saying in defense of Bashar al-Assad or Vladimir Putin is automatically assumed to be a paid Russian troll. The Russians brought this on themselves.

Mickey Wasp: "It is clear from this completely fraudulent article he has penned that Mr. X is not above composing lies in order to further the nefarious agenda of the Zionist criminal enterprise known as Israel and Warmongers of Congress and the CIA.

Anyone who can write a line such as "After years promising to help end the violence in Syria, Russian and Syrian warplanes have been indiscriminately attacking civilian neighborhoods and hospitals with barrel bombs, chemical weapons (chlorine gas), phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs and bunker bombs. It does not take rocket science to see that Russia and Syria have no intention of ending the violence." is not fit to call themselves a journalist or researcher or columnist, instead they should be labelled as a disgusting black propagandist and seen as working for those who created the conflict in Syria."

All of these things that I listed -- attacking civilian neighborhoods and hospitals with barrel bombs, chemical weapons (chlorine gas), phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs and bunker bombs -- have been widely reported in mainstream media and by government organizations in America, Europe, the Mideast and the United Nations. The only people saying that it's all made up are Russian and Syrian officials, as well as the army of paid Russian trolls.

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Popularity of Bashar al-Assad

Scotster brightmoth: "Amid the demonization of the Syrian government and leadership and the skillful use of social media by anti-government activists. Influenced by both mainstream and this alternative media, most people in the West do not know that Bashar al-Assad remains popular with many Syrians. Nor do they realize that Assad won an election two years ago."

What the heck does that have to do with anything? Bashar al-Assad is being charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. What does it matter whether he won an election? Adolf Hitler won elections. Mao Zedong, Pol Pot and Josef Stalin were all very popular.

There's a very important point here. It's the popularity of genocidal leaders that makes the genocidal acts possible. An unpopular leader could never get away with trying to exterminate an entire religious or ethnic group, as Bashar al-Assad is trying to exterminate the Sunni Muslims. A genocidal leader has to be popular to get away with his depraved acts. So when you talk about al-Assad's popularity, my response is that of course he's popular, and has to be to get away with committing genocide.

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Russian shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Mickey Wasp: "We are experiencing the same demonization of Syria’s al-Assad and Russia’s Putin that we witnessed before those other two wars on Saddam and Gaddafi. Every possible allegation is made against them, often based on dubious and deceitful “evidence,” but it goes unchallenged because to question the propaganda opens a person to charges of being an “apologist” or “stooge” or if they post on Xenakis articles, a Russia troll."

If it quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck. You claim that you're a Texas redneck, but you quack like a Russian troll.

There was a good example this last week of how Russian trolls work. A Dutch-led team announced the findings of a major investigation proving that Russians in eastern Ukraine in July 2014 shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk 9M38 missile that was transported by a Volvo truck from Russia, and then transported back to Russia after it had been used to shoot down the plane.

There are literally thousands of pieces of evidence, including intercepted phone calls, photos, analyzed and authenticated, videos, forensic examinations, witness statements, satellite images, and radar data. The amount of evidence is overwhelming.

But the Russian trolls have been out in force saying that all the photos are photoshopped, and all the evidence was faked. And the Washington Post reports that numerous reporters have been targeted by Russian government hackers. I've been targeted many times by both Russian and Chinese hackers. That's the game these Russian trolls play.

So when this Russian troll says that "every possible allegation is made against [al-Assad and Putin], often based on dubious and deceitful 'evidence,'" he's just being a good troll and saying the same things over and over despite overwhelming evidence. He should get an extra pay bonus from his trollmaster for being such a good troll.

Here's another point worth making. I believe the truth of everything that I write. I've written about 4,000 articles on my web site since 2003, and every word is based on extensive research and reporting. I have an archive of some 85,000 articles that I've copied and pasted, and I add a dozen or so articles to the archive every day. I have to be sure of every fact, because if I make a mistake, then I know that people will pound on me for it.

But that's not true of the Russian trolls. They know very well that Russians shot down the MH17 plane. They know very well that Bashar al-Assad is committing genocide. They know very well that Vladimir Putin is guilty of war crimes. But they're paid to lie, and they sell their souls every day to defend the greatest genocidal monsters of the 21st century so far.

Guardian (London) and Washington Post

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The future of the Mideast

Jasmine16: "President Assad wants to kill all Sunni Muslims? Come on. His wife is a Sunni. Many of his ministers and military officers are Sunnis. Many of his armed force officers are Sunnis. The majority of Syrian population prefer to live in government controlled areas. Even CIA and Qatar study reveal that 70% of Syrians-most of whom are (moderate) Sunnis, support him, while 20% are neutral, and only 10 % are against him. How on earth could the writer claims that the president wants " ... to massacre ... all Sunni Muslim civilians ...."?"

There is an extremely bloody historic fault line between Shia/ Alawites (like Bashar al-Assad) and Sunnis. It's pretty clear that al-Assad wants to kill a large segment of Syria's civilian population, possibly millions of people, on the other side of that historic fault line, but there's a problem of how to characterize those people -- what name should we give that group? Al-Assad just calls them all "terrorists," but obviously children in a school or women and children in a marketplace slaughtered by an al-Assad airstrike are not "terrorists" in any meaningful sense. So in view of the historic hatred between Alawites and Sunnis, I use the characterization "Sunni Muslims" as the most convenient way to describe the portion of the population that al-Assad wants to exterminate. It's possible that there's some kind of ethnic descriptor that could be used to make the characterization more precise, but I'm not aware of one.

TheLastConservative: "'In other words, it’s just more bizarre garbage coming out of the mouths of Russian officials.' Which is a lot like #*&$ coming out of the State Department isn't it? There are no good guys in this situation. We are obviously too incompetent and should get out of it. We've messed up enough as it is."

A lot of people feel that way. But a lot more people feel that America has a moral obligation to be policeman of the world, so it's unlikely that we'll get out of the situation.

TheLastPlainsman: "So now that confuses me- what is your prediction then with a US/Russia conflict but then us still being allied in the next world war? Is there any kind of timeline to consider?"

Russia's historic enemies are the Turks, the Mongols, and particularly the Crimean Tatars. Russia has absolutely no reason to start a war with the West, as many people fear.

As I've been writing for many years, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Russia will be our ally in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war. Those who think that this is impossible should recall that the Soviet Union was our bitter enemy before and after World War II, but was our ally during World War II. Something like that will happen again. This prediction should make the Russian trolls very happy.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Oct-16 World View -- Reader comments and questions on Syria, Russia, and Russian trolls thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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7-Oct-16 World View -- UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura predicts total destruction of Aleppo by Christmas

UN envoy Staffan de mistura asks al-Nusra fighters to leave Aleppo

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura asks al-Nusra fighters to leave Aleppo


Staffan de Mistura (Reuters)
Staffan de Mistura (Reuters)

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy for Syria, gave a passionate speech on Thursday, where practically begged both sides to stop the genocide going on in east Aleppo in Syria.

De Mistura's point was that there are over 275,000 people in east Aleppo, but only about a thousand of them are members of Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) which recently renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) when it cut its ties to al-Qaeda.

De Mistura begged the al-Nusra fighters to leave the city, rather than to allow the destruction of Aleppo and the deaths of many of the 275,000 residents. Addressing himself directly to the al-Nusra fighters, de Mistura said:

"Can you please look at my eyes, and those of the Aleppo people. Of the 275,000 civilians that are there where you are, and confidently those 275,000 people that you're going to stay there, and that you remain there and keep hostage of your refusal to leave the city, because 1,000 of you are deciding on the destiny of 275,000 civilians. I would like you to reply to this question -- not to me, but to those 275,000 people -- and if you did decide to leave, in dignity, and with your weapons, to Idlib or anywhere you wanted to go, I personally am ready physically to accompany you."

It's a very dramatic offer, but the probability that it will be taken up is pretty close to zero. Even if 1,000 fighters left the city, Syria and Russia would claim that there were still more "terrorists." In the event that de Mistura played the part of a Pied Piper leading fighters out of Aleppo, it's even possible that Russian and Syrian warplanes would target him and kill him, and then say that it was Nato warplanes that killed him. Reuters and Asharq Al-Awsat

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Staffan de Mistura predicts total destruction of Aleppo by Christmas

Russia and Syria have repeatedly been accused of war crimes and genocide in recent days by United Nations officials, in reaction Russian and Syrian warplanes indiscriminately attacking civilian neighborhoods and hospitals with barrel bombs, chemical weapons (chlorine gas), phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs and bunker bombs,

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura renewed those accusations on Thursday by comparing the actions of Syria and Russia to the genocides at Srebrenica and Rwanda.

He said that, unless there's a "game changer," the city of Aleppo will by "totally destroyed" by Russia and Syria within 2 to 2 1/2 months, presumably killing most of the 275,000 residents, who are "civilians, not terrorists."

De Mistura said:

"There is only one thing that we are not ready to do - be passive, resignate ourselves to another Srebrenica, another Rwanda, which we are capable sadly today to recognize - written on that wall in front of us - unless something takes place.

That doesn't mean that we will not -- and we will -- put this into context of a political process, because it's clear anything we do is not only about Aleppo is going to be also part of a political process that we will relaunch, we need to relaunch, we need a political horizon, based on what happens in the Security Council.

Unless there is any major game changer that may change the equation, this cruel, constant use of military activities, bombing, fighting destruction in eastern Aleppo will continue. Let's be honest, there is nothing that tells us that it will not continue. ...

The bottom line is - in maximum 2 months, 2 1/2 months the city of eastern Aleppo at this rate may be totally destroyed. We're talking about old city in particular. And thousands of Syrians - civilians, not terrorists -- will be killed. And many of the wounded. And thousands and thousands of them may try to become refugees in order to escape from there.

This is what you, we, the world will be seeing when we will be trying to celebrate Christmas, or the end of the year, if this continues at this rate, unimpeded. Homs [Syrian city] multiplied by 50."

It's been very clear for a long time that the depraved psychopath Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, would very much like to see 275,000 residents of Aleppo killed, even though only all but a few thousand are innocent civilians. Syrian and Russian warplanes have been bombing hospitals, schools and civilian neighborhoods even in cities where al-Nusra was never present.

So de Mistura's passionate plea has no possibility whatsoever of making a difference.

At Friday's emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, Russia will undoubtedly say that there more than just a few thousand of the 275,000 residents are "terrorists." Russia may even claim that almost of the 275,000 residents are "terrorists." AFP and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Oct-16 World View -- UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura predicts total destruction of Aleppo by Christmas thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Oct-2016) Permanent Link
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6-Oct-16 World View -- Russia continues large air defense military buildup in Syria

Concerns about possible US-Russia military conflict continue to grow

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia continues large air defense military buildup in Syria


Russian S-300 air defense missile system (AP)
Russian S-300 air defense missile system (AP)

Russia announced in April that it had met its objectives in Syria, and its military was withdrawing. Then, as the army of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad began collapsing again, Russia changed its mind. Russia's increasing military buildup in Syria indicates that it has no intention of withdrawing, and may even be treating Syria as a part or a protectorate of the Russian federation.

Russia's military on Tuesday announced that a battery of the S-300 air defense missile systems had been sent to Syria. This follows installation of a long-range S-400 missile defense system, and an array of other surface-to-air missiles. These have raised concerns among analysts, to which Russia's Defense Ministry responded: "I remind you that the S-300 is a purely defensive system and poses no threat to anyone. It’s not clear why the placement of S-300 in Syria has caused such a stir among our western colleagues."

No jihadist group has an air force, so the deployment of advanced air defense missile systems must be directed at someone else. There are several possibilities:

Military Times and AFP

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Concerns about possible US-Russia military conflict continue to grow

Many analysts are concerned that Russia's military buildup in Syria means that Russia and the United States are headed for a military conflict when the next American administration takes office in January. I wrote about these concerns several days ago.

However, long-time readers know that Generational Dynamics predicts that Russia, Iran and India will be allies of the West in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war against China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Muslim countries.

Europe's last three generational crisis war all involved an invasion of Russia, but they were crisis wars for Europe, but non-crisis wars for Russia:

These were brutal wars for Russia, but a component of the war was that invading armies were defeated by the brutal Russian winter.

Russia's generational crisis wars were not fought with Europe. They were either internal rebellions, or they were fought with Turks and Mongols. Of particular importance were the Tatars, a tribe of Mongols that, under the leadership of Genghis Kahn, probably the greatest conqueror in the history of the world, they had defeated China in 1215, and then turned westward and conquered much of southern Russia by 1227. The Tatars in the Crimean Peninsula had intermingled with the central Asian Turks, and spoke a Turkic language. By the 1400s, they adopted Islam as their relig